UofA shows intolerance and hate

If Judah’s letter in the Gateway didn’t expose the intolerance of non-theistic beliefs at the University of Alberta, perhaps this will:

This is not a joke, this is a serious hate crime.

I have contacted Campus Security and have sent a press release to the local media outlets.

The University of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics were targeted by hate-fuelled vandalism over the weekend of September 19-22 when their large banner was defaced. The banner has been hanging in the Central Academic Building of the University of Alberta since the start of the school year and was meant to encourage non-religious students to be willing to come out and join the freethinking group on campus.

The banner featured a large, scarlet A, symbolic of the Out Campaign, which encourages atheists to come out of hiding. It also features the phrase “Speak Out”, emboldening students to know that atheism is an acceptable worldview.

The vandals wrote “Jesus Christ is coming back” in large bold letters, as well as a large cross in the middle of the A. They also added a heart to the top of the A.

The banner was hand-made by several of the exec members of the club last year, and is made from canvas to make it reusable. It is unknown yet what the damage was done with, and whether it is removable the or not. If the damage can be undone the banner will continue to fly. The materials for the banner cost around $70.

Campus security has been made aware of the crime. President Ian Bushfield will continue to advocate for the non-religious and remains firm that the intolerance shown by some delinquents will not dissuade him from continuing his group.

Way to show your respect, tolerance and intelligence students.

Update: CTV ran the interview on Tuesday, September 24. I also noticed that our groups email and website were cut off of the bottom of the poster.

Further Update: If you want to criticize me about the use of the four letter h word, at least read my reaction to the reaction.

38 thoughts on “UofA shows intolerance and hate

  1. This is very unfortunate… I sincerely doubt that any members of the UAAA go out of their way to deface the posters of religious groups on campus. You guys have done no harm and should not be subject to this; you’ve provided atheists and agnostics with support and advocated the interests of atheists/agnostics on campus, and I think that is important since other groups get more than adequate representation on campus. I hope that in a measure of good faith, other groups on campus will distance themselves from these vandals. We all know that it would be unfortunate if this were to happen to another group’s banner and I hope it just ends here.

    This also shows that in the midst of this kind of intolerance, atheists need an advocacy group to turn to. I’m relieved that the UAAA is continuing its work.

  2. I spotted the banner on campus today and got the mail about it, but missed the CTV appearance. So let me get this straight: Not only did they vandalize the (canvas, explicitly chosen because its reusability saves money and material) banner with what appears to be permanent marker, but they also slashed off the contact information? I’d have to double-check with friends in Law, but I’d be surprised if removing contact information didn’t count as an attempt to censor free speech. (Setting aside that we’re expected to bend over and take this while other groups that Big Jesus On Campus is opposed to are expected to flare up at this — imagine what would have happened if they had done the same to an Outreach sign, for instance, or any of the other faith-based groups!)

    I’d suggest investigating the human rights angle again.

  3. Let me first say, I condemn the defamers and vandalizers of private/public property. The act they committed was wrong, immoral and illegal.

    That issue being dealt with, I would first like to inquire as to the intolerance of non-theistic beliefs in my post? I argued for the maintaining of tradition as recognition for the founding values which birthed the University. I countered the decrying of “church and state” as unapplicabe, and strived to make my case for allowing religious values in the public square. If the religious and the sceular are going to dialogue we need to drop the victim mentality. Out of all the secular friendly institutions, the university is the friendliest. A few stupid students yes; hate and intolerance (“God loves you”) I would say no. The over reaction shows how green the atheistic movement is, we Christians have survived a cross in piss glorified as art in secular institutions, with complaint only from theocratic nutjobs *raises hand*. Over reaction is further evidenced in the above post: “…but I’d be surprised if removing contact information didn’t count as an attempt to censor free speech.”, seriously? I’m speechless.

    So in defense of myself, I challenge you Ian to either show the intolerance of my letter or retract your statement.

