This past weekend I protested at Missions Fest, an Evangelical Christian missions conference in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish Territories.
It was a big change for me. Since the mid-80s, I had attended nearly every year that I lived in Canada. During the 1990s, I volunteered as a Shuttle Bus Driver and Seminar Host. It was Missions Fest that helped convince me to complete a seminary degree (Cross Cultural Ministries at Trinity Western University in Langley) and take my family to China as a missionary.
Every year I had eagerly walked around the numerous booths in the main hall, conversing with reps of various orgs: mission agencies, schools, summer camps, Christian booksellers, advocacy groups, recovery homes, etc. I had also attended many of the seminars and plenary sessions.
So what was I doing standing in front of Canada Place, Vancouver, where the conference was held, playing my guitar and holding protest signs? Why the change of heart from Missions Fest supporter to protester?
THE REASONS FOR THE PROTEST ARE ALL IN THE SIGNS
The signs I carried on Fri Jan 25 5 – 9 pm and Sat Jan 26 9 am – 2:30 pm reveal some of the “beefs” I have against Evangelicals:
MEANING: Evangelicalism is rotten to the core, mainly because it has sold out to the culture of Money-worship, environmental destruction, violence and war, oppression of minorities, gays, indigenous peoples, the physically and mentally challenged, low or no-income folks, etc. In general, Evangelicalism makes alliances with the rich and powerful. Evangelicals have strayed far away from Jesus’ real teachings about loving Yahweh and neighbour, especially the downtrodden. They are a wealthy, self-satisfied group, “at ease in Zion”, as the Old Testament prophet Amos once remarked (Amos 6:1).
Question: If Evangelicalism in Turtle Island (Canada & the US) has been completely compromised, and is like a diseased hospice patient waiting to die, how can you export missionaries? It’s like China exporting tainted toys or milk products. Only the healthy can export agents of healing and blessing.
Western culture and Christianity’s proximity is not an accident. The culture, in fact, has been created in part by Christians, along with their atheist / agnostic / humanist / Deist cohorts. Whenever a Western missionary sets foot in a foreign land, Western culture is automatically imported. There is no escape.
Not only do Christians both intentionally and often unknowingly promote their Western cultural values, but they also do a great PR job for the economic and political masters of Western countries. In the 500+ years of European global expansion, Christian missions have been at the forefront of exporting Western culture and its ideals. They ensure that the Western worldview is transmitted to the foreign lands, which inevitably become incorporated into Western political and economic empires.
Western Christians angrily deny this. But have they read history, especially from non-Evangelical apologists? few have. And fewer raise their voices against the collaboration of Christians with their own political and business leaders, who are all too eager to set up shop overseas.
The process of globalisation is as follows: first get skilled in oppressing your own land’s poor, then once you’ve perfected it, export the oppression.
Quite ironic, seeing how Jesus came to earth to be the “Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14): to tell the poor good news, to heal the broken-hearted, to give prisoners the message of freedom and blind people the message of restored sight, to liberate the oppressed, and announce the year of Yahweh’s favour” (Luke 4:18-19).
MEANING: Stephen Harper and his Conservatives make up the ruling party of Canada at this point in time. And they are the most tyrannical despots we have ever had here: fewer human rights, environmental controls and jobs, more pollution and foreign contract workers, etc. Basically, we are heading toward Fascism. And the Evangelicals, much like their predecessors in Germany in the 1930s and 40s, are playing right along with it.
Check out Marci McDonald’s The Armageddon Factor. Here’s a intro:
. . . Award-winning journalist Marci McDonald draws back the curtain on the mysterious world of the right-wing Christian nationalist movement in Canada and its many ties to the Conservative government of Stephen Harper.
To most Canadians, the politics of the United States — where fundamentalist Christians wield tremendous power and culture wars split the country — seem too foreign to ever happen here. But The Armageddon Factor shows that the Canadian Christian right — infuriated by the legalization of same-sex marriage and the increasing secularization of society — has been steadily and stealthily building organizations, alliances and contacts that have put them close to the levers of power and put the government of Canada in their debt.
Determined to outlaw homosexuality and abortion, and to restore Canada to what they see as its divinely determined destiny to be a nation ruled by Christian laws and precepts, this group of true believers has moved the country far closer to the American mix of politics and religion than most Canadians would ever believe.
McDonald’s book explores how a web of evangelical far-right Christians have built think-tanks and foundations that play a prominent role in determining policy for the Conservative government of Canada. She shows how Biblical belief has allowed Christians to put dozens of MPs in office and to build a power base across the country, across cultures and even across religions.
