The Right Reverend Geoffrey Woodcroft, the thirteenth clergyman consecrated into the Apostolic Order to have occupied the diocesan See of Rupert’s Land and its present incumbent, was recently featured in an article by John Longhurst of the Winnipeg Free Press. Now, one must keep in mind that when it comes to the Winnipeg Free Press, which has been an organ for Liberal Party disinformation since the days when it was edited by John Wesley Dafoe – 1901 to 1944 – it is best not to believe everything one reads or even, for that matter, to give the paper the benefit of the doubt. If you assume that the exact opposite of what the Winnipeg Free Press says on any given subject is true, you will be right more often than not and will be far better informed than are most people in our city. That caveat having been given, let us consider what has been reported about our diocesan shepherd.
According to Longhurst, Bishop Geoff and Susan Johnson who presides over the “Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada” (see, I told you the Winnipeg Free Press could not be trusted, that is supposed to be “in Canada” not “of Canada”) have signed what Longhurst calls “an international interfaith declaration that calls for an end to violence against and criminalization of LGBTTQ+ people and a global ban on conversion therapy.”
Before offering any thoughts upon the act so reported, the signing of the declaration, let us hear what His Grace has to say by way of explanation of this. He is quoted by Longhurst as having said “I signed because of the relationships I have within the church with transgender and LGBTTQ+ people, people I nurture and care for, just like everyone else in the church” and “When the world is hurting someone, I’m going to stand by that person being hurt.”
With regards to the first of these sentences there is not much to say. Certainly, His Grace is to be commended for attempting to follow the example set by St. Paul of “I am become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some”, although I tend to be of the opinion that it would be more advisable to do so in a way of which the Apostle would approve rather than by signing political declarations over which he would have pronounced an anathema. The practice of providing the same nurture and care for all in the church is also commendable and a fairly basic expectation of someone in a pastoral role, perhaps especially of the one who carries the crosier (this is the fancy name for the bishop’s big stick, bishops having long followed the advice of St. Teddy of Roosevelt to “talk softly and carry a big stick”, in their case one shaped to look like a shepherd’s crook, symbolic of the office of the chief pastor of the diocesan church and very useful on occasions where he is required to emcee events, whenever a speaker drones on too long or in a boring fashion, or when an impromptu hockey or cricket game breaks out). Why this pastoral duty would require the signing of this particular political declaration, however, remains a mystery that has not been satisfactorily explained.
His second sentence also expresses a most commendable sentiment. Indeed, it is so commendable it is worth hearing again so here it is “When the world is hurting someone, I’m going to stand by that person being hurt.” Speaking out for and standing by those whom the world is hurting is indeed a part of the prophetic vocation of Christian leadership. Most, if not all, of the duties of Christian leaders or even the duties of Christians in general, require the exercise of a particular virtue or set of virtues and this is no exception. The most obvious virtue called for here is the one traditionally called fortitude, which is more commonly called courage or bravery.
The thing about the act of standing up for the weak, the helpless, the little guy, the person who is being picked on and beaten up by the world is that the further away you are from that person in place and time, the less courage the act requires, and therefore the less virtuous the act becomes. This is especially true if the person whom you are standing up for was picked on and beaten up by the world in another time and place but in your own time and place has become the one doing the picking on and the beating up. Would it not be accurate to say that in such a circumstance the act has lost all of its virtue? Indeed, might it not even be fair to say that it has been transformed into the opposite of a virtuous act and become a vicious one?
