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Religion and political thought in Alberta Banack, Clark S. E. 2012

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       Religion and Political Thought in Alberta  by  Clark S.E. Banack   A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Of  Doctor of Philosophy  in  The Faculty of Graduate Studies  (Political Science)     The University of British Columbia (Vancouver)  April 2012        © Clark S.E. Banack, 2012 	
    Abstract  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 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 freedom-infused anti-statist sentiment in the province that fueled both a more “populist” approach to its politics as well as a more fervent desire for a limited state and an unregulated market economy.     	
   Preface  This dissertation was completed and written solely by the author, Clark S.E. Banack. The in-person, semi-structured, one-on-one interviews with research subjects that appear in Chapters 5 and 6 were conducted with the approval of the Behavioural Research Ethics Board, Office of Research Services, University of British Columbia. The Certificate of Approval number is: H10 02065.  This certificate was approved on August 23, 2010 and renewed on July 12, 2011.                            	
   Table of Contents  Abstract ........................................................................................................................... ii Preface ............................................................................................................................ iii Table of Contents........................................................................................................... iv Acknowledgments .......................................................................................................... vi  Chapter One: Introduction .......................................................................................................................1  Chapter Two: The Study of Religion and Political Thought in Alberta.................................................15            The “Uniqueness” of Alberta Politics ...................................................................16           The Classic Attempts to “Explain” Alberta Politics..............................................24           The Study of Religion and Politics in Canada and Alberta ...................................29           Approaching Religion and Political Thought ........................................................36           Meaning and the Study of Human Action .............................................................39           Interpretivism and the Study of Religion and Political Thought in Alberta..........48  Chapter Three: Democracy and Millennialism in American Evangelical Protestantism: The Context of Religious Interpretation in Alberta.........................................................60            A Note on the American Protestant Tradition .......................................................62           The Democratic Theology of American Evangelical Protestantism .....................65           Millennialism and American Evangelical Protestantism.......................................78           Conclusion .............................................................................................................87  Chapter Four: Religion and the Political Thought of Henry Wise Wood: The Liberal, Postmillennial Perspective..........................................................................91            Wood’s Political and Religious Background.........................................................97           Religion and the Social Theory of Wood ............................................................104           Religion and the Political Thought of Wood.......................................................111           Conclusion: The Political Thought of Wood and the Trajectory           of Alberta Politics ................................................................................................122  Chapter Five: Religion and the Political Thought of William Aberhart and Ernest Manning: The Fundamentalist, Premillennial Perspective ............................................................132            The Shared Theology of Aberhart and Manning.................................................136           Aberhart and Social Credit Economics ...............................................................149           Manning and Social Conservatism ......................................................................161 	
             Conclusion: The Political Thought of Aberhart and Manning and the           Trajectory of Alberta Politics ..............................................................................171  Chapter Six: Religion and the Political Thought of Preston Manning: The Contemporary Premillennial Perspective ...............................................................181            The Politics of “Post-Social Credit” Alberta .......................................................184           Preston Manning’s Christian Approach to Politics .............................................191           Manning’s Religious Perspective and his Conception of the State .....................196           Manning’s Religious Perspective and his Dedication to Democracy..................204           Conclusion: The Political Thought of Manning and the Trajectory of           Contemporary Alberta Politics ............................................................................211  Chapter Seven: Conclusion .....................................................................................................................222  Bibliography.................................................................................................................232                         	
   Acknowledgements  I would like to thank the many people who contributed to this PhD dissertation beginning with the long list of excellent teachers I have encountered throughout my schooling who are too numerous to mention here. I would also like to express my gratitude to the many helpful librarians and archivists who were patient and helpful with the variety of requests I made at each of the archives I visited over the course of this study. The current and recently retired politicians from Alberta who took the time to speak with me over the course of this study, many of whom requested anonymity due to the personal nature of the topic, were also supremely open and helpful.  Preston Manning in particular patiently sat through two lengthy interviews and allowed me access to a number of helpful documents. I would also like to thank those who financially supported the completion of this project, including the University of British Columbia’s graduate fellowship program, the Department of Political Science at UBC, and Rod Kay and the boys from the SGS Imperial Oil Rail Yard who provided an unlikely but much appreciated source of funding, as well as camaraderie, over the course of my stay in Edmonton while writing this dissertation. I also owe thanks to the large group of people who read and commented on different sections of this dissertation, or engaged in helpful conversations with me along the way.  This list includes, but is not limited to, Roger Epp, James Farney, David Rayside, Jim Bickerton, David Goa, Jared Wesley, Paul Burns, Gerald Baier, and Trevor Harrison.  Committee members Allan Tupper and Barbara Arneil were especially helpful in this regard, continually pushing me on a number of fronts to make this study better.  I owe particular thanks, however, to my supervisor, Philip Resnick, for his time, kindness, support, and endless stream of thought-provoking comments. I must also offer a deep felt thanks to my parents, sister and grandmothers who have consistently offered support and encouragement over the course of many years while I pursued a goal that must have seemed, at times, irrational.  Finally, to my wife Kendell, words cannot capture the debt I have incurred for the love and patience you have demonstrated over the course of this journey.  I hope that I can reciprocate even a fraction of what you have given me as you embark on your own journey in the years ahead. 	
   Chapter One:  Introduction  The political history of the Canadian prairies is one of vigorous regional protest, non-traditional party formation, unprecedented policy experimentation, and a more general “populist” culture that has repeatedly emphasized the moral and practical worth of the “common man.”  Of course, much scholarly ink has been spilled by social scientists in an attempt to analyze this unique tradition of thought and protest which saw the growth of a number of diverse political movements, each seeking to rectify real (and sometimes imagined) economic and political injustices.1 Although such studies have added much to our understanding of the region’s identity and political culture by focusing on the political and economic factors which motivated such action, there has been surprisingly little sustained attention paid to the role that religious interpretation and discourse has played within this tradition of protest and experimentation.  This is so despite the fact that a large number of prairie political leaders and their supporters were, from the earliest days of the agrarian revolt, through the periods of Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and Social Credit dominance, and into the relatively recent appearance of the Reform Party, devout practitioners of a Protestant Christian faith 	
   1 See, for example: Paul F. Sharp, The Agrarian Revolt in Western Canada, 2nd ed, (Regina: Canada Plains Research Centre, 1997), Seymour Martin Lipset, Agrarian Socialism, (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1950), W.L. Morton, The Progressive Party in Canada, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1950), C.B. Macpherson, Democracy in Alberta, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1953), Nelson Wiseman, “The Pattern of Prairie Politics,” in Queen’s Quarterly, Vol. 88, No. 2, (Summer 1981), 298-315, Gerald Friesen, The Canadian Prairies: A History, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987), David Laycock, Populism and Democratic Thought in the Canadian Prairies, 1910 to 1945, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990),  Bradford James Rennie, The Rise of Agrarian Democracy: The United Farmers and Farm Women of Alberta, 1909-1921, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000),  David Laycock, The New Right and Democracy in Canada, (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2002), John W. Warnock, Saskatchewan: The Roots of Discontent and Protest, (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 2004), and Jared J. Wesley, Code Politics: Campaigns and Cultures on the Canadian Prairies, (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2011). 	
   and many were quite comfortable clothing their political discourse in blatantly religious language.  Indeed, as R. Douglas Francis has argued, within the prairies, “religious aspirations and beliefs have always formed a backdrop to revolt.”2 However, this “backdrop” remains largely unexamined by students of Canadian prairie politics and populism, who have instead focused much more closely on the political or economic factors. This is especially so for the province of Alberta, which has received an immense amount of academic attention over the past five decades from those eager to explain the province’s long running adherence to an anti-statist sentiment that has consistently encouraged both a populist and fiscally conservative approach to its politics that is largely unfamiliar to more central and eastern parts of Canada.  Although a number of these studies have been quite insightful, they have been nearly unanimous with respect to their silence on the influence of religion.  Surely the impact of political and economic conditions related to the province’s quasi-colonial status within confederation, its distinct immigration patterns, its early economic reliance on agriculture or its more recent dependence upon oil and gas production, so often pointed to in previous studies are critical to understanding Alberta’s political development.  However, religious interpretation, I argue, remains an influential underlying factor that helps to explain the continual emphasis on both populist democracy and fiscal conservatism one finds throughout the province’s political history.  Although almost all academic efforts aimed at analyzing segments of this political tradition mention religion, few, if any, have 	
   2 R. Douglas Francis, “In Search of a Prairie Myth: A Survey of the Intellectual and Cultural Historiography of Prairie Canada,” in Journal of Canadian Studies, 24:3 (Fall 1989), 56.   	
