A Selection of My Published Letters to the Editor
Vancouver Sun, February 10, 1999
Steven Addison (Letters, Feb. 6) says there is "no evidence that anybody has ever been harmed or exposed to hatred or contempt as a result of a discriminatory publication." This is untrue.
A Feb. 2 court decision in Oregon awarded Planned Parenthood and four abortion doctors $107 million, after deciding that some anti-abortion materials constituted illegal threats against abortion providers. "Wanted" posters identified individual doctors as "guilty of crimes against humanity" and an Internet web site listed the names and addresses of hundreds of doctors, calling them "baby butchers" and "Nazis."
After publication of the wanted posters, two doctors on the posters were assassinated, and one was wounded in an assassination attempt. It was clearly shown in court that the hateful words of anti-abortionists have led many doctors to fear for their lives.
Abortion providers have become a target of hatred, and need protection under Canada's hate crime laws, along with Jews and other minority groups.
Vancouver Sun, January 27, 1999
I am not convinced that religious people are more charitable than non-religious people (Religious people most generous with charities, Jan. 23).
Much of the money donated to religious organizations is spent on Bible distribution in poor countries, church buildings, preachersí salaries, and high overhead. Last time I checked my dictionary, charity meant helping people in need, not promoting religion.
Itís unfair to compare charitable donations of religious and non-religious people unless you subtract church-giving. Non-religious people donít have churches to donate to! Start with a level playing field, and youíll find that non-religious people are at least as charitable as religious people, probably more so. In fact, psychologists find no link between religion and helping, according to a review in Psychology Today magazine.
My husband and I, both atheists, donate considerable time and money to secular charities that actually help people. We are suspicious of church-run charities because it seems their main goal is to proselytize, not help.
Vancouver Sun, January 5, 1998
Jancis M. Andrews calls "fatuous" the opinions of biblical scholars on the Q Gospel (Proof of divinity appears on Christmas, Letters, Dec. 30).
I agree that Christianity will likely survive this biblical criticism, but this won't be due to the "arrogance" or any alleged weakness of biblical scholarship. It will be because most Christians prefer to remain ignorant of the real origins of their religion.
Christianity fulfils subjective, emotional needs. It offers comfort in the face of death, authority figures to revere and follow, and social belonging to a community of like-minded individuals. Such needs are not generally affected by contrary evidence, no matter how strong.
Evidence against the historical basis of Christianity is both extensive and irrefutable, and is available in any public library. Unfortunately, although most clerics are well aware of this evidence, and often accept much of it, they choose not to inform their parishioners.
One established fact has emerged from the painstaking study of the historical Jesus over the last 200 years: Virtually nothing can be known about him because the New Testament gospels have been shown to be factually unreliable, almost to the last detail. This fact, coupled with other biblical evidence, has enabled a few modern scholars to convincingly explain the origins of Christianity without a historical Jesus.
But whether he existed or not, the gospels have become classic illustrations of the process of mythmaking.
Vancouver Sun, October 18, 1997
Trevor Lautens' column on intact dilation and extraction abortions (What we must know about abortion, Oct. 4) proves that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. These abortions are not done in Canada, although perhaps they should be. Although no late-term abortion methods are pleasant, equating them with the horrors of Nazism is a violation of both truth and morality. Remember, Adolf Hitler was a committed "pro-lifer"---which brings home the true hypocrisy of that term.
Intact D&X's are done to protect the health and lives of women, an issue which many anti-abortionists don't seem to think worthy of concern. Such abortions are usually much safer for the woman than other late-term abortion methods. Third-trimester intact D&X's are done only in cases of severe fetal defects incompatible with life, or where the mother's life or health is at grave risk.
Ironically, pro-choice efforts to reduce the number of second-trimester abortions are hampered by anti-choice restrictions to access, funds, and information, which cause delays for women seeking abortions.
The move to outlaw intact D&X's in the U.S. would result in a serious compromise of doctors' medical judgement, and be an unacceptable risk to women's lives and health.
Vancouver Sun, August 11, 1997
Contrary to Lloyd Mackey's wishful assertions (Preachers and worshippers can teach us unity despite diversity Opinion, Aug. 7), religion is a poor teacher of unity and reconciliation.
Dogmatic religious teachings have traditionally held society back and hurt many. Religion presided over the rampant filth, disease, and ignorance of the Dark Ages, the medieval Inquisition; and the defense of slavery in the 19th century. It still presides over the insane injunction to multiply and to subdue the earth, the prohibition against contraception and abortion, and the denial of the rights of women and gays. And before the recent phenomenon of separation between church and state, there was only intolerance and persecution, compliments of the ruling religion.
This is so because many religious doctrines are antithetical to human rights and freedom. Further, Christianity is based on a flawed, immoral premise: that humans are by nature evil, causing a "merciful, loving" God to murder his own son to save a few of us wretched sinners, while sending the majority to hell forever for the unforgivable crime of believing the "wrong" thing. Productive and compassionate solutions to our country's problems cannot come out of such a barbaric mindset.
