A minister who has drawn criticism from members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community because of his sexual politics, among other views, will be in Sidney this Saturday.
Art Lucier, a leader of the Kelowna-based Harvest Ministries International, will be speaking at the Mary Winspear Centre as part of the so-called Battle for Canada, a continuous series of multi-day long revival meetings staged by the Revival Reformation Alliance with its next Battle for Canada scheduled for Kelowna, Feb. 18-20, 2020. St. John, NB., and Edmonton, Alta., held recent editions of the events, which features a variety of speakers from various Christian denominations. Harvest Ministries International is a part of Revival Reformation Alliance.
Lucier said in an interview with the Peninsula News Review that the Sidney event attempts to explain the agenda of the alliance to help drum up support for the Kelowna event. Battle of Canada is a “unity movement of all nations, including First Nations, all denominations to pray for the nation of Canada,” said Lucier, who describes himself as card-carrying member of the Metis nation.
“We can call it the Battle for the Canada, because for Christians, we see the eroding the morals, of values, that are in line with the foundation on which this nation was established on,” he said. “So prayer is a type of warfare. It is a battle of the moral foundation for this nation.” He later added that it is also important for Christians to run for government.” We believe that we need to come together as a church to pray for government, but also to get involved in government.”
This language echoes language popular among certain circles of Christian fundamentalists in the United States. When asked whether Lucier sees himself in the same tradition, he disagreed.
“We actually stand for progressive, conservative values,” he said. “We are a movement that believes in progressive, conservative values. We believe that we need to pray for our nation and that is why we are gathering.”
Promotional videos for the group do not necessarily suggest politics that meet the prevailing definition of progressive politics. They feature images of pro-pipeline protesters, anti-abortion activists, and opponents of Motion 103, a non-binding motion calling for the condemnation of “Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.” (Lucier said his group believes in moving oil to market and free speech).
One of the videos draws attention to Bill C-150 passed under the Liberal government of Pierre Elliot Trudeau. The bill passed in 1969 decriminalized homosexuality in Canada and stands as a milestone for the expanding rights of members of the LGBTQ+ community. Bill C-150 also decriminalized abortion if a so-called therapeutic abortion committee of doctors felt the pregnancy endangered the mental, emotional or physical well-being of the mother.
A 1988 Supreme Court of Canada ruling later found that the committee provision violated the Charter of Rights and Freedom in effectively expanding abortion access. While the law remains in place, the 1988 court ruling has rendered it unenforceable.
Lucier said his group drew the link between Trudeau and Bill C-150 to draw attention to the abortion, not same-sex rights.
“We believe that life begins at conception,” he said. “That is why we put Bill C-150 there.” By way of the background, Lucier has been promoting screenings of Unplanned, an anti-abortion movie.
The Battle for Canada movement has also drawn criticism from the LGBTQ+ community, when it stopped in Edmonton and North Battleford, where a local lawyer called the group an “anti-LGBTQ+, anti-reproductive rights, pro-Trump extremist right-wing political-church” in a lengthy social media post.
So how does Lucier respond to these charge of homophobia? “That is all relative,” he said. “They can look at any statement that I have made and judge from there.” When pressed, Lucier said his group believes in “rights for everyone.” Would that include LGBTQ+? “We believe in rights and we don’t believe in discrimination of anybody including homosexuals,” he said. When asked whether that includes all groups that identify as LGBTQ+, Lucier demurred. “I’m just going to leave it like that.”
Based in Kelowna with its history of social and religious conservatism, Lucier is travelling to one of the most liberal corners of the province, raising the question of how his message will resonate.
“We are looking for healing and unity between the nations, and we are looking to have people understand that God loves us all,” he said. “That is about it. We know and understand that people who find themselves marginalized want to attack any and all institutions they feel that come against their personal choice. That is unfortunate, but that is not our intention.”
Lucier’s pending appearance in Sidney also draws attention to his environmental politics. A strong supporter of pipelines, Lucier declined to answer questions about climate change and the agenda of local MP Elizabeth May.
“I have no comment about climate change,” he said.
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