Showing posts with label religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label religion. Show all posts

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Kremlin Could Step In With 'Government Opera Approval Process' To Avoid Offending Religious Sensibilities


Scene from 2008 Barcelona production of Wagner's opera Tannhäuser where Venus is kicking some bloody ass. (source)
I'll admit that I'm no huge fan of opera, but what's going on in Russia with Wagner's Tannhauser, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin is a whole drama unto itself.

In a nutshell, Russian opera director Timofey Kulyabin produced an opera that had Jesus in it. This offended a Russian Orthodox cleric (who never actually watched the show). The cleric brought the Kulyabin to court but the court threw out the case. Then, the Minister of Culture went and fired the opera house boss Boris Mezdrich

CORRECTION: In my last story, I had confused Mezdrich with Kulyabin. The government stepped in and fired the boss of the entire opera house in order to deal with this single opera -- which won in court. 

Now, according to SlippedDisc, the Kremlin is stepping in to control the opera repertoire, with a government approval process, so as to not offend anyone's religious sensibilities!
‘Today I spoke with the Ministry of Culture. Probably, it will be necessary at some stage to approve the repertoire, especially at state theatres … They should no be allowed to hurt the feelings of believers. We have no right to produce works that outrage part of the population and cause feelings of insult. This should not be allowed.’
What the hell is wrong with believers and their feelings? The sanitizing of artistic expression is, truly, a horrendous sign that Russia is descending further into a sort of puritanical theocracy. This does appear to be fascism.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Conrad Black Has Done It Again

What have we done?
If I recall correctly, it began when Conrad Black wrote something about the shallow shabby world of the militant atheist. I assure you, I put my best men on round the clock duty to decipher his prose and tease out any meaning they could find -- even that guy who portrayed Alan Turing in that movieBenedict Cumberbatch. Yes, no expense was spared. Eventually I contrasted Black's work with a screed against atheists by a Zimbabwe preacher. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

Other atheist bloggers processed the Rorschach Test in their own way. They took what meaning they could from Black's words and attempted to address inaccuracies and absurdities outright. This was a noble endeavour, but what is the real cost here? Could it have agitated Black into writing this equally bewildering response piece in the National Post: A reply to my atheist critics — they protest too much? Can the planet sustain more of this?
Not since I have written about cats and dogs has a column of mine in this newspaper stirred such a voluminous and highly charged response as my reflections here last week on John Lennox’s success in debates, as a scientific Christian, with the most articulate and learned atheists on the anti-God debating circuit. These exchanges have become almost an itinerant counter-ministry of the media and academia throughout the Western world.

Most messages I have received have been favourable, but the tenor of the unfavourable messages the newspaper and I have received is so generally vitriolic, and often abusive and bigoted, that they incite my return to the subject. Obviously, if I had any problem with people taking exception to what I write, I wouldn’t write for publication, and as I have probably been more severely and lengthily defamed than anyone in Canada since Louis Riel (where the calumniators often had truth as a partial defence), I am not bothered by it. None of the abuse was noteworthy and there were only three cyber-assailants who were so unrelievedly uncivil that I asked my IT adviser to ensure that I never received anything from their addresses again.
Is this translated into English from some other language?

I'm sorry. I just had to get that out of my system, having read the piece in its entirety. I'll spare you the play by play on this. If you're interested in a little pain to break up a boring Saturday afternoon, please be my guest and assign any sort of meaning to it you wish. Believe me, there's enough there to write a book.

I will share this. During his piece, I felt like Black was being a real tease. It often seemed that concrete proof or specific argument was just a couple of sentences away --- like a mirage -- perhaps just beyond this historical or literary reference -- perhaps hiding behind that rhetorical flourish. But when I got there... nothing.

It was only the last paragraph that I obtained enlightenment. I got to a real piece of meat and it really stuck in my craw.
The atheists’ domination of our centres of learning and information is a great vulnerability in the West: it creates acute resentment and dissent among the more religiously tolerant majority, separates learning and information from the greatest pillar of our civilization’s historic development, invites contempt from violently sectarian societies, especially Islamists, and is repugnant to the entire concept of freedom of thought and expression that our universities and free press are supposed to be defending. This is why people like John Lennox, who flatten the marquee atheist tribunes at every encounter, perform such a valuable service. And it must also have something to do with the reaction, like that of roaring and wounded animals, of a distinct minority of my correspondents last week. If God were dead, they would not still be trying, very unconvincingly, to kill Him.
What the hell is Black talking about? Do we not have enough churches and religious schools in this country? Those are the places for religious instruction -- the point of a university is to provide an environment of absolutely free inquiry and learning outside of some stuffy minister's dogma. Is it possible for people like Black to give us a second, an instant outside of religion? Apparently not. Instead, universities must turn into places of religious regurgitation.

Oh, not religious? Don't bother attending, or shut up, or open your mind so we may fill it with our fairy stories.

Yes, when schools teach students to think on their own it can cause resentment and dissent among the more religiously tolerant majority, whatever that means. If it means that it upsets those who would prefer to tow the religious line and let the faithful call all the shots, then good.

As for inviting contempt from violently sectarian societies, whose problem is this exactly? Is this some sort of veiled threat? Is this a brave call to surrender? Is this informing us that we should shut up our opinions and questions lest someone get hurt -- lest someone have to drink the hemlock? People who cannot control their violent actions when they have their religious sensibilities upset need to be locked up, period -- even Islamists.

Then there's this absurd doublespeak:
... and is repugnant to the entire concept of freedom of thought and expression that our universities and free press are supposed to be defending.
That's right. Universities that do not shovel dogma down the throats of students and encourage them to think and express themselves in pursuit of truth in ways that may be offensive to some is actually against freedom of thought of expression! Has someone been drinking the Kool Aid, because this is profoundly wrong and either disingenuous or delusional.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Stephen Harper Refusing to Say Anything In Defense of Jailed Saudi Blogger

Raif Badawi
More news about Raif Badawi and the effort of citizens of the free world to free him. Okay, the effort of many money-hungry governments and corporations to avoid mentioning him ever.

How about our own Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- brave captain of industry who recently let once proud Canada drift out of the UN's list of top ten developed countries. Yeah, that Stephen Harper.

