Showing posts with label atheism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label atheism. Show all posts

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Saudi Authorities Tackling 'Extremism' In Schools


When you've got a country with a special police force for raiding florist shops on Valentine's Day, and it arrests Christians -- including children, and it throws bloggers into jail for simply stating that everyone should have access to free speech, and it has a crack squad of witch police to round up witches and people who use magic so they might be routinely beheaded, and said country claims to be tackling extremism -- well, it's really time to take notice at precisely what the hell they consider to be 'extremism!'

recent story in the Saudi Gazette recounts how authorities in the Kingdom are meeting to explore how to protect schools from extremism -- which comes from education!
EXTREMISM, a pioneer school investor said, has unfortunately been a product of education. Therefore, he said, there must be a comprehensive pre-admission observation of individuals at pedagogical colleges which prepare them to be future teachers.
At first I thought they're just threatened by secular, freethought education (they are). However, they also seem to be talking about fundamentalist religion -- which is ironic because as a country, they are hard to beat on that department.
There is a trend now, said experts among youth. This trend, they said, has two extremes. While a group pushes toward extremism in religion, others push their extremism to atheism
When it came to radical religion in educationI thought of the very real risk of religious extremist schools all over. Just last year, six schools were identified in the UK as being too radically Islamic and just recently, a whole village just outside Montreal was discovered to have nothing but extreme Orthodox Jewish teachings which ill-equipped students for the real world.

When it came to secularism in education, I thought of places like Sweden or Japan. It's hard for me to figure out what the threat is.

Not to hard in Saudi Arabia, where atheism has been classified as terrorism! The story specifies that terrorism tied to Islam is only extremist Islam -- it made no reference to what sort of atheism it is that compels atheist terrorists. I guess any atheism does.

Here is, apparently, how this understanding of extremism first manifests itself.
Farida Farsi spoke to Saudi Gazette about encouragement earlier accorded to students bragging about their efforts in smashing a television set at home, or cutting what they believe is indecent clothes of their mothers and other female family members.
Right, that sounds like extremist or radical religion to me. It's unlikely a radical atheist would do this. Apparently essential teachings of Islam (tm) will resolve this. Furthermore, if the person has swung too far into religion or too far outside, one religious scholar believes that a little negotiation will help.
Ali Badahdah, a religious scholar, said that based on his observations and review of some 22 studies conducted on extremist individuals, various efforts to negotiate with them have provided positive effect. He said nothing stands impossible and these people can still have room to come back and change their views.
I wonder if the negotiation with a young atheist might go something like this?:

Scholar: Are you an atheist?
Atheist: Yes.
Scholar: This means you're a terrorist and you'll be killed by the state. Are you still an atheist?
Atheist: No.

Given the country's atrocious record on human rights and freedom of expression and their brutal suppression of any religion other than Islam as well as atheists, I find this part of the article the punchline.
This, she said, is seen as each person does not accept anything other than his/her own thoughts. “We have to focus on accepting others as they are and seek happiness for all.

Al-Harthi believes that the national dialogue is an achievement as it provides a platform for people coming from different backgrounds and carrying different believes to sit at the same table and respect each others’ views.
You mean so long as everyone's point of view matches state-sanctioned religious beliefs and opinions? Right. Keep working on that because you have a long long way to go.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Greek Clerics Claim Figure of Jesus Started 'Crying' After First Atheist PM Elected

The tears appear to be pretty much all over the icon (source)
Jesus Wept! Or perhaps more accurately, sweated profusely.
A religious icon of Jesus Christ in a small village in Greece has been “weeping” ever since the anti-austerity party Syriza won the Greek elections at the end of January, witnesses say.

According to Corinth TV and the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, the icon, which dates from early last century and is housed in the church of St. Nicholas in the village of Asprokampos, Corinthia, has been secreting an oily liquid since the left-wing party leader Alexis Tsipras, stormed to power on January 26th.
The Pappas Post connects a couple of dots for us:
According to local news sources, the icon, which dates from early 20th century and is housed in the church of St. Nicholas in the village of Asprokampos in the region of Corinthia, has been secreting an oily liquid since Alexis Tsipras— an atheist, became the country’s new prime minister.
I've reported about this first atheist Greek prime minister before. Nothing makes idols of Jesus more sad or anxious than an atheist in charge.

Apparently, locals are now guarding the icon and are refusing anyone from taking any samples of the tears while a senior church official would like scientific tests to be done. Naturally, all we know for now is there is liquid on a painted icon.


One journalist, Yiannis Baboulias, says that this sort of icon crying business is pretty common behaviour for some religious groups in the country. It seems possible they do this sort of thing whenever they feel sad and need a hug.
Many Greeks have dismissed the news story as little more than a joke. The Greek investigative journalist, Yiannis Baboulias, told Newsweek, “The weeping icon is an urban legend that resurfaces every now and again in Greece. Stories like this happen all the time, and this one is really funny.”

Baboulias says the aim of stories about ‘weeping’ religious icons are usually a way for the Greek Orthodox Church to attract more attention and followers. “What is really happening,” according to Baboulias, “is simply that the paint on the icon is starting to leak due to environmental changes.”
Well that's a better theory than, well, magick. Let's tentatively posit that.

Baboulias also suggested that the caretakers of this icon are a rather political lot who might just project their own sadness that the extreme right wing Golden Dawn party didn't win the election and some marxist atheist is in charge.

Jesus really cares about politics in Greece but he's too tied up at the moment to do anything but cry about things.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Oops! When Egyptian Government Said Less Censorship They Actually Meant MOAR CENSORSHIP!