   actually attempted a systematic depiction and analysis of its impact.  The result has been, in my opinion, the proliferation of a particular picture of Alberta’s political development that is not entirely accurate.  Not only does this impede our ability to better understand the early ideological roots of the province, it also interferes with our attempts to better understand the nature of contemporary Alberta conservatism which, given the recent success of the federal Conservative Party led by the Calgary-based MP Stephen Harper, who earned his political stripes within the Alberta-based Reform Party of Canada, is now influencing policy debates well beyond its provincial borders. This project begins to rectify this shortcoming by exploring the influence of religion on the political thought of four influential political figures from Alberta whose contributions span nearly a century of the province’s history.  In doing so I admit to being quite sympathetic to prairie historian Nelson Wiseman’s lament regarding the ascendancy of a science of politics that significantly downplays the importance of history.  I follow Professor Wiseman in rejecting the notion that “the past is another country.”3  Thus, the individuals studied include Henry Wise Wood, president of the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) from 1916 until 1931, William “Bible Bill” Aberhart, founder of the Alberta Social Credit and premier from 1935 until 1943, Aberhart’s protégé Ernest Manning, premier from 1943 until 1968, and Manning’s son Preston, founder and leader of the Alberta-based federal Reform Party of Canada from 1987 until 2000.  By focusing almost exclusively on the thought of four individuals as opposed to the broader population, this study is, first and foremost, a work in the area of Canadian Political Thought, although its conclusions reveal something quite important with respect to the 	
   3 Nelson Wiseman, In Search of Canadian Political Culture, (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2007), 2. 	
   general political development of Alberta as well.  In fact, I follow Jared Wesley in arguing that political parties, and especially their leaders, possess a significant degree of agency with respect to shaping the political cultures and directions of their communities.4 Specifically, this study seeks to ascertain the manner by which the religious-based political thought of the leaders mentioned above influenced the political development of Alberta by asking three broad questions.  First, in what way were the personal conceptions of human nature, agency, justice, citizenship, democracy and the proper role of the state of these key Alberta political leaders shaped by religious belief and how, in turn, did this influence their political goals, strategies and discourse? Second, and more generally, 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 finally, given the well-documented influence of American populist traditions in Alberta, to what extent can one trace this phenomenon of faith-driven politics back to specific American religious movements?5 This study advances a number of important points but the three overarching arguments offered are as follows.  First, religion has, in fact, played a significant role in the political thought and action of the political leaders studied and, by largely glossing over this influence, scholars have essentially painted an incomplete picture with respect to their political thought.  In fact, it is fair to say that certain aspects of their thought have essentially been misunderstood because of this failure to properly grasp the religious interpretations that have motivated them.  Second, this religious influence has helped to 	
   4Wesley, Code Politics: Campaigns and Cultures on the Canadian Prairies, 33. 5 See Sharp, The Agrarian Revolt in Western Canada, Morton, The Progressive Party in Canada, and Wiseman, “The Pattern of Prairie Politics.” 	
   shape the actual pattern of Alberta’s politics in important ways that have yet to be articulated.  It is certainly not the only important factor that has influenced Alberta politics but it stands alone as the last significant factor that has been thoroughly under- analyzed by scholars.  Third, each of the political leaders mentioned above drew from a Christian perspective that had important American evangelical Protestant roots thereby giving it a more “populist,” as opposed to a British “tory,” flavour. Although the precise manner by which particular religious interpretations influenced the political thought of the political figures mentioned above will be expanded upon in greater detail in each of the three substantive chapters in this dissertation (chapters 4 - 6), this study argues that two distinct streams of religious-based political thought emerged in the province and significantly shaped the contours of Alberta politics at different points in its history.  This is not to say these are the only streams of religious- based political thought to have existed in Alberta but rather that these were, by far, the most influential.  The first stream was a liberal and “postmillennial” Christian religious and political outlook most clearly articulated by longtime UFA president Henry Wise Wood.  The essence of this stream, which differed in important ways from the mainstream social gospel message espoused by prairie radicals Salem Bland, J.S. Woodsworth and William Irvine, was a belief in the capacity of individual citizens to work towards building the kingdom of God on earth by way of intense ground-level participation and co-operation.  This message stood behind the optimistic and intensely deliberative approach to politics found within the UFA in the early twentieth century. The second stream was a more conservative strand built upon a “premillennial” fundamentalist Christian interpretation most often expounded by Social Credit leaders 	
   William Aberhart and Ernest Manning, although significant elements of it would reappear in the political thought of Reform leader Preston Manning.  Rather than seeking to build the kingdom of God on earth, followers of this stream understood the coming “millennium” to be in God’s hands alone and therefore were most concerned with ensuring individual citizens were granted the freedom necessary to build a personal relationship with God.  This stream generated a more conservative and less deliberative approach to politics than that of the UFA. A third stream that has surfaced in contemporary Alberta politics, strongly related to the premillennial stream mentioned above, is a socially conservative sentiment that is most concerned with the declining influence of Christian morality in society.  Although this particular stream tends to receive the most attention from contemporary academics and journalists, an important underlying argument that runs through this study is the fact that, despite its recent influence within the Alberta PC Party, who essentially waged a religiously-motivated 15-year battle against the advancement of homosexual rights in the 1990s and early 2000s, social conservatism has not influenced the overall direction of Alberta politics anywhere near to the same extent as has the second stream, focused almost entirely on protecting individual freedom. Although each of these distinct streams of religious-based political thought ensured important differences between the individual political leaders who espoused them, this dissertation also argues that both the liberal postmillennial and the fundamentalist premillennial streams were directly imported from the broader American evangelical Protestant tradition.  As will become more apparent as one proceeds through the chapters that follow, this shared heritage has ensured many points of continuity 	
   between diverse political leaders over much of Alberta’s history and has ultimately placed the province on a political trajectory much closer to the pattern of American political culture than the more “tory” stained political culture of much of the rest of Canada. In essence, early political leaders imported an individualistic and democratic style of Christian-based thought from America that was at odds with the more communal and hierarchical version associated with European Christianity.  The result, as will be spelled out in much greater detail, has been a preoccupation in Alberta political thought with the moral and intellectual capacity of the common individual and his or her corresponding right to be free.  This has helped to generate a strong anti-statist sentiment which fuels both a more “populist” approach to its politics as well as a more fervent desire for a limited state and an unregulated market economy.  Yet, given the strong emphasis on the moral authority of the Bible in the American-based religious tradition that early Alberta leaders were drawing from, a corresponding demand that the individual behave “responsibly” can clearly be detected alongside this emphasis on the capacity of the common citizen.  This unique combination has produced, I argue, a “populist” conservatism that stands in opposition to the more hierarchical “tory” conservatism that has played such an important role in the ideological development of much of the rest of Canada.  In other words, this study argues that Alberta’s strong populist and pro-market leanings, which tend to distinguish it from most other Canadian provinces, have significant roots in the religious interpretations of its early political leaders.  By overlooking religious influence, or simply associating it with socially conservative 	
   politics, scholars have overlooked this vitally important impact religious-based thought has had on some of the central pillars of Alberta’s political development. While the arguments listed above promise to reveal an important aspect of Alberta’s unique political development, it is probably useful to also briefly explain what this project is not.  In short, this is not a history of Alberta, or of its politics, or even of its religious practices.  Much good work on these topics already exists and the precise focus of this particular study is the political thought of a handful of key political figures from Alberta’s history.  Beyond providing a bit of historical context to properly situate each of these political figures, little room is dedicated to expanding on the vast number of important events that have influenced Alberta in important ways.  Furthermore, this study is not a systematic dissection of the composition of each political party mentioned nor is it a detailed analysis of their respective rise and fall.  Again, much good academic work has already been completed on such themes.   Finally, this study is not intended as a complete explication of Alberta’s particular political culture.  Although the study refers to important foundations of the provinces political culture, and offers to paint a more complete picture with respect to the development of aspects of this political culture by highlighting the influence of religion on the political thought of formative leaders, it does not utilize polling data to articulate the most widely-held political beliefs of Albertans, either historically or more recently.  Similarly, because the study focuses on the political thought of only a few key political figures, this project does not attempt to identify any precise patterns with respect to the role of religion on the general public’s political preferences. 	
