Humanism used to be a good subject for parlor and dinner table discussions. Few people knew what it actually was or ' where literary Humanism left off and religious Humanism began. Nor did Humanism's expounders get together and codify their beliefs for popular enlightenment.(1)Key leaders were often at odds over how to define the movement and what its key goals should be.
But that was about to change.
Last week, for the first time, the religious Humanists were on common ground. After discussing many questions (by letter) they had drawn up, signed and circulated a manifesto containing their articles of faith. More & more Humanists are to read the manifesto, sign it, make suggestions which may perhaps be incorporated after due consideration.(1)Key elements included:
- The universe is self-existing, not created.How could you argue against this set of principles?
- Man is part of nature, product of his culture, his environment, his social heritage. The traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected.
- Humanism also rejects cosmic and supernatural "guarantees." The Humanist eschews theism, deism, modernism, "new thought'' and instead of feeling religious emotions concentrates on human life—labor, art, science, philosophy, love, friendship, recreation.
- Humanism is for "a socialized and co-operative economic order—a shared life in a shared world."
Its adherents say that it will: "Affirm life rather than deny it ... seek to elicit the possibilities of life, not flee from it ... establish the conditions of a satisfactory life for all, not merely for the few." (1)
Yet argue they did. When the Humanist Manifesto, written primarily by Raymond Bragg (shown above) appeared, it created quite a sensation, because it challenged the principle of God being the centre of the universe.
Instead they embraced science, human compassion, and equality in a shared world.
The late Francis Schaeffer, author of A Christian Manifesto, that prompted the creation of the Religious Right/Moral Majority, has built a career challenging, what he refers to as "secular Humanism". He believed that all of our current problems are the result of not embracing God as the center of the universe.
He felt that if all law and governance was based on the Old Testament, all of our problems would disappear. He encouraged Christians to become confrontational, and did not rule out violence as a means to an end.
There does come a time when force, even physical force, is appropriate. The Christian is not to take the law into his own hands and become a law unto himself. But when all avenues to flight and protest have closed, force in the defensive posture is appropriate. This was the situation of the American Revolution. The colonists used force in defending themselves. Great Britain, because of its policy toward the colonies, was seen as a foreign power invading America. The colonists defended their homeland. As such, the American Revolution was a conservative counterrevolution. The colonists saw the British as the revolutionaries trying to overthrow the legitimate colonial governments. (2)This certainly helps to explain the Tea Party and the Religious Right's obsession with guns.
When Stephen Harper's former Chief of Staff, Darrel Reid, suggested that our laws should be changed to reflect those in the Bible, the story pretty much ended there.
Reid is now with the Manning Centre, but continues his work with several current Harper MPs, toward Reconstructionism.
The media is doing us a grave injustice by not staying on top of this story. In the United States, after learning that Presidential hopeful, Michelle Bachmann, is a follower of Francis Schaeffer, their media is all over it.
Ryan Lizza wrote an in depth article for the New Yorker, under the heading Leap of Faith. In it he refers to Bachmann as "an ideologue of the Christian-conservative movement." A term once used to describe Stephen Harper, before he took the happy pills and became a "Tory".
Lizza reveals how the Bachmanns (Michelle and Marcus), experienced a "life-altering event" after watching Schaeffer's film series “How Should We Then Live?”
Schaeffer’s film series consists of ten episodes tracing the influence of Christianity on Western art and culture, from ancient Rome to Roe v. Wade. In the films, Schaeffer—who has a white goatee and is dressed in a shearling coat and mountain climber’s knickers—condemns the influence of the Italian Renaissance, the Enlightenment, Darwin, secular humanism, and postmodernism. He repeatedly reminds viewers of the “inerrancy” of the Bible and the necessity of a Biblical world view. “There is only one real solution, and that’s right back where the early church was,” Schaeffer tells his audience. “The early church believed that only the Bible was the final authority. What these people really believed and what gave them their whole strength was in the truth of the Bible as the absolute infallible word of God.” (3)I've been watching the series and reading the book, and was surprised to find that chunks of his speeches have found their way into the vernacular of many members of the Harper government.
Including Harper himself, but I'm getting into that later.
The rise of Michelle Bachmann, has given the Americans an opportunity to discuss this movement and what it could mean to their future. Schaeffer is very clear on what fundamentalist Christians need to do.
And in his Christian Manifesto, he states that the movement must include Canada, Australia and New Zealand (p.24), if it has any hope of succeeding.
We're probably going to hear a lot more as the U.S. election campaign heats up, so I thought this a perfect time to put together an essay on Canada's Religious Right movement, that is being allowed to operate in almost total secrecy, simply because we are too squeamish to talk about religion.
But we have to remember, that this is a political movement, and one that could have a profound affect on who we are as Canadians.
We need to become part of the conversation since clearly we are to play an important role.
Marci McDonald had spent several years as a Washington correspondent, where she covered the rise of the Christian Right.
When she returned to Canada, she was shocked to discover that the same movement had embedded itself here. Like Ronald Reagan, Stephen Harper has moved these fundamentalists into the courts, the civil service and even the foreign service, creating a new office of religious freedom.
From her piece for Walrus Magazine: Stephen Harper and the Theo-cons: The rising clout of Canada's religious right:
"For Harper, the courtship of the Christian right is unlikely to prove an electoral one-night stand. Three years ago, in a speech to the annual Conservative think-fest, Civitas, he outlined plans for a broad new party coalition that would ensure a lasting hold on power. The only route, he argued, was to focus not on the tired wish list of economic conservatives or “neo-cons,” as they’d become known, but on what he called “theo-cons”—those social conservatives who care passionately about hot-button issues that turn on family, crime, and defence.McDonald would turn her piece into her best seller: The Armageddon Factor
"Even foreign policy had become a theo-con issue, he pointed out, driven by moral and religious convictions. “The truth of the matter is that the real agenda and the defining issues have shifted from economic issues to social values,” he said, “so conservatives must do the same.
"Arguing that the party had to come up with tough, principled stands on everything from parents’ right to spank their children to putting “hard power” behind the country’s foreign-policy commitments ... " (4)
However, the Canadian Manifesto, is about more than religion, but is intended to show how the American Neoconservative movement as a whole, is dictating how our country does business.
There are many questions that we need to ask ourselves, including:
Why did top Republican pollster, John Mclaughlin, personally handle Stephen Harper's political career?
Why did the National Citizens Coalition meet with Republican politicians to help draft strategy?
Why did Richard Nixon's magician, Art Finkelstein, work with the NCC for 16 years, guiding Stephen Harper in the art of destroying liberal democracy?
Milton Friedman from the Chicago School, spent a lifetime engineering the takeover of the economies of foreign nations. Why was he so interested in Canada, becoming a regular speaker at the Fraser Institute?
Why was Religious Right leader, Paul Weyrich, so keen to have Stephen Harper on the throne?
Why is a Goldman Sachs' executive, now the head of the Bank of Canada?
It's not hard to see that there is a plan for us, but unfortunately, we are not in the loop.
So maybe if I can create a Canadian Manifesto, as it might look if there is one locked away in the Republican Party HQs, we can at least talk about it.
Is this what we want for Canada?
1. Religion: Humanism on Paper, Time Magazine, May 15, 1933
2. A Christian Manifesto, By Francis Schaeffer, Crossway Books, 1981, ISBN: 0-89107-233-0, p. 117
3. Leap of Faith: The making of a Republican front-runner, By Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker, August 15, 2011
4. Stephen Harper and the Theo-cons: The rising clout of Canada's religious right, By Marci McDonald, The Walrus, October 2006