‘Communion scandal’ improves Harper’s image

Perhaps this is obvious to everyone, perhaps it has been written about and I have missed it…

Did the ‘Communion scandal‘ actually improved Prime Minister Harper‘s image?  Is that, at least partially, why the polls are saying his popularity is up by 7 points (as per Angus Reid poll, reported on CFRA today)?

Let me explain my reasoning…

Steven Harper is a lot of things:  an awesome economist (and, in these turbulent times, most of us prefer to have an economist rather than a lawyer or an academic without any experience outside the College campus.).  That is a big plus for Mr. Harper.

But, his political opponents have always successfully exploited the fact that, for ever, Steven Harper will be associated (in the minds of most urban Canadians, especially those in Ontario and Quebec) with the ‘Evangelical’ taint his Reform Party past brings.  Rightly or wrongly, the Reform Party could not shake the kind of ‘Sarah Palin-type- thingy’ (please excuse the technical jargon…):  right on so many things, but, kind of scary when it comes to ‘faith issues’….

In some places, politicians are ‘expected’ to be ‘religious’:  it ‘proves’ to the ‘little people’ that they are ‘humble’ and ‘pious’….  This is still true of ‘US conservatives’ – at least, this is more true of them than any other Western ‘group’.

Why these ought to be good qualities in a political leader, I don’t know!

As a matter of fact, I seriously question whether people who are willing to put religious faith above facts and reason – and, especially above the will of voters – ought to be in any positions of power whatsoever.  After all, I would like the laws governing my country to be reasonable – not faith based!

Here, it is important to note that this ‘faith’ could be religious or ideological – it does not make an iota of difference in the practical impact of ‘faith-based’ laws on our society!

Though Canadians are very poor in recognizing ‘ideological faith, we are very sensitive to ‘religious faith’. Therefore, any suggestions that a politician might be so religious as to obey the tenets of his religion over the will of his constituents when drafting laws and policies harms that politician.  It makes it very unlikely that he/she would get a majority, because the large urban areas will not take what they perceive as that big a risk.

And, more and more Canadians are aware of just how many religious leaders abuse their power.  This is not specific to any one faith – one could easily find examples of abuse from just about every religious sect.  Rather, more and more people suspect that the fault lies in allowing any man or woman to exercise power over another, using spirituality as the ultimate weapon:  obey, submit, behave this way and believe this dogma – or you will suffer eternal torture…

That is why most organized religions in Canada are loosing members:  dogmatization of spirituality is becoming more and more unacceptable to urbanized, mainstream Canadians!  And that includes Canadians of all political bends…

When the Roman Catholic Church said that priests ought to deny ‘Communion’ to any politician who does not vote to ban abortion, there was a serious backlash against the Roman Catholic Church.  This was widely understood to be ‘spiritual blackmail’ of the politician:  threatening him/her with eternal damnation of his’her soul UNLESS he/she placed the Papist dogma above the will of their constituents!

The ‘little ‘l’ liberal’ Canadians are loath of any erosion in the ‘secularity’ of our laws: they will never support a politician whom they suspect of having a religious agenda!

Perhaps not surprisingly, there are more and more ‘non-religious’ ‘little ‘c’ conservatives.  People who do support many core conservative values, but who are very uncomfortable with the ‘religious’ component of today’s Conservative movement.  Very, very, very uncomfortable!

Just remember John Tory!

Steven Harper – with all his good and bad points – had a problem shaking the ‘religious’ image of the old Reform Party.  And his political opponents exploited it very, very skilfully.

Now, to this ‘Communion scandal’:

Some Roman Catholic Cleric attacked Steven Harper for his conduct during a Catholic funeral mass which Steven Harper attended.  It would appear that the priest walked up to the people sitting in on the benches in the church.  Steven Harper offered him a hand for a handshake – that is what politicians do, they shake hands as a symbol of greeting or acceptance or a number of other things.

The priest, instead of shaking the offered hand, stuck a communion wafer in it.

Now, the PM was ‘damned if he did/damned if he did not’ do just about anything.

Had he rejected the wafer and tried to give it back to the priest, he would be committing a grave offense:  he would be ‘rejecting Jesus himself’!

Had he tried to minimize damage by pocketing the damned thing and giving it back to the priest later, he would create horrible offense:  one does not ‘stick Jesus in a pocket’!

And, had he committed ritual cannibalism and eaten the ‘literal flesh of Christ’ – as Roman Catholics believe they are doing when they consume a Communion Wafer – he would be giving great offense because non-Roman Catholic Christians are not allowed the salvation which eating the flesh of a dead guy is supposed to bring, according to the RC dogma.