    1. Judah,

      Given: The University is a public institution.
      Given: “Secularism” is not a religious position but rather the absence of any particular religious position.
      Conclusion: Separation of church and state applies to the University’s policies, and attempts to keep them separate does not attack or favor any religion.

      In your letter, you displayed a horrible double standard: First, you accuse Ian of wanting to impose secular views on others, and then you say that if Christian views are imposed on others, they should accept it. The hypocrisy of this statement literally stunned me when I read it, and I find it surprising that you haven’t realized it in any of your correspondence on Ian’s blog.

      Finally, in your reply above, you mention that your goal is
      “religious values in the public square”. Currently, that IS possible, through the individuals that comprise the public. We don’t want to change that. You seem to think that adopting a secular stance in policy is the same as preventing individual religious expression. Far from it — it’s merely the prevention of FORCED religious oppression. For instance, you don’t specify which religious values you want in the public square. Logically, if we teach one religion’s values publicly,

      THIS is that form of intolerance.

      On a related note, atheism, agnosticism, and the other positions held by UAAA members (we have at least one deist and one pantheist in the roster, for instance) are all faith-based positions. We try to express this in a public forum, in the same way that Campus Alpha does (minus the whole ‘magnets everywhere’ and ‘covering other groups’ posters’ misdemeanors). The UAAA didn’t attack anyone and followed all the rules. The result? The poster gets defaced and our contact information removed — not by the secularists that you accuse of attacking religious viewpoints, but by Christians who evidently believe that not believing in your God is reason enough to treat us like pariahs.

      It’s not the secularists attacking religion that I, personally, am concerned about (and until you can show how freedom of expression from someone who has different values than you amounts to an attack on your faith, you won’t be able to play the victim card here).

      Oh, I chose the term “attempt to censor free speech” deliberately. How would you have responded if someone had scribbled Stars of David, crescent moons, or yin-yangs all over Campus for Christ’s banner and cut off all their contact information around campus (a bigger task given how it’s freakin’ everywhere instead of just on one unassuming poster in Central Academic…)? As much as I disagree with their worldview, I will defend to the best of my ability their right to promote it as defined in our national constitution (provided it doesn’t lead to another constitutional violation — both freedom of speech and freedom from religion are fundamental rights in the Canadian constitution).

      1. “Given: “Secularism” is not a religious position but rather the absence of any particular religious position.”

        Just so happens to support the atheistic and agnostic worldviews over others.

        “Conclusion: Separation of church and state applies to the University’s policies, and attempts to keep them separate does not attack or favor any religion.”

        I agree with your conclusion; however, our understandings of what “separation of church and state” entails is different.

        “In your letter, you displayed a horrible double standard: First, you accuse Ian of wanting to impose secular views on others, and then you say that if Christian views are imposed on others, they should accept it. The hypocrisy of this statement literally stunned me when I read it, and I find it surprising that you haven’t realized it in any of your correspondence on Ian’s blog.”

        Au contraire mes amis, I have done no such thing, although the lack of clarity is somewhat my fault (hard to explain all of an asserted position in a letter to the editor. Let me clarify. I think both impositions, if they respect the unalienable rights of men are valid. Where I attacked Ian in his editorial is where he tries to stifle debate on this issure by claiming: whether you see merit in my postion or not, constitutionally I must get my way. This method of UNJUSTLY imposing ones views on society has been employed by the ACLU and ardent atheists everywhere. Both positions should be analyzed, debated and decided upon, the resulting decision respected by all parties. I’ve already said this in my response to the post “The Critics Respond”.

        “Far from it — it’s merely the prevention of FORCED religious oppression. For instance, you don’t specify which religious values you want in the public square. Logically, if we teach one religion’s values publicly,

        THIS is that form of intolerance.”

