Opponents of Social Progress – In The Bedrooms of the Nation II (Revised)

Update: This article has been revised and reposted.  This was originally done in response to a concern raised that even though I discourage retaliation, naming names might inspire someone to do so.  Which is not my intent.  But in removing those sections, the narrative changed, and had to be rewritten for the sake of flow.  Comments on the original post also displayed a huge amount of Islamophobia, so it became necessary to address that as well.  So the post has changed, but the premise remains the same.

Replies to this post will be moderated, due to the escalating level of bigotry displayed in response to the original post (most of which have been left in the moderation queue).  I’m not big on censorship and believe in free speech in Canada, but this is my place, and I won’t have it turned into a platform for bigotry aimed at minorities.  That’s my prerogative.  (And Jadis, I’m a little confused as to whether your threat was meant for me or for a commenter, but neither scenario is appropriate).  I also reiterate that I am not likewise aiming bias at Christians: my issue is with efforts from a small group which is not representative of all people of faith to assert any one specific faith system as law and dictate to everyone else how they should live their lives or whether they even should have a place in our society.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper keeps trying to assure voters that he won’t reopen social debates like abortion and same-sex marriage, since he knows that won’t earn him mainstream votes.  Instead, he tries to run on a platform of crime punishment and McJob creation.  And yet if one looks further, one overturns a rock which reveals a political base that is a coalition of usually-divided groups working together to oppose social progress.  In part one, we saw what led to the rise of the new Conservatives.  Here, we’re mapping out the network that makes up his base.

Marci McDonald’s The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada maps out how after the passage of same-sex marriage in Canada and other progressive developments, the religious right became galvanized, forming a network supporting but independent of the Conservative government of Stephen Harper.  For some, the book was an eye-opener showing just how deeply entrenched the idea of theocratic government was becoming in religious circles in Canada, even though some of the players have been around since the 1970s.  Because while the book had its faults at times, it was the first comprehensive dissection of Christian Nationalism in Canada, and where it was headed.  (IMPORTANT: this article distinguishes between Christianity and Christian Nationalism, which is often further right and more extreme than most forms of Christianity.  Just as not all Christians are anti-gay, not all advocate the idea that their belief system should write the laws and govern everyone else.  This is a crucial distinction, because I do respect those Christians who believe in and follow the spirit of the message of the person of Jesus — my issue is with those who feel that their doctrine should override law, societal practice, all other beliefs, and human rights)

According to The Armageddon Factor, Canadian Evangelicals believe that Canada has a specific role in fulfilling end-times prophecy.  McDonald seized upon one scripture that was often cited to justify this, Psalm 72:8

“He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth”

Evangelical Christianists here have often seen Canada’s founding as a “Dominion” as affirmation of God’s plan, and even Canada’s Wikipedia entry parrots the erroneous belief that this particular scripture inspired the use of the term during Confederation in 1867.  Of course, it’s unusual for a single scripture to be at the core of entire belief systems, and the end-times prophecy that draws from the Book of Revelation, the Pauline letters, the beliefs of R.J. Rushdoony and more became a complex web of teachings that editors probably don’t find very hook-y, but Psalm 72:8 still enjoys a special place near the top of that body of ideology.

Where McDonald failed, however, was in distinguishing between different sects that make up Christian Nationalism, and by conflating some often diverse and conflicting theologies into virtually one neat belief system.  In reality, what we have is a whole bunch of different belief systems working in uneasy truce, with Psalm 72:8 really informing only the Evangelical flavour of wingnuttery.

Thinking Inside The Box(es)

Christianity is often divided up between theological liberalism, evangelicalism and fundamentalism.  While theological liberalism is thought to be an evolving church meant to reflect modern times, and fundamentalism takes a view that scripture and tradition are literal and inerrant truths that do not have exceptions or evolve over time, evangelicalism was originally a bridge between the two, experiencing some key changes that became the new norm.  Although we commonly think of Baptist and Pentecostal churches as “Fundamentalists,” that designation actually belongs to the rigid centre of the Roman Catholic Church — especially as directed by the current Pope Benedict — with a hardline fundamentalist adherence to things like the virgin birth and papal tradition which are central to its fundamental and unchanging doctrine (as opposed to the scripture itself).  Again, Catholic Fundamentalists are not to be confused with all Catholics.  Evangelicalism evolved from Protestantism during the Reformation, and later embraced charismatic transformations in perspective.  Many of the faiths we refer to as “Evangelical” faiths today are in fact post-Evangelical in a sense, because they’ve incorporated major changes in doctrine, but have now reverted to seeing them in a fundamentalist way — as though their tenets are “the new way we’ve always done things” and though new, are infallible.

When we refer to Christian Nationalism, what we’re really talking about is an uneasy marriage between extreme elements of post-Evangelical sects, the hardline fundamentalist portion of the Catholic faith, brands of libertarianism that have been hijacked by social conservatism, and various other similarly socially-aligned conservative groups, ranging in extreme from Christian Zionists to white supremacists.  The reason I call it an uneasy marriage is because in reality, these faiths and groups often don’t recognize each other as speaking with any kind of Biblical or moral authority, and do not respect each other as being true faiths or agendas, but they’re willing to co-operate in hopes of forming a society and even a government based on the principles of their own particular faith.  While some of these individuals and groups claim to take a “no apologies” approach, compromise is another matter altogether.  In reality, Christian Nationalists could never quite establish the theocracy they dream of, since they’re awkwardly yoked together under false pretenses and with fake smiles in hopes of using and manipulating each other.

