Tagged Canada

Shock: No jail time for woman who strangled newborn because Canada accepts abortion, says judge

From Life Site News.Com

An Alberta judge has let a woman who strangled her newborn son walk free by arguing that Canada’s absence of a law on abortion signals that Canadians “sympathize” with the mother.

“We live in a country where there is no protection for children in the womb right up until birth and now this judge has extended the protection for the perpetrator rather than the victim, even though the child is born and as such should be protected by the court,” said Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition.

Katrina Effert of Wetaskiwin, Alberta gave birth secretly in her parents’ downstairs bathroom on April 13, 2005, and then later strangled the newborn and threw his body over a fence. She was 19 at the time.

She has been found guilty of second-degree murder by two juries, but both times the judgment was thrown out by the appeals court. In May, the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned her 2009 murder conviction and replaced it with the lesser charge of infanticide.

On Friday, Effert got a three-year suspended sentence from Justice Joanne Veit of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench. As a result, she was able to walk out of court, though she will have to abide by certain conditions.

According to Justice Veit, Canada’s lack of an abortion law indicates that “while many Canadians undoubtedly view abortion as a less than ideal solution to unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancy, they generally understand, accept and sympathize with the onerous demands pregnancy and childbirth exact from mothers, especially mothers without support.”

“Naturally, Canadians are grieved by an infant’s death, especially at the hands of the infant’s mother, but Canadians also grieve for the mother,” she added.

Under Canada’s Criminal Code, a woman who has not “fully recovered” from the effects of birth can be found guilty of the lesser charge of infanticide. To bring forward the infanticide defense, which carries a maximum sentence of five years, there must be evidence that the woman’s mind was disturbed.

According to the Crown, the evidence showed Effert was not suffering mental disturbance. They highlighted the fact that she planned for the birth by getting scissors to cut the umbilical cord and towels, and then hiding in the bathroom in her parents’ basement. They suggested that she had tried to miscarry the child during pregnancy by smoking and drinking. She lied during initial police questioning, claiming she was a virgin.

But Justice Veit agreed with defense lawyer Peter Royal, saying that this was “a classic infanticide case — the killing of a newborn after a hidden pregnancy by a mother who was alone and unsupported.”

Pro-life advocates have warned for years that widespread acceptance of abortion will open the door to greater societal acceptance of infanticide, beginning with the euthanizing of disabled newborns. Infanticide proponent Peter Singer, a top ethicist at Princeton University, has said, for example, “there is no sharp distinction between the foetus and the newborn baby.”

Though he once was considered to be on the radical fringe, Singer’s views are becoming more mainstream. For example, the world’s most prestigious bioethics journal, The Hastings Center Report, published in 2008 an enthusiastic defense of the Netherlands’ practice of euthanizing newborns.

“Where will it end: a one month old child whose parent has decided is not worthy of life, a six month old child, a two year old child, a special needs child or how about a teenager?” asked Hughes.

“It is time that Parliament, whose duty it is to protect and legislate regarding the Constitution, examine its duty with regard to the first constitutional right – ‘the right to life’ and enact legislation which recognizes that life begins at conception and must be protected from that time until natural death,” said Mary Ellen Douglas, national organizer of CLC. “The mother’s stress cannot equate to the loss of a lifetime for the child.”

– Prophecy News Watch

Chilling Free Speech in the Great White North

From American Thinker.Com

August 31, 2011

By Terry Heinrichs

Americans aware of journalists Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn are likely also aware that these two were hauled before Canadian “Human Rights Commissions” for supposed speech-crimes.  Levant was pursued because he published the Mohammed cartoons, and Steyn, for, well, casting some Muslims in a bad light.  Both men had their cases dropped, probably because they were articulate, famous, and had relatively deep pockets. Others who have been charged have not been so lucky.  While such commissions stand as a serious threat to an open public discourse, they are not the only menace “controversial” speech faces in Canada.

