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Program
 

73nd Annual Summer Conference, August 5–8, 2004


Media Summary

The Orillia Packet & Times
Couchiching confab mixes religion, politics
Religious extremism to be focus of this year’s Couchiching Conference
Chris Simon
Local News – Wednesday, July 28, 2004 @ 08:00

Religion and politics aren’t supposed to be discussed during dinner.

However, they are allowed to be joined in matrimony for the 73rd Couchiching Conference at the Geneva Park Conference Centre Aug. 5 to 8. The conference, God’s Back with a Vengeance: Religion, Pluralism and the Secular State, will focus on the role religion plays in modern politics, said Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs president David McGown.

“The convention we expect to have will be very rich,” he said. “In terms of public policy, public debate, where is the appropriate balance between the needs and the interests of the individual with strong religious views and what is generally considered a secular society.

“The issue is all around the relationship between religion and the state,” said McGown.... (part of text)

The Orillia Packet & Times
Chris Simon
Local News – Friday, August 06, 2004 @ 08:00

World needs a little understanding
73rd Couchiching Conference

Photo caption: Author Karen Armstrong was the opening night keynote speaker at the 73rd Couchiching Conference in Geneva Park yesterday.

RAMARA – Religious fundamentalism needs to be studied and understood.

That was one of the main messages author Karen Armstrong left with a crowd of nearly 300 people during her keynote speech during the opening of the Couchiching Conference.

The public affairs event’s 73rd annual edition – titled God’s Back with a Vengeance: Religion, Pluralism and the Secular State – is taking place at Geneva Park, a resort northwest of this central Ontario city.

The British writer and former Roman Catholic nun spoke about the need to understand the roots of fundamentalism.

“Some of the religious fundamentalist movements have been an attempt to come to modernity on their own traditions rather than just copying,” she said, fighting off bronchitis and moistening her throat by taking a drink of water.

“I wanted to look at the phenomenon that goes under the unfortunate title of fundamentalism. It’s an inappropriate title in many ways,” she said. “Unfortunately, this term does reflect a phenomenon, a military form of piety that erupted during the 20th century in every single major world religion.”

Fundamentalism was a term developed by Protestant Christians around the turn of the 20th century to represent the reformation of their religion. Worshippers of Judaism and Islam resent being called fundamentalists, because they see it as another form of Imperialism, she said.

Armstrong has written several books about the roots of religion. She has addressed members of the United States Congress on three occasions and was one of three scholars invited to speak in the United nations first session devoted to religion.

The conference, which is hosted by the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs, will feature over 20 speakers within the next three days. However, Armstrong was the main attraction last night.

“She is one of the English speaking world’s most prominent observers on religion and society,” said Couchiching Institute president David McGown.

During her speech, she played with the conference’s theme. “It was generally assumed that secularism was the coming ideology and that religion would never again play a major role in public events,” said Armstrong. “We got that wrong.”

The Ottawa Citizen
Friday, August 6, Page: A5, Edition: Final News
Jack Aubry

Dateline: LAKE COUCHICHING,

‘Self-righteous rage’ fuels terrorism, expert says: Many 9/11 terrorists were ‘disaffected drifters’ says religious scholar

LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont. – .”Self-righteous rage” born of fear, despair and humiliation that many Islamic religious nationalists feel from the modern world is at the root of terrorism against the western world, a religious scholar told a conference yesterday.

Edmonton Journal
Friday, August 6, 2004 Page: A4 Section: News
Jack Aubry

Dateline: LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont. Source: Ottawa Citizen; Canwest News Service

Rage against modern world at root of terror: Secular world the primary target, scholar says

LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont. – “Self-righteous rage” born of fear, despair and humiliation that many Islamic religious nationalists feel from the modern world is at the root of terrorism against the western world, a religious scholar told a conference Thursday.

Karen Armstrong, author of The Battle of God and a commentator on religions, told a conference Thursday that fundamentalists such as Osama bin Laden typically become violent extremists within their own state first before taking their fight outside their country’s borders.

“Bin laden began by attacking the Saudi Arabian government and it is still very much a focus of his endeavours. It was only as a secondary stage when he realized the extent to which the nation was supported by the United States did he make his fatwa (religious edict) against America,” said Armstrong, the keynote speaker at the annual Couchiching Conference.

She added that only a small minority of fundamentalists become terrorists and it is not a phenomenon exclusive to Islam, citing historical examples from the past where it has also touched Judaism and Christianity.

Armstrong spoke hours after two leaders of a mosque in Albany, N.Y., were arrested on charges arising from a plot to help a man purchase a shoulder-fired missile.

Meanwhile, heavily armed police and barricades have been set up in Washington, D.C., New York and Newark, N.J., as part of an alert against terrorism, inspired by information discovered on a laptop computer owned by a top al-Qaeda official arrested in Pakistan.

Armstrong says many of the terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington were more “disaffected drifters” than religious fundamentalists.

“Those hijackers were frequenters of night clubs and drank alcohol – very difficult to see a devout Muslim doing that, let alone a devout Muslim fundamentalist.

