How Could Such Things Happen In A City Of Character?

By May 8, 2013Issues, Mike Archer

This week we have heard of an Abbotsford school teacher and basketball referee who is accused of sexual assault and exploitation.

We also heard about an Abbotsford gang squad police officer charged with trafficking.

On Monday night when marijuana activist Tim Felger tried to question the candidates at an all candidates meeting about there drug policy the moderator refused to ask his question.

Abbotsford calls itself a City of Character and proudly boasts both Abbotsford School Board and the Abbotsford Police as members of its council of character.

Could it be that, as a community, we’re kidding ourselves?

The City of Character movement was started by far right wing evangelist whacko Bill Gothard in the US and reasonable people across North America have distanced themselves from him and his movement ever since.

Bucking the trend, Abbotsford got on the bandwagon in 2011 and, through devoted work of Christian singer and high school vice principle Vijay Manuel, grew into an organization which is devoted to a decidedly Dominionist world view which brings together the leaders all of our secular institutions and uses them to sell a message of “character” to our youth and the community as a whole.

We have expressed our concern over a religion defining something as ethereal as character for an entire community and co-opting the community’s secular institutions in the process.

There was no referendum, no plebicite no public vote on whether the heads of our City, Police and Fire departments and local School District should be doing something as inappropriate as joining a self-policing Character Council which doesn’t hold publicly advertised meetings the way our institutions are required to and whose membership is determined on an institutional basis rather than on any evidence of what reasonable people might call ‘character’.

The fact that our police chief and school board chair sit on the Character Council doesn’t seem to have kept a teacher from facing sex charges or a cop from facing trafficking charges.

Could the reason be that using our secular institutions to sell religious morals is not only offensive to those who believe no church has any place inserting itself into the running of our secular, democratic affairs, but that it simply doesn’t work.

Vijay Manuel’s evangelical commitment to Christianity is, I guess commendable, if you’re a Christian. His attempts to bring all of our secular institutions under one moral umbrella devoted his Dominionist definiton of “character” is frightening.

Any claim that it will somehow lead to a better community filled with people of character is proved false with every school teacher charged with sexual assault and every cop charged with drug trafficking.

How many pedophiles do we have in public life who would love to hide behind just such an organization?

The fact that a bunch of politicians climbed on a bandwagon to associate themselves with a Christian movement to reward children who exhibit the right kind of “character” to a small and secretive group of there elders is disturbing.

When you add it to the closed eyes, ears and mouths of the power structure in Abbotsford which seems to think only certain questions should be asked of our political leaders during an election and only certain facts need to be shared with taxpayer about half billion dollar arenas and Christian fitness clubs which can’t make money without millions of dollars of tax money, and you have a fairly good picture of what is going wrong in this community.

The little clique of powerful people who spend our money meet regularly under the auspices of the Christian Movement of Character and our politicians are protected from legitimate questions from voters and taxpayers.

And we wonder why we have such low employment, low business investment, slow population growth, high rates of HIV and Hep C, high taxes, high water rates, low levels of recreation servcies, municipal finances that are in tatters …

All you’d have to add to the mix would be a news media that is owned by out-of-town interests and is either unaware of or unwilling to share anything the city leaders have ever or could ever do wrong and you end up with real problems.

Could it be that, as a community we are kidding ourselves by not facing up to the harsh truths we need to discuss if we are ever going to aspire to such a lofty title as ‘City of Character’ while hiding behind phony Christian evangelist organization which claims we’re already there.

Read up on it. See how comfortable you would be having them anoint your child as one of them once you find out what they are really about.

Maybe if we focused a bit more on having qualified people doing their jobs properly and effectively and less time fooling ourselves into believing that belief will make everything alright and paying lip service to political movements masquerading as religion, we could actually start fixing what has become a very broken community.

What do you think?

Watch the video from the City of Character made by Mayor Bruce Banman and tell me it doesn’t creep you out just a little …

Join the discussion One Comment

  • I find it rather hypocritical for Bruce Banman to preach in support of virtues that he does not practice – if the cameras are off or absent. Just ask too many citizens of Abbotsford how they have been treated at Council Committee meetings or town hall meetings at both Bradner and Sumas Mountain where there were no video or audio recordings. The Abbotsford City of Character virtue of “Respect” was certainly not practiced by Mayor Banman unless he only respects those who agree with his misplaced policies regarding Abbotsford’s rural communities. These communities are very good at engaging their youth by practicing all of the stated virtues without belonging to the Abbotsford City of Character yet Banman has little “Respect” for them. One virtue that I believe is missing from the Abbotsford City of Character list of virtues is “honesty”.

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