        So forced secular values, whatever they may be (since it only entails values without religious consideration), are valid for government regardless of merit. However, no matter how much merit a religious value receives it can’t be represented by the government? Forced secular values is called, what: good government, but forced religious values is called: “FORCED oppression” and “intolerance”, because everyone knows secularism implies tolerance?!? Brian your parnoid disdain for religion is showing. Religious values I wanted represented in the public square are those which created the public square, the Judeo-Christian ones. A good example of this would be a school boards decision to teach abstinence.

        “It’s not the secularists attacking religion that I, personally, am concerned about (and until you can show how freedom of expression from someone who has different values than you amounts to an attack on your faith, you won’t be able to play the victim card here). ”

        Well seeing as you’re a staunch atheist of course you wouldn’t. We’re not victims, I’m trying to make the other side see the unreasonalbeness of their actions and their claims. We must be intellectually honest. Having a poster defamed with “God loves you” and equating that to a hate crime as done below is an example of unreason leading to harmful consequences down the road.

        “Oh, I chose the term “attempt to censor free speech” deliberately. How would you have responded if someone had scribbled Stars of David, crescent moons, or yin-yangs all over Campus for Christ’s banner and cut off all their contact information around campus (a bigger task given how it’s freakin’ everywhere instead of just on one unassuming poster in Central Academic…)? As much as I disagree with their worldview, I will defend to the best of my ability their right to promote it as defined in our national constitution (provided it doesn’t lead to another constitutional violation — both freedom of speech and freedom from religion are fundamental rights in the Canadian constitution).”

        I would have been those criminals who have no respect for private property. Would wonder why the other students don’t take a liking to Christianiy, and report it to campus security, calling it vandalism.

        1. “Just so happens to support the atheistic and agnostic worldviews over others.”

          Judah, you have made this argument before. Secular is NOT supporting atheistic and agnostic views. In the example of changing the charge, dropping god is not the same as supporting atheism. The charge would have to be changed to something that made specific reference to there existing no god. A lack of reference to god is not the same.

          All of your arguments basically amount to “You claim mentioning my god is forcing views on you, but if you remove mentioning my god you are forcing your views on me” This argument makes no sense whatsoever. Since right now in many places one particular religion is represented their are two solutions.
          1)Make reference to all religious views in existence. This is rather stupid, as it will be such a long list, and things will contradict, such as both mentioning a god, as well as mentioning the non existence of god.
          2)Not mention god. Not mention the existence or non existence of any definition of god. Ignore it completely.

          I think it is clear that the second choice is more practical, and just makes more sense. It is an approach that is neutral on the topic of god, or religion. It is not forcing anything on anyone.

          I hope you can finally understand why your argument makes no sense.

          You your religious values are allowed in the pubic square, but they are not to be directly or indirectly promoted above any other religious views by any institution that is receiving public money (such as the University). You are free to pray in public. Hold public events that are affiliated with your religious group, etc… If your religion was not allowed in the public square you would not have any of these freedoms.

          To be honest, I just think you have sour grapes that Christianity doesn’t have the same strangle hold over our society that it once did, and you are trying to hold on to this.

          That being said, although this act of vandalism fits the bill for a hate crime, I also do not think it should be classified as one. And IF it was brought up to the Alberta Human Rights Commission I highly doubt it would end up finding anyone guilty of a hate crime (If the perpetrator was ever caught)

    2. but if the majority want to enact the Lord’s day, or a school have a Christmas concert [sic], touch luck for atheists.

      I would say that’s non-inclusive intolerance.

      1. According to this definition here: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/intolerant
        as case could be made for that being intolerant. I would disagree; however, insofar as the statement I made above snidely tells atheists to live with the parts of society they don’t like without going to the courts, just as the theists do. That’s why I mentioned let’s duke it out in the Commons. Your side is heard for merit, my side is and a winner is chosen. I wouldn’t see that as intolerance but I can see how a lefty could read into that. Lastly, I don’t mind the label non-inclusive, I see value in reasoned non-inclusivity. eg. would never want a nihilist to be included.

