Posts Tagged “canada”

Medicine Man Yellow Plume, Roland W. Reed, 1912 Img172Most families will do everything possible to save the lives of their members. That is, after all, the rational thing to do. That said, not all families are that rational. Some place their metaphysics above everything … including life itself. Occasionally these lunatic nutcases even get help from others in their effort to kill their own members over metaphysics. The Hamilton (ON) Spectator reports a provincial judge just gave this sort of “help” to First Nations families in Canada (WebCite cached article):

Aboriginal children now have the right to refuse life-saving medical treatment in favour of traditional healing.

A “precedent-setting” ruling made that clear Friday in the case of a First Nations girl refusing chemotherapy.

But it has nothing to do with whether aboriginal medicine works.

Instead, it’s about Canada’s constitution protecting aboriginal rights.

Ontario Court Justice Gethin Edward has now expanded those rights to include traditional healing, saying: “There is no question it forms an integral part.”

It’s great to see judges so obsessed with adhering strictly to the letter of the law — as they see it — that they’re willing to make certain that people die, all over Canada, for no valid reason. Why let nasty little things like rationality get in the way of that? </sarcasm>

What makes this even worse than the fact that two little girls are likely to die soon, is the giddiness with which this decision has been embraced:

“This is monumental for our people all across the country,” Six Nations Chief Ava Hill said after the ruling in Brantford.

“This is precedent-setting for us.”

First Nations spectators in the standing-room-only courtroom burst into applause and tears as Edward dismissed an application by McMaster Children’s Hospital to have the girl apprehended by Brant Family and Children’s Services and forced into treatment.

“I feel I’ve transcended something bigger than all of us,” said the girl’s aunt when she phoned the mother to deliver the news.

These people have doomed not just one, but two girls — as well as unknown numbers of future children — to certain death. And they’ve got the audacity to applaud themselves over it. How fucking disgraceful!

Justice Edward errs by viewing the effectiveness of conventional medicine as the “western medical paradigm,” or a mere cultural viewpoint. The truth is, it’s no such thing, and for the Justice to say so is a lie. Science-based medicine is not a paradigm or “viewpoint,” any more than — say — the laws of gravitation are just a “viewpoint”: One doesn’t merely opine or fantasize that an object will fall to the floor if one drops it, one knows it will, because the mechanism of gravity has been worked out and it’s predictable. Similarly, science-based medicine works toward rational conclusions based upon objective evidence. There’s nothing “viewpoint-y” about it. Treatments are evaluated and their effectiveness measured.

Metaphysical medicine, on the other hand, has no objective basis whatsoever. People just conjure shit up and do it, then tell themselves it worked, without understanding physiological mechanisms, and without even caring about effectiveness. They rely on appeals to tradition as well as other fallacies, confuse the placebo effect with actual recovery from a condition, and bellyache and whine about how “Big Pharma” profits from conventional medicine, therefore it must all be a lie (conveniently failing to mention that a lot of alternative-medicine practitioners make a lot of money peddling their bullshit, nonsense, and lies).

Put bluntly, wishing (as I do) that First Nations children all have an opportunity to survive into adulthood, is not an imposition of western cultural values on Canada’s aboriginal peoples. It’s a desire that they live, so long as it’s possible … and nothing more.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Where Are the Children? / Schools: British Columbia / Lejac Indian Residential School (Fraser Lake, BC)Among the Catholic Church’s many faults is its presumption that it’s above the law and accountable to no one on the planet. If one looks back, for example, at how it handled the worldwide child-abuse scandal that’s plagued it for over a decade, one sees a familiar pattern of resistance by the Church and its hierarchs.

Theirs is a pattern of behavior that plays out with each incident that comes to light. First there are flat denials; then efforts to avoid subpoenas and depositions; then complaints of “persecution” once those have failed; then there are admissions that something untoward might possibly have happened somewhere in a diocese or order; then there are grudging apologies (or more like, non-apology apologies); then complaints that child abuse happens in other institutions, so why is the Church always a target; and on and on it goes.

A lot of the time the evidence is overwhelming and a diocese or order must consent to a legal remedy; but even then, it continues to resist. For example, back in 2007 the archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to release documents regarding abusive clergy, but then they turned around and resisted actually releasing them for a whopping 6 years.