“What drives that growing Christian nationalist movement is its adherents’ conviction that the end times foretold in the book of Revelation are at hand,” writes McDonald. “Braced for an impending apocalypse, they feel impelled to ensure that Canada assumes a unique, Scripturally ordained role in the final days before the Second Coming — and little else.”
The Armageddon Factor shows how the religious right’s influence on the Harper government has led to hugely important but little-known changes in everything from foreign policy and the makeup of the courts to funding for scientific research and social welfare programs like daycare. And the book also shows that the religious influence is here to stay, regardless of which party ends up in government.
For those who thought the religious right in Canada was confined to rural areas and the west, this book is an eye-opener, outlining to what extent the corridors of power in Ottawa are now populated by true believers. For anyone who assumed that the American religious right stopped at the border, The Armageddon Factor explains how US money and evangelists have infiltrated Canadian politics.
This book should be essential reading for Canadians of every religious belief or political stripe. Indeed, The Armageddon Factor should persuade every Canadian that, with the growth of such a movement, the future direction of the country is at stake.
Here are some links:
60+% of Evangelicals voted for Harper. And most STILL support him. Why?
A few reasons Harper has pleased Evangelicals:
1. Strong support for Israel, and antagonism toward Palestinians
2. Cancellation of funding for full-time non-Christian prison chaplains
What Evangelicals don’t realise, and what a close friend of mine in Saskatchewan, who happens to be a prison chaplain, is that the Evangelicals will have to serve each inmate according to that prisoner’s religious preference. Which means an Evangelical will be reading The Book of Shadows to Wiccan / Neo-pagan prisoners ; )
3. Worship of Money: Consumerism, Capitalism, Big Business, Marketing, PR, Development, Growth, i.e, bowing to the Golden Calf (Wall St Bull)
Yes, this is the Evangelical specialty. After all, God wants His children to “prosper and be in health, even as their souls prosper” (3 John 1:2). King’s Kids deserve the best, right? Anything else other than hardcore Capitalism and its accompanying adoration of wealth accumulation is suspect.
4. Disdain for the environment
Ah, Harper has so much in common with Evangelicals. After all, Jesus is coming soon. He will destroy the earth and make a new one. So who cares if our grandkids are choking on toxic air or food, or we ourselves are dying of cancer due to electro-magnetic radiation from all the machinery we use daily, or the chemicals we inhale due to lowering workplace standards?
Harper cut Canada out of the Kyoto Climate Agreement. After all, he and his Conservative Party members and supporters have a personal stake in the Tar Sands of Alberta, Canada’s El Dorado.
5. Selling out Canada to the US and China
Why not? The US is mostly Evangelical, and China is rapidly converting to Evangelicalism. I know, I was in Beijing for 6 years. Maybe their party will eventually become the Christian-Capitalist Party of China. Don’t expect their human rights to improve any though. Rather, we can all anticipate Canada and the US moving into a situation where we lose our freedom of speech, assembly, movement, etc. The US & Them scenario will become Big Business Vs. Everyone Else. And Evangelicals wish to stay on the winning side, don’t they?
To finish off, here’s an article from a Canadian Evangelicals who also deplores Harper for supporting the demise of our country. He is a journalist named Andrew Nikiforuk. He discusses a take on Harper by “Dr. David Gushee, a distinguished professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University and a Holocaust scholar. The evangelical Christian is also one of the drafters of the 2006 Evangelical Climate Initiative. It declared climate change a serious threat to Creation that demands an ethical Christian response”. Here is a snippet:
Beware ‘the new hypocrite’
In a 2010 interview, Gushee, a brilliant and passionate Christian, detailed the basic tenets of “evangelical climate skepticism.” He said there were seven main points and argued that they had poisoned the Republican Party. These tenets not only explain startling developments in Canada but should raise the hair on the neck of every thinking citizen regardless of their faith:
1. Disdain for the environmental movement
2. Distrust of mainstream science in general
3. Distrust of the mainstream media
4. Loyalty to the party
5. Libertarian economics as God’s will (God is opposed to government regulation or taxation
6. Misunderstanding of divine sovereignty (God won’t allow us to ruin creation)
7. Unreconstructed Dominion theology (God calls on humans to subdue and rule creation)
In the end of the interview, Gushee summarized the purpose of this new evangelical Republicanism: “God is sovereign over creation and therefore humans can do no permanent damage… God established government for limited purposes and government should not intervene much in the workings of a free market economy… The media is overplaying climate change worries… The environmental movement is secular/pagan and has always been a threat to American liberties…”
We’re in a war of ideologies now. Harper’s philosophy is definitely anti-Biblical, let alone anti-human and anti-environment. That’s why we fight, non-violently, of course. That’s why I protest.
Ciao for now,