        1. Judah, If we were to “duke it out in the commons” and Atheist views won out over theist views, what would be the reaction? How long would the Theists agree with the decision before challenging it? Perhaps another contest the next week to see who wins? How many Theists will say their religious views are being stifled by athiestic beliefs?

          Or lets say the Theists win out, would you let the Atheist challenge the decision week after week? Or would you say “The people have decided, deal with it.”?

          I don’t think you know what intolerance is. As a Hindu, most people I know don’t even think Hinduism is a real religion. They think it’s some new age Yoga junk worshipping cows and elephant head idols. I deal with, I don’t listen to them, I know what I believe is what’s right for me. And I’ve found more often than not, it’s not the Atheists who denounce my beliefs but rather the Theists. You should be happy those Theists are aknowledging your right to believe, I have people leaving pamphlets at my door and even had someone tell me “there is only one god” (they were Christian). When I see intolerance, I’m afraid.

  4. although I do not share your worldview and have serious reservations with the term freethinking as well as some of the movements biggest unofficial spokespersons (Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins), this doesn’t surprise me because of what one Christian group has been doing. Posting posters directly over other peoples (matching up the corners) as well as posting it in places without permission (in St Joseph’s College). Anyone who spends any time on campus probably knows which one I refer too.

    Needless to say, that sucks and as the president of one group to the members of another, I hope the people who are responsible are caught and if they do belong to a group, I hope that group is seriously reprimanded.

  5. Are you suggesting that if I tell a christian that “there is no god” then I am guilty of a hate crime against them?

    Um, am I missing something? Hate? Intolerance? This is what xtians do, try to spread the message. Okay, I’ll give you vandalism, but this is not a hate crime. If they had written “kill all fucking atheists and let you rot in hell for all eternity” you might have a case. But “God Loves You” or “Jesus is coming” is little more than the soundtrack running through these theists minds.

    Chill man.

    1. Are you suggesting that if I tell a christian that “there is no god” then I am guilty of a hate crime against them?
      Absolutely not! There’s a difference between telling someone something and committing a crime that includes censoring the ability of our group to communicate our message.

      I would say vandalizing a Campus for Christ large banner with “Fuck god” or “Jesus didn’t exist” would be in the same camp as this crime. Which is technically an intolerant hate crime.

  6. Jaqcues:

    A ‘Hate Crime’ has nothing to do with the ‘value’ of the crime committed. Please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_Crime

    Anytime you commit a crime against a person or group of people because of the associations that person has (Race, Gender, Religion, Sexual Orientation.) THEN it is a hate crime.

    Since there is a crime here (Vandalism) and it was committed because of religious preference (Atheist) This is a Hate Crime.

    Now, should there be Hate Crime laws, etc? I dunno. But this is pretty much a textbook case.

  7. Keep protesting about this infamy until the perpetrator is brought to justice. As the Manic Street Preachers said “If you tolerate this, then your children will be next….”

  8. I’m sorry to say that I don’t believe this will be taken as seriously as it should. Most people know that when it comes to religion there is a double standard. Doing something like this to a christian banner would likely outrage the public, get lots of attention from the media, and force the university to go at great lengths to find out who is responsible as well as making statements and holding seminars that show that they do not tolerate intolerance on campus, even if it was “just a prank”. It is highly unlikely that this will be considered a hate crime. Hell, Fox news even went to the lengths of saying once that the shooting at the UU church shouldn’t be considered a hate crime…
    I can only hope that justice will be served and that your organization can continue peacefully without having to worry about such intolerance.

  9. Sorry, no one has convinced me that this is a hate crime. A hate crime, by definition, has to inspire hate. The only hating I see here is in the response to this vandalism. You guys are going to be laughed off the campus if you try to convince the cops (especially in Alberta) that this has somehow injured you, or your group.

