I've been sharing an article from the Walrus; Stephen Harper and the Theo-Cons, because it's important to understand just how heavily involved he is with the Religious Right. Harper himself is a born again Christian, who does a fairly good job hiding his fundamentalism.
I have absolutely no problem with Christians or any religion, but I do have a problem with these guys, because let's face ... they are not Christians ... they are nuts!
In this post I'm including a portion of the Walrus article as well as one from Dennis Gruending who has been writing about this for some time now. We have to WAKE UP!!! They want our laws to be based on the absolute interpretation of the Bible. Every single word. When they say they want us to be stoned, they mean it literally. With stones!
And despite the fact that they are allowed to register as charities, where they can solicit thousands of dollars, and enjoy tax free status if they claim to be non-partisan, the video above includes a shot of Stephen Harper and his family, and one of Pierre Poilievre. I don't know if anyone has ever estimated how much money it costs tax payers to have nuts running amok on Parliament Hill, but I'll bet it would be mind boggling. I think any religious organization that becomes involved in politics should lose their tax free and charitable status.
Although, sadly (or terrifyingly) this is not just about nuts running amok on Parliament Hill. These guys have a tremendous influence on this government's policy, especially when it comes to foreign affairs. I have no problem with praying, I just have a problem with lunatics who have this much sway with our elected officials.
See how they pray: Ottawa’s National House of Prayer
April 16, 2009
The Ottawa-based National House of Prayer (NHOP) is organizing a National Prayer Sunday for our government and its leaders on June 29. You may not have heard of the NHOP or its prayer list so I will take a brief look at both. You may be surprised – but first a brief bit of history.
Rob and Fran Parker are a couple from British Columbia who say they felt God calling them to set up a house of prayer in the capital. Mr. Parker has a long association with an organization called Watchmen for the Nations, and after a gathering of the group in 1996 he organized a prayer-walk from Calgary to Ottawa. In 2004, the NHOP purchased a former convent not far from parliament hill for $900,000. They’ve added staff and volunteers and regularly host groups, including youth, from across the country to engage in formation as prayer leaders.
NHOP personnel appear to have ready access to parliament hill. They attend question period, sit in at committees and lead prayer meetings. They were invited by the National Prayer Breakfast in 2007 to participate in a workshop following the meal, and the publicity for this year’s event invited people to an NHOP open house.
Each week on its website the NHOP asks people to offer prayers on a variety of issues and for individuals in public life, and the group also posts other prayer requests and observations on a blog. The most prayed for piece of legislation in 2008 has been MP Ken Epp’s Bill C-484 (The Unborn Victims of Crime Act), which would create a separate offence for killing or injuring a fetus during an attack on a pregnant woman. The bill has passed second reading in the House of Commons and has been sent off to a committee for examination. It is controversial because many believe that if passed the bill could be used as a wedge to re-criminalize abortion. The NHOP blog posting on April 30 talked about “practical things” that could be done to support Epp and his bill. These included praying, organizing a national fast, signing a petition of support on Epp’s website, and writing handwritten letters to MPs in support of the Bill C-484.
Earlier in 2008 another blog entry requested prayers for passage of Bill C-2, the federal government’s anti-crime bill. Yet another recommended prayers that a conservative jurist be appointed to replace Mr. Justice Michel Bastarache, who has announced his retirement from the Supreme Court of Canada. The same blog entry expressed approval that the court appears to be turning back a growing number of charter cases.
Another entry requested prayers for “a total overhaul or abolition of the current human rights councils in this country” and referred readers to conservative pundit Ezra Levant’s articles for further information. The case provoking the prayer request involves a human rights complaint into comments made about Muslims by writer Mark Steyn in Macleans magazine. (Ezra Levant is Jason Kenney's buddy and Mark Steyn wrote an article that got these guysin a flap because he talked about Muslims outnumbering Christians)
The NHOP website is also requesting prayers for the success of an event called The Cry, which is to be held on parliament hill on August 23rd. The website says: “Let’s intercede that thousands of believers will attend this wonderful event.” Similar youth rallies were held in 2002 and 2006 to dramatize concern about what organizers described as the moral and social decline in Canada.
Guest speakers at those rallies included the Parkers from NHOP and David Demian, head of Watchmen for the Nations. Demian and his organization are dedicated supporters of the Israeli government and its policies.
Where does NHOP fit into the wider picture? In an interview with the Ottawa Citizen in January 2006, the Parkers describe the prayer house as a registered charity that welcomes Christians of all denominations. They say it is not an advocacy group and does not endorse political parties. (Yeah, right. So where's the picture of Michael Ignatieff or Jack Layton) churches and religious organizations with links to the grassroots evangelical groups that helped Stockwell Day defeat Preston Manning in the 2000 Canadian Alliance leadership race.” (But they don't support any party?)