“I mean, no fundamentalist Muslim that I know would go within a 10-mile radius of a nightclub,” she said in an interview before her address.

Armstrong also cited recent news reports in England about a Muslim man who backed out of being part of the 9/11 attacks at the last moment and who is now providing information to the FBI.

She said he had been persuaded to become a terrorist because his mosque had paid off large gambling debts he had run up.

Armstrong said most fundamentalists have no intention of partaking in acts of terror and violence.

She said every fundamentalist movement she has studied within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is convinced “modern secular liberal society wants to wipe out religion.”

The theme of the weekend conference is “God’s Back – with a Vengeance: Religion, Pluralism and the Secular State.” Discussions will include religious extremism and its relationship to terrorism.

Illustration: Photo: Journal Stock / (Karen) Armstrong Idnumber: 200408060215 Edition: Final Story Type: News Length: 444 words

The Ottawa Citizen
Saturday, August 7, 2004 Page: A5 Section: News
Jack Aubry

Dateline: COUCHICHING LAKE, Ont. Source: The Ottawa Citizen

Bush’s call for secular Iraq ironic: professor: Academics debate role of religion in world affairs

COUCHICHING LAKE, Ont. – In one of the “great ironies” of the modern world, U.S. President George W. Bush is calling for a “radically secular” reconstituted Iraq, while he has aligned himself with his country’s most radical religious group – the Christian right, a divinity professor says.

But a southern Baptist preacher and Bush adviser attending the 73rd annual Couchiching Conference rejected a claim by Prof. Robert Orsi, saying Iraq’s new constitution recognizes it as an Islamic state, adding that the American religious right is hardly radical.

Mr. Orsi, who is the Harvard chairman for the study of religion, had made his comments during a panel discussion at the annual conference near Orillia, about one hour north of Toronto. The event, organized by the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs, has as its theme this year: “God’s Back – with a Vengeance.”

He also suggested sarcastically that Mr. Bush likes to keep things simple on foreign affairs and doesn’t like to complicate matters in the Middle East.

But Richard Land, a Baptist preacher who has a syndicated radio show with 1.5 million listeners every week, said Mr. Orsi was badly mistaken in his presentation.

“Saying that the Bush administration is trying to impose a radically secular state on the Iraqi people is factually 100 per cent wrong,” he said in an interview. “I consulted with the Iraqis on their provisional constitution – it is not a radical secular state ... it is not even a secular state.

“That’s just pure misinformation.”

Mr. Land said to compare Christian fundamentalists with Islamic fundamentalists, as the New York Times often does, is a “terrible disservice” to Christian fundamentalists, adding “they don’t kill people.”

He also rejected Mr. Orsi’s claim that Mr. Bush’s political base was made up of radical fundamentalists.

“He wouldn’t have been elected president. There aren’t enough of them,” said Mr. Land, who will also speak at the conference. “But it is true that about 40 per cent of his base are evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics.”

Mr. Orsi had asked the well-attended conference a provocative question: “Could it be that a person who takes his or her religion literally is always a potential terrorist, and someone who thinks of a religious text as metaphorical or figurative is better suited to civic life and the tolerance it calls for?”

But the author said religion is not a key to terrorism, although it can be found in the “mix” of contributing ingredients.

At a later panel, Jerrold Post, who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for 21 years as a psychologist, said the profile of a typical terrorist is that of a surprisingly normal, undepressed individual. In fact, terrorist groups normally reject candidates who display crazed behaviour since they’re not dependable, he said.

Mr. Post also rejects simple analysis of the hijackers involved in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He said they were not devout Muslims because they frequented nightclubs and drank alcohol.

He said training manuals found after the attacks show that the hijackers were instructed to blend into American society and were even told to shave their beards so they wouldn’t stick out as Muslims.

National Post
Saturday, August 7, 2004 Page: RB5 Section: Review
Father Raymond J. De Souza

Column: Father Raymond J. De Souza Dateline: LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont.

God came back a long time ago: Brain trust plays catch-up on religion’s resurgence

LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont. – There is something about summer camp that takes you back in time. And the annual conference of the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs is something of a throwback – an adult summer camp for the mind, as it is sometimes described. Here earnest policy wonks and civil servants, academics and ordinary folks of an intellectual bent gather to discuss the salient issues of the day, with no other purpose than to enlighten themselves.

“Canada’s annual gathering of the great and the good,” is how “Cooch” – as the local lingo has it – president David McGown describes it. And there is no doubt amongst the participants that the enlightenment of Canada’s brain trust is a good thing for the commonweal.

But this year’s theme – “God’s Back With a Vengeance: Religion, Pluralism and the Secular State” – gives the whole affair a slightly catch-up rather than cutting-edge flavour. This conference is the first in Couchiching’s 73-year history devoted to religion in public life. Over the past decades, while the great and the good were at summer camp delivering papers on health care and federal-provincial relations, this self-described “primary voice of public affairs discourse in Canada” missed one of the biggest public policy stories of the past half-century.

