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Critical Links 2015/06/09: CFIC News and Updates

June 8, 2015

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CFI Canada’s mission is to provide education and training to the public in the application of skeptical, secular, rational and humanistic inquiry through conferences, symposia, lectures, published works and the maintenance of a library.

Events, News and Updates

  • June 10, 2015: CFIC Toronto will host author Jerry Coyne in support of his latest book: Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible
  • June 13th is World Albinism Day
  • June 13 5pm: Montreal Branch is hosting Skeptics in the Pub at the Brasserie Benelux
  • June 11-15 CFI US will be hosting the Reason for Change conference in Amherst, NY
  • June 15 The Okanagan Branch hosts Khan Academy and the Flipped Classroom (talk)
  • June 22: CFIC finalizing details of a talk with Tony Ortega (author of The Unbreakable Miss Lovely) on Scientology!
  • Get a CFIC Ballcap!  We have a limited quantity of ballcaps for sale.  With summer vacations coming up, they make a terrific way to keep the sun off and include a bit of skepticism in your travels! For more details email:  torontoteam@cficanada.ca

CFIC Ballcaps

  • June 2015:  CFIC grows past 500 members! Thanks to all the new and renewing members for pushing CFIC past 500 members!   We are thrilled to see the commitment and renewal of Canada’ largest and fastest growing national skeptic/secularist community!
  • June 25: Okanagan Branch Hosts Ask An Atheist (panel discussion)
  • July 20: Okanagan Branch Hosts How Does the Creative Process Work? (talk)

Friends and Members in the Community

CFIC has some of the most interesting and active, creative and engaged people in the community!  Here are some of the activities of our friends and members.

  • George Korounis, host of Angry Planet, has been travelling the world and bringing CFI Canada with him.  Check out the photos George has shared!  Where will George go next !?   And where will you go?  Bring CFIC with you and share your photos!

Let us know if you have an activity you’d like to share!

Blasphemy News, Observations in Canada and the World

  • The Saudi Supreme Court has upheld the sentence of 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison for secularist blogger Raif Badawi;  meanwhile Canada continues to indirectly validate these types of cruel punishments by maintaining a blasphemy law of its own.
  • In New York City, a Catholic student was prevented from participating in graduation ceremonies on grounds of blasphemy.  According to  a school representative, “Every educational institution must maintain discipline if true learning is to occur,” the school’s tough discipline policy says.”
  • Tamar Braxton has been caught up in accusations of blasphemy related to a video and her reaction
  • The  United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is concerned about Pakistan; the Pakistan Christian Post is worried about Christians in Pakistan

Faith-Based Violence and Bigotry

CFIC continues to monitor, document and condemn faith based violence and bigotry around the world.

Science and Ethics News

Major announcements of advances in science should be greeted with skepticism and verification.  Following are several recent science announcements which reached our attention.  Are they Extraordinary Claims with Extraordinary Evidence?

  • What is MERS? According to The News Tribune, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome has been showing up in South Korea though it “was discovered in 2012 and has mostly been centered in Saudi Arabia. It belongs to the family of coronaviruses that includes the common cold and SARS, and can cause fever, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure. The virus has spread primarily through contact with camels, but it can also spread from human fluids and droplets.”
  • The Dalai Lama supports ethics classes in schools because religion has failed to make the world a better place.
  • While Ontario’s new Sex Education Curriculum is seeing opposition and discussion in Ontario, in Malta, political leaders look to teaching ethics. According to The Times of Malta, “Church schools are against the ethics progamme because they feel the subject of ethics is sufficiently covered by the religious instruction they provide.”

The Harms of Superstition  

  •  In Malawi, murder of people with albinism Is on the rise, but the Association of Secular Humanism of Malawi has been working to provide a counter-narrative to the magical thinking associated with people with albinismThe killing of albinos is driven by the belief that their body parts have magical powers that can bring good luck and success. Nobody knows the origin of this murderous misconception. But it is definitely rooted in magical thinking, and in what is considered by the local population as the ‘strange’ nature of the skin. – Sahara Reporters
  • Killing people with albinism is linked to politics in Tanzania , and article by Leo Igwe; in Ghana, some areas have banished people with albinism as “abominations”
  • In Kuala Lumpur, a whole mountain has been raped, triggering an earthquake, according to Farhana Abdul Fatah.  Reactions on Canadian Atheista Canadian nudist responds
  • According to The Asian Age, at least one superstition-related death occurs every month in India
  • A few comments on monotheistic superstition from Greg T. Valania on The Daily Item

As Agnostics, Humanists, and Secularists we celebrate that you have the freedom to be as superstitious as you want. However, it is insulting to be told from a secular standpoint that “you can only be saved if you accept Jesus into your life.” Compound discrimination on top of this dogma and now you interfere with the liberty we are all equally entitled to

  • The Assam Tribune reports of a 3-month-old baby poisoned by its mother as a result of a superstitious belief that “that the baby would cause her death as his teeth had come out after eleven days of birth“; this followed advice from a “palmist”.
  • Charlie, Charlie Challenge – a report from Vox

Skeptics and Humanists Aid and Relief Effort (SHARE)share_logo_big

In response to the outpouring of concern expressed by members and volunteers of CFI Canada over the earthquake in Nepal (May 2015), we have launched the Skeptics and Humanists Aid and Relief Effort (SHARE).   The SHARE fund was initially developed by CFI (US) as a service for their donors who wished to give to disaster relief in a way that is consistent with their ethics and standards; in Canada, the SHARE model is a service to CFIC members and donors who wish to give to disaster recovery initiatives through secular charities.  CFIC will provide a tax receipt to donors and pass 100% of donations to a secular disaster recovery charity partner.  Donor names and details will not be shared with other organizations (unless explicitly requested by the donor).  Giving to assist during disasters should respect your ethics and reach the vulnerable.  We can help.

Please support the Centre For Inquiry Canada by joining as a member or donating today

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