Showing posts with label canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label canada. Show all posts

Saturday, 27 June 2015

More Information on CFI Canada's Membership in ORF External Advisory Committee


Last Monday, we learned that the Office of Religious Freedom (ORF) just got a new external advisory committee composed of some 23 religious leaders - none of which were named at the time. Then, a day later, we learned that it's actually a committee of 23 religious leaders and a single agnostic. Furthermore, that agnostic is actually Eric Adriaans, the national director of CFI Canada.

Eric posted a short report on the inaugural meeting of the new committee over at the CFI blog.
Eric Adriaans says of the appointment, “My inclusion on this committee is a significant demonstration of the Office of Religious Freedom’s recognition of the diversity of perspective to be found in Canada on matters of religious freedom.  Canada’s free-thinking, non-believing community should be encouraged to see evidence that the ORF has taken steps to include and welcome a representative from the growing non-believing community.  It is an honour to have been appointed and an honour to represent the perspectives of the significant and growing community of individuals who may variously self-identify with such terms as humanist, secularist, secular humanist, atheist, agnostic, free-thinker or skeptic.
That last highlighted part ties very nicely into a question I had for Eric. Namely, why did Fr. Raymond J. de Souza call him an agnostic in his revelatory article and why does Adriaans' bio on the official committee webpage lack the word atheist, agnostic or non-religious, settling only for secular humanism? I couldn't help but think perhaps he was watering down certain important facets of the organization to make it more palatable to committee members perhaps.

I asked Eric directly concerning this via email and here's the relevant response:

Was there any hesitation to use the word "atheist" in the bio or article to de Souza. Asking because by saying "agnostic" vs secular or humanist or atheist it may be interpreted by some readers as whitewashing.
If your question is whether I'm afraid to be identified as atheist, the answer is no.  I chose "agnostic" for strategic reasons:

1) it is unexpected
2) it forces the kinds of questions you are asking
3) it doesn't sit comfortably and contentedly
4) as these things go, it is a contrarian term

I also don't want anybody thinking they know my (or CFICs) agenda before I have a chance to speak.  I want people to listen - both on the committee and in the broad community.... not just shut down due to an arbitrary and partial label.

I embrace both atheist and agnostic.  In fact, like you've done, I think the two should be paired more frequently.  I wish I had thought of that when I was speaking with DeSouza.

On any given day you could accurately say I'm a pragmatic atheist-agnostic with an assertively anti-authoritarian streak who is trying to accomplish progressive humanist-humanitarian changes; I admit that my skeptical approach is tainted by a slightly cynical attitude but I'm stoic enough not to worry myself over it. 
Adriaans is referring to a previous email where I identified myself as an agnostic atheist, which I believe is truly the honest position. In a very real sense, we're all agnostic... even the other 23 committee members. I'm also a big cynic too!

It's a shame there isn't an umbrella term which could be used -- perhaps an acronym comparable to LGBT. As it stands though, Eric did remind me that this was from a single article, by someone else, completely in passing, in an article about a completely different topic. So I don't think we should make much of this right now.

All this said, the most important thing is what can be achieved for atheists being oppressed by religious groups, governments and majorities across the globe. 
“Working for change in Canada and around the world requires CFI Canada to earn trust and respect across a variety of communities -  within the diverse secularist community and with those who continue in a religious or spiritual community,”  said Adriaans, ” We must take the opportunity to engage on equal footing and with full commitment to processes such as the ORF’s External Advisory Committee if we wish to see positive change on religious freedoms – and freedom from religion.”

The Office of Religious Freedom recently announced the launch of an International Contact Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief with Canada as a Chair.  Meanwhile, CFI Canada was a driving force behind the formation of the International Coalition Against Blasphemy Laws earlier in 2015.  It is clear that Canadians have much to offer to the world when it comes to bringing diverse voices together – and that CFI Canada is unique in Canadian history as an advocate for secularism, free-thinking and non-belief in all of (its) diversity.
I'm all for working with religious leaders to improve the situation of those being oppressed in the name of religion. I'm looking forward to see what can be achieved over the committee's first one year mandate!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

CFI Canada Represented on New External Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom to Advise the ORF

Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (source)
Today, I ran across this story in the National Post by Raymond J. de Souza, which mentioned the new External Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom to Advise Office of Religious Freedom I posted about yesterday ... en passant.

Here's the part which matters.
The inaugural meeting of the advisory committee for the Office of Religious Freedom was held on Monday, bringing together some two dozen religious leaders — and one agnostic — from across the country to provide advice to the office on religious liberty around the world.
Yesterday, I tweeted Andrew Bennett, head of the Office of Religious Freedom to ask him if anyone would stand up for secular people being oppressed by religious regimes and majorities across the world. Actually, I just wanted to know who the 23 religious leaders on the committee were. It all seemed to be a bit of a mystery because neither the press release nor the scant media coverage so far actually mentioned its members.

Well, I found the list on the Office's website, which was put up just today. It lists all 23 religious representatives and the mystery agnostic leader, who happens to be none other than CFI Canada's National Executive Director, Eric Adriaans.
Eric Adriaans is national executive director of Centre for Inquiry Canada, a national charity providing education on secular humanism, reason, science and critical thinking. Mr. Adriaans has been a charitable sector professional since 1991, working with Canada’s most respected organizations. At CFI Canada, Mr. Adriaans has led an organization renewal program, with a focus on human rights, education and health sciences. These programs are aimed at supporting new Canadians and helping them access international events and opposing blasphemy laws throughout the world through the founding of the International Coalition Against Blasphemy Laws.

Well, I'm not sure why de Souza called Adriaans an agnostic. Unless I'm mistaken, I think he's an atheist. Is it really so bad to use the A-word?

Anyway, this is actually great news. At least the CFI is on their committee to advise the Office -- something they've been trying to do for a long ... long time.

I've emailed Eric and asked for some comments on how the inaugural meeting went and his hopes and ideas for the future. Hopefully, with the CFI's input, the Office will become better at advocating for those whose freedom from religion -- who are being persecuted because of their lack of religion or questioning of dogma. Because, frankly, their record is not fantastic and they're still not doing a stellar job.

