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May 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

Stealing Reason: Christianity’s Theft of Human Values 

Saturday, May 12th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 5:30 – 8:30 PM 

Our own Pat Morrow will talk about Christian apologetic claims regarding the scientific revolution and slavery. His presentation will demonstrate that progress is not due to any gods, but rather to human effort.  Details here.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Saturday, May 26th, Red Top Inn, 219 St Mary’s Road, 9:30 AM 

Our monthly casual get-together. Everyone’s welcome. Details here.

 

Save the Dates 

June 15-17 – Outreach at the Summer in the City Festival (Steinbach) 

June 23rdSummer Solstice Party 

 

Details for all upcoming HAAM events are on our Events page. 

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events 

Interbelief Reasoning Dialogue: “What Weaponizes Beliefs?”

Thursday, 3 May, St James Assiniboia Public Library (note change of date)

Presented by the Winnipeg Circle of Reason.

Advance Care Planning – what you need to know

Saturday, May 12th, St Boniface Public Library, 1:30 PM.

Learn more about your rights as a patient, and how to increase the chances of your wishes being respected in a health crisis and/or at the end of life. Registration required. More information here.

Winnipeg Pride Parade 

Sunday, June 3rd, Manitoba Legislative Building.

Rally at 10 AM and parade at 11. 

 

More information and links to all these non-HAAM events are on our Community Events page. 

Charity of the Month  

Just in time for Mothers Day! They say you can’t spoil a baby – but let’s try.  

You Can’t Spoil a Baby has been providing baby supplies to Manitoba families in need since 2011. Its goal is to show families that they are valued by their community by providing them with no-strings-attached gifts to help them care for their baby. 

YCSAB is run 100% by volunteers. The concept is simple:  

Donors can either contribute their once-loved baby items to one of YCSAB’s more than 40 drop-off spots for volunteers to combine into gifts, or follow guidelines provided by YCSAB to make and deliver their own gift using items they collect. Each gift includes items that will help a family through their baby’s first year – a set of newborn to 18 month baby clothes, one ‘big-ticket’ item (like a crib, stroller, or exersaucer), a few other helpful accessories (like feeding, bathing and diapering supplies, blankets, and toys), and a big sibling gift if the family has other children.  

Families who need assistance need to apply for a gift early in pregnancy (the wait list is close to 6 months). Most of the expectant parents who apply do not have friends or family to give them baby items, are single parents or young couples living on Income Assistance, are newcomers to Canada who are starting over, are leaving abusive relationships, or have had a series of tough breaks and need help. In addition to the gift of baby clothes and baby items, YCSAB provides families with an online list of local resources to help with the high costs of raising children. 

YCSAB accepts money as well as gently used baby items that help with the first two years of life. Their highest need items are always sleepers/pajamas in sizes 6-18 months. Used items are encouraged to promote reuse, but they won’t turn away new ones. A list of accepted items can be found on their website. Please check it carefully, as some items must comply with safety regulations. You can bring your donations to our meeting. If you have very large items, or cannot make it to the meeting, let us know and we’ll arrange for pickup and/or transport of your items. 

Donations for the Charity of the Month will be collected at the meeting. Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the ‘Donate’ button. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity. 

Call to Action 

There’s a new petition to the House of Commons urging the government to re-examine the ban against gay men donating blood.  

The current law makes anyone (male or female), who has had sex with a man who has had sex with another man within the last year ineligible to donate. Obviously, this is a sensitive issue and there is a lot more to the law than just politics. Blood donation regulations need to be evidence-based, in order to protect us all. That’s why the screening for prospective donors includes questions about drug use, travel history, tattoos, and whether their job involves caring for monkeys.

But when it comes to sexual practices, the law focuses on demographics instead of behaviors – banning ALL gay men, even those in monogamous, long-term relationships, from donating blood. On the other hand, straight people are not excluded from donating regardless of the number of sexual partners they have had – as long as the donor believes that all those partners are also straight. Doesn’t this seem illogical?  

The rationale for the current guidelines and the history behind them are clearly explained on the Canadian Blood Services’ website here and here. In summary, the rules used to be much stricter – a lifetime ban on gay men donating blood was in place until 2013. Since then, CBS has gradually been relaxing the standards as more data is obtained. The current one-year ban was initiated in 2016. Of course, we all want to avoid another fiasco like the tainted blood scandal of the 80’s and 90’s that made people sick, cost millions of dollars, and diminished confidence in the safety of Canada’s blood supply. 

But it would make more sense to screen all donors for at-risk practices instead of just banning a whole group of people, and it appears that CBS is gradually moving in that direction. Recently, donors were given a survey asking if they would be willing to answer more detailed questions about their sexual practices as part of donor screening, or whether such intimate questions would discourage them from donating at all.   

The survey question asked: Please state how comfortable you would be answering questions on these topics in order to donate blood or plasma: 

– Saying the number of partners you have had in the last 6 months 
– Saying if you have had ANAL sex with anyone in the last 6 months 
– Saying if you used a condom every time you had sex in the last 6 months 
– Saying if you used the internet or social media (eg Facebook or Tinder) to seek a partner for sexual intercourse in the last 6 months) 
– And several more similar questions 

The answer choices were ‘completely comfortable’, ‘somewhat comfortable’, ‘somewhat uncomfortable’, ‘completely uncomfortable’, and ‘this would stop me from donating’.  

If having to answer these questions deters some people from donating, wouldn’t it stand to reason that most of those who are deterred are those who participate in high-risk behaviors? And wouldn’t that be a good thing? It’s interesting to think about. 

If you support encouraging CBS to focus on behaviors rather than on demographics in their donor screening, please sign the petition. It’s open for signature until July 17th 

Click here to sign the petition. 

And if you ARE currently eligible to donate, please do. HAAM is a member of CBS Partners for Life program. Learn more about it here, and sign up now! 

Latest News 

Your Health Care – What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

According to the Health Care Directives Act of Manitoba, a health care directive (HCD) is a legal document that must be respected by your medical team in the event that you can’t speak for yourself. Also, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that all competent adult Canadians have the right to refuse or discontinue treatment.

But did you know that both your HCD and your right to refuse treatment can be ignored by your medical team under certain circumstances? For example, you might have comfort in the fact that you’ve written down and signed your wish not to be resuscitated, in the event that you collapse and someone calls an ambulance. However, what paramedics have told us is that not only will they not take the time to stop and read a HCD when treating a patient in an emergency, but they also can’t respect your request. That’s because they can’t verify your signature, your state of mind, or your competency when you signed it. To be considered valid, a DNR (do not resuscitate) order must be obtained from and signed by your doctor (and even then, there is still some uncertainty about whether it will be followed). And once the patient arrives at the hospital, and let’s say regains consciousness, the patient’s request to refuse treatment could be ignored by staff until a psychiatrist confirms the patient’s competence. So even if it’s your worst fear to wake up in hospital hooked up to machines, that could be exactly what happens in spite of your best efforts to communicate your wishes.

What can I do about this?

So what can you do to prevent such a situation from happening? Well, first of all, do you HAVE a signed HCD in the first place? If not, you can download one for free from End of Life Planning Canada (via DWD Winnipeg chapter), make sure you’ve chosen a proxy who is willing to get LOUD if your wishes are not being respected. Neither of these will likely help with the paramedics, but they will certainly help once you arrive at the hospital. Second, do you have a card in your wallet that states who your proxy is and where to find your HCD? And finally, have you discussed your end-of-life wishes with all of your friends and family? The more backup you have, the safer it will be (legally) for medical staff to respect your proxy’s instructions.

What about MAID?

It is currently not legal to list Medical Assistance in Dying as one of your requests in your health care directive, since your HCD only comes into effect if you can’t communicate, and you can’t have assistance to die unless you’re able to consent when the time comes to administer the drugs. The DWD Canada blog states

“In 2016, an Ipsos Reid poll of 2,530 Canadians found a surprisingly strong level of support for allowing MAID in our HCDs, with no statistically significant regional variations. Approval was high among supporters of the three leading federal parties, especially supporters of the New Democratic Party (84%) and the Liberal Party of Canada (83%). Three out of four Conservative supporters (74%) were in favour, too. 78% of Catholics and 73% of Protestant Christians support allowing Canadians with a grievous and irremediable illness to make advance requests for physician-assisted dying. Sample sizes for people of other faiths weren’t large enough to allow for statistically significant comparisons.

Other poll questions presented different possible scenarios involving advance consent for assisted dying. About eight in 10 (82%) Canadians said they would support physician-assisted dying for patients who have a scheduled assisted death, and were competent at the time of the request, but who lose competence before the request can be carried out (for example, in the case of a patient who falls into a coma just days before the scheduled provision of aid in dying). Seven in 10 (71%) Canadians would support allowing a patient without a diagnosis for a grievous and irremediable illness to make an advance request for physician-assisted dying that would be honoured if certain pre-stated conditions were met.”

Learn more!

If you’d like to be fully informed and complete your HCD, join us for our next workshop on Advance Care Planning, May 12th at the St Boniface Library at 1:30 PM. Become an empowered patient! For more information, and to register (required), contact DWD Winnipeg Chapter.                                                          – Cheri Frazer

Event Review – Debate: Morality 

In April I attended the Feakes vs. Kay morality debate held at Winnipeg’s New Life Sanctuary Church. Darren Kay is a local Humanist writer with an interest in the big questions. John Feakes is the pastor of the aforementioned church. He’s a Young Earth Creationist with a master’s degree in theology from the Columbia Evangelical Seminary (readers are free to look that one up).  

The debate question was “How should we live our lives?”. It asks which is the better framework for forming an ethical morality – Christianity or secularism. 

As far as the calibre of the debate, this was not Wilberforce versus Huxley. Part of the problem was the nature of the question. Feakes was tasked with arguing for the proposition that “Christianity is ethically superior to secularism” whereas Kay was tasked with the negative “Christianity is not ethically superior to secularism”.  Taking the negative put Kay in the situation of having to disprove Feakes’s position and at the same time argue his own. In addition, neither position was clearly defined – whose version of Christianity? and what do we mean by secularism? Feakes did try to define secularism in his rapid-fire slideshow, by displaying every definition of it from many sources.  

For me, the quality of any debate is in its opening statements and initial rebuttals. I found this debate quite formulaic and pre-scripted (or maybe I’ve just watched far too many of them). Feakes opened with the standard creationist shotgun debating technique (AKA the Gish Gallop). Kay did a good job of trying to explain the nature of secular morality, but with the limited time available I think some points were not as clear as they could’ve been, and were therefore missed by the folks who most needed to hear them.  

In formal debate, after the opening arguments come the rebuttals. This is a chance for one to respond to the arguments that were just presented by one’s opponent. Great debaters such as Christopher Hitchens would often do their rebuttals from memory or with just a few notes.  The rebuttal requires debaters to think on their feet, although on occasion, visual aids could be incorporated if one is familiar enough with their opponent’s points to anticipate them. However, in this debate, both sides used fully prepared PowerPoint presentations, which offered the odd spectacle of each of them rebutting arguments that their opponents had not presented. As a result, the rebuttals were disappointing. At some points the evening took on a lecture feel rather than a debate. 

You can find the full video of the evening here on YouTube. It will help those unfamiliar with the moral argument to become better informed, but if you’re looking for the thrust and parry of a traditional debate, this may not be for you.                                                                                                        Pat Morrow  

Library News – Interlibrary loans now available

The Eastman Humanist Community (EHC), based in Steinbach, is growing and now has its own small library. It makes sense to pool our resources – sharing is what Humanists do, right? So HAAM and the EHC have recently reached an agreement to allow inter-library loans between the two groups.

Our own HAAM library is now up to almost 250 items (books and DVD’s), available to all paid members. So check it out!  But if we don’t have the book you are looking for, you are now welcome to check out the EHC’s library as well. If you find something there that you would like to borrow, contact HAAM. We will make arrangements with the EHC to obtain the item for you the next time someone from either group is traveling between Steinbach and Winnipeg.

Book of the Month Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks 

If you’re concerned about the current anti-intellectualism trend that is making people vulnerable to propaganda, advertising, and quackery in medicine, religion, and politics, then you’ll find this book encouraging.  

Ben Goldacre writes in easy to understand language about the importance of learning to think critically when evaluating scientific claims, in order to separate promotional propaganda from reality. He covers research topics like placebos, double-blind studies, and sample sizes, so that you can recognize bad science when you see it.  

Read about detox baths, ear candling, ‘whole brain learning’, homeopathy, the MMR vaccine scare, cosmetics, vitamin supplements, anti-oxidants, cognitive bias, the misuse of statistics, celebrity endorsements, and more. It’s an entertaining book for anyone interested in the practical uses – and abuses – of science.  

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members. 
Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this book. 

HAAM President Donna Harris onstage with Matt Dillahunty during his recent visit. What an awesome show!

 

 

April 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events 

Pre-Dillahunty Drinks 

Sunday, April 8th, King’s Head Pub, 120 King Street, 6 PM 

Will you be attending Matt Dillahunty’s Magic and Skepticism show that evening? (details for that are on our ‘Community Events’ page). 

If so, meet us for drinks first! Details here.

Monthly Meeting – What’s Wrong with Private Schools? 

Saturday, April 14th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 5:30 – 8:30 PM 

Guest speaker Steve Lecce, from the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the U of M, will address the issue of public funding for private schools in Manitoba. 

Details here.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Sunday, April 29th, Original Pancake House at the Forks, 1 Forks Market Road, 9:30 AM 

Our monthly casual get-together. Details here.

 

Save the Dates 

May 12th (Monthly Meeting) – Stealing Reason: Christianity’s Theft of Human Values 

June 23rdSummer Solstice Party 

Mark your calendars now so you won’t miss anything!  

Details for all upcoming HAAM events are on our Events page. 

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events 

Matt Dillahunty’s Magic and Skepticism World Tour 2018 

Sunday, 8 April 2018, Burton Cummings Theatre, 364 Smith St 

Event information and link to get tickets is here.

Debate: Morality – How Should We Live Our Lives? 

Saturday, 21 April 2018, New Life Sanctuary Church, 618 Muriel Street 

Dig Deep Fundraiser Gala for the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre 

Saturday, 28 April 2018, Morden Manitoba 

More information on these and more upcoming non-HAAM events is on our Community Events page.  

Charity of the MonthPathways to Education 

Pathways to Education is an innovative program that partners with governments, communities, schools, and volunteers to help youth from low-income communities stay in school, graduate, and achieve their full potential.  

In Winnipeg, Pathways to Education operates in the North Point Douglas, Lord Selkirk Park, and William Whyte neighbourhoods (see map), where people of Aboriginal descent make up over 70 per cent of high school families. All students in this catchment area are eligible to participate in the program from grades 9 through 12, regardless of their academic performance or economic circumstance. There is no cost to participants. 

Many kids in this area have the potential to succeed but face barriers to education created by poverty. These include insufficient financial means, lack of positive role models in the community, absence of parental support, or integration into a new country and culture. 

The Pathways program includes financial support (transit and meal vouchers, scholarships and internships); academic support (tutoring and assistance transitioning to post-secondary education); social support (group mentoring and career exploration); and personal support and advocacy. 

An evaluation of the program by an independent consulting firm estimated that society’s return on Pathways is about $24 for every $1 invested, and a total benefit of about $600,000 for every graduate – in addition to the obvious personal and social benefits of breaking the cycle of poverty. So let’s help make this happen! 

Donations for the Charity of the Month will be collected at the meeting. Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the ‘Donate’ button. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity. 

Latest News 

Understanding Evolution from Animal Limbs 

On our recent visit to Grunthal to address students at Green Valley High, one of the young men stated (paraphrasing slightly) “you say we share like 99.8% of our DNA with monkeys.  Well, I’m not a banana.  We share 50% of our DNA with bananas. I’m not a banana”. 

eohippus

I’m glad to report that most of the other students found his statement thoroughly amusing. But really, I don’t truly know how much science these young people are learning in school.  I don’t think I learned very much science from school. I know I did learn some from pop culture, because I really liked animals. I always watched Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, and I never missed Joan Embery from the San Diego Zoo when she appeared on The Tonight Show.  

I distinctly remember a diagram of the history of equine evolution, right from Eohippus (shown) to modern horses. I remember the toe patterns. It always made sense to me. I never questioned that life develops over time; it seemed so… obvious. And I’ve always appreciated the diagrams of arm/limb structure. The number and arrangement of bones is a pattern that runs through all tetrapods – animals with four limbs.  

There are obviously variations, but the same pattern is visible in diverse animal species, including humans (top left), whales (top right), lizards (bottom left), and birds (bottom right). Learn more about these limbs here. 

But nowhere did I see that demonstrated more clearly to me than a recent Facebook post with a simple image of a cross-section of an elephant’s foot. I was shocked at how that looked exactly like a human foot, on tiptoe, encased in a “boot” of flesh. To me, the links between living things are patently obvious. I don’t know about you, but I’m quite happy knowing that I share 50% of my DNA with a banana. – Donna Harris 

Sending Our Get Well Wishes 

One of our founding members has been in hospital recently. Olga Nahirniak has been a HAAM member ‘from the beginning’ (in the mid-1990’s). At that time, the group was named just HAM (Humanist Association of Manitoba).  

Now in her 90’s, Olga continues to receive and read our newsletter every month, although she has not been able to make it out to an event for the last couple of years.  

Helen and John Friesen went to visit her in hospital in early March. Olga was very appreciative of their visit and thanked them several times for coming. They passed on greetings from all our members, and Olga asked them to return the greetings saying she thought about all of us often. She’s such a sweet lady and a remarkable person! 

Olga is back home now. Members who attended the March meeting signed a get-well card to let her know we’re thinking about her. 

Olga is in this photo, taken at the 2013 Summer Solstice party (it’s also in the slide show on the home page with the caption ‘Humanism is Inclusive’). She’s in the front row, at right, seated on her walker, wearing dark pants and a red jacket. We miss you Olga!    

Summer Solstice 2013

Understanding and Completing an Advance Care Plan 

The Winnipeg chapter of Dying with Dignity has a 2-hour workshop on how to fill out your ACP (aka a health care directive or living will). An effective ACP indicates your wishes about your care should something bad happen and you can’t speak for yourself. Many people arrive at hospitals with either no instructions in writing, or with a paragraph written in language too vague for doctors to act upon. Don’t assume that just because your spouse knows your wishes that that’s what will happen in an emergency. Dying With Dignity Canada has many years of experience in helping people express their wishes clearly in an Advance Care Plan. 

The complete DWD Advance Care Plan kit and information booklet is available to anyone to download free. However, based on past presentations and reports from patients, families, and health care professionals, there are lots of questions and many issues that need further elaboration and interpretation – hence the need for this workshop. Topics addressed in the presentation include: 

  • Legal issues around ACP’s, including the difference between an ACP and a Power of Attorney 
  • Patient rights including right to refuse treatment 
  • How to choose a proxy decision maker 
  • How to ensure that your wishes are carried out  
  • Comparing a Living Will prepared by a lawyer to a standard hospital form, and the Manitoba government form 
  • Discussing common but imprecise phrases such as “heroic measures” and “artificial means” 
  • Walking through the ACP kit and the Health Care Directive form in detail 
  • How to complete the form / how to make copies 
  • What to do (and what NOT to do) with your HCD after it’s completed 
  • Resources for those who want further information or guidance 

The next class will be offered once there is sufficient interest expressed. Please RSVP to the Winnipeg Chapter of Dying With Dignity to indicate your interest. You will be contacted later to arrange a suitable date and time. 

Book of the Month – Not the Impossible Faith  

Historian Richard Carrier offers a point-by-point rebuttal of the frequent assertions by apologists that Christianity could not have taken hold in the ancient world unless its claims were true, and that theirs is not just another man-made religion. 

Carrier examines the sociology of the ancient world and demonstrates that Christianity did not require miracles to succeed. The book explains that Christianity’s early converts were the poor and outcast, but that its adaptability allowed it to grow and eventually reach the upper classes. 

Each chapter addresses a different question, such as: who would believe in a crucified god, who would join an intolerant cult, and who would follow an executed criminal? 

This is a fascinating book for those interested in the origins of Christianity. 

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members. 

Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this book. 

Stephen Hawking 1942-2018 

Farewell to a “brilliant and extraordinary mind”.  (Theresa May)  

*** 

“Have fun out there among the stars.” (Barack Obama)

March 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Monthly Meeting – Film Fest: Shorts Night

Saturday, March 10th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 5:30 – 8:30 PM

We’ll be sharing a series of short videos on a variety of topics. Suitable for pre-teens and up.

Click here for details.

 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, March 18th, Stella’s on Pembina, 1463 Pembina Hwy, 9:30 AM

Everyone’s welcome! Details here.

 

Save the Dates

April 14th (Monthly Meeting) – What’s Wrong with Private Schools?

May 12th (Monthly Meeting) – Stealing Reason: Christianity’s Theft of Human Values

June 23rdSummer Solstice Party

Mark your calendars now so you won’t miss anything!

Details for all upcoming HAAM events are on the Events page. 

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Matt Dillahunty’s Magic and Skepticism World Tour 2018

Sunday, 8 April 2018, Burton Cummings Theatre, 364 Smith St

Do you have your tickets yet? Lots of HAAM members are going. Don’t be left out!

Click here for details and ticket information.

Debate: Morality – How Should We Live Our Lives?

Saturday, 21 April 2018, New Life Sanctuary Church, 618 Muriel Street

Dig Deep Fundraiser Gala for the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre

Saturday, 28 April 2018, Morden Manitoba

More information on these upcoming non-HAAM events is on our Community Events page.