Before and After story images from the CairoScene story about Egypt's big censorship backpedal/clarification.
In the past couple of days, Egyptian cinephiles were excited about the government promising not to nanny them so much by cutting out all the nudie bits of movies and banning things left right and centre. There was some hope. Well, cynicism was pretty high.
Initially we here at CairoScene were jumping in joy when we heard that films would no longer be censored, however reading into his statements leaves one to believe that nothing has really changed. Hopefully, there will be a noticeable difference come April, however we aren’t holding our breath and will believe it when we see Scarlett Johansson's boobs in an Egyptian cinema. 
Well it turns out the censorship board in Egypt were only fooling. There will be no Scarlett Johansson breasts bared for Egyptian movie goers. Actually, the government actually means to censor more -- the words just came out as less because I guess that helps PR or something.
Lost in translation, the Chairman of the Censorship Bureau has spent the last couple of days clarifying what he meant when he attempted to explain the implementation of the PG system. His initial announcement was misinterpreted to suggest that they would stop censoring or deleting scenes from films, however that is not the case as Abd El Sattar Fathy clarifies that “Of course, if it is a scene of explicit sex it will be removed, images of male and female genitalia as well as nudity scenes will also be removed."
Sex is bad. Penises are bad. Nudity is likely codeword for that unmentionable female pubic region, women's breasts, everyone's bums: all bad. This is pretty tragic, but there is more.
Fathy continues to hammer the message home saying that “any movie that is clearly promoting pornography, homosexuality or that is damaging Egypt’s relations with some specific countries will still be rejected,” adding that the new measure "would not prevent" deleting scenes of "atheism" or that incite "sectarian strife." That would suggest that they would have banned V for Vendetta, which was released and beloved by Egyptians during Mubarak reign, who in turn started selling the iconic masks in Tahrir during the uprising. 
Indeed, on top of all the other expected hangups with things which are, frankly, not a problem, they add that they just may need to delete scenes of atheism... whatever that is. The minister in charge got ticked off when challenged.
... who is going to protect anyone going to the movies or watching tv?
Dude, that's the whole point of a rating system! It's so that I can feel reasonably safe taking my five year old to a movie and so I'll know that it would be best he not watch Nymphomaniac II, Game of Thrones, or The Ring. Does he believe Egyptians are children? Does he think they are like a flock of dumb sheep?
The short answer to his question is yes, we do want you to cancel censorship, as we are old enough to make our own decisions and with access to the internet will watch what we want uncensored anyway. The new changes to be implemented will largely be used to prevent children from watching films not suitable to their age group.
Adult Egyptians wear their big-boy and big-girl pants. They're grown-ups who want to make up their own minds about what they can or cannot watch using rating systems as guidelines. Whatever the government is afraid of, they are stuck in another era. Egyptians are already watching what they want to on the Internet. Other than total isolation North Korea-style, there is no stopping this now.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Egypt to 'Relax' Censorship of Foreign Films -- Unless They're Porn or 'Atheist'

Lebanese pop star Haifa Wehbe's latest film was banned in Egypt for being too risque. (source)
It seems like ratings for movies in Egypt have always been stuck at 'G'. You can forget about watching Nymphomaniac in Cairo -- well, you likely can watch it but all the sex scenes will be cut out mercilessly. What's the fun in that?

It seems that recently, the government's censorship board has discovered that Egyptians adults do not wish to be treated like babies -- and they have access to the Internet, where they can watch the uncensored movies anyway.

So now the plan is to stop hacking and slashing films and introduce a rating system similar to Canada and the United States. The article calls it the PG rating system. This is all well and good, I guess, except it seems like they could actually be going to use this to just ban films outright which are pornographic and atheist.
This announcement has been something Egyptians have wanted forever, however there is still reason to be skeptical as the chairman explains "we are not going to censor movies anymore, and we are not going to delete sexual scenes, but we are not allowing any movie that calls for atheism, or porn movies."
Perhaps what's really meant is anything more mature than PG will simply be banned? So now Egyptians are being seen as 13 year olds rather than 5 year olds then? As for atheism, I've reported before about how Egypt is at war with atheists. Interesting how this policy trickles all the way down to popular cinema.

The writers at CairoScene suspect that this is just more of the same government censorship and control. Because the government agency ultimately gets to decide what's pornography or atheism.
It is hard to know exactly if that means anything will really change, as the labeling of any film as atheist or pornography is left to interpretation, and may just result in the film being banned as opposed to releasing a censored version. As it stands, the chairman points out that he has only banned one film, Ridley Scott’s controversial film, Exodus. The decision to ban the film was made after talking to historians who pointed out inaccuracies, and was ultimately refused for a supposed Zionist message.
Historical inaccuracies indeed.  I tend to agree with the writers that it will be a cold day in hell before they can see Scarlett Johansson's boobs in an Egyptian cinema. 

North Carolina Atheist Murders Three Muslim Students

Deah Barakat (left), Yusor Mohammad (centre), Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha (right).
Edit: Foundation Beyond Belief is collecting money in honour of the three victims of this crime. The money is being collected for the Syrian American Medical Society Foundation as Deah Barakat was passionate about this cause (see bottom of post). So far, over $5,000 has been raised.

Last night, Craig Stephen Hicks, brutally murdered innocent people.  He slayed a young married couple and the wife's sister -- shot execution style. The three victims are Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

This is absolutely horrendous, and my thoughts and condolences are with the families of these people, who were senselessly murdered by what by all appearances is a mentally deranged individual.

The story is still stabilizing in the media, but so far, we know that Hicks has stated that he killed them over a parking dispute.
But in a statement released at 10 a.m. Wednesday, police said they believe the murders were caused by an “ongoing neighbor dispute over parking.” Police said Hicks is fully cooperating with the investigation.
There are also legitimate concerns that this was a hate-motivated crime because the victims were all Muslim and Hicks was virulently anti religious. I hope his wife may fill us in further on Hicks' motives in the coming days.

Needless to say, this is not even close to an appropriate excuse to murder anyone. I would never even consider killing anyone over something so trivial, nor would any reasonable human being. I've had parking disputes with my own neighbours over a shared lane between our houses. No Parking signs were erected in windows and city documents specifying property lines were exchanged. Both sides remained civilized throughout and we worked things out.

These neighbours are Muslim and I am an atheist and an anti-theist.

I'm bringing this up because Hicks is an atheist and an anti-theist, just like me. He runs a Facebook page where he spoke up for equality for atheists, LGBT rights and the problems with religions and superstitious belief -- just like I do. In fact, other than the gun fetish, any outside observer wouldn't be able to tell who was more radical based a comparison of his Facebook and my blog -- I suspect I might actually be seen as more radical.

So, he's one of us, I own that. You will not be hearing any No True Scotsman arguments from me. I'm even willing to admit that his disdain for Islam could have made it easier for him to pull the trigger on the three Muslims he killed last night. I would never even consider doing such a heinous thing myself, but I can understand this on a purely intellectual level. I'm not certain how much religion had to do with Hicks pulling the trigger, but things usually do not exist in a vacuum.

