Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Canadian Manifesto 5: The Exploitation of Religion

"... the seemingly squeaky clean but morally corrupt Ralph Reed." Sarah Posner (1)

In the movie Casino Jack, based on the life of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, we are introduced to some of the players in the massive corruption scandal, that took down two Republican senators, and nine high profile lobbyists.

One character in the movie was Ralph Reed, played by Christian Campbell, who assures Abramoff that he is ready to play his part in the casino fraud.

For an enormous fee, 'Casino Jack' set out to destroy the gambling operation of a competing tribe, for his clients, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

This was not the first time that Abramoff had used questionable tactics for this client, but he couldn't have done it without the help of the "squeaky clean" and "morally corrupt" Ralph Reed, then head of The Christian Coalition.

In 1999, the Choctaw needed to defeat a bill in the Alabama State Legislature that would allow casino-style games on dog racing tracks, resulting in competition for their casino business. It was at about this time that Reed had contacted his old friend Abramoff, asking for his help in establishing his new business, Century Strategies.
"Hey, now that I’m done with electoral politics, I need to start humping in corporate accounts! I’m counting on you to help me with some contacts." (Ralph Reed to Jack Abramoff, via email, November 12, 1998)
When asked what he could do to assist with this situation, Reed said that he could access "3,000 pastors and 90,000 religious conservative households" in Alabama, as well as "the Alabama Christian Coalition, the Alabama Family Alliance, the Alabama Eagle Forum, [and] the Christian Family Association." And he would do this for a retainer of $20,000 a month.

Souls don't come cheap.  Just ask the devil.

The firm that Abramoff was then with, Preston Gates, hired Reed as a subcontractor, and Abramoff told Reed to "get me invoices as soon as possible so I can get Choctaw to get us checks asap."

"By May 10, 1999, the Choctaw had paid $1.3 million to Reed via Preston Gates, for various grassroots activities relating to the dog-track bill, as well as opposing an Alabama state lottery." (2) Eventually they broke their business ties with Preston Gates, and began dealing directly with Abramoff, using Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform as a conduit.  (Norquist had done work for them in the past)

However, what Abramoff was hoping to pull off this time, was much bigger and riskier than dog tracks and state lotteries.
In October 2001, Abramoff began to suggest to the Louisiana Coushatta that the Texas legislature was "one vote away" from legalizing certain forms of gambling in Texas. The Alabama Coushatta - a related but competing tribe to the Louisiana Coushatta - also sought to open a casino in eastern Texas in 2001. Abramoff told the Louisiana Coushatta that if the Tigua succeeded in their court case, then Texas would be forced to allow the Alabama Coushatta to open their casino. Many of the Coushatta's casino customers traveled over the border from eastern Texas to Louisiana, so this could pose a grave threat to their livelihood.  (2)
Abramoff then suggested to the Choctaw that they should support Christian evangelical conservatives, who were prepared to oppose gaming expansion in Texas, and Reed was again on the payroll.  "Reed worked with Houston pastors and church congregations to make demands on the state government to prevent the casinos from opening." (2)

According to the director of the movie, Alex Gibney, in response to Reed suggesting that the work he did for Abramoff was "outstanding" and something he was "proud of":
Let's say it plain: Ralph Reed is a fraud ... there was probably nothing illegal about what Reed did. But, he was engaged in a kind of spiritual fraud: telling his supporters that he was opposed to gambling when, in fact, gambling was making him rich. (3)
Though Reed still denies that he knew that the millions of dollars paid him came from casino profits, there are numerous email exchanges that prove otherwise.  And if  that deception isn't bad enough, he also implied that he was "fully investigated by John McCain's Senate Committee on Indian Affairs", and cleared.  However, according to Gibney:
Reed correctly notes that he has never been charged with a crime and implies that he had been fully investigated by John McCain's Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. But the implication is deceptive. According to one very famous, disgraced former lobbyist, Reed was supposed to have been called before McCain's committee but Karl Rove intervened and pressured McCain not to call Reed.  To Reed, Abramoff committed the unpardonable sin of getting caught, and that's why Reed prays for him. Well, Abramoff did his time and now seems to be willing to speak the truth. Reed should pray for himself. (3)

Leo Strauss Would Have Been Proud

In her book: Leo Strauss and the American Right, Shadia Drury of the University of Calgary, reveals that Strauss suggested that the exploiting of religion by the "right thinking elite" was necessary.
The key is to use the most artful and most reliable techniques that history has made available. And in Strauss's view, nothing has ever proved to be more effective than the influence of religion. (4)
Karl Marx called religion the "opium of the people", but to Ralph Reed and most other "elite"  in the movement, it is pure gold.

Religion can be a good thing, when it inspires, but can be lethal when it incites.
There is no doubt that religion often exerts a wholesome influence on human conduct. And it may even serve as a small protection against tyranny and the abuse of power because persons committed to the moral life may prefer to risk their lives than to collaborate with wicked schemes. But it is also the case that religious fervor often turns political and even militant. Religious groups are not always satisfied with the religious freedom that liberal society affords them. They are not content to gather together, worship, sing, play, and educate their children as they see fit. They are interested in imposing their vision of private morality on the rest of society. What they want is not freedom of religion, but conformity to their religious views. (4)
Drury continues:
Their current mood is overtly political if not altogether militant. The Christian Coalition, founded by Pat Robertson and then led by his protégé Ralph Reed, is a case in point. Its "leadership school" does not waste much time on prayer, but on the political process and how best to manipulate it. Grassroots leaders in hundreds of counties in every state are instructed in the modern art of quick communication—phone, fax, and modem. These leaders are trained to mobilize their troops into rapid-response networks intended to "blitz" or bombard congressmen with the values of the coalition. (4)
It is said that 26 Republican presidential hopefuls have sought out Reed for advice, with chequebook in hand, of course.  And why not?
When [Pat] Robertson's campaign flamed out, political analysts served up a new round of obituaries for the religious right, but once again, the reports of its death proved premature. Even as Robertson nursed a wounded ego, he was hatching his organizational revenge, hiring a fresh-faced young doctoral student named Ralph Reed to build a grass-roots evangelical network, focusing first on the takeover of school boards and town councils before ultimately commandeering the machinery of the Republican National Committee itself. That institutional coup took place almost entirely beneath the media's radar, and by the time it finally caught their attention, Reed's Christian Coalition controlled both houses of Congress and would later play a major role in putting George W. Bush in the White House, not once but twice. (5) 
Their political goals include returning prayer to schools, recriminalizing abortion, stripping known homosexuals of their civil rights, teaching creationism in the schools, and censoring libraries and the press, all included in Reed's  "contract with the American family", that was released right after Newt Gingrich's 'Contract with America".
American conservatives such as William Buckley and William Bennett fool themselves in thinking that the Christian right is simply interested in safe streets, good schools, strong families, nonintrusive government, and a chummy Communitarian atmosphere .... They are very much interested in governmental interference to uphold and enforce their own values and preferences, not only in matters pertaining to public morality, but in private morality as well. But their political tactics call their ethics into question. For example, Ralph Reed has defended the "stealth campaigns" of Christian Coalition candidates who have disguised their political agenda by campaigning on issues such as crime or taxes, but have revealed once in office that their real interests are in gay rights, abortion, and creationism.

Reed justifies such deception as a type of "guerrilla warfare." He flatters himself into thinking that his stealth campaigns are a matter of using the tactics of a guerrilla war against Satan. Those who paint their political opponents as the forces of evil and regard themselves as the defenders of good, are inclined to justify any means as necessary to defeat their opponents. The urgency of vanquishing the satanic forces, and the sheer immensity of the task, blinds them to the fact that such mendacious and duplicitous conduct is a blatant disregard of Christian virtue. (4)
Touché again!