Hope to hear back from him soon and I'll update you all.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Office of Religious Freedom Adds New External Advisory Committee

(source)
This morning, Office of Religious Freedom's Andrew Bennett's Twitter account was all aflutter with news about a new Advisory Committee freshly sprung up from the department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. Since I follow the office on Twitter, my phone was abuzz.
I was at work though, so didn't have much more time to see what Bennett was getting so excited about. It wasn't until Canadian Atheist blogger Veronica Abbass sent me this official press release from the office that it started to sort of make some sense to me.
Canada Establishes External Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom to Advise Office of Religious Freedom
June 22, 2015 - Ottawa, Ontario - Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today announced the establishment of an External Advisory Committee (EAC) on religious freedom.

The Committee comprises 23 prominent leaders from a wide variety of Canadian faith and belief communities representative of Canada’s diversity. It will advise the Office of Religious Freedom on the exercise of its mandate to promote and defend religious freedom internationally as a central element of Canada’s principled foreign policy.
The inaugural meeting of the EAC was hosted today at Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada in Ottawa by Minister Nicholson, and Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom.

The EAC will meet semi-annually. It is chaired by Father Raymond J. de Souza, a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Kingston and Chaplain at the Newman Centre, Queen’s University. Corinne Box of the Bahá’í Community of Canada and Malik Talib, President of the Aga Khan Council for Canada, serve as vice chairs of the EAC.

Quick Facts
The Government of Canada officially opened its Office of Religious Freedom within Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.

The mandate of the Office is to protect, and advocate on behalf of, religious minorities under threat; oppose religious hatred and intolerance; and promote Canadian values of pluralism and tolerance abroad.

Quotes
“Since the creation of the Office of Religious Freedom, Canada has established itself as a global leader in advocating for and defending persecuted religious communities around the world. In the context of global threats to religious freedom, EAC members will provide valuable insight from the perspectives of their communities and their depth of experience, which will enrich and enhance the monitoring and advocacy work conducted by the Office of Religious Freedom.”
- The Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs
I searched high and low and couldn't find an actual list of all 23 religious leaders who will be influencing the office. So, I sent a couple of tweets off to Bennett.
Maybe I'll get an answer. It does seem rather mysterious that they didn't bother to name these 23 individuals.

Government Subcommittee Condemns Murder of Bangladeshi Atheist Bloggers


Eric Adriaans from Centre for Inquiry Canada sent me a link to a recent Canadian Government press release condemning human rights violations in Bangladesh. It's a statement from the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development -- most of the document seems to be taken up just by the name of the committee. I'm rather mystified about what this committee can actually do other than occasionally make statements which most people -- including Bangladeshi leadership -- are likely to ignore, but why not give it a look?
For a number of years, the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (the Subcommittee) has paid close attention to the plight of religious minorities in different parts of the world. In February and March 2015, the Subcommittee received testimony about the human rights situation in Bangladesh, focusing specifically on the situation of religious minorities in that country. These meetings left the Subcommittee deeply concerned about ongoing violations and abuses of freedom of religion and other internationally protected human rights in Bangladesh.

The Subcommittee notes that the Constitution of Bangladesh recognizes the right of Bangladeshi citizens to profess, practice and propagate any religion and prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion. The Government of Bangladesh is also party to international human rights treaties guaranteeing freedom of religion or belief. Nevertheless, the Subcommittee has observed that the country’s religious minorities are unable to fully enjoy their human rights.

The Subcommittee was dismayed to receive reports that religious minority groups in Bangladesh continue to face discrimination, harassment and violence at the hands of both state and non-state actors. Some minority religious communities have been victims of mob violence, such as the attacks against Hindu and Buddhist temples, shops and homes near Chittagong in 2012 and 2013. Witnesses testifying before the Subcommittee also spoke of violent attacks and land grabs perpetrated against indigenous communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, implicating both the Bangladeshi army and ethnic Bengali settlers in these acts.

The Subcommittee is also alarmed at the murder of three atheist bloggers known for speaking out against religious extremism in Bangladesh. The Subcommittee notes that Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Dr. Andrew Bennett, has condemned these murders. Moreover, the Subcommittee is troubled by reports that women and girls have been abducted, raped and subject to forced marriages, as well as indications that adherents of minority religions are at risk of forced conversion to Islam, and that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has training camps in Bangladesh.
The Subcommittee strongly believes that all Bangladeshis have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Members of religious minority communities, like all others in Bangladesh, also have the right to freedom of expression and the right to live free from discrimination. The Subcommittee also notes that a lack of respect for these rights negatively impacts the enjoyment of many other internationally protected human rights.

Therefore, the Subcommittee:

Condemns all discrimination, harassment and attacks against minority communities in Bangladesh, including indigenous groups and religious minorities.

Further condemns the brutal murder of atheist bloggers Avijit Roy, Ananta Bijoy Das and Oyashiqur Rahman and extends its condolences to their family members.
Calls upon the Government of Bangladesh to uphold the rights of all individuals to espouse their beliefs in peace and security, free from violent attack.

Insists that the Government of Bangladesh must effectively protect the places of worship, icons and religious property of minority religious communities, as well as the freedom of persons of all faiths to manifest their religion in public or private, individually or with other members of their community and without discrimination.

Urges the Bangladeshi authorities to conduct independent and effective investigations of violent incidents that undermine freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as freedom of expression in Bangladesh, and to bring those responsible to justice.
Condemns all forced religious conversions in Bangladesh.

Further condemns all forms of child, early and forced marriage in Bangladesh.

Supports the Government of Canada’s efforts to end child, early and forced early and childhood marriage in Bangladesh.

Encourages Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom to continue to monitor respect for religious freedom in Bangladesh.
This is all pretty good! I just have a couple of nits to pick.

Firstly, it wouldn't be such a stretch -- and I do see it as one -- for these sorts of statements to include atheists suffering at the hands of religious groups or governments, if the committee were concerned with human rights rather than the rather narrow scope of religious freedom.

Secondly, take another look at this portion about the killed atheist bloggers:
The Subcommittee is also alarmed at the murder of three atheist bloggers known for speaking out against religious extremism in Bangladesh. The Subcommittee notes that Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Dr. Andrew Bennett, has condemned these murders. Moreover, the Subcommittee is troubled by reports that women and girls have been abducted, raped and subject to forced marriages, as well as indications that adherents of minority religions are at risk of forced conversion to Islam, and that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has training camps in Bangladesh.
I wonder if they were only speaking out against only religious extremism in their blog or if they were simply questioning religion in general and discussing topics which upset religious people and compel lunatics (extremists) to violent action?