“In the 1950s, the general view was that secularism was the ideology of the future and never again would religion be a major force,” said author Karen Armstrong in Thursday night’s keynote address. “We got that wrong.”

Indeed, Mr. McGown explained the origin of this year’s topic in a question put by a Couchiching board member: “What’s happening to secularism in Canada? Is it dying a lingering death?”

On balance it seems that secularism is doing quite fine in Canada. Recall Jean Chretien’s boast that banning any form of prayer from Canada’s 9/11 memorial service was the “best decision” he had ever made. But in the rest of the world it’s a different story.

“Canada and the United Kingdom are out of sync with the rest of the world,” said Ms. Armstrong, the British author whose books on religious fundamentalism, The Battle for God, and Islam rocketed up the post-9/11 bestseller lists. “And we are beginning to seem quaintly out of date.”

Ms. Armstrong presented a sympathetic look at the origins and shape of fundamentalism in the three monotheistic religions, a movement of “militant piety” that she considers borne of a “revolt against secular modernity.”

“Fundamentalists are trying to drag God and religion from the sidelines where secular modernity has relegated it back to centre stage,” Ms. Armstrong said. “[They] are motivated by a fear of annihilation by liberal modernity – and this fear is not always paranoia.”

Devoting most of her address to fundamentalism in the Islamic world, she noted that the experience of secular modernity has come as something of an “assault.” Whereas secularism grew up over centuries in Western Europe, in the Islamic world it arrived as an edict backed by the brutality of the modern state.

“What have they seen of secularism?” Ms. Armstrong asked. “They have seen Ataturk, Nasser and Saddam ... Osama bin Laden’s brand of fundamentalism developed in the camps in which Nasser imprisoned thousands of the Muslim Brotherhood.” It was this suppression of Islamic religiosity by secular rulers in Turkey, Egypt and Iran that has produced a fundamentalist reaction. “Fundamentalism always begins against one’s own co-religionists.”

It was 9/11 that drew world attention – and that of Couchiching – to the problem of fundamentalist violence – what some observers have called a Saudi civil war exported to the rest of the world. But on balance, it has been secularism that has been the more violent phenomenon, producing totalitarianisms from the French Revolution to the atheistic ideologies of 20th-century Nazism and communism.

While the bias of the conference is that newly assertive religion is a threat to the gains of secular modernity, Ms. Armstrong’s keynote challenged any delegates who might have forgotten secularism’s terrible toll in the 20th century.

“Secularism has its problems too. Secularism can be as lethal as bad religion,” she said, in something of an understatement, mentioning “Stalin, Hitler and Saddam, just to name a few.”

The conference’s deliberations continue today and tomorrow, taking up such case studies as the emergence in Israel of a strong religious minority in what was founded as a zealously secular state, the challenge to laicite in France by the growing Muslim minority, and the influence of the “religious right” in the American politics.

“We live in a society of radical difference and we can’t find common religious ground,” said Professor Robert Orsi of the Harvard Divinity School, addressing the religious question closer to home. “We need to find a minimal common ground so that we can get things done, but we don’t have to be friends.”

Dr. Orsi spoke of his upbringing in New York where his Italian Catholic family lived in harmony with their Jewish neighbours, going through the apartment building on Saturdays, turning on lights and doing other Sabbath-forbidden chores for their Jewish friends. The irony of Dr. Orsi’s example is that it speaks to how different religiously observant committees can get along; the problem today seems to be that secularists find it difficult to get along with the religious.

The majority of participants – at least those who queue up at the microphones to ask questions – here seem to be proudly secular. Today’s session and Sunday’s promise more from explicitly religious voices, such as Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the most influential voices on the American religious scene.

At first glance, the dominant tone of Couchiching 2004 is one of bemusement, or even surprise, at the religious revival in the world, a bemusement that can only be the result of not paying attention to major trends in many different parts of the world. While Couchiching is a forum that favours speeches that address the grand sweep of events, it seems that, 9/11 notwithstanding, the gathered grandees would have missed entirely perhaps the greatest sweep of our era.

The two most important geopolitical events of the past 30 years were, arguably, the election of Pope John Paul II and the return of the Ayatollah to the Iran – both events already a quarter-century distant. The transformation of global politics since then, with the defeat of communism and the emergence of global terror as a new threat to the West, resulted from the dramatic shifts caused in part by those two religious and cultural events. It does take politics some time to catch up with culture, but this conference is a late arrival to a conversation that was joined at least 15 years ago by those who were not tone-deaf to religious voices.

Couchiching, judging from the bonhomie of the participants, is a time to meet old friends and tell old stories, just like summer camp. What is remarkable is that what is old seems terribly new for delegates here. It is a good-natured and well-intentioned look at emerging trends that have long since emerged – God came back a long time ago. At Casino Rama down the road, the August headline acts include Kenny Loggins and Cyndi Lauper. On the shores of Lake Couchiching, we are all catching up with the 1980s.

Broadcast News
Saturday, August 7, 2004

ORILLIA, Ontario – There’s a chilling new analysis of what makes a terrorist.

