Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Armageddon tired of superstition dictating government policy

The Divine Ms. Z has a great piece in today's Toronto Star - an interview with Marci McDonald, author of the just-released The Armageddon Factor: the Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, about which I blogged the other day. She points out the release of the book come on the very day that Canadian politicians are taking part in what has become a staple in U.S. politics - the prayer breakfast. These meeting of the pious and the political have been an annual event in Canada for 45 years, but have never had the prominence or the political import of similar events in the U.S.
These prayer breakfasts were begun in Seattle during the depression by a preacher named Abraham Veriede as a way to pull local business and political leaders together to beat the labor movement. Veriede courted the rich and powerful and built the organization now run by Douglas Coe and described in Jeff Sharlet's The Family. The group believes that the rich and powerful are given wealth and power by God to do his bidding and that minor considerations such as ethics and morality do not apply to them because they are doing God's bidding. Veriede and later Coe, often speak admiringly of the dedication of men such as Adolf Hitler and Lenin and want to harness the same sort of dedication to their cause. Read Sharlet's book, it is chilling stuff. The Family already has dozens of senators and congressmen in its "prayer cells" and it can be assumed their tentacles reach into these political prayer breakfasts in Canada too.
Then read Marci McDonald's book on the Canadian wing of theocratic movement and realize that it can and is happening here. 
Don't get me wrong, I don't really have anything against religious belief - I'm a believer myself, at least on odd-numbered days. What I object to is allowing any one religion to sway public policy, especially a religion as goofy as the North American brand of tent revival fundamentalist Christianity. How goofy are some of these people?
From Antonia Zerbisais' article in The Toronto Star:

According to The Armageddon Factor, evangelicals believe Canada has to clean up its act on abortion, feminism, and homosexuality because it has a special role to play in the “end times.”
That’s because of Psalms 72: 8-9, which leads off the book, and foretells of “dominion … from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”
Never mind that it was likely about an ancient tribal leader’s turf. Many evangelicals see it as a sign, as they see how Parliament Hill’s Peace Tower clock, which stopped because of electrical problems for the first time ever in 2006, stopped at 7:28.

Yeah, that's the kind of magical thinking that you really really want governing economic, education, environmental and defense policy, the kind that thinks Jesus will take of everything for us and that there is no point planning past next Tuesday because the Rapture is coming.

Expect the lead up to the next election to consist entirely of distracting "culture war" wedge issues like gay marriage, crime, and whether the National Gallery should have nude pictures in it. There will even be coded references to changes in abortion law rules on maternal health and funding for religious aid organizations. If the Conservatives have their way the economy, the war in Afghanistan and the mistreatment of detainees and the government's abandonment of its responsibilities to its citizens (see Omar Khadr, Abousfian Abdelrazik, et al) will never be mentioned.

crossposted from the Woodshed

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