It’s September 22, the first episode of the fall of 2013! Twylla and Kris join me for a busy episode. Later, we wonder yet again where the Muslim community of Canada is in the face of horrific sectarian acts of violence (http://www NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/world/kenyan-soldiers-battle-militants-after-deadly-mall-shooting-1 NULL.1466182). Aren’t these missed opportunities to demonstrate to the public that there is indeed a segment of Islam which deplores violence? I don’t get it. Child abuse in the form of pediatric chiropractic is on the rise in Saskatchewan (http://www NULL.thestarphoenix NULL.com/bridges/Sask+sees+upswing+chiropractics+infants/8923903/story NULL.html), according to an article in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix’s Bridge publication. We look at the most common reason mothers take their babies to a chiropractor and why the claim that this form of alternative-to-medicine therapy can help with colic is bunk (http://welladjustedbabies NULL.com/effective-ways-to-relieve-colic/) despite the publication in bottom feeder journals that it is highly effective. In that discussion, we discover a metric we can use to measure the feistiness off Twylla, as you can hear the rate of popped P’s increase during episodes of feistiness. We discuss Richard Dawkins’ recent faux-pas (http://www NULL.richarddawkins NULL.net/news_articles/2013/9/7/the-world-according-to-richard-dawkins-the-times#) claiming that decades-old crimes of pedophilia shouldn’t be judged using a modern value set. Really, Richard? What the hell? The kinder-and-gentler Vatican presents itself with Pope Frank making gestures to the atheist/agnostic community (http://www NULL.rawstory NULL.com/rs/2013/09/11/pope-francis-to-atheists-agnostics-god-forgives-those-who-obey-their-conscience/) and toning down the “same-sex marriage, abortion and contraception are evil” rhetoric (http://www NULL.nytimes NULL.com/2013/09/20/world/europe/pope-bluntly-faults-churchs-focus-on-gays-and-abortion NULL.html?smid=fb-share&_r=3&) while still believing that same-sex marriage, abortion and contraception are evil. So what’s changed, and why are people falling all over this new pope, some atheists included? This is like spraying the bathroom with Febreeze the morning after attending a chili cook-off. All you can smell are faeces-covered flowers. And last, but not least, I go off on a rant about something the guys at Cognitive Dissonance said that I can’t agree with and goes against every fibre of my being. But first, I make a clarification in response to a blogger’s post on a previous rant (http://scawalrus NULL.wordpress NULL.com/2013/09/21/sketicism-vs-atheism-discussion-comments/) of mine on skepticism, atheism and the JREF. I figure if one person heard us say one thing we would never posit, others might have heard it too and so want to make it clear that we don’t believe The Secret is anything other than a work of fiction.
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Recently, if you haven’t already heard, the Parti Quebecois minority government in Quebec is making an effort to make public service more secular by attempting to pass what is called the Charter of Values (http://www NULL.cbc NULL.ca/news/canada/montreal/charter-of-quebec-values-would-ban-religious-symbols-for-public-workers-1 NULL.1699315), amending the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. This legislation sets boundaries on what its representatives can wear in terms of overt religious symbols. What’s out for the best dressed public servants this year? Big crucifix bling around the neck, Muslim head scarves, Sikh turbans, hijabs and yarmulkes. What’s in are rings, small crucifixes and earrings with religious symbols. And all of this will be passed in the Quebec National Assembly under a humungous cross that the PQ is loathe to be rid of.
Joining Haysn and I on this episode is Brian Seaman, a research associate from the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre (http://www NULL.aclrc NULL.com/) at the University of Calgary. We discuss the proposed legislation, why the PQ has tabled it and it’s good and bad points. Finally, we enter into a wider discussion on the value of secularism in government and how to do it right.
