A Religious Revival and the Politics of Nunavut
Richard Bartholomew printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Sep 04, 2006 at 06:44:36 PM EST
With help from the Promise Keepers and missionaries, a Pentecostal Inuit politician and activist has been pushing for "Christian values" in northern Quebec.
Severe damage to ancient petroglyphs on the island of Qajartalik in Northern Canada has brought attention to a neo-Pentecostal revival which has reportedly been making great inroads among the Inuit of Quebec; the archaeologist who discovered the vandalism, Daniel Gendron, was originally reported as believing that the damage
follows the pattern of previous attacks by members of what he called "a very strong movement" of conservative Christians in Kangiqsujuaq and several other Inuit communities in northern Quebec.

Residents of Kangiqsujuaq dispute the accusation, and Gendron himself has since claimed that he was misquoted. However, the dramatic influence of the revival is not in question - Christian sources claim that while a few years ago 90% of the town's adults were alcoholics, today 90% are "born again".

I examined the contours of the religious revival over on my blog, noting the role of a Manitoba-based missionary, Roger Armbruster, and his close political associate Tagak Curley. Curley is an Inuit businessman and long-time activist, who was apparently largely responsible for the Canadian government recognising the word "Inuit" in preference to "Eskimo". He also played an important role in the establishment of Nunavut as a territory.

However, when Curley stood in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly elections in 2004, with a view to becoming Nunavut's premier, it was a on a platform familiar to religious-right watchers; the Canadian Press reported:

Observers agree religion became a political issue in Nunavut last fall, when [Paul] Okalik's government pushed through a new Human Rights Act that included issues such as protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

... "The special rights that are accorded to others more than ours, that believe in one union between man and woman, is something that is absolutely new to this part of the world," Curley said after announcing his candidacy.

"Now that we know what the law of God is, it really is much more clear that it's not necessarily the best of lifestyles."

Curley said the legislation "could lead to a situation where we become a habitat for that kind of lifestyle."

With the support of southern conservative lobby groups such as REAL Women, Curley said he would seek to amend the human rights bill if he is chosen premier by his fellow members of the legislative assembly.

... James Arreak, pastor of the Iqaluit Christian Fellowship and one of the leaders of Nunavut's new fundamentalist movement, calls Curley "a strong part of our leadership."

Arreak is one of several Inuit preachers in the process of organizing the fundamentalist congregations in all of Nunavut's 27 communities into a single church. That church, he says, considers the creation of Nunavut to be a sign from God for the Inuit to renew and redefine themselves.

The Nunatsiaq News explained the alliance with the missionary Armbruster:

Armbruster said he doesn't want to tell the people of Nunavut how to vote on election day, but he insists that the acknowledgment of the "supremacy of God" within the Charter of Rights gives elected political leaders the right to express their personal moral values.

...And he said that in Nunavut, "there is a real warfare over the government, as the enemy seeks to influence those in office to be controlled by deceptive thoughts or by humanistic thinking rather than by the Word of God."

In an interview, he explained that this "warfare" is a war between "truth and lies."

"Lies" include the notion that homosexuality is innate at birth, that gays and lesbians have rights that should be acknowledged in human rights charters, and that same-sex marriage should be sanctioned by the state.

The report goes on to explain how Armbruster's ministry, "Canada Awakening", is devoted to "building the indigenous church in Canada's north," and how Bible conferences have become popular:

A bible conference last September in Baker Lake drew about 600 people, and cost $300,000 in charter fares alone. In April 2003, a conference in Kangirsuk drew hundreds of Inuit from 21 communities throughout Nunavut and Nunavik.

At the Baker Lake conference, participants such as Patterk Netser, then the newly elected member for Nanulik, held up signs saying "Jesus is Lord over Nunavut," printed for them by a group called Prayer Canada, which encourages political activism on the part of fundamentalist Christians.

The following year, Baker Lake saw Curley stand alongside the Promise Keepers:

Two ministers from Promise Keepers Canada joined Rankin Inlet North MLA [Member of the Legislative Assembly] Tagak Curley, and long-time preacher David Aglukark, for a weekend conference mainly devoted to teaching males "how to be a man," organizers said.