CATHOLIC FUNDAMENTALISM

While Catholic Fundamentalism is not as adverse to environmentalism as extreme evangelical sects, neither branch of Christianity are very fond of science, and both still have antiquated views on the role of women in godly families and society.  Catholic Fundamentalism has tended to not be as sensationalist, and therefore makes fewer waves outside religious circles and are challenged less often by advocates for social justice and progressive causes.

On the Catholic Fundamentalist (again, not to be confused with all Catholics) side of the equation, Canada’s religious right includes several organizations and personalities, some going back to the 1970s.  Organizations like Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) formed in opposition to abortion, but have increased their profile through opposing equal marriage in Canada.  CLC, for example, has actively engaged in politics, and describes itself as the “political arm of Canada’s pro-life movement.”  CLC’s President is also Vice President of the International Right to Life Federation, and is one of the big guns in womb control internationally.

Similarly, REAL (“Realistic, Equal, Active, for Life”) Women of Canada formed as an organization of mostly women directly opposed to feminism and womens’ issues that they find theologically offensive, such as abortion, contraception, sex work, affirmative action and even the very existence of unions.  Because it’s easier for Christian Nationalists to oppose womens’ rights and needs when they can point to women who do the same.  The organization doesn’t discourage women from working (that’s not an economic possibility for many families, anyway), but has a mandate that allows it while still favouring homemaking and idealizing domesticity where possible.  (And don’t get me wrong, I respect women who are that dedicated to their families: however, that is not the only place for women in society, nor is it something that most families can afford, anymore)  Like CLC, they have a special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and lobby internationally. They have acted as legal interveners on nearly every major social issue that has come before the high courts in Canada, including a 1993 attempt to prohibit abortion, the 1999 ruling that gave same-sex couples the same legal and economic rights as opposite-sex couples, the legal battle over whether spanking was child abuse, a court decision on whether safe injection sites could be legalized, a few different cases where they attempted to establish legal personhood for the foetus, and the recent sex work ruling in Ontario.  REAL Women of Canada feigns support for equality for women, while asserting that being a homemaker is a woman’s ideal calling, claiming that “the rights of men… have been marginalized while feminist special interest groups have taken center stage in Canadian policy,” and even supporting the abolition of divorce.  The organization’s lead visionary Vice President is infamous for apologizing to the world on Canada’s behalf when Canada legalized same-sex marriage.

Many of my readers will regularly encounter articles by LifeSiteNews (LSN), which was created by CLC as a rallying and propaganda tool.  It began in 1983 as a publication called The Interim, but evolved into LifeSite when it went online in 1997 (note: The Interim also has a web presence of its own, though it’s not clear what rift had caused this).  The closest American equivalent would be WorldNetDaily, if WND were Catholic-centred rather than Evangelical.  Lifesitenews.com was started as a U.S. -focused counterpart, but the latter ended up generating enough revenue that it swallowed up the former (or so it seemed — it was about a year ago that they used a web design change and site amalgamation to claim that they were struggling for funding and needing donations — because as anyone on their mailing list knows, it’s always a crisis at LSN).  LSN has been known to attack Catholic administration who don’t follow CLC’s vision, so it would seem to be a means for CLC to flex their influence over Catholic agencies and clergy in Canada in a twisted kind of elder-abuse way.  Currently, Lifesite is being sued by a Catholic priest, Raymond Gravel, who the website portrayed as a “proabortion and pro-gay marriage parish priest,” “former homosexual prostitute” and “so-called priest who supports abortion” (he isn’t… he just isn’t extreme enough by Hughes’ assessment).  Naturally, this too is a crisis that will “shut us down” (never mind the well-financed CLC behind the curtain).

EVANGELICALS

The Christian Nationalist brand of Post-Evangelicalism is characterized by End-Times teaching that usually utilizes themes of cataclysm, war, corruption, of a rapture in which Jesus returns to spirit away Christians and / or a New World Government that Evangelicals are supposed to lay the groundwork for, so that Jesus can come back and stay.  Environmentalism runs counter to Evangelical philosophy, which teaches both that God will always provide if they just keep faith, and that the cataclysm is destined and needs to happen.  Catholic Fundamentalism has no such belief in an End-Times event or One-World Government, but in an ongoing spiritual rivalry between good and evil where sex is for procreation, that it should result in childbirth in wedlock as much as possible or else not be engaged in at all, and that aside from procreation, our only purpose is to fund and empower the church like faithful sheep. The more trite comparison of the two would probably be that Evangelicals are “born-again,” while Catholic Fundamentalists are just born and born and born and born.

It’s helpful to understand the Evangelical “Seven Mountains” kind of Dominionism.  In the mid-1970s, Campus Crusade for Christ and Youth For Christ mapped out what Evangelicals needed to do in order to instill a theocratic government.  They concluded that they needed to claim the peaks of seven mountains, per Isaiah 2:2

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.”

Those seven mountains are identified as: Arts & Entertainment, Business, Education, Family, Government, Media and Religion, and those on the Evangelical side of the equation see these as objectives to be reached in order to bring about the return of Christ in the End Times.  7M teaching isn’t really a “conspiracy” so much as one of many doctrines that circulate in religious spheres and is taken to varying degrees of seriousness.  But in Christian Nationalism, many of these objectives are correspondent with — if not directly influenced by — 7M (with the possible addition of the judicial system, although technically, that’s part of “Government”).

