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Stephen Harper is from a Christian fundamentalist church.

Unknown to most Canadians, the prime minister belongs to the Christian and Missionary Alliance, an evangelical Protestant church with two million members. Alberta, a petro state, is one of its great strongholds on the continent. The church believes that the free market is divinely inspired and that non-believers are “lost.” […]

But transparency and full disclosure has become the issue of paramount importance. To date, Harper has refused to answer media questions about his beliefs or which groups inform them.

His public silence on religious questions comes across as reassuring, that despite his personal views he’ll never let religion take control of Canadian politics. Unfortunately, when you scratch the surface you realize the public silence is just a mask for a complete lack of respect for secularism. Here’s the latest example:

Sources tell CTV News that a temporary halt to the processing of some Syrian refugees was ordered earlier this year to make sure the types favoured by the Prime Minister’s Office were being prioritized.

Department of Citizenship and Immigration insiders told CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife that PMO staff went through the files to ensure that persecuted religious minorities with established communities already in Canada — ones that Conservative Leader Stephen Harper could court for votes — were being accepted. Insiders say PMO actively discouraged the department from accepting applications from Shia and Sunni Muslims.

This fits in with a pattern that stretches back years; the Office for Religious Freedom was founded with closed-door meetings with local Christian groups, yet had to be dragged into caring about persecuted atheists. There’s signs of improvement, but it’s a dab of soap in a tub of dirty water. Consider the Conservative’s official platform:

The Conservative Party believes that the family unit is essential to the well-being of individuals and society, because that is where children learn values and develop a sense of responsibility. Therefore government legislation and programs should support and respect the role of the Canadian family. […] We believe that Parliament, through a free vote, and not the courts should determine the definition of marriage.

We support legislation defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. […]

The Conservative Party supports the right of faith based organizations to refuse the use of their facilities to individuals or groups holding views which are contrary to the beliefs or standards of the faith based organization without fear of sanctions or harassment and that discrimination based on the beliefs of a faith based organization be excluded from the definition of disallowed discrimination under Human Rights.

Wow, they’re willing to let religious beliefs trample all over human rights! Head over to Lousy Canuck’s for an in-depth analysis. Thibeault also deserves props for providing me with my lead news story, and the first topics I planned to blog about in this series.

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