What's different between him and me -- and the vast majority of atheists and anti-theists out there, is that my beef is not with people, it has always been with certain ideas. Being an anti-theist doesn't mean you are against theists, it means you are against the whole notion of a god and you believe it is harmful to society. Murdering people over their beliefs is never right. You are killing the free exchange of ideas, you are going against Freethought. It makes you no less despicable than the barbarians who run ISIL.

Hicks is a violent man. This has nothing to do with his atheism.

I can see the atheist community owning this and loudly condemning it. It's good. I keep asking myself what we can do as a community to make sure this doesn't happen again, but I just cannot think of any way. I can't see any tell-tale red flags in hindsight. There is no kill the Muslims doctrine in any holy books to point to. All I can do is offer my sorrow and condolences to the families of these innocent victims. It just doesn't seem like enough.

One of the victims, Deah Barakat, was running a charity to help provide dental relief to Syrian children (he was studying Dentistry). This morning it was at 50K, but it's now reached over 100K. Perhaps donating to that is something we can do to try to make things not so completely broken.


UPDATE: Wife of Craig Hicks, Karen Hicks just had a press conference where she stated her husband's actions did not have anything to do with religion. Either way, this action was completely insane, heinous and unjustified.
UPDATE 3:15 P.M.: In a press conference, Hicks' wife of seven years, Karen, said she "never would have expected this," but said that the shooting had nothing to do with race or religion, and everything to do with parking problems.

"This incident had nothing to do with religion or victims’ faith but instead had to do with the longstanding parking disputes that my husband had with the neighbors," she said, choking back tears. "He often champions on his Facebook page for the rights of many individuals. Same sex marriages, abortion, race, he just believes that everyone is equal. Doesn’t matter what you look like or who you are or what you believe."

Saturday, 7 February 2015

US Television -- The Road Accident I Cannot Ignore


I've had the misfortune of watching Sister Wives before on The "Learning" Channel. The Mormonism angle is somewhat entertaining for me along with how they handle polygamy.

This Sunday, it seems like a couple of anthropologists are going to embed (somewhere if there is an extra bed in this family of 22!). This would be completely uninteresting to me -- especially since I know a couple of polyamorous families anyway. However, the Entertainment Tonight article had the word atheist at the bottom of it so as to attract people like me, I suppose.
The meeting seems to be going well, but how do the Browns react when they find out one of the students is an atheist? Watch the video and tune in to Sister Wives this Sunday at 9/8c on TLC.
Who knows? Burn them? Feed them to their kids? Can someone please watch this for me so I don't have to? Please?

Meanwhile, one of the Duggars is busy using Instagram again.

Last time it was Jessa who first made fun of atheists for believing in some kooky magic while she believed in a sky daddy. She then said something rather unfortunate about the Holocaust.

Now it's her sis Jill who is totally completely thrilled to bits about how amazingly delicious Chick-Fil-A is! It's also a restaurant which is run by raving anti-LGBT fundamentalist Christians which was boycotted in 2012 by LGBT groups for this stance.

Here's the Duggars performing and speaking at a Chick-Fil-A in support of anti-LGBT Rick Santorum.



Thursday, 5 February 2015

Dennis Markuze Sentencing Delayed Until June

Dennis Markuze
Yesterday, Hemant Mehta reported that Dennis Markuze would finally be sentenced for his relentless online harassments and death threats against atheist bloggers and websites. Luckily, my little blog seems to have stayed well under his radar.

The sentencing was supposed to happen today, but it turns out -- regrettably -- it has been delayed until June!

The lawyers involved were prepared to make a joint sentencing recommendation in November but it was put off because Boyer had handled several other cases that same day and ran out of time to hear the recommendation. The hearing was rescheduled to proceed Thursday but the judge was informed that a psychiatrist at the Jewish General Hospital has asked to testify in the case before Markuze is sentenced.

Boyer agreed to set June 3 as a date to hear the psychiatrist’s testimony.
I get it. Markuze is clearly not mentally well. However, one needs to balance his right to a fair sentencing with the level of stress and safety worries of atheist bloggers out there. Although I've never been targeted by him, I do live in Montreal and it does concern me.

Monday, 26 January 2015

New Greek Prime Minister Proud Atheist & Firm Secularist

Alexis Tsipras. By FrangiscoDer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Last month, we heard about Greece's Justice Minister, Haralambos Athanasiou, who refused to even talk about same-sex marriage and LGBT parents adopting in Greek, because: religion.
He said: “Our country has structures. We have to look at it from the religious point of view, the political point of view, the social point of view. The ministry of justice will not, under the pressure of anyone, examine such an issue without calmness and composure."
This was after his Prime Minister had originally announced they would redress LGBT inequality but then caved to fundamentalist clerical pressure.
Following the judgment, the prime minister Antonis Samaras’s conservative-dominated coalition signalled that it would redress the wrong but got cold feet when rightwingers and clerics reacted in fury. Greece and Lithuania stand alone in refusing to grant such rights.
Well, Antonis Samaras and his party got thrown out in the last Greek election.  His conservative party has been replaced with SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left). When's the last time you heard a party that calls itself radical left win an election in Europe?

New Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras is openly atheist, which could very well be a first for Greece.
"As scores of news photographers clicked away, Alexis Tsipras took his oath of office today in Athens. He said he promised to uphold the Constitution and look out for the welfare of Greeks. Tsipras is an atheist, so he refused a religious oath — the custom in this Greek Orthodox country. He's the first prime minister to do so. He's only 40, so he's also the youngest leader in Greece since 1865.
So, this is about the strongest message he could have sent to conservative religious clerics in Greece. Further reports indicate that he is also not adverse to working with religious groups -- he hasn't an axe to grind -- but it seems clear, for now at least, that he isn't one to be pushed around by the church.
GREECE'S new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, made history within hours of his victory by informing the Archbishop of Athens, very politely, that clerical services would not be required for his swearing-in ceremony. An avowed atheist who has nonetheless made a point of dealing courteously with senior clergy, Mr Tsipras lost no time in making known that his oath of office would be a secular procedure. It was also explained that when the whole cabinet was sworn in, a more junior cleric (but not the archbishop) would be invited to assist those who wished to take a religious oath.

It's hard to overstate what a rupture this marks with the ceremonial culture of Greece. For as long as anybody can remember, every senior office-holder, from socialists to right-wing dictators, has assumed the post with a ritual involving Bibles, crosses and often holy water, sprinkled about with a sprig of basil. The opening words of the Greek constitution recall the theological formulas of the early church which predate by the Hellenic state by more than 1,300 years: "In the name of the holy, consubstantial and indivisible Trinity......" 
Tsipras is a committed secularist who seems willing to work with everyone in the country to bring about true and real state-church separation -- or so I've read. This is great news and we can only hope that, without religious excuses against it, LGBT equality -- including same-sex marriage and LGBT adoption -- will be not far behind for Greece.