   Having outlined what this project is not, it is finally appropriate to offer a brief outline of the study itself, which proceeds as follows.  Chapter two sets the stage by situating this project within the long list of academic literature that attempts to “explain” Alberta politics and the relatively short list of literature that considers the influence of religion on Canadian politics in general before outlining the methodological approach of inquiry utilized in this study, that of “interpretivism.”  In an effort to fully unpack the philosophical tenets of this approach, a review of Charles Taylor’s “philosophical anthropology” of the human subject that stands at the foundation of the more concrete interpretive research methods used in this study, is provided.  In short, the human subject is depicted as a “self-interpreting animal” whose actions are dependent upon their interpretations of meaning, one’s perception of their moral frameworks.  The task of interpretive social inquiry is to understand and make clear these meanings and thus provide an accurate explanation as to what the subject is doing by grasping why he or she is doing it.  With respect to this project in particular, the subject’s religious beliefs are taken at face value and understood to be a central component of their larger framework of meaning and therefore the study seeks to grasp the manner by which this aspect of their framework influences their thinking and acting in this world.  Because interpretivism places a high value on the linguistic, ideological, social and cultural context of a particular subject when seeking to grasp his or her “framework of meaning,” a good deal of effort went in to understanding these surrounding elements, especially for those subjects who operated in a significantly different time period than myself. Although far more detail is provided with regard to the precise interpretive methodological tools utilized in this study in Chapter two, I admit to being generally 	
   sympathetic to the simple comments of one of Canada’s most esteemed religious historians, the late G.A. Rawlyk, who wrote: I remain convinced that if you want to know what people are doing in the religious realm and why they are doing it, you have to ask them.  And you take them seriously, whether in the 1990’s, when they actually respond – or in the eighteenth century, when you find their response.  As Steve Bruce has perceptively observed, “They might not always know, or they might know and not tell you.  But all other sources are inferior.”  It’s a “small point,” he emphasizes, “but one sadly often neglected by social scientists.”6  Like Rawlyk, I approached this study with the general belief that, when it comes to religiously motivated individuals operating in the political realm, one must take their religious views, however bizarre they may seem, seriously.   This simple truth was the guidepost in my research efforts that relied upon two distinct primary sources of information.  First, substantial archival work was completed with a focus on the writings and speeches of the historical political figures in question.  Second, two in-depth, semi- structured one-on-one interviews were conducted by the author with Preston Manning, and six additional interviews were conducted with his contemporaries from the former Reform Party.  Every effort was made to ensure the views of both historical and contemporary political figures are presented in a clear and accurate manner in this study.  The purpose of Chapter three is to provide the appropriate religious and intellectual context necessary to properly interpret the religious-based political thought of Henry Wise Wood and William Aberhart, two historical figures who were strongly influenced by the American evangelical Protestant tradition.  Thus, this chapter provides a significantly abridged history of this religious tradition, with a particular focus on its 	
   6 G.A. Rawlyk, Is Jesus Your Personal Saviour? In Search of Canadian Evangelicalism in the 1990s, (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1996), 224.  The Quote from Steve Bruce is taken from: Steve Bruce, God Save Ulster: The Religion and Politics of Paisleyism, (Oxford: Clarendon, 1986). 	
   democratic tendencies and its persistent fascination with Christian “Millennial” ideas, two elements that would play hugely influential roles in the political thought of both Wood and Aberhart and subsequently place Alberta on a particular political path that it largely continues to follow today.  This chapter also offers a brief comparison between this “American” religious tradition and the more “British” religious tradition that played such a significant role in the cultural and political development of much of central and eastern Canada, outside of Quebec.  Having established both the appropriate method of study and the necessary intellectual and religious context, Chapter Four represents the first of three consecutive chapters that focus on the role of religion on the political thought of influential political figures from the province’s history.  Chapter Four explores the political thought of Henry Wise Wood, longtime president and unofficial philosopher of the UFA.  It is here one finds the liberal, postmillennial stream of religious-based political thought mentioned above.  Although Wood drew from his American evangelical Protestant background by lamenting the “fallen” nature of man and the need for individuals to seek “regeneration,” he harnessed this focus on individual piety to a belief in “social regeneration” wherein “reborn” citizens could build a perfectly democratic and just society, a true “Kingdom of Heaven on earth,” through meaningful political participation and co-operation. Chapter Five turns to the Alberta Social Credit, which governed Alberta from 1935 until 1971, and the political thought of its two most important leaders, William Aberhart and Ernest Manning.  It is within the thought of these two men that one finds the fundamentalist, premillennial stream of religious-based political thought that replaced the postmillennial strand of Wood in Alberta.  By rejecting the notion of building a 	
   “Kingdom of Heaven” on earth, Aberhart and Manning presented a dramatically different understanding of the state by focusing on the importance of ensuring individual freedom. Correspondingly, the intense pressure on citizens to participate politically in a meaningful and deliberative way that had been stressed by the UFA was abandoned and replaced by a call for citizens to state their “preferences” and allow benevolent politicians and their “experts” to install programs that would ensure individual freedom would be protected as far as possible.  This shift, which grew out of the distinction between “post” and “pre” millennial religious interpretations, represented both the beginning of a blatant anti- statism and the end of a more radical and participatory politics in Alberta. Chapter Six leaps ahead to the religious-based political thought of Preston Manning, founder and longtime leader of the federal Reform Party of Canada.  Largely adhering to the religious interpretation espoused by his father Ernest, Preston understood the ills of contemporary society to have grown because of our distance from God and only an individual effort on the part of the citizen, perhaps aided by the church, to reestablish a relationship with God could make things better.  The divine role of the state in this process was simply to guarantee the individual the personal freedom necessary to allow this relationship with God to flourish.  Like his father, this focus on individual freedom encouraged in Preston a certain anti-statism that, in turn, generated an aversion to any state-led efforts to impose an economic collectivism on an unwilling public. Hence, the result was a clear preference for an unregulated market economy and a simultaneous reduction in the size and scope of the state, the dissemination of which in the late 1980s helped encourage the Alberta Progressive Conservatives to embark on a program of cutbacks aimed at substantially reducing the size and scope of the provincial 	
   government under the leadership of Ralph Klein in the early 1990s.  Thus, it is in this point of agreement between Ernest and Preston Manning that we find a vital, religious- based continuity with respect to the pro-market leanings that have defined Alberta politics for decades. At the conclusion of each of these substantive chapters, a broad analysis is provided that points to the more general political implications of the religiously-inspired political thought of the individuals in question and the manner by which a good deal of continuity is found across Alberta’s political history with respect to these implications. The study concludes with a chapter that recaps the central arguments of the dissertation. In general, I conclude that the influence of religion on the development of Alberta politics goes well beyond the oft-mentioned presence of social conservatism in the province.  It is found, rather, in the continued persistence of the broader populist conservative sentiment within Alberta politics.  It is this sentiment, which both celebrates the capacities of the individual and simultaneously places clear limits on his or her behavior, that helps to explain the individualistic, populist, anti-statist, pro-market, and conservative elements of the province’s unique political culture.7  And, as I argue throughout, this sentiment is rooted largely in religious arguments that emerged out of the American evangelical tradition and were imported into Alberta provincial politics by Wood, Aberhart and Ernest and Preston Manning.  Despite this common heritage, however, it is worth reiterating how important the defeat of Wood’s “postmillennial” 	
   7 The term “political culture” has obviously spurred extensive debate amongst academics eager to provide a definitive definition of a concept that is often applied rather loosely.  For a recent overview of this discussion in the Canadian context see: Wiseman, In Search of Canadian Political Culture.  Within this dissertation I use the term “ Alberta’s political culture” to refer to an ongoing set of political ideas and values that persist across political parties, modes of political discourse, and shifting economic circumstances which characterize Alberta more so than any other Canadian Province. 	
   religious interpretation by Aberhart’s “premillennial” version was with respect to the precise direction of Alberta politics.  Since 1935, Alberta politics have been defined by an emphasis on individual freedom that both encourages an anti-statist and pro-market sentiment and questions the need for traditional deliberative politics.  Surely the majority of men and women who today abide by this particular freedom-infused sentiment in Alberta have managed to disassociate it from its initial religious mooring, but to miss the fact that this religious foundation did exist is to miss a good deal of the story of Alberta’s political development and contemporary political culture.          	
   Chapter Two:  The Study of Religion and Political Thought in Alberta   It is widely known that Alberta’s political history includes the long tenures of four political parties: The Liberals from 1905-1921, The United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) from 1921-1935, the Alberta Social Credit from 1935-1971 and the Progressive Conservatives (PC) from 1971 to the present.  Despite holding astonishingly high legislative seat counts, the first three of these parties were respectively swept off the political map in rather dramatic fashion, losing to an upstart political party that seemingly came out of nowhere.  This pattern of electing non-traditional parties with resounding majorities for unusually long periods before quickly tossing them aside seems to make Alberta unique among Canadian provinces.  Add to this particular electoral pattern the penchant for Alberta political elites to repeatedly stress populist themes, demand more provincial autonomy and a less regulated market economy, and more recently, to disparage the much-loved Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the “progressive” social legislation it has encouraged, and you have the makings of a political curiosity.  This is especially so for central and eastern Canadians, whose “tory-touched” political culture ensures a certain disconnect between themselves and the political behavior of Albertans. As a result, a good deal of academic attention has been devoted to an attempt to “explain” Alberta politics.  This chapter attempts to sets the stage for this broader study into the role of religion on Albertan political thought by exploring the notion that Alberta politics is, in fact, “unique” in some way before reviewing the long list of academic literature that attempts to explain this particular uniqueness.  The chapter also explores the relatively short list of literature that considers the influence of religion on Canadian politics as well 	
   as the broader theoretical issues involved in studying the political influence of religion. Finally, this chapter offers a theoretical and practical outline of the methodological approach of inquiry utilized in this study, that of “interpretivism.” The “Uniqueness” of Alberta Politics Although Alberta politics is often described as unique amongst Canadian provinces, the precise attributes that make this so are often incorrectly entangled with the unusually long tenures of governments in the province.  As Peter McCormick has demonstrated, the single member plurality electoral system has severely distorted the legislative seat counts relative to popular vote in Alberta.  Between 1905 and 1979, the party that won office received, on average, 51% of the vote, a proportion that places Alberta side-by-side other Canadian provinces.1  Social Credit, who seemingly ruled nearly uncontested for thirty- six years, received at least 85% of the seats in the legislature in seven of nine elections while averaging only 52% of the popular vote.2  In 2008, the PCs won 87% of the seats with roughly 53% of the popular vote.  In other words, although specific seat counts give the impression of a single-minded electorate, just under half of Albertans have consistently voted against the governing party. That being said, it remains true that, at least since 1921, a particular brand of political party tends to fare markedly better than its competitors in the province, even if one looks solely at popular vote counts.  In general, the UFA, Social Credit and PC parties demonstrated a strong anti-central Canada/federal government bias, a commitment to ensuring the wishes of the “common people” are adhered to politically, and have, in 	
   1 Peter McCormick, “Voting Behaviour in Alberta: The Quasi-Party System Revisited,” in Journal of Canadian Studies, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Fall 1980), 88. 2 Peter J. Smith, “Alberta: A Province like Any Other?” in Keith Brownsey and Michael Howlett ed., The Provincial State: Politics in Canada’s Provinces and Territories, (Mississauga: Copp Clark Pitman, 1992), 250. 	