A recent story in the Glob and Mail, talks about the Mukto Mona's editor, who is in Toronto and concerned for his life and the life of bloggers in his home country of Bangladesh. This is the blog for which several of the murdered bloggers wrote.
Speaking at his Toronto home, Mr. Ahmed is pensive. He is getting messages from Mukto Mona writers in hiding. “Somebody will get killed within a short time,” he said with certainty.

The death threats extend to those beyond Mukto Mona, including intellectuals, academics and secular bloggers for other sites. Mr. Ahmed shared a message on his phone that someone sent to a contact inside Bangladesh: “We have already prepared your visa to hell,” it read.
The stated purpose of the blog:
The goal of Mukto Mona is not about “bashing” any one particular religion like Islam, but critiquing all religions, explained Mr. Ahmed.

“We don’t want people to become atheists all of a sudden. But we want people to think [in a] rational way,” he said. Another major theme is promoting scientific thought.
Furhermore:
For Mr. Ahmed and his wife Afroja, any return to Bangladesh is virtually impossible. His own writings for Mukto Mona have focused on “safe” subjects like literature and history – and largely steered clear of science and religion, which are not his areas of expertise, he explained.

“But right now, everyone knows I’m running Mukto Mona,” said Mr. Ahmed. “That’s enough to kill me.”
For sure there must have been criticism of religious extremism, but it seems like even discussing controversial topics openly -- eg. freethought -- is enough to get one killed.

I just got the feeling reading this statement that they added the extremism as a means to somehow mask or distance the reader from the reality that merely being an atheist and questioning religion in Bangladesh will get you dead.

I don't know for sure. That's just how the language strikes me. Still, a release like this is better than no release.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Raif Badawi Book: New Quebec Edition & English Edition Foreward By Lawrence Krauss

Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi. (source)
Editions ēdito in Quebec have put together and published some of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi's most compelling online texts and the new edition is now available for purchase in bookshops across the province. It's titled 1000 coups de fouet: parce que j’ai osé parler librement ( 1000 Lashes: Because I Dared to Speak Freely ).
1000 coups de fouet, a collection of 14 texts by Badawi that landed him in jail in Saudi Arabia, was launched by Quebec publishing house Éditions Édito with Amnesty International on Tuesday. This follows releases in Germany and France and an English translation is in the works, according to the NGO.
The initial launch was Tuesday and was even attended by opposition Federal MP Hélène Laverdière, who is Deputy Critic For Foreign Affairs.
“It’s very sad to see that the Canadian government is not doing more,” said Hélène Laverdière NDP MP for Laurier–Sainte-Marie.
She went on to point out that Canada really ought to be doing more considering we're providing refuge for Badawi's wife and family. Hopefully, Harper won't respond by kicking them out.

If you can understand French, you can watch a video report on the launch over at Radio Canada.

Another Montreal book launch was yesterday and was even attended by some government officials.

The English edition, 1000 Lashes: Because I Say What I Think,  is apparently on its way July 24th with a foreward by Lawrence Krauss!

The Gazette article about the Quebec edition I quoted above includes a few English translations to give you an idea of the sort of thing Badawi wrote that landed him into jail.
In reality, this august preacher drew our attention to a truth that had evaded us until then, from me and my honourable readers, that there exists “religious astronomers!” What a lovely and unusual name, since in my humble experience and from my research, which is not negligible on the subject of the universe, its origins and the planets, I never encountered these terms. I advise the American space agency NASA to abandon their telescopes and give them to our “religious astronomers,” whose perception and insight surpasses the defective telescopes of NASA.
You can find a list of release dates for the book over at raifbadawi.org -- Amazon links for countries and languages are there as well -- French and German are so far available.

I'll just add that it sort of pains me a little that I see so much action here in Quebec on this, but not too much outside. Perhaps it's because Ensaf Haidar is here? Well, at least they are being made to feel welcome.

You can find information on the Quebec Edito edition at there website.

Quebec edition. (source)

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Good Interview With Jerry Coyne on TVO

Jerry Coyne on TVO's The Agenda with Steve Paikin (source)
Jerry Coyne recently visited Toronto -- where he allegedly had some sort of non-Quebecois «poutine» -- c'est quoi ça? Anyway, that egregious act aside, it seems to have been a good visit where he promoted his new book, Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible.

During the trip, he made a stop over at TVO for this great discussion with Steve Paikin.


Watch the interview and then swing on over to Coyne's blog, where he discusses it more in depth.

via Veronica Abbass

Monday, 15 June 2015

Quebec Liberals Table New Government Neutrality Bill

Please know the difference. (source)
Remember the Quebec Charter of Values (aka Quebec Secular Charter)? According to the rest of Canada, the crushing defeat of the Parti Quebecois in the last election was a clear signal against the Charter -- or whatever. They wish!

This is, of course, what they would like to believe and it is not rooted in reality. The Charter was probably the only policy the party had that had broad support in the province (well, among Francophones, at least). The PQ lost when they uttered the word separation. That killed them.

I always felt uneasy with that old attempt at government neutrality because it seemed to focus so extremely on wardrobe and so little on things which I thought better belong in a secular charter; like tax breaks for clergy, churches, religious institutions. Private religious schools would no longer get government subsidies. Crucifixes and other symbols would be removed from city halls and national assemblies. Orthodox religious cults would no longer be allowed to run their own illegitimate schools and deprive children of secular educations by starving out real world subjects with endless recitation of ancient texts.

Well, the Quebec Liberals understand that this charter was about the only thing the PQ had going for them. So they begrudgingly promised to make their own neutrality bill.
Quebec is again taking steps aimed at barring public servants from wearing face-covering religious garments at work, and preventing members of the public from covering their faces while receiving government services.
You can tell I picked an Anglophone news site, which might as well have come from the rest of Canada, because of the negative light they put this essentially reasonable legislation in. There's no happy mention of the benefits of a neutral state here -- oh no! -- the CBC is totally down with my being unable to even see the eyes of whoever is working at the motor licensing bureau.

What a terrible law! No, wait, it's just requiring that people show their faces when serving or getting served at a government office or within a government paid service -- with some educational institution exceptions. Well, it's not as far as I would like it to go (see above), but I'm okay with this.

