Sunday, February 19, 2006

Gathering for the kill

This article from Richard Foot sheds some light on the gathering Christian fundamentalist groups who are now establishing "institutes" in Ottawa in preparation for lobbying what they perceive as a "friendly" government.

Many were also toasting their good fortune at coming to Ottawa at the same moment Stephen Harper's Conservatives had ascended to power.
Yes. What a remarkable coincidence. A better punch has never been pulled, especially in light of this comment from Derek Rogusky, vice-president of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada:

"Under previous governments a lot of us were branded as bogeymen, as somehow un-Canadian, for our beliefs. I think that has changed with Harper becoming prime minister."
The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada is a front for Focus On The Family, run by James Dobson from his Colorado headquarters. And, Dobson IS a bogeyman. He uses his unprecedented access to the Bush administration to expand the power and breadth of his for-profit fundamentalist Christian ministry and his political influence is overwhelming. Dobson led the charge which forced the withdrawal of one of Bush's nominees to the US Supreme Court and pushed for the nomination and confirmation of a rank anti-abortionist, constructivist conservative.

If it were simply one organization which had been drawn to the honey of Harper's apparent friendliness to the extreme literal bible groups it would be of little concern. That, however is not the case. Prior to Harper winning a plurality the only group which had lodged themselves in and around Parliament Hill was the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada Centre for Faith and Public Life, led by Bruce Clemenger, (who opposed hate crime legislation on the grounds that it would prevent preachers from being able to openly criticize homosexuals.)

Now, however, there is a whole range of groups, all with the same basic agenda starting to congregate in Ottawa intent on becoming close to government and bent on ramming their agenda down the throats of a majority who do not share their beliefs nor their views.

Concerned Christians Canada Inc, another for-profit organization has made no effort to hide their disdain for those who do not share their views. They are affiliated with Tristan Emmanuel, a dangerous homophobe and somebody with whom Harper has had personal dealings. CCCI is nothing short of a pure political movement which has been involved in the nomination and election of candidates. From their own literature:

CCC will aggressively, consistently and methodically combat the liberal stranglehold on the national agenda. We will ensure that the social conservative agenda is part of the national agenda.
They have been active fundraisers and the Conservative Party owes them.

Another group is the Institute for Canadian Values. They have established a "national think-tank" and profess to be a non-religious organization. Nothing could be further from the truth and their own literature contradicts this claim. Again, they promote regressive political action and the marginalization of any group who does not share their view. They have also worked to elect the Conservative Party and expect repayment in the form of legislation and regulations.

Citizen Impact Canada is a London, Ontario based lobby group which promotes an anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-science education agenda. They have been of little consequence on the national scene up to now and they were unsuccessful in returning either of their candidates to parliament in the last election. That fact notwithstanding, they are notorious for their proselytizing and feel they have a stake in legislation which will marginalize homosexuals, women and which will introduce Christian creationism into school classrooms.

The National House of Prayer, a so-called "charismatic Christian" group, claims not to have political affiliations and publicly does not support one political party. They do however, have a vision which includes becoming the national church of Canada. Despite their claim, they have established a large operation in Ottawa in the old Lowertown convent. They and their followers have been at the forefront of campaigns to ban abortion and eliminate gay rights. Any suggestion that they are being truthful about their intentions is shattered when a list of their financial backers is exposed. Dick Dewert of the Miracle Channel, who openly called for Canadians to vote for anti-gay, anti-abortion candidates, helped the NHP raise $500,000. David Demian of Watchmen for The Nations, and David Mainse of 100 Huntley Street have also become involved in the NHP.

There are more, but why belabour the point?

The truth is, these organizations share one common purpose - to lobby government and advance their agenda, almost all of which is anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-science. To suggest that they are positioning themselves to combat same-sex marriage alone would be to ignore the investment they have made in effort and funds. They are establishing themselves for a long term and they will not rest until they have gained full control of the legislative process.

They do, however, have a serious problem. Unlike the US, Canada has emerged as a very secular nation. Religious adherence differs between Canadians and Americans to a considerable degree. From this study comes a revealing piece of information: where a majority of Americans consider religion important (59%), a majority of Canadians do not (70%). This presents a challenge for the extreme literal bible interpreters since, unlike the US, where most of these groups find their parent organizations, Canadians have already rejected such extreme religiosity.

The only way the fundamentalist groups can possibly inject their agenda into the Canadian social body is to do it surreptitiously, in hopes that a majority of Canadians are not paying attention or, by having it rammed through legislation against the wishes of the majority. In either case, Canadians need to be aware that there will be an effort on the part of these groups to suborn the federal government to their cause. Once that effort is underway the Conservatives need to be reminded that any involvement with these groups is flirting with political suicide. Should a dalliance with the religious conservative right become obvious, this current crop of Conservatives should be dispatched from office quickly and permanently.

Harper would be well advised to tell these groups publicly that he is not beholden to them and never will be.

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