Speech in the U.S. is subject to many types of restrictions, but there is no law that criminalizes “hate speech” as such.  Canada has such a law.  It punishes citizens for up to two years in the slammer for “communicating statements, other than in private conversation” that “willfully promote hatred against an identifiable group.”  This law, passed in 1970, has not been widely used.  It has been deployed about 15 times since 1993, all but twice against impecunious white Canadians.

However, the Canadian government is currently considering a bill which would amend the hate speech section of the Criminal Code in ways that expand the reach of the Act and give the government greater power over the content of what Canadians may say.  One amendment would add “national origin” to the list of “identifiable groups” which would then read: “any section of the public distinguished by color, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.”  Another proposal would change the wording of “communicating” from “communicating by telephone, broadcasting or other audible or visible means” to “communicating by any means and includes making available [the objectionable speech].”

The “national origin” amendment simply adds another basis for grievance to an already expansive collection.  For example, referring to Germans or Poles as “Krauts” or “Polaks,” or saying that “the French are “surrender monkeys,” could earn the person who utters such words a visit from the police.  And don’t think that because everyone has a race, sexual orientation, and national or ethnic origin, if not a religion, that the act will apply across the board.  Not a chance.  The Canadian Supreme Court has narrowed the application of an “identifiable group” to cover only those who could be considered “disadvantaged.”  For the Jews and Yanks among us, this means Palestinians and Pakistanis, not Israelis or Americans.

The “communicating” amendment is even more expansive and potentially much more dangerous.  “Communicating by telephone, broadcasting, or other audible or visible means” is already expansive enough; adding the phrase “making available” renders the term almost boundless.  According to the Parliament’s Legislative Summary of the bill, the term “making available” specifically includes “creating a hyperlink that directs web surfers to a website where hate material is posted.”

Readers of this publication are surely aware of hyperlinks.  In fact, I just produced one above.  It shows up blue and sends the interested reader to an internet website for any number of reasons — in this case to verify the claim just made.  But hyperlinks are used for many purposes, sometimes to direct readers to sites of which the sender approves, other times to sites of which he disapproves, and other times to different sites for different reasons which you are left free to imagine.

What has drawn the ire of those who worry about the threat to free expression contained by the phrase “creating a hyperlink” is that one may be investigated, charged, and even fined and imprisoned for simply linking to (i.e., “making available” to others) a site considered by the authorities to be hate-promoting.  Nor is this provision easily cabined.  It would apply to “any means” of communication.  This would include words (written or spoken) in any manner — including all print, oral, and internet “social media” (cell phones, iPads, iPhones, iPods, Facebook, Twitter, blogs) and whatever other media are either currently available or about to be introduced.  The fear of some critics is that one could accidentally run afoul of the law by innocently linking to a suspect site.  Other opponents of the legislation argue that the state has no business at all checking into one’s linking history.  All of the bill’s critics are aghast at the range of the types of media that are included in the legislation.

To what extent are these concerns real?  On balance, the criticisms are certainly justified; however, there are narrowing elements of the law that some critics tend to overlook.  For example, no one can be prosecuted without the permission of the attorney general of the province in question.  This provision is meant to prevent overzealous officers or prosecutors from launching criminal proceedings whenever passion moves them.  Moreover, no one can be convicted if their communication was part of a private conversation.  The rub is to what extent, if any, cell phone, iPad, etc. conversations are considered by the courts to be “private.”  At this point in time, the matter is not clear — so there is good reason to be concerned.

No one can be convicted unless the promotion of hatred was “willful” — that is, intended.  This last proviso is the kicker.  The person charged must specifically intend to promote hatred.  Though the Court has weakened the proviso in recent years by holding that the test is met by a lesser standard of “willful blindness.”

Moreover, for the accused, there are certain defenses available that might offer him an out.  Truth is a defense; however, the defendant has the burden of persuasion.  Also, a person can be exonerated if he can show he’s arguing “an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text.”  (The “Koran made me do it” defense.)  In addition, an accused may go free if his statements “were made in good faith, relevant to any subject of public interest,” believed to be true on “reasonable” grounds, and intended for “the public benefit.”  Finally, someone can walk if he can convince the court that, “in good faith,” his intention was to lessen the degree of hatred — not promote it.  (The “I’m just showing how awful these people are” defense.)

