Episode 134 – Indiana Wants Me (Lord, Unless You’re Gay-ay)

Later in this installment, there’s more fallout from the signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by Indiana’s governor Mike Pence. Memories Pizza, the business so proud of its bigotry closes (http://www NULL.ifyouonlynews NULL.com/lgbtq/memories-indianas-now-infamous-anti-gay-pizza-place-forced-to-close-in-under-one-day/) soon after because of threats made to the establishment. But, don’t worry! A Go Fund Me fundraiser has a reward for Memories Pizza’s courageous stand to the tune of about $850,000 (http://www NULL.newnownext NULL.com/sorry-cancer-patients-and-boston-marathon-victims-indianas-memories-pizza-raised-more-than-you-on-gofundme/04/2015/). Remember, it’s not discrimination. It’s religious freedom! The Great State of Georgia may be next in line to enact a bill similar to Indiana’s and you don’t have to go very far to find those already salivating at the prospect of their exercising of “religious freedom” becoming legalized as one CNN reporter finds out (http://wjcl NULL.com/2015/04/02/why-one-georgia-florist-wont-serve-gay-couples/). How far can this ‘religious freedom’ thing go? Well, a lesbian couple finds out after a pediatrician refuses to treat their infant child over religious objections (http://www NULL.msn NULL.com/en-us/news/us/pediatrician-refuses-to-treat-gay-couples-newborn-child/vi-AAar0Qm). And lest you think that this can only happen in the United States, a group of Christian physicians (http://www NULL.thestar NULL.com/life/health_wellness/2015/03/24/christian-doctors-group-says-new-college-policy-infringes-on-freedom-of-conscience NULL.html) has taken the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario to court to protect their religious privilege of moralizing to their patients, thereby placing their own interests above those of their patients. On April 1, of all days, the College of Homeopathic Medicine came into existence in Ontario (http://www NULL.cbc NULL.ca/radio/the180/new-taxes-special-laws-for-cyclists-and-should-homeopathy-be-regulated-1 NULL.3017050/will-a-college-of-homeopaths-make-homeopathy-more-credible-1 NULL.3017844). No, that is sadly not an April Fool’s joke. But not everyone who knows homeopathy is bunk agrees that this is necessarily a bad idea. An Ottawa mother of seven has ‘defected’ from the anti-vaccine movement (http://www NULL.cbc NULL.ca/news/canada/ottawa/tara-hills-ottawa-mom-changes-anti-vaccination-stand-but-7-kids-still-get-sick-1 NULL.3025592) after her youngest of 10 months contracts whooping cough, and California considers Senate Bill 277 (http://www NULL.nbcsandiego NULL.com/news/local/Local-Anti-Vaccine-Protesters-Rally-Against-Bill-299147881 NULL.html), which would require all children attending a public school to be vaccinated unless there is an underlying medical condition precluding immunization. And finally, Cardinal Raymond Burke (http://www NULL.huffingtonpost NULL.com/2015/03/27/cardinal-raymond-burke-gay-remarried-murderers_n_6957456 NULL.html), the same cardinal that intimated that the priestly pedophilia scandal was caused by homosexuality, says that gays and remarried Catholics are just sinful as murderers in a piece I like to call “Stupid things Catholic priests say”. But first, Saudi Arabia expresses its dismay (http://www NULL.cbc NULL.ca/news/canada/montreal/saudi-arabia-to-quebec-stay-out-of-raif-badawi-case-1 NULL.3017014) at Quebec’s denouncement of its torture of Raif Badawi for exercising his human right to free speech.

Website rebuild in progress….

Anyone wanting to access old podcast episodes via this webpage will be out of luck. I had some issues with my web host provider. They found some malware in my WordPress installation and shut it down without so much as a “how do you do”. I deleted the affected files, but you can see that pretty much all the old episodes are gone. You can still access them via podcatchers like iTunes and Stitcher, but to rebuild 126 episode entries is just too much.

Episode 126 – Our Festivus Saturnalia Newtonmas Extravaganza!

