There hasn’t been much to indicate that funding to KAIROS will be restored anytime soon. KAIROS did submit another application for funds a few months back, as blogger “Bene Diction” points out, but has heard nothing. Other groups, such as the Canadian Council for International Co-operation have apparently been cut off too – for ideological reasons.
Although the Anglican Church of Canada has not received warning from government agencies to censor its expressions of its social, economic and justice positions, others have been told their “policy positions were under scrutiny.” The big stick appears to be “be careful of your advocacy”. In other words, aid organizations, like KAIROS continue to be caught in the middle of ideological position-taking coming from the highest level of Canadian government.
We should not be surprised that the refusal to continue funding KAIROS – something the Canadian government has been pleased to do for over 35 years, recognizing the organization’s “exemplary work” – is based on accepting one religious/political world view over another. Marci McDonald’s 2010 book The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada outlines the development of Canada’s own version of American “Christian Reconstructionism” and “Dominion Theology” that heavily influence the Tea Party Movement and inform the thinking of 2012 presidential hopefuls like Texas governor Rick Perry and Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann. According to this theological world view and way of thinking, literal interpretations of Old Testament law will inform a “reconstructed” nation based on a kind of theocratic rule that would replace democratic processes. It should be noted that Reconstructionism’s theological guru, JR Rushdoony, firmly believed that the rule of Biblical law and democratic processes are totally incompatible. Thus is the theological underpinning of the so-called “Christian Right”. Let’s hope that it doesn’t come to a Canada near you.
Commenting on the rise of the radical Christian right in the United States, Frank Shaeffer, son of the late evangelical philosopher Francis Shaeffer, writes, “anyone who wants to understand American politics, not to mention North American religion, had better get acquainted with the reconstructionists. For instance, these folks just held America hostage in the debt crisis, an attempt to – literally – destroy the government’s ability to function at all; a manufactured “crisis” in which Bachmann was a leading proponent of a scorched earth ‘destroy the system’ politics”. Not a pretty picture.
While no Rick Perrys or Michelle Bachmanns have arisen on this side of the border, McDonald reports that we have our own brand of right-wing Christian ideology that is influencing Canadian public policy makers. The negative influence of this kind of theological thinking is clear in the case of KAIROS funding. McDonald writes that the Canadian Overseas Development Agency at first denied that KAIROS’ funding was cut because of statements about the Alberta oil sands or Canadian mining companies’ abuses overseas. But CIDA then turned around and reported that KAIROS had been “defunded” because they had participated in boycott and divestment campaigns against Israel — a stance illogically labeled as “anti-semitism”, but understandable in terms of a specific theological stance.
Observes McDonald, “within the parameters of Harper’s theo-con strategy, some expressions of Christianity were acceptable and others were not. Those that fell in line with Conservative policies and values would benefit from the government’s magnanimity; the rest would be left to fight for survival in a struggle that was ultimately not as much about faith as it was about political hardball” (Armageddon Factor, pp. 350-351).
Something to think about. But whatever one thinks of McDonald’s analysis – whether one accept it or rejects it as unfounded – one thing is clear: As Anglicans, we must continue to fight for the restoration of KAIROS’s government funding. And, it might be added, we must continue to be aware of the theological / ideological battles that would favour one kind of Christian expression over another in what was once proudly known as “The Dominion of Canada” – an epithet which has been stripped of its Biblical meaning by those who would wield the Bible as a tool for their own questionable religious and political agendas on both sides of the border.
As the t-shirt says, “KAIROS is not going away” by the whim of a ministerial pen. Let your voice for KAIROS and for the building of God’s kingdom around the world be heard.
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Note on Another Matter:
nwanglicanblog received a lengthy response to a recent posting that comments on the move of the ANiC congregation in Abbotsford out of its former physical facilities. This response will not be posted on the blog as it reiterates familiar arguments and makes disparaging statements that do not contribute to the advancement of the Gospel.
Your thoughts and comments about the current state of KAIROS government funding and how best to deal with the situation are most welcome.