What these provisos suggest is that the situation might not be as grave as some critics argue.  Still, not everyone is articulate, connected, and fortunate enough to be able to contest such broad grounds for accusations of hate speech.  For most Canadians simply to have the police snooping around and investigating their private communications is frightening enough.  Since these amendments would expand the reach of the Act to increase the number of grievers and cover a greater variety of media, if passed, the new law will increase the likelihood that conversations about national groupings will be chilled still further.  People will steer away from controversial statements about nationality issues for fear that they will come under investigation for hate promotion.

All forms of communication would be targeted.  With no clear standard of what is private and what isn’t, one’s comments about “fags,” “gypsies,” “Japs,” Jews, or Muslims on Twitter, or wherever, however discreet, might stir the interest of the police.  In any case, if the state does not intervene, it won’t be because of anything a citizen can control.

Because the proposal targets “hatred,” a vague and subjective concept at best, Canada’s hate speech law is by that fact alone a serious threat to freedom of expression.  In Canada, saying something remotely hostile to the interests or self-image of an “identifiable group” is already imprudent; to broaden the law’s reach, as the proposed amendments surely will, promises to freeze such discussion altogether.

Canadian School Hosting Muslim Prayer Time

From One News Now.Com

According to one activist, a Canadian middle school’s decision to allow Muslim prayers during school hours is an Islamic “encroachment” on Western civilization.

Every Friday, the cafeteria at Valley Park Middle School in Toronto is transformed into a prayer room for Muslim students. According to Jihad Watch, local imams come to lead Muslim boys in Islamic prayers, and staff members assist in setting up the event.

Brigitte Gabriel is the founder of ACT! for America and author of They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It. She says the prayers are unnecessary because Islamic prayers can actually accumulate.

“When they cannot pray, they can gather all the prayer times and do them all at once,” she explains. “If they can do that in Islamic countries, how come they cannot do it in Western countries?”

The school claims the Muslim students used to sign out of school early to attend Friday prayers at a local mosque. So to accommodate them, the prayers were brought to the school. Gabriel reports that ACT! for America has exposed a similar incident that took place at Tiza Academy in Minnesota, which is a taxpayer-funded charter school that also held Islamic prayers in the cafeteria and allowed students to participate in the ritual washing of hands and feet before prayer. When her organization sounded the alarm, al-Qaeda issued an urgent press release that called for ACT! for America to be stopped.

“Why would an organization like al-Qaeda be so concerned about what’s happening at a little, small academy called Tiza Academy in Minnesota?” she wonders. “But what we are seeing right now is basically an encroachment of Islamic practices and sharia Islam encroaching in North America and in all Western nations. And it is all by design; this is not independent incidences.”

The prayers begin after lunch on Fridays, when all non-Muslim students have returned to class.

– Prophecy News Watch

Parents Ignite Firestorm Over Determination To Raise Child As “Genderless” Baby

From Christian Post.Com

Back in the nineteenth century, the British people were introduced to a fairy tale about “water babies” through a story written by Rev. Charles Kingsley. The water babies entered folklore, and generations of British children imagined the water babies and their story.

Now, out of Canada comes another strange story, but this one is not a fairy tale. Two Canadian parents have ignited a firestorm over their determination to raise their third child as a “genderless” baby.

As reporter Jayme Poisson reports, “The neighbors know [Kathy] Witterick and her husband, David Stocker, are raising a genderless baby. But they don’t pretend to understand it.”

Well, the neighbors might take these parents at their word, but the very idea of a genderless baby is nonsense. This is not a baby with ambiguous genitalia, a defect that occurs in a very small percentage of births. The parents admit that this baby has a clear biological sex, but they do not want that to become the child’s identity. They want the child to make that determination at a later date.