   rhetoric if not always in practice, praised the unregulated economic market as the key to economic development and social stability.  At the same time, those parties that openly espoused economic collectivism (the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation or the New Democratic Party) or maintained strong symbolic links to more traditional political parties based in central Canada (the Liberals and, until 1971, the PCs) were unsuccessful. Indeed, Jared Wesley’s insightful exploration of the political platforms of political parties in Alberta has revealed that the province’s most successful political leaders have consistently preached a “freedom-based narrative” structured around populist or anti- establishment themes, western alienation, and a conservative individualism that emphasizes “personal responsibility, free enterprise, private-sector development, entrepreneurship, a strong work ethic, the evils of socialism, and the protection of individual rights and liberties.”3  This clear pattern has led David Stewart and Keith Archer to argue that Alberta’s political culture, or the common political values that underpin its political system, is defined by alienation, conservatism and populism.4  I am largely in agreement with such a definition and would argue that, in general, this particular combination of characteristics, rather than its seemingly bizarre electoral history, is in fact what makes Alberta unique among Canadian provinces.  However, although the notion of “alienation” clearly refers to Alberta’s long-held distrust of the federal government, important qualifications must be made to both the conservative and populist labels. 	
   3 Jared J. Wesley, Code Politics: Campaigns and Cultures on the Canadian Prairies, (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2011), 55-56. 4 David K. Stewart and Keith Archer, Quasi-Democracy? Parties and Leadership Selection in Alberta, (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2000), 13-15. 	
   With respect to conservatism, both the UFA and the Social Credit under William Aberhart were enamoured with approaches to the market economy that, although clearly not “socialist,” could only be described as radical.  However, since the premiership of Ernest Manning in 1943, consecutive Alberta premiers have gained solid electoral support by embracing a far more conservative approach to economics, consistently stressing the importance of a free-enterprise system with limited government interference.  In a remarkable testament to the popularity of fiscal conservatism in contemporary Alberta, Ralph Klein’s PC government was able to maintain, and perhaps even enhance, their support among the electorate after unleashing a significant “neo- liberal” attack on public spending in the early 1990s.5  Yet it would be a mistake to assume Alberta’s economic practices have always met the demands of the free-enterprise rhetoric.  Despite harshly criticizing any and all forms of economic collectivism, it is hard to imagine the Manning government holding power for so long without the aid of substantial oil and gas royalties that allowed for spending on social programs and infrastructure well above the national average.6  Similarly, Peter Lougheed, a staunch supporter of the capitalist system, gained tremendous electoral support while utilizing resource royalties to pursue a strategy of government-led economic diversification that required extensive infrastructure improvements, state resources to assist Alberta-based businesses, and even government ownership, between 1971 and 1985.  In other words, despite a great deal of “free enterprise” rhetoric, the notion that Albertans and their 	
   5 Keith Archer and Roger Gibbins, “What Do Albertans Think? The Klein Agenda on the Public Opinion Landscape,” in Christopher J. Bruce, Ronald D. Kneebone and Kenneth J. McKenzie ed., A Government Reinvented: A Study of Alberta’s Deficit Elimination Program, (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1997), 462-485. 6 This argument is made by Smith, “Alberta: A Province like Any Other?” 247-48. 	
   governments have always been unapologetically right-wing when it comes to economics is somewhat of a misnomer. Successful parties in Alberta also have a reputation for social conservatism. Religious-based angst around questionable moral behavior was obviously an issue for nearly all Canadian political leaders, including those from the UFA and Social Credit, in the first two thirds of the twentieth century.  Yet, over the past two decades, the Alberta PCs have seemingly stood alone as the provincial government most committed to preserving the “traditional family” and resisting the advancement of homosexual rights.7 However, although polls tend to show Albertans in general as being some of the least friendly to gay rights in the country, the provincial government’s own research conducted at the height of the “Vriend” debate in the late 1990s revealed a polarized electorate with only a very slight majority in opposition to the advancement of the homosexual cause.8 A more recent poll demonstrates that opposition to the legal recognition of same-sex marriages in Alberta stands at 28% in 2011, down from 59% in 1996.9  Thus, the notion that Alberta’s political culture is defined by a stern social conservatism also requires 	
   7  For a discussion on the Provincial Progressive Conservatives long history of reluctance with respect to legitimizing same-sex relationships see: David Rayside, Queer Inclusions, Continental Divisions: Public Recognition of Sexual Diversity in Canada and the United States, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008), Julia Lloyd and Laura Bonnett, “The Arrested Development of Queer Rights in Alberta,” in Trevor Harrison ed., The Return of the Trojan Horse: Alberta and the New World (Dis)Order, (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 2005), 328-341, and Clark Banack, “Conservative Christianity, Anti-Statism and Alberta’s Public Sphere: The Curious Case of Bill 44,” in S. Lefebvre and L. Beaman ed., Religion in the Public Sphere: Perspectives across the Canadian Provinces, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Forthcoming in 2012). 8 Alberta Justice, “Report of the Ministerial Task Force,” March 3, 1999, http://justice.alberta.ca/publications/Publications_Library/ReportoftheMinisterialTaskForce.aspx/DispForm .aspx?ID=36, (accessed on February 12, 2001).  A full slide presentation containing all the statistical evidence from this research report is available at: http://justice.alberta.ca/publications/Documents/alberta_justice_issues_research/index.html.	
   9 See: Faron Ellis, Traditional or Progressive: Albertans’ Opinion Structure on Six Policy Issues, Citizen Society Research Lab, Lethbridge, AB, November, 2011, http://www.lethbridgecollege.ca/about- us/applied-research-innovation/citizen-society-research-lab/alberta-opinion-studies, (accessed November 7, 2011), and Chris Varcoe, “Is Alberta Shifting Left When it Comes to Hard-Line Issues Like Abortion, Same-Sex Marriage?” in Calgary Herald, November 6, 2011, A6. 	
   some qualification.  In fact, it is probably most appropriate to suggest that Alberta’s political culture is informed heavily by the rhetoric of fiscal, and sometimes social, conservatism if not always the practice.  However, it is clear that Alberta’s politics are rooted in a strong populist tradition, yet the precise nature of Alberta’s “populist” political culture also requires a bit more exploration. The term populism has become somewhat of a contested concept among academics whose efforts to provide a comprehensive definition inevitably encounter the awkward array of distinct political movements that share little in common beyond the label “populist,” either self-proclaimed or affixed by an outside observer.  Rather than rehash this general definitional debate however, I want to work towards a definition of populism as a characteristic of political culture as opposed to a label for a specific political movement.  As a point of departure, Peter Wiles has surely hit on a fundamental element of populist political thought and action with his assertion that populism is any creed or movement that is founded upon the belief that “virtue resides in the simple people, who are the overwhelming majority, and in their collective traditions.”10  Yet, such a definition fails to get to the heart of the overt political nature of populism.  Following Francisco Panizza, I suggest a complete definition of populism must allude to “the constitution of the people as a political actor.”  This is necessary to understand populism as “an anti-status quo discourse that simplifies the political space by symbolically dividing society between “the people” and its “other.”11  Thus, populism certainly begins from a fundamental belief in the “virtue of the simple people,” but moreover, its 	
   10 Peter Wiles, “A Syndrome, Not A Doctrine: Some Elementary Theses on Populism,” in G. Ionescu and E. Gellner ed., Populism; Its Meaning and National Characteristics,” (London: The Macmillan Company, 1969), 166-179. 11 Francisco Panizza, “Introduction: Populism and the Mirror of Democracy,” in F. Panizza ed., Populism and the Mirror of Democracy, (London: Verso, 2005), 3. 	