Charity of the Month

Manitoba doesn’t end at the perimeter highway, so our donations shouldn’t either. After all, we are the Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics of Manitoba – not just Winnipeg. So this month, for a change, we’re venturing outside the city.

Blue Sky Opportunities Inc. is a non-profit organization in Altona, committed to maximizing the independence of adults with intellectual disabilities.

Blue Sky’s vocational program provides training and employment, followed by ongoing workplace support and mentoring for its clients. Their projects include the manufacture of wooden products (pallets, crokinole boards, clothes dryers, custom woodwork, fencing, and furniture); the assembly of combine feeder and elevator chains; blue box and cardboard pickup in the area; lawn care services for local businesses and private homes; and the operation of an e-waste collection site. They also do contract work (such as product assembly, packaging, electrical wire assembly, paper shredding, and rug weaving) for local businesses, and assist with special projects and peak work loads.

Blue Sky also offers non-vocational programming in the areas of communication, physiotherapy, life skills and recreational activities to enhance the quality of life. Their life skills program focuses on activities such as meal preparation, cleaning, laundry and bicycle safety. They currently operate 10 homes in Altona, as well as providing supports for people living in their own home within the community.

Blue Sky Opportunities relies on fundraising to provide the capital needed to support their programs and facilities. They recently completed a new Recycling and Chain Assembly Building (in photo), and donations will be used to pay off the mortgage owing on it.  Let’s do what we can to help!

Donations for the Charity of the Month will be collected at the meeting. Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the ‘Donate’ button. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity.

Latest News

Proselytization in Manitoba High Schools

Manitoba’s anti-bullying legislation is intended to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc. Although initially, the most significant social issue prompting the development of the legislation was opposition to Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA’s) in high schools, the guidelines apply equally to all student groups and clubs.

A government publication titled Safe and Caring Schools: Respect for Diversity Policies outlines the application of this legislation. (The full document can be downloaded here.) It applies to all Manitoba public schools, and publicly-funded private schools. The FAQ’s in Appendix E (page 26) make it clear that

“…students wanting to form a religiously based student-led group would be accorded equality of opportunity to do so. Students should be allowed to form after-school clubs or have activities based on religion, as long as membership is voluntarily open to any student in the school and the activities of the group are conducted in a safe and inclusive manner. The club should be used as a vehicle to discuss issues that have an impact on the members as students. It is important to recognize that such groups are like any other club that is available at a school except they have a religious connection. Therefore, they should be treated the same as any other student-initiated club in the school such as a GSA, chess club, astronomy club, or judo club.” (emphasis ours)

Religious clubs forming

A coalition of youth pastors, known as the Manitoba Youth Workers Network (MYWN), is taking advantage of this opportunity to spread Christianity to public schools. They have collaborated to develop an outreach program aimed at Winnipeg high school students. The way it works is that these youth pastors are training teenage members of their own churches to evangelize directly to their classmates at school. The training is based on the new Alpha Youth Series program, a series of flashy apologetics videos targeting young people. The next step is for these teen evangelists to launch student-led Alpha programs in their own high schools. They believe that “Jesus is calling [them] to reach the city”.

In January 2018, the MYWN completed their first ‘training’ course with 70 teens from churches around Winnipeg, eager to encourage their friends to ‘come to Christ’. There are Alpha programs running in at least three Winnipeg high schools already. Expect more to appear. You might find that your teenager has joined a group like this before you even knew it existed.

What can I do?

Clearly, it’s not enough to raise your children in a secular home and think that by the time they are teens, they won’t be gullible enough to listen to fairy tales.

Teach them critical thinking skills. Encourage them to be skeptical and to ask questions.

Make sure that they learn about other belief systems and world religions.

Teach your kids how to think, not what to think.

Remember, critical thinking skills apply not just to religion, but to miracle cures, conspiracy theories, get-rich-quick schemes, fad diets….

Our Religion in Public Schools page has been updated with this information. Look there to learn about more ways that religion insinuates itself into Manitoba public schools.

Secular Help for Addictions

In addition to requests for the names of secular mental health professionals, we’ve recently had several inquiries about secular addictions counselling and support groups. Here are the names of some organizations with members in the Winnipeg area, supplied by one of our members who works in addictions counselling.

Secular AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) There is an AA group in Winnipeg called ‘Beyond Belief’, which meets weekly in a St Vital church. (They are not affiliated with the church. They only rent the space for their meetings.) They still use the 12-step program, but they take out the references to god and a higher power. There is good recovery at this meeting, which is mostly made up of atheists and non-believers.

O.S. (Secular Organizations for Sobriety) welcomes anyone sincerely seeking sobriety from alcohol addiction, drug addiction and behavioural and/or process addictions. Weekly meetings are held in two Winnipeg locations.

SMART Recovery helps people recover from all types of addictive behaviors, including alcoholism, drug abuse, substance abuse, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, gambling addiction, cocaine addiction, and addiction to other substances and activities. The Winnipeg group meets weekly.

LifeRing Secular Recovery an abstinence-based, worldwide network of individuals seeking to live in recovery from addiction to alcohol or to other non-medically indicated drugs. There are no in-person meetings in Winnipeg at present; however, LifeRing offers online meetings, online chat groups, and literature.

You can also contact the Manitoba Addictions Helpline at 1-855-662-6605 or mbaddictionhelp.ca.

The names of these organizations have been added to the Help and Advice page for future reference. The addictions counsellor also supplied our executive with some contact and meeting information for the local groups. Contact us if you would like this information. (All enquiries will be kept strictly confidential.)

‘O Canada’ Should Include All Canadians

The official lyrics for Canada’s national anthem were recently updated (despite opposition from conservatives) to make them more inclusive of women. At least it’s a step in the right direction – but it’s not enough. The new words still exclude two significant segments of the Canadian population.

Results from the 2016 census show that more than one fifth of our citizens were born in a foreign country – so Canada is not their ‘native land’. And on the 2011 census (data on religion is only collected every 10 years), almost one quarter of Canadians reported no religious affiliation. Shouldn’t all Canadians be able to sing their national anthem without feeling like second-class citizens?

Here’s some good news. If you change just a couple more words, you can sing a truly inclusive version of O Canada. “O Canada for Everyone” lyrics can be found on the Secular Connexion Séculière website. The additional changes are in the lines “our home and cherished land”, and “we’ll keep our land glorious and free”. It’s that easy.

Click here to see the complete inclusive lyrics in both official languages.

Book of the Month – Robert Latimer: A Story of Justice and Mercy

Who remembers this photo of Robert Latimer with his seriously disabled daughter Tracy? Their story dominated the news in the mid to late 1990’s, after he ended Tracy’s life rather than subject her to another painful surgery. Was he really guilty of murder, or is ‘mercy killing’ ever justified? And was it necessary for the parole board to treat him with such vindictiveness, years later?

In this book, reporter Gary Bauslaugh, who followed the Latimer case from the beginning, describes the two trials, discusses the conflicting views of Latimer’s sympathizers and detractors, and examines the ethical and legal dilemmas raised by the case. Bauslaugh makes an excellent case for the application of mercy to those caught in horrific circumstances.

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members.
Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this book. 

February 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Monthly Meeting – Animal Attraction 

Saturday, February 10th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 5:30 – 8:30 PM 

February 12th is International Darwin Day, so we focus on science and nature at our February meetings.  

This year’s meeting will be about sex. Click here for details and more information.

 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch 

Sunday, February 25th, Original Pancake House (Polo Park), 1445 Portage Avenue, 9:30 AM 

Join us for our regular Sunday morning brunch. Details here.

See complete event listings and details for all upcoming HAAM events on our Events page. 

 

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events 

Matt Dillahunty’s Magic and Skepticism World Tour 2018 

Sunday, 8 April 2018, Burton Cummings Theatre, 364 Smith St 

 

For details on this and all upcoming non-HAAM events, visit our Community Events page. 

 

 

Charity of the Month CARE Cat Community Outreach Program 

C.A.R.E. (Cat Advocacy Rescue & Education) is a non-profit organization made up of concerned animal lovers and veterinary professionals who work to alleviate the serious cat overpopulation by spaying and neutering cats. The program was founded in 2011 in response to the overwhelming number of stray and feral cats in the North End of Winnipeg. Since then, CARE has spayed/neutered more than 900 feral, stray, and low-income owned cats; over 700 at Machray Animal Hospital and the rest through the Winnipeg Humane Society’s SNAP (Subsidized Spay and Neuter Program). 

In partnership with The Winnipeg Humane Society and Winnipeg Animal Services, CARE helps people get their cats fixed year-round. The funding for these surgeries comes from the FixIt Grant; money raised directly from cat licensing.  

Winnipeg residents are essentially paying for these cats’ surgeries, so only cats within city limits qualify for the program. Through CARE, low-income families can get their kitty spayed or neutered, tattooed, licensed and vaccinated for only $5!!!!  

HAAM member Heather McDonell is one of the veterinarians who works with CARE, and it was our Charity of the Month once before, way back in Sept 2013, so we’re happy to help them again. The group is always looking for additional donations, as well as volunteers to transport cats to and from the clinics, since most of the people the program serves can’t afford vehicles or taxis. CARE has no website, just social media, as this is a grassroots effort. Visit their Facebook page or call the office at 204-421-7297 to make an appointment or obtain more information.  

Donations for the Charity of the Month will be collected at the meeting. Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the PayPal button. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity. 

Latest News 

Film Fest Ideas Wanted 

Our annual Film Fest will take place at the March 10th meeting, and we’re currently looking for films. Suggestions are welcome.  

If you know of a film that your fellow Humanists might like (something funny, provocative, inspirational, or educational), let us know. Length can be anything from a couple of minutes to a full movie (but not a really long movie). 

More details to follow in the March newsletter. 

Seeking Secular Therapists 

We have again had a request from someone seeking a counsellor or psychologist who does not invoke religion or suggest prayer during treatment. A while back, we started a list with the names of a few such professionals for future referrals – but we currently only have 3 names on it. There must be way more than 3 mental health professionals in Manitoba who don’t include religion as part of their practice.  

There is no requirement that therapists be non-believers; only that they use evidence-based, secular treatment methods in their professional practice. We do not post their names publicly due to professional regulations and ethics.  

If you are aware of a secular therapist whose name we can add to our list, please Contact Us. All correspondence will be kept strictly confidential. Note that providing a referral cannot be construed as an endorsement by HAAM. 

Library News  

Our past-president Jeff Olsson has again been busy cleaning off shelves, and he’s made another large donation to the HAAM library – books, this time. Jeff is well-read and has eclectic taste in subject matter. There’s something here for everyone – ethics and philosophy, astronomy and climate science, atheist humor, psychology and psychoanalysis, skepticism and counter-apologetics (defending non-belief), history and archaeology. Here are just a few of the books he donated:  

-The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam (Ayaan Hirsi Ali) 

-Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming 

-Everything You Know About God Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Religion 

-God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales (Penn Jillette) 

-God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question–Why We Suffer (Bart Ehrman) 

-In Search of Time: Journeys Along a Curious Dimension 

-Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History 

-The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (Freud) 

-Right to Die: A Neurosurgeon Speaks of Death with Candor 

-Universe: A Journey from Earth to the Edge of the Cosmos 

-Why I Am Not a Christian: Four Conclusive Reasons to Reject the Faith (Richard Carrier) 

-Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time 

Check out the complete list on our Library page. Thank you again, Jeff! 

All our library books and DVD’s are free to borrow for paid HAAM members.  

Call to Action – No Funding for Anti-choice, Anti-LGBTQ2+ Groups 

Please add your voice in support of human rights 

The BC Humanist Association haslaunched a petition in support of new application requirements for the Government of Canada’s Canada Summer Jobs program. 

The program provides wage subsidies to employers to hire high school and post-secondary students. The new policy requires applicants to attest that neither the job nor the employer’s “core mandate” are contrary to human rights, including reproductive rights and the rights of transgender Canadians. 

Until now, many churches, bible camps and other faith-based organizations could apply for funding under the program, some received tens of thousands of dollars in support to hire summer staff. Religious organizations are still eligible for the funding, but those groups must now affirm their support for safe access to abortion and LGBTQ2+ rights. 

Unhappy with the change, some conservative faith groups are suing the government claiming religious discrimination. 

While we’d hope to see an end to public funding going to religious organizations entirely, ensuring that public funds aren’t given to groups that work to undermine fundamental human rights is a positive step. 

It’s important for the government to hear from Canadians who support these actions, not just the small but vocal lobby for the religious right. 

Sign the petition:No funding for anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ2+ groups 

We’ll submit the petition to the government by February 2, 2018, when applications close for the Canada Summer Jobs program. 

In Humanism, Ian Bushfield
Executive Director BC Humanist Association  

And while we’re on the subject…  

Publicly Funded Groups Must Respect Human Rights  

You won’t want to miss Pat Morrow’s analysis of the ‘kerfuffle’ that has developed as conservative religious groups protest their loss of permission to use public money to undermine the rights of others.

Click here to read Pat’s article. 

 

Being an Ethical Omnivore 

Those not in attendance for our January presentation missed out on a remarkable speaker, Dr. Charlene Berkvens, who singlehandedly runs her 80-acre farm in addition to working a full-time job as a veterinarian. An engaging and interesting guest speaker, the considerable amount of Q and A and group participation throughout attested both to the quality of her presentation and devotion to her life’s work.  

Dr. Berkvens’ accomplishments and dedication to her passions of animal welfare and environmentally sustainable farming practices are truly inspiring, and take their mandate from the principles of permaculture (sustainable agriculture that renews natural resources and enriches local ecosystems) and the 5 Freedoms of Animal Welfare, which are:
1) Freedom from hunger and thirst
2) Freedom from discomfort
3) Freedom from pain, injury and disease
4) Freedom to behave normally (according to their species)
5) Freedom from fear and distress 

By the end of Dr. Berkvens’ presentation, there was no room left for ambiguity. Animal welfare and sustainable farming practices are inextricably tied to human interests, in terms of both our health and that of the land. It will take the willingness of ethical consumers, who critically examine their choices, to drive change. In the end, cheap food is not really cheap.    — Rob Daly 

Learn more about  Charlene’s farm – the Fostering Change Farm, by visiting its website or Facebook page. For those interested in supporting sustainable farms with their grocery dollars, Dr. Berkvens provided us with the following list of local food sources in Manitoba, along with links to some of the topics covered, after her presentation:  

Direct Farm Manitoba – list of many local, direct marketing farmers in Manitoba as well as farmers’ markets, etc. 

Harvest Moon Local Food Marketplacesustainably produced, fair local foods directly from local farms 

Bouchee Boucher – restaurant and butcher supporting local farmers 

Feast Cafe Bistro – restaurant that supports local farmers and features local and First Nations foods 

Stella’s – restaurant with some dishes using local food 

Prairie 360 – restaurant with some dishes using local food 

Prairie Box – business that delivers weekly fresh meals with local food  

For more information on some of the ideas / concepts we discussed: 

Holistic Resource Management 

Polyface Farms (Joel Salatin) 

Verge Permaculture 

I would also encourage folks to check out and support: 

The Manitoba Burrowing Owl Recovery Program  

Fort Whyte Centre, Oak Hammock Marsh, The Forks, and Assiniboine Park are great places to enjoy wildlife and the environment in the Winnipeg area.  

A few others to consider checking out include: 

Manitoba’s Tall Grass Prairie Preserve 

Nature Conservancy of Canada (Manitoba) 

As well as the many, many beautiful provincial parks and of course, Riding Mountain National Park. 

A Primer on Assisted Dying in Manitoba 

Medical Assistance In Dying (MAID) has been legal in Canada for 18 months now, but the process and guidelines are poorly understood. Here’s what people need to know: 

 * Manitoba has one centralized MAID team that serves the entire province. Other provinces require that your doctor initiate the evaluation and application process. Here, if you have a terminal diagnosis or a disease that causes you enduring and increasing suffering, you are free to contact the MAID team yourself to discuss whether you might qualify and find out what the next steps are. 

 * MAID is not part of the palliative care program in Manitoba. If you are receiving palliative care and you mention that you might be interested in MAID, it doesn’t mean they’ll start the inquiry for you; it’s best to contact the MAID team yourself or to ask a friend or family member to help you make contact. 

  * You do NOT (and should not) have to wait until your body begins to fail before you apply. The application process takes a minimum of 2 weeks, and some patients wait so long that they end up missing the window of opportunity and suffering needlessly in death. 

  * After you make initial contact with the MAID team and they agree you might qualify, they arrange for your first assessment. The assessment team usually consists of a doctor, a nurse, and a social worker. The team interviews you and reviews your medical records. One part of that interview involves speaking with you alone to be sure you’re not being coerced into applying. 

  * An appointment is then arranged with the second assessment team, composed of a different doctor, nurse, and social worker. The two teams don’t communicate with each other about you (the patient) until after both assessments are finished. 

  * After both assessments are complete, the two assessment teams meet and compare notes. If they agree that you qualify, then they recommend that you fill in an application form for medical assistance in dying. 

  * The application form must be signed by the patient (or a proxy, if the patient is physically incapable of signing) in the presence of two independent witnesses. An independent witness is defined as someone who is over the age of 18, a Canadian citizen, not a beneficiary of the patient’s will, and not involved in the patient’s health care. These are the same requirements for serving as a proxy. 

  * Once the application form is filled out, a mandatory waiting period of 10 days begins. You are eligible to receive the service on day 11 after the application form was signed, assuming that in the meantime, the assessment teams have approved you for the service. Note that these 10 days must be “clear” days, meaning that you are mentally coherent; these ‘clear’ days do not have to be consecutive, however. 

  * A significant proportion of MAID applicants do not know two people who are not named in their will, not involved in their health care, and/or who would be appropriate for other reasons to serve as witnesses. Members of Humanist groups across Canada (including many members of HAAM), have been serving as witnesses. Most of these volunteer witnesses also belong to their local chapter of Dying with Dignity. 

  * On the day that you choose to die, you must be mentally coherent and capable of giving consent. Nobody else can give this consent on your behalf, and you cannot consent in advance. 

  * The process of assisting someone to die involves having the MAID provider insert two intravenous lines (one as backup), and deliver 4 drugs through those lines. In Manitoba, this is the only approved method used. The drugs put the patient into a deep sleep and then into a coma, and then cause the heart to stop.

  * Most insurance companies accept the cause of death as being the underlying medical condition, but you should check with your insurance provider to be sure, since those who list the cause of death as suicide can withhold life insurance payments for 2 years after death. 

For links to the MAID team, related legal information, and more, visit the Dying With Dignity Winnipeg Chapter’s website at https://dwdwinnipeg.weebly.com.

— Cheri Frazer is co-coordinator of the Winnipeg Chapter of Dying with Dignity 

2018 HAAM Executive 

The following members were elected at our January AGM.  

President: Donna Harris   Vice President: Pat Morrow 

Secretary: Name Withheld*   Treasurer: Henry Kreindler 

Members at Large: Tammy Blanchette, Rob Daly, Norm Goertzen, Tony Governo, Sherry Lyn Marginet, and Dorothy Stephens. 

Welcome Rob Daly to the team!  

For future reference, the list of executive members can always be found here. 

Thanks to all who attended the AGM.

*Sadly, not everyone can safely identify publicly as non-religious. 

 

Don’t forget to renew your membership! (click here)  

Publicly Funded Groups Must Respect Human Rights

The January 25th edition of the Steinbach Carillon published a column by Michael Zwaagstra regarding the attestation that applicants for the Federal Summer Jobs Program are required to sign before receiving public money. (The column is behind a paywall.) Mr Zwaagstra is a teacher, a Steinbach city councillor, an evangelical Christian, and a contributor to the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (a conservative think tank based in Winnipeg). Most of the religious concerns he expressed were alleviated by the federal government’s clarification notice, announced just two days before the column was published, and probably not reviewed in time for the paper’s deadline.

Normally I wouldn’t respond to what the religious right has to say about abortion, or about how someone else’s rights offend them, but the column makes some errors, as well as mentioning HAAM, so I thought I’d offer this response.

Thought Police?

Zwaagstra referred to the attestation as an “ideological purity test”, and stated “it’s one thing to withhold funds based on an activity, it’s another entirely to withhold funds based on a belief”. Since the clarification was released, we can all see this issue is about the former criterion. The actual statement that prospective employers must sign reads as follows: “I attest that… Both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.” (P. 21 Sec 4.5 of the Canada Summer Jobs Applicant Guide)

It seems anti-choice groups and the religious right believe that signing the attestation is a violation of their religious freedoms when it clearly is not. No one is telling them what they have to believe. The statement does ask them to affirm the rights of the LGBTQ community and the reproductive rights of women. Mr. Zwaagstra may feel that this is just a euphemism for “unfettered abortion on demand”, but anyone familiar with abortion services in this country knows the expression “abortion on demand” is just rhetoric for the credulous. Just try to get an abortion on demand. (For anyone wondering just what reproductive rights are, the Women’s Legal, Education, and Action Fund has a good description.)

Acknowledgement ≠ Endorsement

Essentially, what we have here is the religious right treating the constitution like their holy books – picking and choosing the bits they like and reinterpreting or discarding the rest. To use an analogy – as Humanists we support freedom of religion; this is a fundamental right we acknowledge without hesitation. This not to say that we support the genital mutilation of young girls* and boys, or the promotion of ignorance like young earth creationism, climate change denialism, opposition to vaccines, and other anti-scientific views supported wholly or in part by religion and religious believers. Nor do we support scaring children with tales of eternal damnation, or prolonging the suffering of those who seek medically assisted death. Support for the right to freedom of religion is not the same as support for religious actions or ideas. Support for women’s rights is not support for abortion.