The NHOP exists within a charismatic and Pentecostal movement known for its emotional and enthusiastic forms of worship. NHOP also leans toward Christian reconstructionism – a belief that government and all of society must submit to the Bible’s moral principles. It may be this strong Biblical focus that explains an NHOP blog posting following a demonstration at the Chinese embassy this spring calling for a free Tibet. “Some of our prayers go in that direction,” the NHOP blog said. “However, on another level, our deeper cry in prayer is ‘Free Tibet!’ Free it from the centuries of spiritual darkness and oppression that the Tibetan Buddhist priests exerted over the people. Free them from the power of blinded obedience to the Dalai Lama.”
This statement is particularly odd because the government named the Dalai Lama as honourary Canadian citizen in 2007, one of only four people ever to receive that distinction.
The NHOP is just one of a number of conservative Christian groups to locate in Ottawa within the past few years, a development that indicates the growing influence in Canada of the religious right.
Stephen Harper and the Theo-Cons
At 7:30 on a drizzly June morning, the Confederation Room—the largest and most ornate hall on Parliament Hill—was already crammed to capacity with more than four hundred MPs, civil servants, and their guests, all of whom have turned up for the National Prayer Breakfast. An overflow crowd of 150 was being shepherded into an adjoining salon with closed-circuit video screens. Those numbers might not mean much in Washington—where the annual mega-event of the same name draws more than three thousand, including the president, making it the highlight of the social calendar for the Christian right—but this year’s turn-out was the largest in the forty-year history of the Ottawa breakfast.
Jack Murta, the former Mulroney cabinet minister who now runs the event, attributes the enthusiasm to a new breed of more committed Conservative evangelicals in the House. So many flocked to his weekly parliamentary prayer breakfasts earlier this year that he had to encourage some to drop out. “It was getting unwieldy,” he says.
Not that there is a shortage of prayer meetings on Parliament Hill. The Conservative caucus has its own Thursday-morning Bible study class, and for the last three decades civil servants have gathered for prayer groups in almost every department, including three in Defence. Even Jack Layton’s New Democratic Party has created a faith and social justice caucus.
But the newest prayer hub in the capital is also the most improbable: a missionary delegation to the federal government led by Rob Parker, a pastor from Vernon, BC, who feels he’s received a divine calling to bring prayer to the country’s leaders—and, not coincidentally, to help them see the error of their ways. Last year, in a stately neo-Romanesque convent formerly occupied by Les Filles de la Sagesse, Parker and his wife, Fran, opened the National House of Prayer. In its handsome panelled salons, weekly prayer teams who’ve flown in from churches across the country send up supplications forthe nation.
Fanning out across the city on prayer walks, they end up in the Commons’ visitors’ gallery for Question Period three times a week. Except for their rapt expressions of concentration, they might be just any other tourist group. They don’t bow their heads or kneel. “You don’t have to have your eyes closed to pray,” Fran Parker points out.
National unity is a frequent topic, and they’ve offered “strategic prayers” for Trade Minister David Emerson as he wrestles Washington over the softwood lumber dispute—an issue key to many of the Parkers’ supporters in BC. They’ve also prayed for the nation’s security with Stockwell Day, one of their biggest supporters in cabinet. “We say, ‘Let’s cover our waterways,’” Rob Parker explains. “‘Let’s cover our nuclear plants.’” The teams often drop by MPs’ offices, offering a takeout prayer service, but the Parkers try to avoid naming the parliamentarians they’ve prayed with, or the subjects on which they’ve pleaded for intercession.
“You have to be careful with the non-Christian media,” Fran confides. “A reporter kept asking us whether we prayed about same-sex marriage. No way we’re going there.”In some political circles, the National House of Prayer might be dismissed as a marginal Christian outpost, but Stephen Harper’s Ottawa has put out the official welcome mat. Jack Murta invited Fran Parker to address a seminar after the National Prayer Breakfast, and every Friday afternoon the couple runs a prayer meeting in the Parliament Buildings’ chapel, just across the street from the pmo.
Even though he’s never had an official meeting with the prime minister, Rob Parker says he has “certainly shared with him in passing—in the hallways or whatever. He was very glad we’re doing what we’re doing.”A Pentecostal who believes that God’s will is revealed to believers in portents and prophetic utterances, above all when they speak in tongues, Parker had embarked on a seventy-three-day prayer walk from Calgary to Ottawa six years ago with a charismatic Christian group called Watchmen for the Nations. When the walkers arrived in Ottawa, Parker prayed for God’s mercy on the nation and, as his wife tells it, “Rob looked around and thought, ‘Man, all these embassies, but I don’t see an embassy of prayer here.’
