Last week I offered, as one of the reasons the Tories will lose the next election, the fact that they are being hijacked by the religious right, just as has happened to the Republican party.
At last count there were some 15 actual or probable Tory nominations to fundamentalist Christians.
When I raise this question on air, I can expect a barrage of email asking: “Why are you afraid of fundamentalist Christians? And wouldn’t it be better for the country if we had men and women of Christian morality in office?”
My answer to the first question is that I fear any politician whose views on anything are unbending and depend upon a philosophical commitment that is unbreakable.
Am I saying that I want politicians who change their minds with every shift in the prevailing wind? No, not quite that. I just don’t want them preprogrammed. To me, fundamentalists of any religion are the reverse side of the communist coin. Each looks to accepted (by them) written authority when making a decision. Neither the Communist Manifesto nor the words of Mao and Lenin, however interpreted, should guide public policy. Nor should the writings in the Bible.
I make one exception to the latter statement – if the politicians guiding principle is “love thy neighbour as thyself”, no one can complain.
But let’s look at the fundamentalist Christian and ask them some questions.
On questions of homosexuality, why are you so unconcerned with their civil rights? That you have the right to refuse them membership in your church goes without saying but upon what precedent of civil law do you deny them equality before the law?
Many of you write me and talk about biblical injunctions against homosexuals but you don’t explain this: If homosexuality is against God’s will, why wasn’t He specific? In fact, while adultery is dealt with in the Ten Commandments, homosexuality is not.
If you are to believe that those who disobey God (according to your lights) must be punished, why not turn your attention to adultery which is specifically forbidden in the Ten Commandments? Adultery was unlawful in this and other Christian communities at one time and is certainly a sin, big time, amongst Islamic fundamentalists. This question takes on practical significance for while I accept that none of you would jail adulterers, will you censor that which deals with adultery in other than a condemnatory way?
What’s your view on the Little Sisters’ Books case? May I assume that you support the right of customs officials at the border to censor that which you believe God will find objectionable?
Thou shalt not kill, says the Good Book. What about abortion? Do you believe that women should be refused abortions bringing back illegal abortion clinics and back alley self abortion with a coat hanger?
I know you’ll see this as a silly question but if it is, you brought it on yourself. Are you in favour of slavery, a practice mentioned causally and never condemned by the writers whose other tenets of faith you accept as binding? What do you propose ought to be done to those who take the Lord’s name in vain? Or fail to keep the Sabbath?
I know the answer will be that some things are too late to rectify. But that’s not good enough, for while you might not be able in practice to punish adultery you certainly can prevent the further right of women to a full place of society and find plenty of Biblical quotes to support what you do.
How would you deal with prostitution? As a matter or morality?
What about drugs? As a morality issue only? Not a health problem?
What about your position on war? Your Bible is chock-a-block with battles and military slaughters. “Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands” says the Good Book. Will you support wars brought in the name of God, which most are?
The most prominent fundamentalist in America is Reverend Jerry Falwell, a man many churches in Canada treat as a quasi-leader. Do you agree with him that gays can and should be taught to be “straight” and that homosexuality can be cured?
Of perhaps even more important, in my view, is this: Do you agree with Jerry Falwell’s anti-Semitism?
I suppose the overarching fear is that fundamentalists believe that the entire Bible is the word of God, such that the Constitution of the country can be trumped by some religious zealot’s reading of a book that very few of us are prepared to take literally.
Render unto God that which is God’s; render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s. When in a Canadian parliament, the member is doing Caesar’s work.
Rafe Mair, a regular columnist for The Tyee, can be heard every weekday morning from 8:30-10:30 on 600AM, His website is www.rafeonline.com