With the introduction of Marci McDonald's book; The Armageddon Factor (1), we are now being given an opportunity to debate the enormous influence of the Religious Right on Canadian politics.
And one area that needs a great deal of debate, is the issue of Reconstructionism, which is being organized in the breezeway between Reform-Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott's office and the American 'Conservative movement*'.
C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Stephen Harper
In Lloyd MacKey's book, The Pilgrimage of Stephen Harper, he claims that Harper did not come to his "born-again" status from the need to be reborn to escape a lost life, but rather from the results of a cerebral journey.
C.S. Lewis dealt in absolutes, so as one of the theologians introduced to him by Preston Manning, Lewis would be the easiest for an analytical mind to grasp. Stephen Harper is a smart man, but he is not a wise man, and Lewis expressed Christian faith in the simplest of terms.
In fact, it has been those 'simple' terms that have had his critics state that among other things, his theories were "textually careless and theologically unreliable." (2)
Lewis is what is known as an 'apologist', which is described** in part as:
... a field of Christian theology that aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defend the faith against objections, and expose the perceived flaws of other world views ... Apologists have based their defense of Christianity on historical evidence, philosophical arguments, scientific investigation, rhetorical persuasion and other disciplines.
Rather than being mythological, they try to make Christianity scientific, historical and absolute. For Lewis, it was all-or-nothing and half-heartedness was not to be tolerated. There was no middle ground. In that way he gave permission for religious intolerance, and most definitely intolerance toward anyone not seeking religion at all. To him they were simply "mad men" or "lunatics".
In Reconstructionism, the main thrust shifts from the salvaging of lost souls in a doomed society to the reconstruction of a Christian world. The significance of the Reconstructionist movement is not its numbers, but the power of its ideas and their surprisingly rapid acceptance. Many on the Christian Right are unaware that they hold Reconstructionist ideas. Because as a theology it is controversial, even among evangelicals, many who are consciously influenced by it avoid the label. This furtiveness is not, however, as significant as the potency of the ideology itself. Generally, Reconstructionism seeks to replace democracy with a theocratic elite that would govern by imposing their interpretation of "Biblical Law."
Reconstructionism would eliminate not only democracy but many of its manifestations, such as labor unions, civil rights laws, and public schools. Insufficiently Christian men would be denied citizenship, perhaps executed. So severe is this theocracy that it would extend capital punishment beyond such crimes as kidnapping, rape, and murder to include, among other things, blasphemy, heresy, adultery, and homosexuality. (3)
Wanting to replace democracy with a theocratic elite, sounds very Leo Strauss, though I suppose that's why neoconservativism and the Religious Right are such a great fit. When Stockwell Day was teaching at the Bentley Bible schools, in his social studies classes he warned students that democratic governments "represent the ultimate deification of man, which is the very essence of humanism and totally alien to God's word." (4)
* "... your country [United States], and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world" Stephen Harper 1997 to the Council for National Policy, the vanguard for the American Religous Right (5)
1. The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8 3
2. C.S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion, By john Beversluis, Prometheus Books, 1985, ISBN 1-59102-531-1
3."Christian Reconstructionism: Theocratic Dominionism Gains Influence: Part 1 -- Overview and Roots," by Frederick Clarkson, March 1994, The Public Eye
4. Bentley, Alberta: Hellfire, Neo-Nazis and Stockwell Day:A two-part look inside the little town that nurtured a would-be prime minister - and some of the most notorious hate-mongers in Canada, By Gordon Laird, NOW Magazine, 2000
5. Full text of Stephen Harper's 1997 speech, Canadian Press, December 14, 2005