In this, the 126th instalment of our modest little audio pamphlet we invite you to our non-Christmas, non-Hanukkah, non-Kwanza, non-Ramadan Newtonmas Festivus Saturnalia Extravaganza, wherein Da Prez Kris, the ever-feisty Twyla, hard-rocking Dean and yours truly the Very Irreverend Doctor Randy Tyson bring to you happenings since our last episode! Listen as we express our shock and surprise that Roman Catholic authority supports the now infamous Bill 10 (http://calgaryherald NULL.com/news/local-news/bishops-wade-into-bill-10-gsa-debate), which would allow Alberta school boards to arbitrarily ban gay-straight alliances in their schools; the parents of 14-month old John Clark are charged with his death due to a staph infection complicated by faith-based dietary malnutrition (http://calgaryherald NULL.com/news/crime/parents-charged-in-connection-with-death-of-infant); The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons has come out with new guidelines on doctors unwilling to provide contraception to their patients (http://www NULL.theglobeandmail NULL.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/ontario-doctors-who-deny-abortion-birth-control-must-refer-patients/article22035376/) and fail utterly; Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has alienated a significant fraction of his province’s citizenry by yet again promoting Jesus (https://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=u3RJBe2BEpk) and implying that you can’t perform good acts without believing in him; And, a new report (http://www NULL.religionnews NULL.com/2014/12/17/atheists-new-persecuted-minority-international-report-concludes-commentary/) by the International Humanist and Ethical Union claims that a number of nations villify and persecute atheists and in addition to the examples cited in this report we add a bizarre incident (http://www NULL.middleeasteye NULL.net/news/egyptian-police-shutdown-atheist-cafe-accused-harbouring-satan-worship-433128763) to this growing list. But first, while most of us believe that the Oprah Winfrey discovery Dr. Oz is totally full of crap, a systematic examination of the advice (http://io9 NULL.com/how-much-of-what-you-hear-on-the-dr-oz-show-is-based-o-1672595666?utm_campaign=socialflow_io9_facebook&utm_source=io9_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow) he gives on his television program shows he’s actually only half full of crap.

Episode 120 – Wherein We Ponder, “Who is the ‘Beer Baron’ in Cardston?”

Later on in the podcast, Jesse Jackson claims racism is responsible for the death of the America’s first ebola patient (http://www NULL.washingtontimes NULL.com/news/2014/oct/9/jesse-jackson-dallas-lawmaker-blame-racism-for-ebo/); outrage over 12-year old being married off in Norway (http://www NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/world/the-truth-about-thea-norway-s-12-year-old-child-bride-1 NULL.2046750); Surrey, BC Pastarfarian runs for city council (http://www NULL.vancitybuzz NULL.com/2014/10/icbc-pastafarian-running-surrey-city-council/); the Supreme Court of Canada hears arguments for and against legalizing assisted suicide (http://news NULL.nationalpost NULL.com/2014/10/10/supreme-court-gathers-next-week-to-hear-arguments-for-and-against-doctor-assisted-death/); and the town of Cardston, AB votes to maintain its dry status (http://www NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/canada/cardston-alta-will-stay-dry-after-alcohol-ban-vote-1 NULL.2042626) and we speculate on whether it has a bowling alley and a “Beer Baron”. But first, the population of Canada is about to increase by one later this month as Malala Yousafzai will be made an honorary citizen (http://www NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/politics/nobel-winner-malala-yousafzai-to-get-honorary-canadian-citizenship-this-month-1 NULL.2048705) of this country.

Episode 58 – What do Michael Payton, the ORF (yet again) and Bangladesh Have in Common?

We’ve already had two episodes dedicated to the Office of Religious Freedom (http://www NULL.international NULL.gc NULL.ca/religious_freedom-liberte_de_religion/index NULL.aspx). One (episode 2) was when the intention to create it was announced last year, and the second (episode 53) after the official opening itself. We now bring you a third look at the ORF, this time from someone who has had an audience with Ambassador Andrew Bennett. Michael Payton is the national director of the Centre for Inquiry Canada (http://www NULL.cficanada NULL.ca/) and he and several other CFI board members met with Bennett and we (me, Haysn and Kris) speak with Michael about this experience. Religious groups co-opting the power of the state to lash out against atheists are becoming more common, and not just in the Islamic world. In response to last year’s Pussy Riot demonstrations just this week the Russian parliament has passed a bill to increase the maximum punishment for the fictitious crime of blasphemy (http://www NULL.bbc NULL.co NULL.uk/news/world-europe-22090308) to three years in prison or a 300,000 rouble fine. Greece arrested a 27-year old man last fall for ”malicious blasphemy and religious insult” (http://www NULL.indexoncensorship NULL.org/2013/03/free-speech-takes-a-beating-in-greece/) ridiculed a well-known Greek Orthodox monk on his Facebook page. Even so-called secular Muslim countries get in on the act. In a move itself worth insulting, Turkish pianist Fazil Say was given a suspended 10-month prison sentence (reduced from 12 for good courtroom behavior) for insulting “Muslim values” on Twitter (http://www NULL.aljazeera NULL.com/news/europe/2013/04/2013415103818540386 NULL.html). But these incidents pale in comparison to what is happening right now in Bangladesh, where tens of thousands of protesters are calling for the death of atheist bloggers (http://www NULL.iol NULL.co NULL.za/news/world/bangladesh-atheist-bloggers-arrested-1 NULL.1494515). Bangladesh has no law against blasphemy, but extremist religious political parties such as Hefazat are calling for the government to institute not only draconian blasphemy laws targeted particularly at atheists (I mean, who else are they going to target?), but xenophobic isolationist laws and to make Bangladesh an official Islamic state. Even discrimination of other Islamic sects is promoted in Hefazat’s 13-point plan (http://blogs NULL.aljazeera NULL.com/blog/asia/bangladeshi-clerics-fight-atheist-bloggers). Bangladesh is seen by CFI (and us) as a test case for the ORF.They have written an appeal to Andrew Bennett to engage with the Bangladesh government (http://canadianatheist NULL.com/2013/04/12/cfi-petitions-the-office-of-religious-freedom/) to stem arrests and attacks on atheists who are simply trying to access the fundamental human rights of belief and free speech.