Jerald Post, an American psychologist, says most suicide bombers are not emotionally disturbed.

In fact, he says “most terrorists are quite normal” and would be expelled from their organizations if they appeared to be unbalanced.

Post says Islamic suicide bombers are driven by deep despair over the forces arrayed against them and consider suicide “martyrdom in the service of Allah.”

He adds many talk about becoming martyrs just as some westerners talk about becoming sports stars.

Post, who spent 21-years with the C-I-A interviewing terrorists, spoke at the Couchiching conference in Orillia, Ontario.

The theme of the Couchiching conference, which ends tomorrow, is “God’s Back with a Vengeance: Religion, Pluralism and the Secular State.”

The Orillia Packet & Times
Forum probes religious revival
Chris Simon
Local News – Saturday, August 07, 2004 @ 08:00

GENEVA PARK – Experts agree, there are several causes of the religious revival in our world.

And three of these experts discussed whether religious fundamentalism and the democratic state can coexist during an open forum in the Couchiching Conference at Geneva Park, a resort near Orillia, yesterday.

The conference, the 73rd annual, is hosted by the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs, Canada’s oldest non-partisan forum for public affairs.

Predicting the religious revival and knowing why it started within the last 30 years is impossible to know, said Peter Beyer, a professor of religious studies at the University of Ottawa.

“History is full of surprises,” he said, standing at a podium and overlooking a crowd of over 200 people. “Not even the Ayatollah Khomeini predicted the success of the Iranian revolution. “

However, several worldwide problems arose around 1979 that rekindled the religious revival. That included a global economic slowdown, the Iranian Revolution, the Nicaraguan Revolution and the emergence of the new Christian right-wing in America.

“These kinds of events sharpen our interest and our observations of other kinds of things,” he said. “The possibility of resurgence and emergence of these important religo-political movements was always there.”

However, other experts believe there is a relationship between religious growth and the developing world.

“There needs to be a new set of creative and dynamic alliances and partnerships that involve the world of religion and the worlds of development,” said World Bank senior officer Katherine Marshall. “Religious organizations are deeply involved in every aspect of life, so the separation is artificial.”

Those organizations own a large amount of the worlds land and liquid assets. They also provide a large quantity of education and provide food for the poor, she said.

“Every religious tradition in the world has deeply ingrained in it a deep concern for the poor and the outcast, for people who suffer,” said Marshall.

There is a common belief that poverty and terrorism are linked. While fundamental issues may link the two, being poor does not make someone a terrorist and vice versa, she said.

Similarities include the feeling of unbalanced wealth in the world market, social injustice and poverty related to the failures of a state.

Others see the religious revival as a way for terrorists to excuse their acts.

“We do not have emotionally disturbed individuals committing terrorist acts,” said professor of psychiatry at George Washington University Jerrold Post. “The goal of terrorism is not violence. The goal of terrorism is to terrorize using violence as communication.”

Those people often take passages from the Koran or Bible out of context.

“What they’re doing is not only moral but is religiously sanctified as sacred authority,” said Post.

“The only way to eliminate terrorism is to eliminate democracy,” he said. “By doing that we become a terrorist state.”

Canadian Press Newswire
Saturday, August 7, 2004

Suicide bombers are ‘quite normal,’ CIA profiler tells Ontario conference

TORONTO (CP) _ Suicide bombers are rational, sane people whose choice to end their lives as they kill others is considered perfectly normal in societies they grow up in, the Globe and Mail reported Saturday from a southern Ontario religious conference.

In a chilling analysis of what makes a terrorist, a U.S. psychiatrist who worked for the CIA said most extremists who use violence are not emotionally disturbed.

In fact, they would be expelled from their organizations if they appeared to be unbalanced, the Toronto Star said from Orillia, Ont.

“Most terrorists are quite normal. It’s hard to understand but quite true,” Jerrold Post said Friday in a session addressing the causes of religious revival.

Post, who interviewed terrorists in a 21-year career with the Central Intelligence Agency, said the appeal of suicide bombing is broadening.

The practice was once limited to very young men, a huge percentage of them teenagers.

“Now women, mothers, have joined this pathway, and middle-aged men, a 43-year-old father,” he told the Globe and Mail in an interview.

“I see it as a trend.”

He said his colleagues have given up asking people why they join their militant organizations to become suicide bombers.

“Because we would get these weird looks: ‘Why do we join? Everybody is joining. It’s only the weird individuals who don’t join,”’ said Post, who’s now at George Washington University.

Post said suicide bombers are driven by deep despair over the forces they see arrayed against them.

He said “psychological warfare,” or education, is the most effective weapon against terror. Young people must learn the version of Islam in which they have been indoctrinated has nothing to do with mainstream Islam.

The theme of the Couchiching conference, which ends Sunday, is “God’s Back with a Vengeance: Religion, Pluralism and the Secular State.”

(Toronto Star, Globe and Mail)

Times Colonist (Victoria)
Sunday, August 8, 2004 Page: A3 Section: News
Jack Aubry

Dateline: LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont. Source: CanWest News Service

In God They Trust: Gulf grows between Canada, U.S., on religious issues

LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont. – God’s back – at least in America. But far fewer Canadians feel the need to hold faith in a divine being.

