August 06, 2016

Do we have freedom FROM religion in Canada? Atheist fired for refusing to enter faith-based AA program

Holly NicholasRebel Commentator

Freedom of religion is a fundamental right in Canada, written into the Constitution. As a protected right, believers have freedom to assemble without limitation and interference. Neither the government nor anyone else, can force an individual to practice a certain religion.

Enter Byron Wood, a nurse with substance abuse issues. After being admitted to hospital and diagnosed, his license was suspended by the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia. His employer Vancouver Coastal Health and the BC Nurses Union were notified and an assessment was required. The doctor recommended an Alcoholics Anonymous program in Ontario and this is where the problems arose.

Among other complaints, Wood objected since he's an atheist and AA is a faith based program. He felt being forced into a religious program was a violation of his rights and so he offered alternatives but his requests were refused.

He was told all addictions doctors available through Vancouver Coastal Health recommend AA and there were no other options. After refusing to enter a religious based program, he was fired. Mr. Wood filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal and they’ve agreed to review his complaint.

His other complaints aside, this is a no brainer – the Constitution guarantees that people have the right to practice, or NOT practice, religion freely in Canada.

Photo Credit: Lwp Kommunikáció

You must be logged in to comment. Click here to log in.
commented 2016-08-07 00:49:39 -0400
This story makes no sense whatsoever. An AA program in Ontario? According to this site…

… this man has a choice of approximately 100 meetings per week that he can attend and that’s just in the metro area. No sense whatsoever. The lies of a desperate drunk combining with the desperation of lying liberal journalists feverishly attacking Christianity and everything else Western Civ in every way possible.

Stupid, lazy liberal journalists that should try pounding the pavement instead of just hammering out garbage articles. Try leaving the office and going to where the story is. An AA meeting was just down the street on the same day and in the same place this garbage was written. AA was born in Christianity because Christianity dominated North America at the time of AA’s inception. If the writer of this trash had bothered to go to a meeting they would see that Christianity is not forced on anyone, ever. A higher power of your choice.
commented 2016-08-07 00:35:37 -0400
I can’t believe that you used the term ‘safe space’—— Is this where it came from ? I can understand you druggies and alkies needing ’ SPACE SPACE ’ so that you can comfort each other. Does it not bother you that the term has been misappropriated to cover every whiner with a gripe against Society?
commented 2016-08-07 00:35:37 -0400
I can’t believe that you used the term ‘safe space’—— Is this where it came from ? I can understand you druggies and alkies needing ’ SPACE SPACE ’ so that you can comfort each other. Does it not bother you that the term has been misappropriated to cover every whiner with a gripe against Society?
commented 2016-08-07 00:05:54 -0400
We should be clear that Alcoholics Anonymous helps those who find their drinking of alcohol has gotten out of control to find a safe space where they might cut out drinking altogether.

A.A. has bent over backwards and tried everything to eliminate as an excuse; “but I do not believe in God.”

What A.A. says, quite soundly, is that there is a power even greater than me, and that power is God.

But, if the person rejects that name ‘God’ it is still alright.

The reality proclaimed is that there is a higher power. That, truth be known, I am not king of the universe.

Support your friend who is exploring A.A., and offer to be there with him.
commented 2016-08-06 22:36:02 -0400
A cause picked up by the BC Humanist Association:
Holly, this is the kind of story one would expect from the CBC. By the way, if one wants to talk about ‘organized religion’, the humanists (atheists) are quite organized with local, provincial, national and international chapters and organizations. Hard to believe that the employer Vancouver Coastal Health and the BC Nurses Union is trying to force religion upon someone.
commented 2016-08-06 21:44:54 -0400
C’mon John—-be honest . Tell us how wrong we ALL are for not agreeing with you how much MONEY it will take to convert US.
commented 2016-08-06 21:36:07 -0400
A lot about this story Holly that makes no sense! Having trouble finding material for a story? Why would someone in BC be sent to an AA program in Ontario? Makes no sense that he was fired if there were other options that he was willing to pursue. If you talk about AA being a religious program, could you please explicitly tell us what religion that was? MAURICE, as you say, everyone is religious or has a worldview, including the atheist who Holly is defending in this case.
commented 2016-08-06 21:20:40 -0400
John, there is no such thing as freedom FROM religion! That’s a stupid statement! Since religion in this context means a belief, and the reason anyone believe anything is because they think it’s the truth, and since you, me and the Universe exist, obviously SOMETHING must be true. Either 1) God created the Universe for His own divine purpose, or 2) it just spontaneously popped into existence for no particular reason, or 3) it’s always been here (which is incompatible with it being 13.7 billion years old). That means YOU have a religion, John. If you’re an Atheist, John, that’s a religion. You pick number either number 2 or 3. Freedom from religion is an idiotic concept.
commented 2016-08-06 21:07:11 -0400
Regarding Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), it is not a religious program; atheists, agnostics, and religious believers of all stripes are welcome. But yes, to eventually come to place one’s faith (be it of a religious or non religious nature) in a higher power (someone or something greater than oneself) is highly recommended, that is assuming recovery from alcoholism is a top priority.
commented 2016-08-06 20:41:32 -0400
I remember a while back—-about 20 years ago—— when the Judges were getting lenient—- that Alkies would volunteer to go for Rehabilitation . They would be sent to the USA at $40,000 a pop . It was a joke.
commented 2016-08-06 20:26:20 -0400
Honest to Christ——Is there Anything in Society that does not Victimize these more than useless BUMS ?
commented 2016-08-06 20:16:38 -0400
John --the only Religion being force fed down our throats is ISLAM. Why don’t you pretend to be a man – John
commented 2016-08-06 20:14:29 -0400
People should have a right to believe how they believe. You can’t force someone to believe something they don’t. Imposing beliefs on others is not only wrong, it’s impossible. You can’t force it. That’s like me saying everyone must believe in the tooth fairy or else! Does that make you capable of believing in it? At best, that makes you pretend and have to lie and go against your morals to appease me, which is very wrong. So they need to offer up some non-religious alternatives. Not to mention that it’s already been medically and scientifically proven that AA is NOT the best, most efficient way for most people to deal with an alcohol addiction. It’s just the one that got the most popularity for some reason (I’m guessing money plays a huge role in them promoting it like crazy even though it’s not the best plan of action for most people).
commented 2016-08-06 20:12:14 -0400
The only religion being rammed down our throats is Islam.
commented 2016-08-06 20:10:06 -0400
Why would someone in BC have to go to ONT to attend an AA meeting?
commented 2016-08-06 19:57:51 -0400
John Siciliano said, “There should be freedom from religion in Canada, but people want to always equate atheism with having dictatorship, when religion nowadays is used by right wingers to force feed it down our throats.”

