Saturday, November 13, 2004

Michael Coren: Christians Being Used as Scapegoats

Sat, November 13, 2004
The scapegoats are on the right
By MICHAEL COREN

This past week has been a disgrace for journalism. Especially for Canadian journalism. Especially for liberal Canadian journalism.
Apparently unable to tolerate losing in the game of democracy, left-leaning pundits decided to blame the participants. Welcome to the hellish world of The Christian Right.
I've never seen such flummery and nonsense in all my life. A toxin of ignorance and bitterness suddenly flowed into the media bloodstream and poisoned the body politic. The very nature of free speech and political expression was challenged.
Why? Because the left lost. They had to find a scapegoat because they couldn't come to terms with their own failures. Just as with minorities of old, the best type of scapegoat is someone you don't really know but really know you're supposed to hate.
After U.S. President George Bush's re-election last week, one rather glib Canadian pundit opined: "Half of the United States wants to be like Canada, the other half like Iran."
How awfully clever. Yes that's right, 150 million Americans want to amputate limbs as a form of punishment and sponsor international terrorism.
But in Canada this is accepted as intelligent analysis. It is what we have come to expect from the influential minority group known as The Secular Left. They dominate political parties, are well organized and are vehemently intolerant. They are also incapable of listening to the inherent contradictions in their own arguments.
It needn't be that way. The public square should be a place for civil, if heated, debate. No voice need be marginalized and no viewpoint silenced as being extreme or unacceptable. The reality, however, is fundamentally different.
The Secular Left may advocate, for example, gay marriage, abortion on demand, the removal of prayer from schools, more state intervention in the family, lowering the age of sexual consent and full access to pornography on television.
The Christian Right may advocate, for example, no gay marriage, no abortion on demand, prayer in schools, less state intervention in the family, raising the age of sexual consent and limited access to pornography on television.
I have views on all these issues, but I do not see one as extreme and one as moderate, or one as intelligent and one as stupid. It is surely acceptable, indeed laudable, to have differing views on such vital topics in a thriving democracy.
But what we have been told by so many in the media this past week is that the people who hold one of these sets of opinions are righteous -- and the others want to stone people to death.
Let me tell you about some members of the alleged Christian Right whom I know. They are real, but I have altered their names.
The Van Pelts have six children. Their fifth child is a Down Syndrome boy, Timmy. "You never quite stop grieving for the normal child you lost, even though he never existed," says Jean Van Pelt. "But the love is overwhelming."
The Van Pelts are not wealthy, but their sixth child is adopted. They are white; he is black. And he also has Down Syndrome. "He needed us more than other children," says Jean. "If we're not here to help, there's no point." The Van Pelts voted for Bush.
The Burmans lead their church mission to the inner city. They never discuss Jesus unless asked, but they do work with alcoholics, drug addicts and the abused. Both Dean and Cindy Burman have been physically attacked in their work, but they wouldn't abandon their friends for anything. They voted for Bush.
Rick Kelly is a widower. His wife died five years ago and since then he has raised their four children alone. The tears are less common now, but they never completely stop. Rick's church has raised millions of dollars to help fight AIDS in Africa and also supports an AIDS hospice in the U.S. Rick voted for Bush.
The Christian Right. Some are saints, some are the contrary. They can be intolerant and annoying. Just like, in fact, The Secular Left.
But we all have a right and a responsibility to have an influence over our political system. How outrageous that the smug and powerful encourage one group but despise the other.
Thing is, Jean, Dean, Cindy and Rick will forgive them. Perhaps it's this that makes them so very angry.