As I said, in his column Zwaagstra mentions HAAM, and the link to the petition in support of the summer jobs program requirements currently posted on our website. While I am flattered he thinks it’s our petition, it is not. It was developed by Ian Bushfield and the BC Humanist association (which is clearly stated). Zwaagstra goes on to quote Ian: “While we’d hope to see an end to public funding going to religious organizations entirely, ensuring that public funds aren’t given to groups that work to undermine fundamental human rights is a positive step.” I fully support Ian’s quote. But Zwaagstra continues with the fallacious assertion that this is a “stepping stone to eliminate all public support for faith-based organizations”. It’s not; there is no hidden HAAM agenda.

Who should qualify for public funds?

Religious organizations should not be allowed (or denied) public money just because they are religious organizations. If Zwaagstra had read a little more of our website, he might understand our position a little better. We support a different charity every month, and one of our selection criteria is that “the charity or service must be secular, or if associated with a religious or faith-based organization, its services must be provided without proselytization of clients.” HAAM has supported Agape Table and Welcome Place. Both organizations have ties with faith-based groups but don’t promote religion or discriminate in the delivery of their services. Yes, Mr Zwaagstra, HAAM has given money to faith-based organizations, so why would we oppose public money going to religious groups for charity purposes? However, religious organizations that exist primarily to proselytize, promote bad ideas, or limit others’ human rights should not be eligible for public money. The difference is in the details.

In Winnipeg we have Siloam Mission, which receives public money in part to help the homeless. Although the organization is faith-based and staffed mostly by Christians, they are all about providing services to the less fortunate. They don’t proselytize or make attending religious services a condition. They accept people as they are – any colour, any place in society, and it doesn’t matter the sexual orientation. Public money would be permissible in this situation.

On the other hand, a Christian organization called Samaritans Purse bills itself as a charity giving presents to needy children around the world. All the while their primary goal is to evangelize to these children; the gifts are just bait. Organizations like this should not get public money. Nor should faith-based groups like ‘pregnancy crisis centres‘ that disseminate misinformation.

What if the situation were reversed?

Zwaagstra goes on to wonder how HAAM would react if a future government made everyone sign an attestation to “the supremacy of God and the rule of law” in order to receive public money. Although we find the phrase “supremacy of God” mentioned in the preamble to the constitution, unlike women’s rights the supremacy of God holds no legal weight. It is not a right, so the analogy doesn’t hold… it doesn’t even make sense.

click to enlarge

But it’s an interesting thought experiment. When this future government announces their new ‘supremacy of God’ attestation, and after the laughter dies down, the question would be “whose god?” Ultimately the idea of the supremacy of a god is an absurd idea, and Mr. Zwaagstra would be quite right. It would be a violation of our charter rights. A court challenge would be incredibly exciting, as the government would have to first pick which god is the right one, and then demonstrate its supremacy. The irony is that this would be a violation of Zwaagstra’s freedom of religion if the god they chose turned out not to be his, and a violation of everyone else’s if it was. (The Canadian Secular Alliance has more about the history and absurdity of the ‘supremacy of God’ clause in our constitution and why it should be removed.)

In the end, the government could have been clearer on what was meant in the attestation, but really this kerfuffle has much to do with the theology of certain sects of Christianity. When you combine a loss of privilege with the theological need to be persecuted and a mission to stop abortion at all costs, one can’t help but go looking for something to be offended about.

Pat Morrow is Vice President of HAAM

*Note that although FGM is illegal in Canada, it is still practiced by some religious sects.

Update

30 January 2018

In addition to sharing the petition started by the BC Humanist Association, HAAM was one of 80 pro-choice and human rights groups from across Canada that signed an open letter in support of the government’s move to require groups seeking funding through the Canada Summer Jobs program to respect human rights.

A lawsuit by an anti-choice group requesting an injunction preventing the attestation from taking effect was dismissed in court for lack of grounds.

January 2018 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

How to be an Ethical Omnivore and our Annual General Meeting

Saturday, January 13th, Canad Inns Polo Park

We’ll be learning about animal welfare and ethics, sustainable agricultural practices, and environmentally friendly food choices.

Full meeting description and scheduled times for the speaker and the AGM are in the event post.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, January 28th, Perkins Restaurant, 1615 Regent Ave W, 9:30 AM

Join us! Details here.

 

See complete event listings and details for all upcoming HAAM events on our Events page.

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Matt Dillahunty’s Magic and Skepticism World Tour 2018

Sunday, 8 April 2018, Burton Cummings Theatre, 364 Smith St

 

For details on this and all upcoming non-HAAM events, visit our Community Events page.

 

Charity of the Month The Laurel Centre

The Laurel Centre (formerly The Women’s Post Treatment Centre) provides individual and group counselling to women who have experienced childhood and/or adolescent sexual abuse. Many adult women have mixed feelings about talking to anyone about their childhood – because it hurts too much. Adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse often experience difficulties in later life, including depression, anxiety, drug and/or alcohol problems, gambling, or feelings of worthlessness, loneliness, isolation, or being ‘different’, ‘bad’ or ‘evil’. The Centre recognizes compulsive coping behaviours, including addictions, as being some of the long-term consequences of unresolved trauma.

95% of teenage prostitutes have been sexually abused. Check out the Did You Know? page of the centre’s website for more shocking statistics on the frequency and impact of childhood sexual abuse.

The Laurel Centre provides individual, group, youth, and couples counselling; outreach to at-risk and street youth; short-term crisis intervention; parenting classes for survivor moms; and awareness training for professionals dealing with sexual abuse.

The Centre receives approximately 75% of its funding from the Manitoba Government and The United Way of Winnipeg. Fundraising and donations are necessary to make up the rest, and ensure that the work of the centre can continue. Let’s do what we can to help.

Donations for the Charity of the Month will be collected at the meeting. Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the Paypal button. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity.

Latest News

President’s Message

I can’t say that I’ll be sad to see 2017 go, but we have certainly ended the year with a couple of definite “wins”.

We took out holiday ads in both The Carillon (Steinbach) and the Pilipino Express (Winnipeg) newspapers. Even though we had to tone down the ad so it wasn’t “offensive” to religious sensibilities, it is a first for our group. We also placed an ad on Facebook, (click to enlarge) which reached over 7,300 people!

Tony Governo spearheaded our donation of blankets to the Main Street Project, made possible with donations that you have so generously given us.

I am so happy and thrilled to know you! Thanks to all of our members who support us by participating and coming out to our events, and to everyone on our executive team, who are all truly amazing. I wish each and every one of you the very best of all things in 2018.  Happiness, health and, most especially, love.                                  – Donna Harris

Partners for Life Update

HAAM members are awesome! 😍 For the first time ever, we met our annual pledge of 25 blood donations. In fact, we exceeded it, with 28!!! If you donated blood in 2017, give yourself a pat on the back, and think about all the lives you helped save.

If you weren’t part of this success, join the Canadian Blood Services’ Partners for Life program now and your 2018 blood donations will be credited to HAAM. Details about the program are here.

Show Me the Evidence

Believers take note – if you are presenting your beliefs to those who don’t already share them (atheists, agnostics, or members of any religion other than your own), you must be prepared to offer evidence for your claims. Expect to have your evidence critically examined before being accepted. If you cannot make your beliefs appear reasonable to an outsider, then perhaps you should re-examine them yourself. (The idea of applying the same skepticism to our own beliefs as we do to the beliefs of other faiths is known as the ‘outsider test for faith’. The phrase was coined by John W. Loftus in his book of the same name.)

HAAM’s Pat Morrow recently examined the evidence for God offered by a Christian apologist who visited one of our outreach booths. Did it pass the ‘outsider test’? Read the answer – and the full story – here.

Library News

Looking for a good movie or TV show to watch this winter? We’ve just added a whole bunch of ‘new’ DVD’s to the HAAM library. Past-president Jeff Olsson recently cleaned off some shelves and donated everything he’s finished watching. He had lots of good stuff, including:

All 8 seasons of Penn and Teller’s Bullsh*t (TV series debunking pseudoscientific ideas, paranormal beliefs, and popular fads);
Guns, Germs, and Steel (Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer-prize winning examination of why some civilizations have survived and conquered others, while others struggle);
Expelled – No Intelligence Allowed (propaganda film in which Ben Stein claims that evolution is a scientific conspiracy to keep God out of laboratories and classrooms);
Collision (documentary about the debates between atheist Christopher Hitchens and Christian apologist Douglas Wilson);
An Inconvenient Truth (documentary about Al Gore’s campaign to educate citizens about global warming);
-and more.

Check out the complete list on our Library page. Thank you, Jeff!

Humanists Helping the Homeless

Just in time for the cold weather, thanks to some generous donations, HAAM was able to donate 100 new blankets (from Ikea) to the Main Street Project. Executive members Dorothy Stephens, Tony Governo, and Sherry Lyn Marginet (in purple) were there to deliver the blankets. Thanks Tony for leading this project!

The Story Behind our Ad in The Carillon

The Carillon is a weekly newspaper published by Derksen Printers in Steinbach, Manitoba, focusing on local Southeastern Manitoba news. HAAM ran an ad for one week (in both the print and online editions) starting on December 7 – but it almost didn’t run at all.

We had inquired about a Christmas ad, and made preliminary arrangements (like the section of the paper we wanted it to appear in) back at the end of September. Yet when we submitted the final copy, which included the phrase “Go ahead and skip church!”, the publisher deemed it too provocative and declined to run it. We asked our contact at the paper, who had previously responded to our queries without delay, what was offensive about the ad, and whether The Carillon would entertain any other ad we’d propose. No response was received.

The Carillon is owned by The Winnipeg Free Press, so we decided to ask the VP of the WFP in charge of advertising why the ad had been rejected. The reply, provided by the publisher of The Carillon, stated that they would be “finished” if they were seen supporting such a message in their faith-based community, even if it was tongue-in-cheek. This prompted us to write to the Free Press one more time. We indicated that we know there are numerous humanis

ts, atheists, and agnostics living in the area. We explained that denying our ad would be a violation of Manitoba’s Human Rights Code (section 13-1: No person shall discriminate with respect to any service, accommodation, facility, good, right, licence, benefit, program or privilege available or accessible to the public or to a section of the public, unless bona fide and reasonable cause exists for the discrimination). We also added that perhaps the rejection of our ad would be a newsworthy item for some other news outlet.

We then received another response from the Free Press, doubling down on their position to reject the ad, and stating that a decision made in one of their markets may not be the same as one made in another market. However, the response ended with an encouragement to revise our message to be more amenable to The Carillon’s publisher.

With this in mind, we revised our message to simply say “This Christmas just be good for goodness’ sake! Happy Holidays from the Humanists, Atheists and Agnostics of Manitoba!” The Carillon then questioned why our name was being spelled out in the revised ad, when the original message had ended with just the HAAM logo in the bottom corner. We had to explain that the original message would have been provocative enough to prompt people to look us up, but the new message didn’t have that effect; hence, we wanted people to know who the message was from. The publisher accepted our rationale, explaining that he was only being cautious; since he would be the person who had to deal with any calls about it, he needed to understand the reason for the change.

All this trouble for just one small ad suggesting that people don’t need to attend church to be ‘good’.  Change comes slowly in regions where religion has enjoyed many years of privilege.

To the best of our knowledge, there weren’t any complaints after the ad was published. But it must have provoked some curiosity about non-believers, because not long after, both HAAM and the Eastman Humanist Community were contacted by a reporter from The Carillon asking about the new Humanist group in the Bible Belt. That article ran in the December 29th edition. You can read it on their website here.                                                                                                                                                     – Tony Governo

Letter of Encouragement to Upcoming G7 Summit

Canada will be hosting the G7 conference in June 2018. In advance of the summit, a number of Canadian organizations are working to ensure that sexual and reproductive health and rights remain central to the Canada’s priorities. Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, CARE Canada, and the Climate Action Network – Canada collaborated to prepare a letter encouraging Prime Minister Trudeau to ensure that three specific issues remain squarely on the G7 agenda:

  • supporting refugees, migrants and displaced peoples,
  • tackling climate change and its impacts on poor and marginalized communities and
  • ensuring the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all people.

These issues have often evaded consensus among G7 leaders, and recent trends suggest this will continue to be a challenge for Canada’s G7 Presidency. The letter calls on the government to not only defend progress achieved in recent years and decades on these issues, but also to create opportunity to address remaining gaps in the future.

Likeminded groups in Canada were invited to add their names to the major signatories, and HAAM was pleased to add its support on behalf of our members.

You can read the full text of the letter here.

Year in Review

At year-end we look back at all we’ve accomplished over the past 12 months – and it’s always amazing to see how much it adds up to. We’re a busy bunch! Here’s a quick list:

The Greek god Dionysus

Meetings: Educational and/or inspiring topics included recovering from religion, evolution in Humanistic thought, an atheist comedy night, dying and rising gods before Jesus, solar energy, the historicity of Jesus, atheism in Canada, indigenous spirituality, and the limits of free speech.

Social events: We introduced the HAAM and Eggs brunch last January, and it has become a regular and favorite casual gathering. We also hosted a film festival, parties for the summer and winter solstices, and a bowling night. We celebrated a ghoulish Hallowe’en and attended the film premiere of Losing Our Religion.

Calls to Action: In 2017, HAAM members were called upon to make their opinions known on a number of important issues through petitions and/or letter-writing campaigns. We spoke out against graphic anti-choice ads, supported sexual health and reproductive rights worldwide, demanded the repeal of Canada’s blasphemy law, protested government funding for anti-choice ‘crisis pregnancy centres’, fought against ‘faith-based’ healthcare, defended apostates worldwide, voiced our choice for assisted dying, and demanded fair secular government. Our members also expressed their Humanist values by donating blood, joining the Human Rights Hub, pledging organ donations, marching for science, and attending pride parades.

Timely topics: Our newsletters and articles covered religious violence, religion in public hospitals and schools, the struggles of refugees, religious trauma, the progress of our sponsored child in Uganda, and the origins of Xmas traditions.

Outreach: We have connections with other Humanist/atheist organizations across North America, and in 2017 we added a group in Houston, Texas. Our members attended and reported on religious conferences and presentations about Christian apologetics, faith vs. religion, tough questions from the Old Testament, the origin of human rights, and creation vs evolution. We hosted information booths at summer fairs in Steinbach and Morden, spoke to a world religions class in Grunthal, and launched a series of ads during the Christmas season.

Charities: In 2017 we supported Recovering from Religion, Wildlife Haven, Rainbow Resource Centre, Welcome Place, Women’s Health Clinic, the Island Lake forest fire relief fund, Kasese Humanist school (Uganda), the Christmas Cheer Board, and Koats for Kids.

Hats off to everyone who helped, participated, attended, and financially supported all these efforts! If you missed any of our 2017 happenings, and want to catch up, you can find the details in past newsletters. And make sure to join our activities in 2018!

We had a great time at the Solstice party!

More photos in the 2017 Gallery.

 

 

 

 

Just a reminder that 2018 memberships are now due. You can join or renew online, by mail, or in person at any meeting or event. Our fee structure includes a low-income option, if this applies to you.

Visit the Join Us page for membership information and online renewal.

 

 

 

 

December 2017 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Winter Solstice Party

December 23rd at the Belgian Club, 407 Provencher Blvd, 5:30 PM

Please bring an item for the potluck supper.

Optional – bring your favorite board game.

More details here.

See complete event listings and details for all upcoming HAAM events on our Events page.

Charity of the Month – Koats for Kids

Koats for Kids is a United Way program that collects and distributes winter outerwear to needy families. They collect new or gently used winter jackets (clean with working zippers), ski pants, boots, hats, scarves, and mittens. All sizes are needed – from infant to toddler to youth.

Please bring your donations to our Winter Solstice Party! We’ll collect them up and drop them off at the depot. 

Call to Action Register Your Intent to be an Organ Donor

The Organ Donor Registry is now online!

Organ and tissue donation in Manitoba have gone high-tech. Paper ‘organ donor’ wallet cards are no longer considered adequate, because they are not recorded in any database and may not be available when needed. Instead, Manitoba Health now recommends that you register your wishes online to ensure that they will be known – if and when you ever qualify to donate.

Register your consent to donate at Sign Up for Life.ca. Your information will be recorded and stored in the secure Manitoba eHealth database. In the event of your death or imminent death, your decision will be shared with your family so that they can honor your wishes. Donation will not take place without your family’s consent.

How does it work?

You can register if you are 18 years of age or older and have a valid Manitoba Health Card. You can donate organs and tissues (heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, small bowel, stomach, corneas, heart valves, pericardium, bone, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and skin) for transplant. You can also indicate whether or not you would want your organs or tissues to be used for medical education or scientific research purposes.

Everyone can register to be a donor regardless of age, medical condition or sexual orientation. Your decision to register should not be based on whether YOU think you would be eligible or not. Eligibility is determined by the health care team after a patient’s death.

Thanks to Karen Donald for the tip!

Latest News

Bill Favors Religion over Patient Rights

Having sat through a community hearing at the Manitoba Legislature on the issue of Bill 34, The Medical Assistance in Dying (Protection for Health Professionals and Others) Act on the evening of November 6th, I’d like to share some observations, comments, and take-away points from what was said. It should be noted that I learned about this hearing at the very last possible minute, and I’m uncertain as to whether the speakers were there by invitation or whether there had been an option for the public to sign up ahead of time to speak. As such, I can’t account for the small number of speakers calling for amendments, vs. the majority, who called for keeping the bill as is. Of the 16 speakers, only 3 (Dr. Alewyn Vorster, representing the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba; Mary J. Shariff, from the Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba; and Cory Ruf of Dying with Dignity Canada), advocated for amending the bill with clearer language that removes ambiguity, out of concern that a broad interpretation of the bill could result in denial of MAID information, referrals, and services to Manitoba patients.

Of the 13 speakers in favor of the bill as presented (two representatives from Catholic organizations, 10 doctors, and a private citizen), all cited personal religious beliefs as part of their presentations, in addition to many other arguments. Their most common arguments and concerns centered on personal religious conviction/conscience, the Hippocratic Oath, fear of health care professionals being required to make MAID referrals, reprisal should they refuse to do so, patient abandonment, assertions that medication is adequate to maintain comfort until “natural” death occurs, and the belief that “there is no crisis of access”. Most maintained that they wouldn’t do anything to block access to MAID services, and while all stated that they wouldn’t make a direct referral to the MAID team, most (with a couple of exceptions) were willing to refer patients to a third party who would.

Since When Do Institutions have Rights?

From what I learned during a previous conversation with my MLA, Andrew Micklefield (who was in attendance), and certainly from what was shared at this hearing, it’s clear that there is a disconnect between Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen’s statement, “We will protect the rights of institutions”, and the real-life ramifications of that statement for patients who are now forced into a potentially agonizing, painful, and certainly undignified transfer of service to another hospital if they opt for MAID while in a faith-based facility in Manitoba. As an example, to quote one speaker, Dr. Albert Chudley (a Professor of Pediatrics and Child Health, as well as Biochemistry and Medical Genetics, at the University of Manitoba, and who ironically professed to have taught clinical ethics), the bill “doesn’t diminish patient rights”, “transfer remains an option”, and “patients are not in pain”. Dr. Ann McKenzie, amidst stories of personal tragedy and appeals to the Hippocratic Oath, is of the opinion that vulnerable patients who choose MAID as an end of life option “lose time with family” and create trauma for those who remain.

Is there a duty to refer?

In conclusion, when asked by Andrew Swan, an opposition MLA who supports the bill, if the Health Minister would require health professionals to provide MAID referrals, Goertzen stated that he doesn’t believe health professionals (including nurses, pharmacists etc.) should be required to make referrals. The Minister said the government would “support the rights of institutions… not at the expense of access”; however, he did not acknowledge that failing to provide information and referral directly impacts that access. The provincial government is siding with publicly-funded, faith-based hospitals that are denying on-site access to MAID services, which is a violation of the Charter Rights of Manitobans. This bill sets the rights of religious institutions above patient dignity and humane end-of-life care.

All clauses of Bill 34 were passed, unamended.                                                                                                 – Rob Daly

Is Christmas really a Christian Holiday?

If you celebrate and enjoy Christmas, don’t feel guilty about it. There’s no need to give it up just because you no longer view it as a religious holiday. Some of the following details may be disputable, because sources vary, and it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact origins of customs and rituals that date back to antiquity and cross cultures. But this much is clear – Most of the traditions we associate with Christmas either originated in pre-Christian myths or have absolutely NOTHING to do with Christianity.

It’s all about the solstice

Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year. Ancient astronomers were able to detect that after the solstice, the days became longer and the noonday sun rose higher in the sky.  This was interpreted as a promise that warmth would return once more to the Earth. Numerous pre-Christian cultures and Pagan religions celebrated the return of the Sun and honored a birth or rebirth of one of their gods or goddesses on or near the solstice. These included Attis (Roman), Dionysus (Greek), Osiris (Egyptian), and Mithra (Persian). Saturnalia (the Festival of Saturn) was celebrated from December 17 to 23 throughout the Roman Empire. Many of these celebrations included fertility rituals and symbols intended to encourage Mother Earth to begin reproducing again.