The Christian Nationalist aim to govern by theology gelled with the arrival of Preston Manning, best known for founding the Reform Party in 1987, with a young Stephen Harper as his chief policy advisor.  Reform later morphed into the Canadian Alliance (under preacher Stockwell Day), and then merged with the Progressive Conservatives to form, well, the regressive Conservatives.  Since retiring, Manning founded the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, an NGO geared toward training conservatives and Evangelicals for government work.  Manning did this with the assistance of Frank Luntz, the spin doctor extraordinaire who helped retool the way that American Republicans twisted language, in order to reframe debates under Newt Gingrich and onward.  (Luntz stuck around to give tips to the Harper Conservatives).  The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) likewise encouraged evangelicals to engage in government and seek to govern according to Dominionist ideology.

Although he doesn’t always get along with the EFC, Charles McVety is notable as the most visibly outspoken Evangelical, and once claimed to have a direct line to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s ear.  He is a Canadian protegee of John Hagee who is the current president of Canada Christian College and the Canada Family Action Coalition, has a gospel program named word.ca on the Miracle Channel (and formerly on CTS) and continued to lobby to have equal marriage repealed in Canada, as Defend Marriage Coalition (now defunct — interestingly, now his former website will come up with links for gay and straight couples wanting to marry).  He studied for a B.A. and M.A. at his own college (which is not accredited), and then got a D.Min from the California State Christian University, and consequently tries to use the designation “Dr.” whenever people will let him get away with it.

When the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) reprimanded Charles McVety for statements that he made on word.ca, CTS Television (which grew out of the Crossroads media conglomerate) dropped his show from their lineup.  The CBSC complaint and CTS decision were later used to stir up political will against the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC, which wasn’t involved in the affair), and became a major publicity event for McVety who for the first time attracted attention by donors south of the border, for being “censored by the government.”  Although the spin worked out in McVety’s favour, the reality that it was a CTS decision to drop his program indicates some disagreement among Evangelicals on just how extreme their rhetoric should go.

The Evangelical parallel to LifeSite News is No Apologies, a blog explicitly declaring to promote “christian governance,” and is operated by a Legislative Assistant to Harper Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott.  The blog also serves now as a broadcast centre for the Christian Heritage Party, and is often critical enough of the Harper government to seem disconnected from it.  I’ve tried to resolve in my mind why a Harper-connnected propaganda arm would be amplifying the signal of a party like CHP — which is focused on siphoning off Harper’s Christian Nationalist base — and the only way I can do it is to conclude that CHP is part of an endeavor to draw away some of the more visibly unhinged wingnuts so the Conservative leader can look politically centrist enough to be electable to a majority government.  Stephen Harper is politically wily enough that it would make a lot of sense.  Another possibility could be that MP Vellacott is playing both ends with an objective of eventually becoming leader of CHP, if it ever develops any potential.  In the meantime, the website has lost much of its lustre with the religious right, as it starts promoting whacked-out versions of “Biblical manhood & womanhood,” and shilling for Freedom 55 Financial / London Life.

CHRISTIAN ZIONISM

One crucial component of the bloc of opponents of social progress in Canada is a kind of Zionist movement among Evangelicals, who see Israel as having a key role to play in End-Times prophecy.

Some clarification is called for in this regard, since I am not anti-Israel, nor am I pro-Israel.  As a decolonialist, I strongly believe in Israel’s right to exist as a nation and can empathize with the difficulty of surviving in bitterly-contested lands.  But I also believe in Palestinians’ right to self determination, land and security, and this is why the two are locked in often violent struggle.  When the drive for one’s security results in violations of the other’s human rights, questions inevitably need to be asked, regardless of who one supports in the bigger picture.

Christian Zionism, however, provides an easy bypass through all of that.  Politically-speaking, Evangelicals’ willingness to overlook everything that one side does because of what they see as a God-ordained role in End Times opens up an avenue for the faiths to exploit each other.  Keep in mind, though, that what I’m talking about is not a conspiracy, but rather some individuals’ honest belief that what they’re doing is in the best interest of the survival of their people.

Christian Zionism is notable in Canada because of the role it has played in drumming up support for defunding LGBT groups that have any contact with Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA), especially Toronto Pride.  It also provides a Jewish perspective that opposes human rights structures in the same way that REAL Women of Canada takes negative positions on womens’ rights issues.

When I first posted this original article, the comments that started to come in were largely fixated on a perceived threat that Muslims were outpopulating Christians and that therefore there was an immediate danger of some “Islamofascist” takeover of Canada.  It’s an argument that wrongly conflates all people of Middle Eastern descent with Muslims, conflates all people of European descent with Christians, conflates all Muslims with extremist Muslim Fundamentalists, and turns the whole argument into a paranoid “they’re taking over the world” panic that presupposes that Christians somehow need to take over government in order to pre-empt the possibility of government takeover by some ill-defined and quasi-Borg collective (and sometimes it’s Muslims, sometimes it’s Atheists, there’s always some “they” who pose an immediate and present danger).  This is an argument that presupposes that the only solution to one brand of fascism is another brand of fascism.  This is an argument that totally fails to recognize that we are talking about individuals who are just as capable of rational thought and of seeking coexistence as anyone else.  And anyone panicking in terror over how “violent” Quranic scripture is supposed to be reputed to be should try reading Biblical scripture from a non-Christian perspective:

Almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.– Heb. 9:22

I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men.– Rev. 19:17-18

God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.– Mat. 15:4

But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. — Luke 19:27

Faith — whether Muslim or Christian — is NOT the problem.  Individuals who are given to extreme fascism based on ANY particular overriding hardline literalist ideology IS.  And the reason I’m discussing hardline Christian Nationalism right now is because in Canada, that is the one that appears to be influencing some members of our government and throughout society, and aspiring to become increasingly influential in — or even controlling of — our legal and social institutions.