...The Arviat meeting, which promotional material described as being about "men of sexual purity and holiness," marked the first time the increasingly popular organization has ventured into Nunavut, where evangelical Christian conferences are growing in size and number.

An anonymous article preserved on at a reposted site gives some further context (footnotes removed):

David Sweet, Conservative Candidate for Ancaster - Dundas - Flamborough - Westdale, is the former President of Promise Keepers Canada, and his wife is a current director of the organization. Mr. Sweet's views on the proper roles of men were made clear by comments he made to Christian Week in 2001: "[M]en are natural influencers, whether we like it or not.. There's a particular reason why Jesus called men only. It's not that women aren't co-participators. It's because Jesus knew women would naturally follow." In line with Promise Keeper doctrine, Mr. Sweet also told the Toronto Star in 2002 that he "absolutely" thought homosexuality was a sin and that "the Scriptures [are] the word of God." David Aglukark, Conservative Candidate for Nunavut, helped arrange a trip by Promise Keepers Canada to Nunavut in August 2004 for a meeting with local coreligionists, and strongly endorsed the mission: "I have been wanting to see a meeting or seminar like this for so many years and I am so thankful to my Lord Jesus Christ," Mr. Aglukark said.

Curley was not successful in his bid for the Nunavut premiership, but he remains an MLA. One of his particular interests is support for Israel; he has joined Armbruster and other Aboriginal Canadians on pilgrimages to the country (see here) and he runs a charity for "impoverished Israeli children."




Display:
how Christian right politics is infusing into the lives and cultures of indigenous peoples.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Sep 09, 2006 at 12:44:15 AM EST

"how Christian right politics is infusing into the lives and cultures of indigenous people."

I don't think that indigenous peoples think, like westerners do, in terms of "the left" and "the right" in our politics.  They have a holistic world-view which integrates all of reality into oneness.

In areas like restorative justice, and valuing community over individualism, and compassion for the poor and underprivileged, their politics might be said, in our mind-set, to be "left-wing."

However, long before any missionaries came, there was, is, and has always been, in an aboriginal worldview, respect for certain traditional values that some might seem as "right wing."  To say that they were influenced by the "Christian right" is nonsense.

Even in traditional native politics, every council meeting, for example, is always opened with a prayer to the Creator, and the singing of a hyman.  It has nothing to do with the "Christian right."

The indigenous peoples have always integrated the world of spirit with the world of nature, and see their rights having been given to them by the Creator, not by human governments.

If "human rights" come from human governments, then they are not inalienable and inherent, because what one government legislates, another and succeeding government can just as easily de-legislate.  What the government gives, the government can take away.

But rights that come from the Creator are inalienable, and come to us on the based that we are all human beings created by the same Creator.

Correspondingly, these indigenous cultures have a high regard for the traditional family, and for traditional family values.  It comes from a respect for the natural order of things in that human life requires the union of one male and one female for its own survival and preservation.  

So support for "marriage" as the union of one man and one woman is not exclusively a concept of the "Christian right."  It is simply a respect for the created order that is inherent in many indigenous cultures.

To impose this type of terminology of "right" vs. "left" is, in itself, an imposition of our way of thinking upon a people who think differently from us, and who we could learn from.  Indigenous government is based on consensus, in which legislators sit in a circle, not in a party system that encourages partisan politics where legislators engage in a confrontation-adversary approach.  In an indigenous Council, every voice is heard and listened to.  We could learn from that.

So to judge the Nunavut government, or the government of First Nations, for that matter, with how government is done in the dominant culture is really not appropriate in my own view.

by cheers on Sun Oct 08, 2006 at 09:31:30 PM EST


By the way, when Tagak Curley was narrowly defeated to become the Premier of Nunavut, he was the first one to stand up and to congraulate Paul Okalik, and to promise to work together.  Also, something which the Nunatsiaq News did not report (for whatever reason) is that Tagak Curley, as the very first order of business of the new session of the Nunavut Legislature, moved a motion in which the 19 members of the Nunavut legislature agreed to work together in unity for the good of the people.  There was unanimity in that 19 members supported this motion.