That’s Canadian pollster and book author Michael Adams’ response to the theme of the annual conference on religion being held this weekend near Orillia, Ont., as he told participants Saturday that the great religious divide between Canada and the U.S. continues to grow significantly.

The theme of this year’s Couchiching conference is “God’s Back – with a Vengeance: Religion, Pluralism and the Secular State” – but clearly Adams and his polling numbers don’t support it.

In a presentation titled God, Dads, Gays and Guns, Adams used a recent Canada-U.S. poll to demonstrate the divide. The poll shows 58 per cent of Americans saying that it is necessary to believe in God in order to be a moral person, while only 30 per cent of Canadians agree to this.

And while 45 per cent of Americans now say they go to church every week, only 20 per cent (down from 85 per cent in the 1950s) of Canadians can say the same thing.

“In the United States, I guess you can say that there is one category of person who cannot be elected, and that’s an atheist. And in Canada, there’s a category of person who can’t be elected and of course that is a person who is an ostentatious religious person,” said Adams.

“In fact, people who believe in God are suspect and we want to know a little bit more about them.”

He noted that former Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day suffered at the polls in the 2000 federal election after it was revealed that he questioned evolution because of his Christian fundamentalist beliefs.

As well, he showed that 69 per cent of Canadians believe in heaven but only about 43 per cent believe in hell and the devil. Meanwhile, in the U.S., 81 per cent believe in heaven and 70 per cent in hell and the devil.

The pollster’s latest book, released last year, was Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values. The book argued that Canadians and Americans are remarkably different based on scientific surveys performed during the past decade.

Earlier in the conference, Peter Beyer, a professor in the University of Ottawa’s department of religious studies, also contradicted the conference’s theme. “God isn’t back,” said Beyer. “He’s always been there – just not attracting our attention.”

He said 1979 was a bumper year for religious movements, noting the rise of the religious right in the U.S. and the Iranian revolution. Beyer noted that the word “fundamentalism” is often used in the media when “religion doesn’t know its place” in the world.

In his studies, Beyer has noted that while Islam is growing in Canada as a religion, an increasing proportion of other immigrants to Canada are declaring they have “no religion.”

Adams also told the conference that while Canadians and Americans identify with people who put their family above everything else, there is a growing gap when it comes to believing that the father of the family must be master of his own house.

While the percentage has grown from 42 per cent to 49 per cent in the U.S. between 1992 and 2000 in support of a father-first household, the number has gone the other way in Canada, from 26 per cent to 18 per cent during the same period.

Speaking on a guest panel at the conference, former Justice minister Martin Cauchon talked about the “tremendous” impact that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has had on the country since 1985, when it was first brought into force.

He said the Liberal government’s decision to legislate same-sex marriage after the current reference to the Supreme Court of Canada has been dealt with by the high court is the right course to take on the matter.

He said Canadian religions will be protected under the new legislation from providing same-sex marriages against their wishes.

Adams probably got off the best line of the conference when the panel was asked about churches providing sanctuary to immigrants seeking political refugee status in Canada.

“Given the attendance in church these days, there’s lots of room for them,” he said to much laughter.

The pollster ended his presentation with a chart comparing the results of polls performed on patriarchy, church attendance and gun ownership.

For instance, he showed polling results that 49 per cent of Americans saying they own a gun compared with only 22 per cent of the residents north of the Canada-U.S. border saying the same thing.

“I have a picture of Sunday morning (in the U.S.), dad getting up, pulling out his .357 Magnum, saying OK kids we’re going to church,” he said.

The Ottawa Citizen
Sunday, August 8, 2004 Page: A5 Section: News
Jack Aubry

Dateline: LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont.
Source: The Ottawa Citizen

‘God’s back’ conference finds chasm between Canada, U.S. on religion

God’s back – at least in the United States. But far fewer Canadians feel the need to hold faith in a divine being.

The Calgary Herald
Sunday, August 8, 2004 News
Jack Aubry

Dateline: LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont.
Source: The Ottawa Citizen

In God, the U.S. trusts; Canada doesn’t

God’s back – at least in America. But far fewer Canadians feel the need to hold faith in a divine being.

The Edmonton Journal
Sunday, August 8, 2004 News
Jack Aubry

Dateline: LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont.
Source: The Ottawa Citizen

Differing attitudes to faith separate Canada from U.S.

LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont. – God’s back – at least in the United States. But far fewer Canadians feel the need to hold faith in a divine being.

Winnipeg Sun (Canoe online)
Sun, August 8, 2004
By CP

Terrorists ‘normal’ Suicide bombers fit their culture, psychiatrist says

TORONTO – Suicide bombers are rational, sane people whose choice to end their lives as they kill others is considered perfectly normal in societies they grow up in, the Globe and Mail reported yesterday from a southern Ontario religious conference. In a chilling analysis of what makes a terrorist, a U.S. psychiatrist who worked for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency said most extremists who use violence are not emotionally disturbed.

