The religion that cried “wolf”

Those of you new to the blog may be unaware that I also contribute to Canadian Atheist, a group blog made up of a diverse group of atheists from across the country. It’s a good group, and I often get a chance to go full anti-theist and vent there in a way that I don’t like doing here. Today, I wrote this:

Okay, this is just getting ridiculous now. Those of you that know me best from my work decrying racist attitudes and unraveling the code of “politely” racist statements know that I have a fairly well-developed radar for bigotry. I am not one to shrink from making the call, even in those circumstances where the room is against me and I am forced to explain myself in excruciating detail. Racism is a serious problem, and I think we should be devoting more time and attention to it, not less.

If you’ve been involved in discussions of race-based (or really, any other kind of) bigotry, it’s a good chance that you’ve been accused at some point of being “the real racist”. The argument goes something like this: if everyone just acted like race wasn’t important, it would all of a sudden cease to be a factor. I will not bother detailing the number of reasons why this position is stupid - it’s the Wile E. Coyote school of debate…

Go read the rest of the article, and be sure to check out the high quality contributions of my co-authors. Since I don’t have to be impartial, I will take this opportunity to give a particular shoutout to Ian Bushfield, a fellow Vancouver skeptic whose writing I always find insightful and persuasive.

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Grasping at the funnest straws ever!

New Cromrades may not know that I am also a contributing author at the Canadian Atheist blog. I like shooting my anti-theist mouth off there in a much more unrestrained ‘happy warrior’ way than I do here, particularly when there’s a silly or particularly horrible religious news story to sink my teeth into:

I absolutely loved the first Austin Powers movie. I thought it was a brilliant piece of parody – the fact that it spawned not only the two godawful sequels and inspired a generation of people to start describing things as “shagadelic” are lamentable, but all in all I loved the movie. It’s hard to pick an absolute favourite moment from that movie, but a recent news item kind of reminded me of one particular scene. The story:

In increasingly secular Canada, how do you bring people to God? “Through parking and bathrooms,” says Scott Weatherford, lead pastor of Calgary’s First Alliance Church. He’s only half joking. On Sundays, the evangelical church’s 1,350-spot parking lot is overflowing. The $25.7-million, six-year-old campus feels more like a convention centre than a cathedral. Weekend services are high-tech, multimedia spectacles. The church provides free fair-trade coffee, with cup holders in every one of the 1,704 seats in the sanctuary. Whether it’s the caffeine, the big-screen monitors or the rock band, no one appeared to be drifting off when Mr. Weatherford, equipped with a wireless microphone and an iPad, took the stage at a recent weekend service.

The scene:

Read the rest here…

Religious: free, dumb

There are two conflicting definitions of the phrase “religious freedom”. The correct definition is that a person should have complete liberty to believe as they wish – perhaps “freedom of belief” is a better phrase. The stupid definition is that people should be allowed to do whatever they want, so long as it’s licensed by their religion, and that the law cannot interfere with that practice. Of course it’s trivially easy to pick apart exactly why that second definition is so stupid – sincere religious belief can justify all kinds of illegal and immoral acts. Interpreting “religious freedom” in this way is dangerous.

Here’s a little factoid for all you Yanks about my great country: we’re really not all that different from Americans. I will probably lose my maple syrup license for saying so, but aside from some historical differences that continue to inform our national identity, Canadian society contains all the same elements that American society does. At the moment, this means that our version of the theocrats are in power. Now, to be sure, our theocrats aren’t nearly as terrifying as theirs are, but they’re into the same wacky stuff.

Oddly enough, whereas the USA has its vaunted (and currently besieged) Constitutional separation of church and state, Canada has a Charter that explicitly enshrines the involvement of religious institutions in federal law. I call this ‘odd’ not simply because I think it’s a bad idea, and I do, but because it’s rarely been an issue. Canadians have, for the most part, unconcerned with arguments over religious involvement in public life. This, however, is changing under our current Parliament, and has been steadily ramping up over the past decade or so. More and more, we begin to see nonsense like this: [Read more...]

I hate your god

Many new readers may not know that I am a guest author over at Canadian Atheist. This is a blogging collective of atheist authors of a wide variety of stances from across the country, offering perspective on news items and national developments. While I do most of my blogging here, I do represent the ‘extreme anti-theist’ position there whenever I find a story that so moves me. A story has crossed my desk that is so revolting that I felt it deserved as much contempt as I could express in my limited command of the English language, so I posted it over there:

I haven’t really believed in any theistic concept of a god for many years now. It took me a while to admit that I was ‘an atheist’, but I was one in fact long before I was one in name. It wasn’t until I rounded that corner that I began to really think of the implications of theistic belief. I fully participated in the ‘pick and choose’ attitude that I now find so galling in others – taking the bits of the articles of faith without fully thinking them through.

Now that the wool has been fully removed, however, I will not hesitate to lambaste believers in the same way I wish someone had lambasted me when I took the easy duck-out routes from having to deal with the full implications of the god I believed in. An all-powerful being that sees human suffering, suffering that it created itself, and does nothing to intervene – or does intervene but only in the most inconsequential ways – is a monster. To call your god “love” is a complete betrayal of everything virtuous and honest in that emotion. This grotesque perversion is on display no more obviously than in the headline of this story:

Go check it out and read the rest. The other bloggers on the site are also worth checking out, particularly if you’re interested in the happenings in Canada.

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Your anti-theist rage fix

Hey all,

For those of you for whom this morning’s video wasn’t enough religion bashing, you can check out my latest post over at Canadian Atheist:

There is, however, a crucial distinction between freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. The phrase ‘freedom of religion’ has come to signify an excuse for antisocial or illegal behaviour provided there is an explicitly religious justification attached. It is the most pathetic and egregious type of special pleading possible – the attempt to secure a license to flout your responsibility to your fellow human beings because you haven’t learned to properly attribute the voice in your head to your own imagination. Somehow, this corruption of a noble secular principle has filtered its way into public consciousness, where it is often waved as a battleflag in the face of any errant secular campaigner who attempts to accomplish any separation of church from state.

The post is about British Columbia’s mealy-mouthed approach to prosecuting the serial abuse and child rape happening in Bountiful. Incidentally, the writing is me doing my best Christopher Hitchens impression. Not great, but I have a lot of time to get better.

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