First off, we must realize the vast amount of confusion within the (mostly liberal) western world when it comes to Muslim women's attire. Please consult the above chart where you'll find that the hijab and chador would be perfectly fine, while the burqa and niqab, not so much. Also take a look at this post where we discover many people on social media defending women's rights to wear niqabs by wearing hijabs.

Also, only the most extreme Islamic countries require anything more than a simple hijab.

Now go read the bill. Meanwhile, here are the Explanatory Notes:
The purpose of this bill is to establish measures to foster
adherence to State religious neutrality. For that purpose, it provides,
in particular, that personnel members of public bodies must
demonstrate religious neutrality in the exercise of their functions,
being careful to neither favour nor hinder a person because of the
person’s religious affiliation or non-affiliation. However, this duty
does not apply to personnel members who, in certain bodies, provide
spiritual care and guidance services or are in charge of providing
instruction of a religious nature.

Under the bill, personnel members of public bodies and of certain
other bodies must exercise their functions with their face uncovered,
unless they have to cover their face, in particular because of their
working conditions or because of occupational or task-related
requirements. In addition, persons receiving services from such
personnel members must have their face uncovered. An accommodation
is possible but must be refused if the refusal is warranted in the context
for security or identification reasons or because of the level of
communication required.


The bill establishes the conditions under which accommodations
on religious grounds may be granted as well as the specific elements
that must be considered when dealing with certain accommodation
requests.

It specifies that the measures it introduces must not be interpreted
as affecting the emblematic and toponymic elements of Québec’s
cultural heritage, in particular its religious cultural heritage, that
testify to its history.

Lastly, special measures with respect to educational childcare
services are introduced to ensure that, among other considerations,
children’s admission is not related to their learning a specific religious
belief, dogma or practice and that the activities organized by
subsidized childcare providers do not involve learning of a religious
or dogmatic nature.

Some of the opt out and special accommodation exemptions in the bill strike me as highly vague -- kind of like the Liberal party's platforms.

Still, not exactly cutting the tax exemptions or shutting the private schools out of public funding -- especially if they do not teach the province's comparative religion course -- but it's baby steps. I can live with it.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Skeptics In the Pub -- Non Skeptical World


On my way home from a most pleasant Skeptics In The Pub meetup, which I've been attending lately, I noticed this card plastered all over the Metro (subway) station. I thought it was sort of ironic -- in a kind of colloquial way.

OM NAMA SIVAYAASTROLOGY CENTERPANDIT: RAM JI
International Famous Astrologer
Most Powerful Spiritualist From India
Grand pouvoir Spirituel de l'inde

An Expert Pandith at your service. Past, Present, Future of your Life.
Sickness, Education, Employment, Business, Marriage, Court, Enemy,
Black Magic, Secret Matters Etc.

ARE YOU DEPRESSED & LONELY...?
I will Remove & Destroy all Bad Luck, Witchcradt, Obeya, Jadoo, Voodoo & Protect you from all Evils.

Business Investments, Enemy, Work Problems, Jealousy, Money Problems, Negativity, Childless Couples, Sexual, Family Arguements(sic), Depression, Loved ones, Drinking, Love issues, Horoscope

PRIVATE & CONFENTIAL(sic)

100% REMOVAL OF BLACK MAGIC & GIVES PROTECTION
If you're depressed or lonely, I would strongly suggest that this could very well be the very worst person to call.

Maybe I'll bring this card to the next Skeptics In The Pub.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Quebec Grants Raif Badawi Fastrack Immigration - What's Harper's Excuse Going to Be Now?

(source)
Today, Quebec has once again proven itself to be a friend of jailed Saudi activist blogger Raif Badawi. Now that all hope is practically lost -- the Saudi Supreme Court upheld the barbarous sentence of 1,000 lashes, 10 years in prison, and $200,000 -- Quebec has granted Badawi an immigration selection certificate. They are telling the world that Badawi and his family are welcome in Quebec.
The Quebec government has granted imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi a selection certificate, a first step meant to speed up his immigration process.

Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil called Badawi's treatment "cruel and unusual" and used her discretionary power to held speed up his immigration to Canada.  
"Quebec is behind Raif Badawi," said Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil, who used a special discretionary power to grant the certificate.
Like their vote in support of Badawi back in February, today's motion went through with unanimous agreement across all parties. Listen, in highly political Quebec, you never see that sort of agreement between the parties.

While Quebec is most certainly the friend of Badawi and his brave wife and family, it very much seems like Prime Minister Harper would much rather ignore this situation so he can sell over 15 billion dollars worth of militarized vehicles to the Saudis

Maybe what would explain how getting the Canadian government to say anything even slightly more than downright grovely towards the Saudis concerning human rights has been harder than pulling teeth. They've done nothing more than ask the Saudis for clemency. I guess it's hard to bite the hand that feeds you -- although the Swedish Foreign Minister did just that and feels no remorse.

Meanwhile, in Canada:
Badawi's detention and sentence have stirred up worldwide condemnation. Quebec politicians unanimously adopted a motion in February calling for his immediate release.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has also spoken out against Badawi's treatment, but has said Ottawa's influence is limited by the fact he is not a Canadian citizen.
So why not grant him Canadian citizenship then? What will Harper's excuse be then? Or will his mouth be too stuffed with Saudi riyals to even utter an intelligible word?

The Saudis obviously still feel the heat of international disgust -- Badawi received no lashes today. However, they are likely to resume. Perhaps political expressions like this will eventually influence them. If not, then at least we can say we tried.




Edit 2015-05-12 5pm EST: 

The Saudis are reacting to world government statements about Raif Badawi sort of poorly. Here was the reaction on Thursday to the world's indignation.
An official source at the Foreign Ministry condemned statements by some countries and international organizations regarding the case of Saudi citizen Raef Badawi, although the judiciary or any official body in the Kingdom has not issued any statement on his case.

“The judiciary is independent in the Kingdom,” the source said, adding that Saudi Arabia will not accept any interference in its jurisdiction or internal affairs by any party.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Buh-Bye, James Lunney! Thanks For the Good Times & This Great Farewell Speech!

