politics,  religion

Progressive Christian response to the book: Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada

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The Armageddon Factor by Marci McDonaldI’m reading the book The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada. This alarming book traces the interconnectedness of mega-preachers and certain Canadian politicians. It talks about how the religious right are getting organized pouring money into the infostructure to train young people to take on government and beaurocratic positions, including in 2009  more than $26 million in public funds going to private Christian colleges as part of the economic stimulus package. (This wasn’t business as usual. James Turk, executive director of Canadian Association of University Teachers is quoted as saying “The fact that this money is going to private institutions – and fundamental Christian ones at that – is something we haven’t seen in this country before.”)

It talks about religious political activism including 4MYCanada.ca, and the big tour events put on by its director Faytene Kryskow (now Faytene Grasseschi). Here’s a description of the end of her speil at Missionfest:

“Imagine an army of young people five million strong,” she says. “Imagine their passion to arise as a youth force that effectively decided who would get elected to political office – a force so powerful that it literally began to change their nation.” Her audience is warming to her message when it takes a bizzare turn. “This actually happened,” Kryskow says. “They called themselves the Hitler Youth and they changed the face of their nation and the world.” As her listeners sit in stunned silence, she delivers her closing call to arms: “If they could mobilize their cause to become that might with the power of evil backing them,” she tells the crowd, “how much more could we accomplish with the power of God backing us up?”

I wish I could remind her that the Hitler Youth were also convinced they had the power of God backing them, or that the incredible strenght of that organization worked partly by state mechanism including the ability to disband all other youth groups and take children away from parents who refused to allow their children to join the movement, but I know all that is beyond the point. She believes God is more powerful than evil and if evil could do that, they obviously can do more.

I think of this clip from Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” where the staff are practicing for their mock debates and Maggie starts ranting about how insulting it is that people would reduce God to a “party hack who endorses candidates.”

I’m like Maggie. I feel my faith is insulted by the comparison and I know that Christians need to stand up and challenge this.

But I’m also scared. I’m scared that the infostructure is being put in place, and while the left might be enjoying watching the Duffy and Ford scandals, the self-destruction of the right wing spokespeople won’t solve anything if the religious right can become viable power-dealers.  Which will have more power – secular left-wing Leadnow.ca or religious rightwing 4MyCanada.ca?

Religious beliefs matter. It matters if a politician believes in dominionism, the idea that God has given humans dominion over all natural things.  Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott’s legislative assistant, Timothy Bloedow  wrote that:  “The environmental movement treats man as a cancer, a virus, and a blight on the Earth. Environmentalism represents the hatred of man and, by extension, of the God whose image man bears.” Is this the kind of guy we want advising politicians? This misrepresents both Christianity and environmentalism, as they can go hand-in-hand embracing the idea that humans are called on to protect God’s creation (created, of course, over billions of years…).

Yet we need to take others views into consideration. We need to make space within the left-wing for respectful religious discussion. We need to acknowledge that environmentalist conversations does become insulting at the point where it suggests people’s children are a blight upon the earth, just another burden. We need to be compassionate for those who are willing to wrestle with how to reconcile their faith with changing social norms. We need to take seriously the concerns some people have with regards to things like euthenasia, so that those who are scared of it do not feel pushed into the Conservative camp.

And we need to organize. We need to be willing to contribute money towards the news sources that give us access to the information we need (such as http://sgnews.ca/), and towards the lobby organizations (such as www.canadians.org) that do the type of work we need done. The right wing are busy training their youth to lobbiest, we need to learn from the other organizers. (http://www.uppingtheanti.org/, http://alltogethernow.nupge.ca/, http://talkingradical.ca/)


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  • MoS

    I am a fierce advocate of separation of church and state. I also support freedom of religion but only so long as it incorporates freedom from religion. Any religion that seeks to insinuate itself in the body politic forfeits a degree of that freedom of religion and makes itself fair game. They can’t have it both ways. Another blogger recently wrote that a religion is like a penis. It’s great that you have one but that’s no excuse to wave it in my face.

    • ChristyK

      Okay, there’s so much to unpack here in your comment. First of all, my understanding is that the right wing Christians know that the public has a knee jerk reaction wanting freedom from religion, so they’re starting to coach a lot of their message and their activism in other ways. They are using their religious infostructure, and the ability to recruit others through their religious networks, in order to lobby for their political views, but then they try to sell and describe the political views to the public in different ways. So they used their church networks to share their disapproval of Bill 279 (for example) and they’re going to be inspired by their religious objection to transgenderedism, but they will present it publically as “the bathroom bill” and argue the problem with it is allowing sexual preditors access to little girls washroom space. So its not as easy as saying seperate church and state, because technically, is one infiltrating the other? We cannot ask religious people to not allow their religion to influence them, and we cannot ask religious people to never speak to one another… we can reject their use of religious arguments publically, but then we’re just stuck with this situation where they’re giving targeted messages to other believers and different messages to the nonbelievers. They can keep us out of the conversations, so to speak, but they’re still going to be having those conversations and we can’t stop them, so we might as well at least know what they’re talking about and perhaps learn some of the language and arguments for arguing back.
      I think the blog post you’re mentioning about religion being like a penis is my previous one: http://housefulofchaos.com/religion/ though I was arguing against the saying. I actually think is a mistake to argue that everyone should keep their religion private. I wrote more about that: http://housefulofchaos.com/skim-reading-not-recommended-on-what-it-means-to-be-hesitantly-christian/

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