After years of pleading by Badawi's wife, Ensaf Haidar, Amnesty International, the Montreal government and the Quebec National Assembly, NDP leader Thomas Mulclair was apparently able to corner slippery Steve and asked him point blank to comment on Badawi's case.
Le chef de l'opposition officielle, Thomas Mulcair, s'est adressé à Stephen Harper en le questionnant sur « l'intervention timide du Canada pour exiger la libération de Raïf Badawi ». Le chef du NPD, qui était présent à Sherbrooke lundi, a rencontré Ensaf Haidar, l'épouse de Raïf Badawi afin d'en apprendre davantage sur la situation qu'elle et sa famille vivent.
« J'espérais qu'avec la question de Thomas Mulcair, le Premier ministre se lève et demande haut et fort la libération de M. Badawi devant les Canadiens. Cependant il a réitéré sa position timide et a aussitôt changé de sujet », a déploré le député fédéral de Sherbrooke, Pierre-Luc Dusseault.
The leader of the official opposition, Thomas Mulclair, addressed himself to Stephen Harper by questioning him on "the timid intervention of Canada on behalf of Raif Badawi's liberation." The NDP leader, who was present in Sherbrooke on Monday, met with Ensaf Haidar, wife of Raif Badawi in order to learn more about the situation her and her family are living through.

"I was hoping that with Thomas Mulclair's question, the Prime Minister would stand up and demand loud and clear the liberation of Mr. Badawi before Canadians. Instead, he reiterated his timid position and changed the subject as soon as he could," Pierre-Luc Dusseault, MP Sherbrook recounded disparagingly.
This is hardly surprising for this Conservative Prime Minister who knows we've got money tied up in lucrative arms deals with Saudi Arabia. Just look what happened in Sweden when their Foreign Minister stood up to the Saudis. Could you imagine what would happen if a Prime Ministers grew a spine and a respect for human rights which couldn't be bought off with oil money and slave (trapped foreign worker) labour?

Speaking of the Swedes, some 30 of the nation's business elite wrote an open letter to their liberal, progressive, human rights loving government asking them to swallow ethics and value of human rights -- because, you know, money. I'm sure the corporations got our backs.

Meanwhile, the first letter from Raif Badawi since his 2012 imprisonment made it out. It's due to be printed on Saturday in Der Spiegel.  In it, Raif gives us some insight into the hell he's experiencing -- all for blogging. I'll post on that as soon as I get a chance to see it myself.

Canadian Postal Worker: Won't Deliver THAT Because It Offends My 'Deeply Held Religious Beliefs'

(source)
It would appear that we're approaching a time when nothing will get done in our country unless we run it past religious folk for their permission first. Things like going to the doctor for birth control or to terminate a pregnancy -- or sending something in the mail.
Megan Whitfield, Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) Toronto local president, said a number of workers have raised objections to a newspaper Canada Post has been paid to distribute in the Beaches-East York area.
Apparently, the publication uses profanity and calls Pierre Elliot Trudeau a "Neo-Nazi fascist, anti-Semite and Quebec separatist." In other words, just someone's off the wall opinion. However, the letter carriers, much like some doctors with medical procedures, would like to arbitrarily decide which letters are objectionable enough to their religious sentivities to make them undeliverable.
“All we’re asking of Canada Post is to be mindful and to respect the carrier’s religious rights and those that found it offensive,” Whitfield added. “Canada Post should have known the trash they were putting out there.”
These are employees of a crown corporation of a secular country talking.

Hemant Mehta wrote a post about this pointing out that they're not sending anything illegal.
That’s irrelevant! They’re not sending out anything illegal! The moment you let postal workers pick and choose what to deliver, the slippery slope becomes apparent.
This is true as far as I am concerned, but after a little digging, I found some disheartening relics on the books. Laws or regulations which remind me of the defunct yet still present blasphemy laws we still have in this country.

Buried deep in the Canada Post website I found this (last updated January 15th):
2 Criminal Code and Other Offences

Any person using the mail for the delivery of any one of the following items commits an offence:
  • articles that are obscene, indecent, immoral or scurrilous
  • any information relating to bookmaking, pool-setting, betting or waging
  • articles relating to unlawful lottery schemes
  • any article relating to schemes to deceive or defraud the public
  • articles or special messages sent to any person with the intention to obtain money under false pretences.
I hate rules like this because it's questionable what's obscene, indecent, immoral or scurrilous. Is it the sex toys you ordered online or is it the atheist newspaper you got from the FFRF?

Although there do seem to be laws against mailing specifically sexually obscene material still on the books (bad enough!) -- and it's left to community standards to determine what's obscene or not (even worse!) -- the above section leaves a lot of wiggle room for interpretation when it comes to this newspaper and other material.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Oh No! Canadian Christians Are Being Oppressed!


It's a sad, sad, sad day in Canada: Christians are UNDER ATTACK!
A group of Canadian Christian leaders is raising the alarm about what they say are attacks on their faith, citing barriers to a Christian university setting up a law school and doctors opposed to ending pregnancies being forced to refer patients elsewhere.
Being forced to refer patients to places where they can obtain legal medical procedures! Will Christian doctors need to return to the catacombs in hiding?

"Doctor" Charles McVety, evangelical TV host, anti-LGBT, anti-same-sex-marriage, anti-abortion, anti-anti-school-bullying, anti-environmentalist, anti-Koran, anti-sex-education president of the Institute for Canadian Values -- a website which will happily collect the money of any Christians who might happen to feel persecuted and would like him to fight for their dwindling rights -- specifies some of the GRUESOME examples of all out persecution, subjugation and war against Bible believers in our country of 67% Christians.

HERE are the events that clearly point out how downtrodden Christians are in a country which happens to be run by evangelical Steven Harper and his troup of anti-science, evangelical, theocons:

  • A refusal by three provincial bar associations to accredit any potential law school graduate of Trinity Western University, which prohibits sexual intimacy outside heterosexual marriage among its students.
  • A letter from Bank of Montreal to the Law Society of Upper Canada, which governs Ontario lawyers, arguing against accrediting Trinity Western's proposed law school.
  • A commitment by the general counsel of 72 companies to promote diversity and inclusion.
  • The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario requiring that doctors with religious objections to birth control or abortion refer those patients to another physician.

Yes, it appears that some of their future lawyers may not have their Trinity Western degrees recognized because the school itself is using its religious privilege freedoms to reject students and staff members. What can they do, it's in the Bible? It's due to their filthy and unholy sexual practices.

Unlike not accepting lawyers from your law societies, not allowing students to attend your school or teachers to be employed at your publicly subsidized school is merely a beautiful expression of your religious freedom.

Let's stop worrying about discrimination against LGBT people -- think of the poor Law Schools!