FUSIONISM and ANARCHO-CAPITALIST LIBERTARIANISM

In principle, Libertarianism idealizes individual and corporate autonomy, with emphasis given to freedom of expression.  Of course, freedom is in the eye of the beholder, and measured differently depending on where the libertarian is in the social spectrum, so there are all sorts of left, right and centre forms of libertarianism.

Anarcho-capitalist libertarianism goes several steps further with regard to capitalist principles, pushing toward total deregulation of industry, union-busting, reduction or elimination of minimum wage and more.  In principle.  Canadians would never go for that level of extremism, but there are still stirrings in that direction, mirroring the growing trend in the U.S. and turning the concept of trickle-down economics into an almost religious drive for imbalance between wealthy and working classes.  Anarcho-capitalist libertarianism is the greater concern in the long-term, but not as prevalent at the moment.

Libertarian conservatism often aims for a blend of economic (capitalist) freedom and religious freedom, but is also usually blind to the fact that these aims are very often clearly one-sided.  For example, religious freedom might be expected to mean that Christians can dictate laws, but other faiths cannot, or that calling for the deaths of LGBT people is nothing to get upset about, while expressions of LGBT identity should be banned.  It is often used to drum up sentiment for keeping government out of social programs that might cost people money, keeping churches insulated from taxation and regulation and such, yet has no issue with spending enormous amounts of money banning abortion, controlling sexuality or dictating social mores.  This kind of pseudo-libertarianism is often called Fusionism, since it seeks to fuse right-wing ideology with libertarian ideas, albeit in a skewed way.

In Canada, this ignited in 2002, when an anti-gay letter from Rev. Stephen Boissoin resulted in an inquiry by the Alberta Human Rights Commission, which determined the letter to be hate speech.  This was overturned by the court system in 2009, but by then the case internationally sparked an ongoing panic meme that human rights commissions and tribunals — and the concept of human rights itself — were an outright threat to (and somehow sought to criminalize) Christianity.  There had been stirrings prior to this, of course.  Human rights had been the basis by which courts had determined that abortion must be legally available to women and that banned discrimination against lesbians and gay men — it even served as the crux that brought about equal (same-sex) marriage in Canada.  But until Lund v Boissoin, it had been difficult to stir up popular sentiment against human rights.  Now, however, right-wingers go as far as to equate the phenomenon of human rights to being a “statue to Hitler.”

Ezra Levant, the former publisher of the Western Standard, came before the Canada Human Rights Commission (CHRC) in 2006 for publishing the infamous Jyllands-Posten cartoons that portrayed the Islamic prophet Mohammad (and by extension, all Islam) as a terrorist.  Around this time, his associate Mark Steyn faced the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) for an article in Maclean’s Magazine which sensationalized statistics in such a way as to construct a panic about a perceived global takeover by Islam.  The complainant ultimately dropped the case against Levant, and the OHRC refused to proceed against Steyn (although it felt that there was a failure to “engage in fair and unbiased journalism,” a comment which led to a perception that Steyn lost and had his career destroyed).  Both cases had problems, and I won’t get into the topic of hate vs. free speech here (since that’s volumes of its own), other than to say I’d mostly side with Levant on his particular case if it weren’t for the tangents he took afterward as the self-appointed champion of disestablishing human rights commissions and free-speech-but-only-if-its-ours.

Levant’s, Steyn’s and Boissoin’s troubles resulted in the use of hate speech clauses (which were also the bases of the complaints against Levant and Steyn), to portray all speech cases as “thought crimes,” and extend that to justify destroying HRCs and even the concept of human rights altogether.  If you believe the jargon, then HRCs are non-judicial kangaroo courts (or the Spanish Inquisition) that take a guilty-until-proven-innocent approach, and pay all the expenses of the complainants, while heavily billing the subject of the complaint at every stage (there is some fiscal bias against the subject of the complaint, and it would certainly be reasonable to remove the financial barriers for both parties until the outcome, considering that the principle of human rights is supposed to be accessibility for all). Complaints are said to be made gratuitously, staked on the “right not to be offended,” with no negative consequences or costs to the complainant, in a way that amounts to a punitive and expensive “shakedown” of whoever it was that “hurt their feelings.”  This meme was the Canadian right’s gift to Christian Nationalists south of the border, although Americans have had less success parlaying it into a pseudo-Libertarian rallying cry.

Which is all nice and Big Brother -sounding, and an effective way to rally people behind your perceived victimhood.  Too bad it’s a slanted fallacy.  There are a lot of differing thoughts on this — it’s a complex issue — and “hate speech” is a separate question that I discuss elsewhere on the blog.

When McVety’s TV program was pulled by CTS, he tried to deflect the blame to the CRTC and CBSC, in order (somewhat successfully) to win the same kind of this Fusionist anti-HRC sympathy over to his ministries.

“I want myyyy… I want my SunTV….”

SunTV had earned a reputation for being Canada’s “Fox News North”  for about a year, before its news channel finally launched on April 18th, 2011.  This was largely because the network was headed up by Kory Teneycke, a former aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Teneycke left briefly during the preferred carrier issue but returned).  There was an expectation that SunTV was being pushed to become a propaganda network for the governing Conservatives, a perception exacerbated when Sun Media attempted to circumvent regular process in order to get automatic preferred carrier status upon launching (but ultimately lost), and then the CRTC mused about loosening restrictions on lying and distortion in news reporting, almost in time for the network’s launch.  Of course, with Levant more animated and caricaturish than usual as their flagship commentator, doing his best GlennBeckNorth impersonation complete with chalkboard and Goldline-style advertiser (except that it’s some guy who spray-painted himself silver), SunTV has got a long way to go.

