Suburban bigotry: One columnist’s stupid and dishonest account of PM’s religiosity

If I were a Globe and Mail reader, I would have choked on my granola and complacency on July 31 while reading Lawrence Martin’s incredibly stupid and dishonest account of Stephen Harper’s alleged religiosity.

The thesis of the trash was that the prime minister is so committed to evangelical Christianity that he is an irrational extremist.

Discussing Harper’s entirely secular and reasonable doubts about climate change, Lawrence whines: “Because Stephen Harper otherwise appears to be a clear-headed rationalist, there is some wonder about the motivation for these impulses, including the question of whether they are triggered by his evangelical beliefs. The prime minister is a member of the Alliance Church … The church believes the free market is divinely inspired and views science and environmentalism with what might be called scorn.”

First, Harper isn’t very religious. This isn’t a matter of debate, it’s fact. Ask anybody who has worked with him, knows him. He’s a nominal member of the Alliance Church, but seldom discusses faith, often to the chagrin of the genuinely devout members of his caucus.

Paul Martin told us that he’d been an altar boy, Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty has told us repeatedly and dishonestly that he is a Catholic, but not Harper.

Lawrence Martin then quotes another jaundiced writer to support his own prejudice. “Andrew Nikiforuk sees the evangelical creed as being at the root of much of Conservative policy-making in these areas — religion is trumping reason, he says.”

Let’s have some examples of this trumping. Come on, we’re still waiting.

No, totally quiet. Not one example. You might not like Harper or his ideas, but to say that they are a product of Christianity is suburban bigotry.

Harper isn’t very religious.

Paul Martin told us that he’d been an altar boy, Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty has told us repeatedly and dishonestly that he is a Catholic, but not Harper.

There’s more: “While religious privacy is important, the evangelical movement is not a typical religion when it comes to politics. Its aggressive propagation of social conservatism and biblical fundamentalism has had a significant impact.”

Like evangelicals William Wilberforce or John Brown and the campaign to end slavery, Lord Shaftesbury and his work to end child labour, Martin Luther King and his sublime efforts to achieve racial justice, or Tommy Douglas and his work on behalf of public medicine.

As for the Alliance Church, it certainly doesn’t worship the free market or campaign against environmentalism, but does raise millions of dollars for foreign aid, runs soup kitchens and shelters the poor.

Then, just for good measure: “Being an evangelical does not necessarily mean he holds to all evangelical teachings,” writes Martin, “just as being Catholic does not necessarily mean one believes a communion wafer is literally the body of Christ.” What! It’s almost the only thing that does, you twit. If you don’t believe in transubstantiation, you’re not a Catholic; if you do, you are. You can believe in almost all of the other teachings of the church, but if you deny the wafer becomes the body of Christ, you are not a serious Catholic.

It’s almost — forgive me — miraculous that in such a short column a man can be so absurd. I’ll pray for him. Not sure if the prime minister will, but I’m sure Lawrence Martin can pretend that he does.

– Read the original article by Michael Coren at