If Stephen Harper believes in God, why is he indifferent to the environment?
Particularly aggressive in criticizing environmental scientists has been Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, a former banker. Despite lacking any scientific background or training, he has sparred aggressively and publicly with former NASA scientist James Hansen, a central figure in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, at one point even accusing him outright of “crying wolf” about global warming.
While pursuing an “attack and destroy” mission against the environment and environmentalists, Stephen Harper has also established rigid control over government behaviour and release of information. Canada is now known as one of the most strictly controlled of all so-called “ democracies”.
Given that his Christian affiliation is so important to him, it is odd that a deeply-rooted Christianity should nevertheless allow Canada’s Prime Minister to pursue such a tightly scripted, aggressively unscientific and ecologically unsound policy trajectory. It has even led some Christians to wonder aloud if his faith is insincere:
“I don't think that Stephen Harper shares the moral convictions of his evangelical denomination, the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church. I think the whole thing was a scam and part of creating his public persona” said one commentator.
Armageddon and a path toward environmental destruction
This trajectory is indeed dramatically out of step with the mainstream of Christian and other faith communities, which have been characterized recently – and with good evidence – as quietly and continuously driving “ the largest civil society movement in the conservation world”.
Understanding Stephen Harper’s anti-science, anti-environmental stance is only possible by looking closely at the narrowly partisan church to which Stephen Harper formally migrated in 1988.
In that year, the United Church of Canada, with which Stephen Harper and his father (a long-time accountant for Imperial Oil) had been connected for many years, allowed gays and lesbians to act as ministers.
Enraged by this turn of events, both father and son both left the United Church. Stephen Harper soon became involved with the Christian and Missionary Alliance – the same denomination as his increasingly close political colleague, Preston Manning. The nerdy, quiet (but not shy) and studious city boy from the middle-class Toronto suburb of Leaside has remained there ever since.
The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C & MA) was formed in 1897. It was initially not a church, but rather a collection of religious bodies committed to aggressive global evangelism and conversion. It was established by a Canadian from Prince Edward Island named Albert Benjamin Simpson.
Simpson was initially a conventional Presbyterian minister, but he moved to the US early in his career, eventually parting company with Presbyterian Church. After several false starts, the C & MA was forged under his guidance, with a singular and uncompromising purpose: to carry Christian teachings all over the world in order to convert “unbelievers.”
The teachings of the C & MA are based on a literal interpretation of the Christian Bible, which is deemed to be “inerrant ”, i.e. true in every way. The Bible is further seen as “a complete revelation of His will”.
Simpson’s main teaching was “The Fourfold Gospel”, which states that Jesus is the Saviour, Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King for all people. Embedded in all these teachings is the restrictive notion that “contrary to what contemporary culture tells us, there are not multiple paths to God. There is only one: Jesus Christ.”
People in the C & AM are in the camp of religious believers who think all today’s problems are ultimately unimportant, because they will be resolved, literally in a stroke, by Jesus coming back to earth.