RESPONSIBLE RESPONSE

For my regular readers concerned about what is taking place, keep in mind that what we’re looking at is not a “conspiracy,” “takeover” or whatever — that while we need to be on guard against extreme ideological influence in government, Canadians are largely progressive people, and that provides hope.

It doesn’t help to rant and vent and give opponents of social progress a bunch of quotes that they can point to as evidence of “religious persecution” — as though a bit of venting is in any way comparable to the very real harassment that Christian Nationalists often dish out.  I know I’m a bit snarky at times in how I’ve presented things (that’s what people read blogs for), but it’s worth keeping our dignity and decorum, if only for the sake of being consistent and realize that if we want to coexist, be respected and have a voice in government and society, then we have to accord the same to everyone else. However extreme opponents of social progress may be, beliefs are not crimes (one could argue that the cumulative and vehement expression of those beliefs generates a legacy of hate, but considering that it’s impossible to attribute that to any one person, we still have to err on the side of freedom).  Rants aren’t going to change minds anyway.

For those of us who come from communities that are disenfranchised, any little infraction is simply seen by bigots as validation of their views, so unfortunately we ultimately get held to a much higher standard — responding to wingnuttiness with wingnuttiness is really not going to be helpful.  You can logically challenge people (which is recommended for the benefit of any who might be reading, but don’t expect to change any hardline minds), and even that might be spun as evidence that we’re “persecuting” them, but ranting is probably not going to help.  So instead, here is what you can do:

First, when opponents of social progress crank up the volume with such frequency and apparent success that it starts feeling that theocracy is inevitable, read it through the lens of someone who understands that these same people would be just as inclined to turn on each other in a moment — and quite viciously — if we weren’t there to distract them with a common enemy.  Rather than some grand conspiracy, we’re looking at a loose collective of self-interested power-seekers who don’t really have the kind of respect for each other that they claim to.  While they’ve learned to work together at arm’s length and feign authority and civility, this is still the clumsy best they’ve been able to manage.

Secondly, always remember the difference between Christian Nationalists and all Christians.  I know it can be difficult not to feel bitter when the Bible is the club used to beat you, but attacks against all people of faith are misdirected.  Allies of faith need to speak up to make it clear that Christian Nationalists’ positions are not the predominant (or only) faith positions — and if we’re turning around and attacking progressive people of faith, it will only drive them further into the closet.

Thirdly, if opponents of social progress can get past such doctrinal rifts to work together, well, so can progressives.  Provided, of course, that we’re willing to stop thinking of minor semantic differences as game-changers.  Christian Nationalists’ strength has been in compromise and coalition building.  Perhaps that is the way that Progressive Canada needs to respond.

Fourthly, it helps to see through the spin.  Christian Nationalists have made weaseldom an art by mastering spin, where all language is rebranded in a way that favours them and isn’t necessarily true.  Legislation to extend human rights to transsexual and transgender people becomes “bathroom bills,” pro-choice becomes “anti-life” (seriously?), questioning Christian Nationalism becomes “anti-Christian,” “persecution,” “censorship” or “oppression,” denying the right of gays and lesbians to marry becomes “defending marriage,” extending human rights to transsexual and transgender people is “anti-family,” accepting immigrants from the Middle East becomes “opening our doors to Sharia Law,” reprimanding someone for vile rants that characterize LGBT people as pedophiles becomes “censorship,” “freedom of religion” becomes something that excludes Muslims, Mormons and atheists (as in, freedom from religion), allowing lesbians and gays to parent or adopt children becomes “psychological and sexual abuse,” tolerance education becomes “sexual brainwashing in our schools,” medicare becomes the “AIDS tax” (courtesy Paul Cameron), bullied kids who commit suicide become “kids who… know that what they are doing is unnatural….” the list is endless.  One wingnut in Halifax is trying to proliferate the term “same sex attraction disorder,” as though to arbitrarily and single-handedly re-categorize homosexuality as mental illness.  Once you see through the spin, you can ensure that those around you do the same.  When people refer to junk science as “evidence,” you can dissect it quickly, completely and easily.

Previously: A Brief History of Canada’s Political Forces

Next: The Stephen Harper Government

  1. Hey DBM, sorry to hear that you’re getting unhelpful Comments in response to your Post. I guess there are zealous folk on both/all sides of these issues. I didn’t recognize any of the people whose comments were posted to your first draft so you must be attracting new interest. Too bad we’re on different sides of these issues: You seem to be a very good researcher – even though I think you are often very inaccurate with your interpretation of the facts, and we certainly differ in how we classify the relationship between various ideas and philosophies. I fully concur with your intro. statement about your right to decide what comments are placed on your site and which ones don’t get through your moderation. It’s too bad you don’t have influence on the numerous hostiles that come to the site that I help to moderate and either mock or condemn us for exercising that right on our site. Oh well… anybody who said life was fair hasn’t lived much…

      • Jadis
      • April 29th, 2011

      Hello! Yes, I am actually a zealot, pleased to meet you! I’m only a zealot about some things, though, the rest I’m pretty easygoing actually.

    • cuttingrunner
    • April 29th, 2011

    Indeed.

    I didn’t see too many people condemning you for exercising your right. But if you post commentary and editorial on a public commentary website, you’re going to get public commentary as feedback. Presumably this is a blog with an interest in the issues driving our times. As such, be prepared for engagement. If you don’t like it, take a job at the HRC, where you get to decide which opinions are “staatsgefeindlich” and which are acceptable.

      • dentedbluemercedes
      • April 29th, 2011

      Criticism and engagement are fine. I wasn’t too keen, though, on giving space to the calls for genocide.

