Friday, October 17, 2008

Harper And The Theocons - Reloaded

Following up on this older post ...

Just an update on Harper the Theocon and how his fellow fundamentalist Christians impact on our politics (just a couple of examples here and here). I wonder if we're already well engaged on the pathway which may someday give us a Prime Minister Pontificate, not unlike the President Pontificate of the U.S.A.?

"God bless Canada" indeed - in other words: here's additional fair warning ...


Evangelical Christians support Harper 4 – 1
Harperites see evangelicals and the religious right as essential to the conservative coalition that they want to build.

by Dennis Gruending


An exit poll conducted by Ipsos-Reid following the January 2006 Canadian election indicated that, outside of Quebec, people who attend regularly at evangelical churches were four times more likely to vote for the Conservatives than for Liberals or the New Democratic Party (NDP). This result was markedly different from that of Catholics and mainline Protestants, whose vote was divided much more evenly among the parties.

A question in the waning days of the 2008 campaign is whether evangelicals would continue to provide overwhelming support to Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. Evangelicals account for only eight to 10 percent of the population but their vote could well be important in close election races, particularly in suburbs and smaller cities. A second significant question was how Catholics and mainline Protestants will distribute their vote.

Professor Barry Kay, a political scientist at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, says the large sample in the Ipsos-Reid poll makes it a useful analytical tool. The poll was able to show, for example, that the vote among mainline Protestants in the United and Anglican churches was similar to that of Catholics.

Those Catholics who were frequent church frequent attenders gave 36 percent of their vote to the Conservatives, 34 percent to the Liberals and 24 percent to the NDP. In the United Church, the numbers were 38 percent, 34 percent, and 23 percent respectively. Interestingly, Catholic, United Church and Anglican adherents voted for the Conservatives in roughly the same ratio as the voting population as a whole. The vote by Catholic, Anglican and United Church adherents for the Liberals and the NDP was actually four to six percentage points higher than it was among voters as a whole.

The results among evangelical voters, however, were radically different. "It is among the smaller churches, many of them more conservative doctrinally," Prof Kay writes, "where there is a much stronger trend to voting Conservative, by proportions approaching 4 to 1 Conservative to Liberal in 2006."

Among evangelicals, 63 percent voted for the Conservatives, compared to 16 percent for the Liberals and 17 percent for the NDP. Prof Kay said in a telephone interview that polling in both the US and Canada has shown consistently that most evangelicals vote for the Republicans or the Conservatives. Polls undertaken by the Pew Forum, an American research institute, show that in the US white evangelicals are the single most supportive constituency for the Republicans.

A flurry of American media stories in 2007 and early this year reported on divisions and a changing of the guard among evangelicals in the US. An emerging group of leaders wanted to embrace issues such as poverty and climate change in addition to the old staples such as abortion, same sex marriage and the teaching of intelligent design (creationism) in schools.

But Pew now reports that any such movement appears to have stalled. "The selection of Sarah Palin as the Republican Party's vice presidential candidate and Catholic bishops' criticism of Joe Biden's comments on when life begins have increased the attention paid to culture war issues," Pew says in a recent posting.

In this country, the largest evangelical organization is the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. The EFC's election kit pays attention to matters such as poverty and climate change, even as it maintains its traditional emphasis on issues such as abortion.

There is no hint of nuance among other organizations, however, including the Canada Family Action Coalition, Campaign Life and a group called Defend Traditional Marriage and Family. They continue to insist that the issues such as abortion, euthanasia and same sex marriage, are "non-negotiable" and should be ranked above all others in the political debate. It's worth noting that these organizations are not members of the EFC.

Mr Harper sees evangelicals and the religious right as essential to the conservative coalition that he wants to build. He has courted them by chopping women's programs that many of his supporters considered feminist; shelving a universal child care program negotiated by the previous Liberal government and provincial-territorial leaders; allowing several private members bills to come forward regarding abortion; and presenting legislation to censor publicly-supported film projects that the government deemed morally offensive.


(Keep reading ...)

2 comments:

  1. I don't trust Harper to back down on the censorship clause in Bill C-10. Nor do I trust the alternative to Bill C-484 that was proposed by Nicholson prior to the election. I addressed the fact that they used non-committal terms, "weasel words" in fact.

    With the Liberal party in disarray, we are probably going to witness an even more disastrous session than the last one (which was frankly pretty pathetic). Add to that, the economic crisis that has finally been acknowledged by Harper post-campaign will result in massive cuts to government spending. He said so himself.

    Which opposition party will have the courage to tell Harper to abandon Afghanistan and his expansive military plan because it is too costly? Which opposition party will fight tooth and nail to prevent the massive bloodletting we are going to see? I don't see the Liberals doing that. And a Bloc/NDP coalition isn't going to do squat to stop Harper from imposing his "mandate" (which he seems to invent on the fly).

    I can just picture the next election. Layton will campaign on the fact that he stood up for kitchen tables and voted against Harper's cuts. Meanwhile, he'll have to create a platform that includes tax credits and vouchers for those who can't afford private health care and arms length regulatory boards to review the conduct of private prisons.

    ReplyDelete
  2. BY: "I can just picture the next election. Layton will campaign on the fact that he stood up for kitchen tables and voted against Harper's cuts. Meanwhile, he'll have to create a platform that includes tax credits and vouchers for those who can't afford private health care and arms length regulatory boards to review the conduct of private prisons."

    Bleak outlook indeed, eh?

    (sigh)

    ReplyDelete

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