Ralph Reed in the Great White North

On May 5, 1996; the Albion Monitor reported on a group of Canadians, who had made the trek to Washington in the fall of 1995, to attend a conference of The Christian Coalition.  Their visit resulted in the creation of the Canadian Christian Coalition, whose board members included Reform Party members, Ted and Link Byfield, and our own Jason Kenney.
... ominous for democratic rights in [British Columbia] is the recent hatching of the B.C. clone of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition ... The B.C. chapter is headed up by Operation Rescue activist Don Spratt, and claims among its founding board members former B.C. Premier and ardent anti-choicer Bill Vander Zalm. In an opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun, Spratt insisted (somewhat oxymoronically) "We have no ties with our U.S. counterpart." However, according to news reports, The Christian Coalition of Canada materialized after dozens of conservative Christians in this country thronged to Washington, DC, last fall to attend a major convention of the U.S. organization.

"Advisors" to the new CCC reportedly include Ted and Link Byfield (owners of the ultra-conservative B.C. Report and Alberta Report magazines), Jason Kenny (head of the Canadian Taxpayers Association), and Alex Parachin (head of the Christian Broadcasting Associates in Toronto, the Canadian branch plant of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network). ...While Don Spratt may be telling readers "Nobody has anything to fear from Christian Coalition," progressive activists and journalists will have to make sure the electorate knows better.
Touché, touché. touché, dammit!

The B.C. branch was responsible for a ban on Planned Parenthood in Surrey.  Stephen Harper has since expanded that, by cancelling all funding for PP, domestic and international.  The Tea Party gang have also been instrumental in the organization's demise in the U.S.

We beat them.  Yeah for us. (sigh)

However, while Jason Kenney may have been among the first to transport Ralph Reed's "faith for profit and righteous indignation" to Canada, he was by no means the last.  Two members of Stockwell Day's team, Brian Rushfeldt and Roy Beyer ("Families for Day"), visited Reed to solicit his help in getting Day elected as Alliance leader in 2000.

Both men were graduates of Charles McVety's Canadian Christian College.

In 2005, McVety invited Reed to speak at that institution, making sure that his protégé was in attendance: Jim Flaherty.
His very attentive listeners were challenged by Reed to “get on your work boots and tennis shoes and go out there like it all depends on you, pray like it all depends on God and let’s usher in the greatest victory in the history of this country.” (7)
Mcvety had already worked with Flaherty in his bid for leadership of the Ontario conservatives, but ironically, Flaherty was considered to be too right wing.  It was probably just the company he kept.

A Christian Manifesto Revisited

Francis Schaeffer, whose book A Christian Manifesto became the blueprint for the Religious Right, apparently regretted his involvement with the movement that he grew to detest.  According to his son, Francis Jr. (Frank), in his book Crazy for God:

Falwell, Robertson, Dobson, and others would later use their power in ways that would have made my father throw up. Dad could hardly have imagined how they would help facilitate the instantly corrupted power-crazy new generation of evangelical public figures like Ralph Reed, who took money from the casino industry while allegedly playing both sides against the middle in events related to the Abramoff Washington lobbyist scandal.
... Long before Ralph Reed and his ilk came on the scene, Dad got sick of "these idiots," as he often called people like [James] Dobson in private. They were "plastic," Dad said, and "power-hungry They were "Way too right-wing, really nuts!" and "They're using our issue to build their empires." (9)
Rick Salutin was fired as a columnist for the Globe and Mail, because he reminded Canadians of Harper's links to Leo Strauss.  His only error in the column was calling him the "last" Straussian.  Those guys breed like rabbits.

In March of 1995, former leader of the Reform Party, Preston Manning, was invited to speak to the editorial board of the Washington Post.  Newt Gingrich had been singing Manning's praises with the American media, as an important factor in his 1994 election victory.

Naturally they wanted to meet the Canadian neocon guru.

The late Dalton Camp, wrote a column about the visit, under the heading: Mr. Manning Goes to Washington.

"The Reform agenda includes a host of issues with American analogs—opposition to abortion rights, gun control and gay rights"—and lower taxes, less government, fewer rights for consumers, and "family values."

This does remind me once again of Senator James M. Inhofe* (R. Oklahoma), who has said he campaigned last fall, and won, on "God, gays, and guns."** No doubt Preston could arrange through Newt to meet with Inhofe, who is a great admirer of Jesse Helms who is a good friend of Al D'Amato who knows Dick Armey who needs no introduction to Ralph Reed of The Christian Coalition warmly supported by Pat Buchanan who knows Pat Robertson.

Knowing our man Manning has direct access to those guys makes you feel warm all over, doesn't it? (9)
"Warm all over?"  Not exactly.  I'm more inclined to feel like Schaeffer.  It makes me want to "throw up".


*James Inhofe is the former boss of Conservative MP Rob Anders.

** Not one to leave a Republican quote unplagiarized, Stephen Harper wrote a piece for the Globe in March of 1995, in which he defined his Reform Party as being based on "three g-issues"- guns, gays, and government grants." (10)


1. God's Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, By Sarah Posner, PoliPoint Press, 2008, ISBN: 0-9794822-1-6

2. Wikipedia: Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal

3. The Deceptions of Ralph Reed, By Alex Gibney, The Atlantic, September 26, 2010

4. Leo Strauss and the American Right, By Shadia B. Drury, St. Martin's Press, 1999, ISBN: 0-312-12689-1, p. 19-21

5. The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8 3, p. 5

6. The Christian Coalition Comes to Canada, by Kim Goldberg, The Albion Monitor, May 5, 1996

7. US Political Wiz Ralph Reed Urges Canadian Social Conservatives to “Make HistoryThis Election, LifeSite News, December 2, 2005

8. Whose Country is This Anyway? Mr. Manning Goes to Washington, By Dalton Camp, Douglas & McIntyre, 1995, ISBN: 1-55054-467-5, Pg. 185

9. Crazy For God: How I Grew Up a One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take it All (or Almost All) of it Back, By Frank Schaeffer, Carroll & Graf, 2007, ISBN: 13-978-0-7867-1891-7, p. 299-300

10. Where Does the Reform Party Go From Here, By Stephen Harper, Globe and Mail, March 21, 1995

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dirty Deeds and the Selling of Souls

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole my Country
The state should take a more activist role in policing social norms and values ... To achieve this goal, social and economic conservatives must reunite as they have in the U.S., where evangelical Christians and business rule in an unholy alliance. Red Tories must be jettisoned from the party ... Movement towards the goal must be "incremental, so the public won't be spooked." Stephen Harper (1)
In 2000 when Stockwell Day decided to run for the leadership of the Alliance Party against Preston Manning, a young pastor named Roy Beyer joined his team, wanting to promote a candidate who would preserve "Christian Values'. Jason Kenney acted as campaign chair and head speech writer, while Beyer set up a website "Families for Day". (2)

Stockwell won the leadership and went on to claim a seat in a by-election where he reportedly bought off the man then holding the riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla, Jim Hart. The bribe came to light when Hart was forced to sue Day (3) because he hadn't received the promised money. Day paid up, and the case went to the RCMP.(4) (Day was in charge of the ministry that oversaw the RCMP at the time, and he got off)

Beyer would also work doggedly during the federal election of November 2000, but gaffes and revelations of Day's past while teaching at the Bentley Bible Schools went public (5), and the electorate got scared.

Another Important Election:

Meanwhile south of the border, another man had thrown his hat into the ring to lead his country: George W. Bush, and like Stockwell Day, he had many young devotees eager to see him get elected. One of them was the born-again Christian Ralph Reed, an up and coming preacher and political activist for the Republican Party.