Still waiting for an atheist to be Prime Minister of Canada.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Ontario Man Lodges Complaint With Human Rights Tribunal Against Public School Board

(source)
Monday evening, I started getting comments on an old post I did about Ontario resident, Rene Chouinard, winning his battle to get the Gideons the hell out of the District (Public!) School Board of Niagara (DSBN).
Rene needs to get a life and worry about bigger issues. He is trying to put teachers out of jobs at Eden High school. This is so crazy. Why can't he just worry about himself and leave others alone.
This comment, along with a couple of others, indicated there was something new afoot in the region and it likely involved the intentional promotion of more religion on public school grounds.

I turns out that Chouinard had lodged a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHMT) concerning the DSBN's continued close ties with Protestant Christianity -- e.g. Habitat for Humanity and Eden High School. There was an initial hearing on Monday to establish whether or not Chouinard had standing to proceed further.
In November 2013, Rene Chouinard filed an Ontario Human Rights Code complaint arguing the board "continues to exhibit preferences for Protestant Christianity" at its facilities, to the exclusion of other creeds and religious beliefs.

He says the most obvious example of this is the Eden High School in St. Catharines and its Protestant ties.

The complaint adds the board has "continued to allow other missionary organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, to operate Christian mission activities within its programs."
Eden is a public high school in St. Catherines, but they are not part of the Catholic Public School Board, they're Protestant. To my knowledge, only the Catholics have been constitutionally grandfathered into being a real public school system in Ontario. Protestants were not so lucky, likely because: Catholic privilege. 

A simple glance at the About section on Eden's website talks about their Spiritual Life Centre:
In addition The Spiritual Life Centre provides a meaningful program to assist in the development and support of Eden’s students’ wellness and personal life journey through a rich array of life activities. The Spiritual Life Centre is privately funded through parent and community donations; it is funded separately from Eden High School.
You mean privately-funded just like the Gideons who handed out their Bibles and religious literature on campus as well? Wait a minute, that's the same thing except this is even worse. Nice try, DSBN.

Take a look at this Spiritual Life Centre. It looks like a church website.
Along with our history of excellent academics and athletics, Eden offers students access to amazing programs and experiences through our Spiritual Life Centre (SLC).

These include:
  • Daily Chapel - 180 chapels during the year
  • One on One Mentoring - 800 + hours
  • Grade Retreats - 768 hours of off-site adventure
  • Additional connections including small groups, worship teams, coaching and participation in class trips
  • Missions Trip options - five month discipleship track with Take Flight and summer trips with Gear Up and much more. The Spiritual Life Centre is truly what sets Eden apart! 
On the page, they stress again that this centre is funded entirely by private donations -- you know, like a church! How is this any different than letting Gideons set up a freaking church in the school, to say the least of letting them distribute Bibles?

Meanwhile, Habitat For Humanity is an overtly Christian organization, something I never knew before now.

Chouinard is seeking the following compensation from the DSBN:
He is seeking $50,000 in compensation from the DSBN to run a long-term media campaign promoting the validity of secular humanism.

His non-monetary remedy, among a number of demands, is to have Eden disbanded and either rebranded as a secular facility or closed.
These are reasonable requests, in my opinion. The Board either needs to treat humanist organizations in like manner as Christian organizations -- which is similar to the request to be able to distribute atheist literature back in the Gideons case -- or this school needs to be rebranded. Another option, in my opinion would be that it be removed from the DSBN and stop receiving public funds.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Nice Mangos: World's Only Pakistani Sex-Blogger

By Asit K. Ghosh Thaumaturgist (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
Did you know that the only Pakistani sex blogger lives right here in Canada and that she's also an outspoken atheist? India.com has an excellent little interview with Toronto-based Pakistani sex blogger Eiynah (aka @NiceMangos).  It covers what it's like to be an ex-Muslim sex-blogging Pakistani woman living in Canada and also touches on the French Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks.

Her blog, Nice Mangos, talks about Pakistani sexuality and a whole lot more about life as an ex-Muslim atheist woman.  Here's a couple of her notable responses from the interview itself.

Her opinion about why fundamentalists get so threatened by her:
I receive all kinds of unacceptable threats. Death threats, rape threats, threats of violence. I hear from people who say I’m a coward because I will not share my address with them, so they can ‘come get me’.

It doesn’t actually take much for a fundamentalist to be threatened by one’s thoughts. They probably don’t like that I am open about being an ex-Muslim, an atheist. The fact that I am an outspoken woman or that I promote a healthy sex-positive attitude. That I speak out for women’s rights in our culture, most recently it seems to be my children’s book My Chacha is Gay which has upset fundamentalists from all faiths. Homosexuality is not acceptable in most mainstream, organized religions. I urge people to move past that. To look at things with human rights and equality in mind.
What's the deal with Western liberals seemingly never being able to admit that religion is part of the problem of radical Islam?:
Honestly, I don’t know. I feel like cultural relativism plays a large part in that. For the far left, being politically correct and inclusive of ‘diversity’ has gotten to a point where they cannot even point out clear human rights violations – like the burqa, because they assume it is part of our culture. I don’t think it’s fair to assume that such misogyny is ‘part of a culture’. It should be called out, and Muslims should be held to the same moral standards as everyone else. It can actually be quite offensive to see that many liberals from other cultures think we’re not capable of being as moral and tolerant as others. If we are not held accountable, how will our communities evolve? (Read: Charlie Hebdo and the Paris Shooting: The terrorists did have a religion – it’s called Islam)
Finally she touches on what it's like being an feminist atheist in Pakistan:
I live in Canada, fortunately. This is a country where freethinking people thrive; religion doesn’t come up much in the public domain. Equality is something we strive for in Canada too, while not perfect – we are doing pretty well.  When I lived in Pakistan, I found it difficult to adjust – more difficult than growing up in Saudi Arabia actually. I don’t think I could live there with the conservative expectations most people have. Being an atheist in Pakistan has to be a very silent thing. You certainly cannot declare it publicly, because there could be grave consequences. Being a feminist in Pakistan is quite depressing, every step of the way you are reminded of the inequality between men and women.
There's much more in the interview, go check that out!