In the late 3rd century the Roman Emperor Aurelian blended Saturnalia with the birth celebrations of savior gods from other religions into a single holy day (December 25th), so it was relatively easy to incorporate the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

These are Pagan? Really?

It’s no surprise, then, that quite a few of our modern Christmas traditions have Pagan roots. Here are a few examples:

Feasting and partying – Saturnalia was the liveliest of the ancient Roman festivals. The celebration included days off work, street parties, candles, gifts, and greenery. Saturn was the god of agriculture, so feasting was an appropriate way to celebrate the fruits of the harvest.

Mistletoe and Holly – Mistletoe was considered a magical plant and a fertility symbol by many ancient cultures, so people used to practice ‘fertility rituals’ underneath it; nowadays we usually just kiss. The complimentary colors of red and green represent male and female, and we still see them in the holly leaves with their red berries used in Christmas wreaths.

Santa Claus is partly based on myths that predate St Nicholas. The Norse god Odin is often pictured as an old man with a white beard and long cloak. Odin led a hunting party through the skies, riding an eight-legged horse. In winter, children would leave their boots near the chimney, filled with carrots or straw for the horse, and in return, Odin would leave a little gift in the boot. In Celtic Neopaganism, the Holly King and the Oak King fight a battle each summer and winter solstice, with each reigning half the year. Depictions of the Holly King often look remarkably like a sort of woodsy Santa Claus.

Caroling originated with the practice of wassailing – traveling through fields and orchards in the middle of winter, singing and shouting to drive away any spirits that might inhibit the growth of future crops.

Gift-giving – During Saturnalia, it was tradition to give children gifts of wax figures that represented the sacrifices made to Saturn to wish for a bountiful harvest.

Evergreens – Romans decorated their homes with bits of greenery during Saturnalia. Pines and firs were cherished as a symbol of life and rebirth in the depth of winter, and were traditionally hung around doorways and windows. Egyptians used palm fronds instead.

Fruitcake comes from Egypt. Once baked, it lasts a looooong time without going bad, so it was often placed as an offering on the tomb of a loved one.

The Yule log originates in Norway. The Norse believed that the sun was a giant wheel of fire which rolled away from the earth, and then began rolling back again on the winter solstice. To celebrate the return of the sun each year, they would light a Yule log and let it burn all night long. Once the log was burned in the hearth, the ashes were scattered about the house to protect the family within from hostile spirits.

Decorated trees – During Saturnalia, on the eve of the Midwinter Solstice, Roman priests would cut down a pine tree, decorate it, and carry it ceremonially to the temple celebrations. Pagan families would bring a live tree into the home so the wood spirits would have a place to keep warm in the cold winter months; food and treats were hung on the branches for the spirits to eat.

  Most Humanists enjoy the various celebrations and traditions around the Winter Solstice, regardless of their origins. So

from all of us at HAAM – whatever you celebrate!

Countdown to 2018

Please support HAAM with your Membership

Membership renewal for 2018 is now open. Please note that HAAM operates on a calendar year, meaning that membership fees are due in January. First time members who join between October and December pay the full fee but their membership includes the upcoming year. If you are one of those brand new members, this notice does not apply to you. Everyone else needs to become a member or renew.

We count on membership revenues to support HAAM’s continuing work in creating community and providing a voice for non-believers. Fees are affordable and include a ‘limited income’ option if applicable. Please support the group that supports you! Memberships are payable anytime by credit card using the PayPal link on our website, by cheque in the mail, or by cash or cheque at any event. More information about membership and renewal is on our website.

If you plan to attend our AGM in January, dues MUST be paid in order to vote.

Become Involved!

Get to know your fellow Humanists and help us develop a supportive community. Do you have a suggestion for a meeting topic or social event? An issue you’d like to discuss? A charity you think we should support? Do you have a talent to share? Can you help out with a specific task, project, or event? To keep our group active and interesting, we need YOUR input and help.

Watch for our New Ads

On Saturday, December 7th, HAAM will be running a seasonal ad in the local Steinbach newspaper, The Carillon. It will appear in both the print edition (on the front page of Section C), and in the online edition. We will also be running an ad on Facebook in December.

If you want a sneak preview, check out the banner image on our Facebook page.

Watch for our ads – and when you see them, please share them to spread the word! 

Stressed Out About the Upcoming Holidays?

Do you live in a religious community, or with religious family members? Is the holiday season stressful for you because of it? Are family get-togethers uncomfortable? A little guide called Being Openly Secular During the Holidays might be helpful. Topics include managing stress, adhering to holiday traditions, and dealing with religious family. It also contains a secular grace and some links to further resources.

We also covered this topic in last year’s December newsletter.

Book of the Month Salt Sugar Fat

Here’s a book that might give you pause before you dig into too much holiday party food – Salt Sugar Fat, by Michael Moss. After reading it, you probably won’t want to dig into quite so much holiday party food.

How much of our food comes from cardboard boxes, plastic packaging, fast food restaurants, take out, microwaves, lunch meats, processed cheese, cookies, candy bars, etc.? If you don’t know, or feel uneasy about the answer, you may not want to know.

Moss looks into labs where scientists calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages, unearths marketing techniques taken straight from tobacco company playbooks, and talks to concerned insiders who make startling confessions. Just as millions of “heavy users” are addicted to salt, sugar, and fat, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.

Get a head start on your New Year’s resolutions! If you read this book now, guaranteed you’ll be making different (and better) choices in 2018.

Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this book.  

Is There a Right to be an A**hole?

At our (packed) November meeting, U of M professor Steve Lecce spoke about free speech. His awesome presentation was followed by a lively Q and A. If you couldn’t attend, you can now catch it on our YouTube channel.

 

November 2017 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Details and complete listings for all our upcoming HAAM events are on the Events page.

Bowling Extravaganza

Monday, November 13th, Chateau Bowling Lanes, 1145 Nairn Avenue, 7 PM

Details here.

 

Monthly Meeting – Is there a Right to be an A**hole?

John Stuart Mill and the Limits of Expressive Liberty

Saturday, November 18th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Avenue, 5:30 PM

Details here.

We will be collecting donations for the Christmas Cheer Board at this meeting.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, November 26th, Perkins Restaurant, 1277 Henderson Highway, 9:30 AM

Details here.

 

Winter Solstice Party

December 23rd, the Belgian Club, 407 Provencher Blvd

Join us for a pot-luck dinner and Yuletide cheer, as we celebrate the end of the darkness and the return of the SUN! Everyone’s welcome, so invite your family and friends!

Further details will be in our December newsletter.

 

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Folklore and Truth

November 27th, 6:30 – 8 PM. Hosted by the Winnipeg Circle of Reason.

Details here.

For information on upcoming non-HAAM events, visit our Community Events page.

 

Charity of the Month – Christmas Cheer Board

Each year, around 5,000 volunteers help the Christmas Cheer Board to provide over 18,000 Christmas hampers to needy individuals and families. Recipients include those on income assistance, low-income families, pensioners, unemployed persons, and recent immigrants.

More than half of the food and toys are donated by individuals and companies, with the rest being purchased with donated funds.

At our November meeting, we’ll be collecting monetary donations to be used for hampers.

Regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, as a secular holiday, or not at all, the end of December is a festive season in our community. Let’s help make the holiday season a merry time for everyone!

Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the Paypal button. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity.

Latest News

Partners for Life Update

Two months left till year-end! It’s our last chance to push towards our goal of 25 blood donations by HAAM members in 2017. As of mid-October, we had 18 donations… so we should be able to meet our goal. If you’re a regular donor, please try to get one more donation in by the end of the year.

If you’ve never donated before, or never asked to have your donations credited to HAAM, please join our Canadian Blood Services Partners for Life team and help us reach our goal. Let’s show that Humanists care enough to donate blood!

Laura Stephens donated at a clinic held on Thanksgiving Day and took this photo.

Information about Partners for Life, and instructions for how to register, are here. And as always, if you have questions or difficulty with the registration, contact us.

Evolution vs. Creation – Christianity Tries to Stay Relevant

In October, Denis O. Lamoureux, a professor of Science and Religion from the University of Alberta, was in Manitoba to present a lecture called Beyond the “Creation vs. Evolution” Debate.

The purpose of the lecture was to demonstrate that science and religion are really NOT incompatible. It included such topics as the definition of atheism, religious views on Adam and Eve, how many scientists believe in God, the speaker’s own conversion to Christianity from atheism, and the claims of Richard Dawkins.

Did Lamoureux prove his point? Are science and religion compatible? Pat Morrow attended the lecture and reviewed it. Read his entertaining and thoughtful evaluation on our Perspectives page.

Library News

HAAM’s library is moving! In response to our ad for a new librarian, we had two volunteers who stepped up to the plate. Thanks to Laura Stephens and Adriana Sedlak for volunteering! They will share the position and ensure that a few books are brought to each meeting.

If you’re looking for a specific book or author, or a book on a specific topic, you can view our entire collection online. If you see a book or video you would like to borrow, just contact HAAM to request to have it brought to a meeting.

It’s Time to Plan for Next Year

HAAM’s executive committee is recruiting new members for 2018. We need enthusiastic people who can help us to achieve our goals of building a supportive secular community and promoting critical thinking in the larger world.

The executive committee plans and organizes our events (monthly meetings, social activities, outreach, etc.), guides policies and decisions, and plans for the future of the organization. We would love to offer more events and programs, but we need people to help out. Please consider volunteering, or accepting the offer to join if you are approached. Executive meetings are usually held monthly, but a lot of our communication and planning also takes place online, in between meetings.

Elections will be held at our AGM on January 13th, 2018. The positions of Secretary and Treasurer are up for re-election this year. We are also looking for members-at-large to help out as needed. To be eligible to serve on the executive, you must have been a HAAM member for at least 6 months prior to the election.

If you want to get in on the action, or if you are considering it and have questions, please contact us.

Book of the Month The Better Angels of our Nature

With all the depressing / fake news lately, maybe this is a good time to read a book that will inspire some optimism. The world we live in is not as bad as we think – or at least, it’s not as bad as it used to be. Don’t believe that? Then you really need to read Steven Pinker’s book The Better Angels of our Nature. At over 800 pages, it’s a long read – but hey, winter’s coming; time to settle down in the evening with a great book.

Pinker asserts that violence has been in decline over millennia, and that the present is probably the most peaceful time in history. The decline in violence is found in many domains, including military conflict, homicide, genocide, torture, criminal justice, and treatment of children, homosexuals, animals and racial and ethnic minorities.

The book covers the historical trends related to the decline of violence, psychological systems that can lead to violence, and motives that can lead people away from violence. But Pinker also notes that the level of violence is not down to zero, and warns that the decline is not guaranteed to continue.

Bill Gates declared this as his favorite book of the last decade, and the most inspiring book he’s ever read. So what are you waiting for?

Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this book.

HAAM Celebrates Halloween!

Karen and David Donald really got into the spirit of the season for our October meeting! Quite a few of our members came in costume. You’ll find more costumed HAAM members on our Gallery page.

Thanks to Rob Daly, the meeting room looked ghoulishly awesome, too! Here are just a couple of the decorations he brought.

October 2017 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Details and complete listings for all our upcoming HAAM events are on our Events page.

Monthly Meeting – Finding Humanist Thought in Indigenous Beliefs

Saturday, October 14th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Avenue, 5:30 PM

Details here.

In the spirit of the season, we’re going to decorate the room up a bit for Hallowe’en. You’re welcome to come in costume (optional).

 

Spooky Night at Six Pines

Friday, October 20th, Six Pines (just north of Winnipeg), 7:30 PM

Note that this event is intended for ages 15+.

Make sure to read the event details before attending. 

 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, October 22nd, Smitty’s Restaurant, 2835 Pembina Highway (Fort Richmond), 9:30 AM

Newbies Welcome! Details here.

 

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Beyond the “Creation vs Evolution” Debate

October 12th at 7 PM and October 13th at 10 AM and 7 PM. Click for locations.

 

 

For details on all upcoming non-HAAM events, visit our Community Events page.

Latest News

Charity of the Month – Kasese Humanist Primary School

HAAM sponsors a child in Uganda by paying his annual school tuition. Our little boy is called Bogere John, and 2018 will be our third year of sponsorship. He’s a bright little kid, and smart, but he’s an orphan, and he’s had a difficult year.

His spring report card showed that in some subjects he performed only ‘fair’, while other subjects had no mark and were recorded as ‘missed’. This was in sharp contrast to his report card from the previous year, in which all subjects were good or excellent. In a letter, School Director Bwambale M Robert explained that in the middle of the term the boy got “some serious malaria and he had to miss some lessons at the school”, which was a “key factor for his sliding”.

Robert continued – “He however recovered and he is now fine. Normally in most people’s home, the health and hygiene conditions in some of our children and families is not all that fine, this becomes a root cause of some illnesses of our children… My teachers remain committed to ensuring Bogere gets back to his feet and normalize to the better and excel with his studies.” Robert also noted that Bogere’s guardian is “also not well, health-wise”.

Our executive recently received a copy of Bogere’s second term report card, and we are pleased to note that he is catching up in some subjects, although he still struggles with others. Good for him for keeping at it! For us in Canada, it’s hard to imagine the difficulties some children face to get an education.

We will be collecting for little Bogere John’s 2018 school tuition fees at our October meeting. Any extra money we collect above his tuition requirements will go to help the school itself. Please give generously!

Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the Paypal button on our website. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity.

Help Wanted!

HAAM is looking for a new librarian.

Job Description and Requirements:

  • Be a regular, paid member of HAAM who attends most meetings.
  • Store and look after HAAM’s collection of just over 200 books and DVD’s. They come with their own bookshelf (it’s about 3’ wide X 6’ tall).
  • Bring a selection of books to each meeting.
  • Keep track of books as they are signed out and returned.

This is a great opportunity for someone who likes to read. The lucky volunteer will have access to ALL of our books almost ALL of the time. (To see what’s in the collection, visit our Library page.) It’s not necessary to attend every meeting; usually arrangements can be made to send books with another HAAM member if the librarian is absent.

A big thanks to Chad and Gloria Froese who have been looking after our library for over 2 years. Work-related travel and a young family is making it difficult for them to attend many meetings, but they continue to store the books until we find someone willing to take on this responsibility. Please contact us if you’re interested.

Ideas Needed – Help Us Build Community

A group of HAAM members attended the Canadian premiere of “Losing Our Religion” at Cinematheque in September. It’s a very well-made documentary about pastors struggling when they lose their faith – especially while they’re still preaching. (More info here.) If you missed the screening, or weren’t able to be there, it will air on CBC Docs (the documentary channel) in Canada on Sunday evening October 15th, with an encore showing on Wednesday evening October 18th. Check listings for local times.

Several of the peopled interviewed for the film mentioned the importance of community. We can all definitely appreciate that sentiment. It’s in part why we join HAAM and come out to the meetings. And probably the main thing people miss when they leave religion.

The producers included scenes of people taking part in the Sunday Assembly, which just seemed to come together on a whim. And they also interviewed the founder of the Houston Oasis, which is a similar freethought group. These groups host meetings which are slightly more “church-y” in feeling than our HAAM meetings, but they also include things like coffee and live music.

It’s got me thinking – about how to grow our membership and build community, and about being able to create different types of get-togethers. That just doesn’t seem possible in our current meeting space. Should we forego the meeting rooms? Perhaps give up the meal in favor of a better space? What do YOU think? Is it time for us to look for a new home? Let us know!

Donna Harris, President

New Reasonfest Videos

Our YouTube channel is gradually taking off as we have recently added two more videos. They are from our 2015 conference River City Reasonfest, which some of you may have attended. The playlist from that conference now includes:

Greta Christina – Comforting Thoughts about Death that have Nothing to do with God

Eric Adriaans – Canada’s Blasphemy Laws and Human Rights

Tracie Harris – Is Religion Good for Families?

P Z Myers – Evolution is More Complicated than you Think

Special thanks to Paul Morrow for working so hard producing and editing these videos. Check out our channel!

Call to Action – Support Fair, Secular Government

The Freedom of Thought Report is an annual survey on discrimination and persecution against non-religious people in countries around the world. It is published by the International Humanist and Ethical Union each year on December 10th, International Human Rights Day. The full report (over 500 pages) covers every country in the world.

You might not think of Canada as being a country with a significant number of human rights concerns, but the 2016 report notes several issues (details here).

These include:

  • Recognition of the supremacy of God in the constitution and the national anthem, which, although largely symbolic, has been used to argue for allowing religion or prayer in government offices.
  • Granting automatic charitable status to organizations that promote religion, while requiring secular organizations to commit to community services to attain charity status. Also, allowing religious groups the right to maintain a building fund, but requiring secular organizations to apply for such a fund and then adhere to the conditions laid down by the Charities Directorate of the CRA.
  • Partially or fully funding religious schools, many of which discriminate on religious grounds in hiring and in accepting students. In some provinces, the government provides funding to Catholic schools but denies such funding to any other religion or belief.
  • Court rulings that allow sincerely held religious beliefs to prevail over freely contracted obligations (i.e. allowing people to back out of signed contracts on the basis of religious convictions).
  • The continued presence of a blasphemy law in the Criminal Code. (This law is one of many set to be repealed in a current review, but it is not yet officially dead.)
  • Exemptions in the Criminal Code (Section 319 3b) regarding the public incitement of hatred of identifiable groups (i.e. publishing hate literature) if the opinions expressed are based on religious belief or a religious text.

In response, an e-petition (E-1264) has been registered with the House of Commons asking the federal government to investigate the systemic discrimination against non-believers in Canadian laws and regulations.

This isn’t just a formality – it’s more important than you might think. Consider that parliamentary committees hear only from witnesses that their members invite. Since they are religious, they invite religious people. Others are asked to write submissions. For example, the Canadian Heritage Committee has heard from more than five Muslim groups regarding religious discrimination, but no Humanist groups regarding the same topic.

Please sign the petition.

Add your voice to the growing number Canadians who want fair, secular government for all!

For an idea of how Canada compares on a global scale, check this ‘freedom map’.

Color scale, from most free to most oppressed, is green-yellow-orange-red-brown. Find more maps and details here.

Book of the Month Just Pretend

Dan Barker is the co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (and a former evangelical). In this little book (only 72 pages long), he describes gods and religion to children from an atheist perspective, and explains why adults would believe in any religion at all. He refers to religions collectively as just another myth; a sort of ‘Santa Claus for grown-ups’. Because of the Santa Claus analogy, this book is not suitable for children who haven’t yet outgrown belief in a literal Santa. Its target age range would probably be 8-11 year old kids.

The book is clearly aimed at the children of families with non-believing parents. If this describes your family, and you are looking for a book to help your child understand what religion is all about, this might be a great choice. It is probably most useful as a starting point for discussion – read it along with your child and answer their questions.

It may not be appropriate for all families, depending on how much religious ideology your child has already been exposed to, and your own ideas about teaching religion and religious tolerance. Read it yourself first before deciding.

Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this book.

Charity Checkup

October through to the New Year is always a big time for charities and fund-raisers, both in the schools and in the community. There are SO many groups and causes out there – but are they all worth supporting? Before contributing, take a few minutes to learn about the charity that’s asking for your money, time, or endorsement. Read its mission statement to make sure it reflects your own values and beliefs. Some well-known, established charities make promoting religion a primary goal, component and/or requirement of their work. That’s fine if it’s what you want to support, but most of us in the Humanist community do not.

One group that operates in some Manitoba schools (and communities) is Samaritan’s Purse, which runs a shoebox donation program called Operation Christmas Child. If your child brings a note home from school asking you to support this charity, make sure to read our Religion in Schools page first to learn about its real mission.

There are plenty of charities that could use our support that are run by secular and/or religious organizations who do not evangelize the groups they serve. For some suggestions, have a look at the list of charities that HAAM has supported over the past few years.

September 2017 Newsletter

September HAAM Events

Monthly Meeting – A History of Atheism in Canada

Saturday September 9th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Ave, 5:30 PM

Complete event listings and details for all this and all upcoming HAAM events are on our Events page.

 

 

You can find past events by using the ‘Search this Site’ tool, also in the right sidebar.

Upcoming Community (Non-HAAM) Events

Advance Care Planning

Thursday September 21st, The Reh-Fit Centre, 1390 Taylor Avenue, 1:00 – 3:30 PM

Who will speak for you if you can’t speak for yourself? Advance registration is required.

 

 

Public Lecture – Refugees and Immigrants

Wednesday, Sept 27th, Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre, Morden, 7 – 9 PM

 

 

 

For details on these and more upcoming non-HAAM events, visit our Community Events page.

Latest News

Solar Eclipse 2017 – A traumatic event for some of our members

Sometimes HAAM members get asked why we publicly challenge religion and why we are so angry about it. The following Facebook status, posted on the day of the recent solar eclipse, perfectly illustrates the answer. We fight because, unfortunately, the type of anguish expressed in this post is common among survivors of childhood religious indoctrination (brainwashing). Instilling this level of fear in children whose minds have not yet developed the ability to think critically about what they are being taught is psychological abuse. We frequently hear similar stories in person from many of our members. Decades later, the PTSD remains.

The post is copied and pasted to protect the privacy of the HAAM member who shared it. The event described occurred almost 30 years ago.

I vividly remember seeing a partial eclipse as a child (not sure when?) and the terror I felt because we were reading the Bible and singing, “When the skies of heaven shall fall and the moon shall be turned into blood, the sons of God shall arise, Zion awake.”

