Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Canadian Manifesto 5: The Exploitation of Religion

"... the seemingly squeaky clean but morally corrupt Ralph Reed." Sarah Posner (1)

In the movie Casino Jack, based on the life of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, we are introduced to some of the players in the massive corruption scandal, that took down two Republican senators, and nine high profile lobbyists.

One character in the movie was Ralph Reed, played by Christian Campbell, who assures Abramoff that he is ready to play his part in the casino fraud.

For an enormous fee, 'Casino Jack' set out to destroy the gambling operation of a competing tribe, for his clients, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

This was not the first time that Abramoff had used questionable tactics for this client, but he couldn't have done it without the help of the "squeaky clean" and "morally corrupt" Ralph Reed, then head of The Christian Coalition.

In 1999, the Choctaw needed to defeat a bill in the Alabama State Legislature that would allow casino-style games on dog racing tracks, resulting in competition for their casino business. It was at about this time that Reed had contacted his old friend Abramoff, asking for his help in establishing his new business, Century Strategies.
"Hey, now that I’m done with electoral politics, I need to start humping in corporate accounts! I’m counting on you to help me with some contacts." (Ralph Reed to Jack Abramoff, via email, November 12, 1998)
When asked what he could do to assist with this situation, Reed said that he could access "3,000 pastors and 90,000 religious conservative households" in Alabama, as well as "the Alabama Christian Coalition, the Alabama Family Alliance, the Alabama Eagle Forum, [and] the Christian Family Association." And he would do this for a retainer of $20,000 a month.

Souls don't come cheap.  Just ask the devil.

The firm that Abramoff was then with, Preston Gates, hired Reed as a subcontractor, and Abramoff told Reed to "get me invoices as soon as possible so I can get Choctaw to get us checks asap."

"By May 10, 1999, the Choctaw had paid $1.3 million to Reed via Preston Gates, for various grassroots activities relating to the dog-track bill, as well as opposing an Alabama state lottery." (2) Eventually they broke their business ties with Preston Gates, and began dealing directly with Abramoff, using Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform as a conduit.  (Norquist had done work for them in the past)

However, what Abramoff was hoping to pull off this time, was much bigger and riskier than dog tracks and state lotteries.
In October 2001, Abramoff began to suggest to the Louisiana Coushatta that the Texas legislature was "one vote away" from legalizing certain forms of gambling in Texas. The Alabama Coushatta - a related but competing tribe to the Louisiana Coushatta - also sought to open a casino in eastern Texas in 2001. Abramoff told the Louisiana Coushatta that if the Tigua succeeded in their court case, then Texas would be forced to allow the Alabama Coushatta to open their casino. Many of the Coushatta's casino customers traveled over the border from eastern Texas to Louisiana, so this could pose a grave threat to their livelihood.  (2)
Abramoff then suggested to the Choctaw that they should support Christian evangelical conservatives, who were prepared to oppose gaming expansion in Texas, and Reed was again on the payroll.  "Reed worked with Houston pastors and church congregations to make demands on the state government to prevent the casinos from opening." (2)

According to the director of the movie, Alex Gibney, in response to Reed suggesting that the work he did for Abramoff was "outstanding" and something he was "proud of":
Let's say it plain: Ralph Reed is a fraud ... there was probably nothing illegal about what Reed did. But, he was engaged in a kind of spiritual fraud: telling his supporters that he was opposed to gambling when, in fact, gambling was making him rich. (3)
Though Reed still denies that he knew that the millions of dollars paid him came from casino profits, there are numerous email exchanges that prove otherwise.  And if  that deception isn't bad enough, he also implied that he was "fully investigated by John McCain's Senate Committee on Indian Affairs", and cleared.  However, according to Gibney:
Reed correctly notes that he has never been charged with a crime and implies that he had been fully investigated by John McCain's Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. But the implication is deceptive. According to one very famous, disgraced former lobbyist, Reed was supposed to have been called before McCain's committee but Karl Rove intervened and pressured McCain not to call Reed.  To Reed, Abramoff committed the unpardonable sin of getting caught, and that's why Reed prays for him. Well, Abramoff did his time and now seems to be willing to speak the truth. Reed should pray for himself. (3)

Leo Strauss Would Have Been Proud

In her book: Leo Strauss and the American Right, Shadia Drury of the University of Calgary, reveals that Strauss suggested that the exploiting of religion by the "right thinking elite" was necessary.
The key is to use the most artful and most reliable techniques that history has made available. And in Strauss's view, nothing has ever proved to be more effective than the influence of religion. (4)
Karl Marx called religion the "opium of the people", but to Ralph Reed and most other "elite"  in the movement, it is pure gold.

Religion can be a good thing, when it inspires, but can be lethal when it incites.
There is no doubt that religion often exerts a wholesome influence on human conduct. And it may even serve as a small protection against tyranny and the abuse of power because persons committed to the moral life may prefer to risk their lives than to collaborate with wicked schemes. But it is also the case that religious fervor often turns political and even militant. Religious groups are not always satisfied with the religious freedom that liberal society affords them. They are not content to gather together, worship, sing, play, and educate their children as they see fit. They are interested in imposing their vision of private morality on the rest of society. What they want is not freedom of religion, but conformity to their religious views. (4)
Drury continues:
Their current mood is overtly political if not altogether militant. The Christian Coalition, founded by Pat Robertson and then led by his protégé Ralph Reed, is a case in point. Its "leadership school" does not waste much time on prayer, but on the political process and how best to manipulate it. Grassroots leaders in hundreds of counties in every state are instructed in the modern art of quick communication—phone, fax, and modem. These leaders are trained to mobilize their troops into rapid-response networks intended to "blitz" or bombard congressmen with the values of the coalition. (4)
It is said that 26 Republican presidential hopefuls have sought out Reed for advice, with chequebook in hand, of course.  And why not?
When [Pat] Robertson's campaign flamed out, political analysts served up a new round of obituaries for the religious right, but once again, the reports of its death proved premature. Even as Robertson nursed a wounded ego, he was hatching his organizational revenge, hiring a fresh-faced young doctoral student named Ralph Reed to build a grass-roots evangelical network, focusing first on the takeover of school boards and town councils before ultimately commandeering the machinery of the Republican National Committee itself. That institutional coup took place almost entirely beneath the media's radar, and by the time it finally caught their attention, Reed's Christian Coalition controlled both houses of Congress and would later play a major role in putting George W. Bush in the White House, not once but twice. (5) 
Their political goals include returning prayer to schools, recriminalizing abortion, stripping known homosexuals of their civil rights, teaching creationism in the schools, and censoring libraries and the press, all included in Reed's  "contract with the American family", that was released right after Newt Gingrich's 'Contract with America".
American conservatives such as William Buckley and William Bennett fool themselves in thinking that the Christian right is simply interested in safe streets, good schools, strong families, nonintrusive government, and a chummy Communitarian atmosphere .... They are very much interested in governmental interference to uphold and enforce their own values and preferences, not only in matters pertaining to public morality, but in private morality as well. But their political tactics call their ethics into question. For example, Ralph Reed has defended the "stealth campaigns" of Christian Coalition candidates who have disguised their political agenda by campaigning on issues such as crime or taxes, but have revealed once in office that their real interests are in gay rights, abortion, and creationism.

Reed justifies such deception as a type of "guerrilla warfare." He flatters himself into thinking that his stealth campaigns are a matter of using the tactics of a guerrilla war against Satan. Those who paint their political opponents as the forces of evil and regard themselves as the defenders of good, are inclined to justify any means as necessary to defeat their opponents. The urgency of vanquishing the satanic forces, and the sheer immensity of the task, blinds them to the fact that such mendacious and duplicitous conduct is a blatant disregard of Christian virtue. (4)
Touché again!