        • Jadis
        • April 29th, 2011

        I knew it!

        • mintgreybmw
        • April 29th, 2011

        Which call for genocide? Quote it you lying freak.

    • Jessica
    • April 29th, 2011

    …even though I think you are often very inaccurate with your interpretation of the facts

    You’re one to talk, Tim. The main difference between you and Mercedes is that she doesn’t feel the need to lie in order to back up her claims. She’ll even edit her posts when someone proves she’s made a mistake (just as she’s done here). I certainly didn’t see you doing that during our very long discussion of Bill C-389. “Numerous hostiles” is it? Well that should be no surprise. When you start advocating repression you should expect people to push back, to expose your lies for what they are and to expose you for the hypocrite you are.

    • Jadis
    • April 29th, 2011

    Well okay, maybe so. It wasn’t directed at you, Mercedes, it was directed at “Doc,” whose generic right-wing bluster and threats need to be countered. I have a jihad against bullies, and it’s like a red cape to me. Personally, I think calling their violence bluff is appropriate. They rattle their guns day and night, because they’re cowards. If you face them down, they slink away.

    You may have noticed that my response to the later gentlemen was longer, reasoned and IMHO thoughtful, because he posted like a human being. I will talk to people who will listen, but I won’t do anything but tell it like it is.

    I appreciate your selfless dedication, Mercedes! Don’t get me wrong. I just have a rather different outlook, style and overall political view from you. I respect yours, and I would love to live in the world you envisage.

    Obviously the whole Crescent Menace is a bullshit distraction, and IMO these people fear the Muslims so much because Islam is competition.

    • cuttingrunner
    • April 29th, 2011

    Hmmm Jadis. Very interesting take.

    Personally as a straight, conservative white male, I am really beginning to see Islam as a closer ally to me than your worldview is. Let’s see – I’d actually be OK with banning gay marriage, with less overt sexualisation of society and the young, and in some sense a return to “traditional” values. If you actually ever bothered to pay attention to the vast majority of Muslims in the world, you’d notice they are in fact far more conservative and hardline than almost any Christians I know. To my knowledge, no Western government in the last few years has stoned any women to death, or given them 100 lashes, for “adultery” after being gang-raped, and unable to supply at least two male witnesses to the rape.

    So, when enough Muslims finally decide they’ve had enough of being publicly insulted and humiliated by Gay Pride, and get it shut down, it’s hard for me to see how that hurts me. When Muslim women decide that pay equity is a crock, and that Western feminist values undermine their families and their way of life, as a male, it’s hard to see how that hurts me. When London Muslims begin distributing pamphlets declaring London a “gay-free zone” and threatening violence for displays of public affection by gays, it’s hard to see how that hurts me. I’m not gay, nor a woman.

    But a great many on the International Left seem to think that the Western males you’ve spent the last 20 years demonising and disempowering are somehow magically going to jump up and take to the firing line, prepared to eat a bullet in defence of your human rights once the shite hits the fan. Sorry to tell you this, but if you are a Lesbian, and get set upon by a slavering mob of non-Western young bucks with a different set of values, I shall turn away, and leave you to your well-deserved fate. You lot can get to know each other a whole lot better. Because I no longer have a dog in this fight…

      • dentedbluemercedes
      • April 29th, 2011

      You assume the supremacy of one form of fascism or another, and that each — Christian, Muslim or Agnostic / Atheistic / Left-Wing / Undefined — would need to install some form fascist rule in order to survive and/or “win.”

      That’s not where Canadians are.

      Kudos for not confusing all the “bad guys” into one menace, though. You’d be surprised how often that happens: http://www.salon.com/news/2012_elections/?story=/politics/war_room/2011/03/29/gingrich_secular_islamists

      Bonus points for ‘fessing up that the extermination of LGBT people is on the table, for you. Most people don’t believe me when I tell them that.

        • Jadis
        • April 29th, 2011

        That’s why it’s so important to carefully save all those comments you rejected in the moderation queue, and perhaps post them as examples in future. People need to see the truth.

        • mintgreybmw
        • April 29th, 2011

        The only fascists are those like you who wish to force your beliefs on others: forcing priests to conduct gay marriage against their firmest beliefs, forcing people to participate in the government healthcare monopoly, forcing your nihilist views on school children in the sick public school system, etc.

        • Jessica
        • April 29th, 2011

        Mintgreybmw, what colour is the sky in your world? Want to post some proofs that back up your fantasies?

        We’re waiting…

        • cuttingrunner
        • May 2nd, 2011

        Where od I say that I support the elimination of the LGBT community? I’m telling you that if you think I’m going to fight for you rights when the chips are down, I’m telling you I’m not prepared to eat a bullet for a Left Wing ingrate who hates white males and Christians. You’re on your own. Good luck in your future interactions with an aggressive, foreign-born mob of teenage boys who thinks sexually liberated white women are all porn stars itching for a gang bang.

      • Jadis
      • April 29th, 2011

      That’s all right. You’re not telling me anything about yourself that I didn’t know already. In the unbelievably unlikely case that your Muslim Menace actually becomes a real threat to me, they of course will be countered and neutralized in turn. I have the courage of my convictions and all the lashes in the world won’t change that.

      Yes, a lot of majority-Muslim countries have shitty backward governments. But the theocracies are a minority. Most Muslim countries are either corrupt secular autocracies or corrupt secular monarchies. Have you ever traveled in the world? Have you ever lived in another country for a long time? Because I have spent most of my life traveling in one capacity or another, I can speak four languages and between hubby and me we speak six. And I know from firsthand experience that your description of their society is bullshit. People are the same everywhere, they have the same needs, hopes and dreams. They are not the brown slavering horde coming to chop you up with scimitars that you seem to think.