I’m sitting here remembering and feeling how terrified I was as a child because it could have been the end of the world, as we were told, and I was told that meant that I would be tortured for my faith. I can still see the pictures of people being tortured, and being told that would happen to me to try to get me to deny Christ – stretching, ripping off nails, gouging out eyes and ripping out intestines. I saw these AS A CHILD. Was told it would happen to me AS A CHILD.

I’m feeling sick and I’m shaking with the memory, and how it makes me feel today. It is irrational to feel fear as what I really feel is amazement at seeing a partial eclipse. But brainwashing goes deep, and this is the first time I’m thinking about this and feeling it as an adult. I’m feeling the lasting trauma of emotional abuse and how it shaped my mind. This is so sick. *tears*

A google search for the quoted line (“when the skies of heaven shall fall…”) turned up several hymns containing those or similar lyrics. One version is this (not the exact hymn that our HAAM member sang as a child):

Awake Zion, awake

Awake and trim your lamps

For the stars of heaven shall fall

And the moon shall turn into blood

And the son of man shall appear

Zion awake

As to which Bible verse these lyrics are based on, there are over a dozen verses that refer to the darkening of the sun, moon, stars, or some combination of these. Three specifically mention the moon turning blood red – an obvious reference to an eclipse.

  • Joel 2:31 The sun will be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
  • Acts 2:20 The sun will be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
  • Revelation 6:12-13 The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth.

Seriously, there are only two conclusions we can draw from these verses.

1 The writer of Acts (ostensibly Luke, but in fact, scholars don’t really know who wrote Luke and Acts, although they know the same person wrote both books) plagiarized the book of Joel.

2 People living 2,000 years ago didn’t understand what an eclipse was.

Are apologists still peddling this fear and nonsense today? You betcha! (see book cover, right) And as long as they do, Humanists will continue to promote science, reason, and critical thinking as the best ways to understand the world. This is the only way we can ever hope to diminish the kind of fear and ignorance that leads to otherwise loving families scaring innocent children out of their wits and traumatizing them for life.

Calls to Action

End Violence Against Apostates in Malaysia

Members of an atheist group in Malaysia are facing death threats and government-sponsored “re-education” after their photos were seen in a Facebook post. Click here for the story, and a sample letter that you can write to urge an end to the intolerance of apostasy.

 

 

‘Voice Your Choice’ on Assisted Dying

The federal government is studying the possible impacts of allowing medical assistance in dying (MAID) for three groups of Canadians who don’t currently qualify:

  • Those who will be excluded unless the law is changed to allow for advance requests;
  • Individuals whose primary medical condition is a mental illness; and
  • Mature minors.

Dying With Dignity is seeking submissions from Canadians who have personal concerns or stories to tell about how the current restrictions on MAID have already unfairly restricted (or may, in future, restrict) choices in dying for themselves or someone they know.

Click here for more information about this campaign. Deadline for submissions is September 15th.

If you don’t have a personal story to tell right now, but still want to add your voice to those of others who support advance requests for assisted dying, click here.

Charity of the Month – Island Lake Relief Fund

Once again, wildfires in northern Manitoba have forced the evacuation of several communities in the Island Lake area (northeast). As many as 5,000 people have been flown out of the Wasagamack, St. Theresa Point, and Garden Hill First Nations. They are staying in temporary accommodations and emergency shelters in Winnipeg, Brandon, and Portage. Many left home with little or no possessions, and are relying on charities for assistance while they are away.

CBC news posted images of the devastation, like the scene shown here. Click for more photos.

Here’s how HAAM members can help:

If you have needed items to donate, you can take them directly to one of the following locations. (Please do not bring them to the HAAM meeting.)

  • The Island Lake Tribal Council, at 338 Broadway, is accepting diapers, water, baby formula, condensed milk and other toiletries. They don’t need any more clothes or blankets.
  • The Ma Mawi Chi Itata Centre, at 445 King St., is accepting donations of clean clothing (especially men’s clothing), non-perishable food, diapers, kids’ toys, and hygiene products.

If you are able to make a financial contribution:

The Me-Dian Credit Union (formerly the Metis Credit Union of Manitoba) has started an Island Lake Relief Fund. It’s accepting donations to help with short-term costs for the evacuees. We will be collecting donations at our September 9th HAAM meeting and forwarding them to this fund.

Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the Paypal button on this page. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity.

The Jesus Stick

Sanded wood with tapered ends, and a small leather lace with five plastic beads tied onto it. That’s the Jesus Stick that was handed out by the hundreds at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival this year. These walking sticks are supposed to symbolize your walk with Jesus. Now normally I wouldn’t bother with booths like this; it’s not my habit to visit Christian booths just to annoy people. However, we had several Christians come by our HAAM booth and mention that we really need to hear their message. So myself and fellow Humanist Laura Stephens, not wanting to decline the invite, decided we’d go over and get ourselves a Jesus stick.

They’re not completely free. When you get to the booth, you stand in line with others until you hear their message, and only after you listen to the message, do they cough up a stick. So with that in mind, I thought when I got to the front of the line “maybe I’ll make this guy work for it a little”. Both Laura and I offered full disclosure when we walked up – we told the fella were Humanists and atheists, and had been encouraged by Christians with sticks to hear their message. So here is the message about the five beads on the stick (click to enlarge photo):

Gold

The first bead is gold and symbolizes heaven and God’s plan for you. After the fellow explained the first bead, and how heaven is a paradise, I asked him “suppose I accept all this and get saved, how am I supposed to enjoy paradise when my kids are burning in hell because they’re atheists too?” All the fellow could do was to quote some scripture that, to me, seemed to indicate that everybody gets in to heaven. Then he moved on to the next bead.

Black

Black symbolizes the sin of man in the world, our fall from grace, and how the wages of sin is death… but that you could be saved from this because God sent his son, the “sinless Jesus”, to pay our debt. So I asked the fella “if Jesus was completely sinless, how come the New Testament said ‘slaves obey your earthly masters’? It seems to me that the Bible was endorsing slavery and the ownership of other people, and that would, in my books, be a sin.” His answer was a Bible story from Philemon, where Paul sends a runaway slave back to his master. This was somehow supposed to demonstrate that Jesus didn’t support slavery. So I asked “how on earth does sending a slave back to his master demonstrate that anything has changed?” His answer – “because the slave had turned into a Christian” – was even more baffling. And he was on to the next bead.

Red

Red symbolizes the blood of Jesus and his death on the cross, his resurrection, and his payment for our sins. Later Laura mentioned to me that at this part of his spiel she really wanted to say “resurrected? So he really only gave up a long weekend?”… I wish she had, as I’m sure the fella’s reaction would’ve been priceless. I took a pause in his speech to ask him why he would think that human sacrifice could pay for someone else’s crimes (that they didn’t actually commit), and why anyone would think a human sacrifice is good. Any good and moral person who was alive at the time would have done everything in their power to stop the slow torture of another human being. His comeback for that was a nervous (or possibly uncomfortable) smile, and he replied “it was a different time and Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. He gave his life for you”.

White

The white bead symbolizes purity and the need to repent and ask for forgiveness. I mentioned to him that this is one of the big differences for us as Humanists. When we do wrong, we try to right those wrongs ourselves and ask for forgiveness from those we have wronged. It seems to me that asking for forgiveness from a supernatural God is the easy way out. To which our Christian potential stick-giver could only a muster a somewhat subdued “ahuh”.

Green

Green symbolizes growing in Christ. I let him have this one; after all it was his booth and he had suffered enough. It didn’t escape Laura’s attention that the fella gave us our sticks and let us go before getting to the second card. The second card (shown at right, click to enlarge) is where he explains how and what to pray to ask Jesus to come into our hearts. This was a bummer, ‘cause I had all kinds of questions about prayer.

Maybe next year.                                                                                                                                          – Pat Morrow    

Check out our Gallery for photos of the Morden Outreach.

Book of the Month – The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason

Victor J. Stenger grew up in a Catholic working-class neighborhood in New Jersey. He earned a PhD in physics in 1963 and enjoyed a long and successful career in particle physics. He was also a long-time and well-known advocate of skepticism, philosophical naturalism, and atheism; a fierce critic of intelligent design and pseudoscience (even being once sued by Uri Geller for questioning Geller’s psychic powers); and a public speaker and debater, taking on apologists like John Lennox and William Lane Craig.

Stenger didn’t mince words in his criticism of religion. His statement about religion flying people into buildings is often quoted online. He argued that absence of evidence for God is, indeed, evidence of absence, when the evidence should be there and is not.

Stenger’s 2009 book The New Atheism is a well-argued defense of non-belief. He summarizes the main points made by the New Atheists (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and Dennett), and offers up a few more arguments of his own. Along the way, Stenger also discusses his critics’ arguments — and offers excellent rebuttals to them. This book is an great primer for godless newbies; it’s not overly philosophical, and it provides easy-to-understand arguments to use if you’re ever in a religious debate.

Stenger died in 2014 at the age of 79. His soul doesn’t live on, but his written works continue to encourage others to take a stand for science and reason. The 2009 lecture based on this book at the time of its release is on YouTube.

Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this book.

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Our informal weekend brunches are a great way to get to know your fellow Humanists. Here’s a photo of our September brunch in the cafe at Assiniboine Park.

Our next brunch will be on Sunday, October 22nd, but we haven’t chosen a location yet. We’ve been rotating locations around the city for variety, and so that the same people don’t always have to drive across town. Do you have a favorite place to suggest for a future brunch?  Let us know.

 

 

 

Did You Miss the Evening with Richard Carrier?

We had a packed – almost ‘standing room only’ room for Dr. Carrier’s speech on the historicity of Jesus and the origins of Christianity. If you were unable to attend, you can now catch it on our YouTube channel.

August 2017 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

See our Events page for the details on these and all our HAAM events.

An Evening with Richard Carrier

Did Christianity really begin without a Jesus?

Saturday August 19th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Ave, 7 – 9 PM

Note that space is limited! Click here to register in advance.

Admission is free for paid HAAM members. Non-members $5 at the door.

Outreach at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival

Friday August 25th – Sunday August 27th, Stephen Street, Morden Manitoba

Friday and Saturday 10 AM to 10 PM; Sunday noon to 5:30 PM

 

 HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday September 3rd, The Park Café (in Assiniboine Park beside the duck pond), 9:30 AM.

 

 

Monthly Meeting – A History of Atheism in Canada

Saturday, September 9th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 5:30 PM

 

 

Latest News

It’s that time of year again! We’re planning for the upcoming season.

Is there a topic you’d like to learn about, or a speaker you’d like to hear at an upcoming meeting? An issue you’d like to discuss at a Round Table? A book you’d like to read or present at a Book Club? A video you think would be great for next year’s Film Fest? A community event you think our members might be interested in? An opportunity for outreach? A fun activity that would benefit the community? A charity that we should support? An event you can help out with?

We welcome our members’ ideas and involvement. Contact us with your suggestions – or even better, come to any event and talk to an executive member about it in person.

 

Do Human Rights come from God?

 A curious and committed group of HAAMsters attended the debate Human Rights – By Design or By Default at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in July. It was part of an apologetics conference hosted by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, so they were greatly outnumbered by the 400+ Christian conference attendees.

It was worth going just to support and hear Dr. Christopher DiCarlo, representing the Humanist position. Luke Delaney took on the challenging task of reviewing the evening, and he has some insightful comments. You can read his take on the evening here.

Book of the Month

For this month’s featured book, we turn to the category of Skepticism and Pseudoscience. Encouraging people to think critically about their beliefs is always a major focus of our outreach activities – and we expect that this summer in Morden will be no exception.

But the need for critical thinking applies not only to religion but to many other facets of life, and Guy P. Harrison addresses quite a number of these in his book 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True. He believes that “our world could be a little better – and a lot less crazy – if more people simply understood how science works and appreciated the protective value of skeptical thinking in everyday life.” Amen to that.

Read about psychics, the faked moon landing, TV preachers asking for money, homeopathy, bigfoot, Holocaust deniers, alternative medicine, ghosts, the power of prayer, the Bermuda triangle… Each section is only 5-10 pages; perfect for reading a bit at a time over the rest of the summer.

You can listen to an interview with the author here.

Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this book.

Charity of the Month

For over 4 years HAAM has been supporting a charitable cause or group at each of our monthly meetings. In total, we have supported almost 40 different agencies, including food banks, shelters and resources for marginalized populations, animal rescues, environmental projects, children’s camps, science education, social/peer support groups, and international aid.

Why do we support a Charity of the Month? Because we are not just atheists; we are Humanists. The mere absence of a god belief does not make someone a good person – one’s actions do. Humanism includes caring about the welfare and well-being of others, supporting human rights, valuing education, respecting the environment, and generally trying to make this world a better place.

A number of popular memes mock the futility of prayer as a means of solving human problems. “I’ll pray for you” accomplishes nothing in the real world. But consider the implication of those memes – if prayer is useless, then some other action is required. HAAM’s Charity of the Month program gives us opportunities to ‘put our money where our mouth is’.

We support 9 or 10 charities per year, via a donation box at meetings. Loose change or small bills are always welcome – it all adds up. But if you can’t make it to the meeting, you can also contribute via PayPal using the ‘donate’ button on our website (just include a message about where the money is to go).

Tax receipts are issued for donations of $10 or more. So making a small donation each month will get you a nice little tax deduction at the end of the year, plus the satisfaction of having helped support a variety of worthwhile community projects and causes.

Watch for our Charity of the Month program to resume in September. We welcome suggestions for future charities that meet our criteria. More information, including a list of all the organizations we have supported, is on our Charities page.

Summer Solstice party – better late than never

Our rained-out Solstice party, rescheduled as a summer barbecue, was almost rained out for a second time! Thankfully, the rain let up in late afternoon before we got there, which makes us luckier than the folks from the apostolic church who rented the site earlier in the day.

Rob Daly was our master BBQ chef this year for the first time. After dinner, Pat Morrow (left in photo) presented him with a copy of one of our new outreach posters, featuring Rob’s words of wisdom about living a ‘godless’ life.

It reads:

A godless life is one without needless guilt; it’s taking responsibility for one’s own mistakes.

It’s a life where one’s actions are deemed ‘good’ by their benefit and ‘bad’ by their harm, and are evaluated not by the product of bronze age penmanship, but by the application of critical thought and reason.

It’s a life where the only intolerance is directed toward ignorance and the suffering it causes.

A godless life is where education and a broadened understanding of the human condition are seen as ideals to strive for.

Considering the weather and date, we had a great turnout. There are more photos on our gallery page.

May 2017 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Solar Energy 101

Saturday, May 13th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Ave, 5:30 PM

 

 

Introduction to Outreach

Thursday May 25th, Sir William Stephenson Library, 765 Keewatin St, 6:30 – 8:30 PM

 

 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, June 4th, Smitty’s Restaurant, 580 Pembina Hwy (at Grant), 9:30 AM.

 

For more information on these and all our upcoming events, check out our Events page or click on the event name in the right sidebar.

You can find past events by using the ‘Search this Site’ tool, also in the right sidebar.

Upcoming Community (non-HAAM) Events

Winnipeg Comedy Showcase

Friday, May 19th, Park Theatre, 698 Osborne St, 9 PM

 

Public Lecture – Secular/Atheist Movements in Canada

Wednesday, May 24th, Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre, Morden MB, 7 PM

Winnipeg Pride Parade

                                         Sunday June 4th

For details on these and more upcoming community events, visit our new Community Events page.

Latest News

We’re Gearing Up for Summer Outreach

HAAM’s Outreach booth will be heading out into Manitoba’s Bible Belt again this summer. We’ll have volunteers at Steinbach’s Summer in the City Festival in June, and at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival in August. (Check our Events page for details.)

The main purpose of outreach is to connect with nonbelievers who may not know that there is a large community here for them. We also promote Humanism and encourage questioning and critical thinking.  We love to engage in conversations with people about what they believe and why they believe it, and we welcome questions about Humanism and atheism. Conversation topics usually include the Bible, morality, science (especially evolution), LGBTTQ issues, and anything else on our visitors’ minds.

We need lots of manpower to staff these booths for each of these 3-day festivals, as they are always busy. Please consider joining us and helping out. It’s an interesting and rewarding experience, and a great learning opportunity. Outreach helps build bridges to understanding other worldviews, and it’s a great way to get to know some of your fellow HAAM members as we sit at the booth together.

If you have never done any outreach before, it can sound more intimidating than it really is. Talking to people in person is generally much more respectful than exchanges on social media. Shifts can be as short as 2-3 hours if that’s all the time you can spare, or up to 12 hours if you’re available for the whole day. That’s not as long as it sounds; the time passes VERY quickly once you get involved in a deep conversation.

To help prepare, we’re holding an information session for new Outreach volunteers on Thursday May 25th. Everyone is welcome! But if you want to volunteer and can’t attend, let us know and we’ll work something else out. Even if you are not interested in or are unsure about participating in Outreach, this session may help you to navigate difficult conversations with religious family and friends. There’s also lots more information about outreach on this website. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us! Or just show up at the May meeting and ask in person. Outreach coordinator Pat Morrow (or any of our other experienced Outreach people) will be happy to chat with you.

Speaking of Outreach – Updated Brochures Available

Just in time for the annual summer outreach season, all of our informational brochures have been revised and updated. These are the little pamphlets that we print to hand out to curious visitors at our booth. For some of these people, it is literally the first time they have encountered a real, live non-believer. It’s great for them to have something tangible to pick up and peruse later.

New! We’ve recently added a brochure explaining the meaning of common scientific terms. What’s the difference between a fact, a law, a hypothesis, and a theory (or are they all basically the same thing)? Don’t know for sure? Most of the visitors at our booth don’t, either – that’s why they disparagingly refer to evolution as ‘just a theory’. This little pamphlet should help with the confusion.

All of these brochures are also available on our website. If you, or someone you know, is curious, you can always direct them there, where the brochures can be viewed online (or you can print your own copies to hand out if you wish).

The list of titles reflects the most common topics we get asked about – Humanism, Atheism, and (most common of all) Where do you get your morals from? And then of course, evolution and science, with trees commonly pointed out as proof of creation. (That’s the reason we have an entire brochure dedicated to trees.)

Take a look – and go ahead and share!

Enjoy our April meeting? Want to hear more?

The video clip that was shown was taken from this presentation, Disproving Gods with History and Science, by Richard Carrier. Carrier has a PhD in ancient history, and his whole speech (39 minutes) is well worth the listen. He contends that a historical Jesus never existed, and that the biblical character is based on a compilation of myths.

The secular scholar with the opposing viewpoint (that an historical Jesus did exist, even though he wasn’t divine), also mentioned at the meeting, is Bart Ehrman. Ehrman is a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina and a former fundamentalist Christian. Here’s a clip of him reading from his book Did Jesus Exist?

There’s lots more to this debate, and it may never be settled – but it’s fascinating.

Breaking News – We’ve just heard that Richard Carrier is planning to tour Canada this summer. If he stops in Winnipeg, we’ll be sure to let you know. Stay tuned!

Charity of the Month – Women’s Health Clinic

For over 30 years, the Women’s Health Clinic (WHC) has provided support to women in the areas of prenatal and postpartum care and counselling, newborn care and parenting, nutrition and eating disorders, birth control and unplanned pregnancy, abortion services, sexual health educator training, and general mental health counselling. Most services are offered free or on a pay-what-you-can basis.

The clinic’s Pregnancy Prevention and Safer Sex (PPaSS) program provides supplies to those who can’t afford them otherwise. The program currently offers copper IUDs, condoms, birth control pills, dental dams, and emergency contraception. Unfortunately, due to its high cost, the clinic is not able to offer the hormone-based IUD (Mirena).

The PPaSS program is largely funded through donations from clients and community members, and demand typically exceeds supply. Donations help more people access the supplies they need to care for their sexual and reproductive health.

WHC tries to make sure that everyone who wants an abortion can access one. While the surgical abortion procedure is covered through Manitoba Health, other related expenses often make it challenging for northern and rural Manitobans to access abortion services in Winnipeg. The clinic always welcomes and appreciates donations to WHC’s Client Emergency Fund to help cover costs for travel and accommodations. When necessary, they are also willing to negotiate the fee for clients who aren’t covered by Manitoba Health and don’t have other health coverage. In their commitment to improving access to abortion, they will not turn someone away who is unable to pay for the procedure.

WHC has not yet begun to offer Mifegymiso (the abortion pill, also called medical abortion). The cost isn’t currently covered by Manitoba Health and clients must pay $350. The clinic is committed to working with the government to make medical abortion an accessible healthcare service for more Manitobans.

Support for sexual healthcare and reproductive choice are key values for most Humanists. Our donation will be directed towards the PPaSS program. Let’s do what we can to help women in our community.

Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the PayPal link on the right sidebar. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity.

March for Science

A few hearty souls from HAAM braved the cool weather to participate in the Winnipeg March For Science on April 22nd. Despite the snow, those who attended were treated to several great speakers.

Right now, science is under attack from several directions, and it needs our help. Those of us who understand that science is the best way we have to know the world around us, need to speak up and remind our leaders and elected officials of the need for evidence-based policies. If we each speak up and let our beliefs be known, perhaps we can influence those in power to make real change.                                                                    – Donna Harris

 

More photos in our Gallery.

 

 

Book of the Month

Spring is here, so read something fun! How about Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things, by Richard Wiseman. Light reading – but not mindless reading. Wiseman sounds like a fascinating character; he has a PhD in psychology and is also a practicing magician. He conducts research into unusual areas of psychology, or as he calls it, the ‘backwaters of the mind’, including deception, luck, and the paranormal. He also has a very entertaining YouTube channel. Here’s a sample, (only 2 minutes long, and amazing – how does he do that?).

