Dennis Gruending writes some of my favourite pieces on the intersection of religion and politics in Canada at Pulpit and Politics. He was a member of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and a member of parliament for the NDP.
Despite being religious, he’s generally on the same side as me on most social issues, and is also concerned about the rise of the evangelical right in Canada.
So this means I’m excited to hear that he’s publishing a book by the same name as his blog:
I have been struck over the past few years by the growing competition between religious progressives and conservatives for power and influence in Canadian politics. This is an historic rivalry and one that will become even more pronounced now that Stephen Harper has won a majority government, partly through the efforts of religious conservatives. Their political agenda is anchored in opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, publicly funded childcare, a dislike of many social programs, and a general suspicion of government. Since its inception in 2006, the Harper government has courted conservative evangelicals, along with certain Catholic and Jewish voters, to join a political coalition that would change Canada into a leaner and meaner state, albeit it one with more prisons and a larger military.
Which sounds quite similar to the themes of Marci McDonald’s “The Armageddon Factor” from this past year, but Gruending expands:
The book will look closely at the political ideology and tactics of religious conservatives, but that is only half of the story. I will also report on efforts by religious progressives who are struggling to have their voices heard on issues of equality, justice, human rights, and peace. This is an effort that plays out on Parliament Hill, as well in church basements, synagogues and temples. It is not merely a topic of casual interest; the consequences for our future are potentially dramatic. Religious faith informs political decisions about the division of wealth in our society, education and race relations, immigration, respect for democracy, foreign policy, and environmental issues, to name just a few.
So he’ll cover the religious left too, which should be interesting. He has more on the book at his blog.
I find his religious right versus left dichotomy a bit strange. The religious conservatives tend to paint themselves as fighting against we evil secularists, which of course is an easier group to vilify than people who think of God as love.
I also wonder how much credit Gruending will give to the rise of secularism in Canada. Humanists like Henry Morgantaler blazed the trail for abortion rights in this country.
Nevertheless, it should be an interesting read.