When evangelist Pat Robertson failed to make headway with his moral majority the media thought it was the end of the Religious Right in the United States. However, Robertson was smart enough to hire a young doctoral student named Ralph Reed "... to build a grassroots network, focusing first on the takeover of school boards and town councils before ultimately commandeering the Republican National Committee itself. This took place almost entirely beneath the media's radar, and by the time it caught their attention, Reed's Christian Coalition controlled both houses of Congress and would later play a major role in putting George W. Bush in the White House, not once but twice." (6)

After this success, the Canadian Religious Right believed that if Reed and his Christian Coalition could get George Bush elected, maybe he could show them how to get Stephen Harper elected in Canada. Harper had taken over as leader of the Alliance, after a mutiny forced Day from the spot, and they were now calling themselves the Conservative Party of Canada. (The Progressive Conservatives disbanded in 2003, ending a century and a half tradition)

So in December of 2005, Reed headed north to address a gathering of social conservatives to offer tips on how to win the election for Stephen Harper:
“How are you gonna do it?” he rhetorically asked and gave four points. “Number one”, he emphasized, “you have to build a grassroots organization that will touch every single voter in the country between now and election day”. Point two was “train your people to be effective”. Next was set and meet “achievable goals” and lastly Reed told the assembled group of leaders anxious to influence this crucial election that they had to work very hard “to get out the vote”.

His very attentive listeners were challenged by Reed to “get on your work boots and tennis shoes and go out there like it all depends on you, pray like it all depends on God and let’s usher in the greatest victory in the history of this country.” A few Conservative candidates from the Toronto region also attended the event, including Ontario PC Jim Flaherty, John Carmichael, Rondo Thomas, Michael Mostyn, and Tim Dobson. (7)
But then the wonder boy got caught up in a scandal when his ties to the convicted former G.O.P. super lobbyist Jack Abramoff, surfaced:
For a high-profile religious conservative like Reed, the stories of being paid millions by one Indian tribe to run a religious-based antigambling campaign to prevent another tribe from opening a rival casino made him look like something worse than a criminal--a hypocrite. He had once called gambling a "cancer" on the body politic. And the e-mails to Abramoff didn't help, especially those that seemed to suggest that the man who had deplored in print Washington's system of "honest graft" was eager to be part of it. "I need to start humping in corporate accounts!" he wrote Abramoff a few days after the 1998 election. (8)

Canada Family Action Coalition

Meanwhile Roy Beyer fearing that there was a plot under way to destroy families, by "legalizing" homosexuality, decided he should do something about it. Though he had never been to divinity school, he and fellow pastor at the Victory Church, Brian Rushfeldt, began taking a correspondence course offered by Canada Christian College, run by Charles McVety.

It was later decided that the two should try to turn McVety's Canada Family Action Coalition into the same kind of activist group created by Ralph Reed, that would become a political force demanding the restoration of biblical principles to government.
The Canada Family Action Coalition (CFAC) is a social conservative organization that actively promotes anti-choice, anti-same sex marriage agendas. Sandy Rios, then President of Concerned Women for America, recommended in 2003 radio show that Canadians interested in opposing same sex marriage enlist with CFAC. CFAC also has close ties with Focus on the Family Canada, including joining forces with that organization as part of the Coalition for Family Autonomy (CFA), a group of “pro-family” organizations which joined forces to advocate on behalf of parents right to spank their children.

Based in Calgary and founded in 1979, CFAC seeks to promote a Bible-based society by equipping “citizens to take back their rightful place as part of the decision-making process of our courts, tribunals, legislatures and Parliament.” It concentrates its efforts on grassroots organization in order to provide training, tools, strategy and networking opportunities to permit Canadians to influence their government. CFAC’s founder and President, Dr. Charles McVety, is also President of the Canadian Christian College. Dr. McVety strongly supported the provincial Tory leadership bid of Jim Flaherty . (9)
So Beyers and Rushfeldt went to Washington to speak with Reed and convinced him to help (10):
On November 29th, 2005 [CFAC] it organized a seminar in partnership with the Institute for Canadian Values at which Ralph Reed, a “senior advisor to President George W. Bush’s election campaign,” counselled attendees on strategy for the current election. Previously, Mr. Reed has counselled social conservatives to practice “stealth politics” and “fool voters” by “hiding, or disguising, their religious agenda by promoting popular issues such as tax reform.” Dr. McVety highly praised Mr. Reed just weeks before he came to Canada, writing that Mr. Reed “has motivated millions of Americans to participate in the election of their leaders and has taught millions how to mobilize others based on sound middle class, common sense moral principles, and solid organizations." (9)
Their "stealth" helped to bring Stephen Harper to power, though the real "power" is now in the hands of Charles McVety. Harper couldn't say no to him if he wanted to. And considering that McVety's inner circle includes Jim Flaherty, Stockwell Day and Jason Kenney, we know who's really calling the shots, and those are three members of his caucus that he will never reprimand.

World Congress of Families

Canada Family Action Coalition falls under the umbrella of the World Family Congress, and includes several other Canadian faith based advocacy groups, like Focus on the Family. Many Reform-Conservatives belong to both CFAC and FOTF.

In 2000 they hosted the World Congress of Families Millennium Youth Assembly, in Lethbridge, Alberta, where the young people were asked to write personal statements about one of the pro-family statements, "which use international consensus language."

Here are some sample responses:
1. "Recognizing the dignity and worth inherent in the human person," and that "the child, by reason of his physical and metal immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth, motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance."

2. "The family is the child's first introduction to society and is the essential link between the child and the society they live in. Children can best learn these values when a mother and father who are legally married are present in the home to teach them. The values taught in the family can never be replaced and will guide them all their lives."

3. "I believe that enough emphasis isn't being focused on the family, that is, the nuclear/biological family. The "family" should consist of a mother and a father. Allowing gay and lesbian marriages is a step in the wrong direction and is a mockery to what was and will always be a sacred institution, which is marriage. I think the rights of parents should be put back into law and parents should have the right to discipline their own kids but not to the point of abusing their children."

4. "Human Life is very important, but the world does not see this. Our population is becoming very few because families are having less kids and abortion is killing off a number of people too. Life is a great thing even through all the trials. At the end of these trials comes happiness." (11)
These children are being indoctrinated into the social conservative agenda. Their statements marginalise any family that does not have a married heterosexual couple at the helm.

What Else Did Ralph Reed Teach Roy Beyer?

Roy Beyer also belongs to an investment group that falls under the auspices of Harvest Capital Management Inc., a faith based investment corporation involved in mostly real estate transactions. They have many little offshoot groups and projects, and Beyer's includes Foundation Capital Corporation:
A Lethbridge land development firm will pay a $100,000 penalty as part of a settlement with the province’s securities regulator. Foundation Capital Corporation was asked to answer a claim it made misleading statements in marketing a 923-acre residential development south of Calgary. Its president, Ronald Aitkens, will also pay $30,000 to settle the allegations against him along with $15,000 toward the costs of the Alberta Securities Commission proceedings. Foundation Capital Corporation, registered as a Lethbridge company, was cited earlier this year along with two related businesses, Spruce Ridge Capital Inc. and Spruce Ridge Estates Inc. A 20-day hearing into those claims had been scheduled for next January. All allegations of misleading statements about the Priddis project were withdrawn after the company’s officers reached an agreement with ASC officials, says Foundation Capital spokesperson Roy Beyer. But company executives agree “confusing statements were made about the exact nature of the company’s bonds.”

Beyer, an Edmonton-based consultant who provided marketing and promotional services for the development, will also pay $20,000 plus $5,000 costs to settle the allegations against him.
Oh but there's more. From a personal testimonial:
"... I received an email from one of Harvest's [Capital Management Inc.] ex-pastor 'financial planners' recommending a couple of investments. One of them was the land development company, which I promptly warned him about as the president had been penalized by the securities commission and had been involved in another real estate scam, Eagle Lake. About a year later it was closed down by the securities commission.

The marketing director, Roy Beyer, formerly sold 'charitable donation tax shelters' for the ParkLane Group. Google it if you want to find out the gory details."(13)So I did, and this is what I found:

Canada's coffers have been cheated of more than $1.4 billion by scams that provided taxpayers with inflated charitable receipts they used to reduce their income tax. From coast to coast, donors wrote cheques to charities and tax scheme promoters that boasted they were saving the deathly ill, the poor and disabled, overseas and in Canada.