To no real surprise, these parents classify themselves on the political and ideological left. Their two older children are both boys, but the parents encourage the boys to act and dress in unconventional ways. So much so, that as the reporter informs us, many who see them assume they are girls.

The new baby, named Storm, is dressed and presented in a manner that makes no clear gender statement. Only the parents, the two older boys, and a close family friend know the truth about the child’s biological sex.

As Poisson reports:

“When the baby comes out, even the people who love you the most and know you so intimately, the first question they ask is, ‘Is it a girl or a boy?’” says Witterick, bouncing Storm, dressed in a red-fleece jumper, on her lap at the kitchen table.

“If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs,” says Stocker.

Well, actually, you do – not in the crass and crude way that Mr. Stoker puts it, but in the virtually universal way that people ask of a baby: Is it a boy or a girl?

The controversy surrounding Storm is a sign of our times. Our rebellion against the Creator has now reached the point that we will deny the fact that our identity is not just our own personal project, but is first of all established in the Creator’s intention – and part of that intention is the fact that we are male or female.

Storm’s parents clearly believe that our personal identity is our own personal project. They lament even the fact that parents make so many decisions for their children. “It’s obnoxious,” Stoker says.

Well, the decision about gender is not something made by parents, but by God. At this point, the Christian worldview and the worldview of secularism run into direct collision. Nevertheless, the objective reality of the child’s gender will eventually become a public issue, regardless of the parents’ intentions. As even they recognize, at some point in the future, decisions about such things as which bathroom the child will use will force the issue.

The major issue at stake in this controversy is the objective reality of sex and gender. We are, in fact, what our genitals tell us we are. This is not because we are genitally determined, but because we were created by a holy God, whose plans and purposes for us are, inescapably, tied to our gender.

Gender is not merely a socially constructed reality. When the Southern Baptist Convention modified its confession of faith, The Baptist Faith & Message, in 2000, it added language that defined gender as “part of the goodness of God’s creation.”

Some observers wondered why that language is important. Now, you know.