In his book, Wiseman explores the quirky science of everyday life and the oddities of human behavior, like the tell-tale signs that give away a liar, the secret science behind speed-dating and personal ads, and what a person’s sense of humor reveals about the innermost workings of his or her mind. How strange is the human mind? Read this book and you’ll find out!

Visit our library page if you would like to borrow this book.

New Community Events Page

You may have noticed that we have a new, separate page on our website for ‘Community Events‘. This is to distinguish our HAAM events from those of other organizations that we encourage our supporters to attend or participate in.

If you are aware of an event that you think our readers might like to know about, please contact us with the details. We will share it, subject to approval from the executive. Consideration will be given to events that are consistent with our Mission and Position Statements, (and to events that warrant our attention and interest because they directly oppose our Mission and Position Statements).

Film Festival Recap

If you could not attend the Prairie Infidel Film Fest and are interested in finding the films, here they are.

Rubai (2013), 12 min – As her classmates prepare for their First Holy Communion, Rubai announces that she is an atheist and refuses to participate.

Deathbed: the Musical (2011), 6 min – An old man sits in a nursing home, waiting to die. A devoutly religious man, he firmly believes he will receive his due reward in the afterlife. While reflecting on his own virtues and thinking of the world to come, a nurse, nearing the end of a long, arduous shift, brings his breakfast.

Bacon & God’s Wrath (2015), 9 min – An elderly Jewish woman tastes bacon for the first time.

The Man From Earth (2007), 1 h, 27 min – An impromptu goodbye party for Professor John Oldman becomes a mysterious interrogation after the retiring scholar reveals to his colleagues he has a longer and stranger past than they can imagine. This movie is available on Hoopla, which is free to anyone with a Winnipeg Public Library card.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 2017 Newsletter

Upcoming HAAM Events

Dying and Rising Gods Before Jesus

Saturday, April 8th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Avenue, 5:30 – 8:30 PM.

 

 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Saturday, April 29th, Perkins Restaurant, 2142 McPhillips St (just south of Garden City Shopping Centre), 9:30 AM

 

For details on these and more upcoming events, check out our Events page or click on the event name in the right sidebar.

Upcoming Community (non-HAAM) Events

March for Science

Saturday, April 22nd, Manitoba Legislature, 1 PM

 

 

Future Community Events

Friday, May 19th Winnipeg Comedy Showcase, with our own Rollin Penner

Wednesday, May 24th – Public Lecture – Secular/Atheist Movements in Canada

For details on these and more upcoming community events, visit our new Community Events page. 

Latest News

Ask An Atheist Day 

The official date is Thursday April 20th, but during the month of April, we are inviting anyone to ask us anything, anytime – so go ahead and think up your toughest questions! Details are on the home page of our website.

If you are ‘out’ as an atheist, and would like to participate in this event as an individual, feel free to use one of the following images (created by the Secular Student Alliance) on social media to encourage your friends to ask you their questions. (Or you can refer people to the HAAM website if you don’t want to answer yourself.)

Profile Pic

Profile Pic

Facebook banner

 

Click images to enlarge and download.

 

 

 

Can Faith and Science Co-Exist?

According to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines (any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no), the answer would obviously be ‘no’. But that’s not the opinion of Dr. Patrick Franklin, a professor of theology who gave a lecture on the subject in March.

HAAM’s Pat Morrow drove out to Morden to listen. Pat’s report on the evening’s discussion mentions Bible verses, creationists, Richard Dawkins, pedophile priests, the garden of Eden, Galileo, and an ode to flowers. How do these all tie in together? Read his fascinating and informative account here. It appears on our Perspectives page.

 

Charity of the Month in Action

The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre was our Charity of the Month in September 2014. Back then, they were raising money to replace their old van, and promised that donations of $250 or more would be recognized with a decal on the new van as an indication of that sponsorship. HAAM members came through with the required amount, but we never saw the result until recently.

When Pat Morrow was in Morden for the Diversitas Lecture held at the museum, he noticed the new van in the parking lot and snapped this photo (click to enlarge). That’s great advertising for HAAM – and a nice little reminder, especially in a Bible Belt town, that non-believers can be charitable, too.

Call to ActionDemand that Canada’s Blasphemy Law be Repealed

The crime of blasphemous libel (Criminal Code Section 296) is still on the books in Canada. It was the subject of a petition in 2016. In the government’s response to that petition, on January 30, 2017, Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould indicated that the blasphemy law would be reviewed along with other outdated laws as part of a broad review of the justice system.

Now that review is underway. Government Bill C-39, an act to repeal provisions and remove passages of the Criminal Code that have been ruled unconstitutional (‘zombie laws’), is currently before the House of Commons. It addresses such varied issues as duelling, abortion, practicing witchcraft, and water-skiing – but nothing about blasphemy. Why not?

The current “zombie law” bill may be the best opportunity to advance secular human rights Canadian secularists are likely to see. Don’t let it pass! Write to your Member of Parliament and demand the repeal of Canada’s blasphemy law.

Click here for a sample letter that you can use or edit if you wish.

Opinion – Why Do Refugees Cross the Border? (and why should we help them?)

I’m thinking right now about all the Facebook memes and comments posted about people’s individual struggles in life. How we don’t really know what people are going through, what battles or demons they may be fighting; you know the ones.

Do these memes only apply to us? You and I who are lucky enough to have been born in Canada; you and I who see the world only through the lens of Facebook; you and I with our first world problems; you and I who have never lived in war-torn countries; you and I who have never had to fear for our lives, and especially the lives of our children; you and I who are not fleeing discriminatory policies and outright hatred from the government of a country that once used to be a beacon of hope. We do not know the individual stories of these people until we actually hear and assess them. The fact that they are coming from the USA right now is the result of the policies of the vile Trump administration.

Canada is a rich country that can afford to accommodate immigrants and refugees as well as do more to look after our own homeless and poverty stricken people. It is not an either/or issue for me. It is only a matter of political and collective will.

I am a descendant of people who came to Canada under what was then an open-door policy based on race and ethnicity. My people, for the most part, were not refugees; they were economic migrants – looking for a better life for themselves and their children. Knowing this, I for one have a hard time slamming the door in the face of newcomers, especially if it means turning back desperate asylum-seekers and children at the border.

Immigrants and refugees cost us money on arrival, but once established, they pay rich dividends that far exceed their initial cost to Canada. If it’s the cost of supporting refugees that concerns us, I can only imagine the billions of dollars and vast infrastructure needed to really seal off and secure our borders if we wish to stop people walking across.

As far as the lengthy wait for immigrants who pursue the application process, for the most part these people and their children are not in any physical danger. Canada has a problematic legal immigration process that favours people who are well off. That needs to be changed.

So, yeah, what about all these silly memes about our personal struggles… while we sit in our comfortably warm homes, and live and work in a safe country.                                                                                                                          – Bob Russell

Charity of the Month – Welcome Place

Welcome Place

The Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council (MIIC) had its beginnings in the years following WWII, when “displaced persons” had to declare their religious affiliation to enter the country. Back then, each denomination sought to help their own people integrate into Canada. Over time, as common goals and interests emerged, these groups began to work together, eventually becoming the MIIC. For nearly 70 years, MIIC has welcomed, reunited, and settled refugee families from all over the world.

Today, MIIC’s services include:

  • Assistance with settlement
  • Information about and orientation to life in Canada
  • Referrals to community services like English classes, employment counseling, financial and legal support, etc.
  • Interpretation/translation, counseling, advocacy and support
  • Information about Provincial and Federal Government services such as healthcare and social services
  • Life skills training
  • Orientation to neighborhoods and transportation (like public transit and climate information)
  • Personal financial help (like budgeting, shopping, and banking)
  • Education about emergency preparedness (like child safety, fire, food, pedestrian, winter)

Newly arrived government-assisted refugees are temporarily housed at Welcome Place Residence (521 Bannatyne Ave, in photo), in self-contained and furnished apartments with access to on-site support. Except that this year, Welcome Place is full and struggling to keep up with the demands for its accommodations and services, due mainly to the influx of asylum-seekers escaping the USA. By early March, they had already assisted almost 200 new refugees, including pregnant women and unaccompanied minors.

To try to meet this increasing demand, MIIC launched a new fund-raising campaign in March, called #Open Your Hearts – A Celebration of Humanity. Their goal is to raise $300,000.00. Every little bit helps – can we help them reach their goal?

  Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the PayPal link on the right sidebar. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity.

Book of the Month

Among the donated books added to our library last month is a little gem entitled The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors; Or, Christianity Before Christ, by Kersey Graves. Since many people will be celebrating Easter this month, a book that examines ‘heathen gods’ that predate Christ sounds fascinating. But get this – it was written in 1875! That’s not a typo; even way back then, there were skeptics and freethinkers.

Graves asserted that Jesus was not an actual person, but a creation largely based on earlier stories of deities. This book was a forerunner to the increasingly popular Christ-as-a-myth theories, and its ideas have been used in the documentaries The God Who Wasn’t There, The Pagan Christ, Zeitgeist: The Movie, and Religulous.

The gods discussed in this book include those from Egypt, India, Syria, Mexico, Tibet, and Babylon, and all share at least some of the following traits we associate with Jesus, including miraculous or virgin births, being born on December 25, having stars point to their birthplaces, being visited by shepherds and magi as infants, fleeing from death as children, spending time in the desert, having disciples, performing miracles, being crucified, descending into hell, appearing as resurrections or apparitions, and ascending into heaven.

Graves’ ideas have since been critiqued and refined by modern scholars like Richard Carrier, but why not take a look at the ‘original’ Jesus-myth book just for fun? Visit our library page if you would like to borrow it.

March 2017 Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Atheist Comedy Night

Saturday, March 11th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 5:30 – 8:30 PM

 

 

 

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Sunday, March 19th, 10:00 AM at the Perkins restaurant in Madison Square (305 Madison at Ness, just west of Polo Park).

 

 

2017 Atheist Film Festival

Saturday, April 1st, Millennium Library (Carol Shields Auditorium, 2nd floor)

Doors open 2:45 pm. Films start at 3 pm.

 

 

For more information on these and future events, check out our Events page or click on the event name in the right sidebar.

You can find past events by using the ‘Search this Site’ tool, also in the right sidebar.

Latest News

Meet our new family members!

click to enlarge

Following the presentation by Maysoun Darweesh of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council (MIIC) at our meeting in November, my wife Carmen and I have become hosts for a family of new Canadians. They are from the city of Idlib (in red on map), in the Idlib Governorate in Syria, located just 59 km southwest of Aleppo. They arrived in Canada on January 1, 2016.

We applied to and were accepted for the MIIC’s “Host Matching Program”. We will be their newest and, as it turns out, their first Canadian friends! Khaled and Asmahan are parents to three lovely young children ranging in age from 18 months to 8 years old. Khaled was most recently a truck driver at home, but considers himself a construction worker. Asmahan is mainly a stay-at-home mother, but she has some serious bead working, knitting, and crocheting skills that we will be able to tell you more about after we get to know them better.

Their area in Syria and their city saw some of the earliest fighting in the Syrian Civil War. Much of their town has been destroyed in the conflict, including ruins dating from thousands of years ago. My heart goes out to them, already, just for this. Their eldest, a daughter, is in grade 3 at her local school. She wants to be a doctor, a teacher or a paleontologist (she is in her dinosaur phase!). She is very bright and her English is already surprisingly good. The middle child, a boy, attends kindergarten, is shy, and we only saw him get animated after we had been together for about an hour and a half. Their youngest child, another girl, slept most of the time we were together, but we saw her playing with her siblings as well.

Both parents come from large families. Khaled is the youngest of ten, while Asmahan is third youngest of 12. While their surviving parents seem to be still residing in Idlib, their siblings are dispersed across the region, Europe, and now, North America. Their story is not unusual in this respect. They are able to maintain some contact by phone and over the Internet.

During the thirteen months they have been in Canada, they have had no sustained contact with anyone here. We will become their family, since it seems they have none left in Syria, either. I am expecting many people to be called upon to help as needs become apparent. Khaled has applied for a special program at RRC that will give him special instruction in both English and in construction. It will also place him afterward! If he can get into that program, it will be a big step to making this family self-sufficient. Asmahan could sell some of her crafts. I am hoping to help her make those connections. Both parents are studying English at the Seven Oaks Adult ESL school. They have a vehicle, which they do not use very much, and Asmahan is learning to drive.

Our discussions led to us to understand that they already appreciate the secular nature of life in Canada. They were subjected to various kinds of discrimination in their homeland and in Lebanon. They also saw its effects on others. While they are nominally Muslim, I expect the Humanist aspect of our world view will appeal to them as they come to understand how we come to be so accepting of our differences.

We expect to get the family out to do some normal family things, like tobogganing and skating. Other ideas will come as we get to know them better. As far as we can tell, they have never even been to the zoo! It takes a village to support a family, and I know HAAM members are already stepping up to help. I would like to hear from anyone reading this article who would like to be included in the work required to acclimate this young family to their new permanent home.

P.S., They all love cats! That means our Ringo will have more family to contend with now.

Please let us know if you are interested in helping this family.                                                                                     – Rick Dondo

Does Your Advance Care Plan Include Spiritual Care?

With the recent legalization of assisted dying (now commonly known as MAID – medical aid in dying), you may have seen in the news lately that some publicly-funded health care facilities are refusing to allow MAID on their premises because of their religious affiliation. This has led to questions from our members about the influence of religion in public hospitals. Most of us don’t get to choose which hospital we are taken to when we are ill – so how do you feel about being admitted to a faith-based facility?

Just as an ACP (Advance Care Plan) provides for your wishes to be respected in regards to medical care and treatment, perhaps it’s also worthwhile to make your wishes regarding ‘spiritual care’ clearly known if you feel strongly about that. It’s pretty simple to do this. Your Manitoba Health card must be presented whenever you require medical treatment. So if you have an ACP, or any other wishes or requests, just note that in writing and keep it with your Manitoba Health card.

A sample card is shown here (click images to enlarge).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dying With Dignity used to mail out these cards out with ACP packages. They don’t mail cards anymore, but you can easily make a similar one yourself and include the same information – the names of people to call in an emergency to make medical decisions for you, the name and phone number of your family physician, your signature, and the location of your ACP if you have one. On the back of this one it says “I am an atheist. If I am hospitalized, I do not want any clergy or chaplain visits”, followed by initials.

Making sure your wishes are known and clearly stated can save a lot of grief and hassle later.

  We have written about spiritual care in hospitals before – check the October 2016 newsletter if you missed the articles.

Charity of the Month

    It’s been several years since the Rainbow Resource Centre was our Charity of the Month, so it’s overdue – and their current need couldn’t be greater. Recent and ongoing political upheaval in the USA is leading members of the LGBTTQ community there to seek asylum in Canada, and as a result, RRC is overwhelmed with calls for information and counselling.

RRC was busy enough even before this latest crisis. Since its inception as the ‘Campus Gay Club’ at the U of M in the early 1970’s, it has been a leader and important resource for the gay and lesbian community, providing community services, education, outreach and political awareness, and activism.

RRC offers support to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Two-Spirit, Intersex, Queer, Questioning and Ally (LGBTTQ*) population of Manitoba and North Western Ontario through counselling and peer support groups; provides education and training for schools, school divisions, and GSA’s (gay-straight alliances); hosts events, workshops, and social activities for clients of all ages; and houses and coordinates a wealth of resources, including a library, a toll-free phone line, and links to LGBTTQ-friendly crisis centres, legal aid, peer support groups, health care, and more.

RRC depends on donations to help keep all these operations going for the long haul, and now to assist refugees as well. Please lend your support to this worthy cause!

 Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the PayPal link on the right sidebar. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity.

Partners for Life Update

Have you donated blood yet this year? Canadian Blood Services’ Partners for Life program is a friendly competition among organizations, schools, and businesses to encourage their members to donate blood. We just got our participation report for 2016, and HAAM did really well, especially since we didn’t even promote it until mid-summer. Fourteen HAAM members have enrolled in the program, and those members gave a total of 19 units of blood, or 76% of our goal of 25 units.

Can we reach that goal this year? There have been 3 donations already in 2017, so we should easily be able to get to 25, if

  1. Those 14 members each donate twice, and/or
  2. A few more HAAM members sign up.

All the information you need is here on our website. There’s also a handy link to that info on the right sidebar of our Home Page for future reference.

By donating blood, you can not only save someone’s life (enough reward in itself, right?), but show the world that Humanists are good people (who donate blood).

Upcoming clinics: You can donate at the main clinic on William Ave (across from HSC) during their regular hours (Mon 10-2 and 3:30-7:30; Tues 1:30-7; and Wed-Sat 8-2). Or check the list of mobile clinics at the top of any page on the CBS website.

Video Links from our Darwin Day meeting

If you weren’t at our February meeting, you missed a great presentation by Pat Morrow about how the advancement of science contributes to a Humanistic worldview. At the end, several people in the audience asked for links to the short videos he showed about evolution. Here they are:

The first three are from a video series called Genetics and Evolution, by Stated Clearly.

The last video was a clip of a speech by Richard Dawkins comparing the worldview of someone whose religious belief prevents him from accepting reality to someone whose commitment to truth requires him to reject a long-held belief when new evidence against it is presented.

If you are interested in learning more, there are links to additional videos and other resources, including the complete Genetics and Evolution video series, on our Exploring Nonbelief web page. Check it out!

P.S. If you weren’t at the meeting to get a piece of Darwin’s birthday cake, you can at least see a photo of it in our Gallery.

Book of the Month

   It’s comedy month, so here’s something fun. Not all of the books in our library are serious and educational; we also have a few about popular culture, including Me of Little Faith by comedian Lewis Black. Raised as a non-practicing Jew, Black noticed unsettling parallels between religious rapture and drug-induced visions while attending college in the 1960’s, and since then has turned an increasingly skeptical eye toward the politicians and televangelists who don the cloak of religious rectitude to mask their own moral hypocrisy. The more than two dozen short essays in this book include hilarious experiences with rabbis, Mormons, gurus, and psychics. Black pokes fun at every religious figure and issue he can – the Catholic Church, Mormons, people who commit suicide in the name of faith, Jews, and of course Jesus and God. Find it in our Library.

 

Outreach Report from Houston Atheists

I worked on this newsletter while on vacation in Roatan, Honduras. Here’s a little personal note about that trip.

We booked our flights, via Chicago and Houston, long before we had any inkling of Trump becoming president, so we experienced a lot of anxiety about traveling to the US when the time finally came. I spent an hour before we left deleting all the memes, news articles, and videos I had shared on Facebook mocking Trump and criticizing the US government – just in case my phone or laptop was searched. But we passed through airport security without a hitch, except for my husband being asked for his Social Insurance Number. He did remember most of it, after a couple of attempts; what might the customs officer have asked or done if he had not? I felt guilty, in solidarity with everyone who is not white, about not being stopped and searched.

  We spent our layover day in Houston at the Museum of Natural Sciences, figuring that if we were going to spend any tourist dollars in Texas, they might as well be directed toward science and education. The museum’s paleontology exhibit is comprehensive and about the size of a football field. I saw Tiktaalik! (in photo) There were references to evolution in almost every display, and the museum was packed with school children on tours. I heard a guide state that they get 600,000 kids a year through there on school field trips. That just doesn’t jive with what we hear about scientific ignorance and rampant creationism.

In the evening we joined a group of people from the Houston Atheists at a pub. There were about a dozen attendees, so we spent an interesting couple of hours comparing notes about our groups’ activities and ideas. They are a loosely-knit organization that mainly uses Meet-Up to advertise small social gatherings at various venues around the city. Not surprisingly, their main focus right now is political activism and separation of church and state issues. One of their members is a high school teacher, so he was able to shed some light on the religion-in-schools issues we read so much about in the media. He said there’s a huge urban-rural split (sound familiar?) in worldviews, with most of the anti-science attitude and push for creationism coming from outside the major cities. He also explained that there is a huge discrepancy in the quality of the education among public schools, depending mainly on the socio-economic level and ethnicity of the communities they serve; but that generally, what we read about represents the egregious infractions of a small minority.

Overall, we experienced no trouble on our one day in Texas; but like several members of the Houston Atheists warned – venture outside the city limits and it’ll be a different story. Not one I’m particularly yearning to read.

One final note – I was asked to toss in a fish picture, so here’s a photo of a seahorse from Roatan. They’re a rare and special sight, and we saw several. Fun fact – when seahorses mate, the female deposits the eggs into a pouch on the male’s abdomen. His body swells and he incubates the eggs until they hatch. Now doesn’t that sound like ‘intelligent design’?       – Dorothy Stephens

HAAM Takes On Apologetics – Part 2

Two of our members were recently interviewed by a pastor for a church conference designed to teach Christians how to defend their faith to non-believers.

In Part 2 of his report, Pat Morrow describes his weekend at that conference. Both parts of his report appear on our Perspectives page. You can read Part 2 here.

February 2017 Newsletter

Upcoming Events

The Theory of Evolution in Humanistic Thought

Saturday, February 11th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Ave, 5:30 – 8:30 PM

HAAM and Eggs Brunch

Saturday, February 25th, 9:30 AM at the Original Pancake House in the Forks Market. Note the time change – we’re meeting an hour earlier to avoid the rush.

For more information on these and future events, check out our Events page or click on the event name in the right sidebar.

You can find past events by using the ‘Search this Site’ tool, also in the right sidebar.