Ralph Reed in the Great White North

On May 5, 1996; the Albion Monitor reported on a group of Canadians, who had made the trek to Washington in the fall of 1995, to attend a conference of The Christian Coalition.  Their visit resulted in the creation of the Canadian Christian Coalition, whose board members included Reform Party members, Ted and Link Byfield, and our own Jason Kenney.
... ominous for democratic rights in [British Columbia] is the recent hatching of the B.C. clone of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition ... The B.C. chapter is headed up by Operation Rescue activist Don Spratt, and claims among its founding board members former B.C. Premier and ardent anti-choicer Bill Vander Zalm. In an opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun, Spratt insisted (somewhat oxymoronically) "We have no ties with our U.S. counterpart." However, according to news reports, The Christian Coalition of Canada materialized after dozens of conservative Christians in this country thronged to Washington, DC, last fall to attend a major convention of the U.S. organization.

"Advisors" to the new CCC reportedly include Ted and Link Byfield (owners of the ultra-conservative B.C. Report and Alberta Report magazines), Jason Kenny (head of the Canadian Taxpayers Association), and Alex Parachin (head of the Christian Broadcasting Associates in Toronto, the Canadian branch plant of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network). ...While Don Spratt may be telling readers "Nobody has anything to fear from Christian Coalition," progressive activists and journalists will have to make sure the electorate knows better.
Touché, touché. touché, dammit!

The B.C. branch was responsible for a ban on Planned Parenthood in Surrey.  Stephen Harper has since expanded that, by cancelling all funding for PP, domestic and international.  The Tea Party gang have also been instrumental in the organization's demise in the U.S.

We beat them.  Yeah for us. (sigh)

However, while Jason Kenney may have been among the first to transport Ralph Reed's "faith for profit and righteous indignation" to Canada, he was by no means the last.  Two members of Stockwell Day's team, Brian Rushfeldt and Roy Beyer ("Families for Day"), visited Reed to solicit his help in getting Day elected as Alliance leader in 2000.

Both men were graduates of Charles McVety's Canadian Christian College.

In 2005, McVety invited Reed to speak at that institution, making sure that his protégé was in attendance: Jim Flaherty.
His very attentive listeners were challenged by Reed to “get on your work boots and tennis shoes and go out there like it all depends on you, pray like it all depends on God and let’s usher in the greatest victory in the history of this country.” (7)
Mcvety had already worked with Flaherty in his bid for leadership of the Ontario conservatives, but ironically, Flaherty was considered to be too right wing.  It was probably just the company he kept.

A Christian Manifesto Revisited

Francis Schaeffer, whose book A Christian Manifesto became the blueprint for the Religious Right, apparently regretted his involvement with the movement that he grew to detest.  According to his son, Francis Jr. (Frank), in his book Crazy for God:

Falwell, Robertson, Dobson, and others would later use their power in ways that would have made my father throw up. Dad could hardly have imagined how they would help facilitate the instantly corrupted power-crazy new generation of evangelical public figures like Ralph Reed, who took money from the casino industry while allegedly playing both sides against the middle in events related to the Abramoff Washington lobbyist scandal.

... Long before Ralph Reed and his ilk came on the scene, Dad got sick of "these idiots," as he often called people like [James] Dobson 
in private. They were "plastic," Dad said, and "power-hungry They were "Way too right-wing, really nuts!" and "They're using our issue to build their empires." (9)
Rick Salutin was fired as a columnist for the Globe and Mail, because he reminded Canadians of Harper's links to Leo Strauss.  His only error in the column was calling him the "last" Straussian.  Those guys breed like rabbits.

In March of 1995, former leader of the Reform Party, Preston Manning, was invited to speak to the editorial board of the Washington Post.  Newt Gingrich had been singing Manning's praises with the American media, as an important factor in his 1994 election victory.

Naturally they wanted to meet the Canadian neocon guru.

The late Dalton Camp, wrote a column about the visit, under the heading: Mr. Manning Goes to Washington.
"The Reform agenda includes a host of issues with American analogs—opposition to abortion rights, gun control and gay rights"—and lower taxes, less government, fewer rights for consumers, and "family values."

This does remind me once again of Senator James M. Inhofe* (R. Oklahoma), who has said he campaigned last fall, and won, on "God, gays, and guns."** No doubt Preston could arrange through Newt to meet with Inhofe, who is a great admirer of Jesse Helms who is a good friend of Al D'Amato who knows Dick Armey who needs no introduction to Ralph Reed of The Christian Coalition warmly supported by Pat Buchanan who knows Pat Robertson.

Knowing our man Manning has direct access to those guys makes you feel warm all over, doesn't it?
"Warm all over?"  Not exactly.  I'm more inclined to feel like Schaeffer.  It makes me want to "throw up".


*James Inhofe is the former boss of Conservative MP Rob Anders.

** Not one to leave a Republican quote unplagiarized, Stephen Harper wrote a piece for the Globe in March of 1995, in which he defined his Reform Party as being based on "three g-issues"- guns, gays, and government grants." (10)


1. God's Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, By Sarah Posner, PoliPoint Press, 2008, ISBN: 0-9794822-1-6

2. Wikipedia: Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal

3. The Deceptions of Ralph Reed, By Alex Gibney, The Atlantic, September 26, 2010

4. Leo Strauss and the American Right, By Shadia B. Drury, St. Martin's Press, 1999, ISBN: 0-312-12689-1, p. 19-21

5. The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8 3, p. 5

6. The Christian Coalition Comes to Canada, by Kim Goldberg, The Albion Monitor, May 5, 1996

7. US Political Wiz Ralph Reed Urges Canadian Social Conservatives to “Make HistoryThis Election, LifeSite News, December 2, 2005

8. Whose Country is This Anyway? Mr. Manning Goes to Washington, By Dalton Camp, Douglas & McIntyre, 1995, ISBN: 1-55054-467-5, Pg. 185

9. Crazy For God: How I Grew Up a One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take it All (or Almost All) of it Back, By Frank Schaeffer, Carroll & Graf, 2007, ISBN: 13-978-0-7867-1891-7, p. 299-300

10. Where Does the Reform Party Go From Here, By Stephen Harper, Globe and Mail, March 21, 1995

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Olivia Chow as Next NDP Leader? Why Not?

On the front page of the Toronto Star yesterday, there was a small headline suggesting that Jack Layton's widow, Olivia Chow, might be a possibility as the next NDP leader.

I think she would be a good choice. She's urban and chic, and one of the more progressive members of the party.

The media claims that Thomas Mulcair is a front runner, but I think that would be a mistake. I used to like Mulcair until he attacked Libby Davies, simply because she raised awareness to the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza.

She was forced to withdraw her statement.

Besides, when Mulcair decided to enter federal politics, he couldn't decide whether to run for the NDP or the Conservatives. Hardly a committed dipper.

He's also combative and sometimes nasty.

Instead of a clear alternative, it could be a choice between Stephen Harper and Stephen Harper lite. No thanks.

I'm very worried about the future of our country, however.  We have thrived as a centrist nation, with the PCs and Liberals, taking from both the right and the left, while avoiding the excesses of either.

Some have suggested that Stephen Harper is governing from the centre, but he has simply moved the centre so far to the right, that it now rests at Tea Party headquarters.

And when members of the NDP caucus tried to have the term 'socialist' removed from their mandate, they were met with strong opposition.  Pat Martin was even booed off the stage. 

So where do centrists, like myself, go?

I've voted NDP in the past but the constant chanting of "big banks, big oil, big gas" became like fingernails on a blackboard.

I'm not anti-corporation, but expect them to pay their fair share and act like responsible citizens.

So I prefer Bob Rae's philosophy.  Capitalism is here to stay, so we have to ask ourselves, what kind of capitalism do we want for our country?

Definitely not Harper's idea of capitalism, in an unrestrained free market.  And not the kind where we make enemies of big business.