– Prophecy News Watch

What the Canadian Election Means

From American Thinker.Com

May 07, 2011

What the Canadian Election Means

By Bruce Walker

The blizzard of news surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden has focused attention away from the general election in Canada.  The Conservative Party of Prime Minister Stephen Harper won a resounding victory.  After two minority governments, Harper now has a majority in the House of Commons. He can implement his policies without the support of other parties in Parliament. The Liberal Party, the opposition party, the party of Trudeau, the party that governed Canada for most of the last twenty years, melted into a weak third party.  Bloc Quebec, the Francophone separatist party which for decades was the dominant force in Quebec, shrank from 49 seats in the last Parliament to only 4 seats now.  Layton’s New Democratic Party became the formal opposition party and it made most of its gains in Quebec where it replaced Bloc Quebec.
What does this mean?  Future Canadian elections may, themselves, be different.  Harper has promised to end government subsidies to political parties; the Liberal Party, which has trouble raising campaign funds, may find it hard to survive reliance on voluntary contributions.  Conservatives may also change the apportionment seats in the House of Commons.  At present the system denies the western provinces of Alberta and British Columbia an equal share of seats in the House of Commons.  Harper might also reform the Canadian Senate, which is obstructionist and undemocratic.  Conservatives now have a narrow majority in the Senate (and a majority in the House of Commons), which is just enough clout to reform the upper chamber.  (It helps that Layton of the New Democratic Party actually wants to abolish the Senate, and he is now Leader of the Opposition.)
The practical demise of Bloc Quebec will may mean an end to separatist movements in Western Canada.  Bloc Quebec was constructed around Francophone unhappiness.  In response, the western provinces, most notably Alberta, resented Quebec and the “transfer payments” which took money from those productive provinces and gave money to Quebec (and other parts of Canada.)  Harper has pledged to protect the interests of the western provinces.  Ideally, Harper will promote the confederate nature of the Canadian nation.  Canadians have just voted to remain a single nation, and best way to preserve that spirit is robust protection of provincial rights.
The domestic policies of the new, strong Conservative government will increase production of Canadian oil.  Harper, the son of an Albertan oil company executive, understands the combination of exploration risk and fluctuating market prices which make the petroleum industry a “boom or bust” activity.  Harper’s government will increase tax incentives for oil production, prevent nutty environmentalism, and allow the unrestricted export of oil (all of which will push prices and production to honest market levels.)  Less noticed but also important, Harper’s Conservatives will abolish the Canadian Wheat Board, a state monopoly which artificially keeps the price of wheat and barley high.  Harper will allow market forces to set the price and production of the vast wheat fields of the Prairie Provinces.  Harper has promised to reduce the corporate tax rate and sale tax rates and enact budgets which support a strong Canadian Dollar. All of these actions will keep Canada a stable and prosperous nation, which is our national interest.
Canada under Harper has been a supporter of American foreign policy.  Harper, particularly, supports the State of Israel and has been an outspoken foe of anti-Semitism.  The big election victory of Harper, along with the death of Osama bin Laden, is a double whammy for radical Islam.  How serious is Harper about these issues?  Recall that a few months after Harper took office, radical Islamists concocted a plot to decapitate Harper.  He was, quite properly, viewed as a major enemy of their evil aims.
There is a downside to Harper.  Although he is a social conservative, Harper will not fight battles for social conservatism in Canada.  He will not even try to end abortion on demand in Canada.  He declared the issue “closed” in December 2006, after a brief attempt to restrict gay marriage.  While abortion and gay marriage are important to social conservatives, they face a very threat to their right to speak in Canada, and other nations, because of that semantic Frankenstein, “Hate Crimes.”  A nasty and, itself, hateful application of those nebulous laws allow the Left in many nations to simply define expression it dislikes as hateful and make that expression criminal.  Canada, the Left there proudly boasts, does not have a First Amendment and that honestly held, even factually correct, expression can be punished because it offends certain people.
That means a mullah in a mosque can say “Death to Jews and Christians!” with impunity but that a Jew or Christian who reports “Mullahs are calling for the death of Jews and Christians” can be guilty of a “Hate Crime.”  The threat to liberty from the totalitarian Left in Canada and Europe is serious stuff; just ask Ann Coulter or Mark Steyn or Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician who is on trial for criticizing Islam and whose innocence cannot be established by proving that what he said was true.  If Harper wants to preserve Canada, he must fight Leftist censorship there.  If he wages that battle and wins, then his big victory election means much to Canada and to the world, but if Harper ignores the drift of Canada towards totalitarianism, then all else he does will mean nothing.  No one should doubt the ferocity of those dragons which Harper must slay to save the soul of Canada, but no one should doubt that the salvation of Canada from that evil is worth brave battle and much sacrifice.