Now, at least 106,000 individual Canadians are learning the Canada Revenue Agency considers these schemes a sham, and wants to claw the money back. Some also are being hit with major financial penalties. Among the shelters operating recently (according to research by the Star) are: Canadian Organization for International Philanthropy (COIP); Canadian Literacy Initiatives; Initiatives Canada Corporation; ICC Worldwide Missions; Canadian Gifting Initiatives; Global Learning Gifting Initiatives; the Banyan Tree Foundation; and ParkLane Donations for Canada. (14)
Like Reed, the goal may be to force the government to work using the literal word of the Bible, but they clearly don't live under any such notions.

Because it all boils down to what it always boils down to: MONEY!


1. Harper, Bush Share Roots in Controversial Philosophy: Close advisers schooled in 'the noble lie' and 'regime change', By Donald Gutstein, The Tyee, November 29, 2005

2. The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8

3. Requiem for a Lightweight: Stockwell Day and Image Politics, By Trevor Harrison, Black Rose Books, 2002, ISBN: 1-55164-206-9, Pg. 116

4. Day under fire: Liberals ask the RCMP to investigate the nomination of the Public Safety Minister nearly seven years ago, By Kady O'Malley, Macleans, March 23, 2007

5. Bentley, Alberta: Hellfire, Neo-Nazis and Stockwell Day: A two-part look inside the little town that nurtured a would-be prime minister - and some of the most notorious hate-mongers in Canada, By Gordon laird, Now Magazine, November 2000

6. McDonald, 2010, Pg. 5

7. US Political Wiz Ralph Reed Urges Canadian Social Conservatives to “Make History” This Election,
LifeSite News, December 2, 2005

8. The Rise and Fall of Ralph Reed, Time Magazine, By James Carney, July 23, 2006

9. Conservative Party links to Right-Wing American Groups, January 13, 2006

10. McDonald, 2010, Pg. 69

11. World Congress of Families Millennium Youth Assembly, Lethbridge, Alberta, April 28 - 29, 2000

12. Lethbridge Land Developer Fined: Firm hit with $145,000 in penalties, by Dave Mabell, Lethbridge Herald, August 26, 2009

13. Harvest Capital Management? Canadian Business Forum, February 24, 2007

14. STAR EXCLUSIVE INVESTIGATION $1.4B tax scams nail donors, By Kevin Donovan, Staff Reporter, Toronto Star, September 29, 2007

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Canadian Manifesto 4: God's Army of Child Soldiers

"There does come a time when force, even physical force, is appropriate. The Christian is not to take the law into his own hands and become a law unto him­self. But when all avenues to flight and protest have closed, force in the defensive posture is appropriate ... The state must be made to feel the presence of the Christian community." Francis Schaeffer (1)
Faytene Kryskow Grasseschi has become one of the most prominent figures in Canada's Religious Right movement.

Her organization 4MYCanada, referred to simply as My Canada, hosts events called TheCry. Hours of emotional prayers, begging God's mercy for the horrible country that Canada has become.

Infanticide, sexual promiscuity, human trafficking. We're all going to hell in a hand basket.

I don't mean to mock, because she seems sincere in her beliefs, but what I find reprehensible, is the indoctrination of youth. Her bubbly personality and good looks are a definite draw.

I watched an interview of Kryskow (now married to Robert Grasseschi) with David Mainse on God TV, and it would appear that they are certainly trying to exploit her attributes. Mainse even requested that she do a pirouette for his viewers, and likened one of her TheCry gatherings to Woodstock (held on the anniversary).

She gets nothing near the 500,000 that the music festival did 40 years ago, but does draw in about 1,000, perhaps more.

Kryskow-Grasseschi is a regular figure on Parliament Hill, with coveted access to the Harper government. MP Rod Bruinooge is a regular at the TheCry events and often appears on stage with the little spitfire.

Conservative MP Ed Komarnicki promotes her organization on his website, sharing pics, including one with controversial senator David Tkachuk.

His colleague, Bev Shipley also makes the trek from his riding to cry with Kryskow in Ottawa. A fellow dominionist, on Canada Day 2009, he handed out bookmarks to his constituents (paid for by taxpayers?) urging them to pray for "godly" leaders who would govern "according to the Scriptural Foundation upon which our country was founded." (2)

However, the best endorsement came from the big guy himself. Not God, but the man who sees himself as such: Stephen Harper. When Faytene was on the Hill, whipping her disciples into a frenzy, he had a personal letter delivered to her, which she read to the crowd.
In it, Harper lauds her youth movement for cultivating "thoughtful, faith-filled citizens" and praises its political activism. "Faith has shaped your perspective on the world and strength­ened your resolve to make a political difference," he writes, signing off with a beneficent "God Bless."

What makes the letter noteworthy is that it arrived, unsolicited, from a politician who had spent years scrupulously avoiding any suggestion of coziness with the country's Christian right.
His coziness with the American Religious Right was already well documented.

Jesus Camp and Lou Engle

David Mainse, when introducing Faytene Kryskow, compared her to both Esther and Deborah, from the Old Testament. Women warriors, though he didn't qualify his comparisons, because he didn't need to. His audience knew.

Esther was a young Jewish girl in the harem of the Persian King Ahasuerus, who is credited with saving her people from annihilation. Deborah, a prophetess, warrior and judge in ancient Israel.

However, Faytene prefers to think of herself as Joan of Ark, on the front lines of battle, who is spoken to by God.

But it is another voice that directs her actions, and one that we should be listening to. That of Lou Engle, a charismatic preacher in the United States, also seeking "dominion" over all, and replacing the constitution with the Old Testament.

In 2006, the critically acclaimed documentary, 'Jesus Camp', caused an uproar, as it revealed the Christian Right's indoctrination of children.  I watched it in its entirety and wept, wondering why child protective services didn't intervene.

At the camp, which was run by  pastor Becky Fischer, children are told to purify themselves in order to be part of the "army of God". Fischer strongly believes that children need to be at the forefront of turning America toward conservative Christian values, and that "Christians need to focus on training kids since "the enemy" (Islam) is focused on training theirs." She tells the children that Harry Potter is the devil and that had he existed in biblical times he "would have been put to death". They also pay homage to George Bush.  You can watch the trailer here, and follow the link for the entire documentary.

Fischer has closed down the camp, and now runs the group: Kids in Ministry International.

A regular speaker at the camp was Lou Engle, who created the trademark red tape across the mouth with the word 'Life'; a feature at Krystows TheCry. (He even co-authored a book on the subject)

Krystow's rallies are taken directly from Engle's TheCall. Her American mentor refers to Faytene as "his daughter" and has often made appearances with her, both live and by video stream.

In 2009 he put a call out to his American disciples to "Invade Canada for God", no doubt hoping to bolster her numbers.

Engle has also praised Uganda for its tough laws against homosexuality.

Both TheCry and TheCall are heavy on military terms, believing themselves to actually be the Army of God.

So does this mean that I expect Krystow-Grasseschire to strap on a gun and go on a shooting rampage?

Of course not.

However, her branch of Engle's movement can be dangerous just the same.

While most "born again" Christians are enlightened and change their lives around for the better, many simply use religion as a drug of choice.  Worse still, others are mentally ill and already vulnerable, so easily led to do unspeakable acts.

Like Scott Roeder, who murdered abortion doctor George Tiller. He was bi-polar and off his meds.

Or a more militant Army of God, who quote from Engle's The Doctrine of the Shedding of Innocent Blood, and view Roeder, and others like him, as heroes.

We need to have this conversation in this country.

These fringe groups have been around for years, but this is the first time that they have been allowed to dictate government policy. And they are just getting started.

Marci McDonald writes of how the U.S. media was oblivious to the threat, until it was too late, and it had destroyed U.S. politics.

When she appeared on Steve Paikin's program on TVOntario, Paikin dismissed her by suggesting that since it took 30 years for the American Right to do their damage, we had another thirty years before "late-term" abortion would be made illegal.