(source)
For the past year, we've been following the speeches, tweets and blog posts of creationist not-macro-evolutionist British Columbian MP James Lunney, who left the Conservative party because they just weren't religiously conservative nor creationist enough for him. We knew back then that Lunney was in his last year as an MP and would not be running again. So, alack alas, all things must come to an end.
As a Christian, I want give thanks to God for directing the life path that is before me and giving me the opportunity to serve my community. Lifelong service and learning is a commitment that has sustained me for more than half a lifetime, and I look forward to taking the life lessons from these amazing 15 years here into the next chapter of my life.
That was from a farewell address he did in Parliament yesterday, probably, you can watch the entire thing here.


I'll actually miss Lunney -- I'm not being sarcastic -- because he truly was never hesitant about saying what was on his mind and what he believed in, no matter out outlandish it was. He also spoke out about militant atheists and secularists and he really didn't hold back on his last speech either.

Here's the relevant portion from the transcription provided on Lunney's blog.
I recently raised alarms about those among us as Canadians who seek to rebrand our nation with a godless image. As I leave this place after fifteen years and five elections. I urge members to take note of this serious assault on the foundations of our nation.

Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms acknowledges that Canada was founded on a belief in the supremacy of God. Our parliamentary precinct has scripture inscribed in the stones, on the Peace Tower and throughout the Memorial Chapel, the heart of the Peace Tower.

Famously in the wood over the doors in the fourth floor shadow cabinet room are carved the words, “Fear God” and “Honour the King”. Some of us served in opposition and saw that regularly.

Those who are determined to change that piece by piece and stone by stone to recreate Canada in a secular godless image propose to use their influence, their positions of authority, their money and our courts to this end. The recent Supreme Court ruling on prayer at city council in Saguenay has sent repercussions across the country and greatly advanced the godless rebranding exercise. This ruling basically redefines freedom of religion as freedom from religion. Big banks and corporate CEOs have used their money and influence to advocate against a Christian law school at Trinity Western University. Medical licensing authorities have unilaterally expunged doctors’ long-standing conscience provisions, forcing costly legal challenges.

The most published and read book in the history of the world is in fact a record of God’s dealing with man from the beginning of time. It has advice for those who despise God’s counsel and oppose his purposes:

“The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”

It also says: In fact, it says on the Peace Tower:

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…”
“Remove not the ancient landmark…”
“Woe unto those that call good evil and evil good…”
“Be not many teachers…”
“Woe unto those who teach men to err.”
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”

It is not the Christian Right, if such can be found in Canada, that they seek to overthrow. It is the God of heaven and earth, who has been building His kingdom throughout the ages and evermore in our turbulent times.The world the godless would build is a world without hope, a world of expanding darkness. It is our godly inheritance that has made Canada the great success it has been. Apart from Him, we have no remedy for sin; we have no moral code to build on except His precepts. Godlessness is and will be accompanied by increasing social disorder, violence, lawlessness and depravity; it is spreading around the world. Colleagues, let us keep the lights on in Canada.

If we reject His loving kindness and so great a salvation, we will surely meet Him as judge and those who set themselves against His purposes can expect to hasten the encounter. For those who would destroy the foundations of our great Nation, I say, fear God. He knows your thoughts, your address and your expiry date. He has invested heavily in Canada and He will defend His investments out of love and compassion for our nation.
Well, at least we know where he stands on that one.

'Mother Canada' Statue Controversy in Cape Breton

Mother Canada (source)
There's controversy in Cape Breton about the government alongside a non-profit foundation trying to erect a ten story war memorial which just might seem a tad familiar to Catholics like me.
The plan, proposed by the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation and approved by Parks Canada, is to build the war memorial on a nearly one-hectare piece of land in Green Cove, N.S.

The memorial's centrepiece is a statue dubbed Mother Canada. It would be 30 metres high and feature a woman with her arms outstretched toward Europe. The plan also includes parking for 300 vehicles, a restaurant, souvenir shop and an interpretive centre.
I did a search on Mother Canada and wasn't able to find the term. I know I've never heard of Mother Canada as an expression for our country. I have heard Mother Russia and Stephen Harper has reminded me of Putin on occasion.

The problem is, high ranking Parks Canada officials just don't seem to want this monstrosity on their pristine natural reserve.
A group of 28 former senior Parks Canada managers have written a scathing letter to the federal environment minister voicing their opposition to a controversial 10-storey war memorial proposed for Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

In the letter to Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, the managers argue the statue goes against the "ecological integrity" of the park and they are "very much opposed to the plan."
Good for them! One commenter to the story mentioned that it also looks very much like one of those plastic Virgin Mary statues. He feared the gift shop would begin selling Mother Canada bobble heads for car dashboards.

Furthermore, just to add to the Putinesque feel here -- just stop and think about this for a moment. Twenty eight Parks Canada managers had to write a letter demanding this statue not be put on this land.
"This one project seems to be on a fast-track despite the lack of broad based public support. It certainly gives the appearance that decisions are being imposed on Parks Canada in opposition to its governing legislation and policies," the letter states.
But it's for Glorious Mother Canada!
Parks Canada released a statement also questioning the bizarre fast track method the government was using to try to foist this statue onto the land last December.

Why this land? It's because the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation president, Tony Trigiani, says the land spoke to him. You'll also hear how he's already turned down an offer from a local Vietnam vet to have the statue built on his privately owned land! No, this statue must be built on public land and on a protected nature reserve!

Wait a minute! Mother Canada? This statue is meant to commemorate those soldiers who sacrificed their lives for us. Mother Mary! I think I've figured it out. I'm sure I'm not the only one to see this. Anyone else think this is a little fishy?

Some might suggest that women in veils is a pretty common theme with war memorials. This is a fairly sound argument.

Vimy Ridge is a masterful work with this veiled woman.

(source)
Along with not-so-veiled women.

(source)
However, rather than a huge gerish statue, this monument is breathtaking and none of the statues scream Virgin Mary to me like the proposed Mother Canada monument. Even if Vimy Ridge has religious undertones -- which it likely does -- it's still irrelevant. That was almost 100 years ago and in this day and age, a secular nation like Canada should remember the sacrifice the soldiers made without favouring one religion over another or no religion at all.

The group of parks officials say they have no problem with this statue going up somewhere else -- not in a protected ecological zone. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Surely there are other ways to commemorate the fallen -- like statues of actual soldiers, perhaps.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Poll: Canadians Would Prefer Politicians to Skip the Praying & Do Their Jobs!

