There is a growing alliance between social conservatives made up largely of evangelicals and Catholics and the new Conservative Party in power in Canada, reports Religion in the News (Summer). Although the emergence of a religious right and culture wars in the mold of the U.S. is unlikely in Canada, the election of Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper as Prime Minister has created an opening for conservative Christian voters to roll back liberal measures that have been introduced in the country, writes Dennis Hoover. The most likely rallying point is over gay marriage, which the Liberal government endorsed last year, though it was already legal in several provinces.
The gay marriage issue “provoked an unprecedented level of activism from Canada’s growing network of social conservative advocacy groups,” including the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Equipping Christians for the Public Square, and Canada Family Action. Some of these groups “entered the fray in the recent election,” and it was found that at least eight new Conservative candidates had secured their nominations with the support of conservative religious organizations.
In fact, the Conservative’s stronger showing at the polls in 2006 was partly due to the religious vote. Two-thirds of Protestants who attend church voted for the Conservatives–jumping 25 percent from the 2004 elections, according to Andrew Grenville, a leading Canadian religion pollster. Grenville also found that for the first time ever, church-going Catholics voted more Conservative (42 percent) than Liberal (40 percent). Hoover concludes that so far Harper has not been too eager to fan the flames of the culture wars, but the renewed Christian activism gathering around him may serve to at least block further initiatives by the left, such as legalizing prostitution.
(Religion in the News, Leonard Greenberg Center, Trinity College, 300 Summit St., Hartford, CT 06106; http://www.trincoll.edu/depts/csrpl)