Blasphemy Day Across Canada: Freedom Party Prez, Satanic Verses Thrown in the trash + much else

October 5, 2009

You were warned: Next week, blasphemy gets its own holiday , declared the Religion News Service. in an advanced feature coverage. Why do the heathens rage? , asked the Christian Post just days before. Free Speech Advocates Rally for Blasphemy went online on the Toronto Star's website the morning of the event. This is just a sample. There was, in short, a lot of buzz surrounding International Blasphemy Day leading up to its launch. Looking back, the following day, on this first annual event, I think it was a job well and provocatively done. The day was quite international but I'll comment on the Canadian contribution specifically. Centre for Inquiry Montreal hosted a relaxed social event and discussion at a local restaurant. Durham Region Freethinkers had a special guest speaker, Paul McKeever , who leads the Freedom Party of Canada . CFI Saskatoon/Saskatoon Freethinkers pulled out all the stops, including a Debaptism Ceremony

and several denials of the holy spirit

They received considerable attention, including an article in the Star Phoenix: Group touts questioning of religion , featuring an interview with student leader Rebekah Bennetch and then one of the off campus group leaders George Williamson was on the radio this morning (Oct 1) with interviewer John Gormley who is apparently Saskatoon's answer to Rush Limbaugh: News Talk 650 CKOM (should be available to download shortly). Finally, in Toronto, we had an awesome time right in the middle of the university on the patio of Sidney Smith hall. Our University of Toronto Secular Alliance did a great job introducing hundreds of students to the Blasphemy Challenge but this time encouraging people to write absolutely anything on a big board and then yelling their name and their comment to the crowd. Meanwhile, videos like Mr. Deity were playing in the background. To professionalize the activities, Greg Oliver, Vice President of the secularist lobby group the Canadian Secular Alliance, was on hand passing out policy papers on free speech and blasphemy, and government sponsored religion like religious charity status and publicly funded religious schools, and engaging on these important issues with students and the public. We put a few comments to start the Challenge: By the end of the day the comment board looked like this (it's still sitting here at CFI): The Toronto Star, the EyeOpener, the Varsity, the U of T magazine and several freelances were all out covering the event. Highlights included a verbal altercation about the limits of free speech based on the misunderstanding that our efforts were to offend rather than to courageously show that we were unafraid to speak our mind. The gentleman involved noticed we had a copy of Rushdie's Satanic Verses as an example of a banned book and censorship. Claiming we represented a satanic cult and refusing to even open the book to see what it was really about, he proved the necessity of blasphemy day by throwing the book in the trash. Later the book magically (miraculously?) re-appeared on our table. There are sacrifices people are willing to make for free speech. Also fun was watching Preacher Mitchell Gerskup, leader of the U of T Secular Alliance, attract a crowd. The whole event took place under the watchful eye of the Canadian atheist bus campaign banner which was interesting to hear people comment on. We attracted a good size crowd over the course of the 3 hours. We then had an important discussion back at CFI about the meaning of Blasphemy Day and how to improve upon it in following years. 2009 was after all the pilot project and we look forward to many more activities in the Campaign for Free Expression. If you happened to miss out, not to fear. Our McMaster Association of Secular Humanists tells me they did too, and will make up for it with an event on October 6th. So check it out

Comments:

#1 willedbil (Guest) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 at 5:57pm

What is the matter with you people at CFI? I’m ashamed to associated with an alleged intellectual organization thatdoes the most juvenile things. Your hate riddled blashemy day was just that.So people have to believe what you believe or face ridicule! Whoever thought this up hs to be a total loser. You people are begining to suck

#2 leon costa (Guest) on Thursday October 08, 2009 at 9:37am

I am a open atheos in Orlando florida where the only good bussines are church and gun shop.
I do not longer care about the stupidity of beliver

#3 wiledbill (Guest) on Friday October 09, 2009 at 5:42pm

First of all I have been a skeptic since I was 12 i am not endorsing or denying God. I have always had a sincere respect towards scince, but never lost the belief that not all people have the capacity to make science a career goal. Life is hard enough for many people, If a belief in religion gives them comfort I say thats just fine.  If you;re talking about crooked televangelists. go get ‘em. You offer nothing for these poor people in place of their faith. Their free speech is just as important as your. I can see going after dishonest ministers or church that drain their congregation of their hard earned my. What motive could you possibly have for attacking peoples faith? Perhaps you could go to a cancer unit at a hospital and tell the dying patients that the bible they are clinging to is not true and there is no God. Who apponnted you guardian of the down trodden? Do something that make a difference, start taking down the televangelical criminals. I’d would help.

#4 mightyHectic (Guest) on Friday October 16, 2009 at 8:55pm

To comment on “wiledbill’ comments…...

Before you go bashing something. You have to make sure your fully aware on what’s it about. This group has nothingto do with putting down people religions. They only saying that we don’t have to live our lives believing in something our family and society has forced on us since birth with stupid things like baby christianings\baby batisms. We have a mind of our own and should choose weather we want to believe in thee christianity religion and not because that’s what our parents want to teach us. Its all about freedom of speech and not being censored by not believing in god cause that scares people.you say its wrong for them to empose there ideas on people, but it a bigger wrong for you and society to for religion of a god on people who don’t believe in such things. You just stick with your god and let people believe in what they want to believe in. Cause at the end of a day, the idea of there being a god might not make them as happy as something else!

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