From Angus Reid poll Prayer in Canadian Public Life: a Nation Divided. (source)
A recent poll done by Angus Reid (on registered members only) rather clearly demonstrates that Canadians would rather have their politicians do their jobs than squabble over whether or not Jesus is addressed before each meeting.
The latest public opinion poll from the Angus Reid Institute finds that fewer than half (41%) of respondents support the idea of a Christian prayer referring to Jesus Christ at the beginning of a council meeting, compared to nearly twice as many (75%) who say the meeting should just start without any formal ceremony or pause.
The results are pretty much as expected, yet still refreshing.

Geographically speaking, the secular hubs of Canada, British Columbia (65%) and Quebec (63%) agree the most with the Supreme Court Saguenay prayer ruling, while Bible beating Saskatchewan (47%) and Atlantic Canada (43%) are the least -- still, those are still pretty close to 50%.

Demographically speaking, the younger generations are much less worked up about ditching the supernatural invocations at government meetings.

From Angus Reid poll Prayer in Canadian Public Life: a Nation Divided. (source)
Not many people really seem to care about God being in the National Anthem -- which is a pity. Apparently, more people were interested in seeing the anthem made gender neutral. I can get behind that.

On the whole, excellent news which seems to demonstrate that Canadians really do not give much of a hoot about praying in the public sphere. They just want politicians to get to work. I think this could be a stark contrast with how things are in the US.

I wonder if certain politicians who've make a public stink out of this will perhaps tone down their fervent defense of religious ritual -- victim theatre -- before sessions when they've read the results of this poll?

Church Having Problems Finding New Location Because They Don't Pay Taxes

United Pentecostal Church in St-Laurent, Quebec. (source: Google Maps)
There was a highly sympathetic story done by CTV News last night for the United Pentecostal Church in my home borough of St-Laurent. The church has been doing very well and has completely outgrown their building, which seats 600 with a congregation of some 1,200 people. This puts them within reach of the megachurch designation -- a big deal for secular Quebec.
Pastor Paul Graham, who has been with the church for almost 40 years, tells CTV Montreal that the 600-seats are simply not enough for the 1,200-or-so who use the church but the borough has not made relocation easy
Take a look at the language in the story and you'll see a framing not unlike David vs Goliath

Listen, I can sympathize to a point. Dealing with city hall can be frustrating. In this case the church is looking for another location, but the city has so far refused to allow these said locations to be rezoned to places of worship.
Borough Mayor Alan DeSousa has said that the borough want to stick with its master plan and would prefer to avoid rezonings.
Their master plan is to try to maximize property taxes as much as possible and the pastor of the church, Paul Graham, is nice enough to remind us that churches don't pay property taxes. So the city would be going from a position of losing tax money on a 600 person building to a 1,200 person building -- a building the size of a retail store... likely with a parking lot to boot.

So it's nothing against Christians, per se. It's just that they're not paying their fair share -- assuming taxes are the reason.
Pastor Graham believes a big issue for the city is tax revenue. Property taxes aren't collected on places of worship.
Well no wonder I had to pay last year's property taxes in two instalments! I had to pay for the churches as well! If they would pay property taxes like the rest of us, the city wouldn't be giving them a hard time. They would welcome them with open arms just like any company. Problem solved!

I guess privileged status has it's downsides too, right?

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Raif Badawi's Sentence Upheld - Lashes Likely to Resume

Jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi. (source)
Back in January, I posted about how the previous Saudi king, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, shortly before his death, requested that the Saudi Supreme Court re-assess the case of jailed and tortured blogger, Raif Badawi's case. This was after international outcry in response to leaked video of him receiving the first 50 lashes of his 1,000 lash, 10 years in prison sentence for blogging stuff the government doesn't like.

 Well, the highest court in the land has ruled and Badawi is to continue serving his barbaric sentence -- which will likely kill him. Such is life in a theocratic state which appears to neither understand human rights nor care what the world thinks of them.
Ensaf Haidar, Badawi's wife, told The Independent she now expects the lashes to continue, with the decision to uphold the sentence by the Saudi Supreme Court meaning she and the family's lawyers have no recourse for further appeal.

Describing her reaction after the decision was announced, Ms Haidar said: "I'm shocked.

"The flogging will start again and no one cares," she added. Asked what could be done now to fight for her husband's cause, she said: "Really, I don't know."
Short of someone breaking him out, I don't see any chance for Badawi. Protesting in the streets of Saudi cities would also work, but I'm not convinced the majority of Saudis actually think there's anything at all wrong with this ruling. Even if they did, their oppressive government would likely subdue them with the same Canadian-built light armoured vehicles (LAV III) they squelched Bahraini democratic activists with. 

You see, it's difficult to speak up against human rights violations when your mouth is stuffed with Saudi riyals.
David Nichols, Amnesty International’s senior executive officer for EU foreign policy, told The Independent at the end of last month that EU officials and the bloc’s foreign ministers had all pledged to raise Mr Badawi’s case, and human rights more generally, in their dealings with the Saudi authorities.

"But there is no evidence of that taking place," he said. This apparent silence comes despite continued use of corporal and capital punishment in Saudi Arabia.
Reports suggested that 88 people had been executed in there this year, surpassing the total for 2014.

"There are quite clearly many different interests at play,” said Mr Nichols. "Not just with Saudi Arabia, but with all countries in the Gulf – concerns such as energy, such as trade, but also on counter-terror cooperation as well."
Why should the Saudis give a shit about human rights if our dearly elected leaders -- including Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- simply cannot remove his snout from the money trough? It makes me want to throw up. He's not the only one -- it seems like the Americans and British -- and likely the Swedes too. They're all selling weapons to the Saudi regime.

It seems tyrannical to me.

Is it sick of me to hope that their lack of concern for the human rights of people in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East is merely racism? Because, if it is not just racism and they are equal opportunity ignorers of human rights violations in the name of a riyal -- well then, how much longer before the sell us down river?

The Saudis certainly have blood on their hand, but the silence of world leaders on this demonstrates to me that they are plenty degenerate as well.