Also, check out Eiynah's blog, Nice Mangos!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Egyptian Atheist Gets Three Years In Jail For Posting to Facebook


Egypt has escalated their government program to fight the spread of atheism in the countryKarim Ashraf Mohammed Al-Banna declared his atheism on Facebook, was subsequently harassed, went to report this to the authorities, got arrested by the authorities.
Ishaq Ibrahim, a researcher on freedom of religion and belief at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), told Daily News Egypt that Al-Banna declared his atheism on Facebook and subsequently was harassed in public. Upon seeking to file a report of the assault at a police department in Idku, Al-Banna was arrested.

He was arrested and has been held since November. Now, a three year jail term has been handed to Al-Banna -- he can delay with 1,000 EGP ($165 CDN). His own father supported the case against him and pointed out his son's "suspect" books.

Again, his crime is simply insulting the divine and contempt of Islam -- speaking out and questioning.
He is accused of using his Facebook account to publish articles that “belittle the divine”, according to the rights group Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE).
As I've been reporting, Egypt is in the midst of a major campaign to eradicate what it sees as a threat to the nation: atheism, which they wish to stamp out. Just a few weeks ago they tore up a cafe in downtown Cairo because: atheists and Satanists.

Not much more information for now. I'll keep reporting as more comes through. Meanwhile, it looks like Egypt has taken the next step in their tyrannical mission to silence anyone who dares to question the dominant religion. Waiting for our Office of Religious Freedom to chime in now... cue the elevator music.

The punch line here is that apparently atheism is not illegal in the country. Of course, that won't stop charges of contempt of religion from being levied -- e.g. blasphemy laws.

Of course, this is all the more reason to get rid of our own blasphemy laws here in Canada. Check out more about CFI Canada and Humanist Canada's effort to do just this.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Songs of Courage By An Atheist Woman In Gaza

Singer Mariam Abuamer is standing up to religious oppression and surviving bombs from the sky in Gaza, one song at a time.
Editor's Note: This is a reprinting of a an item I posted back on August 3rd, 2014 (with one very minor redaction at Mariam's request). I took it down on the very next day because Mariam had concerns about her own security due to the dangerous climate in Gaza for atheists. I wrote about some of her concerns in a later post with her name redacted for her protection. The original International Business Times story about her was also taken down at her request while she was still inside Gaza. That's why the link is broken.

She has since managed to leave Gaza and has given me permission to publish about her situation. I will write more about her soon and this post is being 'resurrected' so I can refer to it in the future.
-

Over at International Business Times, there is an extremely compelling and inspiring story about one atheist woman in Gaza's refusal to submit to an oppressive theocratic Hamas government regime and resistance to Israeli occupation -- all while the bombs come raining down upon a city with no defense. You must read about this.

In Gaza, A Young Woman's Resistance To Hamas And Israel Comes In Music

Mariam Abuamer is 21 and lives in Hamas controlled Gaza. She dreams of leaving for Britain one day -- her singing in public which is illegal in there. She's also an open atheist.

Abuamer is one of the few women here who have spoken out in public against Hamas, and is visibly fighting cultural norms. She refuses to wear a hijab and dresses in what would pass as “hipster” clothing in New York. Although she does not proclaim it publicly, she became an atheist in 2012, when she said she “discovered things about religion that no one likes to talk about. The dark things -- like how the religion is set up to support a man, not a woman.”

Other women her age have begun to take notice of her atheism.

“They don’t like me because I am different. They gossip about me a lot,” she said. “There are some who are like me but are afraid to say anything.”

She is fighting the norm by simply being herself: wearing the clothes she wants to, proclaiming her atheism and smoking and cursing with journalists in public. And who wouldn't have a few things to curse about when your city is being ruled by those who would outlaw her passion of singing -- silencing expression (read: human rights violations) -- and bombs are falling from the sky killing hundreds of innocent civilians around you?
"Girls can’t really sing here. It is forbidden. You will be arrested.” Yet Abuamer sings, either in her room, at a friend’s house or at the French Institute, a cultural center run by the French government.

"It is the only time I am happy, it empties me of all the negativity and sadness I have inside of me,” she said.
Read this article -- the bravery of this woman is inspiring. Then subscribe to her Twitter feed if you want to see how gravely bad things have become inside the Gaza Strip.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Salon Writer Has a Big Problem With god


Salon has started off the year in true form with a short and hilarious essay by Richard (R.J.) Eskow who deftly points out that we live in a world of war, environmental disaster, economic inequality and, well, countless horrors and persecutions. Luckily, he has found a way to distract us all from these very real issues by shining light on yet another persecution many Christians must endure.

Some people do not capitalize the proper name God.

He denies wanting to start a shitstorm, but I cannot think of anything more incendiary than this. The article has so far generated 1,900 comments and it could very well cause a real schism in the atheist community! Dear god! Is this our golden apple?

Of course, in many a more backward country or time, taking the Lord's name in vain would most certainly result in more grave consequences than this. What I mean is more than a curmudgeonly write-up.
I understand why some atheists might want to write “god” instead of “God.” If you believe that the word describes a human phenomenon rather than a genuine and existent deity, it might seem appropriate to use the lowercase form. But it’s not.  If you are referring to the singular and all-powerful deity of monotheistic tradition, you are using a proper name. That means the capital “G” is a must.
I can understand Eskow's frustration when it's apparent the author does not understand these rules, but if the writer is in the know, then they have every right to suspend the laws of grammar if it is to make a point -- to express.

If the author wishes to demonstrate non-belief or an extreme disdain for something which is normally capitalized, then it's perfectly acceptable. This needs to be a very deliberate thing and it must be clear it is intentional. I've been known to lowercase god occasionally.

Would Eskow have similar problems with me referring to God as him rather than Him? Would he permit me freedom do this? Although E.E. Cummings did capitalize God, is it alright with Eskow for him to have left other words in small case?
The true nature of creation may be in dispute, but the proper usage in this case is not. Webster’s Dictionary tells us that a “god” is “a spirit or being that has great knowledge, strength, power, etc.” while “God” is “the perfect and all-powerful spirit or being … worshipped by Christians, Jews, and Muslims …”
Agnostic atheists like me know this from experience: dictionaries do not prescribe they describe.

Listen, I cringe every time someone says myself instead of me or yourself instead of you while on business conference calls. On some level, I get it.

