Tag Archives: religion

MayDay 2011: A Tory Nation is a Religious Nation

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Even though statistics show a waning interest in organized religion, the Conservatives will set up an ‘Office of Religious Freedoms’ to ensure that people’s religious interests are not suppressed in other nations of the world.

This is an interesting view and prescription from an organization that views human rights as a matter of convenience.  If they thought these more fundamental rights were more important, they would have created an ‘Office of Human Rights’ instead.

As Canadians, it’s our obligation to question these backward priorities.  Pursuing religion instead of rights puts the government in a very precarious position when it comes to blending state and religion.

Critical Notions in Marci McDonald’s Armageddon Factor”

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I watched the Agenda last night as Steve Paikin interviewed Marci McDonald and subsequently met with a panel to discuss religion and politics and two central points were missed:

  1. Why we must separate politics and religion
  2. Why Marci McDonald called her book ‘the Armageddon Factor’

In the discussion, there was Steve, Marci and the following politicians or ex-politicians:

  • John McKay, Liberal MP for Scarborough – Guildwood
  • Chris Stockwell, former Conservative Ontario MPP
  • Cheri DiNovo, NDP MPP for Parkdale – High Park

All of them admitted to being members of some kind of Christian organized religion.  Of course, I think that was the plan with the Agenda organizers, but it creates the impression that faith-based politics are the only option in this country.  What of the atheists or Hindus or Muslims or Jews or other denominations?  Do they not matter when talking about ‘religion and politics’?

It also reinforces this seemingly lost notion that politicians really aren’t entitled to their own opinion.  The only opinion they should have should be based on the opinion and direction of their constituents.  Forgetting this exhibits the most profound level of hubris and it’s no wonder Canadians are pissed with ALL of the political parties right now.

Which addresses the first question:  why we must separate politics and religion.

Although the concept is older than the American revolution, Americans were the first to really pull away from religious influence by ‘separating church and state’.  This was done because the church had become so corrupt in Europe and elsewhere that it became impossible to do anything proactive for the population at large without the church digging its claws into said actions.  Whether it was the tithe (where 10% of your income had to fund religion) or mandatory legislation that benefited Christian institutions (eg. no Sunday shopping), they couldn’t resist the temptation of influence and control.

This is at the core of the message being delivered by Marci McDonald (and others) when it comes to Canadian politics.

Imagine a world today in which the church would have influence over security issues?  What happens if you’re looking at good old porn and the church decides that you can’t and cuts off your internet?  Of course, that’s coming, isn’t it with the ACTA laws being discussed behind our backs, isn’t it?

And what happens if fundamentalists take over our daily lives and your position or philosophy is different from theirs?

Intolerance is the first of many unsavoury words that come to mind when religious fundamentalists are involved and it’s intolerance that CANNOT be the cornerstone of any legislative assembly, particularly when that assembly must be focused on balance, equality and liberty.

And what of the Armageddon Factor?

This is the second crucial question being raised in this discussion.

It has everything to do with environmental stewardship and greed.

  • Why save your money when you can donate it to my cause (and so I can live in opulence and you continue in squalor)?
  • Why sacrifice our outrageous level of gluttony in the western world so that the rest of the world can elevate itself to a hint beyond abject poverty?
  • Why pretend that we should save our environment when the end of the world is nigh?

Nihilism is at the centre of the Armageddon Factor.  McDonald does her best to identify that many of the groups that hold substantial sway over our politicians and many of the politicians themselves are nihilists.

They see no future except one of death, doom and despair.

The end of the world is coming and there’s nothing we can or should do about it!

What’s even more frightening is that this level of fundamentalism could easily support a rise in tensions between countries like Israel, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan because these countries are at the centre of ‘The End Times’, a fictional idea foisted by a drug-induced prophet in Rhodes and monetized by the likes of Tim LeHaye (the author of the ‘Left Behind’ series).

And THAT is the core of why these people cannot be trusted, why religion must be separated from politics and why we cannot allow matters of faith to guide matters of respect.

The end of the world is not coming, your religion is myth and we MUST take control of our situation on this planet because we’re about to lose it.

Atheists 1. God 0.

The Canadian Freethought Association is out to send their message.  Their official site can be found here .

The message is simple:  "There’s Probably No God.  Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life."

On the surface, they’re getting beat up quite badly in their efforts to advertise that there probably (leaving just a hint of doubt) is no God.

Ottawa won’t run the bus adsAdditional story here .

