Thursday, January 29, 2009


My response in the Calgary Herald to the original article (below):

Calgary Herald
Published: Thursday, January 29, 2009
Re: "Calgary next for atheist bus ads," Jan. 28.

Atheists assert they are more humanitarian than those who tend to rely on God's intervention. If so, I suggest their message should be "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life by serving humanity," a call to action that should get broad support.

Almoonir Dewji,


Calgary next for atheist bus ads, activist group says

By Graeme Morton, Calgary Herald January 28, 2009

Calgary Transit buses could soon be sporting advertisements questioning the existence of God.

The Freethought Association of Canada, which isco-ordinating the Canadian Atheist Bus Campaign, says Calgary will follow Toronto as the next city where it hopes to buy ads on public transit.

Atheist organizations have already launched transit ad campaigns in London, Madrid and Washington, D. C.,using the message, "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

Justin Trottier, president of the Toronto-based Freethought Association, said Calgarians have been major contributors to the campaign, which he says has raised close to $30,000 across Canada.

"About half our donations have come from outside Ontario, with a lot of response from Calgary and Halifax," said Trottier.

Trottier said the slogan has run on London buses, gaining worldwide attention, and is the result of a compromise between atheists and authorities, so he's hoping Canadian agencies will approve it, too.

Calgary Transit spokesman Ron Collins said as long as the content complies with the criteria set out by the Advertising Standards Canada agency, the ads would be permitted.

"We know not everyone is going to be accepting of this. We know we're going to receive complaints, but it gets back to explaining to people the process of how they would meet the standards," said Collins.

Calgary Catholic Bishop Fred Henry said the ideal date to launch such a campaign would be April Fool's Day.

"I don't know what the norms Calgary Transit uses to accept advertising, but if the benchmark is that it should be non-offensive, I'm offended," said Henry.

"This is insulting to us. The interfaith dialogue that goes on in this city is characterized by deep respect for all the individual players."

Henry characterized the ad's message as aggressive, inward-looking, self-indulgent and narcissistic.

ads that say, "there's probably no god. now stop worrying and enjoy your life," could soon be on city buses.

"Right now there seems to be an attempt to marginalize Christians. The promoters of this say they want a fruitful dialogue, but I think we know better," said Henry.

Terry Young, senior pastor of First Alliance, one of Calgary's largest churches, predicts a range of reactions to the ads.

"It definitely represents a counterpoint to what a lot of people believe," said Young.

"You are going to have some people who will be offended by it and others who will acknowledge that that perspective is out there in the pluralistic world we live in," Young said.

Cliff Erasmus, executive chairman of the Calgary Centre For Inquiry, said the local atheist group is still working out final details of the ad campaign.

"We need it here badly. I'm very happy to see that humanists, atheists and agnostics are feeling it's safe to come out and talk about this," said Erasmus.

"I really want to have a dialogue with the people of faith in this community and show them we're not a bunch of hate-mongers. We're all here to share this planet together."


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre hosts the InterFaith Network of Calgary

On January 18, 2009 the Ismaili Muslim Community hosted the Interfaith Network of Calgary at the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre.

The session was attended by 40 participants from the Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh and Ismaili Muslim faith tradition.

Rev. Tom Melvin brought a group of youth from Deer Park United Church to attend this session as part of the requirement towards their Confirmation.

Jamil Kassam, an Ismaili Muslim scholar, talked about "Identity and Pluralism,” with reference to the Ismailis in Calgary.

This was followed by group discussion.

At the end of the session, some of the participants toured the Jamatkhana.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Upcoming InterFaith Network of Calgary event at Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre

The next meeting of the IFNC for this year will be hosted by Calgary's Ismaili Muslim Community on Sunday, January 18th 2009 at the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre (1128 45th Ave. NE ) at 2:30pm.

The 2008 - 2009 schedule can be found here

The theme for this year is: Issues Arising When Practising Your Faith in 21st Century Calgary

InterFaith Network of Calgary (IFNC) is an informal and grassroots group of Calgarians, belonging to several faith traditions, who have come together to promote goodwill and mutual understanding.
We believe that this objective is best achieved by interaction and dialogue among the followers of different faiths. This belief is based on our conviction that while the general tendency is to highlight the differences among different faiths, a deeper study would reveal that we have more in common than is generally believed.
We hope that through these gatherings, we will encourage mutual respect and peace in our community.
We meet once a month to discuss questions related to our personal spirituality and religious practice.
The venues of the gatherings rotate among the places of worship.