So a year ago Charlotte Donlon (you can find her episode on the Faith in a Fresh Vibe podcast here)asked me for my take on Kristin Dumez’s book, “Jesus on John Wayne”, as a Canadian who grew up in white evangelicalism.
First off, Dumez’s book is a must read. It’s up there with Barr’s book on Biblical Womanhood. It adds much needed vocabulary and language to help navigate the toxicity in the wider evangelical movement. It’s especially pertinent for those deconstruction out of bad church experiences.
After reading the book (took me a while, I’ve been busy…writing a book), I’d have to say the similarities/differences can be summed up in, “same same but different”.
For example, how does rugged individualism and toxic masculinity play a part in shaping Canadian evangelicalism? Just think America but 10% smaller. Evangelicalism in Canada rarely has a unique thought. And because they are such a small % of the population, there is significantly less cultural influence on the country.
Canada actually had a higher % of the population attend weekly services post-WWII. Although that quickly waned, the power seat has been held between Catholic and mainline Protestant traditions. That’s not to say the small contingent of white conservative evangelicals haven’t tried hard to build a consortium of allies to grasp power in the public sphere. But it’s never happened to the extent you see in the USA because we are technically more progressive as a country.
In terms of theology, however, within conservative evangelicalism (is there any other kind?), it’s essentially the exact same. Same theological drive to maintain patriarchy, same protection of ‘family values’, same morbid fascination with sex, same attempts to control women’s bodies, and even the same books and VHS tapes. Canadian evangelicals have long relied on American thinkers for their formation and discipleship, but as a whole are less vocal because they lack cultural power and influence (5-8% of the pop. in Canada would consider themselves evangelical).
There are a few differences.
Perhaps it’s generational, but I don’t remember the same kind of modelling after Hollywood’s John Wayne in Canada. For instance, if the American Jesus votes Republican, runs around with an M16 ready to beat your ass if you bad, the Canadian version is not quite as in your face. It’s a dude running around in plaid, carrying an axe instead of a gun, and politely asking you if you’ve met his Lord and Saviour white Jesus. Canadians are less confrontational too so in your face evangelism doesn’t fly.
The biggest differences are how evangelicals never really grasped political power (although there was a brief era with Harper), and militarism is not a thing here.
Maybe this has changed with Trump and COVID. The former giving white supremacy added fuel to emerge, and the latter consolidating white identity surrounding rugged individualism. I don’t see how either lead to any form of resurgence within the movement.
So to sum up, Canada is all the things, just a muted, less violent, and just as toxic version as you find in the US.