Harper is a member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church of Canada. I’ve known that for some time. But, as it happens, Trudeau and Mulcair are both members of the Catholic Church. I have to admit to being stunned when I discovered this.1
Now, to be clear, I wasn’t surprised that they’re all Christian. After all, every single Prime Minister and every single Governor General in the history of Canada has been Christian. It’s weird in it’s own way, sure.
The problem is that the Alliance Church and the Catholic Church are anti-gay. That is to say, simply, that they both officially and explicitly believe that gay behaviour is sinful. For similar reasons, both churches are also anti-trans.
Think about what that means for a minute. Within the Catholic and Alliance religious life, for example, no gay behaving person can hold religious office. But this is just a single tiny claw of a much larger monster.
There are many people who try to cover for these churches. “Many members are gay!” they say. “Trudeau and Mulcair were both at Pride this year!” they say. “Ireland legalized gay marriage!” they say. “Our church leaders are trying to change!” “Catholics don’t really care about that!” “The Pope wants to fix it!” “Hate the sin, love the sinner!” “Harper loves gay people!”
I’m here to tell you that Alliance Church folks love gay people the same way they love murderers and rapists and liars. And similarly so for Catholics. They hate gay canoodling like they hate thieving. These are sins against God in heaven. That is the explicit, official doctrine of Harper’s church and also Mulcair and Trudeau’s church.
These are indisputable facts.
And these are facts that have significance. Consider, for example, the vast amounts of money that the Alliance Church spends exporting their beliefs around the world. With roughly 500 Alliance Churches across Canada, and 120,000 members, Canada is an Alliance Church stronghold. They are a missionary, evangelical church and they take “saving” people very seriously.
Or, to really get the impact and magnitude of this, consider what it might be like as a young person being raised in a community that believes homosexual tendencies are an impulse to be curbed not unlike killing your brother or possessing your mother. I get that many Catholics don’t think this, but to the extent that they don’t, they are being bad Catholics. And those Irish Catholics who voted in favour of gay marriage, to the horror of their priests, were being bad Catholics. The same would be true of Alliance Church members who don’t hold the view that gay behaviour is a sin. But, as it happens, I’ve never met one that wasn’t completely devout in this sense.
Again, these facts have consequences.
The American Psychology Association considers anti-gay “conversion therapies” to be fraudulent and dangerous. We’ve banned them in Ontario and many American states. And yet the “therapy” the APA is officially and scientifically opposed to, forms the moral animus of how to raise children in a Catholic or Alliance Church family.
Try to fathom that.
If a young man in an Alliance Church community holds hands with his boyfriend, he will be instructed, encouraged, lectured, grounded, prayed, persuaded, explained, shamed, cajoled, supported, corrected, threatened, interventioned, loved, forgiven and educated not to.
What the rest of us will see as a normal and healthy act of teenage romance, or even love, these churches will see as a moral failing. To be corrected.
It seems to me that this kind of torrential social force is more potent, and more harmful, than gay “conversion therapy”.2
And it’s not just children. The social policing for teenagers, and adults, is also immense. And one of its endpoints is ex-communication from the church, from the community, and from the family. And they will call this tough love. And they will wait for a joyous, prodigal return.
The fact that the three leaders of the three main parties running in the federal election subscribe to this kind of Christianity, is appalling.3
Yes, I get that the Catholic Church has gotten soft and cagey and a little obfuscatory on this issue. They’ve gone a little underground with their, um, official ideology.
And to be fair to Mulcair and Trudeau, I think it’s fair to say that the Conservatives, by and large and in the long run, are a much more anti-gay institution than either the NDP or the Liberals are. I think it’s similarly fair to say that the Conservatives are more anti-trans. Alliance Church ministers, for example, are still recording themselves giving sermons about how acts of gender transition and gay love are moral abominations.4
And so here we are. Mulcair and Trudeau and Harper are each members of an anti-gay church.
I suspect that none of them personally thinks that gay behaviour is a sin. Well, Harper might. Someone should ask them though, because the moral doctrine of their religious communities proclaims that it is.
- Elizabeth May is an Anglican. The Anglican church is not uniform in it’s acceptance of gay marriage nor gay clergy. Thanks to its decentralization, individual churches have ordained openly gay office members. ↩
- This is an open question. Consider it a hypothesis. But even if this social force is equally or less harmful than “conversion therapy”, my point that it’s still seriously impactful holds. ↩
- It’s not clear to me that we should actually let the Anglican Church off the hook here. ↩
- Having said that, the Catholic Church is bigger and has more reach, so the impact of their doctrine has to be understood in those terms as well. ↩