In fact, it is usually liberal thinkers, unbelievers, scientists, and other courageous activists who do the most to improve society, while traditional religion fights every advance, kicking and screaming all the way (and afterwards, trying to steal the credit).
Subdued by modern ethics, organized religion is not the monster it once was (at least in Western society), but let's not be lulled into believing that religious influence in the sphere of politics can be anything but irrelevant, divisive, and dangerous.
The Province, March 23, 1992
There is cause for alarm when the Biblical story of creation is brought into public science classrooms.
The attempt to turn Genesis into science stems not from any concern for good science education, but from what amounts to a "paranoid delusion," a systematic belief that is maintained in the face of contrary evidence.
Evolution is firmly established as the only reasonable, naturalistic explanation for a very wide range of data. If creationism is true instead, it means God is a practical joker who made it appear as though life had evolved. This is what the creationist position amounts to and it's not science.
The Vancouver Sun, November 21, 1991
As the Bible specialist Robert Funk said, the Jesus Seminar is merely publicizing the scholarly work that has been going on for decades (actually centuries). Unfortunately, the average Christian has not the slightest inkling of any of it.
Michael Green makes the preposterous claim that no single Christian teaching depends on a disputed reading. To give just one example out of many, the only verse that clearly supports the Trinity, Matthew 28:19, is widely considered to be a later insertion by the primitive Church. Apparently, Green prefers to ignore facts like these.
It would be more helpful if scholars like Green used their positions to educate Christians about the historical reality behind their religion, instead of promoting ignorance just to save the faith.
The Vancouver Sun, November 26, 1991
Thank you for printing my letter about the Jesus Seminar, although I was saddened to see that I was the only woman respondent out of the 11 chosen for publication (Jesus Seminar Controversy Stirs Readers, Nov. 21).
A couple of other letters you printed made the common, but erroneous claim that the viewpoint of conservative Biblical scholars is just as valid as that of the liberals.
The most important point in my letter, unfortunately edited out, would have supplied a necessary corrective to this view---that skeptical scholars at least work with the evidence and try to reconcile it with their Christian beliefs, while conservatives simply ignore any evidence that impinges on their faith.
The Province, October 26, 1990
John Van Randen (Mailbag, Oct. 17) notes that one does not need to be Christian to realize the moral fundamentals of life and politics.
The vast majority of anti-choicers are evangelical Christians or Roman Catholics. Although many pro-choicers are religious, their beliefs tend to be more liberal.
The basis for this dichotomy is that fundamentalist Christians believe embryos have souls, and that woman's only saving grace is in childbearing. Their position has very little to do with morality because the actual welfare of women and children (in this life) is not their concern.
The Province, July 18 (?), 1990
Janet Porter (Mailbag July 13) feels articles on women learning to strip or on the attractiveness of women's breasts are devaluing to women. A news item in the same paper has a university chaplain complaining of sexism over a practical joke on a female student.
Porter devalued all humanity by implying female sexuality becomes sexist if used to please men. The chaplain insulted the student by implying she was a helpless victim instead of a willing player. As long as women are kept on pedestals and handled with kid gloves, people will continue overreacting when someone dares to assert that women, like men, are sexual beings, and they might even be capable of taking care of themselves.
The Province, March 28, 1990
If Richard D. Peachey (Mailbag, March 16) wants to use the Bible for clues to the origin of life, why stop at creation? The Bible also advocates a flat earth with the dome of heaven stretched over it, supported by four pillars. Does Peachey also doubt that the earth is round?
Unfortunately, his other "good reasons" for doubting evolution have clearly been derived from the sorry distortions, blatant lies, and gross errors put out by "scientific" creationists. Their absolute version of the truth precludes scientific inquiry, since true science is constantly correcting its errors, while adding new knowledge and evidence.
The Province, December 9 (?), 1988
As an atheist, I take great offence at recent comments made by Premier Vander Zalm about his Christian style of government. Religion, especially a specific one, has no place in a secular government which is supposed to serve the needs of all the people.
Those with non-Christian religious beliefs and those who choose not to believe at all make up large minorities in our province, and minorities have rights in a democratic society.
Christian ethics are, in many ways, morally repugnant to me and Vander Zalm does not the right to use his political power to impose those ethics on me. Contrary to Mr. Vander Zalm's paranoia that it is only the media that are against him, I can assure him that his religious style has alienated many people. By comparing himself with Jesus, the premier is only crucifying himself.
The Vancouver Sun, August 29, 1988
I am amused but also disheartened by the large wave of protest against the film The Last Temptation of Christ. The fact that the protest is so widespread points to a general increase in recent years in a return to Christianity, especially the fundamentalist sort.
Christianity promotes not only intolerance (which causes bloody wars) but also lack of independent thought, guilt, inhibition, pointless self-sacrifice, and ignorance, to name a few things. Not only is there no hard evidence for the actual existence of Jesus Christ, what circumstantial evidence there is highly suspect---probably planted.
As far as I'm concerned, anything that may serve to weaken the influence of Christianity and reduce ignorance in this society is a step in the right direction.