There is also plenty of room for people to bend the rules. Let's not let prescriptivism limit expression. Just relax, okay?

Thursday, 1 January 2015

First Atheist Event In Saudi Arabia?

I've been writing a fair bit about Saudi Arabia lately and I've run into this graphic on Twitter several times now. It seems to be somehow related to Kuwaiti atheist D. Fatima Al-Jahra (@RevolutionQ8), who has been posting some very bold Quran tearing and stomping images on her Twitter feed.


If this event actually happened in Mecca, it's sort of a big deal.

I don't want to blow anyone's cover -- as this is obviously an incredibly dangerous thing to do in a country which equates atheists with terrorists. However, if someone could drop me any sort of anonymized news on this, I'd gladly spread the word.

 Then there is this video as well:

Saturday, 27 December 2014

CFI & Humanist Canada: Yey! ORF: Meh.

From left to right: Eric Adriaans, Kevin Smith, Andrew Bennett, Eric Thomas.
In April 2013, I posted about how CFI Canada representatives finally got to meet with Ambassador Andrew Bennett from a newly-created Office of Religious Freedom (ORF). It seemed like the government organization only agreed to meet begrudgingly, after some media pressure -- it was like going to meet the Wizard. I was still happy to see the meeting, but couldn't help but be skeptical.
It's just that I cannot help but be highly skeptical and pessimistic about this.  Actions speak louder than words and I won't take them seriously until they make a stand.  I have a hard time accepting that this office was oblivious to the IHEU report for example. What kind of international policy office on religion could have missed that?  And why did they not consult with atheist or even Muslim groups during their formative stages.
After that meeting, there was a general sense that the office was doing nothing substantial to help atheists and non-religious people. Although I do not have the link, I can recall a challenge made to Bennett to demonstrate his support for human rights of atheists and agnostics by speaking out against Saudi Arabia's horrific treatment of blogger Raif Badawi. We waited and, other than a few muffled whispers and nods, none seemed to come.

Well, on December 22nd, there was another meeting between the ORF's Andrew Bennett, Eric Adriaans and Kevin Smith from CFI Canada, and Eric Thomas from Humanist Canada.

I'm happy the CFI covered this on their site, because I see precious nothing at all on the ORF's press release page or on Bennett's Twitter feed! But then, this has been the story all along and nobody would expect the ORF to break decorum by going out of character.

So, is this new office doing anything at all to help non-religious people deal with persecution? I must now try to suspend the years of disappointments and look at the results as objectively as possible.

The CFI press release points out that Bennett has offered his support of their work. They are highlighting some bright points:
Since that meeting, CFIC has been pleased to observe Ambassador Bennett’s support of CFI’s work to support Raif Badawi at the United Nations Human Rights Council (CFI Transnational’s Michael DeDora advocacy work of June 2014) as well as his comments on the subject of freedom from religion
Allow me to give credit where credit is due.  CFI did a really great job chastising Saudi Arabia for their horrible disregard for human rights and for their inhumane torture of Raif Badawi. In fact, I think they did an even better job than John Baird or Andrew Bennett.

No wait, we got this tweet:
Yes comrades, I am not impressed. If this is progress, then may I please have my part of the office's 5M budget back so I can donate it to Amnesty International?

Oh, and no press release on the official page, of course. Furthermore, it wasn't even a protest against the Saudi government for their treatment of Raif. Technically, it was Bennett being proud that another Canadian defended the right of the Centre for Inquiry to speak out for Raif. Feel free to follow the trail of indirections on your own. Scribble it out on napkin with a graph, if you want clarity.

Doing a quick survey of Bennett's Twitter feed, I found a couple of retweets of Michael De Dora -- who is doing visible work -- as well (one, two). That's pretty good, I guess. I've been known to retweet other people's stuff too. Only takes a click.

Bennett has also seductively dangled supportive generalizations at the end of paragraphs as well. I'm afraid that I've already been unimpressed with his comments in the United Church Observer.
If we don’t have religious freedom in society, it’s very hard to also have freedom of expression, freedom of association. All these different human rights are linked together. When we look at freedom of religion, it’s the freedom to openly — publicly or privately — profess your faith. It’s the freedom to engage in public worship in peace and security. It’s the freedom to engage in missionary activity. And here’s the real acid test: does a country allow people to freely convert to another faith? Conversely, does it not force them to change their faith? There must also be an understanding that people should be able to not have religious faith.

Interview with the United Church Observer from 09.2014
He did say this during comments at a Toronto area talk, though. So I cannot fault him completely -- this was good. Too bad it was the comments to some speech and not an official press release or a television interview or in a major newspaper or a blurb on his website. Demanding aren't I?
In an obvious sense, the immediate objective for much of our advocacy work is to speak the truth about the plight of individuals and persecuted religious groups, to help build support for efforts that will alleviate their suffering. Including those persecuted for the choice not to adhere to a religious belief or to openly disagree with the established belief.
To be fair, he also said something similar in another speech in Warsaw. I guess this is good, but who actually sees any of this? You really need to dig and it doesn't help that his website seems not to mention any of this at all.

The CFI release points out that Bennett does believe in freedom to believe in a non-religious philosophy. Although, he seems to miss the point that for many people in this world -- including many people in North America who are literally recovering from religion  -- that people must have freedom from religion.
Ambassador Bennett informed us that he believes “freedom of religion must incorporate the freedom to not have a religious belief,” and while he does not believe in freedom from religion, does feel that people must have “the freedom to embrace a non-religious set of beliefs or philosophy.”
I'm not sure what to make of that. For those of us who have had religion crammed down our throats in our youth and see religion as a net positive harm for the world, freedom from religion is essential. It's actually something not to be dismissed -- many of us were indoctrinated as children and much of our lives were spent actively fighting for our own freedom from our childhood religions.

Here are the topics covered in the meeting.

  • ORF’s “The Religious Freedom Fund”
  • ORF’s duty to speak out against all faith-based discrimination, harassment, torture and human rights violations
  • Canada’s Blasphemy law (Criminal Code Section 296) and its symbolic relationship to blasphemy laws in other states (the blasphemy law is a domestic matter not within the purview of the ORF)
  • CFI Canada’s project to respond to international atheists seeking our support in repressive regimes
  • Work that CFI, HC and ORF can do together to provide education on freedom from religion

Good for the CFI and Humanist Canada. These are all worthy and they are the right groups to discuss it. If the ORF helped out with any of these, we may get concrete results.
Eric Adriaans, National Executive Director of CFI Canada said, “This was an important and constructive meeting. As educational charities and the leading voices for Canada’s atheist, secular humanist and humanist community – we must do all that we can to develop relationships within our movement and with government agencies such as the Office of Religious Freedom to ensure that our community is not left out.  Ambassador Bennett continues to work with us toward concrete outcomes from our working relationship.  I look forward to the work we will do together to ensure that the human rights of non-believer minorities are defended as rigorously as religious minorities.”
Still waiting for those concrete outcomes! Still waiting!