Apparently, the Bank of Montreal, which is a publicly owned company, I think, also thinks discrimination against people based on sexual orientation is a bad thing -- ANTI-CHRISTIAN!

Then there are those 72 companies who want to promote diversity and inclusion -- apparently the opposite of what Trinity Western wants to do. Diversity is, of course, code word for oppress the Christians and inclusion means make some Christians feel bad for wanting to exclude 'the gays'.

Then there's those meanies at the College of Physicians who want to force doctors to actually treat their patients with something we call modern medicine. No actually, the college only wants the doctors to let patients know where they can find the medical help they need. OPPRESSION! You can read my reaction to that here.

I think these groups are confusing an increasing correction of their huge historical religious privilege with persecution. These are two different things. There are plenty of places in the world where real Christian persecution is happening and Canada is not one of those places.

via that non-Christian atheist who makes angels cry, Hemant Mehta

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Christian Physicians Demand 'Right' to Deny Birth Control & Abortion, Refuse to Refer Patients Elsewhere


After several Ontario doctors refusing to prescribe birth control to women based on their firmly held religious beliefs, the Ontario College of Physicians ruled that doctors could opt out of prescribing certain drugs (read: the pill) or some procedures (read: abortion). According to the new rules, doctors had to refer the patients to another physician who would prescribe the drugs or do the procedures, if it was a medical emergency.
The new Ontario policy requires doctors unwilling to provide certain care, such as prescriptions for contraception, to refer patients in good faith to a "non-objecting, available, and accessible" physician. The policy also says in medical emergencies, the doctors would be required to perform procedures themselves.
These rules actually allow doctors to deny legal medical procedures and drugs to patients based on completely arbitrary personal religious beliefs in a secular country with a public healthcare system paid for by all. In other words, it was already plenty conciliatory. Naturally, if a woman was at the point of death they had to operate to save her life -- this should go without saying.

Now the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada and the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies are taking the Ontario College of Physicians to court -- because they feel that having any responsibility to help patients -- specifically women who want birth control or need abortions -- is a violation of their Charter Rights!

In reality, of course, the new rules give them broad powers to drastically inconvenience patients (read: women) by imposing whatever deeply held religious beliefs they happen to be entertaining at that moment onto those who do not share their misguided religious convictions.
The two physician groups say in their statement of claim that the policy is a violation of a physician's right to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

"The obligation to provide an 'effective referral' for a procedure or pharmaceuticals to which the physician objects on moral or religious grounds is, for some physicians, unconscionable," the applicants say in the statement of claim.

The doctors also say refusing to provide certain procedures or pharmaceuticals does not violate the charter rights of patients, does not violate the Human Rights Code and does not amount to discrimination.
That's right, they cannot even be bothered to refer the poor patient to a doctor who will do the procedure or prescribe the drugs. Even this small act is too much for them. Also, it seems like denying patients legal procedures -- substandard medical care -- is just no problem for the patients. They can just go somewhere else... maybe... who knows where... is it even in the same town?... I guess they might never know... who cares, so long as the doctor's religious sensibilities are not threatened.

Luckily the College has vowed to fight this. Here's a released statement from them:
"The policy requires that physicians act in a manner that respects patient dignity, ensures access to care, and protects patient safety when they choose not to provide health care for reasons of their religion or conscience. The policy does not require physicians to perform procedures or provide treatments to which they object on religious basis, except during a medical emergency," the college said in a statement.

"We believe the policy strikes the appropriate balance between physicians' charter rights, their professional and ethical obligations and the expectations of the public."
This rule is infinitely reasonable. Personally, I wouldn't want to have an anti-abortion doctor doing my abortion (if I had a womb). It's these two religious groups that are demanding too much. A poll on the news story shows that 2/3 of respondents agree that these groups are going too far.


Given that we live in a country with a public healthcare system, physicians who refuse to do certain procedures should be put onto some sort of registry for people to consult. If the system in Ontario works anything like in Quebec, perhaps these clinics should be forced out of the public system altogether and become 100% private.

At the very least, they should be forced to help the poor patient get the care they legally deserve! This begins with a proper referral... and perhaps even a complimentary appointment booking and doctors note off work to attend the other appointment!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Conrad Black & Learnmore Zuze: Both Wrong, One Article Clearly Superior

Why not play logical fallacy bingo at home while reading these pieces?
By now I'm sure you've all read Conrad Black's dreadful piece over at the National Post and I hope you've all had your Bingo cards ready and you were playing along by keeping track of all the tired old debunked chestnuts of arguments as they came -- at breakneck speed.

Only a day or two before Black wrote about how inspired he was by a two hour conversation with Dr. John Lennox, I read a strikingly similar piece from Zimbabwe pastor by Learnmore Zuze who also quotes Lennox. 

Zuze's piece is far superior to Black's -- aside from not being penned by a convicted felon, as far as I know. Firstly, take a look at the titles. Black's: Shabby, Shallow World of the Militant Atheist alongside Zuze's: Atheism no smarter than Christianity. The latter lacks Black's air of pomposity and I can nearly get behind it.

Furthermore, although not directly related to the writing itself, Zuze's profile picture is that of a serious man in front of a clock at 11:35am, with the words The Final Hour inscribed upon it. Below the clock we have flames as well.