In Longhurst’s description of this international interfaith declaration he said that it called for two things. The first was “an end to violence against and criminalization of LGBTTQ+ people” and the second was “a global ban on conversion therapy”. With regards to the second of these items, apart from the fact that it would be a major departure from the older, better, kind of liberalism ala J. S. Mill with its central tenet of freedom of religion, I will note that it is rather inconsistent with the spirit of openness, inclusivity and acceptance that those who drafted this declaration presumably wished to be perceived as their motivation. After all, our governments now, for better or worse, allow doctors to perform what until very recently would have been regarded as genital mutilations in order to accommodate those who were born of one sex physically, but who self-identify as members of the other. What about people who were born gay, as we have been repeatedly told by such authorities as Stefani Germanotta is the source of this orientation, but who self-identify as straight? Or for that matter people who were born transgender who self-identify as cis-gender? Would not conversion therapy be to such people the equivalent of gender reassignment surgery to those who regard their anatomy as inconsistent with their self-chosen sexual or gender identity? Where is the openness, acceptance, and tolerance of such people? This is not being very inclusive in my opinion.
Now, with regards to the first item, are “violence against” and “criminalization of” LGBTTQAEIOUandsometimesY people, hereafter to be referred to as the alphabet soup crowd, serious problems in the Dominion of Canada in the Year 2021 AD?
The “criminalization of” part of it certainly is not. Homosexuality was legalized in Canada in 1969, when the first Trudeau declared that “the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation”, a remark which has since been re-interpreted ex post facto to include the exception “unless a new virus is going around in which case the state is required to enter every room of the house and force you to wear a mask and keep apart from others.” There has been no serious attempt to re-criminalize it since. This sort of liberalization of the Criminal Code was occurring throughout the entire Commonwealth at the time and it is worth noting that the laws which were being removed had not had much bite to them. This is because the principle that a “man’s home is his castle”, which in effect keeps the state not just out of the bedroom but out of the house entirely, had been a part of the Common Law tradition longer than these laws had been on the books. Thus, apart from police harassment of gay bars and other establishments, (1) the only real way to run afoul of such laws had been to do something incredibly stupid, such as when Anglo-Irish wit and literary giant, Oscar Wilde, filed a libel suit against the notoriously pugnacious Marquess of Queensberry, otherwise famous for drawing up the rules of pugilism, for calling him a sodomite, thus allowing the latter to raise, in his own defence, the truth of the accusation (Wilde was buggering the Marquess’ son, Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, at the time). At any rate, such laws have been off the books for decades throughout the Commonwealth and, indeed, Western Civilization as a whole. The countries which have laws against homosexuality today, with far more serious enforcement and severer consequences than was true of the former laws here, are countries in the Third World. I wonder how many of the clergymen who have signed this declaration are, unlike myself, in sympathy with the sort of crackpot radical politics that otherwise objects to Western Civilization assuming its ways are preferable to those of Third World countries and peoples?
Moreover, not only are the alphabet soup crowd not targeted by the law in Canada, it is the other way around, they now benefit from bad laws which beat up on other people for their sake. Ever since Bill C-16, amending the Canadian Human Rights Act and Section 318 of the Criminal Code to include “gender identity or expression” among prohibited grounds of private discrimination, passed Parliament and became law four years ago, people have been in danger of punitive legal consequences for “misgendering” someone, i.e., calling that person “him” or “her” according to what had been universal usage everywhere in the English-speaking world up unto that point. This is, as Professor Jordan Peterson pointed out, “compelled speech”, the next stage of Orwellian thought control via language control beyond prohibited speech, taking it from the level of “you can’t say that” to that of “you must say this.” Among those most in danger of falling prey to this insanely twisted new law are those who accept such Scriptural words as “so God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” by faith, in the way in which those words have been understood throughout the catholic church “everywhere, at all times, and by all”, and who even prior to Bill C-16 had been subject to legal harassment for expressing views consistent with Scripture and tradition on matters affecting the alphabet soup crowd (look up Hugh Owens and Bill Whatcott). One would think that a successor to the Apostolic office of oversight in a branch of that church, a branch that asserts the high Protestant view of Scriptural authority in the sixth of its Articles of Religion, and which likes to define its catholicity by the Vincentian canon quoted in my last sentence, would regard standing up for such believers, who are targeted by laws in his own country, as a more important and necessary way of standing by the person the world is hurting, than signing political declarations on behalf of people who may be the subjects of unjust persecution elsewhere in the world, but in whose name the persecution of believers is now taking place in this country.