Halifax won’t run the bus ads .

Edmonton probably won’t run the bus ads .

Vancouver won’t run the bus adsAdditional story here .

Islamists will likely help other religious groups and run Pro-God ads in other jurisdictions .

According to some, they’re too much like attack ads.  Toronto may join the club of cities determined to squelch the horribly antagonizing message of the Humanists.

I can see it now:  "The Humanists are coming!  The Humanists are coming!" like they’re some kind of Godless horde determined to sack our villages and rape our women (or maybe men as well).

Or, more publicly, we get titles like this:  "Atheists entitled to their views, but … bus ads about ‘no God’ a little over the top" .  That’s like saying to a woman:  I support your right to work … just not in my office.

But where did it all begin?

You could argue that the debate is thousands of years old.  It’s said that Socrates may have developed his sense of morality, despite not having a Bible to guide him.  It’s said that many other ancient Greek philosophers shared his views.

From this list, the collection of people who have described themselves as atheists is really quite impressive.  Abraham Lincoln.  Woody Allen.  Ayn Rand.  John Stuart Mill.  James Joyce.  John Lennon (I actually remember when WKRP had an episode Mr. Carlson read ‘Imagine’ and a sponsor called him a Communist).  Thomas Edison.  James Madison.

It seems atheism is more widely accepted than many paranoid bureaucrats would have us believe.

But let’s get back to recent history.  The Canadian campaign is a continuation of efforts started in Britain by a related organization, the British Humanist Association.  When they ran these campaigns in the UK, they faced similar challenges, but ultimately, they achieved their goal.

They identified the obvious foibles that arise when people try to subject their ‘principles’ on the minds of the public. It’s OK to allow mysoginists depict women as whores.  It’s OK to talk about sex.  It’s OK to advertise salvation as a proxy to joining the Canadian military.  It’s OK to advertise religion.  It’s OK to advertise the thousands of wasteful consumer products.

But apparently, it’s not OK to question any of that.

A tragedy for free speech, right?

NOPE.  The net result:  The Freethought Association of Canada (the sponsors of the ads in Canada) have raised substantial amounts of money in new donations and they’ve just hit the tip of the iceberg.

I’d also suggest that they take this to the top courts and challenge public authorities and their right to dictate who should appear on bus ads.

What’s more important is that given all of the fuss from local transit authorities, municipal councilors and the media, the Canadian branch of Humanists haven’t had to spend anywhere near as much as they had originally planned.  Or, maybe they expected this to happen and didn’t budget anything anyways.

What’s happened is that the marketing is coming to them FREE OF CHARGE .  In an effort to inflame the hearts and minds of Canadians, our media has generated lots of publicity, but very little public outrage.  The news reports that exemplify the close-mindedness of our country’s leaders clearly shows that a good campaign is not so much about the actual ads running and being in your face, but by the level of discussion and public dialogue that you create as a side-effect.  Ultimately,the buzz eliminates the need to advertise and get to declare a financial, moral and social victory.

Atheists 1.  God 0.

Category: media, Politics | Tags: , , ,

The Next Buddha Will be a Collective

What a fascinating article:
Full Essay Here.

It’s a long read, but well worth it. Michel Bauwens (the author) argues that with today’s peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace, all of the individuals with an interest in spiritual development will mature as a collective.

… this turn to the collective that the emergence of peer to peer represent does not in any way present a loss of individuality, even of individualism. Rather it “transcends and includes” individualism and collectivism in a new unity, which I would like to call “cooperative individualism.” The cooperativity is not necessarily intentional (i.e. the result of conscious altruism), but constitutive of our being, and the best applications of P2P, are based on this idea. Similar to Adam Smith’s theory of the invisible hand, the best designed collaborative systems take advantage of the self-interest of the users, turning it into collective benefit.

…the balance is again moving towards the collective. But if the new forms of collective recognize individuality and even individualism, they are not merely individualist in nature, meaning: they are not collective individuals, rather, the new collective expresses itself in the creation of the common. The collective is no longer the local “wholistic” and “oppressive” community, and it is no longer the contractually based society with its institutions, now also seen as oppressive. The new commons is not a unified and transcendent collective individual, but a collection of large number of singular projects, constituting a multitude.

All in, a pretty cool article. Of course, I’m an a-religious person, but I can see how the discussion and structure as applied to religion has similarities with pretty much anything else, from soccer to music to economics to advertising.

Category: the future | Tags: ,