Sunday, October 7, 2012

Canadian Theocracy

For several years when current Prime Minister Stephen Harper was becoming prominent in the federal political landscape and then was leader of the opposition, there was a feeling that he had a hidden agenda that was undesirable to most Canadians in that it was regressive socially and dominated by antiquated religious dogma. The best trick Harper managed to pull was to get the public to forget about that worry and actually elect him to the highest office in the country. How he did so was by using two words: "jobs" and "economy". Stephen Harper is smart enough to realize that money makes the world go around. You are not going to get elected in Canada by talking about how gays shouldn't marry, about how abortion is wrong, and about how we should generally be a "Christian nation with good family values", whatever that means. That rhetoric might work in Republican dominated states south of the border, but not in a country like Canada that is dominated politically by the main socially progressive cities.

But, most people do care about money and about having a good job, even if they already have a good job. For some reason, when a politician talks about jobs and the economy over and over and over again like a broken record, even those people who have lots of money and a secure job start to listen and start to believe that maybe he's their best bet in the Prime Minister's office. And so, to make a long story short, Stephen Harper and his gang of religious Reform Party (Americans can read this as Tea Party) wingnuts achieved a small majority government in 2011.

And then, as surely as a leopard that has coloured over its spots with some cheap water based paint, the jobs and economy paint because to wear off and the real spots began to show through.

First, it was the Office of Religious Freedom, purportedly established at great expense to Canadian taxpayers, to promote religious freedom in a world in which religion is under attack from all sorts of places. But, of course, this office was solely intended to promote Christianity. Photo ops with the foreign minister were taken with the pope and not with imams or the Dalai Lama. Comments by readers in the popular media were overwhelmingly against this office on two counts: it was a waste of tax payers money by a government that promised fiscal restraint; and secondly it was pretty obvious that it was a thinly veiled and politically spun attempt to spread Christianity with no regard for other religions, never mind those with no religion.

Now, the Conservative government has boldly cancelled the contracts of any religious counsellor for inmates who is not Christian. Therefore, if you are a federal prisoner and happen to be Muslim or Jewish, you can only expect counselling to come from a Christian counsellor. The Muslim or Jewish counsellor you previously had, to help with your rehabilitation and help get you ready for society again, is gone. Of course, every Christian on earth has the goal of increasing the number of Christians, of converting people to the "good news". There are varying degrees of how blatant Christians are with their proselytizing, but a good Christian can hardly claim to not care that their fellow human is headed of to an eternity of hell. No, whether public or private, they want you to convert to Christianity.

Maybe this is simply a voting tactic. Maybe Stephen Harper realizes that most of his votes come from undereducated redneck conservative Christians and therefore the more of them he can create in the voter pool the better his chances of re-election. Watch next for a new law that limits immigration into Canada to places that are crazy fundamentalist Christian. If you are from the deep south or the mid-west of the U.S., well come on in. If you're from Afghanistan or France, well not so much.

But, all joking aside, this is a very frightening trend. Stephen Harper never grew out of his immature, self-serving, Bronze Aged secret agenda. He just figured out that the average Canadian wasn't going to buy it wholesale and so he had to really bury it until he got elected. Harper stopped making all his ridiculous statments about gay marriage, homosexuality, and abortion for a few years, focused on the economy and jobs in his election campaigns, finally got elected when the 65% of the electorate that hates him divided their votes between other parties, and then brought in his crazy theocratic reform.

This all illustrates a characteristic of Christianity that is absolutely deadly in politics: close-mindedness. Christians all believe they are 100% right. They have been told by God what life is all about and what is right and what is wrong, so when they get in positions of power nothing else really matters. If God didn't mention the environment in the Bible, then anything to do with care for the environment must just be some evil anti-God made-up conspiracy and can safely be ignored. If God tells you homosexuality is wrong, then it doesn't really matter how enlightened your society has become on human rights, you can just plough ahead and try to make it illegal because that is what's right. (See American politics for more examples of this type of bull-headed dogmatic "leadership". George Bush was a walking example of it. Never mind that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and that the whole world thinks I'm wrong for invading Iraq, God told me to do it so I'm right). Can you imagine bringing this type of 100% right attitude into any other scenario such as a marriage, a workplace, a friendship? Disaster. Just like when religious people bring their stubborn and ignorant dogma into politics.

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