Ric McIver says Calgary’s March for Jesus just another faith event
PC leadership hopeful Ric McIver may be facing his own Lake of Fire crisis. The Calgary MLA attended the March for Jesus Sunday, organized by the controversial Pastor Art Pawlowski.
McIver tweeted a photo of himself with marchers in the background. An entirely predictable firestorm of controversy quickly erupted on social media.
At issue is Pawlowski’s views on homosexuality. Here’s the excerpt from marchforjesus.ca that’s being widely shared and commented upon:
Last year alone, Calgary’s streets were flooded with people of wrong sexual preferences during a homosexual parade of over 30,000 attendees and none of them were embarrassed the slightest to publicly even present their nakedness in front of families and in front of future generations to openly proclaim and manifest that they are not ashamed to declare the name of their master (Satan) and in the same way not concerned with provoking greatly the wrath of the Living God.
The paragraph refers to Calgary’s Pride Parade. Apparently everyone who attended are “people of wrong sexual preferences” who worship Satan, including then-premier Alison Redford and Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
Talk about echoes of Pastor Alan Hunsperger’s infamous “Lake of Fire” blog post that sunk the 2012 election campaign of Danielle Smith and the Wildrose Party.
Shortly after that controversy erupted, I interviewed Ric McIver – then the PC candidate for Calgary Hays – about the effect on his campaign. He said the phones starting ringing shortly after and a few days later, after Wildrose candidate Dr. Ron Leech opined on radio that being a caucasian helped his campaign, his office was flooded with volunteers and calls for lawn signs. As everyone remembers, the PCs staged a miraculous comeback and decimated Wildrose at the polls.
My point here is that McIver understands perfectly how the Christian right view of homosexuality plays with Albertans: Not well.
At first I thought McIver’s decision to open the March for Jesus parade – and publicly reinforce his support for Pawlowski – was calculated. Maybe he was making a play for soft Wildrose supporters in Calgary and rural Alberta? Social conservative Christians are motivated and they can be engaged politically, witness Rob Anders’ long reign in the federal riding of Calgary West. Leadership races are all about selling party memberships and numbers count.
But McIver’s Monday statement on his Facebook page suggests the March for Jesus decision was anything but strategic.
He claimed he attends events from many religious and secular groups, and defended March for Jesus as part of his commitment to “attend events celebrating the diversity of Alberta.”
You know, just another day at the office.
But Pawlowski and his ministry are anything but just another faith group.
The controversial pastor is a polarizing figure in Calgary. He has been convicted of violating Calgary bylaws prohibiting the use of amplifiers (outside City Hall). City Hall employees complain that he makes vicious comments about homosexuals as they walk by he and his followers on their way to and from work. And in 2012 Pawlowski and one his supporters inserted themselves at the head of the Calgary Stampede parade despite not being invited to participate.
The man craves confrontation with authority so he can hold himself up as a victim. Whatever good he does feeding and clothing the homeless of Calgary is subsumed by his petulant craving for publicity and attention.
If we are known by those we associate with, Pawlowski is not a winner for Ric McIver. Alberta is abuzz with news of the gaffe and the candidate’s awkward attempt to justify his March for Jesus decision.
Too bad. McIver was running an interesting populist campaign, painting himself as man of the people who listened to his “bosses” – Alberta voters – and promised to restore fiscal sanity to the provincial treasury.
Maybe PC voters will forget about McIver’s association with Pawlowski, who last year attributed the devastating Alberta flooding to Godly retribution for embracing abortion and homosexuality. Shades of Pat Robertson, the nutjob American televangelist.
But I doubt McIver’s opponents will let them. Supporters are already digging up past McIver comments and videos standing firmly behind Pawlowski. Ric McIver appears about to feel the full wrath of social media shaming.
Let’s remember that he brought it upon himself with one of the dumbest political decisions since Smith defended Hunsperger, arguing that she wasn’t about to trample on his right to free speech.
I think we all remember how that played out.