The big issue for secularists in Alberta right now is the fact that our province is dumping large sums of money into public and private religious schools. Scott Rowed, of the Society for Secular Humanists in Calgary, soon to be CFI-Alberta, has written a great op-ed piece which appeared in the Edmonton Journal on the issue surrounding faith-based schooling. He reports the unreported stats, that are quite disturbing:
The religious schools in Alberta fall into three categories: separate (Catholic), private and alternative. The private schools are about 60 per cent funded by the taxpayers, have their own boards and are able to discriminate on religious grounds for both hiring staff and admitting students.
To have this choice of placing their children into a faith school, parents must obtain a letter from a preacher praising their church devotion and sign a statement of faith. This quote, from the constitution and bylaws of Fort McMurray Christian School Society, is typical: “We believe the Genesis account of creation is to be understood literally; that man was created in God’s own image and after His own likeness; that man’s creation was not by evolution or change of species or development through interminable periods of time from lower to higher form.”
The UofA Atheists and Agnostics will be engaging this issue more as time rolls by. Attempts to bring this up as an election issue were mainly waived off by politicians (using the excuse of “choice”), however, the issue is far from dead.
After posting the FSM Expelled video, it was obvious to some (and hopefully all) that several quotes were taken out of context, and certain views were shown in a biased way.
This was all intentional! The point of the video was satire, and the target was Ben Stein and the Discovery Institute‘s upcoming Expelled trailer. They take clips from leading”darwinists” and show nice long interviews from IDers. In the spirit of satire I chose to do the same, giving pro-FSMers a long speech and quote-mining the “darwinistic” supporters.
However, I choose to do one more thing to poke at Expelled – I’ve now released all the interviews to YouTube completely UNCUT! Let’s see the Discover Institute’s full interviews online (with the false premises exposed).
So here they are (in order of most to least misrepresentation):
Dr. Denis Lamoureux
Dr. Warren Gallin and Dr. Brad Magor
Dr. Zbigniew Gortel
Dr. Michael Caldwell
With the UofA Atheists and Agnostics, I worked for the past bit and created the following parody trailer to the upcoming film Expelled:
Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario has decided to reject the application of several students who were hoping to start a “Freethought Alliance” which had the goals “to promote science, freedom of inquiry, skepticism, and a good life without the need for superstition or religious belief.” These goals are very much similar to the University of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics here.
The fact that they rejected this group (on the grounds that the goals “are not compatible with the guidelines of what may be approved and incorporated into our department”) is downright ridiculous and shows a heavy bias against their secular goals in their administration.
The group is currently attempting to work around the administration and to get approval in some way.
I’m very thankful to all the support I’ve received from the UofA’s Students’ Union (especially to Student Group Services), and to the many professors who also have helped.
They have since received recognized student group status. They were required to adjust their constitution as follows:
Adding two lines, one stating that we would be inclusive to any religious person who would want to have meaningful religious discourse (not a problem, our stance all along), and two, stating that we would not engage in any vindictive assaults on religion – only logical critique (again, not a problem).
Greta Christina posted a great article which pretty much sums up what one can be upset about when being atheist/agnostic/non-religious. Many of these are reasons organizations like our UofA Atheists and Agnostics have come into existance.
So the UofA Atheists and Agnostics is well on it’s way already. Our first event was on 12 September – The Immaculate Conception Mixer – where we showed The Root of All Evil. The event was well received and we filled our classroom with about 60 attendees. The next events that we’re keeping our eyes on are a talk about to be given by a professor of Christian Theology at the University entitled “Beyond the Creation vs. Evolution Debate” which should be interesting. We are also hoping to present the Crystal Clear Atheism Conference from Washington, D.C. on next Friday.
Our club membership is soaring and we’ve received many words of praise from new members.
It looks to be a good year for our group.
Last Wednesday I met up with some interested people and we set the foundation for the University of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics, a new student group to represent exactly what it sounds like. The meeting was surprisingly productive, and I ended up getting nominated as the inaugural president for the organization. Since then I have polished off the constitution, a website, created a forum, and typed up the minutes from that meeting.
This is an exciting time and hopefully all the paperwork can be finished very shortly, and this club can really start to take off.
Update: the club’s website is at: http://www.ualberta.ca/~atheists/