   actualization requires the politicization of this belief which produces a tangible political movement that finds its inspiration in this constructed antagonism between themselves (the people) and a loosely defined power bloc (the other, or the “elites,” or the “plutocrats,” etc) who are seen as exploiting or oppressing the “people.” David Laycock, a central authority on Canadian prairie populism, has noted that although explicit definitions of the “common people” and the “elites” of any given society have varied immensely among divergent communities, “the elements of each variant cohere around principles concerning redistribution of power among social classes and groups,” including extending the right to participate in areas of public life traditionally controlled by the privileged sectors of society.12  The overarching goal of this actualized political movement becomes the radical alteration of the existing power structure in order to transfer significant decision-making power to such “people” at the expense of the “elites.”  Importantly then, the essence of the populism that I am trying to articulate is a “pre-ideological” sentiment.  Despite very real ideological divergence, all populist movements have been built upon an anti-establishmentarian sentiment that is fuelled by participant’s own self-confidence as capable decision-makers and their perceptions of being unfairly exploited by an outside force of “elites.”  Laycock has since labeled this anti-establishment sentiment a “democratic morality according to which the stifling of the people’s will…is a normatively unacceptable political practice.”13  It is precisely this pre-ideological “democratic morality,” derived from a belief in the moral 	
   12 David Laycock, Populism and Democratic Thought in the Canadian Prairies, 1910 to 1945, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), 4. 13 David Laycock, “Populism and the New Right in English Canada,” in F. Panizza ed., Populism and the Mirror of Democracy, (London: Verso, 2005), 173. 	
   and intellectual capacities of the “common people,” that operates at the foundation of much of Alberta’s politics. A significant byproduct of this populist sentiment has been Alberta’s tradition of political nonpartisanship defined by Leslie Pal as the yearning “for leaders and governments that serve the people as a whole, that rise above their differences to serve fundamental needs.”14  Yet, as Laycock’s careful analysis has demonstrated, although always built upon a belief in the capacity of the “common people,” the practices encouraged by distinct populist movements on the prairies in general and in Alberta in particular have been quite different.15  Specifically, Laycock depicts the UFA as encouraging an authentic “grassroots” participatory and deliberative democracy built upon the existence of meaningful lines of communication between the “common people” debating the issues in their “Locals,” and the larger UFA political organization who were to act strictly as the “peoples” delegates.  Following C.B. Macpherson, Laycock argues that Social Credit, under William Aberhart, encouraged a “plebiscitarian” style of populism that also adhered to the notion of the “people” as one, but rejected the UFA’s emphasis on meaningful local deliberation.  Instead, Aberhart insisted that the role of the people was to simply “demand results,” and the role of the democratic leader was to respond to this general demand by enlisting the services of the necessary experts to “deliver the results.”  The result was a technocratic and apolitical form of populism that attempted to meet the needs of the “people” but was devoid of the kind of deliberative 	
   14 Leslie A. Pal, “The Political Executive and Political Leadership in Alberta,” in Allan Tupper and Roger Gibbins ed., Government and Politics in Alberta, (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1992), 23. 15 Within Populism and Democratic Thought in the Canadian Prairies, Laycock highlights four distinct prairie “populisms” based upon their classification of “the people” as well as their general ideological tendencies when articulating grievances and proposing solutions.  They are: Crypto-Liberalism, Radical Democratic Populism, Social Democratic Populism and Plebiscitarian Populism. 	
   citizen involvement stressed by the UFA.  It is this seemingly paradoxical apolitical form of populism that now operates at the foundation of contemporary Alberta’s political culture.  In both the recent PC provincial government under Ralph Klein and the popular Alberta-based federal Reform Party under Preston Manning, rhetoric promising to steer government toward the interests of the “people” and away from the “elites” was a strong element of their appeal but attempts to engage average citizens in the process of governing at a local level have been questionable at best.16  In sum then, I agree with Steward and Archer that Alberta’s political culture is best defined by the terms alienated, conservative and populist.  Yet, as I have argued above and will develop in more detail below, Alberta’s conservative and populist leanings require a certain amount of unpacking in order to fully appreciate the manner by which they define Alberta.  Undoubtedly, the rhetoric of both fiscal and social conservatism has been an integral element of the platform offered by the dominant political parties of Alberta, at least since the premiership of Manning in 1943.  However, to suggest that all Albertans are conservative, or even that each provincial government since 1943 has always acted in a fiscally or socially conservative manner would be incorrect.  Similarly, the anti-establishmentarianism generated by a strong belief in the moral and intellectual capacities of the “common people” and the need to ensure their representation within the political system has been a bedrock of Alberta politics since at least 1921.  However, the manifestation of this sentiment has since moved away from the deliberative structure of populist democracy envisioned by the UFA towards an apolitical 	
   16 For a discussion on the “apolitical” nature of populism advocated by both the contemporary PC government and the federal Reform party see: David Laycock, The New Right and Democracy in Canada, (Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 2002) and Trevor Harrison, “The Changing Face of Prairie Politics: Populism in Alberta,” in Prairie Forum, Vol. 25, No. 1 (Spring 2000), 107-121. 	
   populism that questions the need for meaningful citizen involvement so long as the governing party is taking seriously the interests of the “people.”  Yet, as I will spell out in the remainder of this study, the similar emphasis on the moral and intellectual capacity of the “common people” that one finds underlying the different versions of populist democracy encouraged by the UFA and Social Credit has ensured that the dominant form of conservatism found in Alberta has a strong populist flavour and is therefore distinct from the more hierarchical “tory” conservatism found in central and eastern Canada. Having made these qualifications I now want to turn briefly to the scholarly efforts of those hoping to explain the origins of these political characteristics. The Classic Attempts to “Explain” Alberta Politics  C.B. Macpherson’s well-known study sought to explain the province’s “quasi- party system” by pointing to two distinct characteristics that were unique to Alberta, its relatively homogeneous class composition and its quasi-colonial status.17  Although there is little doubt that Alberta’s quasi-colonial history has significantly influenced the direction of the province’s politics, the point regarding class composition is more problematic.  A number of scholars have since demonstrated that Macpherson either miscalculated or misrepresented the class divisions that existed in Alberta.18  That said, Gurston Dacks has somewhat re-worked Macpherson’s original argument to suggest that it is a sense of alienation due to its quasi-colonial status in combination with Albertan’s historical identification with a single dominant commodity, as opposed to a single 	
   17 C.B. Macpherson, Democracy in Alberta, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1953), 21. 18 See: John Richards and Larry Pratt, Prairie Capitalism: Power and Influence in the New West, (Toronto: McClelland and Steward, 1979), 149-153 and Edward Bell, “Reconsidering Democracy in Alberta,” in Allan Tupper and Roger Gibbins ed., Government and Politics in Alberta, (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1992), 85-108.  For a more recent rejection of Macpherson’s class-based analysis see: Edward Bell, Harold Jansen and Lisa Young, “Sustaining a Dynasty in Alberta: The 2004 Provincial Election,” in Canadian Political Science Review, Vol. 1, No. 2, (December 2007), 27-49. 	
   homogeneous class, that has led to one-party dominance and a conservative, anti-party political culture.19  Indeed, by replacing “class” with “commodity” Dacks seems to have tapped into a unique element of Alberta’s economic history by suggesting that the bulk of Albertans, whether they belong to a specific occupational group or not, seem to identify strongly with the commodity most clearly tied to the province’s fiscal well-being.  This was originally an agriculture-based economy but is now obviously one heavily invested in the development of oil and natural gas, the protection of which from central Canadian intrusion certainly does much to unite Albertan’s politically around non-traditional, economically conservative parties.  Of course, Dacks’ assertion that the dominant commodity has significantly shaped Alberta politics is not necessarily unique.  Economic, staples-based explanations obviously have an important place in historical Canadian scholarship thanks to the pioneering work of Harold Innis and W.A. Mackintosh.  John Richards and Larry Pratt built upon this tradition by offering a concise history of the development of Alberta’s oil and gas industry and the conditions such an economic dependence instilled upon Alberta.20  Yet their work also went beyond the standard staple thesis by analyzing the overt and purposeful role played by the provincial state in this development process. Although both Manning and Lougheed are portrayed as powerful agents in this history, Richards and Pratt are careful to demonstrate the unique challenges posed by this overwhelmingly dominant commodity that required significant capital and expertise to exploit, in addition to the incessant desire on the part of the premiers to move towards 	
   19 Gurston Dacks, “From Consensus to Competition: Social Democracy and Political Culture in Alberta,” in Larry Pratt ed., Essays in Honour of Grant Notley: Socialism and Democracy in Alberta, (Edmonton: NeWest, 1986), 186-204. 20 Richards and Pratt, Prairie Capitalism: Power and Influence in the New West. 	