CFI is attempting to organize protests April 25 at Bangladeshi High Commissions and Consulates in Canada to go along with those in Washington, DC and New York. We’ll keep you posted here.

The Empire Strikes Back…

In tomorrow’s podcast release, you will hear us talk about a local advocacy group called “HPV Calgary”, composed of concerned physicians and parents, has called for a reversal of Henry’s policy banning Gardacil vaccinations in Calgary Catholic schools ( http://news NULL.nationalpost NULL.com/2012/06/26/187783/). And just like the Empire, Bishop Fred Henry strikes back against his critics ( http://www NULL.calgaryherald NULL.com/health/Bishop+Henry+vaccine+supporters+aren+doctors+soul/6844346/story NULL.html). He cites the SOGC position statement on HPV prevention ( http://www NULL.sogc NULL.org/guidelines/documents/gui196CPG0708revised NULL.pdf):

“Counselling and other educational activities should stress (a) that abstinence is the most efficient way to prevent HPV infection, but must include avoidance of not only penetration of the vagina or the anus, but also any anogenital contact and the sharing of sex toys.”

Problem: he didn’t read on. In the chapter on prevention, Marc Steben writes “Efforts to limit the spread of HPV should be based on evidence.” (Steben also writes later on in the same chapter that “Vaccination may present the best primary prevention method,” a statement which Henry seems to ignore in his grand exercise in selection bias.) By the way, Steben presents no evidence that teaching abstinence is at all effective. But Henry doesn’t believe in statistics. In a message to the Edmonton Catholic School System to change their policy of allowing access to Gardasil in their schools he is quoted as saying,

“It’s not about a matter of statistics or any other study,” said Henry, adding he can’t be held accountable for sexual choices.

I believe in doing things that demonstrably work. I’m funny that way. I don’t advocate policy because that’s the way I think it ought to be. So unlike Henry, who seems to pull things out of his ass like so many rabbits out of a magician’s hat, I present the conclusions of several peer-reviewed studies on the efficacy of abstinence-only sex ed (and by no means is this an exhaustive list) in an appendix below. Let’s just say that not only are such programs ineffective in their stated goals, they result in greater harm by not providing critical information on STDs and contraception. Continue reading “The Empire Strikes Back…” »

Leah Libresco’s challenge

[First published to the Freethinker’s Google Group (http://groups NULL.google NULL.com/group/freethinkers-club/browse_thread/thread/94b604f79c84f09d).]

I’m incredibly fascinated by tales of atheists turning theist. Part of it comes from how impossible such a move seems to me. My own arguments have gotten to the point that I’m close to calling myself gnostic; I’m at a complete loss to think of any path that would lead me to theism, short of brain damage.*

So when Leah Libresco made a splash (http://www NULL.patheos NULL.com/blogs/unequallyyoked/2012/06/this-is-my-last-post-for-the-patheos-atheist-portal NULL.html) by switching from atheism to Catholicism, I was beside myself! Here was a high-profile blogger, spelling out in detail why she made the transition. Excellent, time to put a theory of mine to the test! Continue reading “Leah Libresco’s challenge” »

LoR – Episode 21

This episode is a rather short one. First, Christine and I chat about Ontario’s Bill 13, a piece of legislation aimed at curtailing bullying in schools. The Catholic school system had to this point refused to allow the term ‘Gay-Straight Alliance’ to be used to describe a student club with the goal of eliminating bullying gay and lesbian students. Apparently, Catholicism can’t even handle words associated with homosexuality, and acts like an ostrich looking for a pail of sand to stick its head in. Bullying is really a physical manifestation of discrimination, and if the Catholic school board was allowed to continue this censorship, how could it possibly handle bullying of gay students? The Ontario government wisely attached an ammendment requiring Catholic school boards to NOT prohibit the use of the term “GSA”. The response of Catholics was as predictable as it was ridiculous. We also have some original irreverent music from our good friend Dean Morrison and an editorial by yours truly on the questionable response by Catholic authority to the passing of Bill 13 in the Ontario legislature.

Signs of massive electoral fraud in Canada

Can’t write, quaking with rage (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/lousycanuck/2012/03/27/tories-made-6000000-calls-had-two-lists-refuse-to-give-records-to-elections-canada/)

57 ridings received misleading robo-calls, that we know of. That’s how badly they wanted this power to ramrod five years worth of Conservative policies into place — even if this election was 100% in the bag for them, THEY STILL CHEATED. And they’re yelling and screaming for the Libs and NDP to show their phone records while they themselves refuse to account for their own activities.

Harper and his government have evidently subverted democracy. Whether or not this swayed a single vote, it shows exactly what these people are capable of, and to exactly what depths they’ll stoop.

HJ Hornbeck