In fact, they would be expelled from their organizations if they appeared to be unbalanced, the Toronto Star said from Orillia, Ont.

“Most terrorists are quite normal. It’s hard to understand but quite true,” Jerrold Post said Friday.

APPEAL BROADENING

Post, who interviewed terrorists in a 21-year career with the CIA, said the appeal of suicide bombing is broadening.

The practice was once limited to very young men, a huge percentage of them teenagers.

“Now women, mothers, have joined this pathway, and middle-aged men, a 43-year-old father,” he told the Globe and Mail.

“I see it as a trend.”

He said his colleagues have given up asking people why they join their militant organizations to become suicide bombers.

“Because we would get these weird looks: ‘Why do we join? Everybody is joining. It’s only the weird individuals who don’t join,’ “ said Post, who’s now at George Washington University.

Post said suicide bombers are driven by deep despair over the forces they see arrayed against them.

He said “psychological warfare,” or education, is the most effective weapon against terror. Young people must learn the version of Islam in which they have been indoctrinated has nothing to do with mainstream Islam.

National Post
Monday, August 9, 2004 Page: A5 Section: Canada
Jack Aubry

Dateline: LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont.
Source: CanWest News Service

‘Great and good’ jeer Bush advisor

LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont. – A religious advisor to George W. Bush, the U.S.President, was heckled and jeered by participants at a prestigious Canadian conference after he denounced same-sex marriage, warning it leads to polygamy and consensual incest.Richard Land, president of the ethics and religion liberty commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, was interrupted several times by the normally reserved intellectual audience at the annual Couchiching conference.”If the compelling reason for same-sex marriage is you have a caring loving relationship, how are you going to stop polygamy? If it is a caring loving relationship, how are you going to stop consensual incest, between adults, brothers and sisters, if it is a consensual relationship,” asked Mr. Land, head lobbyist on Capitol Hill for the largest non-Catholic denomination in the United StatesMr. Land was responding during a Saturday evening session to a question – asking him if he would be advising Mr. Bush to drop “this ridiculous idea” of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage and focus instead on other matters such as the economy.David McGown, the president of the Couchiching Institute of Public Affairs,which hosts the annual conference, said it is the first time he has witnessed heckling at the event since he started attending 10 years ago.Mr. McGown, who describes the retreat as “Canada’s annual gathering of the great and the good,” denied the heckling was “anti-American” but rather “very pro-Canadian.” “I think what we heard last night was that stark social cultural difference that Michael Adams talked about,” said Mr. McGown, referring to the pollster’s presentation on the growing divide between Canada and the United States on the question of religion.University of Toronto Professor David Novak, who was in the audience, called the interruptions from the audience “out of order” and “rude.

The Ottawa Citizen
Monday, August 9, 2004 Page: A4 Section: News
Jack Aubry

Dateline: LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont.
Source: The Ottawa Citizen

Jeers, heckling greet religious adviser to Bush: Couchiching participants reject link of same-sex unions to polygamy, incest

LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont. – A religious adviser to U.S. President George W. Bush was heckled and jeered by participants at a prestigious Canadian conference after he strongly denounced same-sex marriage, warning it leads to polygamy and consensual incest.Richard Land, the president of the ethics and religion liberty commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, was interrupted several times by the normally laid-back, intellectual audience at the annual Couchiching conference.”If the compelling reason for same-sex marriage is you have a caring, loving relationship, how are you going to stop polygamy? If it is a caring, loving relationship, how are you going to stop consensual incest, between adults, brothers and sisters, if it is a consensual relationship?” asked Mr. Land, the head lobbyist on Capitol Hill for the largest non-Catholic denomination in the U.S.Mr. Land was responding during a Saturday evening session to a question – asking him if he would be advising Mr. Bush to drop “this ridiculous idea” of an amendment to the American constitution to ban same-sex marriage and focus instead on other matters such as the economy.David McGown, the president of the Couchiching Institute of Public Affairs, which hosts the annual conference, said it is the first time he has witnessed heckling at the event since he first started attending 10 years ago.Mr. McGown, who describes the retreat as “Canada’s annual gathering of the great and the good,” denied the heckling was “anti-American,” but rather “very pro-Canadian.” “I think what we heard last night was that stark social, cultural difference that Michael Adams talked about,” said Mr. McGown, referring to the pollster’s presentation on the growing divide between Canada and the U.S. on the question of religion.In its 73rd year, it is the first time the Couchiching Conference has taken on religion as its focus. The theme is “God’s Back – with a Vengeance: Religion, Pluralism and the Secular State.”Mr. Land, who is considered one of the most influential voices on the American religious scene, estimated about two-thirds of the American population supports the constitutional amendment and “de-mocracy is a wonderful thing” since he expects the question of same-sex marriage will make it on to state ballots in the years to come.Mr. Land said he opposes same-sex marriage because it will further weaken “an already weakened” American institution.The Baptist preacher first drew laughter and derision from the audience when he cited studies of the effects of same-sex marriage in Scandinavia and The Netherlands, which he blamed on “a powerful and ultimately successful campaign by secular elites for homosexual marriage” in those countries.”Well, nobody else wants it in the United States. Traditional marriage is demeaned and come to be perceived as one more sexual arrangement amongst others. The symbolic link between marriage, procreation and family is broken and there is a rapid and persistent decline in heterosexual marriage,” said Mr. Land.”That’s just not theory, that’s what happened in Holland and Scandinavia.”The conference also deliberated on case studies such as the emergence in Israel of a strong religious minority in what was founded as a zealously secular state, the challenge to laicize France by the growing Muslim minority, and the influence of the “religious right” in American politics.This year’s Couchiching conference drew 300 participants.