Canadian Showdown

From American Thinker.Com

April 29, 2011

Canadian Showdown

By Bruce Walker

Next Monday, May 2nd, Canadians are going to the polls for their third general election in five years.  Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party have governed Canada since the 2006 election which made that party the largest party in the Canadian House of Commons, although a minority within that chamber.  In October 2008, right before our presidential election, Harper received a larger mandate, though still with a minority in Parliament.  Prime Minister Harper governs but he cannot enact real reforms without a majority in Parliament.
Harper and his party need 155 seats.  Right now they have 144 seats.  The Liberal Party is the strongest opponent of Harper right now.  It has 77 seats in Parliament.  Next is the New Democratic Party with 37 seats.  The Bloc Quebec, or French separatist party, has 48 seats.  Elections in Canadian ridings, or legislative districts, are “winner take all,” so that the candidate with the most votes wins the seat even if he does not have a majority of the votes.  Out of these four parties, only the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party have governed Canada.
Unlike other parliamentary democracies, minority governments — governments in which the party in power does not command a majority, directly or through coalitions with other parties — are not unusual.  Since 2004, the governments of Canada have all been minority governments.  Stephen Harper and his party are urging Canadians to let the Conservatives really govern, and give his party a majority.
Might that happen?  The pre-election polls are all over the map.  Recent polls show a surge for the New Democratic Party led by Jack Layton.  The NDP has moved from its historic role as the third largest national party (Bloc Quebec has votes only in Quebec).  That surge may siphon off enough leftist votes from the Liberal Party to allow Conservatives to win a majority, but it might also give the NDP enough seats to actually push the Conservatives out of power, either by becoming the largest party (which is pretty unlikely) or reducing the Conservative plurality to below 2006 election levels.
What does this general election mean to us?   Jack Layton is an old-style leftist who supports higher corporate taxes, increasing social welfare spending, supporting union rights, making environmental regulation tougher, defending gay rights, and supporting nice sounding international efforts.  There is nothing “New” about the New Democratic Party at all.  It is a mishmash of every failed policy of modern leftism.
Canadian business and conservative Canadians know what to expect with the “Grits” or Liberal Party.  It has held power for most of the last twenty years.  They also know Harper and his party, which has governed since 2006.  The New Democratic Party, however, would pursue policies very much like Obama and his minions.  Layton would try to use the public treasury to spend away every problem of life.  Tax rates would jump.  All the grim decline which has followed Obama’s policies would be replicated in Canada.
Should that matter to us?  Yes, emphatically, it should.  Canada under Harper has been one of the few bright spots; some might say the only bright spot, in the democratic West.  The Canadian Prime Minister has been as clear in denouncing anti-Semitism as any Western leader, including our own Obama.  The Canadian dollar is doing well.  The public finances of the nation are good.  Our neighbor to the north, our greatest trading partner and closest ally, has one of the largest economies in the world, and Canada is by far the largest producer of oil among the stable Western world.  We take Canada for granted — we nearly always take Canada for granted — but Canada is a vitally important country to America.
Stephen Harper is from Alberta which produces vast amounts of oil, and he understands the petroleum industry.  He is, by far, the Canadian political leader most sympathetic to free market solutions to problems like energy.  Although a comparison to Texan George W. Bush is a big stretch, it is fair to say that Harper with a majority would do more than any Canadian in recent memory to expand oil production.  A true Conservative majority in Parliament could also guarantee stability and growth in the Canadian economy.  A prosperous Canada with a strong dollar producing as much oil as practicable would help the American economy significantly.  Economic prosperity is not a zero sum game, particularly with nations like Canada which are closely connected to our economy.  If Canada stays out of recession and keeps inflation low, we win too.
What if Harper loses power?  What if Layton is the new Prime Minister of Canada?  Almost certainly, investors and businesses with operations in Canada will see tax increases and regulatory burdens increase.  If the Canadian dollar begins to weaken, then that will not help our public financial situation at all.  Energy costs will rise and energy supplies shrink.  We can expect more political correctness and less help in combating terrorism in our nation and, perhaps, a more porous border with Canada.  We will also see in Layton yet another of those dreary dinosaurs whose sympathies lie first with our nation’s enemies, rather like the man sitting in the White House today.  America, already, seems very alone in the world.  If Harper loses, we will feel much lonelier.
Watch next Monday closely.  No one, honestly, knows what will happen.  It could be very good news or it could be very bad.  But it will be very important to us.

Many leave the Nazarene Church as “mysticism” infects the church

From One News Now.Com

A ministry based in Massachusetts is voicing its concern about the so-called “emergent church” movement’s growing influence on the Nazarene denomination.

The InterMountain Christian News reports that roughly 10,000 Nazarenes in the United States and Canada have left the denomination over the past four years. Manny Silva, director of Stand for Truth Ministries, says research shows that unbiblical ideology is rampant throughout the denomination.

“There is mysticism coming into the denomination — a lot of mystical practices, including the use of pagan prayer labyrinths. There is the teaching of open theism and process theology in the university,” Silva reports. “The underlying problem that is going on in the Church of Nazarene, most of us believe, is the denial that the holy scriptures are the inherent, infallible Word of God.”

