Christian activists seek to crucify Garth Turner
It is safe to say that politics and religion are, more often than not, a volatile combination.
Sometimes politics and religion go hand-in-hand. When the need arises, religious
leaders of varying stripes can be effective organizers. Many would consider this to be mainly true of right-wing conservative parties. This isn't necessarily so. Tommy Douglas, the greatest leader ever offered by a Canadian left-wing party, drew his roots directly from Gospel Protestantism -- a socialist breed of Christianity.
But the opposite is just as often the case -- if not more so.
Lately, Conservative MP Garth Turner has had an interesting fight on his hands. At a time when many critics of the Conservative party want to accuse it of being too close to Christian fundamentalists (for the past ten years, in fact), Turner has seemingly incurred the wrath of Charles McVety.
McVety, who is active with a number of Canadian Christian advocacy groups -- including Defend Marriage Canada, the Canada Christian College and the Canada Family Action Coalition -- recently shared a disagreement with Turner over the role of a Christian activist. McVety believes that this role is to defeat "anti-Christian, anti-marriage, anti-life" Conservative MPs with "family-friendly" Christian candidates.
Naturally, with talk such as this, the subject was same-sex marriage. Naturally, it is safe to assume that McVety is opposed to it.
"[McVety's] group, as you can see in the post below, is after my political head since I trashed their stated plans to swamp nomination meetings of Tory MPs who support gay marriage and are otherwise morally deficient," Turner writes on his weblog, The Turner Report. " I said I disagree with any special interest candidates who are foisted on a party or a riding in a stacked nomination meeting, especially when a sitting MP – electable and experienced – is the victim of a one-night hijacking."
The one-night hijacking in question are schemes in which McVety organizes individuals sympathetic to his cause to purchase Conservative party memberships, and flood pre-election nomination meetings in order to help install a candidate who will support his agenda.
Hijacking isn't a new trick for McVety. He has been known to register online domains under the names of politicians, particularly those who oppose his views. Many critics consider this to be cybersquatting. However, because he uses these sites to express opinions regarding each particular politician's views, the law allows him to do so under tenets of acceptable use.
Charles McVety is not a man who believes in the separation of church and state. His plan to supplant the candidates of a political party with religious activists is chilling to those who believe in the secular state. This is precisely what Turner was alluding to when he wrote: "Faith-based politics is fine. It has a long tradition. It can accomplish a lot of good. But when one religious or cultural group engineers a coup, overwhelming existing political party members and workers, and replacing a politician elected by a plurality of people with a single-issue monochromatic militant, well, kiss democracy goodbye."
Supporters of McVety would later try to use this statement to paint him as an anti-religious zealot. Perhaps a person may suggest it would take a zealot to know one, and if this was true McVety would certainly know one if he saw it.
Along with his wife and children, McVety attended the 2005 Liberal party convention aboard his famed "Defend Marriage" tour bus. About the experience he wrote the following: "As in the days of Lot the penalty for the righteous was that they knocked on the doors of Lot and demanded his young men for their sexual pleasure. This was the penalty for the righteous being “wrong” in their eyes. As I stood on a rally platform outside the Convention Centre we prayed that marriage would be defended Canada protected. Hecklers cursed and swore at us and held up a sign displaying the word 'Immoral'."
This would certainly be a frightening bundle of rhetoric, if it didn't instead provoke one very simple response: what the fuck?
He noted that his daughter, confronted by the contempt and fury of the Liberal attendees, asked him: "daddy, why are they spitting at us?" He neglects to mention that he exposed his children to this behavior (as unacceptable as it may indeed be) knowingly and willingly. Which would make a certain amount of sense: his crusade against same-sex marriage is "for the children".
Let it also be known that this is a man who has organized boycotts against Famous Players theatres (for showing an advertisement supporting same-sex marriage) and the Da Vinci Code (apparently for being a fictional book about Christ).
If allowed to garner any significant amount of influence in the Conservative party, McVety would prove to be one of the greatest liabilities in the party's history. Those who suspiciously eye the Conservative party as crusaders aching to turn the clock back to the days when religion took a direct role in governance would suddenly have their poster boy -- a bigger, better poster boy than Stockwell Day ever could have been.
On the other hand, Turner is an absolute treasure for the Conservative party. He is an MP who defies the typical stereotype that critics of the party would like to promote. He may have a firey personality. He may love to get down and scrap with his opponents, but he stands for what he believes in. Most importantly, he is an indispensible voice of dissent within the party -- without such voices, the Conservatives risk becoming victim to that pitfall that has so entirely entrapped the Liberal party: groupthink.
In short, Turner is a Conservative who's not afraid to think outside that little conservative box. Consider this in comparison to McVety, who obviously believes it is some sort of grievous sin to think outside the pages of the Bible. This is like mixing Jedi and Sith: bad fucking idea.
The Conservative party needs to pull Turner in and hold him close, and push McVety as far away as it can. Only then can it step forth from the shadow of Christian fundamentalism, and get on with the business of being a secular political party.
After all, religion and politics can be a nasty mix.