On Canadian Atheist: Study on diversity in the atheist movement shows we have a ways to, but are making progress

Increasing Diversity in Emerging Non-religious Communities, by Christopher Hassall of the University of Leeds and Ian Bushfield, formerly of British Columbia, who now blogs at Terahertz Atheist, may be the first peer-reviewed study to attempt to quantify diversity within the atheist movement. Its findings reveal what many have suspected – the leadership of the atheist movement is not particularly diverse or representative of the broader society. However, they also reveal that real progress is being made. For more details, check out the post on Canadian Atheist.

Christopher Hassall and Ian Bushfield answer questions about their study on atheist diversity

In preparing for an article on Canadian Atheist about a recently released study on diversity in the atheist movement, I contacted the authors and asked some questions relating to the study. Both Ian Bushfield and Dr. Christopher Hassall kindly replied to my request. Below I reproduce the entirety of the questions and answers, to make the context of all quotes clear, but I recommend reading the post about the study on Canadian Atheist. Read the rest of this entry

On Canadian Atheist: The 2014 Freedom of Thought report

Today () is Human Rights Day, which means that the 2014 Freedom of Thought report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union IHEU is out. I encourage everyone to go take a look at it – and to pass a donation on to the IHEU so they can continue their good work next year. For details about how Canada did, check out the post on Canadian Atheist.

The myth of the Christmas Truce

You’ve almost certainly heard some variant of the story. In the first December after the outbreak of World War Ⅰ in 1914, in the midst of the bloody and wearing trench warfare that became the defining symbol of the fighting on the Western Front, the soldiers on opposing sides spontaneously dropped their weapons on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day and crossed the No Man’s Land separating them to exchange holiday greetings, sing carols, and even play friendly soccer matches. After this brief respite, they returned to the business of war the following day. It’s a beautifully dramatic and romantic story. Read the rest of this entry

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.