Oxfam Canada denied charitable status because “preventing poverty” is not an acceptable goal

What if I told you that the Harper government refused to grant charitable status to Oxfam Canada? What if I told you that the reason they gave for refusing was because they objected to Oxfam Canada’s goal of “preventing poverty”? Ridiculous, right? Has to be something from The Onion, right? No, friends, this really happened. And if you’re still holding out hope that maybe once you look deeper you’ll find some kind of reason or logic behind it, I’m very sorry but I have to tell you that your hopes are in vain. Brace yourself, and I will guide you down the rabbit hole. It’s not going to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy. Read the rest of this entry

IS/ISIS/ISIL, social media, and censorship – there is a solution

Shortly after the news broke about the murder of a journalist for money, and the existence of a video showing the beheading, major social media platforms flew into a panic. Their inevitable corporate-reactionary response was to completely scrub their services of any sign of the militant group – or the video – but that only triggered a new wave of concerns about Internet censorship. It’s a thorny problem – on the one hand, social media servers are private property and the companies that own them should have the right to choose who they want to allow to use them… but on the other, these companies have tried so damn hard, aided by our complacency, to become the gatekeepers of the Internet and have total control of our online experience, and having succeeded, they should not be allowed to control or censor the information we can access. There is a solution to this dilemma, but it involves changing the system. Read the rest of this entry

On Canadian Atheist: Canadian atheists, your help is needed in an important Supreme Court battle

The Supreme Court of Canada is going to hear arguments on prayer in government meetings sometime in the next few months, in MLQ v. City of Saguenay. Despite the recent loss in US courts, our chances are good. However, the plaintiffs need huge amounts of money to bring the case forward, and to have a fighting chance. For more details about the case, and links to where you can donate, check out the post on Canadian Atheist.

Vaguely rude place names in Canada

I’m a big fan of things that are informative and a big fan of things that are hilariously inappropriate, and the intersection of those sets always brightens my day. So I had to share with you the work of one Gary Gale, who has meticulously crafted an interactive map showing all of the places in the world with vaguely rude names. Read the rest of this entry

Pushing Jesus

I wrote a post for Canadian Atheist the other day about Jehovah’s Witnesses handing out literature, that focused on the fact that they seem to be hiding their true intentions at first approach. The thesis was that they must realize that their message is unwelcome or off-putting, and they must agree with that at least to some degree, which implies that they’re at least a little embarrassed about what they’re dealing. Read the rest of this entry

On Canadian Atheist: Do Jehovah’s Witnesses think their religion is embarassing?

My sister got stopped by a Jehovah’s Witness the other day, and handed the usual magazines, but what struck me about her story was that the proselytizer was so coy about giving away what she was – to the point that my sister did not realize she was handed religious material until she had already accepted it and opened it to look inside. The incident prompted me to wonder whether people handing out religious pamphlets on the street realize that what they’re doing is unpleasant and rude, and whether they are actually embarrassed by it. More details on Canadian Atheist.

On Canadian TV: On a show about different faiths getting along, atheism is just a punch line

You may remember that show that CBC aired a few years ago called Little Mosque on the Prairie. It caused a big stir when it was first announced, and remained a moderate hit for its first year or two, though interest waned quickly when it became obvious how empty-headed it was. Pretending to be controversial to get publicity then putting on a banal and inoffensive show gets people in the door, but they don’t stick around. Read the rest of this entry

On Canadian Atheist: Electoral reform

Everyone who follows Canadian politics closely knows how badly we need proportional representation at all levels of government. Atheists, freethinkers, and skeptics need it particularly badly. More details on Canadian Atheist.

On Canadian Atheist: Ontario and Nova Scotia bar associations deny accreditation to homophobic university

In short order, members of both the Law Society of Upper Canada (the bar association for Ontario) and the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society narrowly voted to deny accreditation to the proposed law school of the homophobic Trinity Western University… despite the fact that 13 years ago the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against the British Columbia College of Teachers when it tried to do the same for the same reasons to the university’s teacher’s college. More details on Canadian Atheist.

On Canadian Atheist: Why the Erazo decision is not really a meaningful step forward

There is a lot of crowing in the freethinker blogosphere about the recent court victory by Oliver Erazo over the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. Unfortunately, much of it is extremely misinformed about just how much impact the decision really had. It turns out that there is actually no substantive change in the separate schools system in Ontario at all due to this ruling. More details on Canadian Atheist.