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Welcome to episode 75, recorded September 8, 2013! Kris is back from Boston where she attended a conference reporting on the progress of our plan for atheist world domination. Later on we discuss well-founded opposition to a new Scientology-based drug and alcohol rehab center in Ontario (http://www NULL.simcoe NULL.com/news-story/4070822-narconon-open-to-finding-a-new-site/). Naraconon, as it’s called, has blood on its hands worldwide (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Narconon). The Vatican demonstrates that it has learned nothing from the ongoing priestly paedophilia debacle in how to handle incidents of child molestation by church authorities. Rather than do the right thing, they recall a papal nuncio from the Dominican Republic (http://www NULL.huffingtonpost NULL.com/2013/09/05/josef-wesolowski-child-abuse-dominican-republic_n_3875222 NULL.html?utm_hp_ref=religion) to investigate (we think – the Vatican is saying nothing on this matter, which further shows how little they’ve learned) allegations of you-know-what. But we start off with HuffPo blogger Linda Robertson to whom we give kudos for her humanist stance on standing up and making her voice heard when other Christians spout vitriol (http://www NULL.huffingtonpost NULL.com/linda-robertson/we-cannot-be-silent_b_3861798 NULL.html?utm_hp_ref=religion&ir=Religion#comments) against members of the LGBT community.
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In this, Episode 74 recorded September 1, 2013, amongst the meandering discourse, Twylla, Haysn and I present two items this week. Later in the episode we discuss Calgary Herald op-ed writer Licia Corbella’s claim that atheism, like Christianity, has much to answer for with regard to atrocities committed in history (http://www NULL.calgaryherald NULL.com/opinion/op-ed/Corbella+Will+atheism+held+account+like+other+creeds/8854835/story NULL.html). Oh, wait. No it doesn’t. And Hitler wasn’t an atheist, either! In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, “What a maroon.” But first we start with a little small talk and get into Brampton, Ontario Muslim cleric Faisal Hamid Abdur-Razak’s wonderful take on stoning (http://www NULL.torontosun NULL.com/2013/08/28/brampton-muslim-cleric-preaches-adulterers-gays-can-benefit-from-being-stoned-to-death). Did you know that both the person being stoned, and the one doing the stoning benefit? Wow!
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Episode 73 (recorded August 25) is the result of a marathon recording session that was even longer, in which Kris, Twylla, Haysn and I discuss the Parti Québécois government in Quebec’s plan to enact legislation that would prohibit the wearing of religious symbols by public employees (http://www NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/canada/proposed-ban-on-religious-symbols-in-quebec-a-violation-of-freedom-of-religion-1 NULL.1420848). Is it too far? Would it apply to gratuitous symbol wearing like crucifix necklaces? Would it apply to Sikh turbans? The Calgary Herald posted a story full of sophistry and nonsense about how people turn to faith in times of tragedy (http://www NULL.calgaryherald NULL.com/news/calgary/People+turn+questions+faith+times+tragedy/8571486/story NULL.html), vis-à-vis the recent floods here in Calgary. There may be listeners who feel we are unnecessarily mocking the religious, but some of this sophistic nonsense is actually downright offensive in its implications, and it needs pointing out. And where’s that infamous journalistic ‘balance’? Maybe the author should have taken five minutes to talk to a NONBELIEVER, too. Why is it always just believers, particularly when over 40% of Calgarians are nones? And my favorite person opens his mouth yet again. Bishop Fred Henry weighs in on the repressive anti-gay laws in Russia (http://www NULL.calgaryherald NULL.com/life/Bigger+fish/8809483/story NULL.html), and doesn’t disappoint! Once again, Henry demonstrates that if you are doing it in opposition to what Catholic authorities tell you, you’re doing it right.
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After recording episode 72 we kept the conversation going to discuss a topic which draws my ire, and the discussion was too good to leave on the cutting room floor. To that effect, here is a Legion of Reason extra. Over the last year, statements have been made by prominent members of the James Randi Education Foundation that untestable claims are outside the scope of scientific skepticism. To me, this is an artificial boundary on the question of whether a belief should or should not be accepted. Scientific skepticism isn’t just a methodology. It is a philosophy, with one of its characteristics being its positivist nature. That is, we only accept claims for which there is evidence to evaluate. The JREF does a lot of great work, but I think it does a great disservice by suggesting that there are areas of belief which are outside the application of critical thinking.
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Welcome to episode 72 of the Legion of Reason podcast, recorded August 18, 2013! I found co-host of the Freethinking Island podcast David Ince floating idly around the Caribbean internets and he joined Kris, Haysn and me from Barbados to discuss how things are going down in the Islands and the formation of the Caribbean Secular Alliance. The Christian flag is being raised this week over Windsor city hall (http://canadianatheist NULL.com/2013/08/08/warning-blanket-alert/) in a blatant violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We discuss the history of the ‘official’ Christian flag and some potential strategies to counter this blatant example of the flexing of Christian privilege muscle.
