Monday, 5 October 2015

Please! Bye Bye Harper! Good Bye!

I know this video appeared awhile back on Canadian Atheist, and I was going to post it here, but then the polls started saying that the Harperbots would be on track to forming the next government. I lost all hope in humanity and didn't post it.

I won't go into things, but just read up about his muzzling of scientists (especially climate), TPP, evil spying bills, evil 15 billion dollar deals with human rights crushing Saudi Arabia... etc. etc. etc.

Well now it turns out that the polls are saying the Liberals are in the lead and the poor NDP are down to only 24%. This is the fear vote kicking in. The Liberals are, of course, better than the Conservatives, but they are sort of like weak tea. That being said, I'm so overjoyed to see the possibility of Harper out, that I'll take pretty much anyone with a pulse (I'm not certain if Harper has a pulse).

So here's an nice folk song, Bye Bye Mr Harper Good Bye, which is a nice way to say: "Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out."

Here's hoping this song rings true.

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Sunday, 4 October 2015

Conservative Government Effectively Screening Syrian Refugees Based On Religion

The Syrian refugee crisis is a tragedy of nearly unparallelled proportions. So, the Conservative government originally made a goal to bring in 1,300 people. Unfortunately, they missed their goal because they insisted on privatizing the whole process by requesting that private sponsors help foot the bill - this is code word for churches.  

See, the only private groups that can step in in any reasonable number to bring in refugees just happen to be religious groups. Anyway, it didn't work.
When the government first committed to accepting 1,300 Syrian refugees, only 200 were supposed to have been government-assisted. However, Canada ended up more than doubling that number and sponsoring 434 refugees when not enough private sponsors came forward quickly enough.

These 434 were referred by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and therefore were not selected based on religion or ethnicity.
Now the government could have easily sponsored these refugees itself, but the privatization of this process had two effects which must have been appealing to the Conservatives. Firstly, it appeals to the whole idea of economic privatization (they love that) and secondly - although CFI Canada is trying - the only groups who are currently in a position to be private sponsors just so happen to be churchers ... mainly Christian ones.
"Maybe the government looked at this and concluded it was churches who are best organized to do private sponsorship. Thus, since the government is putting emphasis on ... private sponsorship rather than UNHCR refugees sponsored by the government, maybe they told themselves, 'They're mostly Christians,"' suggested Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR).

Last December, the CCR and other organizations denounced Ottawa's intention to privilege certain refugees on the basis of religion.

"This type of practice runs counter to fundamental principles of refugee protection," said CCR president Loly Rico. "The refugees must be selected for resettlement on the basis of need." 
Of course, the Harper government doesn't care one bit what groups like this think. They are playing up to their evangelical and Christian base. Because the UNHCR does not consider the religion of the refugees when determining their need, the government is turning to churches to bring over as many (just so happen to be Christian) refugees as possible.

They just raised their new goal to 10,000 refugees this year.
The Conservative government is counting on private sponsorship to ensure that the 10,000 Syrian refugees it has promised to accept between now and next September will be first and foremost Christians, Druze, Kurds and other minorities it wishes to prioritize.
According to the article, only 1,100 refugees have made it over so far this year. The pace needs to pick up if the government really cares about making their goal and helping people based on their needs rather than on their creeds.
"If an established group decides to sponsor a Muslim, nothing in the law allows the government to not take up the file or to refuse it because the person is the wrong religion," said Dench.
Naturally, atheists in Syria are at terrible risk - within their country and in many of the countries in the Gulf region. They also are not the right religion.

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Saturday, 3 October 2015

Catholic 'Secular' Group Calls For Ban of 'Agnes of God' Play In Mumbai

India is apparently the world's largest secular democracy - so I've heard. So putting on a play with religious themes shouldn't be a problem at all!

Presumably working under this assumption, Mahabanoo Kotwal, owner of Poor Box Production, thought he'd produce a by now classic play, Agnes of God, in Mumbai - which is a pretty big metropolitan city within the world's largest secular democracy. He booked the venue, people bought tickets, things were tickety boo.
The play is an adaptation of an original play by John Pielmeier, in which the protagonist nun, Sister Agnes, gives birth to a child and claims she is a virgin. The delivery leads to a series of investigations in which psychiatrist Maratha Livingston discovers, contrary to the nun’s claims, that the latter slept with a man. The case is dragged to the court where the psychiatrist reasons that Agnes is not of sound mind. The play, a pun derived from Latin Agnus Dei (lamb of God), has also been adapted into a movie in 1985.
Then the owner of the theatre informed him that the play needed to be canceled. It turns out that a Catholic group thinks India just isn't ready for such a play. (The movie version came out in 1985, and starred Jane Fonda so it is a little modern perhaps for India.)
“We need to protest not because Catholic nuns or the Christian clergy is targeted, rather because the secular fabric of India is being threatened. India is not yet culturally or socially ready for such freedoms that West or Americas have,” said Joseph Diaz, general secretary of CSF, adding that the play “will open a pandora’s box” and cause mistrust in the religion.
It's become very clear to me that secularism must mean something completely different in India than it does in the West or Americas. It would seem that Indians are not yet culturally ready to watch material which could challenge their childhood religious indoctrination. Maybe in another 3,000 years, right?

If this isn't weird enough, let me divulge to you what the acronym CSF is. The group which is trying to ban the play is called the Catholic Secular Forum! Now don't get me wrong, Catholics can be secular, but the fact a Catholic secular group is attempting to ban a play because it hurts their religious feelings is making my head spin.
“We respect freedom of speech. But from my preliminary reading of the plot, it could give ruse to scandal or speculation. We would urge them (producer) to not release the play.” said Father Nigel, spokesperson of Bombay Archdiocese, adding the play has “no spiritual learning for the community”. 
... but, if we find it offensive, then it needs to be banner post haste.

So this Catholic secular group went to the police chief and demanded the play not be allowed to go forward at the original venue or any other venue in town. It looks like that worked. Secular nation? I guess it all depends on what you mean by secular. In India it seems to mean that religious sensibilities trump all else.

(Image source)

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