Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Book Reveals Harper's Links to American Religious Right

In November of 2006 a CBS reporter visited Toronto and wrote an article entitled: Evangelicals to the North; With Bush ally as Prime Minister New Christian Right Rises Up.

When things get bad in the United States, it is reassuring to turn to Canada, a country with a high standard of living, a small military and a national health care plan. Canada always seemed to be, if a bit duller than America, also a bit saner.

But this is changing. The new Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, inspired by the neocons to the south, appears determined to visit the worst excesses of George Bush's presidency on his own country.

He goes on to discuss all of the changes he had made to both foreign and domestic policy based on scripture and not reason. He discusses the American Christian Right and their new "love of Canada:
And in the Harper government they have found not only a willing convert but an important ally. Harper's hold on power, like that of George Bush, is shaky. He too has no clear mandate to transform Canada, but this has not stopped his minority government from steadily undermining social programs and a once-enlightened foreign policy that liberal Americans could only envy.

The tools he is using are familiar to many Americans, who stood sleepily by as Pat Robertson and other religious bigots hijacked the Republican Party and moved into the legislative and executive branches of government. As I walk the windy streets of Toronto I wonder if those who push past me will wake up and see in Harper's government our own malaise or watch passively as Canada becomes a demented reflection of George Bush's America.

Sadly we watched passively as Canada became a "demented reflection of George Bush's America." Much of the reason for that is because our media allowed this government to work in almost total secrecy and though they saw the horrendous actions of Canada's religious right, they kept quiet not wanting to offend someones spiritual beliefs.

Everyone has a right to believe what they want to believe but when they are in government and decide to force those beliefs on citizens who don't share them, it's a problem. They have even attacked other Christian groups, who don't follow every single word in the Bible to the letter.

Marci McDonald's new book; The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada has arrived in book stores and is a must read for every Canadian. She explains how the American religious right has channelled funds to Canadian religious organizations, who in turn channelled funds and support to the Harper government.

But they expected something in return and Harper has not disappointed.

Antonia Zerbisias has an excellent column in the Toronto Star, discussing McDonald's book. (Zerbisias was one of the few in the media who recognized what was happening and wrote of it even before the release of the book)

The Armageddon Factor, which examines the religious right across the faiths and how Stephen Harper’s government has forged bonds with it, comes after weeks of reports on Conservatives opposition to abortion and family planning, the defunding of activist womens’ groups, the withdrawal of subsidies to gay pride events across the country, the cuts to KAIROS and the publication of an unprecedented amount of grants to Bible schools.

“My problem was, as my book went to bed, headlines were coming daily,” McDonald says over the phone from her Toronto home. “All my worries about having to prove my case that this government is intent on cultivating the social
conservative constituency in this country were nothing to worry about. They were doing it so openly that you could hardly keep up with the headlines.”

When Stockwell Day was named treasurer, it was a clear signal from Harper that our own 'Armageddon' was about to take place. And when the media touted this as a good thing, I knew we were in very serious trouble because it meant that no one was going to speak up for us.

Instead, they were going to allow the worst of the Old Testament to demolish the core of Canadian identity, and not because they had grown weary from sounding the alarm, but because they had chosen to look the other way from the beginning.

And one of the things they should have sounded the alarm over was the fact that these religious extremists, also known as the government of Canada and their supporters, believe that we are Narnia from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and that Canada is the place where the End Times will occur.

“Canada seems to be the only country to have its geography described in the Bible,’’ notes McDonald, not entirely joking. “Canada must fulfill its Biblical destiny. That’s why evangelicals want to see Canada declared a Christian nation.’’

Don’t think it can’t happen. There is, officially, no separation between church and state in Canada, despite what many assume. “I think we should be vigilant,” says McDonald. “We have to decide what kind of a country we want to live in. We have to stay on top of these issues because this is a government wedded to secrecy.
(My emphasis)

So be sure to buy this book, borrow this book, or steal this book (don't steal this book). But above all read this book and share it with everyone you know. The media has chosen to ignore this for four years, but we can no longer afford to.

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