He was always a little right-wing, but I didn't peg him as being so naive. We don't need thirty years. The American Christian Right has not only inspired but financed the Canadian movement. It is on our doorstep and another TheCry is currently underway on Parliament Hill.

Says McDonald, when she was first asked to write a book on the rise of the Christian Right in Canada, a friend asked "Why would you want to do that? Surely you don't think that can happen here? This is a profoundly different country than the United States."

All I can say is that it used to be.

The media needs to start tracking this before it becomes our epitaph. "Here lies Canada. May she rest in peace."


1. A Christian Manifesto, By Francis Schaeffer, Crossway Books, 1981, ISBN: 0-89107-233-0, Chapter 9: 'The Use of Force'

2. The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8 3, P. 16-17

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rod Bruinooge: Prophet or Profit for the Lord?

Rod Bruinooge is the Conservative MP for Winnipeg South. His bio claims that he is a businessman, an amateur film maker and computer games designer. All true.

He is also a Metis and the Harper government loves to hold him up as an example of how enlightened they are. Drawing in aboriginal candidates helps them to shed their old image of being harsh toward Canada's First Nations.

Unfortunately, Bruinooge is not an aboriginal member of Parliament, but a Member of Parliament who happens to be of aboriginal descent. In fact the Native community has never endorsed him.

During the 2004 election, Bruinooge and party leader Stephen Harper were the targets of a protest by aboriginal activists, including David Chartrand of the Manitoba Métis Federation.

In 2006, though Bruinooge was a member of the Manitoba Métis Federation, that organization endorsed his Liberal opponent, Reg Alcock. He beat Alcock by just 111 votes.

At the First Nations General Assembly in Nova Scotia in July 2007, Bruinooge described the Paul Martin government's Kelowna Accord on aboriginal investment as nothing more than an "expensive press release". This statement was strongly criticized by Assembly of First Nations leader Phil Fontaine. The deal had been hammered out over five years, and one of Harper's first acts as prime minister was to scrap it.

Fontaine argued that the accord "was designed to eradicate poverty in First Nations communities and make Canada a better place."
William Davison of the Indian Métis Christian Fellowship, who works with urban aboriginals in Regina, said he wasn't surprised that the Tories chopped the funds. But he said the billions promised in the Kelowna Accord would have gone a long way to helping improve the lives of aboriginals in Canada.

"I work with a lot of hopelessness and despair within the aboriginal urban community dealing with traditions and cultures and dealing with those trapped in the streets," Davison told CBC News.
Hardly a simple "press release".

Instead, as a member of Canada's Religious Right, Rod Bruinooge has focused most of his attention on re-criminalizing abortion, validating feminist Gloria Steinem's claim, that the neoconservatives believe that "life begins at conception but ends at birth".

Child poverty rates are on the rise in Canada. In November of 2009, Vipal Jain wrote in the Toronto Star:
One in nine Canadian children, more than a million, live below the poverty line according to the 2008 Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Canada ... “For many families, it’s very difficult to get out of poverty. There isn’t enough money to feed the children, clothe them properly, or even enough money to pay for the bus fare or to look for a job,” says Grant Wilson, President of Canadian Children’s Rights Council. It’s even harder for new Canadian children and aboriginal families as they are at a greater risk of living in poverty. (1)
UNICEF confirms the plight of many First Nations children. From their 2009 annual report:
Aboriginal children are among the most marginalized children in Canadian society. Despite some advances, in almost any measure of health and well-being, Aboriginal children – including First Nations, Inuit and Métis -- are at least two or three times worse off than other Canadian children. As children, they are less likely to see a doctor. As teens, they are more likely to become pregnant. And in many communities, they are more likely to commit suicide.

This disparity is the greatest children's rights challenge facing our nation.
The Canadian Press reported that:
... infant mortality rate for native babies in Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand is up to four times that of non-native newborns, says a groundbreaking new study ... Dr. Janet Smylie, a researcher who works through St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto, says the international replication of startling native health gaps among such diverse populations suggests social deprivation – not genetics – is to blame.(2)
The Native Women's Association of Canada, post that "our infants are challenged right from the start, and that our infant mortality rates are equal to developing countries such as Chile, Sri Lanka and Fiji, and higher than Latvia and Lithuania."

If Rod Bruinooge was really pro-life and an "aboriginal" MP, he would be doing something for these children, instead of exploiting his heritage for political gain.

When First we Practice to Deceive

When Dr. Henry Morgentaler was slated to receive the Order of Canada, many in the pro-life movement came out in opposition.  It's a divisive issue.

Fortunately, the honour remained, and Morgantaler was rewarded for his work in offering safe abortions.

Most of the Conservatives didn't see it that way, but Rod Bruinooge went above and beyond.  He was behind a poll that appeared on Lifesitenews, suggesting that "56% of Canadians Oppose Morgentaler Order of Canada".

The poll was commissioned by Lifesitenews, and conducted by KLRVU polling.  But what they don't mention, is the fact that KLRVU polling is run by Allan and Katherine Bruinooge.  Rod's brother and his wife.

Prophet or Profit?

Canadian dominionist, Faytene Kryskow, has called Rod Bruinooge, a 'Prophet for the Lord', because of his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.  Her organization, 4MY Canada, threw their support behind his election campaign, and continue to endorse his political career. (3)

But just how righteous a man is he?

In an alleged shady deal with a former Brian Mulroney crony, Gary Thomas Brazzell, Bruinooge showed that he could play the game.

It began with a patronage appointment in 2007.  According to WaverleyWest:
There was a recent Tory appointment that the WFP [Winnipeg Free Press] missed, as they always seem to miss it. That man is the one Manitoban who got plum appointments from both Prime Ministers Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper. That man is Ladco Board Member and former Rod Bruinooge lawyer Gary Brazzell. (4)
Ladco is one of the primary owners of  Waverley West development (35%).  Bruinooge lobbied hard for the Waverley underpass, which would be beneficial to Waverley West.
Less than two years after the Kenaston underpass finally ended traffic mayhem on one major south Winnipeg artery, the area's MP says it's time to do the same thing on Waverley ...  (Waverley West is a project of ladco) And Winnipeg South MP Rod Bruinooge says his government is prepared to pony up its share of the cash." (Senior Manitoba minister Vic Toews has signalled to me that should the province come on board, the federal government will be there," Bruinooge said.

"My interest now is in convincing the premier they should also come to the table." Bruinooge said the additional 30,000 homes in the Waverley West subdivision makes the underpass at Waverley a desperate need."A lot of people don't use Waverley because they can't count on it," Bruinooge said. "It's been a constant burden."
But was Bruinooge really concerned with congestion, or something else?

Seems that the MP owed Brazzell a favour.  A Waverley West watchdog group provides a bit of background:
December 2, 1998 Lawyer Gary Thomas Brazzell is made a director of Abject Modernity Internet Creations.   Its president is Rodney Bruinooge (now the MP for Winnipeg South.)

December 23, 1998 Brazzell buys 25,000 shares of Abject stock.

December 23, 1998 Brazzell provides share certificates to Bruinooges’s step-brother’s co-worker.

February 1999 Brazzell provides share certificates to an uncle of Chantale Marion (Bruinooge’s wife). They had been backdated to December 23, 1998.
Brazzel had actually once been removed from the Ladco board for questionable business practices.

From a report by the Manitoba Securities Commission:
C1. BRAZZELL acknowledges and agrees that he acted contrary to the public interest in that he: (a) traded in securities without having been registered and without prospectus in contravention of sections 6 and 37 of the Act; (b) facilitated or permitted the purchase of shares by a number of investors under the sole name of one investor, so as to minimize the number of apparent investors in an effort to purportedly rely upon the private company exemption under section 19(2)(i) of the Act; (c) failed to ascertain whether the company in question was in fact a private company as defined in the Act, thereby causing shares to be traded in reliance upon such exemption, when the exemption was not so available; (d) facilitated or permitted the purchase and sale of securities in ABJECT in the name of one investor, when he knew or ought to have known that the shares were intended to be purchased by a number of other investors in addition to the investor so named. Brazzell will pay the Manitoba Securities Commission $3,000 plus costs for his actions.
Is Rod Bruinooge really a "prophet for the Lord"?