What I like about Zuze's work is his economy with words and his pragmatic use of simple language. This man gets to the point and does not waste time on metaphor.
This is precisely what the devil craves for the human race to believe. Atheism, by rejecting the existence of God, is nothing but a secreted way of propping up lawlessness, anarchy and transgression in the universe. Atheism represents the mindset that Satan (whom they think is imaginary), desires humans to have. Atheism, by design or default, is an adroit satanic ideology meant to promote immorality throughout the world. Where it not for space, I would have had readers realize the striking and salient similarities between verses from the satanic bible (written by Antony Lavey) and independent atheistic writings.
Compare this with something or other Black wrote.
This is a large part of the core of the atheist problem, and it is complicated by the vulnerabilities of some of its peppier advocates. Singer sees nothing wrong with bestiality and considers the life of a human child to be less valuable than that of a pig or chimpanzee. It is rather frivolous to raise Hitchens in this company; he was a dissolute controversialist who was a fine writer in his prime, had some enjoyable human qualities and fought to a brave death from cancer, but was a nihilistic gadfly who spent himself prematurely in an unceasing frenzy to épater les bourgeois. He entertained, until he became unbearably repetitive, but no one with an IQ in triple figures was shocked by him. Dawkins almost raves about the extremes that “faith” can drive people to, but was struck dumb like Zachariah in the temple when Lennox pointed out, in a very lengthy debate at the University of Alabama in 2009, that atheism is a faith — clearly one that Dawkins holds and tries to propagate with considerable fervour. In general, something a person believes and can’t prove is supported by some measure of faith.
Honestly, I could hardly read Black's composition. I kept wondering if he actually spoke like a bourgeois himself.
Communities untouched by religious influences have been unalloyed barbarism, whatever the ethical shortcomings of some of those who carried the evangelizing mission among them. Without God, “good” and “evil” are just pallid formulations of like and dislike. As Professor Lennox reminded me, Dostoyevsky, scarcely a naive and superstitiously credulous adherent to ecclesiastical flimflam, said “without God, everything is permissible.”
Flimflam, I say! 
When taxed with the extent of the universe and what is beyond it, most atheists now immerse themselves in diaphanous piffle about a multiverse 
Diaphanous piffle!
The two sides of this argument are asymmetrical. The atheists can sow doubt well, and spruce up their arguments with Hitchensesque flourishes such as the physical mockery of some prominent clergymen and the disparagement of the religious leadership credentials of Henry VIII and Borgia popes and some of the bouffant-coiffed, mellifluous and light-fingered televangelists. They rant against the evils of superstition and can still render a fairly stirring paean to the illimitable liberty and potential of the human mind.
Bouffant-coiffed, mellifluous and light-fingered televangelists!

I know, I'm not being fair and I could very well be guilty of doing the same thing myself. I honestly haven't read such language since my days back in University. There, I occasionally found myself reading forgotten treatises from distinguished professors of 'the' Classics from the 1920s. They exhibited similar language -- it was much more flowery than the easy to understand words from the likes of Will Durant. Words meant to be understood by all.

Our friend the pastor in Zimbabwe writes to be understood.
I have also realized that atheists, eccentrically, suffer from an extremely developed smarter-than-thou-complex. They claim to be more enlightened than the ‘manic lunatics of religion.’ A sister from Netherlands wrote, ”I have suffered much grief debating with atheists as they trash the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ and God.” This is not strange, personally I have debated with decorated atheists and one thing that surely stands out in the atheistic argument is their smarter-than-thou attitude. Atheists view themselves as having a monopoly over truth and knowledge, an accusation they ironically direct at Christians. Atheism is anchored in the belief that no deities exist. Building on this belief, atheists go on the rampage attacking everything in their path that is religion.
No fancy-smancy smarty pants words coming from him at least. We cannot say the same for Black. Zuze goes on to complain about how atheists are always demanding proof for God.
The ill-advised part of atheism is that it ridiculously demands proof of the existence of God by intending him to prove himself in a way they (fallible humans) have codified. They think of God as some petite being they can tinker with; they do not want God operating on his own terms. They want a God who would yield to their (warped) ideology of how he should operate before they validate him.
This is proof that was nowhere to be found in either his article or the piece by Conrad Black. The only difference between the two was that Zuze's piece was better written and much more comprehensible.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

The Atheists Made Us Do It



You know, it's little things like this peppered into articles that act like a million papercuts.

In an article about the Russian Orthodox Church's usual problems with the usual things,  Russian Orthodox Church concerned about legalization of same-sex marriage, abortion issue, and secularism in Europe, we get this ominous threat.
The metropolitan said "manifestations of aggressive secularism, hen believers' feelings and religious sacred things are insulted and mocked under the pretext of freedom of speech and expression" are dangerous to civil peace.
What's that supposed to mean? Is it the sort of thing a wife abuser might say to defend himself after losing his temper? Is it an admission that the religious cannot be trusted to control themselves like human beings?

Or take a look at Rise of Religious Extremism and Atheist: Ominous Signs for Bangladesh. Even the title puts atheism in the same category as religious extremism.
The recent developments in Bangladesh suggest an alarming and simultaneous rise of religious fanaticism and atheism, complicating the already volatile political scenario of the country.
What does this mean? Does it mean that we cannot have atheists because they complicate volatile political scenarios -- e.g. some believers become violent and murder an atheist blogger? How is this the atheist's fault?

Does it not speak volumes of the author's gross misunderstanding of atheism when he throws it into the same box as religious fanaticism? The sole commenter of the piece had this to say:
In what sense are the atheists you mention here “extreme”? What have they done beyond speaking their minds? What crime have they committed? Sorry, but when “intolerance” toward “anyone who believes in god” is restricted to words, that doesn’t qualify as “extremism”. It’s just free speech.

To imply any parity whatsoever all between these people and the political Islamists who are murdering them is disgusting. You may as well say: “Two extreme groups of young people are confronting each other: rapists, who want to rape any woman they see, and women, who want to walk outside.”
Agreed. I've seen these sorts of false equivalences recently growing in number. Another example is Pope Francis himself suggesting that anyone who insults religion should expect violence against them.

These are not the words and reasoning of adults who can control themselves. Such are words of reckless brutes.

Brave Atheists Dare to Exist in a Hostile 'Secular' Turkey

In less than one year of existence, the Atheist Association of Turkey has gotten hundreds of death threats -- some gruesome ones from Islamist groups. Just take a look at these 'dangerous' people! Many would like to see them dead simply for not believing in God.
Here's one for Andrew Bennett and his Office of Religious Freedom to say something about. In secular Turkey, less than a year ago, atheists got together and formed the Atheist Association.

Since then they've gotten so many death threats -- hundreds -- that they've had to install three panic buttons wired directly to the police (who one hopes will be helpful) and three video cameras. They've got Islamist groups calling to have their president's hands cut off! Even their own president, emperor Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has managed to get their site blocked and has accused them of trying to take down his government and identified them as a terrorist threat.

It's a rough time to be atheist in Turkey -- it's really bad.

They plan to march in the streets of Istanbul on their first year anniversary. That's pretty freaking brave!

Listen to this short and depressing report (audio only) about the situation of atheists in Turkey and then why not tweet to Mr. Bennett (@freedomreligion) and ask him to express a little concern on their behalf.


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Winnipeg Public School Board Refuses Evangelical Group Access to Lunchtime Bible Program

(source)
The Winnipeg School Board just rejected the Child Evangelism Fellowship of Manitoba's petition to offer lunchtime Bible study and preschool prayer sessions in their public schools. Trustee Mike Babinsky is not happy about this one bit.
Trustee Mike Babinsky was outraged Monday night. He accused trustees of setting up every roadblock possible to thwart religion in division schools. The board has always stretched out the approval process for months, he said, allowing only one of three readings of the necessary bylaw to be heard each month.

