Religion and political thought in Alberta

Clark S. E. Banack
2012
Despite the vast academic attention paid to the political development of Alberta, the role of religion has been thoroughly under-analyzed. This project begins to rectify this gap by seeking to ascertain the manner by which the religious-based political thought of formative Alberta-based political leaders Henry Wise Wood, William Aberhart, Ernest Manning, and Preston Manning influenced the political development of Alberta. This is done by asking three broad questions. First, in what way were the
more » ... personal conceptions of human nature, agency, justice, citizenship, democracy and the proper role of the state of these leaders shaped by religious belief and how, in turn, did this influence their political goals, strategies and discourse? Second, what pattern emerges with regard to religion and political thought and action when we consider these questions over nearly a century of Alberta's history? And third, to what extent can we trace this phenomenon of faith-driven politics back to specific American religious movements? This study was completed by way of an "interpretive" approach that sought to demonstrate the relationship between an aspect of the subject's "framework of meaning" (their religious perspective) and their political thought and action. Drawing on substantial archival work and a small number of semi-structured interviews, this study argues that the political thought of each of these leaders was significantly influenced by their particular religious perspective and that Alberta's political development as a whole subsequently owes much to the broad American-based evangelical Protestant tradition from which these leaders drew much of their Christianity. More specifically, this study argues that the contours of Alberta politics have been shaped considerably by a particular "premillennial" Christian interpretation introduced by the Social Credit in 1935 and reinforced by the thought of Preston Manning in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The influence of this perspective has helped to generate a strong f [...]
doi:10.14288/1.0105193 fatcat:rus3dcbmbnh5reuduwgjkl7hha