”Still, it took the 9/11 attack to convince Parker that his mission couldn’t wait. Watching evangelist Billy Graham lead Washington’s national memorial service, he was shocked when he switched channels to Ottawa’s commemorative rites. “There was no mention of God,” he says. “I found out later in the newspapers that the name of God or Jesus was not allowed to be used. We were too multicultural.”
As Parker recounts on the National House of Prayer website, “I cried out to God that Canada has become a ‘Godless nation’ and asked Him to intervene.”The Parkers talked up the notion of a prayer embassy across the country, but two years ago they were ready to give up when they received a divine thumbs-up. The morning after they’d read a passage from Jeremiah about the siege of Jerusalem, a newspaper headline on the Liberals’ sponsorship scandal proclaimed, “Paul Martin under siege.” For Fran Parker it was an unmistakable prophetic sign. “We thought, ‘Yes, it’s a siege of righteousness,’” she says. “We realized it was a wake-up call: we’ve got to make things right.” (I wonder what sign they got when the RCMP raided the Reform-Conservative offices and it was revealed that these good little Christians had (allegedly) forged receipts to get money they weren't entitled to)
Last year, when they discovered the abandoned convent, they knew it was the building they’d been praying for when a real-estate agent pointed at the Chinese embassy out the back door.
“That’s China behind you,” he said—the very phrase uttered by a prominent Pentecostal preacher who had singled out the Parkers during one of his Ottawa revival services. But the $900,000 price tag was too steep and the demand for a $500,000 down payment daunting. Then Christian broadcaster Dick Dewart invited the Parkers to appear on his Alberta-based Miracle Channel. Within days of the show, they’d raised $300,000, and a Chinese evangelical congregation in Toronto kicked in with a $225,000 interest-free loan. “We represent thousands in the land,” Fran Parker says.
Now the Parkers host as many as thirty-five prayer activists a week who pay their own travel expenses and donate $20 to $50 a night for room and board in return for a unique glimpse of the capital. When they’re not on Parliament Hill, they can often be found praying inside the Supreme Court, whose rulings have sparked so much evangelical outrage. This summer, the activists focused their spiritual attention on the offices of those MPs who might be wavering on whether to support reopening the same-sex marriage debate. But their most frequent destination is the Peace Tower, where they pray beneath the nation’s motto inscribed on one wall—a motto inspired directly by the Bible.
In 1867, as the Fathers of Confederation were wrangling over what to call their newfangled federal entity, Samuel Tilley, the premier of New Brunswick, sat down for his morning devotions when his Bible fell open at Psalm 72, verse 8: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.” Tilley and his fellow pols took it as divine intervention. Ever since, that defining verse has inspired Pentecostal and charismatic Christian groups such as the Parkers’ to believe that the Dominion of Canada has a destiny linked to scriptural prophecy.
It’s a controversial view—and nevermore so than now. This spring, in Kingdom Coming: the Rise of Christian Nationalism, New York writer Michelle Goldberg traced the growing influence of American fundamentalists who embrace what’s known as dominion theology, calling for a society where civil law is replaced by Biblical prescriptions and born-again Christians take over the task of governing to prepare for the thousand-year dominion of Christ.
Their first skirmish in that struggle has centred on restoring religious terminology not only to holidays like Christmas, but to official discourse. Goldberg warns that many of those “dominionists” not only have ties to the Bush White House, but seem determined to turn the US into a theocracy. “It makes no sense to fight religious authoritarianism abroad,” she writes, “while letting it take over at home.”
The Parkers are careful to dismiss the notion that theocratic designs lie behind their National House of Prayer. “It’s not about getting a Christian government or a Christian nation,” Fran Parker says. “It’s about praying for our leaders to restore the nation to righteousness.” But in a relaxed moment after the National Prayer Breakfast, she admits that she believes Canada has a divinely inspired destiny—a covenant with God that has been broken by governments that failed to stop practices such as abortion that “defile the land.” She’s convinced that the nation has received a prophetic warning to return to its Christian roots.
She has not the slightest doubt that celestial nudge came last May 24 when the Peace Tower clock stopped at 7:28 a.m.—precisely the number of the psalm and verse that gave the country its designation and motto. “And what day did it stop?” Parker asks, underlining her point. “Victoria Day! On the news that night, they said it might take seventy-two hours to fix,” she says, pausing for effect. “Seventy-two!” she marvels. “Just so you get it!”
As I've said before, I have no probelem with praying on Parliament Hill or anywhere. Most politicians practice some sort of faith, but we can't let these nuts assume that everyone wants to be dictated by the literal word of the Bible or any biblical prophesies. We need to send them a clear message. Stop being so nuts or get off the Hill!