And now it won't take the petition at all, he said.

"Over the years, we have made it very difficult for these people in our community to believe in God. They have the right to do this," he said, accusing fellow trustees of finding ways "to oust these kind of people from our schools."
Do people really need their kids to have evangelicals come in and preach at them on their public schools for them to believe in God? Isn't church and at home enough? This religious group offers ministries such as the notorious Good News Club.
Child Evangelism Fellowship is a Bible-centered organization composed of born-again believers whose purpose is to evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of Christ, disciple them in the Word of God and establish them in the local church for Christian living.

The primary ministries of CEF Manitoba are Good News Club, Discovery Time in schools, Mailbox Club and 5-Day Club. Through these programs staff and volunteers, who are fully trained and screened, teach the children and help to shape their character.
The board, which Babinsky accused of constantly delaying review of the petition every year, says that it was malformed and so they could not accept it. However, one trustee also expressed understandable disgust with the group's evangelical anti-LGBT views.
Trustee Lisa Naylor was ready to take on Babinsky about religion. She said the group -- the only one that uses the Public Schools Act to conduct religious instruction in division schools -- holds beliefs "that do not support gay and lesbian families, transgender people."

"How do we allow discussion to go on in our schools that goes against our own values?" Naylor said.
I'm not up on these politics, but my understanding is this petition was a way for parents to give consent to the group to evangelize to their kids on school property. Board gets petitioned and then it must approve.

Apparently, the Winnipeg board has also kicked the Gideons and other groups out of their public schools for their views about sexual orientation. Furthermore, this year marks the lowest school acceptance rate of the Child Evangelism Fellowship in years. I guess I'm good with the end-effect of this, but you know what would be more effective?

Why not just forbid outside evangelical groups from coming into public schools and offering this service? Make this a blanket rule. Problem solved. Keep religious groups like the Good News Club and the Gideons out of public schools.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Controversial Lebanese Model Comes Out Atheist

Myriam Klink
Today's Sunday so it's time for me to put my brain on hold and post something related to atheism but only vaguely relevant. To fulfill this goal, I present this story about controversial Lebanese bad girl model Myriam Klink.

Based on my limited knowledge of Lebanon, I think it's probably newsworthy to report that Klink came out as an atheist on her Facebook page while simultaneously accusing a priest of molesting her when she was 16.

While commenting on a video about molestation she confessed the following.
"When I was 16, a priest did the same thing with me, trying to touch my ass," she said. "I told my dad, but he didn’t believe me and punished me with cutting my allowance for a week." Myriam admitted that the priest is well known in Lebanon, and has blue eyes.

She attributed the incident as one factor that pushed her away from religion by adding, "And they keep asking me why I am an atheist. Religion and priests keep disgracing us every day."
She has a following of around 400,000 on Facebook, so I imagine she must have some public influence. 

Although I'm not so sure how Lebanese atheists will take this. After hearing she defended the war actions of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, I'd do anything not to be seen as similar in the public eye! So much for being a positive role model!

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Pastor Convinced Katy Perry Is Totally In a Relationship With Satan

Katy Perry
I think I'm guilty of being a Katy Perry fan. Not so much for her music, although she does have a couple of good songs. It's her brilliant ability to drive Illuminati conspiracy theorists and fundamentalist Christian pastors into a crazed frenzy. It's like she's not even trying.
A Tennessee pastor branded popular singer Katy Perry a devil worshiping entertainer in a sermon Sunday and charged that she boasts "having a physical relationship with the devil" in her song "E.T." taken from her 2010 album Teenage Dream.
If you watch the video, it seems like she's just talking metaphorically about having fantastic freaky out of this world sex with someone. Or maybe it is the devil or aliens or something -- who cares? Well, pastor Charles Lawson of Temple Baptist Church in Knoxville totally cares.

"'Futuristic lover, different DNA, they don't understand you. You're from a whole 'nother world, a different dimension, you open my eyes. … And I'm ready to go, lead me into the light.' The light? Is not the Lord Jesus Christ the light?" he asked his church.

"That's not who she's talking about, but she says: 'Infect me with your love; fill me with your poison. Take me, take me, wanna' be a victim, ready for abduction. Boy, you're an alien; your touch so foreign it's supernatural, extraterrestrial.' And on she goes in praise and worship and singing to Satan," he charged.
However, Lawson doesn't only have a beef with Katy Perry for setting up the youth to accept the anti-Christ with no question. He's go ta problem with Beyonce, Lady Gaga, the Beatles and their hand-holding and satanic yellow submersibles.

So it turns out he just has a problem with pretty much anything that's not Laurence Welk.

Still, I find it immensely entertaining -- even more than the music, I think.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

119 Confirmed Quebec Measles Cases & Anti-Vax Religious Community Is Ground Zero



Just a month ago, I mentioned in passing 10 cases of measles confirmed in Quebec's Lanaudière region. They were isolated to members of a anti-vaccine religious community (who are also into eugenics!) -- a fact that's being played down by the press -- who refused to vaccinate their kids.
The measles outbreak at the Mission of the Holy Spirit in Crabtree, Quebec left 10 children stricken with measles after a member contracted the bug on a trip to Disneyland in California.
Well, the number jumped to 19 confirmed cases on February 21st.

Then 32 cases on February 27th.

Then 80 cases just yesterday.

We're now at 119 confirmed cases as of this afternoon!


According to the above report, because this is localized in a small -- very unnamed -- cloistered religious community which almost exclusively homeschools, the disease hasn't spread very far in the rest of the province.

However, at least one of the children does go to an outside school with some 700 students. Apparently around 160 of them could be lacking up to date vaccination.

If this isn't frightening enough, take a look at where this Lanaudière region is situated. Or more specifically, Crabtree, where this religious group apparently is located.



That's not too far from Quebec's largest urban centre.

Can we please vaccinate our children? I'm beginning to wonder if vaccination of children should be part of necessary health care and enforced, lest it be considered abuse. I really am.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

'Hidden Atheists' Within The Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Community

(source)
There is an extremely fascinating article over at Aeon by Batya Ungar-Sargon about the Double Life of Hasidic Atheists which deserves a read -- and deserved to be extended to a book. It's a collection of portrayals and interviews with people who know they are undercover atheists but, for many valid reasons, continue on publicly as Ultra-Orthodox Jews.