The latest example of this comes from Canada and is part of the ongoing residential schools scandal. For those who may not be aware of it, this program began in the late 19th century and involved a large number of aboriginal children being sent to residential schools operated by Canada’s churches and paid for by the Canadian government. Children in this program, which lasted into the late 20th century, were often subjected to horrible abuse as well as neglect (mortality was quite high).

For most of the 2000s, the Canadian government has been working to investigate the abuse, and has been working with the churches that had operated residential schools (mainly, the Anglican and Catholic Churches) to compensate victims. The CBC, however, recently discovered that the Roman Catholic Church — which ostensibly had cooperated with this effort — has been holding back money that it had agreed to pay out (WebCite cached article):

Court documents obtained by CBC News allege that the Catholic Church is withholding millions from former students of Indian residential schools.

The church was part of the Indian residential school settlement reached in 2006. While the government paid the lion’s share of the billion-dollar settlement, the churches were also required to make reparations.

The Anglican, Presbyterian and United churches have met their obligations, but according to the federal government, the Catholic Church is shirking its responsibility.

The article provides details of this; the bottom line is that the R.C. Church has been keeping some of the settlement money it was supposed to have paid to victims’ foundations under the guise of “administrative expenses.” Seems to me, if they’d just paid out what they’d agree to pay, there wouldn’t be any ongoing expenses … but hey, what can this cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathen possibly know about such things?

Near the end of the CBC article is the whiney, paranoid Catholic response:

Pierre Baribeau, a lawyer in Montreal and director of the Catholic Entities corporation, says the Catholic Church will fight these allegations in court.

“The federal government has always adopted an aggressive attitude towards the Catholic Entities and we have offered reconciliation process to them and they firmly answered negatively, they don’t want to apply the agreement as negotiated in 2006, so we are going to present our arguments to the courts.”

Oh pity the poor, put-upon Canadian Catholic Church! The government there is just picking on them … or something. I guess. How dare the Canadian government and the First Nations foundations actually expect the Church to pay out money it had agreed, years ago, to pay out! Why, it’s intolerable!

</sarcasm>

At any rate, one can see, here, yet another manifestation of the Church’s perpetually-resistant attitude toward such allegations. They always have to be dragged kicking and screaming into settling up … and even after that, they must be dragged a whole lot more. I’m not surprised they’re pulling this kind of crap, and you shouldn’t be, either.

Photo credit: Where Are the Children?

Hat tip: Peter at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

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Cathédrale Catholic de Churchill au Manitoba (Cathédrale Saints-Martyrs-Canadiens-et-Reine-des-Martyrs), via Wikimedia CommonsNote: There’s been some news about this case; please see below.

Although I’ve condemned the Roman Catholic Church for the many decades it allowed its personnel to abuse children in its care, and protected those abusers by moving them around so they wouldn’t get caught, that’s not the entirety of the scandal. The Church couldn’t have pulled all this abuse off, without the willing assistance of other elements of the societies in which it operated, including secular officials who granted the Church a wide berth.

One example is that of Connecticut’s own Fr Stephen Foley, a Catholic priest and state police chaplain who, in the 1990s, had been accused of assaults; despite a criminal investigation that ended with Foley being fired as a chaplain by the state police and as a parish pastor by the Hartford archdiocese, he was never charged with anything (WebCite cached article). Foley went on to abuse more children afterward. The state police went so far as to allow him to drive a police cruiser, complete with lights, sirens and police-radio scanners, even though he was no longer a chaplain (cached) … and despite the fact that, had he remained a chaplain, he still wasn’t legally entitled to drive such a vehicle!

Another example of criminal-justice officials being complicit in a priest evading prosecution, came to light recently in Canada. The Canadian Press reports via the CBC about this cringe-worthy story that dates back to 1995 (cached):

A priest who this week is to face 76 sex charges involving Inuit children might have been tried years ago but for a quiet nod from Canada that allowed him to leave the country, says a church leader.

Georges Vervust is the top official with the Belgian Oblates, an order of Catholic priests that sent Eric Dejaeger to several communities in what is now Nunavut.

Vervust sheds light on questions that have troubled Dejaeger’s alleged victims for nearly a decade: How was a man facing child abuse charges allowed to leave the country days before his trial? And why did it take so long for him to be returned?