   economic diversification.  Pratt, along with Allan Tupper and Ian Urquhart, have further stressed the vital role Alberta’s chronic economic instability, its reliance on primary resource production and its vulnerability to external economic and political forces have had on the goals of consecutive provincial governments.21 Another vital avenue traversed by scholars hoping to tackle the unique character of Alberta politics is that of immigration.  At the forefront of this line of inquiry is Nelson Wiseman whose attempt to explain the political diversity found within the Canadian Prairies alludes to the importation of ideological tendencies carried into different regions by distinct “waves” of immigrant settlers.  It was the “radical populist liberalism” carried north by the wave of “Great Plains” American farmers that “played an influential role in Alberta that was unparalleled in Canada.”22  In fact, by 1911, American-born Albertans made up roughly 22 percent of the provincial population, a proportion much higher than in any other province in Canada.  By the 1920s, nearly half of the farmers in the southern region of the province had come from America, mostly from the Midwest farming states.23  The significant ideological influence of American farmers, Wiseman argued, was made possible not simply by the considerable number of American immigrants but also because they settled overwhelmingly in rural areas thereby giving them enhanced political clout in a province whose electoral representation was tilted heavily toward rural ridings. As W.L. Morton has noted, by 1918 the leadership of the UFA was made up of more American-born farmers than either Canadian or British leading to a “more radical 	
   21 Allan Tupper, Larry Pratt and Ian Urquhart, “The Role of Government,” in Allan Tupper and Roger Gibbins ed., Government and Politics in Alberta, (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1992), 31-66. 22 Nelson Wiseman, “The Pattern of Prairie Politics,” in Queen’s Quarterly, Vol. 88, No. 2, (Summer 1981), 312. 23 Howard Palmer and Tamara Palmer, Alberta: A New History, (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1990), 82. 	
   spirit” developing in Alberta agrarian circles than in its eastern neighbours.24  This meant agrarian politics in Alberta, which would dominate until at least 1935, was fundamentally grounded in an American classical liberalism that was devoid of the more communal- oriented “toryism” that had, according to Gad Horowitz, “touched” and thus stained the dominant liberalism of Ontario and, eventually Manitoba and Saskatchewan.25  Of course, it would be inconceivable to offer any explanation of Alberta politics without alluding to such structural conditions as the province’s “quasi-colonial” history, or the conditions created by an economy dominated by a single valuable commodity, or its unique immigration patterns.  Yet, it would also be a grave error to overlook the significant role played by Alberta’s long-standing political leaders.  As McCormick has argued, the provincial electorate’s lack of stable, deep-seated partisan affiliation has meant that political parties cannot count on reliable partisan support.  Thus, the leader rather than the party name becomes the focal point of the province’s politics.26  Pal similarly stressed the importance of leadership by suggesting that the most successful parties were those whose leaders appreciated the political gains available to those willing to play-up the non-partisan, anti-Ottawa tendencies within Alberta’s political culture.27 More recently, Stewart and Archer have updated Pal’s thesis by arguing that it was the folksy popularity of Ralph Klein as opposed to the PC brand or ideology that ensured the PCs present dynasty was kept alive in the mid 1990s.  Thus, they conclude, “Alberta politics is leadership politics.”28  Wesley has similarly argued that political parties, and 	
   24 W.L. Morton, The Progressive Party in Canada, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1950), 37-38. 25 Gad Horowitz, “Conservatism, Liberalism, and Socialism in Canada: An Interpretation,” in Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science, Vol. 32, No. 1, (1966): 143-171. 26 McCormick, “Voting Behaviour in Alberta,” 93-96. 27 Leslie A. Pal, “The Political Executive and Political Leadership in Alberta,” in Allan Tupper and Roger Gibbins ed., Government and Politics in Alberta, (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1992). 28 Stewart and Archer, Quasi-Democracy, 172. 	
   especially their leaders, have possessed a significant degree of agency with respect to shaping and perpetuating the province’s political culture.29 Yet this line of argument speaks more to the role played by political leaders in sustaining Alberta’s alienated, conservative and populist political culture throughout the past century as opposed to helping create it.  It does not seem a stretch to suggest that certain leaders, especially formative ones like Henry Wise Wood, William Aberhart and Ernest Manning, also played a role in setting the early direction of Alberta’s political culture as well.  Indeed, without delving deeply into the broad “structure vs. agency” debate, or the various theories of elite-driven politics, I agree with Robert Putnam’s assertion that to know how influential politicians think politics ought to work is of vital importance to one hoping to understand the political culture of a community.30  Surely the views of influential political leaders may be drawn from the broader political culture of the community, but it is also true that such leaders are in a position to significantly shape the political culture of the community, especially in its early years.  This is a possibility that is certainly mentioned from time-to-time in a variety of academic literature on Alberta but has never been investigated more systematically.31  It is a goal of this project, which focuses specifically on the political thought and action of particularly influential Alberta leaders, to move towards a clearer understanding of how the ideas of such individuals helped to shape, as opposed to simply sustain, some significant political beliefs in the province. 	
   29 Wesley, Code Politics: Campaigns and Cultures on the Canadian Prairies, 33. 30 Robert D Putnam, “Studying Elite Political Culture: The Case of Ideology,” in The American Political Science Review, Vol. 65, No. 3, (September, 1971), 651-681. 31 One important exception is the work of David Laycock who includes both cultural factors and social actors as important influences in shaping the distinct trajectories of various prairie populisms.  See: Laycock, Populism and Democratic Thought in the Canadian Prairies, 7. 	
   Of course, the various structural explanations presented above cannot really be taken as mutually exclusive possibilities.  One must conclude that a proper understanding of the development and contemporary shape of Alberta politics requires a grasp of the province’s initial demographic composition, its patterns of immigration, its historical relationship with the federal government, the basis of its economic development, and the particular efforts and ideas of its political leadership, in addition to the variety of peculiar accidents of history that are far too numerous to mention here. However, in spite of the unusually large amount of academic attention paid to Alberta’s politics, the influence of religion remains neglected.  The chief motivation behind this project is the sense that this oversight represents a rather substantial gap in our knowledge of Alberta politics.  This is not to suggest that religion will and can explain everything that is significant about Alberta politics.  Instead, it is my broad contention that religious interpretation has played a significant, although thoroughly under-analyzed, role in the development of Alberta’s unique political trajectory.  Although this study focuses solely on the role played by religious interpretation on the political thought of a handful of political elites throughout Alberta’s history, and loosely builds upon previous work done in both the “immigration” and “leadership” strands of explanation mentioned above, it is my general argument that religion is an important factor that helps us better understand both the populist and conservative elements of Alberta’s political culture.  Without such a focus, our grasp of Alberta and its politics remains largely incomplete. The Study of Religion and Politics in Canada and Alberta The standard account of religion’s general impact on Canadian political culture remains Seymour Martin Lipset’s comparison of the institutions and values of America 	
   and Canada.  Appealing to the indirect influence of religion on cultural and political values that occurs over time, Lipset suggests that Protestant sects have considerably influenced the values of Americans whereas the vast majority of Canadians adhere to the values encouraged by either the traditional, European-based Catholic or Anglican churches or the ecumenical and communitarian Protestant United Church.32  More specifically, the congregational and voluntary nature of America’s sectarian religious history has encouraged an individual-based egalitarianism prone to protest when encountering traditional class hierarchy.  Canada’s religious history, on the other hand, has been dominated by established, and therefore, hierarchical church structures which have encouraged an attitude of deference to traditional sources of authority.  Although I find this concise depiction of America’s religious history and its connection to the populist current within American politics relatively accurate, Lipset’s description of the religious, and subsequently political values, in Canada seems to focus overwhelmingly on central and eastern Canada, ignoring both the non-traditional religious history and blatant populist spirit of the Canadian prairies. S.D. Clark, who utilized the sociological distinction between the established traditional church and the small, newly-formed religious sect to help explain Canadian political development, seems a bit closer to the mark.  Clark attempted to unearth a link between the political protest movements of the prairies (that Lipset’s account seems to ignore) and the popularity of non-traditional religious sects, many of which originated in 	
   32Seymour Martin Lipset, Continental Divide: The Values and Institutions of the United States and Canada.  (New York: Routledge, 1990), 88. 	
