Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Republican Debates Now Turning Into the Reform-Alliance Debates

Watching the Republican presidential hopefuls duke it out to determine who is the most absurd, I'm reminded of how far this party has fallen since the days of Eisenhower. I doubt they'd get anyone "normal" to run now.

In the latest round of insanity, Rick Perry's team is attacking Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon, which apparently is the next thing to being in a "cult".
The Mormon faith of Mitt Romney, a leading contender to be the Republican presidential candidate, has been thrust to the forefront of the electoral contest. Robert Jeffress, an evangelical pastor and supporter of a Republican rival, Rick Perry, said the religion was an anti-Christian "cult."

... Jeffress, who leads a 10,000-member Baptist mega church in Dallas, said evangelical Republicans had only one option in the party's primary elections because Mormonism was "a cult." He added: "Every true, born-again follower of Christ ought to embrace a Christian over a non-Christian." Asked if he believed Romney, 64, was a Christian, Jeffress said: "No."
This nonsense reminds me of Canada in 2000, when Preston Manning and Stockwell Day were competing for the leadership of the Alliance Party.

When Jason Kenney and Day brought in the more radical fundamentalists to campaign for them, Manning's camp suggested that there was a "Jim Jones Kool-Aid quality to what was going on." (1) AKA: a cult, though in this case they weren't far off the mark.

Jason Kenney attended St. Ignatius Jesuit school in San Francisco, when it was said that one of the instructors, Fr. Cornelius M. Buckley's "liturgies based on Catholic orthodoxy, inspired a "cult like" following. One of Kenney's teachers confirmed in an interview, that our Jas wanted to take religion back to the 50s. "Not the 1950s, but the 1550s".

I called the university myself and spoke with a Jesuit priest, an extremely nice man. He claimed to remember the case well and said that the pro-choice advocates used law students from the school to represent them. It was a very polarizing time.

Stockwell Day also has a history of religious extremism. The minister who took over for Day when he was running the Bentley Bible schools told journalist Gordon Laird:
Throughout this period, Stockwell Day was assistant pastor and school administrator. "They changed their by-laws so that the people would have no say - leaders to be appointed by other leaders, as determined by scripture," explains Rathjen. "It was a haughty, arrogant, pride-filled success story that led to disaster." Fuelled by American-style revivalism, the church emphasized radical gospel practices - such as speaking-in-tongues - that whipped worshippers into a frenzy. "They have emotional experiences and then try to build a doctrine around it," explains Rathjen. The intensity of the church and constant stream of visiting American pastors gave Bentley an international profile within fundamentalist circles. But the church eventually succumbed to its own extremes.

"I would say that it was as close to a cult as you can get," says pastor Rathjen. "They were still holding on to the Christian teaching - but with manipulation and control.
In 2002, when Stephen Harper and Day were competing for the leadership, similar arguments ensued. From Report Magazine:
One thing is for certain. This is going to be a dirty campaign--perhaps even nastier than in 2000, when the Tom Long campaign was accused of being a homosexual coven and Mr. Day was compared to mass murderer Jim Jones. And despite Mr. Harper's promise to avoid personal attacks--a promise made also by Mr. Day--it was his campaign that drew first blood.(3)
After Maurice Vellacott held a rally for Day at his Bible college, Harper accused them of exploiting religion:
Last week, organizers for Mr. Harper went public with concerns that Mr. Day is appealing to a narrow base of religious groups -- including orthodox Jews, Pentecostals and anti-abortion Catholics -- in a bid to regain the leadership post he was forced to relinquish late last year.(4)
Yet, not long after winning the leadership, Harper told a group of supporters that he would also be tapping into Day's fundamentalists to create "his base".
... 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 ... but on what he called “theo-cons”—those social conservatives who care passionately about hot-button issues that turn on family, crime, and defence ... 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 ..." (5)
Later Stephen Harper would brag that he had more pro-life supporters than Day. Good for him.

Anyone who doubts that Canada now has its first Republican government, only needs to watch the current Republican debates.

This is why you can't mix religion and politics. C.S. Lewis's hallway with the little rooms representing the different faiths, got boarded up and the house has been set on fire.

I think this "new conservatism" will collapse under the weight of their own nonsense.


1. Requiem for a Lightweight: Stockwell Day and Image Politics, By Trevor Harrison, Black Rose Books, 2002, ISBN: 1-55164-206-9, p. 62

2. Bentley, Alberta: Hellfire, Neo-Nazis and Stockwell Day: A two-part look inside the little town that nurtured a would-be prime minister - and so"me of the most notorious hate-mongers in Canada, By Gordon Laird, NOW Magazine, 2000

3. Strange Alliances, By Kevin Michael Grace, Report Newsmagazine, February 04, 2002

4. Day slips into Bible college for Rally, By S. Alberts, National Post, February 13, 2002

5. Stephen Harper and the Theo-cons: The rising clout of Canada’s religious right, By Marci McDonald, Walrus Magazine, October 2006

1 comment:

  1. Read the book 'the NEO-CATHOLICS' by Betty Clermont. This book examines how the neo-conservatives in the Republican Party forged a nexus with powerfull rightwing catholics.
    The model of "national catholicicsm" established by Opus Dei in Spain meshed neatly with the neo-conservatives 'Straussian notions of an intellectual elite's road to power.