Commenting on my Canada.com article has trickled down, with 107 comments to date, so now I think I’ll repost some of my favourites and respond to any worthy of my attention.
Surprisingly, for PostMedia (which owns the Calgary Herald which routinely bashes atheists in its editorials), the comments were roughly split between pro and anti-secularists, although both sides featured numerous ineloquent trolls. Some like this are a bit troubling to me [all quotes are exact and any emphasis is my own]:
I truly believe that knowing the religious affiliations of any residents as well as "open access" to view through the freedom of information act any individuals’ tax returns should be part of this country’s policies and enshrined in the constitution. Too many are getting away with ridiculous exemption claims on their returns based on religious allowances and as far as I’m concerned, all religious claims should be disallowed.
The reason that many churches are given a tax-exempt status is that they must be involved in helping and supporting their community. This reduces the cost of "social programs" for the government, since churches don’t charge for this service. They are paid for by donations. These social programs must be "proveable" to Revenue Canada, whether it is sponsoring youth nights, food banks, shelter, etc. in order for donations to count as tax exemptions.
I, for one, would rather see local communities helping local residents in need, than increasing our already bloated bureaucracy.
As for knowing religious affiliations, how do you define that? We all hold some type of world view which influences our decisions or behaviour, whether we are Humanist or Christian. Should we request everyone to state this on any government job application, so we can "vet" them for possible biases? People are individuals, and even within organized religions (i.e. Muslim) there are con
I would question whether religious social programs are as effective, or even moral (since they often come with some proselytizing), as government (or secular private) charities and programs. As for defining “religious affiliation” I think we have ample ways (since we fill out a census, although I do not advocate open access to people’s census or tax returns) to identify that; however, what I’m more concerned with is beliefs. It’s a subtle distinction, but what I was trying to get at was whether there are hidden and unquestionable motives operating behind any of our leaders. Our approach to policy should be based on evidence and reason, not faith and dogma.
These two are funny to me:
That has to be the most boring article I have ever read. What a waste of time and I would like to sue Ian for wasting valuable minutes from my life.
Is it just me or does Ian Bushfeild look like he could be Igantieff’s son.
Then there’s pleas to tyranny of the (false) majority:
The writer of this article says : "McDonald credits evangelical Christians with rallying behind the Harper Conservatives, propelling him to victory" Umm I am not an evegelical Christian, but I did vote conservative. I voted for the best man for the job. It is clear that people wanted Stephen Harper in. Even if some of their reasons were based on his religious "views" so be it! That is democracy and that is what the people who voted want and/or believe in. This is a Christian Nation whether people like it or not and it shows in our desires for our country.
I thought this was a “multicultural” country. Originally it was a mosaic of many different aboriginal cultures (many of whom are fighting to keep that culture alive today), then imperialist Anglicans and Catholics arrived and fought it out, and now we have many different faiths and non-faiths. The appeal to democracy is also flawed since Harper’s Conservatives have never received >50% of the vote (they’ve at best gotten in the high 30%s, not an overwhelming majority by any definition) in a federal election (the last time a party got at least that was the PCs in 1984, and before that in 1958).
So, what is Mr. Bushfield’s hidden agenda? From now, on he should start his “objective”, “innocent’ commentaries with his own beliefs and religious convictions (theistic or other). Unless he does that, he has no ground to stand on.
He writes: “deeply held beliefs will not affect the policy positions once in power”. Hmmmm, other personal things also have effect on people’s decisions, many of them much deeper than religion. According to this brilliant idea, people should be questioned about whether they were abused as a child, whether their parents were alcoholic, whether they are materialistic or greedy, whether they cheat, what their sex life is like, just to name few things for starters.
What a profoundly inane idea!
As for his statistics about 1 in 4 Canadians not believing in God, it shows how accurate, trustworthy and/or reliable his comments are. And he is worried about other people’s hidden agendas? He should go and by a big mirror, and look into it first!
What’s with the scare-quotes? I didn’t suggest that I was being objective or innocent, and when it says I blog at “Canadian Atheist” I think we can figure out my own beliefs (if that’s not clear enough, I’m an atheistic secular humanist and naturalist). As for those other issues, my point was religion is a taboo subject while there’s few issues questioning past criminal or racist remarks (see any number of candidates that get dropped by the major parties each year). My agenda is quite clear and not hidden, I want to see a world where reason and evidence guide our actions, not dogma and blind faith.