That being said, I would not be opposed to Olivia Chow as leader of the opposition, or even prime minister, though it will be tough.  Unfortunately, the right has all the money, and money usually determines the outcome of elections.

But she could certainly capture the imagination of the electorate, and hold on to Quebec support as Jack's widow.

We need a shake up at the federal level.  Olivia Chow heading the NDP and Justin Trudeau the Liberals, would go a long way into restoring our image, and might just get people out to vote.

Dare I dream?

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Canadian Manifesto 4: God's Army of Child Soldiers

"There does come a time when force, even physical force, is appropriate. The Christian is not to take the law into his own hands and become a law unto him­self. But when all avenues to flight and protest have closed, force in the defensive posture is appropriate ... The state must be made to feel the presence of the Christian community." Francis Schaeffer (1)
Faytene Kryskow Grasseschi has become one of the most prominent figures in Canada's Religious Right movement.

Her organization 4MYCanada, referred to simply as My Canada, hosts events called TheCry. Hours of emotional prayers, begging God's mercy for the horrible country that Canada has become.

Infanticide, sexual promiscuity, human trafficking. We're all going to hell in a hand basket.

I don't mean to mock, because she seems sincere in her beliefs, but what I find reprehensible, is the indoctrination of youth. Her bubbly personality and good looks are a definite draw.

I watched an interview of Kryskow (now married to Robert Grasseschi) with David Mainse on God TV, and it would appear that they are certainly trying to exploit her attributes. Mainse even requested that she do a pirouette for his viewers, and likened one of her TheCry gatherings to Woodstock (held on the anniversary).

She gets nothing near the 500,000 that the music festival did 40 years ago, but does draw in about 1,000, perhaps more.

Kryskow-Grasseschi is a regular figure on Parliament Hill, with coveted access to the Harper government. MP Rod Bruinooge is a regular at the TheCry events and often appears on stage with the little spitfire.

Conservative MP Ed Komarnicki promotes her organization on his website, sharing pics, including one with controversial senator David Tkachuk.

His colleague, Bev Shipley also makes the trek from his riding to cry with Kryskow in Ottawa. A fellow dominionist, on Canada Day 2009, he handed out bookmarks to his constituents (paid for by taxpayers?) urging them to pray for "godly" leaders who would govern "according to the Scriptural Foundation upon which our country was founded." (2)

However, the best endorsement came from the big guy himself. Not God, but the man who sees himself as such: Stephen Harper. When Faytene was on the Hill, whipping her disciples into a frenzy, he had a personal letter delivered to her, which she read to the crowd.
In it, Harper lauds her youth movement for cultivating "thoughtful, faith-filled citizens" and praises its political activism. "Faith has shaped your perspective on the world and strength­ened your resolve to make a political difference," he writes, signing off with a beneficent "God Bless."

What makes the letter noteworthy is that it arrived, unsolicited, from a politician who had spent years scrupulously avoiding any suggestion of coziness with the country's Christian right.
His coziness with the American Religious Right was already well documented.

Jesus Camp and Lou Engle

David Mainse, when introducing Faytene Kryskow, compared her to both Esther and Deborah, from the Old Testament. Women warriors, though he didn't qualify his comparisons, because he didn't need to. His audience knew.

Esther was a young Jewish girl in the harem of the Persian King Ahasuerus, who is credited with saving her people from annihilation. Deborah, a prophetess, warrior and judge in ancient Israel.

However, Faytene prefers to think of herself as Joan of Ark, on the front lines of battle, who is spoken to by God.

But it is another voice that directs her actions, and one that we should be listening to. That of Lou Engle, a charismatic preacher in the United States, also seeking "dominion" over all, and replacing the constitution with the Old Testament.

In 2006, the critically acclaimed documentary, 'Jesus Camp', caused an uproar, as it revealed the Christian Right's indoctrination of children.  I watched it in its entirety and wept, wondering why child protective services didn't intervene.

At the camp, which was run by  pastor Becky Fischer, children are told to purify themselves in order to be part of the "army of God". Fischer strongly believes that children need to be at the forefront of turning America toward conservative Christian values, and that "Christians need to focus on training kids since "the enemy" (Islam) is focused on training theirs." She tells the children that Harry Potter is the devil and that had he existed in biblical times he "would have been put to death". They also pay homage to George Bush.  You can watch the trailer here, and follow the link for the entire documentary.

Fischer has closed down the camp, and now runs the group: Kids in Ministry International.

A regular speaker at the camp was Lou Engle, who created the trademark red tape across the mouth with the word 'Life'; a feature at Krystows TheCry. (He even co-authored a book on the subject)

Krystow's rallies are taken directly from Engle's TheCall. Her American mentor refers to Faytene as "his daughter" and has often made appearances with her, both live and by video stream.

In 2009 he put a call out to his American disciples to "Invade Canada for God", no doubt hoping to bolster her numbers.

Engle has also praised Uganda for its tough laws against homosexuality.

Both TheCry and TheCall are heavy on military terms, believing themselves to actually be the Army of God.

So does this mean that I expect Krystow-Grasseschire to strap on a gun and go on a shooting rampage?

Of course not.

However, her branch of Engle's movement can be dangerous just the same.

While most "born again" Christians are enlightened and change their lives around for the better, many simply use religion as a drug of choice.  Worse still, others are mentally ill and already vulnerable, so easily led to do unspeakable acts.

Like Scott Roeder, who murdered abortion doctor George Tiller. He was bi-polar and off his meds.

Or a more militant Army of God, who quote from Engle's The Doctrine of the Shedding of Innocent Blood, and view Roeder, and others like him, as heroes.

We need to have this conversation in this country.

These fringe groups have been around for years, but this is the first time that they have been allowed to dictate government policy. And they are just getting started.

Marci McDonald writes of how the U.S. media was oblivious to the threat, until it was too late, and it had destroyed U.S. politics.

When she appeared on Steve Paikin's program on TVOntario, Paikin dismissed her by suggesting that since it took 30 years for the American Right to do their damage, we had another thirty years before "late-term" abortion would be made illegal.

He was always a little right-wing, but I didn't peg him as being so naive. We don't need thirty years. The American Christian Right has not only inspired but financed the Canadian movement. It is on our doorstep and another TheCry is currently underway on Parliament Hill.

Says McDonald, when she was first asked to write a book on the rise of the Christian Right in Canada, a friend asked "Why would you want to do that? Surely you don't think that can happen here? This is a profoundly different country than the United States."

All I can say is that it used to be.

The media needs to start tracking this before it becomes our epitaph. "Here lies Canada. May she rest in peace."


1. A Christian Manifesto, By Francis Schaeffer, Crossway Books, 1981, ISBN: 0-89107-233-0, Chapter 9: 'The Use of Force'

2. The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8 3, P. 16-17

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Who Said There Were no Longer Any Great Speeches?

"Let us not look behind us, let's look forward, look at what we can accomplish together to make sure Jack's voice is not silenced" Olivia Chow
In today's world of sound bites and talking points, we rarely hear any great political speeches.

But yesterday, Stephen Lewis delivered one of the most impassioned speeches that I've heard in a very long time.
Never in our collective lifetime have we seen such an outpouring, so much emotional intensity, from every corner of this country. There have been occasions, historically, when we've seen respect and admiration but never so much love, never such a shocked sense of personal loss.

Jack was so alive, so much fun, so engaged in daily life with so much gusto, so unpretentious, that it was hard while he lived to focus on how incredibly important that was to us, he was to us. Until he was so suddenly gone, cruelly gone, at the pinnacle of his career.
He was so right.

I never liked Jack Layton in the House. He always looked so stiff and was often nasty. But away from that environment, he lit up. Much better at dealing with people than politicians.