It tells the story of people like Solomon who realized he was an atheist during a train ride and then spent the following fifteen years trapped inside a religion which worshipped a god he no longer believed in.
And yet 15 years later, Solomon’s life looks exactly the way it did the day of that fateful train ride, give or take a few infractions. Solomon is still leading the life of an Orthodox Jew. He is married to an Orthodox Jew. His children are Orthodox Jews who go to study the Torah at yeshiva. His parents are ultra-Orthodox Jews. And so, with his new-found atheism, Solomon did nothing.

Solomon is one of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of men and women whose encounters with evolution, science, new atheism and biblical criticism have led them to the conclusion that there is no God, and yet whose social, economic and familial connections to the ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic communities prevent them from giving up the rituals of faith. Those I spoke to could not bring themselves to upend their families and their children’s lives. With too much integrity to believe, they also have too much to leave behind, and so they remain closeted atheists within ultra-Orthodox communities. Names and some places have been changed – every person spoke to me for this story on condition of anonymity. Part of a secret, underground intellectual elite, these people live in fear of being discovered and penalised by an increasingly insular society.
There is mild-mannered Yanky who's disbelief crystalised after watching a talk by Richard Dawkins.
That’s when his newly observant study partner took Yanky to a presentation by the British scientist and New Atheist Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion (2006). ‘It wasn’t so much that Dawkins was so convincing, or interesting even,’ Yanky told me between short sips of beer. ‘It was just, I was sitting there with this whole group of people who were having this one viewpoint.’ He experienced for the first time what religion looked like from the outside, a series of often ridiculous and always questionable ideas shattering its absolute hold on his psyche.

And something else crystalised at that Dawkins talk: Yanky had at that point hundreds of questions which no one had ever been able to answer to his satisfaction, ranging from scientific questions about the veracity of the Old Testament’s narrative (‘woman very clearly wasn’t taken from man’; ‘ancient humans were not vegetarians,’ he elaborated) to questions concerning the claims made in the Talmud (‘the laws of cooking on Shabbos and kosher cooking laws don’t match up with thermodynamics’; ‘bugs don’t spontaneously generate from plants’). It felt like there was a separate, unsatisfying answer for every burning question. And as Dawkins spoke, Yanky realised that there was one answer that took care of all of his questions – God did not write the Torah because He does not exist. ‘So that was basically it for me,’ he said.
Then there's lying to the children -- Moishe tells us the pain involved with having to act like a believer for his children and wife.
‘I’m desperate to tell my kids the truth,’ Moishe confessed. And yet, he doesn’t dare. Moishe is not alone. Many I spoke to stay inside the confines of their Orthodox lives for fear of harming their children, opting instead to let them continue to believe what they themselves now consider to be fairy tales.

‘To me, lying to my children was the worst part,’ said another undercover atheist – I’ll call him Yisroel. Yisroel has a very good job – he makes in the high six figures – and is very attached to his wife and children, the opposite of the stereotype that prevails in religious communities surrounding those who lose the faith, namely that they are ‘liars who want to do drugs, cheat on their wives and eat cheeseburgers’, as he put it. Yisroel’s greatest wish is that his children will learn to think critically and figure things out for themselves. But he has no plans to accelerate that process. ‘I take it one day at a time; I don’t have any long-term goal about that,’ he told me when we met in a Manhattan deli on a rainy afternoon.
I would quote the entire thing. It's powerful stuff. However, I instead invite you to go read the piece.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Russian Opera Director In Court For 'Offending Feelings of Believers'

Scene from Timofei Kulyabin's rendition of Wagner's Tannhaüser. (source)
Here's a short update concerning the Russian opera director, Timofei Kulyabin, whose version of Wagner's Tannhaüser pissed off a Russian Orthodox cleric and compelled this man of God to lodge a formal complaint with the courts.

Well, it turns out that Metropolitan Tikhon had never even seen the production! He's just pissed off and offended by the idea that it features Jesus being tempted.
Novosibirsk prosecutors have taken Russian theatre director Timofei Kulyabin to court over a performance of the Wagner opera 'Tannhauser'. The case was opened due to objections raised by local Russian Orthodox Church officials who reportedly didn't watch the play but claimed that it 'offends the feelings of believers'.
The official court proceedings began March 4th.

As I mentioned in the previous post, Putin's Russia now features a law which forbids offending anyone's religious sensibilities! The maximum jail sentence for this is three years. It's like the Pussy Riot hooliganism charge all over again.

Naturally, the correct way of dealing with something you're offended by is not to arrest someone and throw them into jail! That sort of thing shouldn't happen anymore in Russia, unless nothing has really changed.

There were over 800 Christian protesters outside of the first performance. Well, at least they understand democracy better than the Orthodox Russian Church and Russian authorities.

Nice Article About Pastafarians

(source)
Here's a pleasant piece in the Vancouver Sun about Pastafarians by Daphne Bramham.
Hooray for Pastafarians with their colanders on their noodle-y heads! They’re a welcome bit of gentle, comic relief in a frightened world.

From German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s tiny hometown of Templin to Surrey to Kansas, Pastafarians are oddly at work pointing out prejudices and privilege.

“By design,” their official website says, “the only dogma allowed in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the rejection of dogma.”

In addition to believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, they like pirates, are fond of beer, embrace contradictions and “we do not take ourselves too seriously.”
It's a bit of light reading in praise of our pasta strainer wearing friends and features Obi Canuel who is being discriminated against by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) who refuse to issue him a photo license ID his religious headgear on (pasta strainer). You can hear his case in the accompanying video.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Interview With Founder of 'World's First Atheist Orphanage'


Five days ago, Hank Pellissier from the Brighter Brains Institute -- at which I'm an honorary fellow -- sent me information about an ambitious new project he was fundraising for. He is teaming up with Bwambale Robert, Director of the Kasese Humanist Primary School to build the world's First Atheist Orphanage in strongly religious Uganda.

I'll admit that at the time I was too wiped to check it out the piece he included in his email by VICE writer Zoltan Istvan, a futurist transhumanist who is also a fellow at Brighter Brains. (Note that this organization is open to both religious and atheist contributors so there is a fair bit of what many would consider woo. However, they have done excellent work in Uganda.)

You can find the GoFundMe fundraiser page for the new orphanage here.