He goes on to express concerns that institutions like Northwest Nazarene University, Point Loma Nazarene University and Trevecca Nazarene University have become training grounds of flawed theology, but many of the schools have failed to adequately address his organization’s concerns.

“Ultimately, we want to at least have people be aware, have as many Nazarenes become aware of these issues as possible…so that even if the responses of clarity that we want to get do not arrive, we’ll at least have more people become aware,” the Stand for Truth Ministries director notes. “They’ll be able to voice their concerns, and hopefully there will be a growing body of Nazarenes who continue to express their concerns until we get a response from the leadership.”

Silva adds that many of the Nazarene universities have featured emergent church gurus in recent years, including Donald Miller, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, and Dallas Willard.

– Prophecy News Watch

Losing My Religion – Canada, Australia, New Zealand Face Sharp Religious Decline

From Canada.Com

Religion may be on the road to extinction in Canada — mathematically speaking, that is.

Travelling with us are Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.

A study presented Tuesday at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas noted a steady rise in the percentage of those countries’ residents who claim no religious affiliation, and explained how social factors could help push religion toward the dustbin of history.

Richard Weiner, a University of Arizona researcher and one of the study’s authors, explained the formula’s conclusions.

“There’ll be a continuing loss of membership among people that identify themselves as belonging to a religion. Over time, we could reach a time where society is dominated by people who claim religious non-affiliation,” he said.

The study attempted to link these countries’ religious identities with the social motives behind belonging to particular groups. Researchers said that as the masses who claim religious non-affiliation swell, it becomes more appealing to join the ranks of that group.

“The model predicts that for societies in which the perceived utility of not adhering is greater than the utility of adhering, religion will be driven toward extinction,” the study said.

“We tried to quantify . . . that the perceived utility of non-affiliation is greater than the perceived utility of belonging to a religion,” added Weiner. “That effect is enough to start driving people to the group that’s non-affiliated, and then as more people become non-affiliated, that makes the group more attractive.”

Weiner speculated that social pressures are contributing to the decline in religious identification in these countries. “People no longer see the slate of benefits as being as great as they probably did 100 years ago. It’s become less socially useful.”

Daniel Abrams, one of the study’s co-authors, used a similar model in 2003 to predict the decline of the world’s lesser-spoken languages.

A 2006 Statistics Canada report noted that 16 per cent of Canadians reported no religious affiliation in 2001, up from four per cent 30 years earlier. However, young Canadians are even less religious, with close to half of 15-29 year olds claiming no religious identity in 2004.

In the Netherlands, where close to 50 per cent of the population identifies as not belonging to a religion, Weiner said they found that by mid-century close to 70 per cent of the country will be made up of non-believers.

“That’s very substantial growth over four decades,” Weiner said. “It’s not saying that religion will not exist, but it will very strongly change the makeup of society. Maybe in 100 years in some of these countries if this trend continues, there will be a very small percentage of people that still identify themselves as belonging to a religion.”

However, University of Ottawa sociologist Diane Pacom cautioned against writing off religion as a part of Canada’s culture.

“Even if Canadians say (their affiliation) to their friends, publicly they won’t say it because it’s not cool,” she said.

Pacom added that religion’s role in society is hard to capture, as traditionally religious activities like weddings are still commonly practised — even without the religious meaning it once had.

“Religion may not be seen as a practice, but as a way of living it’s still very present. No mathematical formula can catch that,” she said.

– Prophecy News Watch

Most-Pro-Israel Government in the World Falls: Canada’s PM Harper loses no-confidence vote;

From Flash Traffic Blog WordPress.Com

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as I’ve written before, is the most pro-Israel leader on the planet. So today’s events are troubling. “Canada’s minority Conservative government was defeated in a non-confidence vote on Friday, setting the scene for a federal election in early May,” reports Reuters. “Legislators in the House of Commons voted by 156-145 to back the motion, which was presented by the main opposition Liberal Party.” That said, it may be too early to count Harper out. The New York Times is reporting that today’s no-confidence vote may end up “triggering an election that polls show the Conservatives will win.” Harper could put together a new coalition government and reemerge as Prime Minister. Let’s be praying for our friends up north.