I'd say he's just another self serving Conservative politician.


1. Rich Nation, Poor Children, by Vipal Jain, The Toronto Star, November 20th, 2009

2. Native infant mortality rate four times non-natives', By Sue Bailey, Toronto Star, March 30, 2009

3. The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, By: Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8 3

4. Gary Brazzel gets federal appointment to the Intellectual Property Office (CIPO),  Trade-mark Agent, March 2, 2007

5. Time for Waverley underpass: Tory MP, By Mia Rabson, Winnipeg Free Press, June 16, 2008


What is Rod Bruinooge's Private Members Bill Really About?

Friday, August 26, 2011

What is Rod Bruinooge's Private Members Bill Really About?

"Any country that accepts abortion, is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what it wants." Mother Teresa (1910-1997)

I find that quote used often on pro-life websites to equate abortion with violence. However, it doesn't ring true for most of these sites, that all too often support war and even the death penalty. Clear evidence of a nation using violence to get what it wants.

In fact, if I were to march in one of their "pro-life" demonstrations, carrying a sign with a picture of an Afghan child who was the victim of war, I would probably be called a "Taliban dupe". Or if my sign had the photo of a Palestinian child, who was an innocent victim of war, I would probably be accused of anti-Semitism and not loving Israel enough.

I might even be whacked with one of their signs suggesting that abortion is the "new Holocaust", complete with the most horrendous images.

Because there are several quotes also attributed to Mother Teresa, that I never see on a "pro-life" site, including this one:

"Please choose the way of peace. In the short term there may be winners and losers in this war that we all dread. But that never can, nor never will justify the suffering, pain and loss of life your weapons will cause."
For Mother Teresa, her anti-abortion beliefs were part of her overall message of love and peace, and while I would not find her arguments against abortion valid; I would respect her opinion.

However, this post is not about war, Mother Teresa, or even moral arguments. It's about Rod Bruinooge, the chair of the House pro-life caucus, and his new private members bill aimed at making it a crime to threaten or intimidate a woman into having an abortion.

He claims that his bill was inspired by the brutal murder of Roxanne Fernando, the Winnipeg woman whose life was taken because she refused to terminate her pregnancy.

However, at issue here is not that she refused to have an abortion, but the fact that she was brutally murdered. The motive is secondary. Had she been killed because she refused to give her boyfriend a loan, would we really need to draft a new law making it illegal to "coerce" or "intimidate" someone into giving you money?

We already have such a law. It's called extortion. And we already have laws making it illegal to coerce or intimate someone into doing anything. A threat of violence, is a threat of violence, regardless of what motivates it.

So what is this really about?

It's simple. It's about the need to equate abortion with violence. To plant that seed in our minds. 'Holocaust', 'murder', 'brutality' and even 'eugenics', all become part of their argument. And of course, it's made worse because the suggestion is that it's violence against children. Child victims of war are simply "collateral damage", but abortion is presented as a mother's war against her own child. This is why most pro-lifers will always go right to late term abortions, and never use the term 'fetus'.

I do question though, that if this is not about 'abortion' as Bruinooge suggests, but a woman's choice being taken away; then should it not also include intimidation to not terminate a pregnancy? What about the coercion of a parent who threatens to throw their daughter out if she has an abortion, using economic intimidation? Or a boyfriend or husband using emotional blackmail as intimidation, which is often not about the child at all, but control?

Has Rod Bruinooge or anyone else considered that?

I suppose it doesn't matter, because while the bill will probably be defeated, their cause has already scored a victory. Once again, they have brought "violence" into the abortion debate.

And of course, in the process Stephen Harper also scores a victory.

He took a lot of heat when Hilary Clinton was clear that any initiative to improve the maternal health of women in developing countries, must include access to safe abortion.

He can now posture that he disapproves of this bill, earning himself headlines like Harper won't support Tory MP's abortion bill, thereby appearing to agree with Clinton. And if this angers the fundamentalist groups, will he really lose their vote?

The fact that the Conservative Party is the only one willing to present bills of this nature at all, validates their loyalty, and provides meat for their fundraising letters.

If Stephen Harper really disapproved of his MP's motion, it would never have been presented at all. But he needs that bill to continue the facade of a moderate centrist, and the pro-life caucus needs that bill to plant the seed of violence to define abortion, and the Religious Right needs that bill to generate funds that fuel their "holy" mission.

Just another day in paradise

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Canadian Manifesto: 3. Religion Goes Corporate

Rick Warren is considered to be one of the most important Evangelical leaders in the United States. He turned the small Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, with a congregation of barely 200, into one of the largest mega churches in the country. Not necessarily through inspiration, but with clever marketing.

Not stopping there, he developed material for church growth seminars, and more than 400,000 pastors from 162 countries have been trained in Warren's corporatizing of religion techniques. His book The Purpose Driven Church, has sold over a million copies.

One of the pastors to be educated in the Warren system, as well as that of another "church growth" marketeer, Bill Hybels (Willow Creek), is Stephen Harper's friend and spiritual advisor, Brent Trask, who was able to turn his small Bow Valley Alliance Church in Calgary, into an investor's dream.
Founded in 1986 by a few dozen families who gathered in a school, Bow Valley Alliance had grown at such a heady rate that it was obliged to move to a shopping mall and a community college before taking
over the Dutch Canadian Club hall, where Brent Trask, its ambitious
young pastor, was turning Bow Valley into one of the high-energy
experiments in conservative Protestantism that were erupting across continent. Like Harper, Trask took his inspiration from the U.S., where two gurus of church growth, Rick Warren and Bill Hybels, were transforming contemporary worship, using Christian rock music and corporate marketing techniques to attract the enormous memberships that have made the evangelical movement a force to be reckoned with in American politics.
However, many critics suggest that Warren, Hybels, and others in the church growth movement, are not converting, but stealing the already converted from smaller, struggling churches.

Theologian Michael J. Penfold writes:
The new packaging is all about replacement. A ‘stage’ with a moveable Perspex lectern replaces the old wooden pulpit. PowerPoint graphics replace the hymn books. A rock band replaces the organ. A casually dressed and jovial audience replaces the reverent congregation. A charming minister in a t-shirt and jeans replaces the suited ‘preacher’. Fun replaces holiness as the tone of the service. Loud music, side-splitting drama, multimedia presentations and a humorous ‘talk’ replace hymn singing and preaching. But, we’re confidently assured, the message remains the same.

Judging by numbers alone the new model has certainly proved a success. Prominent ‘church growth’ pastors like Robert Schuller (Crystal Cathedral, LA), Rick Warren (Saddleback Church, California), Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Church, Chicago) and Joel Osteen (Lakewood Church, Houston) attract thousands to their churches each Sunday. Though a majority of this ‘growth’ occurs by transfer rather than ‘conversion’...
It is said that when these mega churches move into a community, they become the Walmart of Christianity, driving others out of business. And when they don't close up shop, they are bought out in "corporate mergers".

And it's not only the corporate style worship centres that small community churches have to compete with, but also the para-churches, like the Promise Keepers, brought to Canada by Harper MP David Sweet, and countless "family values" groups, that have turned Christianity into a cottage industry.

There is only so much money to go around, and as with society now as a whole, all the wealth is going to the top.

Rick Warren: the Buck Stops Here

Rick Warren is a very wealthy man. His books are selling like wildfire, and his publisher, Rupert Murdoch, couldn't be happier.

ATOP 30 ROCKEFELLER PLAZA in one of Manhattan's most celebrated ballrooms, media mogul Rupert Murdoch stepped up to microphone. It was September 2004, and gathered before him was the Who's Who of the New York publishing elite. "When an author sells a million copies of his book, we think he's a genius. When he sells twenty million, we say we're the geniuses."

Murdoch was introducing Rick Warren, a folksy Southern Baptist preacher from suburban southern California. As head of the media conglomerate that published Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life, Mur­doch had much to smile about. The book had become the best­selling work of nonfiction in history (other than the Bible) and had been translated into more than fifty different languages. Long be­fore this, Warren had made a name for himself in evangelical circles. An earlier book, The Purpose-Driven Church, had sold a million copies, and over the years thousands of pastors had attended conferences to hear Warren and his staff talk about their approach to church growth.
Murdoch is not only a publisher for the Religious Right, but is now the official publisher to the Tea Party.

Because his books are selling so well, Warren, in a seemingly magnanimous gesture, is now tithing 90% of his salary obtained from the Saddleback Alliance to that church.

Just how generous an offer is that? Why not simply forgo taking a salary, or reduce his salary by 90%?

Tax haven.

He can claim that 90% against royalties from his book, but then tap into it tax free, as the church covers all of his travel expenses.

In an unguarded moment, Warren revealed his feelings toward paying taxes. When President Obama sent out the alarm that the country is losing revenue at an alarming rate, making it difficult to sustain social programs, Warren tweeted that instead of going after the wealthy to pay more, Obama needed to go after the lower class, many of whom, he claimed, paid no taxes at all.

A ludicrous assumption. Everyone pays taxes in some form.

After getting into a verbal battle with a woman, Warren removed the tweet, and simply left it with her, that he was going to pray for her soul. I don't think it's her soul that is in trouble.

As Michael Lindsay reminds us, when speaking of the enormous wealth of the new religious leaders, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Matthew 10:25

The Saddleback Church is located in the heart of Orange Country, one of the wealthiest districts in the U.S. In fact, many of these mega churches deliberately move into upscale neighbourhoods.

However, there is another story in Orange County that gets little attention. I recently watched a documentary about the homeless children in O.C., who live in motels with their parents.

Families living in one room, washing their dishes in the bathroom sink, simply because that's all they can afford. And they are not welfare recipients, but at least one of their parents work. One mother was a nurses aid at the local hospital, and another worked at Disneyland.

Are these the tax exempt people that Warren refers to?

He is currently behind a project called PEACE, an acronym for Promote reconciliation - Equip servant leaders - Assist the poor - Care for the sick - Educate the next generation. It is a call to other Evangelicals to come to the aid of the globe's most distressed, especially in Africa.

However, given Warren's strong opinions on abortion and homosexuality, will this end up another Uganda, where hatred is exported to regions who felt no such hatred?

Making poverty history around the world is important, but it should include his backyard. Paying his fair share of taxes, would go a long way into ensuring that the homeless children of Orange County can look forward to a better life.

One of the scenes in the documentary show the children pledging the oath of allegiance. When asked the importance of the oath, all agreed that it was about freedom and rights.

One young man was asked what having rights meant, and he answered "the right to remain silent". The only "right" he understood.

He was six.

The fastest growing industry in Schaeffer's Northern Europe, is corporate religion. They sell dreams, but the only ones cashing in on the dreams are the elite of the movement, while the rest are simply told that if they believed in God more, and gave more money to the elite, they too will be blessed with wealth beyond their wildest dreams.

It's certainly understandable why Stephen Harper would be drawn to a mega church. The tax free privatization of souls.


1. The Armageddon Factor, By Marci McDonald, Random House, 2010, ISBN: 978-0-307-35646-8, p. 23

2. The Purpose Driven Church (a critique), By Michael J. Penfold, Penfold Book & Bible House, 2007

3. Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite, By D. Michael Lindsay, Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-19-532666-6, p. 1

I Burned my Bra For This? REAL Women of Canada and the Men Behind Them

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole my Country

"There is not much point in being minister for the status of women, when women have no status in this country!" Judy Erola

Erola was a cabinet minister in the government of Pierre Trudeau. Feisty and independent, she directed her argument toward the prime minister himself, when the "notwithstanding clause" threatened section 28 of the constitution, guaranteeing equality of the sexes. (1)

Can you imagine anyone in Stephen Harper's cabinet challenging him in such a manner?

But then Erola was no ordinary woman. Canada's first weather girl, breaking the barrier in 1953, and one of the first female network executives, she spent a lifetime fighting for women's rights. She is currently on the board of Equal Voice, an organization which seeks to assist Canadian women in running for political office.

But in 1983, she made waves when she proposed that the tax exemption for dependent spouses, be terminated.

Canada's Christian Right took action, and on September 3, 1983, REAL Women of Canada was born.

Fashioned after the American Religious Right group: 'Concerned Women for America', REAL, which stands for 'Realistic, Equal, Active, for Life', drew in women mainly from the pro-life movement.

It's misleading to call this a woman's movement, because it is clearly a movement that glorifies the male species in our society.

Their stated mission:

1. To reaffirm that the family is society’s most important unit, since the nurturing of its members is best accomplished in the family setting.

2. To promote the equality, advancement and well being of women, recognizing them as interdependent members of society, whether in the family, workplace or community.

3. To promote, secure and defend legislation which upholds what it considers the Judeo-Christian understanding of marriage and family life.

4. To support government and social policies that make homemaking possible for women who, out of necessity, would otherwise have to take employment outside the home.

5. To support the right to life of all innocent individuals from conception to natural death.

They claim to be non-partisan, but in fact helped to establish policy for the Reform Party, and constantly criticize the NDP and Liberal parties, on their website and in their publications.

Since Stephen Harper's Reform-Conservatives gained power in 2006, the influence of REAL Women of Canada can be seen in many of their policies, including increased tax relief for single-income families.

And remember that one of Harper's first actions after being elected was to remove the word "equality" from the charter of the NAC.

The Group's Priorities

REAL women claim to represent a silent majority of women within Canada. They promote male headed, single breadwinner families, and believe that women should be homemakers, mothers and wives, in direct contrast to the National Action Committee on the Status of Women and its umbrella organizations.
A key goal of the organization is to denounce the equal rights clause in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in addition to protesting feminist movements and organizations. They argue that government spending and funding of these feminist organizations was undermining traditional gender and family relations (2)
Other concerns are abortion, universal childcare, and the improvement of the economic situation of women, who may be encouraged to enter or remain in the workforce, while raising children.

Other things they oppose include anti family violence programs, which they claim encourage hatred toward men; no-fault divorce; and protection for gay and lesbian people. (2) As with most conservative groups, they want to return to the nostalgic 1950s when the nuclear family was the only accepted configuration.

I've been organizing my research and plan to compile it all into a series of essays, that I will upload on Scribed.

I'm choosing this government's complete change in direction on woman's issues first, because it's important to understand that with a majority, REAL Women of Canada, will play an important role in determining what funding will be scrapped and what new programs will be implemented.

There have already been many, but we can expect many more, especially when it comes to reproductive rights.

This group may be headed by women, but those women are being directed by men, and my aim is to expose as many as possible.

I also intend to show that REAL Women of Canada is just another cog in the wheel of the American Moral Majority/Religious Right, and the new right-wing movement that is destroying social democracies everywhere.

The Harper government couldn't ignore them even if they wanted to.

When you buy in, you have to accept the entire package, and they have done that to the letter. Every action, every word, comes from the Republican/Tea Party/Moral Majority.

And that includes rolling back many of the gains made by women over the past half century.
"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is. I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat." Rebecca West 1913
I'm blogging the essay in chunks before putting it together for Scribed, and will then post a link.


1. Just Watch me: The Life of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, By John English, Alfred A. Knopf, 2009, ISBN: 978-0-676-97523-9, P. 511

2. "R.E.A.L. Women, Anti-feminism and the Welfare State, By Lorna Erwin, Resources for Feminist Research, 1988


From Forlorn to Forbearing: Feminism Never Stood a Chance

Harper's War on Women Was Launched in the USA

Allan Bloom Writes Harper's War on Women Strategy

Gary Bauer's Focus is the Harper Government's Vision

REAL Women, Promise Keepers and the Promotion of Violence

Right-Wing Women and Their "Christian Values"

The New anti-Abortionists: Young Political Activists or Youthful Vigilantes?

David Sweet, Spiritual Capital and Reconstructionism

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole my Country

When Darrel Reid was defeated as a Conservative candidate in 2006, he became "Vice President of Project Development for the Work Research Foundation, an organization with the stated mission to “influence people to a Christian view of work and public life.”"(1)

I must admit that I'd never heard of the 'Work Research Foundation' and wasn't quite sure what was meant by a "Christian view of work and public life". So I perused their site, and though they are now calling themselves Cardus, what I found was a bit alarming, beginning with this:

"Our mission is to rethink, research and rebuild North America's social architecture."

If you link to their audio section and scroll down to a 2005 recording, you can listen to a lecture series on something they call "spiritual capital." And just so there's no mistake, the re-introduction by Michael Van Pelt, clearly states that Cardus is the new name for Work Research Foundation. And Darrel Reid, Stephen Harper's deputy chief of staff, went right from there to Harper's office. From their site:

The third installment of our thINK audio series is here, and our latest WRF product is just in time: spiritual capital is a concept which provides the tread for walking faithfully in a society that gets more secular every day. First, David Sweet introduces, in layman's terms, the idea of "spiritual capital." (2)

For those who don't know, David Sweet is the MP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, a backbencher in the Harper government. He introduces himself as the Vice-President of Business Development for the group.

I listened to all of the speakers and if there was ever a scripted mandate for a theocracy this is it. On his website, Sweet refers to himself as a motivational speaker, and it's pretty clear after listening to 15 minutes (twice) of his speech, that he is motivating business leaders to create a Christian workplace.

He praises one such leader for printing that his "Purpose was to honour God" on his business cards. Sweet goes on to describe what spiritual capital is, by suggesting that it could be equated to social, physical and human capital, all requirements to maximize profit. "Faith" economics and devoting your business to the "Glory of God". (when I was roaming I was linked to The Christian Labour Association, that even encourages companies be unionized by Christians)

The next speakers continue along the same vein, and what they describe is a Utopia where a company's mission statement is reflective of "Christian values", with a healthy dose of redemption.

They suggest that if a company bases their business on these "Christian values", it will be a workplace with integrity and little conflict. And rather than discouraging employees from discussing their religious beliefs, they encourage open discussion, even for non-Christians.

It's not too difficult to see what would take place here. You have a business with a stated Christian hierarchy. You employ non-Christians and then encourage open discussion of religious beliefs. Sounds like proselytizing to me. And what happens if those non-Christians don't see the light? Will there be accusations of religious harassment, that would be similar to sexual harassment, where an employee is "saved" or risks losing their job?

Darrel Reid once suggested that gay rights are a form of Nazi tyranny. Is there a place for gays in this wonderful, non-conflict workplace?

Templeton Foundation

One of the groups that David Sweet promotes is the Templeton Foundation:

The mission of the Templeton Foundation is: to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality. We support research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution, and infinity to creativity, forgiveness, love, and free will. We encourage civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights.

One of those 'Big Questions' is answered through intelligent design, rather than evolution. The foundation has also been embroiled in controversy, because despite the fact that they claim to be non-partisan, they regularly provide funding to Conservative groups, including Ari Fleischer's Freedom's Watch.

They have also garnered "criticism from some members in the scientific community who are concerned with its linking of scientific and religious questions."

Another speaker mentions that they had just completed a project with the Max De Pree Center, in Pasadena California, where they promote a 'servant leadership' program, and recently hosted a seminar on the "Morality of the Market."

So what does this all mean?

David Sweet and Darrel Reid from the Harper government are both involved with the Work Research Foundation, now Cardus, who are working to 'Rebuild North America's social architecture' by promoting Christian businesses.

Michael Van Pelt, another speaker on the podcast, is a new appointee at Rights and Democracy, which has been embroiled in controversy after their hostile takeover by the Harper government.

Ray Pennings, another speaker, is the chair of Redeemer University College, where the 4th speaker, Gideon Strauss is one of the faculty.

David Sweet hosted a National House of Prayer 'dessert reception' there, where the faithful were invited to "Come and hear what God is doing in our Government." And Redeemer College recently received three million dollars of public money - our money; despite the fact that they are an elite private Bible school.

Welcome to Reconstructionism 101. Leave your souls at the door.


1. Wikipedia: Darrel Reid

2. Spiritual Capital, By Ray Pennings and Michael Van Pelt, CARDUS, July

Hatred as an Import/Export Business

The Canadian Manifesto: How the American Neoconservatives Stole my Country

On January 26 of this year, David Kato, a gay rights activist in Uganda, was bludgeoned to death with a hammer. Often the target of hatred, there was a renewed fierceness, when he won a court battle against a tabloid for publishing over 100 images of him with other gay and lesbian citizens.

The banner over the headline image read 'Hang Them'.

Though hardly a tolerant society, this loathing came about when a group of American "Evangelists", visited the country to export their own brand of hatred.
Last March [2009], three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks. The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.

For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”
Delivered with the passion of fire and brimstone, it instilled fear where there was none before.

Within months, a law was passed that would put homosexuals in jail for life. Stephen Harper claimed to have "privately warned the Ugandan president", of "Canada's deep concern, strong opposition and the fact we deplore these kinds of measures."

But how can he have any credibility on the subject?

In November of 2003, former Alliance MP Larry Spencer, gave an interview to Vancouver Sun reporter Peter O'Neil, in which he claimed that "... he would support any initiative to outlaw homosexuality." He stated that in the 1960s, a "well-orchestrated" conspiracy began and led to recent successes in the gay rights movement. This conspiracy, he further said, "included seducing and recruiting young boys in playgrounds and locker rooms, and deliberately infiltrating North America's schools, judiciaries, entertainment industries, and religious communities."

Stephen Harper was livid (1), but his concern was not for the marginalizing of the gay community, but that Spencer may have hurt his chances in the next election. He was suspended and replaced with Tom Lukiwski. The man caught on tape saying: “There’s A’s and there’s B’s. The A’s are guys like me, the B’s are homosexual faggots with dirt under their fingernails that transmit diseases.”

Quotes by Harper's caucus against homosexuality are numerous, but our concern should not be for what they say, but how they say it. There is a deep rooted contempt, that is fundamental.

A contempt that allowed Stephen Harper to stand up in the House of Commons, and say of NDP Svend Robinson, a gay man. "Mr. Speaker, I am sure the picture of the hon. member of the NDP is posted in much more wonderful places than just police stations." (Hansard, October 23, 2002) He was given an opportunity to retract the statement, before being officially recorded, but refused.

A contempt that allowed Jason Kenney to trivialize the debate over same-sex marriage when he "outed" two openly gay NDP MPs, to the Punjab community.

A contempt that allowed Stephen Harper to visit immigrant communities to fear monger over the implications of the bill, suggesting that the Liberals wanted to force their religious leaders to perform same-sex marriages.

And a contempt that prompted Harper to hire the homophobic Nigel Hannaford to help write his speeches and Jason Kenney to appoint an anti-gay activist to the Refugee board, where he will get to hear cases of those fleeing from sexual discrimination, sure to face harm and even death if refused refuge.

And today, in the 21st century in Canada, there is a protest against a school policy to combat discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.

And those fighting against discrimination are vilified.

Our hands are not clean.

The good news is that under international pressure: Uganda lawmakers removed the death penalty clause from anti-gay bill, but it does not change the malevolence that inflicted the death penalty on David Kato.

And it will not take hammer blows to inflict the same sentence on the Canadian gay community, when we refuse to acknowledge the hostility they are subjected to on a daily basis, but instead have members of our government, who choose to inflame it.

Stephen Harper once claimed that his and and his follower's "values, are the real Canadian values".

Since when was hatred a Canadian value?


1. SACRIFICED? TRUTH OR POLITICS, By Larry Spencer, Kayteebella Productions, 2000, ISBN 13-9780978057404