Freedom from religion? What a stupid statement? How would that be implemented at a legal, logistical and social level? The only way to make “freedom from religion” would be to eradicate the very existence of all religion of every aspect of people and our culture. Even if that were even remotely possible, ya think that might violate the rights of people, John? Are you that arrogant and self-centered?

John goes on the claim, “when religion nowadays is used by right wingers to force feed it down our throats.”

Can you give an example of “right wingers” force feeding religion down our throats? Story? News article? Anything valid and true?

And you use of “right wingers” is suspect in this context. There are plenty of “right wingers” that are not religious at all, and there are also “left wingers” that are religious.

As usual John, you are just the same as all the “mommy and daddy forced me to go to church when I was a kid so I hate all those damn Christians!” type of person.
commented 2016-08-06 19:57:26 -0400
Freedom of Region in Canada is becoming nothing less than a farce. Feel Free to use and abuse us——- Justin has your Back. Freedom from Religion—- amounts to nothing less than this pathetic idiot attempting to cash in because he is a fucking Loser.
commented 2016-08-06 18:35:27 -0400
The employer’s insistence that there are no options to AA is pure BS. I know several people who for whatever reason found AA unbearable and got a lot of help from programs such as SMART Recovery, a modern and cost free alternative widely available in BC and the rest of Canada.
Whether his atheism is a valid reason to refuse AA or not, firing the guy for refusing ONE of the many available rehab alternatives is quite simply a lawsuit waiting to happen. His union needs to smarten up and start doing its job, there is a lot more to it than collecting dues from members.
commented 2016-08-06 17:41:04 -0400
If he were a muzzie this would not be happening because Canada would never make a Muslim do anything, especially partake in a program based on Christian values.
commented 2016-08-06 17:12:26 -0400
Also, AA and Al-Anon and all associated groups welcome all people of all religions and of all social strata. If you don’t believe me, don’t argue with me as it’s pointless. I know better. Instead, Google where and when a nearby “Open” meeting is occurring, sit through it, and listen. Go see for yourself.
commented 2016-08-06 17:08:50 -0400
Another lying POS liberal drunk. Having had a “better half” that was in AA and having been in Al-Anon myself, I know better. You’re not forced to do a single thing concerning God. All references to “a higher power” refer to a higher power of your choice. If you can think of absolutely nothing, than you use your group, because a group is a higher power than an individual. Prayers are said at meetings and participation in said prayers is voluntary.

Here’s the real story here:

There is a drunk idiot in BC who doesn’t want to go to AA because he is desperately fighting back against treatment. He is in denial and, being a drunk, he thinks he is the end all of everything and that every decision he makes is always correct. He has an ego problem, as do all drunks. He will not surrender. The threat of job loss was not enough, but maybe actual job loss will help him find rock bottom and the will power to accept AA and begin climbing out.

Part 2 of what’s really going on here is there is a war on Christianity being waged by liberals and any excuse to publicly attack Christians is a good excuse, even if it isn’t carefully researched.

Journalists are almost exclusively modern liberals and so are intellectually lazy and most of them can’t be bothered to leave their keyboard during a workday. I can’t believe those morons didn’t even bother to go to an AA meeting and see for themselves. ‘facepalm’.
commented 2016-08-06 17:00:29 -0400
@billyAGREE with you 100%
commented 2016-08-06 16:43:39 -0400
Freedom of religion is a no-brainer, (accept, of course, if that religion happens to be Christianity…. EVERY pseudo-right trumps freedom of religion where Christianity is concerned….. but that’s another story). I do not believe the state should have the right or the power to force anyone past the age of legal consent into ANY rehabilitation program, so that’s the no-brainer. However, if it’s been proven that he has a substance abuse problem, and he’s in a position where that substance abuse problem could put others at risk, while his choice of treatment should be his to make, random drug tests are also a no-brainer. People who have nothing to hide, hide nothing. He lost his right to privacy the moment he came to work high.
commented 2016-08-06 16:37:12 -0400
There should be freedom from religion in Canada, but people want to always equate atheism with having dictatorship, when religion nowadays is used by right wingers to force feed it down our throats. People need to have the ability to have options, and this means yes practicing but also having the ability to know about the other 30+ religions in the world as well. Why do mainstream conservatives and other mainstream ideologies not want to ever educate people about new options?! That is what infuriates me about mainstream people. They want to pit one type of people versus another, which is common among people that want conflict!
commented 2016-08-06 15:31:58 -0400

10..HOOD of a car
19..TRUNK of a car
commented 2016-08-06 15:12:11 -0400
Had he been Muslim instead of an atheist, would he have been fired for refusing the AA program because it’s based on Christian values?
I think we all know the answer to that.