If I, a mere parishioner and lay theologian, might make a humble suggestion, it would be that if the Right Reverend Woodcroft truly wishes to cultivate the virtue of fortitude by standing by those whom the world is hurting, a most admirable goal indeed, that there are examples closer to home and better suited to the purpose in that they require going against the tide of popular opinion, well-funded and well-organized mass movements, and the power exercised by the corporate media or even, if necessary, the state. One such example would be to stand up for the unborn, who have had no protection under law in the Dominion since 1988, no party in Parliament seeking to redress this, and who are slaughtered by the thousands in this country in the name of “reproductive rights” each year. Or, if the bishop really wants to put his fortitude to the test, he might try standing up for those poor students in Strathcona High School in Edmonton, Alberta, who have recently been demonized by their school, the chair of the board of which, a publicity-hound named Trisha Estabrooks got herself into stories on the CBC, CTV, and Global, which are constantly trying to outdo the Winnipeg Free Press as organs of left-wing disinformation, by complaining about how horribly racist and hateful these students apparently are, because they put up an Instagram page quoting Martin Luther King Jr., calling for racial equality, and criticizing their school for having become “increasingly anti-white rather than pro-black”, criticism which has been abundantly justified and proven by the school board’s actions, which included asking the Edmonton Police to investigate. This would be a particularly appropriate example because in the last couple of years our ecclesiastical leadership has expressed much concern about racism and it would be much better for them to do so by standing against real racism, such as the BIPOC supremacism these kids have been subjected to, rather than the “systemic racism” that they apparently do not realize is merely Marxist coded language for “being white” and thus a racist expression in itself.
Might I also recommend that His Grace add to his Lenten reading list this year, the recent book The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity (Bloomsbury, 2019) by Douglas Murray? The author, who is Associate Editor of The Spectator and, a detail I would not mention other than in the context of a discussion such as this one, a gay man, has many excellent insights into the nature of the “woke” mob that has sprung up out of what until quite recently was considered the lunatic fringe of the academic left and which threatens freedom, traditional justice, order, and civilization itself in the name of a false and obscure “social justice” for various groups identified by their sexual orientation, race, sex, and gender identity, an ideal that has been made deliberately unattainable so that the destructive civil unrest and agitation it towards it might be kept going in perpetuity.
(1) Even this had more to do with the tendency of police to periodically harass establishments that are in technical violation of some minor law so that they will give them a payoff to be left alone than with general societal prejudice. Even the 1995 film Stonewall, a kind of combination of musical comedy and historical drama loosely based upon the riots in response to such harassment at the Inn of that name in Greenwich Village that launched the American gay rights movement in 1969, testifies despite itself to the general toothlessness of the laws regarding homosexuality in that day and the indifference with which they were regarded. I refer to the scene involving the “sip-in” in which the gay liberation activists went from establishment to establishment, ordering drinks and informing the servers of their orientation – it was against the law to serve alcoholic drinks to homosexuals – but never being met with a refusal until they ended up staging one of their own at the gay bar. The more general problem of police harassment arises out of the nature of the police. The state consists of many elements, the best of which is the entirely respectable royal monarchy at the head of the state in Commonwealth realms like Canada, an important but much less respectable and rather sleazy element being the legislative assembly of elected politicians which in Canada we call the House of Commons, and an even more disreputable element being the civil service, consisting mostly of the same kind of arrogant, rent-seeking, pencil-pushing, bossy, technocrats who make up corporate management. At the very bottom rung of the state in terms of respectability are the police, who are basically low-life thugs, drafted from the criminal element of society, in order that their violence might be turned to the service of law and order rather than against it (see Anthony Burgess’ brilliant illustration of this in A Clockwork Orange). This is clearly demonstrated in the phenomenon under discussion here, which mimics the “protection racket” activity of the mob.