But as inspiring as Lewis was, the best speech was left undelivered. Jack Layton's letter and his final words.
"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world."
As many of you know, I was angry with Jack, but only becasue of his political choices, and I'm sure he was not without his own regrets.

I'm so over that now and more determined than ever to fight the neoconservative/Religious Right disease.

Thank you Mr. Layton. You will be missed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Canadian Manifesto: 3. Religion Goes Corporate

Rick Warren is considered to be one of the most important Evangelical leaders in the United States. He turned the small Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, with a congregation of barely 200, into one of the largest mega churches in the country. Not necessarily through inspiration, but with clever marketing.

Not stopping there, he developed material for church growth seminars, and more than 400,000 pastors from 162 countries have been trained in Warren's corporatizing of religion techniques. His book The Purpose Driven Church, has sold over a million copies.

One of the pastors to be educated in the Warren system, as well as that of another "church growth" marketeer, Bill Hybels (Willow Creek), is Stephen Harper's friend and spiritual advisor, Brent Trask, who was able to turn his small Bow Valley Alliance Church in Calgary, into an investor's dream.
Founded in 1986 by a few dozen families who gathered in a school, Bow Valley Alliance had grown at such a heady rate that it was obliged to move to a shopping mall and a community college before taking over the Dutch Canadian Club hall, where Brent Trask, its ambitious young pastor, was turning Bow Valley into one of the high-energy experiments in conservative Protestantism that were erupting across continent. Like Harper, Trask took his inspiration from the U.S., where two gurus of church growth, Rick Warren and Bill Hybels, were transforming contemporary worship, using Christian rock music and corporate marketing techniques to attract the enormous memberships that have made the evangelical movement a force to be reckoned with in American politics.(1)
However, many critics suggest that Warren, Hybels, and others in the church growth movement, are not converting, but stealing the already converted from smaller, struggling churches.

Theologian Michael J. Penfold writes:
The new packaging is all about replacement. A ‘stage’ with a moveable Perspex lectern replaces the old wooden pulpit. PowerPoint graphics replace the hymn books. A rock band replaces the organ. A casually dressed and jovial audience replaces the reverent congregation. A charming minister in a t-shirt and jeans replaces the suited ‘preacher’. Fun replaces holiness as the tone of the service. Loud music, side-splitting drama, multimedia presentations and a humorous ‘talk’ replace hymn singing and preaching. But, we’re confidently assured, the message remains the same.

Judging by numbers alone the new model has certainly proved a success. Prominent ‘church growth’ pastors like Robert Schuller (Crystal Cathedral, LA), Rick Warren (Saddleback Church, California), Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Church, Chicago) and Joel Osteen (Lakewood Church, Houston) attract thousands to their churches each Sunday. Though a majority of this ‘growth’ occurs by transfer rather than ‘conversion’...
It is said that when these mega churches move into a community, they become the Walmart of Christianity, driving others out of business. And when they don't close up shop, they are bought out in "corporate mergers".

And it's not only the corporate style worship centres that small community churches have to compete with, but also the para-churches, like the Promise Keepers, brought to Canada by Harper MP David Sweet, and countless "family values" groups, that have turned Christianity into a cottage industry.

There is only so much money to go around, and as with society now as a whole, all the wealth is going to the top.

Rick Warren: the Buck Stops Here

Rick Warren is a very wealthy man. His books are selling like wildfire, and his publisher, Rupert Murdoch, couldn't be happier.

ATOP 30 ROCKEFELLER PLAZA in one of Manhattan's most celebrated ballrooms, media mogul Rupert Murdoch stepped up to microphone. It was September 2004, and gathered before him was the Who's Who of the New York publishing elite. "When an author sells a million copies of his book, we think he's a genius. When he sells twenty million, we say we're the geniuses."

Murdoch was introducing Rick Warren, a folksy Southern Baptist preacher from suburban southern California. As head of the media conglomerate that published Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life, Mur­doch had much to smile about. The book had become the best­selling work of nonfiction in history (other than the Bible) and had been translated into more than fifty different languages. Long be­fore this, Warren had made a name for himself in evangelical circles. An earlier book, The Purpose-Driven Church, had sold a million copies, and over the years thousands of pastors had attended conferences to hear Warren and his staff talk about their approach to church growth.
Murdoch is not only a publisher for the Religious Right, but is now the official publisher to the Tea Party.

Because his books are selling so well, Warren, in a seemingly magnanimous gesture, is now tithing 90% of his salary obtained from the Saddleback Alliance to that church.

Just how generous an offer is that? Why not simply forgo taking a salary, or reduce his salary by 90%?

Tax haven.

He can claim that 90% against royalties from his book, but then tap into it tax free, as the church covers all of his travel expenses.

In an unguarded moment, Warren revealed his feelings toward paying taxes. When President Obama sent out the alarm that the country is losing revenue at an alarming rate, making it difficult to sustain social programs, Warren tweeted that instead of going after the wealthy to pay more, Obama needed to go after the lower class, many of whom, he claimed, paid no taxes at all.

A ludicrous assumption. Everyone pays taxes in some form.

After getting into a verbal battle with a woman, Warren removed the tweet, and simply left it with her, that he was going to pray for her soul. I don't think it's her soul that is in trouble.

As Michael Lindsay reminds us, when speaking of the enormous wealth of the new religious leaders, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Matthew 10:25

The Saddleback Church is located in the heart of Orange Country, one of the wealthiest districts in the U.S. In fact, many of these mega churches deliberately move into upscale neighbourhoods.

However, there is another story in Orange County that gets little attention. I recently watched a documentary about the homeless children in O.C., who live in motels with their parents.

Families living in one room, washing their dishes in the bathroom sink, simply because that's all they can afford. And they are not welfare recipients, but at least one of their parents work. One mother was a nurses aid at the local hospital, and another worked at Disneyland.

Are these the tax exempt people that Warren refers to?

He is currently behind a project called PEACE, an acronym for Promote reconciliation - Equip servant leaders - Assist the poor - Care for the sick - Educate the next generation. It is a call to other Evangelicals to come to the aid of the globe's most distressed, especially in Africa.

However, given Warren's strong opinions on abortion and homosexuality, will this end up another Uganda, where hatred is exported to regions who felt no such hatred?

Making poverty history around the world is important, but it should include his backyard. Paying his fair share of taxes, would go a long way into ensuring that the homeless children of Orange County can look forward to a better life.

One of the scenes in the documentary show the children pledging the oath of allegiance. When asked the importance of the oath, all agreed that it was about freedom and rights.

One young man was asked what having rights meant, and he answered "the right to remain silent". The only "right" he understood.

He was six.

The fastest growing industry in Schaeffer's Northern Europe, is corporate religion. They sell dreams, but the only ones cashing in on the dreams are the elite of the movement, while the rest are simply told that if they believed in God more, and gave more money to the elite, they too will be blessed with wealth beyond their wildest dreams.

It's certainly understandable why Stephen Harper would be drawn to a mega church. The tax free privatization of souls.


1. The Armageddon Factor, By Marci McDonald, Random House, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8, p. 23

2. The Purpose Driven Church (a critique), By Michael J. Penfold, Penfold Book & Bible House, 2007

3. Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite, By D. Michael Lindsay, Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-19-532666-6, p. 1

Hatred as an Import/Export Business

On January 26 of this year, David Kato, a gay rights activist in Uganda, was bludgeoned to death with a hammer. Often the target of hatred, there was a renewed fierceness, when he won a court battle against a tabloid for publishing over 100 images of him with other gay and lesbian citizens.

The banner over the headline image read 'Hang Them'.

Though hardly a tolerant society, this loathing came about when a group of American "Evangelists", visited the country to export their own brand of hatred.
Last March [2009], three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks. The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.

For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”
Delivered with the passion of fire and brimstone, it instilled fear where there was none before.