I understand that it makes more sense to build bridges than walls. So, I praise the CFI and Humanist Canada for meeting with the Office of Religious Freedom. It's also nice that Andrew Bennett has accepted another meeting.

However, I cannot help but remain skeptical and disappointed in the Office. It still seems to me like they're hardly even trying. When it comes to people (not philosophies) being in peril for their lack of religious belief across this globe, it really seems to be that groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Atheist Alliance International, International Humanist and Ethical Union and the Center For Inquiry are superior human rights watchdogs and are more effective at engaging people over social media.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Titles & Headlines Sometimes Tell a Story, Or Maybe Not?

Dante visiting the infidels and atheists in Hell.
I've found that, when it comes to articles, there's a lot you can learn from the title. Often the overall meaning, or the desired message has been distilled into the headline. Let's examine this one, for instance.

'Daughter of atheists now Anglican bishop tackling poverty'

The first thing this tells us is that atheists are presumably not too miserable to reproduce. They had a daughter. This is the least insightful thing.

Slightly more interesting is someone born in a non-religious environment becoming an Anglican bishop. This is only interesting because one seldom sees this go the other way. Many many atheists within the movement were born into religious families. Some even become humanist chaplains or atheist activists. What's newsworthy here is someone who's apparently been inoculated against religion in their youth becoming religious -- this, apparently, almost never happens.

It gets more interesting when you reach the end of the title... tackling poverty. I suppose, there is nothing unusual or newsworthy about an Anglican bishop doing this. This is practically their job. No, what's being implied here is that one has made a sort of voyage from being a stereotypical uncharitable atheist to become someone who is tackling poverty: an Anglican bishop, naturally.

Or perhaps her atheist parents are mentioned to paint a humble beginning. A lower place from which she was able to claw her way out of a pit of darkness to the light. Her path down to a gloomy godless existence was diverted, somehow, and now she's come so far, improved so much.

Let's dig just a little into the article itself now.
Her parents, confirmed atheists, actively discouraged religion but encouraged music in their young soprano. That was her window into Christian faith and it changed her life, eventually.
She was born in the UK and so her parents' atheism is not at all newsworthy either. The Anglican church has been on the wane there for decades. In fact, I don't think that there is anything newsworthy about their atheism at all.

I think the newsworthy thing here is this apparently wonderful woman who is doing good work to help people pull their way out of a real darkness -- poverty. The daughter of atheists bit is either click-bait or a small slight against atheists and atheism.

This mention of atheist parents does nothing but distract from an otherwise inspirational story of a woman trying to do good for her community and even head up a city council secular task force to work for change -- a truly (secular) Humanist endeavour worthy of praise. To bring the atheism up in the title seems like nothing more than a sort of wedge. Is the story really about this?

Then of course, I could be reading too much into this afterall. Perhaps, I am so focused on religious attitudes towards atheists, I am making something out of nothing at all. The mention just seemed rather unnecessary.

Note: If you check out the comments on this story, you'll find that I wasn't the only atheist who caught more than just a whiff of something that was 'off' with the title.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Cairo Police Shut Down 'Atheist Cafe' Due to 'Satanic Rituals'


The Egyptian government has been funny, what with them knowing precisely how many atheists there are in the country or attempting to ban televised belly dancing competitions. It's because recently the rhetoric has been ramping way up against atheists, who have been identified multiple times as the greatest challenge to Egyptian society which must be stamped out.

Well, the saber rattling seems to have given way to action this week. Cairo police raided and shut down an atheist cafe.
Egyptian security forces have stormed what they described as the "atheists' cafe" in downtown Cairo, raising fears of a renewed crackdown on freedom of expression in the country.

The popular cafe, located in the capital's Abdeen neighbourhood, was a nest for "Satan worshippers", according to Gamal Mohie, chief of the local municipality.
None of the authorities responsible were able to explain why people who do not believe in supernatural deities would ever be worshiping the devil -- having rituals and wild dancing apparently!
"There was no sign reading 'atheists' cafe' outside, as nobody would put up such a public announcement. However, it was popularly known as a place for Satan worship, rituals and dances. There were also Satanic drawings at the entrance," Mohie said, adding that the owner was arrested during the raid.
Right. If these pictures are any indication, it looks like there were Nazi swastikas drawn by someone outside of the entrance. These police are either very confused or are just looking for any excuse to either oppress potential political opposition or to cause a diversion from their own performance.

A story over at Morocco World News describes the situation further.
Egypti’s Youm7 quoted the head of Hay Al Abidin Jamal Mohi as saying that the café was located on Avenue Al Falaki in downtown Cario, and “it was a resort for atheists and Satanists who were spreading wrong ideas about religion.”

Jamal Mohi went on to add that local authorities decided to destroy the café after they received many requests from residents who live the café.

“Residents said that each midnight, atheists and Satanists in the café would start performing sort of satanic rituals,” he explained.

Mohi also revealed that the local authorities destroyed the café amid local women’s ululations of joy.
Atheist activist Ayman Ramzy sees this all as a political ploy to divert Egyptians from meaningful questions of government policy.
Ramzy went on to add that local authorities should worry about the critical issues that Egypt is facing, such as the growing number of homeless children, rather than violating the individual freedoms of Egyptian citizens.
Just recently a French journalist and friends were detained and interrogated in a Cairo cafe for discussing politics after a woman overheard their conversation and contacted the police.

It seems to me that things are getting progressively worse for freedom of expression in Egypt for atheists and anyone who may have an opinion at odds with the official State sanctioned status quo.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Egyptian Government: There Are Precisely 866 Atheists In Egypt

'Now, how'd they figure that one out?'
The behaviour of the current Egyptian government has gone from goofy to downright erratic lately. It was all still sort of funny when the government attempted to block a belly dancing competition because it was dangerous like homosexuality and atheism. However, the government there seems to be completely overrun by mad clerics who keep repeatedly singling out atheism (and anything they'd like to call atheism) as the greatest threat to Egypt society (one, two, three, four, five, six). It really sounds like they are gearing up for a good Saudi Style purge in this country -- and remember what they did to Alber Saber.