The PM took the latest option.  And, was immediately attacked for not being a fine young cannibal!  A bunch of RC clerics attacked him, for ‘offending their faith’ – while not saying a peep about the latest child sex-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church became public that day!

Steven Harper’s political opponents – seeing an opening to attack – made the most of the story.  The one about the PM accepting a communion wafer – not the one about more RC priest pedophiles.  They ‘shouted it from the rooftops’!  They got it into all kinds of papers, so no Canadian could remain unaware that Steven Harper is insensitive to religion!

Wait a minute!

Steven Harper was trying to shake the ‘he’s too easily influenced by religion’ image – especially among the urban folk.  And now, his opponents are announcing to everyone that Steven Harper is not religious enough???

What an effective way to allay those fears of people who liked him, but worried he might be a religious freak!  He’s just a normal guy, after all!

No wonder that Steven Harper’s popularity went up!

8 Responses to “‘Communion scandal’ improves Harper’s image”

  1. The LS from SK Says:

    I’m with you.

    While I have been disappointed with his lack of action regarding the CHRC – I was impressed that his wife so graciously invited Deborah, Ezra and Mark into the PM Residence. Now that is powerful symbolism.

    I have also started to appreciate his steady hand on the rudder/tiller of power – he never makes a big show of himself. Lke Berlusconi or Sarkozy.

    Lately with some of the decisions of Clement and Kenney – I believe he is letting those most competent handle their own departments.

    I would not be at all surprised with a CPC majority – especially given the opposition! The CPC has had a terrible history of eating their young – so perhaps this internal war is now over.

    • xanthippa Says:

      Thanks, LS!

      And – I fully agree with you: I, too, would like to see more action from Steven Harper on the HRCs. And we are not alone!

      There is a whole blog devoted to shedding some light onto the actions of ‘The Lynch Mob’! http://missnixon.wordpress.com/

      You are right in pointing out that it is a very important symbolical action that Mrs. Harper had invited Ezra, Kathy and others to 24 Sussex. I think it was an important message to all of us that even though the PM is unable to take direct action against the HRCs now, the message we have been sending has ‘reached home’!

      Steven Harper is not rash. He thinks things through. Thoroughly. I think he is simply waiting for the ‘right moment’, when his action would be most effective. He’ll let us weaken their position by exposing their abuses to public scrutiny, and only when the strike he’ll deliver will have attained the power to be a ‘mortal blow’ – only then will he move.

      I would not like to play chess against this guy!

    • Louise Says:

      “Lately with some of the decisions of Clement and Kenney – I believe he is letting those most competent handle their own departments.”

      I would also add Cannon to that list.

      Great piece, Xanthippa! I too thought it was a tempest in a tea pot which served only to further discredit the MSM, if that’s even possible.

      Xanthippa says:

      Thank you!

      And, yes, the MSM came out looking sillier and pettier than ever…

  2. T&P Says:

    Being a Roman Catholic, I really believe this is the kind of stupid story that any believer with some intelligence will just laugh at. Why on earth the priest gives the communion to someone who is not RC? 😆 Well, it’s just nonsense, though perhaps in Canada it has a lot of effects. The thing I don’t understand is why this is voiced by political oponents. Isn’t this a matter of faith, not a political thing?

    About that “eating the dead man” thing, we believe that it’s a consequence of the words of Jesus, “Eat my flesh and drink my blood, do this till the end of all time”.

    Xanthippa says:
    Thanks for the comment!

    The whole ‘broo-ha-ha’ – in my never-humble-opinion – started because the RC church was trying to deflect attention from yet another child molestation scandal within The Church. The news of the scandal broke the same day as the RC clerics started screeching ‘damn the sinner – he offended our religion!!!!’ against the PM. I think they wanted to minimize the news coverage of the pedophilia arrests charges laid against some RC priests just then.

    The ‘MSM’ news these days has very clear ‘slots’: this ‘slot’ for ‘human interest’, that one for ‘scandal’, a little bit on ‘business’, and so on. If The Church succeeded in making the ‘PM snubs Roman Catholics’ THE scandal of the day, then there would be minimal coverage of their own scandal. The ‘main slot’ would already be filled… AND – they succeeded!

    The news-people do not like this PM – he does not treat them as ‘insiders with special privileges’…. so, they are offended that he thinks they are not better than other people – which they DO think they are!