Within months, a law was passed that would put homosexuals in jail for life. Stephen Harper claimed to have "privately warned the Ugandan president", of "Canada's deep concern, strong opposition and the fact we deplore these kinds of measures."

But how can he have any credibility on the subject?

In November of 2003, former Alliance MP Larry Spencer, gave an interview to Vancouver Sun reporter Peter O'Neil, in which he claimed that "... he would support any initiative to outlaw homosexuality." He stated that in the 1960s, a "well-orchestrated" conspiracy began and led to recent successes in the gay rights movement. This conspiracy, he further said, "included seducing and recruiting young boys in playgrounds and locker rooms, and deliberately infiltrating North America's schools, judiciaries, entertainment industries, and religious communities."

Stephen Harper was livid (1), but his concern was not for the marginalizing of the gay community, but that Spencer may have hurt his chances in the next election. He was suspended and replaced with Tom Lukiwski. The man caught on tape saying: “There’s A’s and there’s B’s. The A’s are guys like me, the B’s are homosexual faggots with dirt under their fingernails that transmit diseases.”

Quotes by Harper's caucus against homosexuality are numerous, but our concern should not be for what they say, but how they say it. There is a deep rooted contempt, that is fundamental.

A contempt that allowed Stephen Harper to stand up in the House of Commons, and say of NDP Svend Robinson, a gay man. "Mr. Speaker, I am sure the picture of the hon. member of the NDP is posted in much more wonderful places than just police stations." (Hansard, October 23, 2002) He was given an opportunity to retract the statement, before being officially recorded, but refused.

A contempt that allowed Jason Kenney to trivialize the debate over same-sex marriage when he "outed" two openly gay NDP MPs, to the Punjab community.

A contempt that allowed Stephen Harper to visit immigrant communities to fear monger over the implications of the bill, suggesting that the Liberals wanted to force their religious leaders to perform same-sex marriages.

And a contempt that prompted Harper to hire the homophobic Nigel Hannaford to help write his speeches and Jason Kenney to appoint an anti-gay activist to the Refugee board, where he will get to hear cases of those fleeing from sexual discrimination, sure to face harm and even death if refused refuge.

And today, in the 21st century in Canada, there is a protest against a school policy to combat discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.

And those fighting against discrimination are vilified.

Our hands are not clean.

The good news is that under international pressure: Uganda lawmakers removed the death penalty clause from anti-gay bill, but it does not change the malevolence that inflicted the death penalty on David Kato.

And it will not take hammer blows to inflict the same sentence on the Canadian gay community, when we refuse to acknowledge the hostility they are subjected to on a daily basis, but instead have members of our government, who choose to inflame it.

Stephen Harper once claimed that his and and his follower's "values, are the real Canadian values".

Since when was hatred a Canadian value?


1. SACRIFICED? TRUTH OR POLITICS, By Larry Spencer, Kayteebella Productions, 2000, ISBN 13-9780978057404

Monday, August 22, 2011

Goodbye Jack Layton. You Will be Missed

Jack Layton passed away this morning, not shocking but terribly sad.

He has been a central figure in federal politics for almost a decade.

Despite my personal feelings, this man will be sorely missed. He fought the good fight in the House and in his personal life.

May he rest in peace.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Canadian Manifesto: 2. "Signaling" For Good and Evil

Messaging and carefully crafted language, has always played a key role in the neoconservative movement. From Leo Strauss's hidden dialogue [Plato] to Preston Manning's calculated ambiguity, speech is used not to inspire, but to manipulate, obscure, galvanize and even incite.

Michael Lindsay, in his book Faith in the Halls of Power, refers to an element of this as "signaling", and says that it is an important tool used by Evangelicals to send a message to other Evangelicals, without spooking secular society.

Not usually nefarious and often comforting, "signaling" sends "implicit, subtle, and often disguised messages" (1) to fellow believers.

From VeggieTales to Airport Signs

Lindsay provides several examples, beginning with the producers of the Christian children's series, VeggieTales.  Shown on NBC, Phil Vischer and Michael Nawrocki, the show's creators, were upset to learn that the network's policy forbid any references to God.

However, Vischer said that  he understood NBC's wish to remain religiously neutral, so instead incorporated signals, the most prominent being the wink.  "We wink when we talk about God.... It's a way for us to say [to the evangelical audience] 'We know you're still with us and thanks."' (1)  Does this explain Sarah Palin's infamous wink?

Another example of signaling comes from the popular Irish group U2.
U2, the popular rock band from Ireland, excels at signaling. With a record twenty-two Grammy awards, the musicians have used their public platform to advocate for various Christian concerns, including the Make Poverty History campaign and lead singer Bono's DATA campaign, focused on debt, AIDS, and trade in Africa.

In 1987, U2 released The Joshua Tree, which featured the No. 1 hit single ‑ "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." In both Hebrew and Aramaic, "Joshua" and "Jesus" are closely related, and the album title directly alludes to the cross of Jesus Christ.  The cover for the 2000 album All That You Can't Leave Behind, features an airport sign with 'j33-3," which alludes to Jeremiah 33:3.   As Bono explains, "That's Jeremiah 33:3. The Scripture is 'Call unto me, and will answer you.' It's celestial telephony. (1)
An example of signaling for good.  As Lindsay says: " If an entertainer is trying to mobilize fellow evangelicals to watch his movie or listen to her song, signaling can be an effective way to indicate their shared identity without potentially turning off non‑evangelicals."

A Northern European Welfare State, Huh?
"Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term..." Stephen Harper in 1997 speech to the Religious Right group, The Council for National Policy.
I've always been puzzled by that phrase in Harper's speech.  "Northern European welfare state".  Why "Northern European"  Most of us know that the welfare state refers to the social safety net, and is not exclusive to Northern Europe.

Francis Schaeffer, author of A Christian Manifesto, which has become the blueprint for the Religious Right movement, finally unlocks the mystery.

It is an example of signaling.

According to D. Michael Lindsay:
When a speaker cites Francis Schaeffer, [those] who do not recognize the name miss it, but for those in the know, it signals the speaker's evangelical allegiances. The message is subtle, but strong for those who can hear it. (1)
Stephen Harper did not have to cite Schaeffer, but those in the know certainly got it. From Schaeffer himself: 'We of Northern Europe (and we must remember that the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and so on are extensions of Northern Europe) ...' (2) 

The Nordic countries of course.  Schaeffer's son, in his book Crazy for God, reveals that the movement is about race as much as religion.  Sarah Palin plays the race card in her new book and the Reform Party was notorious for racial slurs, or what former Reform MP, Jan Brown, called "The rampant racism of the God squad." (3)

The following picture is quite telling:

Christians against people from Kenya, aka: black people.  However, the sign also speaks to something else.  Ignorance.  Look at how he spells 'forefathers'.

Schaeffer's Manifesto actually inspired the creation of the Council for National Policy (where Harper spoke), along with many other activist groups, including Focus on the Family, founded by James Dobson.  According to Schaeffer's son Frank, Dobson bought 100,000 copies of the Manifesto to distribute to his flock. (A Time for Anger)

FoF is a good one to focus on (pardon the pun), since it helps to merge us all into this Northern European enclave.  In 2005, the Montreal Gazette, using the financial reports of the parent company, discovered that Dobson had contributed 1.6 million dollars to the Canadian spin-off, once headed up by Stephen Harper's former chief of staff, Darrel Reid. (Reid is now with the Manning Centre)

Dobson also spent thousands of dollars, placing radio ads, with more than one hundred Canadian stations, against same-sex marriage, bolstering Stephen Harper, who was running on the same thing.

This isn't about their religious beliefs, which they are allowed to have, but the fact that powerful American organizations are interfering in our politics.

Turning to my bothers and sisters across the pond, (me signaling to my "comrades".  Wink, wink), they too are concerned with Dobson's meddling.