Well, now here's a some ridiculous insanity to act as a bit of levity above the background of ominous government threats against atheists in the country. It turns out that the government knows there are precisely 866 atheists in Egypt!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Turkish Govt Committee: Compulsory Nursery-School 'Values Education' & Any Disagreement is 'Atheism'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan - By Flagellvm·Dei (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Things seem to really be going downhill in Turkey, which is supposed to be one of the most reasonable, secular majority Muslim countries -- at least in the Middle Eastern region. This all seems to be pointing back to their increasingly spooky and highly religious president, Tayyip Erdoğan.

So far we're up to his government censoring genitalia and the proper names of genitalia from Biology textbooks; banning his military from watching nudie shows like Game of Thrones; rewritting history to make it more patriotic; taking issue with lip-o-suction kissing on daytime television; stating that feminists don't understand motherhood, which he believes he is primary meaning of a woman's life; and strongly pushing for a 'More Pious Youth' by replacing secular schools with religious schools and coercing parents to send their children to them. Doesn't he sound a little like some fundamentalist socially-conservative Christian groups?

Well, here's more information now on that last creepy education goal:

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Alberta Far Right Party Strikes Down Equality Statement: Atheist VP Communications Resigns

Terry Lo looking awesomely dapper in his outfit before attending Hullabaloo 2014. (source)
Terry Lo looks like a pretty fun guy, according to his Twitter feed. My cursory look at this, along with his blog, Calgary  Dreamer, really makes me wonder how he ever fit into the creepy, extremist and rather theocratic Alberta Wildrose Party. If I'm to understand Alberta politics, Progressives actually voted for the somewhat not crazy conservative party so these totally crazy social conservatives didn't get into power.

Well, just yesterday, Lo posted his resignation from the post of VP of Communications in a post on his blog.
Today, I made a small stand for what I believed in, leading to what probably was the shortest time I’ve ever held office as VP Communications for the Wild Rose Party in Calgary-Glenmore, and the end to my association with the party as well. Being the surrogate dad to a gay son, Asian, AND atheist, I was always an unusual member of the party. But a few events in the last year made me realize that I was in a place that was morally (to me) untenable. I resigned today with no reservations.
Uhm... yeah... not a great match. How does this sort of thing even happen? In his official resignation letter he points out the problems with this party.
As a member who is Asian, Atheist and parent of a LGBT son, I hoped to change the ill perception that resulted in the Lake of Fire debacle. When our leader, Danielle Smith, had championed the inclusion statement in the 2013 AGM, I had truly believed that I was a member of the right party, and it was in this spirit that I had made my decision to serve the party in the best way I saw fit.

But even despite what I saw as an appalling misstep in defeating the 2014 vote re: GSAs and the protection of LGBT youth against bullying, I still had hoped to help change the tone and give an inclusive message to the public at large. After all, if one such as me could be a member, then anyone can be a part.
But in the time between my election and now, several events at the Glenmore Rally and during the by- elections has led me to believe that I was mistaken, and as such, find myself at this decision. The final breaking point was the revocation of the inclusion statement at the AGM this past weekend DESPITE our leader’s own recommendation, and how it used to show that WR was truly an inclusive party.
Huffington Post explains how the party held a vote during the Glenmore Rally where they decided to remove a statement of inclusion that would essentially apply to all races, religions (or no religion), LGBT people etc. -- you know, human beings.
Party members on the weekend voted against adopting as policy a statement supported by Leader Danielle Smith that affirmed the rights of everyone regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation and other differences.

The expanded definition had been held up by the party for a year as the shining example of a new moderate centrism palatable to Albertans across the political spectrum.

Instead, members voted Saturday to go with a broader policy to recognize that "all Albertans have equal rights, privileges and responsibilities."

In the 2012 election, the party appeared to be on the road to winning when it was derailed by controversies that included comments by one of its candidates who, in a blog, had urged gays to repent or face an eternity in hell's "lake of fire."
That's right... "Lake of fire!" You'll find Lo's reaction to universal inclusion being dropped at the  Glenmore Rally in this picture he posted on the blog post.


Lo identifies as many atheists I know do -- as a fiscal conservative but a social liberal. I don't consider myself a conservative, but we need more conservatives like Lo! Really, the right wing has gotten downright nutty.
I’ve always seen myself as a fiscal conservative, but socially liberal. I believe in a balanced budget, responsible use of the public purse and more. But I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m a strong supporter of women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and a firm rejection of organized religion. I would suppose that would make me a moderate of sorts. I also try to emulate and follow a modern version of chivalry, whereas the highest aspirations of a person should be in service of others, and built a name in support of charity and goodwill in Calgary. I despise anyone who will not support the strength of their convictions, and I really do try to back my own acts come what may.
In actually, this breed of conservative -- the kind I can get along with -- is a rare breed these days in both Canada and the US... okay, especially in the US. Lately, conservative has come to mean Bible-thumpin', anti-choice, anti-LGBT, but this wasn't always the case. He felt out of place in the PC party for social agenda reasons and out of place from the NDP party for fiscal agenda reasons -- Wild Rose seemed to be an alternative at the time.
But being a member of a sports team with gay members, and looking around at random WR events, I knew this was far from the truth. What was sad was this was confirmed as I walked around. But in those several chats, what especially disturbed me was that LGBT people were described as “uppity” and “whiners”. This wasn’t a bad joke, or even a casual careless statement. Looking at each face, it was an honest belief. Needless to say, I was actually angry, no more like pissed and furious, on TV as I was positioned to stand right behind Danielle at the rally. I was close to storming off that day, but calmed down by the end of her speech.
Wild Rose also joined the Conservatives to vote down bill 31-19, which would have made it mandatory for schools to allow Gay Straight Alliances in schools (GSA). Lo's own son is gay -- preventing the formation of GSA groups is a blow against people like his son and rightly so. He thought there was some hope for the party even after this, but the removal of the equality statement was too much.
Ideologically, I believe now that the party is swinging far right again on social issues, and as such, totally in opposition to my own beliefs. And ANY party that visibly does not protect my son, is one that has lost my support, and in fact, earned my opposition.
Good on ya, Terry! I'm happy to see you dumped the party and you're unabashedly atheist as well!