A few days later, Hemant Mehta picked up the story on his Friendly Atheist blog. Although he was open to the idea of a secular orphanage, there was something about the active promotion of atheist values which rubbed him the wrong way.
"Pellissier, who considers himself open to spirituality, says that orphans who are religious will be welcomed into the orphanage. But the education, culture, and emphasis will be on an atheist and secular experience."

I hope this is just a case of sloppy journalism and that they mean the education and culture the kids receive just won’t be religious in nature… but if they’re crossing the line into actively teaching kids that God doesn’t exist, I’d feel very uncomfortable telling anyone to support them. If Christians did something similar, we’d call it brainwashing. Even though I agree with the Humanists on the God issue, it’s something the children must figure out for themselves.

Teach them how to ask questions. Teach them to respect the scientific method. But don’t teach them to reject God before they’re old enough to fully understand how religion works.

Atheists can help these kids without pressuring them to adopt a non-religious stance themselves.

The crowdfunding campaign page is here if you’re interested. I have no plans to make a donation.
This made for some colourful and energetic exchange on the comments section. I shared some of Hemant's concerns and so contacted Bwambale Robert to ask some follow up questions. You'll find the interview below.

I can see this possibly being a sort of rift issue in the atheist and Humanist community as it grows and increases its ability to provide education, child care and even healthcare to groups in need across the world. How much should we encourage the questioning of religion and normalize or even champion atheism within highly dependant and vulnerable groups?

Is it acceptable if the orphanage founders have as one of their mission goals the reduction of religion -- otherwise known as an increase in atheism? I would say yes, but many might consider this too much like religious orphanages with goals to indoctrinate kids. These people might only see organizations like Doctors Without Borders as being an acceptable model.

Meanwhile, for those who do see religion (read: superstitious belief) as part of the problem, goals to reduce its grip on younger generations may seem noble. It would then boil down to how secularism is actually implemented and how open and free critical thinking and unfettered exploration of ideas is encouraged. Are children with religious beliefs still respected or is atheist dogma forced upon them?

Of course, from an outside observer -- when the rubber hits the pavement -- a properly secularly run orphanage is indistinguishable from an atheist freethinker orphanage, regardless of anyones motives or personal religious beliefs. Religious and non-religious both can do secularism.

Except for one thing. Unlike any other orphanage, when a child or parent asks a caretaker a question in confidence about a god, the answer here will be unique. Those working at this institution will be the first in the country to not be afraid to honestly answer, as atheists, that there is not evidence for a god; that they are atheists and that's Okay -- they are still good people. I wonder how often these words are spoken in a country like Uganda.

Now, without further ado, the interview. This was done informally over email and Bwambale's mother tongue is not English. Aside for a couple of very minor corrections, I left the responses intact.

1) Describe the primary goal of this new orphanage and what sets it apart from other orphanages in the region.
To improve lives of orphaned children in our community through allowing them have access to the basics of life and enjoy a better life like the rest of children.

What sets it apart from other orphanages is that its foundation is secular in nature where we shall allow children to grow freely without any dogma or indoctrination whether Atheism, Humanism or religion.

We shall however expose the children to the scientific method where we shall enlighten them on the usefulness of science in attempting to improve life on this planet. We plan to promote evidence based learning in compliance our government policy of promoting science and technology in combating global challenges.

Children from our orphanage will be well versed with ideas from anything that might come across their minds ranging from religion, religions, our universe and what is beyond. We shall emphasize a lot on promoting critical thinking.

There will be no worshiping of any religion, performing rituals or orphans putting on holy signs as done in religious based orphanages but we shall try as much as we can to respect their religions and if the children so wish will be allowed to practice their beliefs in nearby places of worship but not at the orphanage - On this point, we shall be available to defend ourselves why such practices are not considered important.
2) How old will these children be?
Orphans into the orphanage will not be more than 18 years. Only vulnerable orphans will be considered after thorough screening. We will try as much to keep the numbers low but we shall try help out other orphans outside the orphanage access education or skills training at the orphanage.
3) Will there be religious instruction of any kind? Will there be any discussion of atheism? If so, how will religions and atheism be presented?
There will be No religious instruction of any kind, yes, there will always be a discussion on Atheism, Religion, Humanism, Free thought and Science.

Religion will be analyzed on comparative terms as they are so many and children should have a right to information. The same goes to Atheism, Humanism or Science.

All in all, we shall not be recommending children to take to any side like most religious founded orphanages do but will be up to the orphans to make decisions of their own when they grow up.
4) If a child professes their faith in a God or religion, how would the caretakers react?
If a child professes their belief in a god or gods, we shall not stop him or her. It will be there right to choose what to believe in.
5) If a child asks if God or religion is true, how would the caretakers answer?
If a child asks if God or religion is true, we shall simply say, we don’t know because we have no tangible evidence that proves he or she exists, we are not even sure whether god is male or female or both. Keeping that side, there is existence of multiples of god so far invented and so it might be very hard for one to know which god you are talking about.

On the side of religion, it remains the same story as there exists very many religions, some believing in one god and divided still, while others believe in other gods and each religion claiming to be the most right with a ticket to heaven or eternity. The same explanation applies. It will however be a greater task for us to enlighten children about the different types of religions we have all over the world.
6) Will the orphanage use the word 'atheist' in its name in Uganda? If so, is there any danger incurred to caretakers or children for using this word?
The orphanage name is BiZoHa, its an acronym of 3 personalities who have done commendable work in the world of charity, am actually the one who proposed that name, i decided it as i wanted a neutral orphanage that will welcome people from all walks of life whether you are a believer or non believer. 
7) How does instruction at this orphanage differ than the school?
The Orphanage will be no different from the stand and vision of Kasese Humanist Primary School, as usual no dogma, no indoctrinations with an element of religious tolerance.
8) Now that the fundraising goal has been met, where will the orphanage be situated physically and how close will it be to the school? Has the building been constructed yet?
The orphanage will be situated in Muhokya along Mpondwe - Fort Portal road, a distance of 10 Kilometers from the KHPS Main campus at Railway and 15 Kilometers from the KHPS Permanent home in Rukoki, Kasese District.

Constructions of the orphanage commences on April 15 this year. We are beginning with a dormitory to house 15 orphans and will be supervised by a caregiver with good reputation. Other buildings on the orphanage site will be constructed in the future as funds permit.

At the orphanage, we plan to put some classes for learning to help out orphans there access education but this will be strengthened in the course of the year, we plan also to put in vocational skills training to help out vulnerable youth acquire skills to pave their way to economic self reliance.
9) What are the next steps for moving forward with the orphanage? How can people get more information on this? How can they help?
Next step for moving forward with the orphanage requires full support of this noble project, it does not matter whether you are religious, Atheist, Humanist or Non believer, the concern here is to rescue the orphans so that they get chance to live meaningful decent lives.