In Australia, the group was started by Glenn Williams, a fire and brimstone preacher, turned political activist.  Through Dobson, FofF is trying to establish censorship laws, along with the usual anti-abortion, anti-divorce, anti-gay rights, anti-evolution .... yada, yada, yada.

Heading up the censorship campaign in Australia, is Focus's Bill Muehlenberg. (In Canada, it's Charles McVety).  As Australian journalist  Peter Johnson points out (November 1, 2003), while FoF Australia poses as a family friendly organization, their goals are far more political.
Scratch the surface of FOFA, however, and a fully-developed Religious Right ideology is immediately laid bare. This becomes especially clear when we look at the question of censorship. FOFA publications regularly emphasise the addictive nature of pornography, comparing its effects to those of nicotine or alcohol (Family Forum, Feb. 1997, 1). They retail a range of myths and urban legends on the topic, such as the claim that the media were ultimately responsible for the Port Arthur massacre of 1996:  Should the music industry be allowed to promote music which upholds violence, rape, narcissism, murder and unsolicited drug-taking? Surely we cannot continue to separate a screen culture that celebrates evil from the level of violence and crime we are witnessing?!
Muehlenberg launched a campaign against a cereal manufacturer (Uncle Toby's), because they gave away as premiums, photos of Baywatch stars, including Pamela Sue Anderson.

In New Zealand, Dobson, as he did with Stephen Harper's campaign, directly funded opposition to a referendum that would have made beating your children a crime.
A group behind the "Vote No" bloc in the smacking referendum received around $1m over six years from a conservative American religious group.  That US organisation advocates a return to "Biblical values" and its founder says "a little bit of pain goes a long way" for children.

The disclosure comes as one of the country's top Anglican clergy has condemned the attitude of Christians who claim a "God-given right" to use corporal punishment against their children.  "I am concerned that a particular stance on child discipline has too often been characterised as 'the' Christian view," said the Very Rev Ross Day, Dean of Auckland's Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.

.... On the strength of the referendum vote, Focus on the Family is demanding that the so-called "smacking ban" be repealed. (4)
Don't forget Harper's speech to the Civitas Society, Canada's arm of the Council for National Policy:
"Even foreign policy had become a theo-con issue", he pointed out, driven by moral and religious convictions. “The truth of the matter is that the real agenda and the defining issues have shifted from economic issues to social values,” he said, “so conservatives must do the same. "  Arguing that the party "had to come up with tough, principled stands on everything from parents’ right to spank their children to putting 'hard power' behind the country’s foreign-policy commitments ... " (5)
A 'principled stand' in favour of child abuse.  If you read Dobson's work, he doesn't stop at a simple spanking.  He believes that Christian males must take dominion over all living things, including their wives and children.

In his book, The Strong-Willed Child, Dobson relates how he took dominion over his dog, a pet dachshund named Siggie, when the animal refused to get off the furry toilet seat and get into his bed.
"When I told Sigmund to leave his warm seat and go to bed, he flattened his ears and slowly turned his head toward me. He deliberately braced himself by placing one paw on the edge of the furry lid, then hunched his shoulders, raised his lips to reveal the molars on both sides, and uttered his most threatening growl. That was Siggie's way of saying. "Get lost!"  I had seen this defiant mood before, and knew there was only one way to deal with it. The ONLY way to make Siggie obey is to threaten him with destruction. Nothing else works. I turned and went to my closet and got a small belt to help me 'reason' with Mr. Freud." 
He goes on:
"What developed next is impossible to describe. That tiny dog and I had the most vicious fight ever staged between man and beast. I fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt. I am embarrassed by the memory of the entire scene. Inch by inch I moved him toward the family room and his bed. As a final desperate maneuver, Siggie backed into the corner for one last snarling stand. I eventually got him to bed, only because I outweighed him 200 to 12!"
A 200 pound man can take dominion over a 12 pound dog.  Isn't 'he the man'.  Fitting this horrendous tale to the discipline of children, Dobson explains:
"But this is not a book about the discipline of dogs; there is an important moral to my story that is highly relevant to the world of children. JUST AS SURELY AS A DOG WILL OCCASIONALLY CHALLENGE THE AUTHORITY OF HIS LEADERS, SO WILL A LITTLE CHILD -- ONLY MORE SO." (emphasis Dobson's)
All of us in 'Northern Europe' have reason to be alarmed.  Where Canada stands alone, is that we are the only country in this little group, whose media refuses to discuss Harper's involvement with this movement.

Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. speak of it as naturally as reporting the weather.

Here, just calling Harper a Straussian will get you fired.  Maybe Salutin should have winked when he said it.


1. Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite, By D. Michael Lindsay, Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-19-532666-6, p. 152-153

2. A Christian Manifesto, By Francis Schaeffer, Crossway Books, 1981, ISBN: 0-89107-233-0, p. 24-25

3. Hard Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, By Brooke Jeffrey, Harper-Collins, 1999, ISBN: 0-00 255762-2

4. US Funding for 'no' vote, By Matt Nippert, New Zealand Herald, August 23, 2009

5. Stephen Harper and the Theo-cons: The rising clout of Canada's religious right, By Marci McDonald, The Walrus, October

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Canadian Manifesto: 1. The Centre of the Universe

In 1933, a small group of religious leaders got together, via the post office, to establish a Humanist doctrine. According to Time Magazine (May 15, 1933):
Humanism used to be a good subject for parlor and dinner table discussions. Few people knew what it actually was or ' where literary Humanism left off and religious Humanism began. Nor did Humanism's expounders get together and codify their beliefs for popular enlightenment.(1)
Key leaders were often at odds over how to define the movement and what its key goals should be.

But that was about to change.
Last week, for the first time, the religious Humanists were on common ground. After discussing many questions (by letter) they had drawn up, signed and circulated a manifesto containing their articles of faith. More & more Humanists are to read the manifesto, sign it, make suggestions which may perhaps be incorporated after due consideration.(1)
Key elements included:
- The universe is self-existing, not created.

- Man is part of nature, product of his culture, his environment, his social heritage. The traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected.

- Humanism also rejects cosmic and supernatural "guarantees." The Humanist eschews theism, deism, modernism, "new thought'' and instead of feeling religious emotions concentrates on human life—labor, art, science, philosophy, love, friendship, recreation.

- Humanism is for "a socialized and co-operative economic order—a shared life in a shared world."

Its adherents say that it will: "Affirm life rather than deny it ... seek to elicit the possibilities of life, not flee from it ... establish the conditions of a satisfactory life for all, not merely for the few." (1)
How could you argue against this set of principles?

Yet argue they did. When the Humanist Manifesto, written primarily by Raymond Bragg (shown above) appeared, it created quite a sensation, because it challenged the principle of God being the centre of the universe.

Instead they embraced science, human compassion, and equality in a shared world.

The late Francis Schaeffer, author of A Christian Manifesto, that prompted the creation of the Religious Right/Moral Majority, has built a career challenging, what he refers to as "secular Humanism". He believed that all of our current problems are the result of not embracing God as the center of the universe.

He felt that if all law and governance was based on the Old Testament, all of our problems would disappear. He encouraged Christians to become confrontational, and did not rule out violence as a means to an end.
There does come a time when force, even physical force, is appropriate. The Christian is not to take the law into his own hands and become a law unto him­self. But when all avenues to flight and protest have closed, force in the defensive posture is appropriate. This was the situation of the American Revolution. The colonists used force in defending themselves. Great Britain, because of its policy toward the col­onies, was seen as a foreign power invading America. The colonists defended their homeland. As such, the American Revolution was a conservative counter­revolution. The colonists saw the British as the revo­lutionaries trying to overthrow the legitimate colonial governments. (2)
This certainly helps to explain the Tea Party and the Religious Right's obsession with guns.

When Stephen Harper's former Chief of Staff, Darrel Reid, suggested that our laws should be changed to reflect those in the Bible, the story pretty much ended there.