Christ meets Bigfoot: More irreverent atheist ads set to hit Canadian cities

From Canada.Com

The atheist group behind last year’s controversial bus ads suggesting “there’s probably no God” is rolling out a provocative new set of posters on buses across the country that places Allah beside Bigfoot and Christ beside psychics.

The new posters bear the slogan: “Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence” with “Allah, Bigfoot, UFOs, Homeopathy, Zeus, Psychics, Christ” listed below.

They will hit Toronto streetcars in January, pending final approval from the Toronto Transit Commission, said Justin Trottier, national executive director of the Centre for Inquiry, an atheist organization. After the Toronto debut, the organization plans to post the ads to buses in Calgary, Vancouver, Ottawa, Saskatoon and Montreal.

“Why is belief in Bigfoot dismissed as delusional while belief in Allah and Christ is respected and revered? All of these claims are equally extraordinary and demand critical examination,” says the campaign’s website.

Trottier insists the ads weren’t designed to offend religious Canadians.

“I’d love it if everyone saw the ads and know the point of the campaign is to emphasize not the kind of knee-jerk debunking to anything suspicious but that we’re interested in a genuine debate, a conversation about so-called extraordinary claims. We’re not here to mock people who believe in these claims,” he said.

He said scientists have made extraordinary statements to explain evolution, but their beliefs are backed by evidence.

“Homeopathy, miracles and religious claims — those are at least as extraordinary but where’s the evidence? Present the evidence and we’ll be happy to come along for the ride and endorse those beliefs,” he said.

The previous ads, which ran beginning in January 2009, said, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” and appeared in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Montreal for about a month in each city.

Trottier said the Freethought Association of Canada raised $50,000 to pay for the 2009 ads. The campaign plans to raise another $50,000 to cover expenses to run the new posters.

Last year’s ads received a mixed reaction from both religious Canadians and atheists.

“There were a lot of people who misunderstood the point of the campaign and took issue with the tone, which they saw as overly confrontational or mockery,” said Trottier.

Some critics said relaxing and enjoying life was “hedonistic” and suggesting God “probably” doesn’t exist angered both atheists and theists, for different reasons.

But the campaign led to invitations to join debates, panel discussions and even sermons “in a loose sense” to various religious communities, Trottier said, noting that many organizations found atheists’ interest in religion “intriguing.”

He said he hopes the new campaign will also launch a discussion.

The United Church of Canada, the country’s largest Protestant denomination, countered last year’s atheist ad campaign with newspaper ads of their own.

“There’s probably a God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life,” they read.

Rev. Bruce Gregersen, the church’s general council officer, called the Church’s ads a “joking response” and said Trottier’s new wave of ads will ask Canadians what’s more valuable: facts or meaning and purpose.

“Conversation is welcome and invitational to all people to think about the meaning of faith. It’s a fair question that goes to the heart of what you count as proof. There are millions of people who have sense of the mysterious . . . deeper within our spirits,” he said.

He hopes religious Canadians won’t be upset by seeing Christ and Allah in a list with Bigfoot and leprechauns.

“Our perspective is that Christ is able to stand in that kind of situation and not be ridiculed. Our belief about Christ is much bigger than anything related to Zeus, or psychics or homeopathy, so in that sense it’s trivializing the nature of faith. On the other hand, it’s not enough that I’d want to raise issues,” he said.

“Dialogue between people of all faiths is always welcome provided that the means to do so do not contravene Canada’s hate speech laws or promote violence toward any identifiable group,”.

About a quarter of Canadians said they didn’t believe in any God in a 2008 poll on religion.

– Prophecy News Watch