Old religions, old people, old media, old money and good old Graeme Decarie


The Saint John diocese is closing nine Catholic churches in New Brunswick. The reason is obvious. Congregations are greying out and dying out, fewer people go to church, and large church buildings are horrendously expensive to heat and maintain. The best business case is consolidation, which is exactly what the Church is doing.

Canada’s changing social culture has taken a buzzsaw to organized religion. Since the 1960s more people have turned away from conventional Christian churches, either rejecting the faith outright, or exploring new avenues for spiritual fulfilment. Since 1971, the numbers of Protestants in Canada have dropped from 41 percent of the population to 27 percent. Catholics, not so much, falling from 47 percent of Canada’s population to 39 percent. Other religions grew from 4 percent to 11 percent, and the “religiously unaffiliated” rose from 4 percent to 24 percent (Pew Research Centre 2011). A graph would help here, but you get the point.

Apart from the numbers of people moving away from religion, there are other points. We’ve witnessed a significant shift in morality over the past 50 years, ushered in by The Pill, women’s liberation, the sexual revolution, the “me generation” and “greed is good” ideologies of the 1980s and so on. As well as the inevitable backlash: the return to conservatism, renewal of “family values”, the rise of the political right wing and its authoritarian, eye-for-an-eye morality, and the explosion of fundamental Christian evangelism, especially in the United States.

The “religious right–moral majority” is now a serious political force, which has delivered grassroots power to a new breed of reactionary conservative politician, including Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in the U.S., and Stephen Harper and Doug Ford in Canada.

These new religious movements make for strange political and economic bedfellows—especially on the right. This is the backlash to the social liberation of the last half century—combined with declining economic prospects for ordinary people. The result is a deep craving for security and order, a craving that is easily satisfied by conservative theology, both secular and religious. Add those factors to an aging population, which tends to be more cautious and conservative, and we get a somewhat polarized society: the socially liberated centre-left on one side and the socially conservative centre-right on the other.

But none of that matters, it seems, when it comes to power. A similar effect happened in Russia following the Glasnost movement and the fall of the Soviet empire. Much of the public reacted to the new open society as a lack of comforting structure—and turned to the Orthodox Catholic Church for emotional security. Vladimir Putin seized this opportunity, turning to religion himself, as a way of attaching himself to both the religion and the people, and enshrining himself as the Church’s anointed one. It was a play right out of Machiavelli’s The Prince.
Researcher and writer, Graeme Decarie

The ruling class wants to rule, and religion is just one more weapon of control in their arsenal. The media is another. Enter Graeme Decarie. I read—and admire—his blog. This week he once again took on Brunswick Media and the Irvings.

He writes, “It’s so intellectually and morally corrupt it screams for attention”, and wraps up with, “Since 1945, the greatest issue in the world has been the U.S. determination to rule the world. All of it. This is not a secret, except in our news media. The purpose of this is not to spread democracy or to kill evil people. It’s to give U.S. capitalists power to control the economies of the whole world for their own benefit. And a rag-tag Britain and France—and Canada—and others have to join in because U.S. capitalists and their news media have whipped them into line. But don’t expect to learn this from the Irving press. Once you get past the obituary pages, there’s not a damn thing worth reading.”

Decarie is 85 years old. In his bio he tells us he was kicked out of grade 11, became a factory hand and office boy; went back to night school for a BA, worked some more, trained as a teacher at McGill, got an MA at Acadia, then a Ph.D from Queens and ended up teaching at Concordia for 35 years. He’s a smart dude who’s written thousands of pieces on current events. He has a meagre 75 followers on his Decarie Report blog.

I wonder, how does that compare to the combined circulation of Irving’s daily newspapers: Moncton’s Times & Transcript, Saint John’s Telegraph-Journal, Fredericton’s Daily Gleaner? (Answer: 430,000 a week. Think about it.)

Additional reading:









  1. You touch on a lot of topics here. One thing I find interesting is, you'd think the "moral" backlash would bring people back to the Church. Doesn't it seem like there are more evangelicals around these days? Aren't they going to church? Or are they just spouting off on social media and sleeping in on Sundays?

    1. "...and the explosion of fundamental Christian evangelism, especially in the United States," I wrote. I'm guessing these folks aren't sleeping in on Sundays, and they are indeed the moral backlash returning to church, just not the traditional Church.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts