(a post in support of the Blog Against Theocracy)
It has long frustrated the Religious Right that the political tactics they have employed successfully in the U.S. for the past several decades have failed to gain any traction in Canada. Groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Action Coalition have tried time and again to influence politicians’ votes on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion by threatening to mobilize their members to vote against them. Fortunately, they have always failed miserably because they don’t have anywhere near the numbers to pull it off.
There are several impediments to the Religious Right gaining a significant foothold here in Canada. One is our innate sense of decorum. We tend to think of religion as a personal, private matter that we do not casually discuss with strangers. It’s considered rude, and it’s certainly not something we want to hear from our politicians no matter how religious we might be ourselves.
An even more significant roadblock may be the success of our society itself. It must be remembered that almost all repressive regimes and conservative religious movements, including the current one in the U.S., have their beginnings in social and economic upheaval. When times are bad, people look for someone or something to blame. Poverty begets crime, divorce, substance abuse, social alienation, and any number of other social ills, all of which are seen as causes instead of symptoms. Religious and social conservatism can then be sold to a willing electorate as the panacea that will cure all of their problems.
Our problem in Canada is that we’re too happy. Our economy is strong, our standard of living high. The gap between the rich and poor is kept in check through taxation and our social safety net. Poorer regions are kept from becoming too poor through transfer payments from a strong central government. We have affordable access to health care and education and housing. We have an independent judiciary that protects all minorities from the tyranny of the majority. We do not feel constantly under threat of violence, either on our streets or in the wider world.
We certainly have our share of problems, but when you compare our situation with that of the U.S. we really don’t have a lot to complain about.
We cannot become complacent. We must hold fast to our compassion, our tolerance, and our respect for one another. Because the minute things start to get bad (and they will), the vultures will descend and start whispering in our ears. They won’t talk about God or Christ at first - they will use terms like ‘family values’ and ‘tradition’ and ‘average Canadians’. They will speak with nostalgia and longing of better, simpler days when everyone looked like us and respected their elders and we all went to church every Sunday.
This is how it started in the United States. This is how it started in Australia. It's starting here right now.
We cannot let it happen.