“What I have heard is that he got advice from people from the Justice Department, off the record, that he should leave,” Vervust said in a Belgian documentary. He confirmed his comments to The Canadian Press.

The CP goes on to tell the details of this story. It includes evasiveness and excuse-making by Justice officials at that time, including whines about being understaffed and the charges against Dejaeger not being a big deal. Ultimately, Dejaeger ended up on trial for his abuse many years after he fled the country, not because anyone in Canada bothered tracking him down, but quite accidentally:

In the end, it was an immigration violation, not an extradition order, that brought him back to face the charges he ran away from 18 years ago.

Dejaeger was eventually returned in January 2011 when a Belgian journalist realized that Dejaeger had lost his Belgian citizenship in 1977 when he became a naturalized Canadian. He had been living in Belgium since 1995 without a visa and was kicked out.

As I said, it’s not possible for the Church to have gotten away with child abuse, over the course of decades and in so many places around the world, if people around the Church weren’t willing to let them get away with it. At this point, societal collaboration with the Church appears much less of a problem than it once was, but it’s something we must always guard against.

Update: Canada’s National Post reports Dejaeger was convicted of 24 counts (cached).

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hat tip: Peter at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

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Manitoba Family Services would not say Wednesday how many children had been taken into care (file photo)Once upon a time, Anabaptist Christians (known mainly as Mennonites or the Amish) had a reputation for being passive and non-violent. Whether or not that reputation was deserved, it seems to be waning. With the arrival of the “reality” TV series Amish Mafia, and the eruption of infighting among them, it’s clear that there’s more to them than meets the eye. Yet another story that forces one to rethink how Mennonites are viewed, is this story, by the Canadian Press via the National Post, about rampant child abuse in one such community in Canada (WebCite cached article):

Children have been removed from an orthodox Mennonite community in southern Manitoba, where more adults have been charged with assaulting youngsters using items such as cattle prods and leather straps.

Manitoba Family Services would not say Wednesday how many children had been taken into care, or reveal any other details about the case.…

Two adults from the tiny orthodox community were charged in March with various counts of assault and assault with a weapon on several boys and girls between July 2011 and January of this year.

This week, two more adults appeared in court to face similar charges involving 12 alleged victims. The allegations are once again that the assaults were repeated and over roughly the same 18-month time frame. They were released pending their next court appearance.

I suppose leather straps are implements one might find among Mennonites, who eschew modern technology … but cattle prods? Seriously? And using them on children, no less? These are pretty serious allegations, especially with the RCMP involved.

Photo credit: National Post.

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After the historic vote, Rev. Gary Patersons said he wouldn’t want his sexuality to become the centrepiece of his time as moderator ‘because I think there are huge issues that we are called to address.’ Photograph by: Jana Chytilova, The Ottawa CitizenIn a move that may or may not irk evangelical Christians in the US, the Ottawa Citizen reports the largest Protestant denomination in Canada elected an openly-gay pastor as its new leader (WebCite cached article):

In a historic vote, the United Church of Canada has elected its first openly gay moderator.

After six ballots and nearly eight hours of voting at the church’s 41st general council in Ottawa Thursday, Rev. Gary Paterson emerged from a record field of 15 candidates to win the top job at Canada’s largest Protestant church. He is thought to be the first openly gay person to head any mainstream Christian denomination.

The 350 voting commissioners at the general council greeted the announcement with cheers and a prolonged standing ovation, and quickly voted to make Paterson’s election unanimous.

As the Citizen reports, this denomination has been leading the way regarding the status of gays in its ranks:

The United Church was the first mainstream church in Canada to allow the ordination of gay ministers. In 1988, the church’s general council declared that everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ, regardless of sexual orientation, was welcome in the church, and all members are “eligible to be considered for ordered ministry.”

The decision was bitterly opposed by the church’s more conservative members, many of whom subsequently left the church.

In 1992, the United Church ordained Tim Stevenson, currently a Vancouver city councillor, as its first openly gay minister. Today, the church boasts many gay and lesbian ministers, and the issue is no longer contentious for most United Church members.