      Of course, I understand that you are the mirror image of the bogeyman you’re trying to scare us with; I may be many things dude but I’m no coward. The thing is, there are way more Christians like you where I live than there are Muslims. Therefore it’s these Christians that represent a far more immediate threat to me than some kids in Toronto trying to make a bomb out of Drano. Surely this is obvious.

      I haven’t been demonising white males, actually. It’s just that you think all white males are like you. Some of my best friends are white males, &c. But can you believe I actually have Muslim friends who are absolutely nothing like how you describe.

      I think you do have a dog in the fight, since you’re bothering to post here. Of course, trans is not gay and your arguments about “sexualization” are irrelevant. I don’t go to Pride, it’s tacky and commercial, and now must dance at the whim of corporate and government sponsors.

      And yes, the vast majority of White Males will take to the firing line, because it would be their arses on the line too.

      You seem to think you’re arguing with someone stupid. Can you please elevate the level of discourse?

    • Jessica
    • April 29th, 2011

    Cuttingrunner, your Islamophobic fearmongering is not going to hide the truth you try to obfuscate. There will be no Islamic hordes setting upon us, no matter how many times you post your overblown fantasies. Go crawl back under your rock.

    • mintgreybmw
    • April 29th, 2011

    You never replied to my rebuttal of your pathetic defense of the Islamic supremacists, so here it is again:

    “Minority of Muslims”? Sharia law is practiced to some extent as the official law of the land in almost every Islamic nation. Some nations entire codes and laws are taken from the Quran and Hadiths. See for yourself:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b2/Countries_with_Sharia_rule.png

    A billion Muslims live under some form of Sharia. Only a minority have any form of women’s rights, and in only a small handful is homosexuality legal (gay marriage will NEVER happen in a Muslim nation). Female genital mutilation still occurs regularly in North Africa, and although not commanded by the Quran is being brought to Europe with mainly Muslim migrants. The penalty for homosexuality is DEATH in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Somalia, and Nigeria. Honor killings are another great import from the Eastern culture.

    Care to trade that for the Judeo-Christian English law we live under now?

    “And then we grew up.” No. We abandoned our responsibilities to our families, our Country, and to each other. We became a nation of takers instead of a nation of givers, always asking for more and offering less to society. We have become the New Decadent Rome, narcissist-nihilists, living out our lives in ignorant bliss, grasshoppers in a world of ants.

    I am not a follower of any world religion, but I am not blind to the obvious. You obviously are though.

      • mintgreybmw
      • April 29th, 2011

      Btw, calling people you disagree with such unoriginal names as “islamophobe, racist, homophobe” is so 3rd grade.

        • Jessica
        • April 29th, 2011

        Pot, meet kettle.

      • Jadis
      • April 29th, 2011

      Socrates was executed for “corruption of the youth” by people like you.

      • Jadis
      • April 29th, 2011

      Hypatia, the great Alexandrian mathematician, was murdered by a howling mob of people like you.

      • Jessica
      • April 29th, 2011

      Mercedes didn’t follow up because she is not defending Islamic supremacists. You are attpempting to derail her post, which is about Christian Dominionists. You are not going to be allowed to derail. Your irrelevant arguments are being given the attention they deserve.

      • dentedbluemercedes
      • April 30th, 2011

      Living under extremist rule does not mean approving of extremist rule once one realizes that there are other options. Look at Egypt. Syria. Bahrain. Dubai. Saudi Arabia.

      None of your arguments change the rebuttal added above:

      When I first posted this original article, the comments that started to come in were largely fixated on a perceived threat that Muslims were outpopulating Christians and that therefore there was an immediate danger of some “Islamofascist” takeover of Canada. It’s an argument that wrongly conflates all people of Middle Eastern descent with Muslims, conflates all people of European descent with Christians, conflates all Muslims with extremist Muslim Fundamentalists, and turns the whole argument into a paranoid “they’re taking over the world” panic that presupposes that Christians somehow need to take over government in order to pre-empt the possibility of government takeover by some ill-defined and quasi-Borg collective (and sometimes it’s Muslims, sometimes it’s Atheists, there’s always some “they” who pose an immediate and present danger). This is an argument that presupposes that the only solution to one brand of fascism is another brand of fascism. This is an argument that totally fails to recognize that we are talking about individuals who are just as capable of rational thought and of seeking coexistence as anyone else. And anyone panicking in terror over how “violent” Quranic scripture is supposed to be reputed to be should try reading Biblical scripture from a non-Christian perspective:

      Almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.– Heb. 9:22

      I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men.– Rev. 19:17-18

      God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.– Mat. 15:4

      But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. — Luke 19:27

      Faith — whether Muslim or Christian — is NOT the problem. Individuals who are given to extreme fascism based on ANY particular overriding hardline literalist ideology IS. And the reason I’m discussing hardline Christian Nationalism right now is because in Canada, that is the one that appears to be influencing some members of our government and throughout society, and aspiring to become increasingly influential in — or even controlling of — our legal and social institutions.

    • dentedbluemercedes
    • April 30th, 2011

    I’m not able to get through all the comments tonight. If anyone has something in the queue waiting for approval, I apologize for the delay.

    • Angie Silver
    • May 1st, 2011

    Why did you take out the who’s who? It’s not like you had posted anything that endangered anybody.

      • dentedbluemercedes
      • May 1st, 2011

      No, but I received a reasonable message about how things can sometimes be received as “targeting” and terror. I doubt there was any danger, but I never completely know who’s reading the blog.