Reid is now with the Manning Centre, but continues his work with several current Harper MPs, toward Reconstructionism.

The media is doing us a grave injustice by not staying on top of this story. In the United States, after learning that Presidential hopeful, Michelle Bachmann, is a follower of Francis Schaeffer, their media is all over it.

Ryan Lizza wrote an in depth article for the New Yorker, under the heading Leap of Faith. In it he refers to Bachmann as "an ideologue of the Christian-conservative movement." A term once used to describe Stephen Harper, before he took the happy pills and became a "Tory".

Lizza reveals how the Bachmanns (Michelle and Marcus), experienced a "life-altering event" after watching Schaeffer's film series “How Should We Then Live?”
Schaeffer’s film series consists of ten episodes tracing the influence of Christianity on Western art and culture, from ancient Rome to Roe v. Wade. In the films, Schaeffer—who has a white goatee and is dressed in a shearling coat and mountain climber’s knickers—condemns the influence of the Italian Renaissance, the Enlightenment, Darwin, secular humanism, and postmodernism. He repeatedly reminds viewers of the “inerrancy” of the Bible and the necessity of a Biblical world view. “There is only one real solution, and that’s right back where the early church was,” Schaeffer tells his audience. “The early church believed that only the Bible was the final authority. What these people really believed and what gave them their whole strength was in the truth of the Bible as the absolute infallible word of God.” (3)
I've been watching the series and reading the book, and was surprised to find that chunks of his speeches have found their way into the vernacular of many members of the Harper government.

Including Harper himself, but I'm getting into that later.

The rise of Michelle Bachmann, has given the Americans an opportunity to discuss this movement and what it could mean to their future. Schaeffer is very clear on what fundamentalist Christians need to do.

And in his Christian Manifesto, he states that the movement must include Canada, Australia and New Zealand (p.24), if it has any hope of succeeding.

We're probably going to hear a lot more as the U.S. election campaign heats up, so I thought this a perfect time to put together an essay on Canada's Religious Right movement, that is being allowed to operate in almost total secrecy, simply because we are too squeamish to talk about religion.

But we have to remember, that this is a political movement, and one that could have a profound affect on who we are as Canadians.

We need to become part of the conversation since clearly we are to play an important role.

Marci McDonald had spent several years as a Washington correspondent, where she covered the rise of the Christian Right.

When she returned to Canada, she was shocked to discover that the same movement had embedded itself here. Like Ronald Reagan, Stephen Harper has moved these fundamentalists into the courts, the civil service and even the foreign service, creating a new office of religious freedom.

From her piece for Walrus Magazine: Stephen Harper and the Theo-cons: The rising clout of Canada's religious right:
"For Harper, the courtship of the Christian right is unlikely to prove an electoral one-night stand. Three years ago, in a speech to the annual Conservative think-fest, Civitas, he outlined plans for a broad new party coalition that would ensure a lasting hold on power. The only route, he argued, was to focus not on the tired wish list of economic conservatives or “neo-cons,” as they’d become known, but on what he called “theo-cons”—those social conservatives who care passionately about hot-button issues that turn on family, crime, and defence.

"Even foreign policy had become a theo-con issue, he pointed out, driven by moral and religious convictions. “The truth of the matter is that the real agenda and the defining issues have shifted from economic issues to social values,” he said, “so conservatives must do the same.

"Arguing that the party had to come up with tough, principled stands on everything from parents’ right to spank their children to putting “hard power” behind the country’s foreign-policy commitments ... "
McDonald would turn her piece into her best seller: The Armageddon Factor

However, the Canadian Manifesto, is about more than religion, but is intended to show how the American Neoconservative movement as a whole, is dictating how our country does business.

There are many questions that we need to ask ourselves, including:

Why did top Republican pollster, John Mclaughlin, personally handle Stephen Harper's political career?

Why did the National Citizens Coalition meet with Republican politicians to help draft strategy?

Why did Richard Nixon's magician, Art Finkelstein, work with the NCC for 16 years, guiding Stephen Harper in the art of destroying liberal democracy?

Milton Friedman from the Chicago School, spent a lifetime engineering the takeover of the economies of foreign nations. Why was he so interested in Canada, becoming a regular speaker at the Fraser Institute?

Why was Religious Right leader, Paul Weyrich, so keen to have Stephen Harper on the throne?

Why is a Goldman Sachs' executive, now the head of the Bank of Canada?

It's not hard to see that there is a plan for us, but unfortunately, we are not in the loop.

So maybe if I can create a Canadian Manifesto, as it might look if there is one locked away in the Republican Party HQs, we can at least talk about it.

Is this what we want for Canada?


1. Religion: Humanism on Paper, Time Magazine, May 15, 1933

2. A Christian Manifesto, By Francis Schaeffer, Crossway Books, 1981, ISBN: 0-89107-233-0, p. 117

3. Leap of Faith: The making of a Republican front-runner, By Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker, August 15, 2011

4. Stephen Harper and the Theo-cons: The rising clout of Canada's religious right, By Marci McDonald, The Walrus, October 2006

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How Canadians Forced the Republicans to Miss the Bus

The Neocons South of the border, are in a flap ... again.

Not satisfied with bringing their country to the brink of collapse with their silly posturing over raising the debt ceiling, they are now attacking Obama for riding in a bus.

Maybe it's just that he refuses to sit at the back.

The Secret Service has ordered two custom made buses from the Quebec-based manufacturer Prevost (Go Canada), at a cost of 1.6 million per.
This is an outrage that the taxpayers of this country would have to foot the bill so that the campaigner-in-chief can run around in his Canadian bus and act as if he is interested in creating jobs in our country,” the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, said Tuesday.

Other conservatives were snarkier. Wrote Dana Loesch, a “tea party” activist and CNN contributor, on Twitter on Tuesday, “Nothing says 'Let's tour America and talk about jobs!' than a big, black, hearse mobile of doom.”
As usual, they failed to do their homework (or go to school), because in 2004, George W. Bush also rode around in a bus, made by the same manufacturer.


It must be so tiring to be so ignorant.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to the Future as Canada Now Fights for King and Country

When Louis St. Laurent was acting as secretary of state for external affairs, he held a dinner party in honour of Ernest Bevin, then Great Britain's foreign secretary. At the end of the meal, Bevin got up and made a speech, praising Canada for standing beside Britain in her hour of need.
'His compatriots, he said, would never forget the way their cousins across the Atlantic had come to their assistance during the darkest days of World War 11.'

St Laurent was not impressed by the implication that Canada had entered the war out of loyalty to the mother country, rather than for reasons of principle. In his reply to Bevin he went out of his way to emphasize that Canada's declaration of war had been an independent decision made by the country's elected representatives, that it was prompted by the nation's determination to fight Nazism and had nothing whatever to do with helping Britain. (The Making of a Peacemonger: The Memoirs of George Ignatieff, By Sonja Sinclairp. 108)
That was an important stand, because Canada's foreign policy was based on what we felt was right at the time. And that same independence kept us out of Vietnam and Iraq, despite the fact that they were wars waged by our powerful neighbours to the South.
St Laurent believed that most Canadians wanted their country to contribute to world peace and better understanding among nations. (Sinclair)
The big news yesterday was that Canada will now be going back decades to "correct an historic mistake", fighting under the Royal Standard. Back to the time before we thought that we were no longer a British colony.

Silly us.

Stephen Harper said "king me" and so it was done.

A year ago, Liberal Sen. William Rompkey, wanted to change the name of our navy from Maritime Command to the Canadian Navy. I've always called them the Canadian Navy.

The "monarchists" sprang into action, insisting instead that we go back to the Royal Canadian Navy, which sparked an immediate response.
While everyone agrees the name Maritime Command is terrible, senators and witnesses are squaring off over whether to call it Royal or not.