As I said, evangelicals here in the US may not even be taking notice of this. They tend to look down on, and even ignore, other countries. They already don’t think much of Canada, because it has socialized medicine (which, as we all know, is akin to the Massacre of the Innocents). It’s safe to assume this development won’t impress them, and will only make them think worse of our good neighbors to the north.

To any Christians out there who continue railing about how homosexuality is a “sin” and is an automatic disqualifier for anyone serving as clergy … allow me to remind you of what your own holy scripture says:

Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. (Eccl 7:20)

For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Is 64:6)

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. (Mt 15:19)

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. (Mk 7:21-22)

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Mk 10:18)

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (1 Jn 1:8-10)

[F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God … (Rom 3:23)

It’s time for Christians to understand that, according to their own religion, no one … neither gays nor straights … is inherently less “sinful” than anyone else. As Paul wrote above, “All have sinned.” And “all” means “all,” as in “everyone.” Including you. Is that clear yet?

Photo credit: Jana Chytilova / Ottawa Citizen.

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St Marys Cathedral Calgary-DayI’ve blogged numerous times about the Catholic Church’s hypocrisy and disingenuousness. For instance, it has condemned civil authorities that dare investigate child abuse at the hands of its clergy yet it simultaneously embraces those same authorities when it has been victimized. Another example is the Church’s open celebration of Galileo Galilei and his scientific achievements, in spite of the fact that the Church did everything in its power to destroy him because of those same achievements.

One would think examples of this phenomenon are so common that additional ones would no longer be necessary, but one would be wrong. With the R.C. Church’s huge pushback campaign now well underway, and with the bishops becoming increasingly vocal and intransigent, we can no longer afford merely to take for granted that the Church and its hierarchs are dissembling liars. Every example of their disingenuousness and hypocrisy must be exposed so that no one is fooled by their pious facade.

Exactly one such example is exemplified in Canada. On its Web site, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops hosts this manifesto on what they call “religious freedom,” in PDF format (WebCite cached version). In point 6 (page 4), it says:

We are never to impose our religious beliefs on others, but always to respect individuals and cultures, honouring the sanctuary of conscience. …

It is a violation of freedom of conscience for anyone to attempt to impose his or her own understanding of the truth on others. The right to profess the truth must always be upheld, but never in a way which involves contempt for those who think differently.

Now, this sure sounds all nice and reasonable and tolerant and accomodating. One would think the Canadian bishops want to hold hands in a ring around the planet and sing “Kum Ba Ya” together. But in practice, this is most assuredly not how the Canadian bishops have behaved! Quite the contrary. Back in 2005 when gay marriage became permitted in the Great White North, Bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary penned a pastoral letter condemning gay marriage (cached); included in it was a call to outlaw homosexuality, adultery, and pornography as well:

Since homosexuality, adultery, prostitution and pornography undermine the foundations of the family, the basis of society, then the State must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good.

Maybe it’s just me, but this reads like the bishop’s attempt to “impose” his views and beliefs on others, and it certainly displays more than a little “contempt” for those he dislikes.

Way to go, Canadian bishops! What a marvelous way to live up to your own stated ideals. Maybe you should crack your Bibles open and read what Jesus himself reportedly said about people who engaged in hypocrisy of this sort. I’m not sure he’d be as impressed with you as you might want to think.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Graffiti was spray-painted on the front door and two back doors of the mosque. (CBC)I’ve blogged about attacks on mosques around the US (including churches mistaken for moques!), and about a mosque in New York City that was Molotoved recently (although likely not for religious reasons). But this Neocrusading activity is not limited solely to the US. A mosque in Canada has been a repeated target of vandalism recently, as the CBC reports (WebCite cached article):

A mosque in Gatineau, Que., that has been a target of vandalism was spray-painted with graffiti overnight Thursday, prompting a condemnation from Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Workers at the Outaouais Islamic Centre awoke Thursday to discover swear words and derogatory references to Arabs and Allah spray-painted in white. …

The mosque had earlier been vandalized Monday morning when someone smashed the windows of two cars and attempted to set fire to them in the parking lot. …

Police said it was the fourth incident in the last six months.

Muslim and Jewish groups alike are condemning this vandalism … the latter possibly because stars of David were among some of the graffiti. At any rate, the lesson here is that Neocrusading is not a phenomenon unique to the US. It’s yet another American export that the rest of the world definitely does not need.

Photo credit: CBC.

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