    • dubnic
    • May 1st, 2011

    You’re so big on human rights, then what do you do if you think one of your employees is “Christian Nationalist?” You talk about fair and even but can’t do it.

      • dentedbluemercedes
      • May 1st, 2011

      I’ve said it on the blog many times: the point of human rights is that people should be judged based on their individual actions and merits, and not on assumptions that go along with a characteristic or trait. In your hypothesis, it all boils down to what a person does. If they believe I’m sinful, etc, that’s their prerogative. If they’re harassing or deliberately make the workplace an uncomfortable place for people, intentional refusal to respect co-workers and such, then it becomes a different story. It works the other way too. If I’m working for someone and deliberately doing things to harass them or that I know would offend them, then I’d expect the same. Consistency.

      Where people seem to get confused is in the idea that my very existence is an offense to their faith and that co-existing means refusal to acknowledge who I am, constantly voicing a belief that I’m inherently evil, etc. And it’s not. Co-existing is letting me work a day’s work and making a day’s pay, and keeping all the attitudes out of the workplace. And my doing that is not something that can be justifiably characterized as deliberate offense.

      I really don’t see why that’s so difficult to understand.

    • dentedbluemercedes
    • May 1st, 2011

    @mintgreybmw:
    Re: genocide, that was in reference to a commenter who was never approved and is now banned. Believe it or don’t, that’s up to you. I’m not repeating it to prove it. Keep in mind that what I do approve on this blog is pretty gracious, compared to what most media outlets allow.

    You wrote:
    “The only fascists are those like you who wish to force your beliefs on others: forcing priests to conduct gay marriage against their firmest beliefs, forcing people to participate in the government healthcare monopoly, forcing your nihilist views on school children in the sick public school system, etc.”

    You’re making assumptions. I personally am not big on forcing priests to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, although I can understand where there could be a situation where it became necessary. And by the way, if you’re referring to the Saskatchewan marriage commissioner ruling, there is a big distinction between a church-employed official whose job is faith-based and a state-employed commissioner whose role is civil in nature.

    It’s the same with one of the incidents that Levant likes to characterize as a “shakedown,” the human rights case against an Ontario plastic surgeon who refused to perform corrective revisions for two women because they were trans. In this situation, it was a field in which he had a particular and hard-to-find expertise, and there were few — if any — other options.

    I do believe in public health care, yes, and oppose anything that turns it into a double-standard situation that gives preferential treatment to the wealthy at the expense of making the poor and middle class languish longer or even indefinitely. We already have private medicine, so it’s hardly a monopoly. But we need to responsibly maintain equal access. The problem is that decades of bureaucratic neglect — and in some cases like Alberta’s, deliberate dismantling and sabotage — have turned our health system into something that has been outpaced and inadequate, in order to make it logical for some to seek ways to jump the queue. But the solution is in fixing and better maintaining it.

    • cuttingrunner
    • May 2nd, 2011

    I speak 5 languages, grew up in Africa, but consider myself an honorary “Western white male” because I believe in freedom, equality before the law, and human rights, and by and large consider the West’s impact on the world to be generally good. We only have a U.N. or universal declaration of human rights because of the West.

    But I’ve seen militant conservative Islam at work (ask Lara Logan about public attitudes to immoderate-looking women in the Middle East today) throughout Africa, and seen local Imams preach hatred of Westerners and Western civilisation in Mosques in Western countries, to the assent and approval of the congregation, and I leave it to you to sort out how you’ll fare once the locals begin to plaster “gay-free” posters all over the place, as they’re doing in neighbourhoods of London.

    I’m telling you my arse won’t be on the line.

      • Jessica
      • May 2nd, 2011

      I believe in freedom, equality before the law, and human rights

      Yet you seem to be perfectly okay to fearmonger about the “muslim hordes” and to state your complete acceptance of their anti-gay discrimination. You make what you claim to be their cause your own.

      You are therefore either a hypocrite or a liar. In the end it makes no difference; you declare your enemity to the GLBT population. Go crawl back under your rock.

  2. I posted a comment to your original piece which merely asked whether you could hear how dishonest, creepy and sinister, not to mention downright totalitarian, the phrase “social progress” is. For some reason it appears to have been removed. So here it is again.

      • dentedbluemercedes
      • May 9th, 2011

      Yeah, I was receiving click-thrus from 3 different locations, one of which was a local skinhead site, so feedback reached a level that I just stopped going through comments and approving any new.

      If that sounds creepy, dishonest and totalitarian, then that’s what you’re reading into it.

  3. You’re quite right, of course. I have these weird filters attached to my inner ear and they warp my hearing of content-free phrases like “social progress” so that all I hear is, “argue with me and you argue with an aspiration for nice things”. Goodness only knows how they got there, but it’s a miracle I can still walk straight!

    • Mark
    • May 14th, 2011

    There are numerous errors in your reporting about ARPA Canada. The organization started prior to the ECP Centre’s close (its history goes back to the 70′s, though ARPA Canada formally started in 2007). It is directed towards the Reformed church community (not the Evangelical community). It’s mission is not to put people into government (that could have been discovered with even a glance at the mission statement). Rather it is directed towards grassroots political participation – something that should be encouraged by everyone.

    Thanks for taking the time to correct these mistakes.

      • dentedbluemercedes
      • May 16th, 2011

      I’ve deleted the paragraph in question. Thanks for your feedback.

    • Kat
    • May 18th, 2011

    Its refreshing to see political commentary that’s grounded in reality. Too much political debate is about spreading nonsense, sometimes on both sides of an issue.

    I look forward to reading more.

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