“I’m glad it’s over”

Canadian Atheist blogger Veronica Abbass emailed me a couple days ago to say:

More than three years ago, I wrote a post on Canadian Atheist about prayer in Peterborough municipal council meetings.  In the comments you suggested I contact CFI Canada. I did and CFI connected me with Dan Mayo and Secular Ontario. Thank you for that advice. My case against the City of Peterborough for saying the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of its council meetings has been successfully resolved in my favour.

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10 reasons the Saguenay ruling establishes Canada as a secular country

It’s been only 5 days since the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that the prayers said by the City of Saguenay discriminated against atheists, and already cities across Canada are reviewing their own practices. But I suspect (although caveated with the standard, I am not a lawyer) this ruling will have wide reaching consequences as there are very few Supreme Court precedents on cases of religious freedom in Canada.

Reading the ruling, I think secularists should feel confident. Here’s my interpretation of my 10 favourite parts of the ruling (in the order they appear).

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On PZ Myers and Atheist Ireland – what she said

I can’t add much to this statement from Secular Woman on the recent “public dissociation” controversy. I will admit that this blog was briefly listed as one of the Secular Policy Institute’s affiliates though (because they literally asked everyone they could google). But after they issued their bizarre statement about “shock bloggers” I dissociated myself (though not publicly, till now I guess).

Republished: There’s no ‘God’ in graduation

This was the first article I wrote for a student newspaper and in a way it’s somewhat historic. In 2008, the University of Alberta Atheists & Agnostics started campaigning for a secular convocation charge. When our initial request was ignored, I raised the issue with the student newspaper, The Gateway, and they recommend I write an editorial to push the story forward. This is that editorial.

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Diversity in the atheist/skeptic communities: An evidence-based approach

The mainstream media has picked up that within the atheist community, there’s been a growing discussion about a perceived lack of diversity among the people viewed as leaders of this movement. I’m not going to rehash the entire discussion (Ashley Miller’s 2013 article "The Non-Religious Patriarchy: Why Losing Religion HAS NOT Meant Losing White Male Dominance" provides a good starting basis) but much of it has focussed on (the important) discussions of why and how the movement should build diversity, with not as much being said about whether things are actually changing.

In the spirit of Sense About Science’s Ask For Evidence campaign (though unaffiliated in any way), Chris Hassall asked me while I was living in Leeds if I could help him research trends in diversity among the leadership of the skeptic/atheist community. It’s a question he’s been thinking about for a couple years (at least) and one I was eager to help answer (particularly being unemployed at the time).

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Is the Humanist brand dying?

It’s no secret that the term humanism (or secular humanism) have never really taken off. Simply ask a random sampling of people on the street and you’ll likely be met with blank stares.

Now regardless of the utility of a word, I think it’s important for organizations to choose language that will be widely understood. If a word has little cultural understanding, then it may be too difficult for any one organization to aim to reclaim it or to bring it to prominence.

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So are atheists being censored in Vancouver?

Last week I meant to add a note that the Centre for Inquiry Canada has issued a press release about the fact that Pattison Outdoor Advertising had rejected their fairly inoffensive new billboard campaign in Vancouver.

A pretty slick ad that’s pretty hard to find fault with.

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UK has “Systemic Discrimination” against freethinkers

Indi at Canadian Atheist brought the IHEU’s 2013 Freedom of Thought Report to my attention and has already done a brilliant summary of the issues facing Canada. Very shortly he’ll also be posting a commentary on the broader report.

I encourage you to download and read the entire 244 page report online and support your local IHEU Affiliate.

I thought though, given my current country of residence, that I’d focus on the United Kingdom’s status, which coincidentally to Canada is Systemic Discrimination.

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Ambition and Momentum–Sunday Assembly

This morning The Sunday Assembly live-streamed their London service to a few hundred viewers across the globe.

I watched from Leeds and saw people on Twitter watching it bright and early in America and late in the evening in Australia. Conway Hall looked near capacity and many groups held get-togethers so it’s hard to know how many people saw the service, which featured two speakers and several pop anthems (ending with Meatloaf’s I would do anything for love).

You can re-watch the event online if you want to get an idea of what The Sunday Assembly looks like (note: you’ll need to register for the site or link with Facebook).

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