EDIT: At the time we were unaware that Windsor city council decided to rescind the decision to allow the Christian flag to be flown at city hall (http://canadianatheist NULL.com/2013/08/09/update-on-warning-blanket-alert/). But to even have considered this proposal without summarily dismissing it as a sending the message of endorsing a single religion gives me a mixed feeling of congratulations and “what the hell?” Mostly the latter. I find it difficult to congratulate people on backing away from something that should never have been done in the first place, but something positive should be said. Score another one for secularism! Props out to Canadian Atheist (http://canadianatheist NULL.com/) for following this!
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Later on in the podcast I give an update on what the Office of Religious Freedom has (or rather, has not (http://www NULL.cnn NULL.com/2013/07/31/world/meast/saudi-blogger-sentenced)) been doing lately. Before that, however, Kris and I play host to journalist Katherine Stewart (http://www NULL.thegoodnewsclub NULL.com/about), author of The Good News Club (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.ca/Good-News-Club-Christian-ebook/dp/B0073XR7BM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1376456819&sr=8-2&keywords=good+news+club). Good News Clubs utilize recent SCOTUS rulings to gain access (assuming you have them) and prosthelytize to your children. Misrepresentation of their purpose and the destruction of the separation of church and state which has been the staple of getting along are par for the course with this and other organizations. We need to be aware of who these people are and just exactly what they represent. As always, information is the sword and shield of reason.
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Welcome to Episode 70 of the Legion of Reason, recorded August 4, 2013! In this installment, Christine, Twylla, Haysn and I talk about people who think they can fool the universe by surgically altering the lines in their palms (http://www NULL.thedailybeast NULL.com/articles/2013/07/12/your-future-is-in-the-palm-of-your-surgeon-s-hand NULL.html), signs that Muslims in the Middle East are beginning to come out as atheists (http://www NULL.times-standard NULL.com/faith_spirituality/ci_23835182/arab-muslims-turned-atheists-out-shadows-and-onto), and my willingness to put my body on the line once again for science by testing the effectiveness of a new dietary supplement on sleep quality (http://www NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/health/sleep-aid-from-the-pumpkin-patch-ontario-doctor-creates-all-natural-solution-1 NULL.1387065). But first, we let Christine have her say on the discussion in our last episode of Rex Murphy’s whining over secular chaplains (http://fullcomment NULL.nationalpost NULL.com/2013/07/27/rex-murphy-the-angry-athiest/) and an even more whiny complaint by Tim Stanley over vicious tweets by Richard Dawkins (http://blogs NULL.telegraph NULL.co NULL.uk/news/timstanley/100228442/if-were-cracking-down-on-twitter-abuse-can-we-include-richard-dawkins-and-the-atheist-trolls/).
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It is indeed episode 69, recorded July 28, 2013. Later on in the podcast we take a look at Canadian radio and television personality Rex Murphy’s take on secular chaplaincy in the US military (http://fullcomment NULL.nationalpost NULL.com/2013/07/27/rex-murphy-the-angry-athiest/), demonstrating a disgusting level of anti-atheist bigotry in a whiny attempt at preserving an aspect of religious privilege that the religious shouldn’t have in the first place. Particularly astounding is the claim that human rights are god-given! We also take a look at a credulous article describing a blessing for those in need of healing that took place last week at Alberta’s very own Lourdes, Lac Ste. Anne (http://www NULL.edmontonjournal NULL.com/life/Mystical+Alberta+lake+draws+people+from+around+world/8689489/story NULL.html). We also have a look at a new study taking advantage of the difference between the availability of the HPV vaccine in Calgary public and Catholic schools (http://www NULL.calgaryherald NULL.com/health/Girls+poor+neighbourhoods+less+likely+vaccine+public+clinics+study+finds/8689629/story NULL.html) which demonstrate a socioeconomic effect of vaccination rates. First, though, we look at the recent outbreaks of measles in several Canadian provinces (http://calgary NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/measles-show-up-in-several-provinces-1 NULL.1370949). Is there a lower form of life than the anti-vaccination crowd?
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