I can't conceive of anything like this happening in western politics where we think in terms of "right" vs. "left", and of the "government side" vs. the "opposition side."  Again, we can learn from them.

by cheers on Sun Oct 08, 2006 at 09:37:25 PM EST


"With help from the Promise Keepers and missionaries, a Pentecostal Inuit politician and activist has been pushing for 'Christian values' in northern Quebec."

Tagak Curley is an MLA in Nunavut, not in northern Quebec, which is a different area altogether.

Nor has he received any political help in any way, shape or form from the Promise Keepers.  The Promise Keepers have been in Nunavut 2-3 times, but their meetings were solely for the healing of marriages, not to take a political stand in Nunavut, or to in any way tell people who to vote for.

by cheers on Fri Oct 13, 2006 at 10:49:46 AM EST



WWW Talk To Action


Mike Pence and The Roots of the Right-Wing "Political Correctness" Conspiracy Theory
The term "Political Correctness" was hijacked by right-wing ideologues in the late 1980s to trivialize and disparage concern for basic human rights for people......
By Chip Berlet (2 comments)
Mike Pence in 2006 spearheaded a mean-spirited plan to deport all undocumented immigrants
Many of us know Indiana Governor Mike Pence as a nasty homophobe with a carefully-crafted respectable demeanor. But did you know that In 2006,......
By Chip Berlet (5 comments)
What's Past is Prologue: Dominionism is Still Rising
For a half century, a theocratic political movement has been rising in the U.S.  Like any large, successful movement in history, it has a......
By Frederick Clarkson (4 comments)
For Salon.com readers - On Donald Trump and William S. Lind
For readers clicking on the first link in Paul Rosenberg's Salon.com interview with Bruce Wilson, here is a link to my recent report (first......
By Bruce Wilson (2 comments)
Education For Everyone: In Defense Of `Government Schools'
Over the weekend, The New York Times ran a story about a trend among far-right conservatives in Kansas who call public schools "government schools."The......
By Rob Boston (6 comments)
Southern Churches and July 4th Celebrations
I have noticed a growing trend that is spreading like a prairie wild fire regarding July 4th.  Churches are  celebrating the holiday as never......
By wilkyjr (11 comments)
Bitten By A Tiger: Huckabee Must Pay For Unauthorized Use Of Song
Former Arkansas governor and Religious Right favorite Mike Huckabee has not been having a good year.Huckabee won the Iowa GOP caucus in 2008 and......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Trump Meets Man Who Inspired 2011 Terror Attack Deadlier Than Orlando Shooting
"It appears that the shooter was inspired by various extremist information that was disseminated over the internet" -- President Barack Obama, June 13, 2016,......
By Bruce Wilson (2 comments)
Terrorism as a "Marketing Method"
On the same day in 2011 during which he single-handedly blew up and shot to death 77 Norwegian citizens (mostly teenagers) and injured an......
By Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Let's Can the Name Calling about Islam
President Obama rose to the occasion in the wake of the horror in Orlando. The president made clear in a speech on June 14th......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
50 Shades of Patriarchal Grey
In what must be one of the worst public relations disasters in university history, wealthy donors to Baylor University recently took out a full......
By wilkyjr (3 comments)
Pious Proclamation Panned: Iowa's Governor Goes Around The Bend With Bible-Touting Document
Some elected officials have a bad habit of releasing official proclamations lauding the Bible, Christianity or religion generally.We at Americans United find these proclamations......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Unreasonable Argument: Sometimes What Everyone Knows Just Isn't So
Over the weekend, a group of atheists, humanists, agnostics and others held a "Reason Rally" in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.Thousands......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
Above The Law?: Ala. Chief Jurist Demands No Accountability
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is in legal hot water again and has no one to blame but himself - but, as usual, he......
By Rob Boston (9 comments)
Thomas More Was No Patron Of Religious Freedom
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is preparing to kick off its annual Fortnight for Freedom. This year the two weeks of......
By Frank Cocozzelli (1 comment)

History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (13 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (5 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (3 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (2 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (3 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (9 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (2 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (3 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (8 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (13 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.