   the United States.33  With specific focus on the sects of Alberta around 1930, Clark suggests that such evangelical organizations took aim at both the traditional theological systems of mainstream churches as well as their broader social influence within prairie Canada.34  Implicit within this protest was the same radically democratic spirit articulated by Lipset which invited ordinary Americans to challenge the position of the traditional church clergy and demand avenues for increased participation, first in religious services and eventually in social and political affairs.  Although Clark suggests this emerging air of anti-establishmentarianism among sect members in Alberta is linked to the broader political radicalism that is present within the prairies, he is also careful to note that religious sectarianism may foster a general attitude of political indifference, especially with regard to specific policy questions.  In fact, Clark concludes that such sectarianism has actually impeded the growth of sophisticated political thought and increased general disengagement from policy discussion in areas dominated by sects, an argument that seems to anticipate the latter findings of populist scholars who note the ironic existence of an apolitical yet radically populist/anti-establishment political culture prevalent in Alberta.35  W.E. Mann followed Clark’s distinction between church and sect on the prairies with a much more in-depth investigation into the structure and ideology of a number of religious sects within Alberta.36  Suggesting that these fundamentalist evangelical sects 	
   33 S.D. Clark, Church and Sect in Canada, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1948).  See also: S.D. Clark, “The Religious Sect in Canadian Politics,” in The American Journal of Sociology.  Vol. 51, No. 3, (November 1945), 207-216. 34 Clark, “The Religious Sect in Canadian Politics.” 35 Laycock has labeled this particular type of anti-political populist political culture plebiscitarian populism and discusses its role within the Social Credit days of Alberta in chapter five of Populism and Democratic Thought in the Canadian Prairies.  Similar findings are discussed with reference to the structure and support of the Reform Party of Canada in Laycock, The New Right and Democracy in Canada. 36 W.E. Mann, Sect, Cult, and Church in Alberta, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1955). 	
   were heirs of the original American religious “dissenters,” and a direct extension of the American fundamentalist religious movement which emerged in the late ninetieth century, Mann proceeds to draw important parallels between early Alberta religious culture and the American form of “populist” Christianity identified by Lipset.  To make this point Mann highlights the Alberta sect’s protest against traditional theological formality and corresponding emphasis on equality and fraternity among members, including the preference for a “folksy” pastor, a “down-to-earth” sermon and avenues for congregational participation.  The impact of this protest against traditional religious authority and practice was quite significant in the province not simply because there were a large number of sects but, more so, because these sects were very successful, relative to traditional churches, in setting up bible-schools and commandeering large audiences via radio broadcasting, two vitally important mediums through which the spirit of religious protest and anti-establishmentarianism could easily be spread. Taken together, the contributions of Clark and Mann certainly hint at a link between sectarian religious protest in Alberta and the broader political and economic populist protest that led to the popularity of a number of non-traditional, populist political parties.  The fact that they highlight the firmly sectarian nature of Alberta’s religious history seems, on its own, to strongly contradict Lipset’s portrayal of Canada as a land of deference to traditional European Christian theology and, subsequently, political and economic elites.  Add to this sectarian religious history the specific American influence on Alberta that is mentioned in the scholarship of Wiseman and others and it is easy to see why one would expect to find a similar relationship between popular theology and populist political sentiment in Alberta as we find in America.  Yet this is a broad 	
   sociological point that remains rather speculative.  Neither Clark nor Mann focus on the specific connections between the religious interpretation and the political thought of particular Alberta leaders. Beyond the work of these sociologists, the role of religion has been an element that is often mentioned but rarely addressed in full within the lengthy collection of titles focusing on the politics of the Canadian prairies.  There are many well-researched bibliographies of prairie political leaders that leave little doubt as to the significance of religious concerns within their personal, and often public, lives but these studies do not investigate systematically the nature of the particular religious interpretation in question nor are the philosophical or political implications considered in any detail.  More recently, however, prairie historians have begun to narrow-in on this aspect of religion’s potential influence by examining the religiously-inspired thought of influential prairies characters such as Louis Riel, J.S. Woodsworth and Salem Bland.37  It is in the spirit of these works, which take seriously the religious beliefs of important political figures and suggest that a proper accounting of their actions is impossible without grasping this aspect of their character, that this project proceeds. The fact that social scientists have thus far failed to fully consider Alberta’s political culture and development from the standpoint of religion is not a simple instance of neglect by the handful of scholars focusing solely on one region.  In fact, religious historian Mark Noll has argued that “the question of religion in relation to Canadian 	
   37 See: Thomas Flanagan, Louis ‘David’ Riel: ‘Prophet of the New World,’ (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1979), Allen Mills, Fool for Christ: The Political Thought of J.S. Woodsworth, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991), Richard Allen, The Social Passion: Religion and Social Reform in Canada 1914- 1928, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1971), and Richard Allen, “The Social Gospel as the Religion of the Agrarian Revolt,” in George Melnyk ed., Riel to Reform: A History of Protest in Western Canada, (Saskatoon: Fifth House, 1992), 138-147. 	
   society… [is] the most important understudied story in the religious history of twentieth- century North America.”38  This Canada-wide oversight is most likely due to two interrelated factors.  First, the intense devotion to explanations related to political economy within Canadian academia has seemingly suppressed the inclination to consider religious influence as a significant motivator.  This suggestion is furthered by Noll who argues the “intellectual climate of Canadian higher education since World War II has been heavily influenced by materialist or neo-Marxist assumptions and so overwhelmingly biased against full treatment of religion as a prime mover of human action.”39 Second, and more fundamentally, the overarching acceptance of the broader secularization thesis in academic circles, which predicted a decline in religious belief generally and the decoupling of religion from political allegiance specifically, has no doubt encouraged this general tendency to overlook or downplay religious influence on historical and contemporary political thought and action.  Yet, as many of the central tenets of the secularization thesis begin to crumble in the face of evidence that suggests religious traditions are not in fact withering away in the face of modernity, the question of religious influence on political realities reemerges.  The bulk of contemporary North American political scientists, however, remain skeptical about religion’s potential influence.  A recent editorial by PhD graduates from two top-ranked American departments captures this sentiment well: We, along with all of our Harvard- and Chicago-trained classmates, were rendered far worse than ignorant. It’s not just that religion was not on the syllabus. It is that we were trained to think that religion could not matter; our mental maps were wired to screen religion out as powerless, as something 	
   38 Mark Noll, “The End of Canadian History?” in First Things, April 1992, 33-34. 39 Mark Noll, “Christianity in Canada: Good Books at Last,” in Fides et Historia, Vol. 23, No. 2, (1991), 84. 	
   that would just roll over in the face of modernity, and therefore, as something that required no theoretical or practical attention.40  Indeed, Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor has argued that the reluctance on the part of contemporary academics to take religion seriously is part of the unnoticed background or “unthought” of social science.  It is not that academics, whose penchant for atheism is far stronger than the average citizen, take an overt ideological stance by claiming religion and its political influence must be in decline because religious belief is “wrong.”  Rather, Taylor suggests, religion tends to be overlooked as a serious factor because of “the more subtle way that one’s own framework beliefs and values can constrict one’s theoretical imagination.”41  Susan Harding’s discussion on the general treatment of Christian fundamentalism by academics speaks well to this tendency.42  In short, Harding suggests that Christian fundamentalists are largely constituted by a modern academic discourse that subconsciously treats them as a cultural “other,” a backward and bigoted collection of individuals subscribing to a dated system of belief that can only be explained by broader social, political or economic factors.  Furthermore, any researcher who seeks to challenge this modern representation of fundamentalism risks the charge of “consorting with ‘them,’ the opponents of modernity, progress, enlightenment, truth, and reason.”43  Such an attitude, however, grossly underestimates the significant explanatory power available to those who are willing to take the beliefs of the religious seriously.  As religious historian George Marsden has noted, American fundamentalists: 	
   40 Timothy Shah, Daniel Philpott and Monica Toft, “God and Political Science,” in The Public Discourse, May 16, 2011, http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2011/05/3297, (accessed May 23, 2011). 41 Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007), 428-429. 42 Susan Harding, “Representing Fundamentalism: The Problem of the Repugnant Cultural Other,” in Social Research, Vol. 58, No. 2 (Summer 1991), 373-393. 43 Ibid, 375. 	
   …were convinced that sincere acceptance of [The Gospel of Christ] was the key to virtue in this life and to eternal life in heaven; its rejection meant following the broad path that ended in with the tortures of hell.  Unless we appreciate the immense implications of a deep religious commitment to such beliefs – implications for one’s own life and for attitudes towards others – we cannot appreciate the dynamics of fundamentalist thought and action.44 The challenge for the modern academic, whether or not one is a believer, is therefore to resist the urge to explain “why” someone happens to be religious and instead attempt to work through the uncritical modernist presuppositions that halt meaningful research into the thought and behaviour of this religious “other.”  It is only by moving beyond this roadblock that one can fully embrace the “immense implications” the religious interpretations of the believer have for his or her thought and action.  This requires one to take the self-understanding of this religious “other” seriously and attempt to bring this understanding into our own language and understanding as an observer.  This hermeneutic approach to the study of religious “meaning,” and the implications it has for the believer, is more fully explored below. Approaching Religion and Political Thought Sociologist of Religion Steve Bruce has suggested that, in its most basic form, religion consists of “beliefs, actions, and institutions that assume the existence of supernatural entities with powers of action, or impersonal powers or processes possessed of moral purpose.”45  More concretely, R. Scott Appleby has suggested that a religion is a confessional community built around a sacred creed that concerns the origin, meaning, and purpose of life.  Furthermore, this group embraces certain rituals of worship that 	
   44 George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture, 2nd ed., (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 3. 45 Steve Bruce, Religion in the Modern World, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 7. 	