    After all, they have ‘access to power’!!!! At least, they HAD access to power….. until this ‘newcomer’ PM refused to treat them as royalty. Who did he think he was? They were here longer than he – they KNEW ‘the ropes’! And he refused to bow down to them?!?!? Let them ‘take him under their wing’ and ‘show him how to get things done’?!?!? In exchange for ‘inside info’, of course… (and free spots at expensive dinners, and other ‘perks’ they became accustomed to by the previous corrupt government, in exchange for not writing up the worst of the scandals….)

    How dare he!!!

    As a result, the vast majority (with exceptions, of course) of journalists – especially political ones – feel slighted by him and do their best to snub him back, put him down, make even positive things he does – even the ones they themselves like – surrounded by so many ‘backhanded compliments’ that despite the positive story, they make him look bad. Or, they try to!

    The political opposition – well, they would really, really like something to attack him for. But… for all his faults (and he has those, of course), deep down, Steven Harper is a very honest man and he expects honest behaviour from his ministers. So, there is actually very little that he can be attacked for by the opposition politicians!

    His opponents have believed that Steven Harper’s support came from the ‘religious right’. So, they thought any story which could be spun that he is ‘not sensitive’ to religion or religious people would erode his main support base.

    I think that they miscalculated!

    Most religious people – including Roman Catholics – shared YOUR reaction. The attack has backfired on BOTH the RC church AND the PM’s opponents!

    Still, this was not really ‘about’ the Communion Host: it was cheap politicking! And that, I suspect, is ‘universal’….

  3. Davey Says:

    I think at some level even secular Canadians prefer a religious person simply because they will be seen as principled. If there is a significant divergence in these principles, they will not be elected. There is a larger and larer percentage of Canadians, for exampel who would like some restrictions on abortion and there was a majority of Candians against gay marriage when the discussion was underway. So which constituents were not being served?
    For example, liquor l/ gaming aws and beer stores in Ontario have some basis in prohibition (o.k, profit, unions etc play a role now). This has religious overtones.

    Xanthippa says:
    I quite agree with you on the religious overtones! The same is true of Daylight Savings Time, and a myriad of other things. Not good!

    However, I very strongly disagree with your assertion that people who are religious are ‘seen as being principled’ by non-religious people. Not even in a little bit!

    To the contrary: religious people are perceived as being ‘morally lazy’ because submitting one’s moral choices to religious laws is an abdication of one’s own morality and replacing it with simple obedience. Then, if a resulting action proves to be bad, the ‘obedient’ person puts the ‘blame’ on ‘God(s)’, while the ‘moral’ person will face up to the responsibility of following that course of action.

    So, no! Secular Canadians do NOT wish to have leaders who are religious, nor do we see religious people as somehow being ‘principled’. The less religious a leader is, the less he/she will be distrusted.

  4. Leonard Says:

    >>Had he rejected the wafer and tried to give it back to the priest, he would be committing a grave offense: he would be ‘rejecting Jesus himself’!<> http://www.socon.ca/or_bust/?p=1465

    Too bad there was no such card in that particular parish. A simple card like that could have prevented the scandal.

  5. Leonard Says:

    >>Had he rejected the wafer and tried to give it back to the priest, he would be committing a grave offense: he would be ‘rejecting Jesus himself’!<<
    No, that wouldn’t mean rejecting Jesus. That would mean – rejecting communion with the church of which he’s not a member. As a non-Catholic, Stephen Harper couldn’t receive communion in a Catholic Church.

    What he could have done – he could have approached the priest with his arms crossed on his chest – to receive a blessing. Or – he could have stayed at his place when everyone else went to receive communion.

    Here’s some more info on who can receive Communion in the Catholic church and what options are available for someone who is not in full communion with the Church >> http://www.socon.ca/or_bust/?p=1465

    Too bad there was no such card in that particular parish. A simple card like that could have prevented the scandal.

    Xanthippa says:
    Actually, Mr. Harper did not get up and approach the priest at all!

    The PM was seated in the front pew. The priest approached the PM. The PM thought the priest approached him because he wanted to shake hands with him – so he put his own hand out for a hand-shake. As he did that, the priest popped a Communion wafer into the PM’s hand, greatly surprising him by that action!

  6. lennyobruce Says:

    Linkback from missmarprelate.blogspot.com

    Well I don’t agree with most of Xanthippa’s personal opinions but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if there was some validity in this analysis of the Canadian public’s response to Harper’s Communion scandal.


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