I really don't know where to go from here. I am so sorry for Badawi, his wife and children.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

First Nations Childrens Deaths In Church Run Residential Schools: Same Odds As Soldier Deaths in WWII

Residential school in Manitoba, 1960. (source)
As I've posted before, Canada has a dark and repulsive past of tearing First Nations children away from their families and shipping them off to re-education camps ("schools") where they'll be forbidden from speaking their own languages or learning about the religions of their people.
The Indian residential schools were a network of "residential" (boarding) schools for Native Canadians (First Nations or "Indians"; Métis and Inuit. Funded by the Canadian government's Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and administered by Christian churches, predominantly the Roman Catholic Church in Canada (60%), but also the Anglican Church of Canada (30%), and the United Church of Canada (including its pre-1925 constituent church predecessors)(10%). The policy was to remove children from the influence of their families and culture and assimilate them into the dominant Canadian culture. Over the course of the system's existence, approximately 30% of native children, roughly some 150,000, were placed in residential schools nationally.
Of course, these religious groups -- including the Pope himself (not until 2009!) -- issued apologies since the last school was closed in 1996(!!), however, it wasn't until the Truth & Reconciliation Commission started going through the archives and interviewing survivors, that we began to truly understand the horror that were these schools. It's gut wrenching.
In February 2013, research by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission revealed that at least 3,000 students had died, mostly from disease. In 2011, reflecting on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's research, Justice Murray Sinclair told the Toronto Star: "Missing children — that is the big surprise for me, [...] That such large numbers of children died at the schools. That the information of their deaths was not communicated back to their families." In a legal report, the Canadian Bar Association concludes that "Student deaths were not uncommon". See Mortality rates below for more information.
These children were supposed to be in good hands of the religious communities here in Canada. Well, the commission has completed their task and the number of deaths is over 6,000 children in the past 120 black years of this disgusting blight on our nation's history.
In media interviews, Sinclair has also revealed that the TRC has documented the deaths of over 6,000 students while in residential schools, adding that there are probably more.

That would put the odds of dying in Canadian residential schools over the years they operated at about the same as for those serving in Canada's armed forces during the Second World War.
The commission also came right out and said it. This was cultural genocide ordered up by our elected officials and implemented by religious communities. There is blood on everyone's hands here, but it's clear that these churches and the Pope, who is apparently in communication with God himself, were downright evil.
A moment of shared emotional catharsis bound survivors of Canada's residential schools Tuesday as their collective ordeal was officially branded a "cultural genocide" that tore apart their families and left them to contend with lifelong scars of physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

The massive report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission makes 94 broad recommendations —everything from greater police independence and reducing the number of aboriginal children in foster care to restrictions on the use of conditional and mandatory minimum sentences.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I've read the stories about sexual abuse of children, deaths of kids in Ireland, money laundering in Rome and the fatal forcing of children to give birth to children of rape. Why do I still find this surprising?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is refusing to use the words cultural genocide, after we learned that 150,000 children were kidnapped from their families and over 6,000 died. That's pretty vile of him.

The violence continues. First Nations women go missing forever at a shocking rate in our country.

Peterborough City Council Poised to Permanently Drop Recital of Lord's Prayer

Canadian Atheist blogger Veronica Abbass filed a suit against reciting the Lord's Prayer in Peterborough City Hall in 2012.
Photo credit: Sarah Frank at MyKawartha.com (source)
Shortly after the landmark Supreme Court ruling banning prayer in Saguenay city council meetings in mid April, the city of Peterborough put their own council meeting prayers on ice to re-evaluate the question of state sponsored invocation of deities. In fact, they were praying the Lord's Prayer which had been ruled against fifteen years ago by a provincial court.

For at least three years, Veronica Abbass, who blogs at Canadian Atheist, has been trying to get the city to comply with the law and drop the Lord's Prayer. Well, it looks like the city has finally complied.

A proposed change to the city's Municipal Act aims to replace the reciting of the Lord's Prayer with this invocation:
The Council for the City of Peterborough recognizes the principles contained in our Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that enshrine rights and freedoms for all. We also acknowledge that our Constitution provides that Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.
That last line is factually correct, but is obviously some piece of red meat or token offering to those who just cannot deal with dropping any God mentions at all. Even with that, it's an improvement over an obvious prayer and Abbass is not concerned.
Ms Abbass says she’s not concerned over the new wording for the opening of municipal meetings, she just wanted to ensure the City didn’t continue to go against a court ruling prohibiting the practice.
Remember, her case was about the Lord's Prayer.

The council endorsed the removal of the prayer on Monday, but it still awaits final approval at an upcoming council session. However, the city has already signed off on her case, which ought to bring the matter to a close.

Congratulations to Veronica!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

James Lunney's Tweet About Caitlyn Jenner

Caitlyn Jenner on cover of Vanity Fair
I suppose that after discovering British Columbia MP James Lunney is a creationist and then watching him go on about militant atheism, I shouldn't have been surprised when I saw this tweet about how fantastic the global increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will be for our planet. Burn, baby, burn.
Freeman Dyson, 2000 Templeton Prize recipient, is one of a very small minority of climate change skeptic scientists -- one of 3%, in fact.

Well, just today, Lunney surprised me again -- although, I shouldn't be surprised. He posted this link to an article over at anti marriage equality, anti abortion and apparently anti transgender thinktank Witherspoon Institute.
The dark and troubling history of the contemporary transgender movement, with its enthusiastic approval of gender-reassignment surgery, has left a trail of misery in its wake.
The piece is written by Walt Heyer who had a sex change operation at 42 from man to woman. He then later regretted this change and had a surgery back again to man.
Transgender clients who regret having taken this path are often full of shame and remorse. Those who regret their decision have few places to turn in a world of pro-transgender activism. For me, it took years to muster the courage to stand up and speak out about the regret.
Okay, that didn't work out for Walt. I do not see what this has to do with other transgender people. Yes, of course sex change operations are huge decisions and measures need to be taken to ensure the client is serious about the transition and sure about it. I would also say that those who transition but then regret it should be supported in their re-transition as well, if things come to that.

Oh, and are we talking about transgender here or transsexual? Because there is a difference that seems to be a little lost in this article -- which never even mentions the word sex! Are they the sort of people who misuse gender for sex because they feel uncomfortable writing sex or is this something deliberate?

So far, Caitlyn Jenner is hurting nobody after a lifetime of hurt being forced to identify externally as something he was not at all inside. Why don't we let her be happy?

Friday, 29 May 2015

Atheist Former Councilor Taking Legal Action Against Cape Breton City Council For Continued Prayer

(source)
Just last week, Pagans protested a moment of silent prayer, invocation and reflection at the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) which was meant to replace an obviously Christian spoken prayer in the wake of the Supreme Court decision April 15th to remove prayer at city council meetings in Saguenay, Quebec.

