The Humanist Association of Toronto provides a focus of activities and discussion for Humanists in the Toronto area. Please note: HAT events are open to the public, and views expressed do not necessarily represent the official views of the Humanist Association of Toronto. For all public statements, educational events, media enquiries, please contact the webeditor, who will forward your enquiry to our Spokesperson.
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The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm
The Monthly Meeting the 2nd or 3rd Saturday at 1:30pm (TBD)
The Steering Committee meets 1st Wednesday, 7pm
The Book Group meets monthly.
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SECULAR GROUP OPPOSES SECULAR CHARTER


Oraynu Congregation for Humanistic Judaism is a secular Jewish organization that strongly advocates the separation of religion and state. Oraynu is of the view that all members of our society should have freedom of religion and freedom from religion. We believe that, in a free and democratic society such as we enjoy in Canada, all citizens should be free to manifest their philosophical and religious viewpoints openly, by dress, image, jewellery, or in any other way, as long as, in so doing, they do not infringe on the rights and freedoms of others. We therefore express our strong opposition to those aspects of Quebec’s proposed Charter of Values that would prohibit employees of governmental institutions from wearing certain articles emblematic of religions. We believe that wearing these articles, in and of themselves, neither injures the integrity of the secular state nor threatens the efficient performance of the wearer’s employment and the delivery of unbiased services to the public. Banning such articles, in fact, is discriminatory on the basis of religion and ethnicity.

We are concerned about this proposed legislation as Canadians, as Jews, and as secularists. As Canadians we value the diversity and multiculturalism of our country and do not wish to see it threatened in any of our provinces or territories. As Jews we have been the victims of a long history of anti-Semitism encompassing religious and cultural discrimination, and thus respond with sympathetic understanding when any individual or group becomes the target of similar discrimination. As secularists we believe true secularism is compatible with freedom of religious expression for all.

The proposed charter states: “The purpose of this bill is to establish a Charter affirming the values of State secularism and religious neutrality and of equality,” but also that the legislation will make “allowance for the emblematic and toponymic elements of Qu├ębec’s cultural heritage that testify to its history.” There is an inherent hypocrisy in the Charter making allowance for the display of symbols of one religion that is deemed historically and culturally important while at the same time banning important symbols of other religions and cultures in public institutions.   If the purpose is indeed to foster secular neutrality and equality, then we find that separation of religion and state can more effectively be accomplished by eliminating certain symbols displayed by governments and certain actions that governments promote, such as religious symbols in the legislature and other governmental institutions, the invocation of a deity in our national anthem, and the funding of religious schools.   Yes, separate religion and state, with true neutrality and equality but without trampling on civil liberties. 

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Oraynu Congregation for Humanistic Congregation, based in Toronto, is Canada’s first secular humanistic Jewish congregation.  It offers a Jewish home to those who are secular humanists, agnostic or intermarried, and who express their Jewish identity culturally rather than through prayer.  Humanistic Judaism is an idea that makes sense to thousands of Jews. Recent surveys have shown that an increasing number of North American Jews live ever more secular lives and Oraynu provides a welcoming community where members can express their Jewish identity with integrity, and with those who are like-minded.  

Oraynu
156 Duncan Mills Road, Suite 14
Toronto, Ontario, M3B 3N2

416.385.3910
www.oraynu.org


HAT FORUM SAT FEB 1: Human Rights of nontheists

HAT FORUM

DATE: Saturday 1 February
TIME:  11am 

(please contact the Coordinator, via the HAT website blog, to determine location)

Should Canada be considering nontheism as a belief system persecuted in many countries and, hence, as constituting good ground to grant refugee status to asylum seekers?

Britain has recently granted asylum to an Afghan atheist on humanitarian grounds. There seem to be enough humanitarian reasons to support atheists under persecuting states, especially in Muslim countries. Isn't it time humanists stood for the rights of freethinking victims persecuted by religious zealots around the world? Are the Dark Ages really over?

HAT FORUM SAT JAN 4: The effects of technology

HAT FORUM
DATE:  Jan 4, 2014
TIME:  11am
The Effects of Technology, Facilitated by Deborah Jenkins
(please contact the Coordinator, via the HAT website blog, to determine location)
HAT meetings are free and open to members and the public. Call (416) 966-1361 for location information. ___________________________________________________
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm.
The Monthly Meeting, is usually the second Saturday at 1:30pm; specifics should be found on this blog.
The Steering Committee meets the first Wednesday of each month, at 7pm.
The Book Group usually meets on the first Saturday afternoon of the month.