The 3Rs Of Theo-Cons: Religious, Right, And Rude – articles/web exclusive
December 13th 2010.   David Mclaren

If there was any doubt that the Religious Right was alive and well and living in Canada, a recent column by a fellow by the name of Dennis Thompsett in the Owen Sound Sun Times should put that doubt to rest.

Of course he’s by no means the only marker of the Religious Right’s ascendancy in Canada. There are a whole lot of others and Marci McDonald chronicles them well in her book, The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada. And he’s not the only social conservative to get media time: Don Cherry dissed liberals during Robert Ford’s mayoral inauguration—so much for bipartisanship at Toronto City Hall. Julian Fantino trash-talked the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in his biography, which might help explain the mess on the streets of Toronto during the G20.

But Thompsett is the first columnist I’ve seen in a mainstream newspaper that so flagrantly follows the theo-con mantra: we liberals are godless secular humanists, as Thompsett insists, and the “minions of Satan,” as Ann Coulter calls us (although I don’t think we can be both); the media are our handmaidens (has he readMaclean’s lately, or the National Post?); global warming is a either a hoax or a signal to get ready for The Rapture (yes, you can have your cake and eat it too); Rush Limbaugh is a hero (for mocking Michael J Fox, I guess) and Sarah Palin is presidential material (words fail me).

Throw all this into a bottle, add a liberal dose (no pun intended) of persecution complex, shake and you have the kind of electric kool-aid that the Religious Right is guzzling just a few miles south of us and now, it appears, right here in River City. Read Marci McDonald’s The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada for a detailed report on how well theo-cons have knitted themselves and their social conservative agenda into the Canadian political fabric.

Chris Hedges, in his book, American Fascists, does a good job of laying out the Christian Right’s philosophy and includes a liberal (darn that word) sprinkling of telling quotes from their books and leaders. Biology: God’s Living Creation is a creationist textbook used in Christian high schools that teaches students to prepare “for war, against satanic forces that lie incubating within America’s secular, evolutionist, materialistic, godless society, forces getting ready to begin a new round of mass exterminations, this time of American Christians.”

And here’s how Benny Hinn, a popular healer, lambasted one of his liberal critics: “Sometimes I wish God would give me a Holy Ghost machine gun. I’d blow your head off!” Presumably, Benny would be Christian enough to raise him up again.

Hedges is an ordained Presbyterian minister and throughout his book he gives an informed critique of Christian Right theology. There is, for example, no evidence in scripture for Hinn’s Holy Ghost machine gun and, by the way, also none for Monty Python’s Holy Hand Grenade. (Irony alert: I’m being facetious about the weapons). But not about the theology—there appears to be very little solid scriptural basis for some of the things the Religious Right believe, The Rapture for one.

Liberals are not the only ones in their cross-hairs. They blast away at anyone they disagree with: proponents of prison reform don’t care about victims of crime; opponents of the war in Iraq or Afghanistan don’t care about our troops; anyone who doesn’t share their own, rather narrow set of values doesn’t care about family. You should hear what they say about homosexuals. What was it Jesus said to the mob about to stone an adulteress? “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

How is Dennis Thompsett so self-righteously certain in his own list of people to leave behind? By a “Great Leap of Faith” he says. Faith seems to be the one thing that sustains most of those in the Religious Right. Well, faith will get you only so far says Paul: “if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”

The loving Jesus I know might be in their theology somewhere, but if he’s there, he is keeping a low profile. I’ve looked, but I can’t find the Jesus who refused to pick and choose whom he saved, who talked with prostitutes and priests with equal respect, and who healed even the servants of Centurions.

Now I’m not about to go into what kind of Christian I might be or even if I am. Neither I nor the state has any business in the bedrooms or the pews of the nation, and vice versa. But as soon as people like Dennis Thompsett judge me from the pulpit of their own brand of religion, or when government begins to craft public policy based on scripture, then I will stand on the steps of their church and say, “I protest.”

Because that’s where Ann Coulter, Jerry Falwell, George Bush and their Canadian copy cats leave the looney land of truthiness and cross into territory much more dangerous. As soon as they put down reason and reasonableness to denounce others’ ideas about God and what makes a righteous society in their editorials, their books, their sermons, public policy and legislation, they cease to be curmudgeonly prophets and become bludgeoning ideologues. It’s not godless liberals we have to worry about anymore—they’re a spent force anyway. It’s God-smacked theo-cons.

And that begs a question: who will answer them? We liberals so love the Constitution that we would not want their Charter right to free speech violated. (I know, how secularly human of us.) But they do need to be spoken to, sharply, as school-yard bullies do. And that, I think, is a job for main-stream Christians. Over to you venerable reverends.

David McLaren is a freelance writer living at Neyaashiinigmiing on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario.

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