The meetings happen monthly, and the Pagans were protesting the city doing a fairly half-assed job following the spirit of the Saguenay ruling the month before.

You see, technically, there was no prayer said out loud during the April 21st meeting, but:
At the April 21 council meeting, Mayor Cecil Clarke hosted a vocal prayer outside the chamber and had the prayer printed in the agenda in defiance of a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that banned a Quebec municipality from holding prayers at council meetings.
He didn't stop there, he also inserted God Save the Queen and Oh Canada into the program -- because they mention God.
He also had the singing of O Canada and God Save The Queen added to the agenda in order to work the word God into the session.
How wonderfully inclusive!
After the April meeting, several councillors objected to the mayor’s inclusion of prayer in contravention of the ruling, saying a moment of silent reflection would be more appropriate.

However, the text of the prayer was printed in the May 19 agenda, and the third item listed on the agenda is “Moment of silent prayer, invocation and reflection.”
If you would like to get a general idea about just how the council members feel about this -- which clearly demonstrates why they'll do anything to not follow the ruling in good faith -- just watch the conversations they had (41:33) about prayer in city meetings on that day.


My favourite part:
There are scientists now who are believing that there is something outside of science besides themselves. There are scientists who believe there is something bigger than science going on and there are books written about that.
Say what?

Here's the rub. They did all this after receiving confidential legal council advising them to stick with a moment of silence and mention nothing at all about prayer, a 'moment of prayer' or whatever! They were clearly warned that there could be a lawsuit and real damages -- for taxpayers, of course.

We know this because a legal memo from their counsel was recently leaked(!) -- first to resident Madeline Yakimchuk who opposes state endorsed prayer and posted the legal memo to her Facebook.
Yakimchuk said the top court ruling was “very clear” that religion has no place in municipal meetings, and the legal advice from municipal solicitor Demetri Kachafanas, provided days before the council meeting, clearly warned council about its duty to be neutral.

“This neutrality requires that the state neither favour nor hinder any particular belief, and the same holds true for non-belief,” Kachafanas wrote. “It requires that the state abstain from taking any position and thus avoid adhering to a particular belief.

“Being neutral is not simply not favouring one religion over another, it would extend to a duty not to favour religion over non-religion and the rights of non-believers. A prayer is in and of itself a religious act.

“Simply defying the ruling and continuing the prayer may expose the municipality to a legal challenge and quite likely damages.”
Well, all of this has lead atheist and former city councilor, Garry Smith (of previously separate Glace Bay) to inform the city that he is calling in the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission to investigate prayer in city council meetings.
Any kind of prayer at a public council meeting that assumes belief in any type of god — regardless of how inclusive it is intended to be — excludes his beliefs, Smith said.

“Once you put a prayer on a piece of paper, that piece of paper becomes a religious icon,” said Smith.
Smith is okay with a moment of silence, as am I, but that's not what it says on the program.

In addition to being a former municipal councilor, Smith is also a retired RCMP and corrections officer.
“To me, it smacks of religious arrogance on behalf of the mayor. ‘This is what I believe and you’re all entitled to hear and listen to my belief,’ and I’m not. I don’t want to listen to his belief.

“I don’t want to hear it from the state, of all places. If I wanted to hear a prayer, I’d go to a church downtown, or some place where I wanted to hear a prayer. When I go to municipal meetings, or any state function, I don’t expect to hear, ‘God, forgive me for what I’m about to do,’ all that sort of stuff.”
Right now, municipalities across the country are sort of hair-splitting any way they can to avoid following the spirit of the Saguenay ruling. A common refrain is that the Supreme Court ruled narrowly on just this Quebec town -- although it was a strong unanimous decision. If this legal route is pursued all the way up to the highest court, it has the potential -- in several years -- to trigger a more general ruling against state-endorsed prayer in municipal meetings that would shut this sort of silliness down for good.

So it might be wise for the CBRM to just have their moment of silence; legally prudent.

via Veronica Abbass

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Prominent Alberta Creationist Makes Most Important Alberta Fossil Discovery In Years

Sixty million year old fish fossil found by creationist. (Photo: University of Calgary)
Alberta creationist, Edgar Nernberg operates a backhoe and he sits on the Board of Directors at the Big Valley’s Creation Science Museum which is likely the Creationist Ground Zero of all of Canada! Yes, Alberta is living up to its reputation.
The "Dinosaurs and Humans" display shows considerable evidence that not only did dinosaurs exist recently, but that humans existed with them.  This evidence is fatal to the evolutionary dogma which has dinosaurs extinct at least 60 million years before humans evolved.
Big Valley Creation Science Museum (source)
I need to go! I need to go right now!

So anyway, Edgar was busy operating his backhoe -- digging a basement, a typical thing for a fossil expert to be doing -- and runs into one of the oldest and most important fossil finds ever in Alberta!
"When the five fish fossils presented themselves to me in the excavator bucket, the first thing I said was you’re coming home with me, the second thing was I better call a paleontologist," Nernberg said in a statement.
You can read all about Nernberg's find over at the University of Calgary news site.  Darla Zelenitsky is pretty excited by the pristine condition of the fish. They also come from a period right before the asteroid impact that toasted off the dinosaurs.
“Because complete fossils are relatively rare from this time period in Alberta, any such discoveries are significant as they shed light on the nature and diversity of animals that lived not long after the extinction of the dinosaurs,” says Zelenitsky. “These fossil fish are important because they are very primitive representatives of a large group of bony fish known today.”
You won't find mention of Nernberg's wacky creationist views at this U of C website though. They think this fossil is 60 million years old. Nernberg's pretty positive they're under 6,000 years old, because: BIBLE. Dinos and humans and the fish and everything were all together -- how else would the ark thing have worked, right?

Big Valley Creation Science Museum (source)
As Nerberg puts it, them fish don't have best before dates on them, or something.
It's hard work in a world where evolution and a timeline measured in the billions of years is widely accepted -- but Nernberg says he doesn't mind, knowing his point of view is the right one.

"There's no dates stamped on these things," he says, sharing a good-humoured chuckle about a discovery that has him working alongside the ideological enemy, so to speak.
Is it a miracle or was the Devil in control of that backhoe?

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