Vancouver Sun
Monday, August 9, 2004 Page: A3 Section: News
Jack Aubry

Dateline: LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont.
Source: Ottawa Citizen

Baptist adviser to Bush derided for condemning same-sex unions

LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont. – A religious adviser to U.S. President George W. Bush was heckled by participants at a prestigious Canadian conference after he denounced same-sex marriage, linking it to polygamy and consensual incest.Richard Land, the president of the ethics and religion liberty commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, was interrupted several times by the normally laid-back, intellectual audience at the annual Couchiching conference.”If the compelling reason for same-sex marriage is you have a caring loving relationship, how are you going to stop polygamy? If it is a caring loving relationship, how are you going to stop consensual incest, between adults, brothers and sisters, if it is a consensual relationship?” said Land, the head lobbyist on Capitol Hill for the largest non-Catholic denomination in the U.S.Land was responding during a Saturday evening session to a question asking if he would be advising Bush to drop “this ridiculous idea” of an amendment to the American Constitution to ban same-sex marriage and focus instead on other matters such as the economy.David McGown – president of the Couchiching Institute of Public Affairs, which hosts the annual conference – said it is the first time he has witnessed heckling at the event since he first started attending 10 years ago.McGown, who describes the retreat as “Canada’s annual gathering of the great and the good”, denied the heckling was “anti-American” but rather “very pro-Canadian.” “I think what we heard last night was that stark social-cultural difference that Michael Adams talked about,” said McGown, referring to the pollster’s presentation on the growing divide between Canada and the U.S. on the question of religion.Land, considered one of the most influential voices on the American religious scene, said he opposes same-sex marriage because it will further weaken “an already weakened” American institution.The Baptist preacher first drew laughter and derision from the audience when he cited studies of the effects of same-sex marriage in Scandinavia and The Netherlands. He blamed the effects on “a powerful and ultimately successful campaign by secular elites for homosexual marriage” in those countries.The year’s Couchiching conference drew 300 participants and was partly sponsored by the departments of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Citizenship, and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

SIMILAR ITEMS:

Edmonton Journal
Mon, Aug 9, 2004 – 536 words
Jack Aubry

Source: CanWest News Service, Page: A6, Edition: Final

Religious adviser to Bush heckled over views on same-sex marriage

LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont. – A religious adviser of U.S. President George W.Bush was heckled and jeered by participants at a prestigious Canadian conference after he strongly denounced...

The Kingston Whig-Standard
Mon, Aug 9, 2004 – 692 words
Jack Aubry

Source: CanWest News Service, Page: 13, Edition: Final

U.S. religious leader heckled at conference

LAKE COUCHICHING – A religious adviser of U.S. President George W. Bush was heckled and jeered by participants at a prestigious Canadian conference after he strongly denounced same-sex marriage…

Winnipeg Free Press
Mon, Aug 9, 2004 – 256 words, Page: A6
Jack Aubry

U.S. church leader heckled in Canada

LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont. – A religious adviser of U.S. President George W. Bush was heckled and jeered by participants at a prestigious Canadian conference after he strongly denounced same-sex..

The Star Phoenix (Saskatoon)
Mon, Aug 9, 2004 – 363 words
Jack Aubry

Source: CanWest News Service Page: A11, Edition: Final

U.S.religious leader heckled at conference

LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont. – A religious adviser of U.S. President George W. Bush was heckled and jeered by participants at a prestigious Canadian conference after he strongly denounced...

The Leader-Post (Regina)
Mon, Aug 9, 2004 – 691 words
Jack Aubry

Source: CanWest News Service, Page: A3, Edition: Final

Religious adviser heckled

LAKE COUCHICHING, Ont. – A religious adviser of U.S. President George W. Bush was heckled and jeered by participants at a prestigious Canadian conference after he strongly denounced...

The Montreal Gazette
Mon, Aug 9, 2004
Jack Aubry

Bush adviser heckled on same-sex marriage stance at conference

A religious adviser of U.S. President George W. Bush was heckled and jeered by participants at a prestigious Canadian conference after he strongly denounced same-sex marriage and warned it leads to polygamy and consensual incest ...