Numerous retired members of the navy have suggested the rank-and-file don't want Royal in the name, and some senators believe it conjures up a colonial past that doesn't reflect the modern Canadian navy as independent
James Knox of the Times Colonist, writes that the name change will upset the United States, as Canada reclaims its independence.

Poor Jack. He doesn't get out much.

Since coming to power, Stephen Harper has slowly signed away our military sovereignty.

Operation "Shiprider" allows U.S. agents to patrol Canadian waters, and make arrests.

An agreement with their military, allows the U.S. to send troops across our border in the case of an emergency. One of those emergencies would be an indigenous protest over a joint venture like a pipeline or highway.

And the Border Security deal, locks us inside fortress North America. We can no longer refuse to go where the U.S. tells us to go.

If they want to invade Switzerland for their chocolate, we'll strap on the AK-47s and fondue pots, and keep Jenny Craig on standby.

We are no longer a sovereign nation, and invoking memories of our military past, only hides what is in store for our military future.

Former prime minister, Louis St. Laurent may have felt that "most Canadians wanted their country to contribute to world peace and better understanding among nations", but that is the polar opposite to what Stephen Harper believes.

The Reformers back in the day, hated the new Canadian flag, believing that we should bring back the Red Ensign. So is that the next step?

Or maybe a blue flag, with the image of King Steve?

Anything is possible.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neocons Stole my Country

Maurice Vellacott's administrative assistant, Timothy Bloedow, once accused me of hating Christians. This was in response to my criticism of his critique of Dr. John Stackhouse's review of Marci McDonald's book: The Armageddon Factor.

(Did you get all that?)

Though Prof. Stackhouse was critical of McDonald for focusing too much on the Apocalyptic nature of some religious groups, he agreed with her concern for reconstructionism. "There are Christians about whom even other Christians should be wary, especially those who talk about things like theocracy and Christian government."

Bloedow runs a website called, promoting just those things that we should be wary of.

In his new book Faith in the Halls of Power, D. Michael Lindsay reveals that the Moral Majority/Christian Right, was inspired by Francis Schaeffer, who ran a commune in Switzerland, promoting a second American revolution. This time they would not be taking on the British, but the Humanists, reclaiming the United States for Christianity.

Their brand of Christianity, where the Bible is not just the Truth, but the only Truth. Schaeffer writes that 'If we accept part of the Bible as a myth, we might as well be consequent and accept the whole Bible as a myth. Why, I can have more respect for a Teddy boy who tells me that killing a friend with a bicycle chain is all right. He at least has a philosophy.'

There is no compromise.

Schaeffer's commune became the launching pad for the Moral Majority/Christian Right. He encouraged his followers to become active, starting the anti-abortion movement, as a test for the power of pugnaciousness. Presidential hopeful (I hope not), Michelle Bachmann, claims that Schaeffer influenced her own views on abortion.

Lindsay tells us that while many Evangelical leaders initially agreed with the necessity for such a movement, others soon lost the taste:

Even though the Moral Majority succeeded in galvanizing evangelicals in the 1980s, as early as 1985, leaders within the group were growing uneasy about the alliance between religion and politics. Moral Majority vice president Cal Thomas resigned from the organization to pursue a career as a columnist. When I interviewed Thomas, he told me that evangelical political action at the time was — and according to him still is — "operating in the flesh and attaching God's name to it.... It's doomed to futility."

In 1996, Thomas and evangelical pastor Ed Dobson (no relation to Focus on the Family's James Dobson) wrote Blinded by Might, in which they asked, "How can [evangelicals] impose a morality on people that you can't impose on yourself?" Citing rampant materialism, sexual promiscuity, and evangelical hubris, Thomas and Dobson renounced their involvement with the Religious Right.
(Lindsay p.56)
But the worst of them kept going, amassing fortunes, feeding off people's fears and prejudices.

Surprisingly, however, the most scathing denunciation came from Schaeffer's own son, Francis Jr.

In his book Crazy for God, he suggests that the movement is one of rampant racism, ignorance, perversion and greed.

Most of us would agree, but as expected, the right-wing noise machine sprung into action, launching attacks on their guru's son.

Everyone Has a Manifesto

Geert Wilders has a manifesto. Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist, has a manifesto (which is not unlike that of Wilders).

Francis Schaeffer himself, argued that the Communists had a manifesto and the Humanists had a manifesto, so the Christians should also have a manifesto.

A written statement declaring their intentions, motives, and views. So he wrote one, which became the guide for the Moral Majority/Religious Right.

After researching this movement for several years now, I've determined that somewhere there is a Canadian Manifesto. There has to be.

The connections between the Conservative-Reform-Alliance Party and the American Neoconservative/Religious Right movement, are too profound to be random.

So I've decided to make that the title of this particular body of research, as I organize my writings and thoughts. (Is that possible?)

The Canadian Manifesto will lay bare the war on women, gays and ethnics, and the attempts to turn Canada into a theocracy. It will also reveal how the real power in Canada has been sent South. The final chapter of Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine.

Not a conspiracy theory, but in the words of Joe Friday, "just the facts". However, I will not change the names to protect anyone, since none are innocent.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

When in Doubt, Blame the Poor

British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has responded to the rioting in London over his budget, by blaming parents and kids who live in social housing. He promises to evict, and allow landlords to evict these "criminals" to teach them a lesson.

Across the country, they are listening.
Several councils - including Manchester, Wandsworth and Salford - have said they will take action to evict tenants if they are found to be involved in rioting.

Ravi Govindia, the leader of Wandsworth Council, said: "People who live in council homes should be under no illusions about the fate that awaits them if they are found to have been involved in Monday night's destruction and thuggery."
Poor people protest actions to make them poorer, and they are being punished by being thrown into the street.

Cameron makes Margaret Thatcher look like Mother Theresa. His critics were right when they said that he would pander to the rich. A prep boy who has no idea how many are forced to live.

Community leaders are right when they say:
Regarding the cause of the riots, community leaders say inequality, cuts to public services by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government and youth unemployment fed into the violence in London, Birmingham, Manchester and other multi-ethnic cities.
Already volatile with the English Defense League attacking Muslims, there could be a small civil war. And like Rob Ford in Toronto, one of the places where Cameron plans to cut, is on policing. But not to worry:
Defending planned police funding cuts against criticism from opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband, Cameron proposed more police powers ...
"More police powers". That worked so well at the G-20 in Toronto.

In Philadelphia, young rioters have also taken to the streets, prompting curfews and other measures. Most of the rioters are black youth, but as many are saying, this is not about race. It's about the growing gap between the "have" and "have nots".

The by-product of neoconservatism.

In Philadelphia they are targeting upscale dining and entertainment venues. One woman almost choked when her diamond earring fell into her Foie gras.

In Toronto, Rob Ford is taking preemptive measures, by also reducing the police force, while making threats of what will happen if you oppose him.

His sidekick, Giorgio Mammoliti, claims that any dissenters will be deemed to be "Communists", and he is already sniffing them out.

I think Ford would love nothing better than an all out riot in Toronto. He and his new BFF, Stephen Harper, would probably host a Toga Party, where they'll watch the mayhem on a wide-screen TV, while engaging in a food fight.

Sorry for all those not old enough to remember the cult classic, Animal House, but for those who do, be honest. Does Rob Ford not remind you of John Belushi's "Bluto" Blutarsky?

I keep expecting him to appear in a Toga with a wreath of vines on his head.

Mammoliti makes a perfect "Stork", suspected of having brain damage, and Stephen Harper a shoe in to play the clumsy "Flounder".

Only now all grown up (sort of), they prefer more powerful ammunition. A spoonful of mashed potatoes, thrown at the poor, will only invoke accusations of pandering to the hungry from their neocon friends. It would reek of Communism, for sure.

How do you like neoconservatism so far?