More information about the orphanage can be sourced out by following the Brighter Brains Institute website for updates. You can send your donation through their website. People can be of help by donating finances generously to this cause via the Brighter Brains Institute USA.

Spreading the message about the orphanage to friends and families on social networks.
Liaising with us by holding fundraising drives in your respective areas in support of BiZoHa Orphanage.

Choosing to volunteer at the orphanage and get chance to motivate the orphans that they are very important in nation building.
10) are there any other concerns -- specifically from the article at Friendly Atheist and its comments -- you would like to address?
I thank Hemant Mehta of being concerned by making a simple write up on the orphanage on his blog however i was almost turned off when he came out with a title saying that he can’t donate to this orphanage. I guess the word First Atheist Orphanage was the catchment word that turned off most readers, as friends in the struggle for secularism, those were his opinions but i think he rushed to air out that, i know some people in the free thought world are not comfortable with the tag Atheist..... This has to stop.

We all don’t subscribe to fairies, fables or myths and i think we should all unite and support causes of this nature. The plight of Orphans in Uganda needs attention and we as people of no belief, we have a role to play in saving this.

Most of the concerns on the Friendly Atheist Blog were attended to by myself, i realized there was lots of concerns aired out which is good and very important. Your comments were eye openers.

Like I said, we are breaking the monopoly that religious people alone have no right to own orphanages, people with no belief also care about orphans. I think this will send a signal to religious people that we are not sitting back when we see some injustices committed in the name of religion; we have had of pedophile priests, pastors defiling children, children made to do hard labor, children being molested or abused.

At BiZoHa Orphanage, we shall try our level best to protect the orphans from these upheavals, we shall try to expose them to the world view where they will be made to understand better the world around them, how to be morally upright, how to think big and be beneficial to developing ourselves to mention but a few.

On this platform, i thank very much Sean McGuire for being concerned to ask me these questions and will try my best to ensure this orphanage is on track and in line with the mission and goals of Kasese Humanist Primary School.

With Science, we can progress.

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.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Alberta Mother Fights For Her Son's Secular Education

Map showing Legal, AB with Legal School. (source)
Patricia Brown moved from Kitimat, British Columbia to Legal, Alberta a couple of years ago, attracted by the low housing costs. At the time, she didn't think she would have such a hard time finding a secular education for her young son. Well, it turns out that in Legal, there is no secular public school!

You've got publicly-funded Catholic École Citadelle in French and publicly-funded Catholic Legal School in English.

If you take a look at the Alberta Education page on School Choice, they talk about Public and Separate schools. You'll see that the public option seems to be meant to be the default while religious minorities can split off to form publicly-funded Separate schools.
The right of the religious minority, either Protestant or Roman Catholic, to establish a separate school district is enshrined in legislation.  The Government has made a commitment to have one publicly funded system of education with two dimensions, the public schools and the separate schools.  The purpose of this information package is to inform separate school electors of the process available to them when establishing a separate school district.
Woops. I guess it just didn't work out that way in Legal. Seems like the minorities are really the majorities. We're now beginning to see what happens when you're not either Protestant or Roman Catholic.

Back to Brown's predicament. The English Catholic school is totally cool with her kid attending. He'll have to sit in the principal's office during religion class though -- which is usually, you know, a sort of punishment. Of course, Brown and Alberta's taxpayers are paying for this segregation and singling out. I'm also guessing that the Catholicizing is itself not completely segregated to merely that hour. It probably permeates their entire program.
Legal School is a Christ Centered Learning Community committed to providing students with quality education and experiential learning. Each student is a precious gift from God. 
Brown and other parents -- not just her! -- have a solution to this problem. The school itself is only half full, so they are asking the Catholic board to share the premises with a secular school.
The perfect solution, they say, is for the Catholic board to allow the public board to set up classes in the half-used Legal School.

“There’s lots of room in the Catholic school here,” said Sheena Schlachter. “I don’t see what the big deal is at all.”

But the parents think the Catholic board has already made up its mind.

“The public highly subsidizes a half-empty Catholic school and they refuse to share with the public,” Thiel said
You know what's hilarious? The superintendent of the Catholic School board involved said that they are working with the other two boards -- maybe the Public and French Catholic? -- to resolve the issue. Turns out he might be telling a little fib!
“Not from my perspective,” said Michele Dick, superintendent of Sturgeon School Division. “We did, yes, have one meeting.”

No others are planned, she said.
Funny. Just keep on going through the motions and perhaps everyone will just look the other way, right?

Come on now, isn't sharing considered a virtuous act?

It turns out that the nearest town with an actual secular option is Morinville, some 45 minutes away by car. You know what's a little ironic about that? The only reason it is an option is because in 2012 parents there finally got a secular school after fighting tooth and claw for it for two years. Authorities transferred a school from the Catholic board to the Public board.
The school transfer ends a long battle by parents to get a non-religious school in the town north of Edmonton. One of the parents who led the fight, Donna Hunter, was thrilled by Friday's announcement.

"Really happy," she said. "Really pleased that this long two-year battle for something that should have always been there is completed and that there is a real school and real enrolment can happen for September."

Morinville's historical origins created a situation in which all four schools in the town were run by the publicly-funded Greater St. Albert Catholic Regional School Division.
In a Globe and Mail story from 2011 during the struggle for secular education in Morinville, Frank Peters, an expert in school governance, clearly demonstrated why sitting in the principal's office for an hour every day will not deliver an unbiased dogma-free education.
The Alberta School Act allows children to be excused from religious or patriotic exercises or instruction. "But in a Catholic school, the entire curriculum is permeated with the Catholic theology, hence the problem," said Frank Peters, an expert in school governance and a professor of education at the University of Alberta.
Likewise:
The district is clear that religion in its schools isn't isolated to one class a day. Students pray before lunch and snacks, sing songs about Jesus and move through classrooms adorned with doves, crosses and other religious symbols.
How is this any different than the situation in Legal? It isn't, of course.

In Morinville, the parents got their public school -- now hopefully it will be Legal's turn, especially since there is the much less drastic -- and cost effective -- solution of having both boards share the same premises.

Of course, the ultimate solution would be for the government to stop funding religious schools altogether and in doing so, ensure every child in the province has reasonable access to dogma-free secular education -- but that's another story.

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