The Kingston Whig-Standard
Monday, August 9, 2004 Page: 13 Section: National
Jack Aubry

Dateline: LAKE COUCHICHING
Source: CanWest News Service

In God the U.S. trusts, but Canada doesn’t

God’s back – at least in America. But far fewer Canadians feel the need to hold faith in a divine being.That’s Canadian pollster and book author Michael Adams’s response to the theme of the annual conference on religion being held this weekend near Orillia, as he told participants Saturday that the great religious divide between Canada and the U.S. continues to grow significantly.The theme of this year’s Couchiching conference is “God’s Back – With a Vengeance: Religion, Pluralism and the Secular State” – but clearly Adams and his polling numbers don’t support it.In a presentation titled God, Dads, Gays and Guns, Adams used a recent Canada-U.S. poll to demonstrate the divide. The poll shows 58 per cent of Americans saying that it’s necessary to believe in God in order to be a moral person, while only 30 per cent of Canadians agree to this.And while 45 per cent of Americans now say they go to church every week, only 20 per cent (down from 85 per cent in the 1950s) of Canadians can say the same thing.”In the United States, I guess you can say that there is one category of person who cannot be elected, and that’s an atheist. And in Canada, there’s a category of person who can’t be elected and of course that’s a person who’s an ostentatious religious person,” said Adams.”In fact, people who believe in God are suspect and we want to know a little bit more about them.”He noted that former Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day suffered at the polls in the 2000 federal election after it was revealed that he questioned evolution because of his Christian fundamentalist beliefs.As well, he showed that 69 per cent of Canadians believe in heaven but only about 43 per cent believe in hell and the devil. Meanwhile, in the U.S., 81 per cent believe in heaven and 70 per cent in hell and the devil.The pollster’s latest book, released last year, was Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values. The book argued that Canadians and Americans are remarkably different based on scientific surveys performed during the past decade.Earlier in the conference, Peter Beyer, a professor in the University of Ottawa’s department of religious studies, also contradicted the conference’s theme.”God isn’t back,” said Beyer. “He’s always been there – just not attracting our attention.”He said 1979 was a bumper year for religious movements, noting the rise of the religious right in the U.S. and the Iranian revolution. Beyer noted that the word “fundamentalism” is often used in the media when “religion doesn’t know its place” in the world.In his studies, Beyer has noted that while Islam is growing in Canada as a religion, an increasing proportion of other immigrants to Canada are declaring they have “no religion.”Speaking on a guest panel at the conference, former Justice minister Martin Cauchon talked about the “tremendous” impact that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has had on the country since 1985, when it was first brought into force.He said the Liberal government’s decision to legislate same-sex marriage after the current reference to the Supreme Court of Canada has been dealt with by the high court is the right course to take on the matter. He said Canadian religions will be protected under the new legislation from providing same-sex marriages against their wishes.Adams probably got off the best line of the conference when the panel was asked about churches providing sanctuary to immigrants seeking political refugee status in Canada.”Given the attendance in church these days, there’s lots of room for them,” he said.The pollster ended his presentation with a chart comparing the results of polls performed on patriarchy, church attendance and gun ownership.For instance, he showed polling results that 49 per cent of Americans admitting they own a gun compared with only 22 per cent of the residents north of the border saying the same thing.”I have a picture of Sunday morning [in the U.S.], dad getting up, pulling out his 357 Magnum, saying ‘OK kids, we’re going to church,’ “ he said.

Illustration: Photo: Osprey News Service / Speakers Martin Cauchon (right), Jasmin Zine and Michael Adams discussed religion and its role in policy making at the Couchiching Conference on Saturday (ID number: 200408090033, Edition: Final, Story Type: News, Length: 702 words, Illustration Type: Black & White Photo)

THIS DOES NOT MENTION COUCH PER SE, BUT REFERS TO ARTICLES ON CONFERENCE

Maisonneuve (Media Scout)
August 09, 2004
Phillip Todd

In God They Trust

Both the Globe and the Post (story unavailable online) run articles exploring the importance of faith in the US presidential election and revealing some interesting political realities that face both Republicans and Democrats. The Globe piece points to the increasing importance of faith among American adults: twice as many adult Americans as adult Canadians consider religion personally important. More importantly, each party has core constituencies that are highly religious – black Americans on the Democratic side and white evangelical Protestants on the Republican side. Together, these two groups represent more than a quarter of the electorate. The Post’s take on this topic focuses more on Kerry’s efforts to break Bush’s stranglehold on religious support and offers even more interesting numbers: According to exit polls from the 2000 presidential election, Bush carried 63 percent of those voters who go to church more than once a week, while Gore pulled 61 percent of those who said they never go to church.

Despite his liberal positions on abortion, same-sex marriage and stem cell research, the Post reports that Kerry is not just slipping more religious rhetoric into his speeches, but is actively engaged in a grassroots campaign to woo progressive churches to the Democratic side. What accounts for the growing religiosity of the US, and its increasingly singular standing among industrialized nations as a deeply religious country? Luis Lugo, director of the Washington-based Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, offers this explanation to the Globe: “My whole sense is … that it’s a fear that a very militant secularism is driving religion from public life and increasingly besieging faithful believers.”