Atheism a creed that needs the same religious protections of Christianity and Islam: Ontario Human Rights Tribunal

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Atheism is a creed deserving of the the same religious protections as Christianity, Islam, and other faiths, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal has ruled in a new decision.


“Protection against discrimination because of religion, in my view, must include protection of the applicants’ belief that there is no deity,” wrote David A. Wright, associate chair of the commission, in an August 13 decision.

The ruling was spurred by a complaint from self-described secular humanist Rene Chouinard, who was opposing the District School Board of Niagara’s policy regarding the distribution of Gideon bibles.

Since 1964, as in the rest of Canada, the Gideons had offered free red Bibles to Grade 5 students in the district—provided the students had first obtained parental consent.

Three years ago, in a protest move, Mr. Choinard, a Grimsby, Ont. father of two school-age children, offered to similarly distribute the Atheist text “Just Pretend: A Freethought Book for Children.”

When, as Mr. Chouinard expected, the board rejected his offer, he took his case to the Human Rights Tribunal, alleging that the school district has “discriminated against them … because of creed.”

Written By: Tristin Hopper
continue to source article at news.nationalpost.com

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  1. No, atheists deserve real protection from religion. Religion deserves no protection. Epistemic liberties do not serve as a basis for claims, powers or immunities in the realm of conduct.

    • In reply to #1 by Peter Grant:

      Epistemic liberties do not serve as a basis for claims, powers or immunities in the realm of conduct.

      I’ve seen you make this statement several times, Peter; on one occasion you said it to me.

      I didn’t know what the hell it meant then and I’m still none the wiser.

      No offence, but it always makes me think of this.

  2. “Protection against discrimination because of religion, in my view, must include protection of the applicants’ belief that there is no deity,” wrote David A. Wright, associate chair of the commission, in an August 13 decision.

    “Belief” and “creed” are the wrong words, but protection of that view is important.

    A simple requirement for honestly evidenced information would also be important in education – given the absence of evidence for ANY deity!

  3. Atheism is a belief. What it’s not is a faith. It’s also a well-founded belief, the only parsimonious conclusion based on the available evidence. Humanism is less clearly defined, and it’s more reasonable to call it a creed. I don’t see that it’s a faith, but one could make that argument, whereas one cannot in honesty do so for atheism.

    • In reply to #4 by PERSON:

      Atheism is a belief. What it’s not is a faith. It’s also a well-founded belief, the only parsimonious conclusion based on the available evidence. Humanism is less clearly defined, and it’s more reasonable to call it a creed. I don’t see that it’s a faith, but one could make that argument, whereas on…

      Not true. I don’t have to believe anything to not accept a persons argument. Atheism is the lack of acceptance of a claim or several claims. There is nothing to believe.

    • In reply to #4 by PERSON:

      Atheism is a belief. What it’s not is a faith. It’s also a well-founded belief, the only parsimonious conclusion based on the available evidence…

      The problem is that different people define “atheism” differently and it’s hard to have a meaningful discussion when you don’t agree on the definition of the terms being discussed.

      Yes, for some people “atheism” is merely an absence of belief and they don’t really have anything further to say on the subject. But I suspect that this brand of “disbelief is the default state” atheists aren’t as numerous as some would have you believe.

      Many of us who call ourselves atheists have actually thought long and hard about the existence of God and have actively come to the belief that God (at least the concept of God described in any of the world’s holy texts and/or worshiped by any religion) does not exist. This is an active belief in the non-existence of God (or gods) and not simply a passive default state of non-belief. We are the atheists who go out of our way to share our beliefs with others and may even try to change the views of those who believe in God.

      So, yes, atheism is certainly a “belief” as far as I am concerned (and you as well, obviously), but not everybody who self-identifies as an atheist feels this way. And that’s perfectly fine.

  4. I can see how having the privileges as a religion could be useful, but I find it disgusting to be put in the same basket at the religious. Further it enhances the idea atheism is just another faith.

  5. Get rid of all the pernicious literature from the schools.Problem solved.Now work on instilling a love of learning, critical thinking etc in the students.You know… what schools should be about.

  6. When the Gideon Bible came to my school I began to tear pages from it in front of the man who gave it me; he grabbed it back from me. I thought he was going to strike me; there was plenty of yelling. Thankfully my teacher stepped in. He already knew, by grade 5, that I wouldn’t have any of it (I would leave the building during the Lord’s Prayer).

    My teachers had learnt not to get in a verbal fight with me. You could not argue with me as a child, did not work, especially about god. God arguments with my teachers always boiled down to me calling them little children believing fairy tales and how unfit they were to teach a child more mature than them (a good mock always works).

    • In reply to #13 by aquilacane:

      My teachers had learnt not to get in a verbal fight with me. You could not argue with me as a child, did not work, especially about god. God arguments with my teachers always boiled down to me calling them little children believing fairy tales and how unfit they were to teach a child more mature than them (a good mock always works).

      Love it, I was the same! And it wasn’t hard given the reading material they provided.

      Mocking the adults as a child was very effective and no one called me an angry atheist, more of a sarcastic or lippy one. But that was in Scotland so not much resistance to mocking the god botherers there. The horror stories from the US of a country full of Stepford Sheeple would have made my mocking nature a little more dangerous.

  7. In reply to #11 by Stafford Gordon:

    Protection from what?

    Crazy fundies who want to indoctrinate school children, for a start. What about the right to education? There are so many better ways of approaching this very real problem than crying “religious discrimination” like those other idiots who understand neither legal nor moral rights theory.

    What really irritates me about this is that now it’s not just the comparatively harmless Gideons who get a free pass, Rene Chouinard has just (perhaps unwittingly?) thrown open the floodgates to all kinds of woo.

  8. My grandfather was a Gideon. The said it gave him a chance to talk to prisoners and since the Gideon bible at least has the old testament along with all the really nasty bits removed, it at least gave them something to read.

    • My apologies.I. feel like I insulted your grandfather.In reply to #15 by Peter Grant:*

      My grandfather was a Gideon. The said it gave him a chance to talk to prisoners and since the Gideon bible at least has the old testament along with all the really nasty bits removed, it at least gave them something to read.

      • In reply to #17 by Christiana Magdalene Moodley:

        No worries, I insulted him more times than anyone else. Thankfully he is long dead and gone, and he died with dignity which is more than I can say for most of my relatives.

  9. To be discriminated against because of “normalism” is a huge insult and should not need “protection”. It’s not a “creed”, it is our default state and as such it shouldn’t need defence or protection.

    Not having a belief in a god/gods and not following religion is normal. We are born that way and it is not deserving of ridicule or criticism.

  10. I knew you believed in something… “Atheism is a creed deserving of the the same religious protections as Christianity, Islam, and other faiths…” Atheists believe that there is no God. That would be a belief or a “creed”, then.

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