    Chill, relax and calm down. Ask the offenders to come forward in a calm and rational manner, and attempt to get them to see the light of reason, rather than the shallow imaginings of organized religious thought. it’s probably too late for that given the hysterical nature of your response to this *vandalism*, but it would be a whole lot more constructive than jumping up and down and screaming “hate crime”.

    1. “Sorry, no one has convinced me that this is a hate crime. A hate crime, by definition, has to inspire hate.”
      Erm, no. A hate crime (aka Bias Crime) is defined in the glossary of the UCR as: “A criminal offense committed against a person or property which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, ethnic/national origin, sexual orientation or disability group.” Therefore, the actions of the vandal(s) in this situation constitute a hate crime.

  10. I am not a student at the U of A but am proud to say that I did attend many years ago (B.Sc – Zoology 1973). This incident suggests that my pride may be misplaced. This sort of intolerance is unacceptable and suggests that many things have changed since the late 60′s early 70′s when the university, from my perception, was a place where debate and exploration of ideas that you did not agree with was standard practice and part of the learning experience.

    Is there a Inter-Faith group on campus? I would suggest that the U of A Atheists and Agnostics apply for membership. Non-acceptance of membership in the group would reveal something about the members of the group. Acceptance would also and allow for dialogue and participation in activities (especially those related to science/evolution topics and sceptical thinking).

  11. This is completely unacceptable. Imagine if atheists had scrawled “jesus isnt coming! he’s a delusion!” on some christian society’s banner…..

  12. Wow – I just wanted to send some positive vibes over from a former U of A student. Keep on fighting the good fight, guys. (I sure wish that I was aware of your group in the time I was there…)

  13. Tempest in a teapot, all of this. The banner is a 22×15 piece of paper. Before you can be properly self-righteous, you will need to build a temple (faculty of science?), and have theists spray paint something loving on it.

    1. Although calling this a “hate crime” might be a bit too much, it is very mean spirited and is clearly vandalism. Particularily the removal of their contact information. The size of the crime should be irrelevant. It’s still wrong.

  14. I would just like to say something really quick about this whole thing…

    First off, vandalisme is wrong and senseless.

    Second, everyone seems to simply be happy to assume that it was Christians that did this. How do they know that? have they caught him/her/them? There is no absolute proof here that gives without any shadow of a doubt that it was a/group of Christians. Yes the message might suggest a certain individual/group of a Christian denomination but where is the concrete proof that it was one of them?

    Would it not be safe to say that anyone that says it was a Christian until proven that it was is simply assuming that? Why could it not simply be someone that sees an opportunity to make a statment or an ironical joke as he/she/they see it? For all the law talk that is going on here, there seems to be one very big thing that has been overlooked… proof.

    Maybe one should wait and know for sure before pointing the finger.

    Thank you and have a great day.

  15. As a like-minded atheist, I’d like to propose that using terms like “hate-speech” isn’t helpful to our cause. Sure, we’ve been targeted. Sure, we’ve been censored and vandalised and are victims. But to play the victim only adds fuel to popular views of atheists as strident and such.

    People know when rights have been trampled on or stifled so there is no need to play it up. We should respond with calm, measured and pithy reactions. Our battle is a political one and requires political maneuvering.

  16. Not really seeing any hate.

    Just seeing BAWWW because Atheist Club is out 60 bucks for their CAB mural.

    Good luck with the convocation, though.

  17. There was nothing hateful in this, vandalism yes but hateful no. In fact the writing sais “God loves you!” It’s amazing how much intolerance there is towards Christians in Canada. Every other religion is tolerated but Christianity. It’s scary to see the Book of Revelation slowly unfold. The comments on here really show how close we are to the antichrist’s control of the world, only when he does come to power, you will all be screaming “death to Christians!!!” and unfortunetly you will have the authority to imprison us and kill us believing that you will be doing the right thing. Scary times but I’m proud to be a Christian and nothing will take that away from me.

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