Maybe Ian Bushfield should spend more time not in university and blogging and get out in the real world. He might realize there is a Christian left as well.
I know full well that the CCF and early NDP were guided by Christians and that Tommy Douglas was a pastor – it’s possible to be right (pun intended) for the wrong reasons.
Does everyone agree that Canada is a great country?
Then stop trying to change things.
Shit, I didn’t realize that we’d reached perfection and eliminated poverty, homelessness, and are no longer poisoning our environment. I guess I’ll just give up trying to make the world a better place.
Why all the attacks on people of faith? Each to his own. If you don’t believe in God or creation that’s your business, but mocking and putting down Christians or others who believe in God isn’t very tolerant now is it…
It’s everyone’s business when you enter the public sphere and those beliefs affect policy – that’s the entire point of the article. If my government is run by people who think the world is going to end in their lifetimes, I can imagine they’d be a bit more careless in their foreign policy and environmental platform than those of us who realize that we’re responsible for this planet and ensuring that it’s worthy of our future generations.
Why do you feel that atheism or humanism has a greater ‘right’ to influance our politics? Are you and those of such persuasion greater than the creator? Sad state to be in Ian. I know for I once was blind myself and I thought I was seeing clearly. Remember this saying; God shows grace to the humble (before God)( by opening their eyes) but resist the proud (so that they remain in the dark) I sincerily hope you come to grasp this saying one day.
Harper shocked the nation with God bless Canada! Why ? As you said it yourself 1 in 4 believe in God. Much of this uproar comes from the atheist-left in Canada. Why do you think your way is better? Why should we move toward policy based on reason and not are judo/Christian roots? Only a concieded person would make such proposal.
Would it be conceited to point out spelling (and grammar, “1 in 4 believe”) mistakes? I would suggest my way is less bad since it’s amenable to new evidence, and it’s very easy to be of “persuasion greater” than a creator who doesn’t exist. Christianity in charge gave us the dark ages, reason gave us the enlightenment and the industrial revolution. Although I am tempted by returning to our “judo” roots.
I crack up when I hear atheists and agnostics yelling to keep religion out of politics. Their own post-modernist secular worldview is just as much a religion as any. The difference is so many of them don’t have the knowledge or insight to understand that.
Policy based on "reason and evidence" is what the French revolutionaries promoted. However, the "Age of Reason" resulted in the Vendee, the Reign of Terror and ultimately Napoleon. God help us. The humanist atheists certainly won’t.
I didn’t realize I’m a post-modernist. Nevertheless, it’s worth remembering that the cause of the French Revolution is generally attributed to the policies of the monarchs (who claimed their authority from God), which led to a secular overthrow. Unfortunately, years of austerity allowed (as is often the case) cruel power-mongers to rise. I don’t see how this commenter is suggesting that Robespierre was guiding by reason or evidence in his massacres, perhaps he might shine some evidence on that assertion (oh wait…).
Interesting that the rabid attacks here seem to be against Christians only. They are clearly arguments looking for a fight, not a discussion, and the intolerance shown in those postings shows how dangerous it would be for society if secularism was all that was allowed.
As opposed to Christianity’s tolerant track record?
Then there’s historical revisionism:
The truth to be said is every one has deeply held beliefs that affect their policy positions . Had Canadians known about Paul Matin hidden agenda I think he would have lost the election . Consider the poll of the time, 93% against samesex mariage yet Martin’s humanist views were imposed! Why? Pure arrogance. Yes we were victim of his ideological ‘reasoning’.
Maybe in 1911 were 93% against same-sex marriage, but a plurality has been in favour since roughly the mid 1990s. Further, Paul Martin is Catholic, not a Humanist. There are currently no openly atheist MPs in Ottawa, a point that I neglected to include in this article (wasn’t sure how to include it, but will likely write it up later).
And finally, one who gets it:
this article did not put down people of faith, what it did do was call on belief systems to be openly discussed. After all, we should see that an evangelical Christian or other fundementalist religion sees non believers as sinners going to hell. That is part of the operating system we should talk about.
Tl/dr: In a nutshell, internet comments (even the atheists) are generally a waste of time and intelligence.