Evangelical christians in Canada, stunned as their conservative theological views were used against them in last year's bitterly partisan national political campaign, are determined to reclaim their legitimacy in Canadian public life.

In the November election, the Liberal Party retained majority control of the Parliament, while the Canadian Alliance, the nation's second-largest political party, strengthened its base in Alberta and other western provinces. Stockwell Day, a lifelong Pentecostal and head of the Canadian Alliance, lost his bid to replace Jean Chrétien as Canada's prime minister. "When the fires of fear are stoked in a deliberate, strategic way, we couldn't overcome that significantly in a 36-day campaign," Day said in an exclusive interview with Christianity Today.

Day's ascendancy to a national political profile and his party's election setback highlight deepening cultural and religious divisions within Canadian society, pitting the oil-rich West against the establishment East and devout Christian believers against committed secularists.

Day downplayed his religious beliefs during the campaign, but his candidacy became a lightning rod for criticism and religious ridicule:

• "How scary is he?" asked Maclean's, Canada's national newsmagazine, in a lead article about Day in July 2000; thereafter, the word scary became common usage in describing evangelicals.

• Hedy Fry, Canada's secretary of state for multiculturalism and the status of women, publicly denounced Day's belief that "Jesus Christ is the God of the whole universe" as "an insult to every Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh—everybody else who believes in other religions."

• Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the government-owned radio and TV network, produced a documentary ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.