Latest News

HAAM Condemns Religious Violence

The Humanists, Atheists, & Agnostics of Manitoba wholeheartedly condemn the violence that has devastated the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec. We strongly believe that no matter what our ethnic origins or our religious beliefs (or non-beliefs), we are all unique human beings, and none of us deserve to undergo such horrors.

The actions of the gunman do NOT represent the views of the vast majority of Canadians. Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of all the victims, as well as anyone who is now feeling unsafe in their own house of worship. We are thinking about you.

Meet Your Executive Team for 2017

The following board members were elected at our AGM in January:

President – Donna Harris                                                                      Vice-president – Pat Morrow

Secretary – Rick Dondo                                                                         Treasurer – Henry Kreindler

Members at Large:

Tammy Blanchette                                                                                  Norm Goertzen

Tony Governo                                                                                           Sherry Lyn Marginet

Dorothy Stephens                                                                                   Jim Taylor

Mandy Wood

Welcome Mandy!

New this year!

We will be adding two new ex-officio (non-voting) members to our executive, to liaise with our rural chapters.

Helen Friesen has stepped down from HAAM’s exec after 20 years (thank you Helen!), but will now represent the Eastman Humanist Community (Steinbach area). The rep for the Pembina Valley Secular Community (Morden-Winkler area) is yet to be decided (and will likely need to remain anonymous).

Charity of the Month

In keeping with February’s theme of evolution, it’s fitting that we help our fellow creatures, since we share so much of our DNA with them. Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre has been helping Manitoba wildlife since 1984.

Their mission is to

  1. Rehabilitate injured, sick and orphaned wildlife for their return back to the wild, and
  2. Educate about awareness, appreciation and peaceful coexistence with wildlife.

Rescue. Rehabilitate. Release.

Wildlife Haven is permitted to rehabilitate and care for injured, sick and orphaned birds, including raptors (eagles, hawks, owls, falcons); mammals, including rabbits, squirrels, bats, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, bobcats; and amphibians/reptiles (turtles, frogs, salamanders, snakes). People finding these animals can call for advice, or to arrange pick-up or drop-off of the animal to the centre. More info is available on their website.

Wildlife Haven also runs an educational program, featuring wildlife ambassadors such as owls, hawks and falcons, and reptiles and amphibians, suitable for schools, service clubs, community events, senior living centres, etc.

Volunteers started Wildlife Haven out of their backyards before moving to the University of Manitoba’s Glenlea Research Station in 1993. In 2008 it moved to a retired dairy barn in Île des Chênes, and in 2015, construction began on a permanent home with a wildlife rehabilitation hospital and education centre. Future plans include a waterfowl overwintering enclosure, a variety of outdoor wildlife enclosures, raptor flyways, a natural wetland pond, a prairie tall grass site and a fruit orchard for wildlife and humans to enjoy. Let’s support this valuable work!

Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the PayPal link on the right sidebar. Just include a note letting us know that the money is for the charity.

HAAM Receives a Bequest

We recently received two whole boxes of books donated by a friend of Helen Friesen‘s who passed away last fall and left his entire collection to HAAM. His name was Hank Neufeld, and Helen says that “he was a very outspoken atheist and he had a lot of books”. She traveled to Swift Current, Saskatchewan to preside at his memorial service, and brought the books back with her.

This is an interesting collection, dating back many years. A number of the books are about religious persecution and politics, and several are polemics against the Catholic Church. Quite a few have historical value, and/or are about religious history. Some bear a stamp indicating that they once belonged to the now-defunct Society of Prairie Atheists in Biggar Sask.

Our sincere condolences go out to Hank’s widow, Joyce, and all of his family, along with a huge thank-you for this wonderful donation. You can find the list of new books on our Library page.

Outreach Report: World Religions Class

January brought us out to Green Valley School in Grunthal, Manitoba for what has become a biannual visit to Michael Zwaagstra’s high-school class. This was a first for me of sorts, as we usually meet with his Ethics class; this was our first time speaking to his World Religions class. It was also the first time I teamed up with fellow HAAM member Tammy Blanchette. I hope to see more of Tammy in outreach. When it came to the Q & A portion of the class, I often found myself thinking “Geez, I wish I’d thought to answer the question that way.” As has been mentioned in the past, we do these classes in pairs (just like the Mormons). This is not so much for mutual support or even safety, but because Humanism is a very diverse belief system – if you’re just beginning to understand it, it helps to hear different perspectives.
The demographic of the Grunthal area is Christian, and the students we have talked to over the past five years or so are exclusively Christian. Michael Zwaagstra himself is an excellent educator, and judging from his personal writings and the exchanges I have read and engaged in with him, he is an unabashed Christian. Knowing that, and after reading a previous syllabus from his class, I realize that these classes have a definite Christian bias. But I still have to offer kudos to Mr Zwaagstra, as he is giving young people the opportunity to meet many who don’t share their worldview. He has had Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and yes, Christians, come visit his classes. In the Manitoba school system there are a few other schools that offer a world religions-type class, but to my knowledge no one else brings in guest speakers who allow the students to, as they say, “get it from the horse’s mouth”.  In today’s world, it’s imperative for each of us to understand at least the basics of each other’s beliefs, and it baffles my mind that more schools don’t make comparative religion a requirement. Mr. Zwaagstra and other educators are working to remedy that.
The class was about thirty students this time. Most every year they are asked to look into Humanism and check out our website before our visit. Much to my delight and surprise, this year they actually did (that has never happened before). Based on their questions, it seems that most of them stuck to just the website, which is unfortunate. Humanism has a deep, rich history to be explored. I would have preferred that they learn more about the humanistic ideas of the ancients, spanning the great societies of Greece, Rome, India, and the Far East. Or they could take a more modern approach and examine ever-evolving documents such as the Humanist Manifesto (I, II, and III). And of course, the Amsterdam Declaration of 2002, which covers the fundamental principles of Humanism today.
Over the few years I’ve been doing this, the classes seem to follow a pattern – Introduction, Presentation, and then a Q & A (to which no one ever wants to ask the first question). Once the first question is out there, the gates open, but this too follows a pattern – about 30% of the class asks 100% of the questions. I often wonder about the students who remain silent. Are they indoctrinated to the point that they think we are ‘of the devil?’ Are some of them closeted atheists who fear they might be outed if they ask the wrong question? I suppose it could be that some kids just don’t like asking questions, or possibly don’t even want to be there. But the latter I find hard to believe, since this is an elective course.

Tammy and I fielded all the usual questions – where we come from, the Big Bang theory, morality, and what we do in outreach. Since it seems they kept their research primarily to HAAM’s website, we spoke about some of the content of the site, such as a public exchange about faith and the historicity of the exodus between myself and Mr Zwaagstra. Some students had questions regarding the article I wrote about Southland Church’s connection to churches that support the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act (better known as the kill-the-gays bill). This was of special interest to a few of the students who attend Southland Church.

As these conversations go, they sometimes turn to the unusual. We talked about such concepts as speaking in tongues and being ‘slain in the spirit ‘. Both are backed by the ‘solid evidence’ of personal experience and what some believe is empirical evidence in the form of this Nightline video.

These parts of the discussion can be quite difficult, especially when talking to young people who have had these ideas reinforced for most, if not all, of their lives. This is why just talking about what we believe and why we believe it in outreach is so important. We’re under no illusions that we can change the minds of believers; it’s their right to believe what they choose. But through discussion and debate we can light the spark of critical thinking and rational thought. And that will create a better world for all of us.

In Brief

HAAM Joins Human Rights Hub

We are now listed as a member organization on the new Human Rights Hub of Winnipeg. The Human Rights Hub provides a central space to coordinate and promote the events and activities of the many individuals and groups in Winnipeg taking action on human rights issues! Their website includes a calendar for human rights events; current employment and volunteer opportunities; profiles of Winnipeg organizations active in human rights issues; and a blog to learn what organizations are up to in our city. Check it out!

Our First Brunch was a Big Success!

What a lovely, bright morning at the Forks. It was Pat Morrow who said “I’m going to invite folks to a brunch.  Doesn’t really matter if anyone shows up, I’ll be there.” Well, the night before the RSVPs totaled 22 people. By our count, 27 Humanists showed up at the Original Pancake House at the Forks! Pat had the wait staff scrambling to seat all of us.

It was a great opportunity for good food and good conversation.  We had a mix of long term members, a few who we haven’t seen in a while, and some new faces as well!  Grant and I sat by a young couple with their toddler. They were really kind and interesting. Let’s hope they come out to a regular meeting.

By a fluke/coincidence, we also met another new person, just because there wasn’t room left for her to sit!  She was there to join another Meetup group, but they had no more seats at their table. She asked if she could sit with us and we all said sure!! Turns out, she’s one of “us”. And according to Mandy Wood, she was “amazing” and a pleasure to talk with. Click here for a photo of a few of the attendees.

We’ll definitely do a brunch again. Thank you to everyone who came out! And special thanks to Pat for organizing the morning.                                                                                                                                                              – Donna Harris

We’re Standing Up for Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights Worldwide

On January 23rd 2017, in one of his first acts as President, Donald Trump re-enacted the Global Gag Rule, prohibiting foreign NGOs receiving U.S. assistance related to family planning and reproductive health from using non-U.S. funding to provide abortion services, information, counseling, or referrals, and from engaging in advocacy for access to safe abortion services. Trump’s version of the Global Gag Rule is even more extreme than past administrations, and will extend to all global health assistance provided across US departments.

In response, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights drafted a public statement calling on the Government of Canada and other sexual and reproductive rights allies to increase development financing in this area and to champion these issues within diplomatic efforts. The statement will be shared with Prime Minister Trudeau, Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland.

HAAM has added its name to the list of signatories who support the statement.

Call to Action! Please write to your MP to add your individual support. Click here for a template letter.

Book of the Month

In The Bonobo and the Atheist, primatologist Frans de Waal relates personal accounts of his work with primate species. He has spent years studying the similarities and differences between primate social societies and our own, concentrating mostly on morality, empathy, sympathy, altruism and a few other behaviours that many mistakenly deem as solely human attributes.

As a result of these studies, De Waal argues that moral behavior does not begin and end with religion but is in fact a product of evolution. His research demonstrates that human kindness is a biological feature of our species and not something that has to be imposed on us by religious teaching.

Nevertheless, De Waal defends religion in this book, (even although he is an atheist himself), referring to it as cultural scaffolding that builds upon and enhances biologically innate moral rules. He appears to accept the view of science and religion as ‘non-overlapping magisteria’. This has resulted in some interesting critical reviews, particularly from non-believers who are angry with him for giving religion a pass.

Is De Waal too soft on religion, or are his critics just bitter, as De Waal’s defenders claim? Why not read it and decide for yourself? Find it in our Library.

HAAM Takes On Apologetics

Two of our members were recently interviewed by a Christian pastor who wants to understand the worldview of non-believers so that he can coach his parishioners to refute it. That experience makes for a very interesting report from Pat Morrow.

His article appears on our Perspectives page. You can read it here.

December 2016 Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Winter Solstice Party

xmas-cheerSaturday, December 17th, Heritage-Victoria Community Club, 950 Sturgeon Rd, 5:30 pm – 9:30 PM

New! We now have a liquor permit for the party. Important details here.

And don’t forget to bring money or a food item for the Christmas Cheer Board.

 

Are You Recovering from Religion?

Saturday, January 14th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Avenue, 5:30 PM

We will begin with our meet-and-greet time at 4:30 PM in order to accommodate our AGM at 5:00. Dinner will follow at 6:00, and then our regular meeting and speaker at 6:45. Please join us for the AGM – we need your support and input as we plan for the coming year!

For more information on these events, check out our Events page or click on the event name in the right sidebar.

You can find past events by using the ‘Search this Site’ tool, also in the right sidebar.

Latest News

Celebrate Human Rights!

human-rightsDecember 10th often goes by unnoticed in Canada.  With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it seems to pass with no mention. But it’s a special day, a day that was 2500 years in the making*. December 10th is International Human Rights Day. On this day, we celebrate the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) – a document so important that its 30 articles are woven into our Canadian Constitution. You can read the full text of the UDHR here.

human-rights-3The UDHR was established by resolution in the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, and ever since that auspicious day it has stood as the first major stride forward in ensuring that the rights of every human across the globe are protected. The UDHR is far superior to, and more moral in every way than any religious text. Developed after the carnage of World War II by people from all backgrounds, it remains a document to which our species must aspire.

Many of us in Canada have enjoyed these rights for so long we couldn’t imagine our lives without them; others simply take them for granted. This year’s slogan for International Human Rights Day is “Stand up for someone’s rights today“, and with recent developments in our political climate, the message couldn’t be more timely. So this December 10th, take some time to appreciate what we have and the effect that this resolution has had on your world and your life. Look around your community and see its effects on a local scale. We all must understand that universal human rights are a gift for us, and to us, and they must be protected by us.

Here are two easy ways to promote human rights:

  1. Watch and share this 10-minute video.

2. Explain the UDHR to young people.

Let’s reaffirm our common humanity. Wherever we are, we can make a real difference by stepping up to defend the rights of those at risk of discrimination or violence.

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home…”    Eleanor Roosevelt

*About 2500 years ago, Cyrus the Great conquered most of the Middle East (and then some). Up until that time, defeated soldiers in battle were typically either killed or enslaved. Cyrus offered the losers a different deal – they would not be taken into slavery (personal freedom), and they would be allowed to keep their religion (freedom of religion), provided they remained peaceful. In many cases he repatriated the dispossessed back to their homelands (freedom of citizenship). Many of these new rules were recorded on the Cyrus Cylinder, which is considered to be the first declaration of human rights.

Can You Help Us Help a Refugee Family?

miic-logoAt our last meeting, we listened to a short presentation from Maysoun Darweesh, from the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council. A former refugee herself, Maysoun is now helping current refugees (mainly from Syria) adjust to life here in Manitoba.

Maysoun explained that refugees arrive in Canada in two ways –

Some families are directly sponsored by groups (usually churches) who commit to supporting and providing for the them until they get established. This requires a substantial commitment of both time and money from the sponsors, as refugees require food, clothing, and shelter, and most need to learn English and settle in before finding they can find a job and become independent of the sponsoring organization.

The second way that refugees arrive is through government sponsorship. In this case, basic necessities are provided by the government, but the family has no direct, personal connection to a Canadian family or group that can help them with all the other things they need to learn. Because of the large influx of refugees in the last year, quite a few families in Winnipeg arrived this way.

Government sponsored refugees have a harder time becoming comfortable in their new environment because they don’t have friends to practice their English with, or to ask questions of, in the hours between their scheduled English and other settlement classes. They go home to their apartments and speak their own language, and many hesitate to venture out alone into the world of shopping malls and entertainment complexes they don’t understand.

To help these people, the MIIC has developed the Host Matching Program – a modified form of sponsorship that doesn’t require a financial commitment. It’s practical for small groups like ours who would like to help but don’t have the financial resources required for private sponsorship.

mb-refugeeThe program involves matching a government-sponsored immigrant family with supportive Canadians who are willing to help them settle in. These people do not need money or food. They need Canadian friends. They need someone to speak English with, answer their questions, go with them to Tim Hortons or the bowling alley, or the beach or toboggan hill, and teach them about Canadian pastimes, customs, culture, and relationships.

What is required of the sponsors? In order to take this project on, HAAM would need a core group of 3 or 4 people, or a couple of families, who are willing to sign up for the program and go through the screening and orientation process (including child abuse and criminal record checks, which are free). Once that’s set up, other families and friends can become involved as additional supporters. Most of the families in need of sponsors live in or near the downtown area.

Maysoun’s presentation met with a positive response and a great deal of informal support, and our HAAM exec would like to pursue it, but we need people to come forward and commit to it before proceeding. If you are interested, please let us know.

Is the Holiday Season Stressful in Your Family?

arguingIf you struggle to deal with your religious extended family, and the prospect of getting together with them over the upcoming holiday season is a major source of stress, you might find some helpful advice in a post called “Coping With Religious Family Over the Holidays” on the website Journey Free – Recovering from Harmful Religion.

The author is Dr Marlene Winell, a psychologist dedicated to helping people transition out of harmful religions, recover from trauma, and rebuild their lives. She has been working in religious recovery for over 25 years and originated the term Religious Trauma Syndrome. She is also the author of Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion. (Editor’s note: This was one of the first books I read after leaving my church in the early 90’s, and it was immensely helpful. We don’t have it in our HAAM library, but the Winnipeg Public Library has a copy; probably the same copy I borrowed over 20 years ago. D.S.).

You’ll find some more good advice from Libby Anne, an ex-evangelical Christian who blogs at Love, Joy, Feminism. She addressed a recent post to those facing Trump-supporting family members at holiday gatherings, but the advice applies to more than just political differences. Check it out.

And if all else fails, look for some humor. Here’s a Religious Family Bingo card you can play.

religious-family-bingo

Books of the Month

Thanks to some generous members, we have two new books! Catherine Kreindler has donated a copy of Thinking, Fast and Slow (a study of critical thinking skills and cognitive biases), and Joan (last name withheld) gave us her copy of A Brief Candle in the Dark.

41ZNYSzSV6LThinking, Fast and Slow is a best-selling book by Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics laureate Daniel Kahneman. The book’s central thesis is that there is a dichotomy between two modes of thought: fast, instinctive and emotional versus slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The book discusses the cognitive biases associated with each type of thinking. From framing choices to people’s tendency to substitute a difficult question for one which is easy-to-answer, the author highlights several decades of academic research which suggests that people place too much confidence in human judgement. Surprise, surprise.

51sIQblJQBLBrief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science is the second volume of the autobiographical memoir by Richard Dawkins. It covers the second half of his life, after the publication of The Selfish Gene (also in our HAAM library) in 1976. In this book, Dawkins discusses his scientific work, travels and conferences, his Royal Institution Christmas Lecture (Growing Up in the Universe, in 1991), his work as Professor for the Public Understanding of Science in Oxford, and his documentaries (such as The Root of All Evil?), as well as his personal life and his books.

New Brochure Aimed at Creationists

creationismIf you’ve read any of the reports from our Outreach booths in Morden, you already know that we get a lot of visitors who subscribe to Creationism (aka Intelligent Design). But this year, there were more than usual – buoyed, no doubt, by the presence of a new trailer devoted to materials from Answers in Genesis (the group that built the Ark Encounter theme park in Kentucky). Their people swarmed our booth in unprecedented numbers, asking nonsensical questions and spouting scientific impossibilities and general misinformation.

One area of misinformation and confusion stood out among the rest – few (if any) of these Creationists understand the difference between Cosmology, Abiogenesis, and Evolution. In fairness, that’s probably not uncommon; even among those of us who don’t believe the claims of Creationists, a lot may have never considered the difference or given it much thought.

abiogenesisThe answer is really quite simple: Cosmology is the study of the origin of the universe; the branch of astronomy that includes Big Bang Theory. Abiogenesis is the natural process of life arising from non-living matter, or more simply – how did life originate? Evolution is the change in characteristics of living organisms over time, or, in the vernacular, how did we arise from monkeys? Abiogenesis deals with how life began; Evolution deals with changes in life that already exists; and neither of these subjects is related to how the earth came to be in the first place.

But do you think we could explain that to Creationists? Not a chance! They persisted in asking who created the world, and who created life, and where do people come from if there is no Creator; followed by their conclusion of “Tada! If you don’t know, then evolution is false!” When we pointed out the errors in that logic, they simply moved on to another question or topic. We might as well have tried to nail Jell-O to a wall.

For visitors to our booth who are actually seeking information, or who are at least curious enough to want to know what we have to say, our executive has prepared a number of brochures covering the most frequently asked questions we receive. A quick look reveals that they fall into two categories – Humanism/atheism, and science/evolution. (In case you’re wondering why there is a whole pamphlet devoted to trees, it written specifically to address the most commonly cited claim we hear for evidence of a Creator – “look at the trees!”)

But until now we had no brochure about the origins of life (as opposed to evolution). Spending three days wrangling creationists in Morden inspired Rick Dondo to research the topic and write one. It’s available on our website, and will be on the table at our next Outreach – if any creationists care to actually read it.

Calling All Secular Parents!

godless-parentsBeginning in the New Year, our secular parents’ coordinator, Tammy Blanchette, will be considering different ways to connect families. Distance, busy schedules, and babysitting make it difficult to get together, so online chats, family excursions, or spur-of-the-moment outings (sometimes weather-dependent) may be options. Not all of these will be planned with enough notice to make the monthly newsletter, and some will not be advertised publicly. If you are a secular parent who would like to be included when events are planned, please let us know and we’ll make sure you are notified.

Event Review: God and the Galaxies – A Jesuit perspective from the Vatican Observatory

vaticanobservatorycropRick Dondo recently attended this lecture given by Jesuit priest and astronomer Dr. Richard D’Souza at St Paul’s College. He hoped to be treated to images of the night sky and some scientific explanations of them. That turned out to be hardly the case, but the evening was interesting nonetheless.

If you’re curious about how religious scientists try to overcome cognitive dissonance and reconcile their supernatural beliefs with their scientific endeavors, you’ll find his observations fascinating.

This article appears on our Perspectives page. You can read it here.

It’s Time to Plan for 2017

We’re almost at the end of another year, and plans are underway for the next. HAAM exists to create a supportive and welcoming community for non-believers. Make sure you’re a part of it! Here’s what you can do to help.

time-to-renew1. Renew your membership. We’re no different than any other organization – we need an operating budget just to exist. Whether you’re able to make our meetings or not, if you participate in our online community, and support our advocacy for a just and secular society, our outreach programs, and our general Mission and Position statements, then please help us to continue to our work. Our membership fees are reasonable – and haven’t increased in several years. Note that there is a limited-income option for as low as $10 a year, and you can renew online.

volunteer2. Consider volunteering – either by joining our Executive as a member-at-large; or if that’s too much right now, just help out with a specific task, project, or event. Many hands make light work. The number and type of events and programs we offer depends directly on the number of people willing to participate in the planning. Let us know if you can help.

3. Come out and get to know your fellow Humanists! The strength of any community is its members. The one thing that religion does really well is create a social support network; there’s no reason we can’t do the same (but without the superstition and dogma). Don’t be shy! We’re looking forward to meeting you!

join-us

 

 

 

November 2016 Newsletter

Upcoming Events

The Humanism of Star Trek

Saturday, November 19th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Avenue, 5:30 – 8:30 PM

Secular Parents’ Book Club Meeting

Thursday, November 24th, 7 – 9 PM, location TBA

Winter Solstice Party

Saturday December 17th, Heritage-Victoria Community Club, 950 Sturgeon Road, 5:30 PM


For more information on these events, check out our Events page or click on the event name in the right sidebar.

You can find past events by using the ‘Search this Site’ tool, also in the right sidebar.

Latest News

Prayer at City Hall Update

no-prayerTony Governo has filed a formal complaint about the prayers at city council meetings with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. He recently learned that his complaint has been registered. This means that it will be served on the Respondent (the City). They will be asked to provide a reply within 30 days. Then the complaint will be investigated, which could take 8-10 months from the time it is assigned. The investigator then makes a recommendation to the Board. The Board then decides to dismiss or take to next stage.

Tony was recently interviewed by CTV News about the threats he received on social media after his complaint. And also in October, Edmonton’s city council decided to comply with the Supreme Court ruling and ended the practice of opening their meetings with prayer. After contemplating a ‘moment of reflection’ instead, they ultimately decided that it made more sense to just skip the whole thing and just get down to business. Wouldn’t it be nice if Winnipeg could do the same?

If you have not previously read about this issue, you can catch up here.

Openly Secular Day is Tuesday, November 15th

openly-secularAre you openly secular? Not everyone is – and not everyone can be. Too many people cannot reveal that they no longer believe, for fear of negative repercussions from their family, business/employment, friends, or community. But if we’re ever going to reduce the stigma of being a non-believer, and dispel the notion that atheists believe in ‘nothing’, more people have to come out of the closet.

The mission of the Openly Secular Campaign is to decrease discrimination and increase acceptance of atheists and Humanists by encouraging as many people as possible to let others know that they are non-religious. November 15th is Openly Secular Day, and it’s no accident that the date is just around the beginning of the holiday season – a time when so many people get together with family and friends. The goal on that day is to have as many people as possible ‘come out’ to just one other person. If you can do this, check out their website for more information and resources, and to take the ‘One Person Pledge’.

October event recap

October was a busy month! Our evening showing of the film A Better Life: An Exploration of Joy and Meaning in a World Without God was truly inspirational. President Donna Harris opened with a brief presentation about what Humanism is and how it differs from atheism. A big thank-you goes to Kumaran Reddy for recording it for us.

For a number of people, it was their first HAAM event, and one of those new people won our door prize – a copy of the book version of A Better Life. If you were unable to attend that evening, it is possible to view the film at home for a small fee. Check it out here.

If you couldn’t make it to our meeting to learn about the Humanist Outreach program in Uganda, and HAAM’s support of a secular school there, you missed a great evening. You can read news coverage of the meeting here.

Watch this short (2 minute) video message from Robert Bwambale of Kasese Humanist School.

Here is our sponsored student, John Bogere, saying hello to us.

Religious Exercises in Schools?

religion-in-schoolJust a reminder – Section 84(8) of the Manitoba Public Schools Act reads “If a petition asking for religious exercises, signed by the parents or guardians of 75% of the pupils in the case of a school having fewer than 80 pupils or by the parents or guardians of at least 60 pupils in the case of a school having an enrolment of 80 or more pupils, is presented to the school board, religious exercises shall be conducted for the children of those parents or guardians in that school year.”

This petition must come from the parents/community, NOT the school. The Minister of Education has ruled that public schools must be non-sectarian and that staff at the school cannot participate in recruiting students for prayer groups by contacting parents or sending home permission slips to be signed. It has come to our attention that some schools are still doing this, and one school division recently ended the practice simply because a parent brought it to the attention of the superintendent.

If this is still happening at your child’s school, we would like to know about it. Please contact us.

Call to Action – Speak up about Operation Christmas Child

shoeboxIf you’re involved in a school or other organization that collects for Operation Christmas Child, there are some very good reasons NOT to participate – even if you’re Christian (and especially if you’re not).

Find out more here, here, and here.

Spread the word!

 

 

Book of the Month – Pale Blue Dot

pale-blue-dot-bookWith Star Trek as our meeting topic, this seems like a good month to feature a book about our place in the universe. We have a copy of Carl Sagan’s 1994 classic Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. The title is, of course, based on the famous photograph of the same name – a picture of the Earth from 4 billion miles away, taken by Voyager 1 in 1991 as it approached the outer limits of our solar system.

The book begins by examining the idea that humans think they are uniquely important in this vast universe. Sagan continues by exploring our solar system in detail, and discussing the possibility of life on other planets, suggesting that our very survival may depend on the wise use of other worlds. He argues that in order to save the human race, space colonization and terraforming (the hypothetical process of deliberately modifying the atmosphere, temperature, surface topography or ecology of another planet or moon to make it habitable by Earth-like life) should be considered.

Watch this very moving tribute to Sagan and the Pale Blue Dot, produced by Seth Andrews (The Thinking Atheist). It’s only 5 minutes long.

Charity of the Month – The North Point Douglas Women’s Centre

north-point-douglasThe North Point Douglas Women’s Centre is just east of Main Street, near Dufferin Avenue. The address alone provides a wealth of information about the clients it serves. Its mission is to promote a safe, healthy, vibrant community for women and families, by offering programs designed to provide support, training, resources, and opportunities to women in the area. The centre arose out of a project sponsored by the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg in 2000, to address problems caused by poverty and a lack of resources. Today it is a community hub where women and their families gather.

computer-point-douglasPrograms include

  • A drop-in safe space with snacks, activities, computer and phone access, laundry facilities, and a clothing and household items collection
  • Counselling and domestic violence recovery support
  • A neighborhood oven for community baking and events
  • Community safety programs
  • Health, fitness, and nutrition programs
  • Support and referrals for women dealing with stressors such as shelter, employment, emergency food and clothing, school, Child and Family Services involvement, legal help, Employment and Income Assistance disputes, daycare, etc.

What to Donate

Currently, the centre has a particular need for the following items that they go through very quickly

  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Diapers
  • Baby formula

Please bring these items to the monthly meeting and we will deliver them to the centre. Of course, money likely wouldn’t be turned down, either. Tax receipts are available for donations over $10. If you would like to donate but cannot attend the meeting, you can do so via the PayPal link on the right sidebar. Just include a message letting us know that the money is for the charity.

Partners for Life Update

donate-blood

Yay! HAAM members are now up to 15 donations for 2016! We have 11 members registered in the program, 7 of whom have donated at least once this year. We’re still just ahead of Steinbach Bible College, (with 13 donations), and there are almost 2 months to go! Let’s get a few more units in by New Year.

There’s no prize for donating blood – just bragging rights and the satisfaction that comes from knowing that Humanists are helping their fellow humans. So get out there and do it!

You can donate at the main clinic on William Ave (across from HSC) during their regular hours (Mon 10-2 and 3:30-7:30; Tues 1:30-7; and Wed-Sat 8-2), or attend one of these mobile clinics in the Winnipeg area.

Here are two new points worth noting (thanks Janine Guinn):

  1. The recommended time between donations for women is being increased to 84 days, because of the ongoing risk of low hemoglobin. (The interval for men remains at 56 days.)
  2. If you book an appointment at least 48 hours ahead, you can now have your pre-donation health questions sent by email and complete them online before you go, saving a bunch of time.

Note that you must register with the Partners for Life program in order for your donation to be credited to HAAM. Click here for more information and instructions on how to sign up.

We Need You!

help-wantedIt’s time to start looking ahead again to the upcoming year. Please consider volunteering to serve on our executive! We need people who are enthusiastic about building a supportive community, promoting a secular society with fairness for all, and advocating for critical thinking in the larger world. If you can contribute ideas, energy, time, and/or effort, you’re welcome to join us! The more committed people we have, the more we can accomplish.

Meetings are usually held monthly, (dates and times determined by mutual availability), with online contact in between. Please consider volunteering, or accepting the offer to join if you are approached. Many hands make light work, and enable HAAM to offer more events and programs, and make a bigger difference to our members and community.

Elections will be held at our AGM on January 14th – so you have some time to think about it or talk to members of our current executive if you have questions.

Outreach Report

outreach logoOutreach has been very busy since our last newsletter. Tony Governo and Tammy Blanchette have been out to speak to another high school class in southern Manitoba. I enjoyed meeting with a local hospital chaplain who is taking a class on world religions in an effort to become better at his job in spiritual care. His overall goal was to learn how to best to approach a “Humanist/atheist person” (his words) with regards to their spiritual care. It was a helluva starting point, but the ensuing discussion was interesting for two people who are, metaphorically speaking, from different planets.

A little later in October, Donna Harris and I (with Todd De Ryck along as an observer) spoke to a U of W class called “Crises in Faith” – an exploration of five major contemporary critiques of religion. We explained the usual atheism and Humanistic philosophy. The students’ questions were sometimes challenging, and as often happens when discussing philosophy, the conversation goes off in the strangest directions. We found ourselves having to explain why, when making societal decisions, both religious and non-religious people are welcome at the table of ideas, but religion itself shouldn’t and can’t be granted special privileges. I also found myself in the really odd position of explaining why the national socialism of the Nazis in the middle of the twentieth century was not a secular government. This is why we love outreach and especially visiting school classes; you really don’t know what someone will say next.

We’re looking forward to November and our visit to the newly formed Steinbach Humanist group; that should be fun.                                                                                                                                   – Pat Morrow

When Good Intentions Cross Ethical Lines

uganda-protestThis article appears on our Perspectives page. You can read it here.

 

 

October 2016 Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Film Screening: A Better Life

Wednesday, October 12th, Millenium Library, 6-9 PM

International Outreach: Humanist ‘Missionaries’ in Uganda

Saturday, October 15th, Canad Inns Polo Park, 5:30 PM

Book Club Meeting – Secular Parenting

Wednesday, November 24th, 7 PM, location TBA

For more information on these events, check out our Events page or click on the event name in the right sidebar. You can find past events by using the ‘Search this Site’ tool, also in the right sidebar.

Latest News

Humanists Celebrate Thanksgiving, Too!

tg-familyDo you celebrate Thanksgiving without thinking too much about who you’re thanking, now that you have left religion? Do you struggle to explain the holiday to children?

The very name of the holiday implies giving thanks, but if you no longer believe in a god – or never did – you might need to pause for a moment to think about who the recipient(s) of your thanks might be.

Humanists have just a much reason to be thankful as anyone else – and real people to thank. We can be thankful to each other for family and friendship, thankful to the people who grew and prepared the feast, and thankful to nature for all that it has provided.

thankfulhumanist

If your family gathering includes a traditional Grace and you’d like to switch it out for something a little more inclusive without disrupting the peace, there are lots of options. Here’s one example:

Humanist Grace 

We are grateful to the men and women who planted the crops, cultivated the fields and who gathered in the harvest.
We thank those who prepared this fine meal and also those who will serve it to us.
Yet amid this plenty may we not forget the many of our brothers and sisters, and especially their children, in our own country and elsewhere, who do not share in our good fortune, who are hungry, cold, sick and troubled by the bitter burden of poverty, the curse of war, and the despair of hopelessness.
So may our enjoyment be graced by understanding and tempered by humility.
Let us be kind to one another and to all those with whom we share this brief existence.

-author unknown

There are a number of websites that offer secular ‘prayer’ suggestions. You can find some more good ones here and here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Privacy Issues in Spiritual Care

Who gets access to patient information?

It has come to our attention that some hospital patients are still being subjected to prayer and proselytization without their consent. Much of this is informal, mainly in the form of well-intentioned but misguided remarks made by visitors and staff; but some of it falls under the guise of ‘spiritual care’. We wrote about this before in our November 2015 newsletter – and now need to correct/clarify that article. Strictly speaking, it’s not hospital chaplains who are no longer allowed to visit patients without their consent – it’s community clergy who are restricted.

privacyTraditionally, community clergy have considered hospital visits a part of their ministry to the sick, and many churches hold weekly services for patients in their local hospital’s chapel. Up until a few years ago, a priest could just stop at the hospital’s information desk and get a printed list of all the patients who identify with his denomination, so that he could ‘pop in’ for a visit or invite them to the service. And that is what’s no longer allowed. Visiting clergy no longer get access to patient names unless the patients consent to have their names released – and so they are asked about this on admission. (The WRHA policy on this is here.) But this restriction applies only to community clergy – not ‘spiritual care’ employees (hospital chaplains). In practice, if patients don’t state a religion on admission, or say that they don’t want their name on the clergy list, spiritual care staff don’t usually visit. But because spiritual care workers are employees of the hospital, they are considered part of the health care team, so they can be consulted or gain access to patient charts in the same way as members of any other discipline (e.g. social workers or physiotherapists).

What’s a ‘Spiritual Care Provider’?

spiritual-care‘Spiritual Care Provider’, or ‘Spiritual Health Care Practitioner’, is the new name for ‘hospital chaplain’. The term is more inclusive than ‘chaplain’, because it encompasses multiple faith/belief systems, in some cases even Humanism and atheism. But let’s face it – ‘spiritual care providers’ in Manitoba – and across North America – are overwhelmingly Christian clergy. In cosmopolitan cities, it’s quite likely that there are staff who will serve people of various faiths and beliefs, including Humanism, but in a small rural community, or anywhere in a Bible Belt area – good luck with that.

The Role of PHIA in Spiritual Care

phiaWhen Manitoba passed the Personal Health Information Act in 1997 (current version is here), the privileges of all these religious practitioners (both hospital chaplains and community clergy) became restricted. Community clergy were no longer allowed access to patient information without consent, but the role of hospital chaplains was a little less clear. Initially they were technically out of the loop, too – but a 2004 amendment added them back in.  According to a letter of explanation regarding that amendment, the term ‘health’ was redefined as being sound in ‘mind, body, and spirit’ – so spiritual care providers are back on the health care team, and health care ‘expressly includes spiritual care’. The letter goes on to state that since PHIA restricts the collection of personal health information to only that which is required to carry out care, patient information should be released to spiritual care providers only if the patient requests the service, or if a referral is made (emphasis ours).

What does this mean for Humanists?

It’s that last part (about referrals) that has some HAAM members concerned. The intent of the amendment to PHIA is that as with any other health care service offered by a health care facility, spiritual care will be provided pursuant to a referral or request. But often, referrals are made without asking or notifying the patient. Usually this is just routine. Most patients with fractures, for example, get a referral to physiotherapy, and the doctor may not even think to mention it. When the therapist shows up, the patient doesn’t question it, either – it’s an expected part of care. Likewise, a nurse who hears a patient expressing concerns over family, finances, or employment while in hospital may call the social worker to assist – again, perhaps forgetting or not even thinking to inform the patient ahead of time. But what happens when a patient expresses sadness, loss of hope for the future, or grief over a poor prognosis? Oftentimes, staff ask a spiritual care provider to come and offer support. That’s where, as stated in last November’s newsletter article, a certified mental health professional or counselor might be a better choice than a chaplain – but there are usually none available, because hospitals employ chaplains instead of counselors. So a well-meaning staff member refers the patient to the spiritual care department – again, sometimes without their knowledge or consent. Staff in a predominantly religious community, or who are religious themselves, may not even think of this as controversial – they believe that the referral is appropriate and that they are helping. And so a chaplain appears at the beside.

You may find the spiritual care provider helpful, or not, depending on his or her beliefs, preparation, and skills, and your needs and personal preferences. Most of these ‘chaplains’ are genuinely caring people, used to conversing with all kinds of different folks, and their mandate is to provide support to all patients who need or want their services, regardless of belief system. You can read a description of the ‘competencies’ required to be a spiritual care provider in Manitoba here. It’s a pretty broad field, and the document implies that almost any ‘spiritual practice’, including reiki, therapeutic touch, and other forms of woo, is legitimate.

What can I do?

The bottom line, of course, is that just like any other treatment or test, patients can refuse spiritual care – but they would have to know to do so, and in particular, they would have to know to tell staff that they don’t want chaplains to have access to their personal information. Or, alternatively, they would have to know enough to ask (or demand) a Humanist – or at least a person who is flexible enough to include Humanism as part of their repertoire of worldviews – as their spiritual care provider.

just-say-noAs with any other aspect of health care, it’s not always easy to request or decline a treatment when you’re ill – that’s what Advance Care Plans are for. So the same guidelines apply to spiritual care requests that apply to ACP’s. Put your requests in writing ahead of time, and the written document will speak for you if and when you can’t. Patients who are admitted acutely ill or unconscious are not asked on admission about their religion, so their family might answer for them, or the spiritual care worker may pop in at some point just to see if he can be of service. If you want to avoid this, here are some suggestions:

  • Make sure your family knows your wishes about spiritual care (if they are willing to honor them).
  • Make your health care proxy aware of your wishes about spiritual care as well as health care.
  • Write your requests on a card and put it in your wallet along with your Manitoba Health card, Advance Care Plan, and Organ Donor cards (you do have those, right?). ID is one of the first things that emergency responders look for when they are called to a scene.
  • Add a note about your spiritual care preferences to your Advance Care Plan and ERIK kit and have those readily available, stuck on your fridge with a magnet.

Charity of the Month

Bogere 2In October we’ll be raising funds for John Bogere’s annual tuition and the Kasese Humanist Primary School.

 

 

Book of the Month: One Heartbeat Away

This month’s featured book is a little different. For starters, it was a gift – from a very earnest, soft-spoken young woman who pressed it upon our volunteers at the Outreach table in Morden last month. No small gift from a total stranger; it sells for $15 on Amazon.ca. But she was very insistent, and so we accepted it to add to our library.

heartbeat-2The book is One Heartbeat Away – Your Journey Into Eternity, by Mark Cahill. And why was our visitor so insistent that we accept it? Because to her, it’s a very special book. It’s the book that will guide us to the Truth. She agrees with the author’s assertion that “once you know the truth about the Bible, creation vs. evolution, heaven and hell, sin, and the cross, there is only one logical decision to make”. Cahill claims that he has evidence for biblical truth and that it will compel the lost to come to Jesus Christ for salvation.

This book answers the question “What do you think will happen to you when you die?” by describing the most often cited ‘evidence’ in favor of the Christian answer to that question. Cahill describes experiences recalled by people who have been resuscitated while dying, as well as those who experienced hell while dying, and he mourns the terrible loss that occurs every time that a soul is lost to God.

heaven-and-hell

What qualifies Cahill to make such a claims? Is he a biblical scholar like Hector Avalos? A psychologist like Michael Shermer? A neuroscientist like Sam Harris? None of the above… Here’s an excerpt from the author’s biography on amazon.com: “Mark Cahill has a business degree from Auburn University, where he was an honorable mention Academic All-American in basketball. He has worked in the business world at IBM and in various management positions, and he taught high school for four years.”

If you have escaped a fundamentalist form of Christianity, you probably won’t want to read this book – and don’t need to. You already have a pretty good idea of what it says. But if you grew up secular, or in a liberal Christian denomination, and you’re looking for some insight into the fundamentalism, this book will be enlightening. Or hey – if you’re open-minded and willing to see if it convinces you, check it out! And if you find Jesus and convert, be sure to let us know.

You can borrow this book, or any of the others in our library, at the October meeting. Check here to see a complete list of the books in our library. If you find one you’d like to read, you can reserve it online and we’ll have it for you at our next meeting.

Harmonizing Humanists are Recruiting!

choirWho’s interested in singing for fun? HAAM has a small group of singers who perform at events when we can get enough people together and prepare something suitable. Repertoire varies – almost any genre goes, and may include traditional religious music with parody lyrics, or anything that might be entertaining or inspirational to a secular audience.

Our next gig will be (hopefully) at the Winter Solstice Party. Because we only get together sporadically to rehearse, we are hoping to get some people who read music and can learn most of it on their own. But we need people to support the melody line, too. If you like to sing and can stay on the notes, we’ll find a part for you!

Here’s a great opportunity for anyone who misses singing in their old church choir! If you are interested, contact HAAM.

city-hall-no-prayerCity Hall Prayers Violate Rights

This article appears on our Perspectives page. You can read it here.

June 2016 Newsletter

8a504244-27af-465d-b72b-92999de7774cIn this issue:

  • Medical aid in dying becomes legal
  • Perspective on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
  • New Outreach plans
  • Summer reading suggestions
  • and more…

June Newsletter

 

Upcoming HAAM Events
  1. Steinbach Outreach 2018

    June 15 @ 11:00 am - June 17 @ 5:00 pm
  2. Summer Solstice Party

    June 23 @ 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Save the Dates!

Fall meetings
September 8
October 13
November 17

Other Upcoming Events

For community events of interest to HAAM members, click here.

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