   express this creed while also following a particular moral code which emanates out of the same creed.46  Well-known Anthropologist Clifford Geertz adds to this point by arguing: A religion is a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, persuasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.47  Within his discussion Geertz makes an important distinction between religion pure, the individual’s encounter with the supernatural or sacred, or what Geertz calls the “really real,” and religion applied, “a viewing of ordinary experience in light of what that encounter seems to reveal.”48  The experience of the supernatural or the sacred is of immense importance but the parameters of this study are built around the notion of religion applied.  I am seeking to understand how the experience of the “really real” influences the manner by which certain individuals understand the universe, their society, and their own place and role within each.  Not only does this influence provide the individual in question with a certain moral orientation and overall purpose, it further provides a conception of proper communal life.  To seek the manner by which religious interpretation influences an individual’s thinking about politics is simply another way of asking how the experience of the “really real” colours one’s thinking with respect to the appropriate way to structure life in common and how this, in turn, influences the specific public policy choices politicians make when engaged in the process of law-making. Of course, within this project I can speak with even more specificity.  The relationship between religious interpretation and political thought of those considered 	
   46 R. Scott Appleby, The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation, (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000), 8-9. 47 Clifford Geertz, “Religion as a Cultural System,” in The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays by Clifford Geertz, (New York: Basic Books, 1973), 90. 48 Ibid, 121. 	
   within this study is guided not just by an abstract notion of the “really real,” but by their particular interpretation of the Christian faith.  The “really real” in this case is represented by the character of Jesus Christ.  For the subjects of this study, the message that Christ bestowed upon His followers was that of the one true God, the Creator of all, and therefore represents the ultimate purpose behind the universe and the guide to proper conduct for all of humanity.  Thus, to say that someone is acting in a certain way based upon a genuine belief in the message of Christ, experienced in some personal way by the subject, is to say something quite serious with respect to both the subject’s own conception of the cosmos as well as the importance that they place on the action in question.  Clearly, to be convinced that God prefers this action to that means that indifference on the part of the true believer with respect to the action in question is impossible.  And this obviously has immense implications for the believer’s approach to politics.  Yet, in another way, to say simply that one is motivated by his or her Christian faith is to not say much at all.  The Christian religion has obviously proven incredibly malleable.  On the Canadian Prairies, to say nothing of the divisions between the Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches, or the hundreds of denominations that have grown out of these broad traditions, a whole host of Christian interpretations abound. Even those political and historical texts that treat religious influence on the Canadian prairies in the most superficial of ways are quick to point out, for instance, the distinct interpretations of Christianity that stood at the foundation of the left-wing CCF and the more conservative Social Credit movement.  Thus, any effort to understand the role played by Christianity on the political thought of particular individuals requires much 	
   more than the deduction that they were moved by the message of Christ and a subsequent investigation into what this message might be.  As Appleby has argued, there is a certain “ambivalence of the sacred” for followers who are, by their very nature, limited with respect to their apprehension of the sacred.  Rather than understanding religiously motivated human action as a direct translation of God’s will, we must admit that the religious understanding of an individual is filtered through one’s faculties of perception and then interpreted though their own culturally and historically bounded conceptions of the sacred.  Thus: The unique dynamism of lived religion – its distinctive patterns of interaction not only with secular, nationalist, ethnic, and other elements of political or personal identity but also with its own sacred past – means, among other things, that religious behaviour cannot be confidently predicted merely on the basis of an individual’s or group’s affiliation with a specific religious tradition.49  Therefore, it is not the political relevance of the message of Christ recorded in the New Testament that this study seeks to make clear but rather the personal interpretation of Christ’s message, and its subsequent political relevance, for the particular human subject in question. In fact, this is precisely why investigating the relationship between religious interpretation and political thought is interesting.  Surely this is an obvious point but reflecting on it leads to a more fundamental truth about the nature of the human subject and, importantly, the proper method with respect to seeking an understanding of the motives behind his or her particular actions, to which I now turn. Meaning and the Study of Human Action This study begins from the foundation provided by the “philosophical anthropology” of the human subject offered by philosopher Charles Taylor, whose sketch 	
   49 Appleby, The Ambivalence of the Sacred, 56. 	
   of “how humans really are” draws from the broad hermeneutic and phenomenological traditions.  One of Taylor’s central academic contributions has been his refutation of what he labels the disengaged self, a modern conception of the human subject who is “capable of objectifying not only the surrounding world but also his own emotions and inclinations, fears and compulsions, and achieving thereby a kind of distance and self- possession which allows him to act ‘rationally.’”50  It is this conception that lies beneath the proliferation of “neutral” explanations of the self based upon a methodological individualism that follows the insistence of the natural sciences on getting beyond subjectivity.  From Taylor’s perspective, the “disengaged” thesis “stands in the way of a richer and more adequate understanding of what the human sense of self is really like, and hence of a proper understanding of the real variety of human culture, and hence of a more appropriate knowledge of human beings.”51 In an effort to dispel the assumptions of the “disengaged” thesis Taylor draws on the works of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Martin Heidegger and Ludwig Wittgenstein, all thinkers who “tried to get out of the cul-de-sac of monological consciousness… [because they viewed] the agent, not primarily as the locus of representations, but as engaged in practices, as beings who act in and on a world.” 52  Fundamentally, Taylor seeks to stress the “embodied” nature of the human agent, a conception most fully articulated by the phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty who argues, “the subject is in a world which is a field of meanings for him, and thus inseparably so, because these meanings are what make him 	
   50 Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), 21. 51 Charles Taylor, “The Dialogical Self,” in D. Hiley, J. Bohman, and R. Shusterman, ed., The Interpretive Turn: Philosophy, Science, Culture, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991), 307. 52 Ibid, 308. 	
   the subject he is.”53  The human subject, who possesses agency within this world, grasps meaning through his or her capacity for perceiving what is meaningful in this world he or she is engaged in.  Therefore “we perceive the world…through our capacities to act in it,” and these capacities to act are inseparable from our interpretation of their meaning.54 It is from this distinct ontological foundation that Taylor, following Heidegger, claims that the human agent is a self-interpreting animal.  In fact, “he is necessarily so, for there is no such thing as the structures of meanings for him independently of his interpretation if them; for one is woven into the other.”55 That is, as agents engaged in this world, the interpretation of what is meaningful directly motivates our actions and therefore is constitutive of what we, in fact, are. To speak more concretely, for a human subject to perceive, and thus interpret, meaning is to consciously or otherwise draw upon a background framework that each human subject operates within and which therefore influences their moral judgments. That is, all human subjects are guided in their thought and action by a standard outside of themselves that ranks competing ends or goods as higher or lower, as being more or less worthwhile.  The existence of these frameworks are an inescapable condition of being human and our articulation of them, our interpretation of them, is what provides us a sense of orientation with respect to our moral intuitions and responses.  But to suggest that one is “interpreting” the contours of these moral frameworks in one’s day-to-day life is to make a further point related to the situated nature of the human subject that takes us beyond the individual self.   	
   53 Charles Taylor, “Embodied Agency,” in H. Pietersma, ed., Merleau-Ponty: Critical Essays, (Washington: University Press of America, 1989), 2. 54 Ibid, 5. 55 Charles Taylor, “Interpretation and the Sciences of Man,” in Philosophy and the Human Science: Philosophical Papers 2, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 26. 	
   The act of acquiring, grasping and communicating these moral frameworks is dependent upon our linguistic capacities as humans; thus, one’s behaviour is necessarily related in an intimate way with language.  As Hans-Georg Gadamer famously noted, “Language is the fundamental mode of operation of our being-in-the-world and the all embracing form of the constitution of the world.”56  However, as Taylor notes, “a language only exists and is maintained by a language community.”  In fact, “there is no way we could be inducted into personhood except by being initiated into a language…[and] we first learn our languages of moral and spiritual discernment by being brought into an ongoing conversation by those who bring us up.”57  Thus, the social nature of language necessarily makes us dialogical rather than disengaged beings. Taylor writes, “The range of human desires, feelings, emotions, and hence meaning is bound up with the level and type of culture, which in turn is inseparable from the distinctions and categories marked by the language people speak.”58  Or, as philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre acknowledges quite simply, “I inherit from the past of my family, my city, my tribe, my nation, a variety of debts, inheritances, rightful expectations and obligations.  These constitute the given of my life, my moral starting point.  This is in part what gives my life its own moral particularity.”59  Of course both Taylor and MacIntyre agree that the individual is capable of developing a moral outlook that is in sharp disagreement with one’s family or background, but any innovation in this regard begins from one’s grasp of the language of moral discernment acquired from their original community and only moves forward as one enters into conversation with those 	
   56 Hans-Georg Gadamer, Philosophical Hermeneutics, (Berkeley: University of California, 1976), 3. 57 Taylor, Sources of the Self, 35. 58 Taylor, “Interpretation and the Sciences of Man,” 25. 59 Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue, 2nd Edition, (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984), 220. 	
   coming from different backgrounds.  One’s moral framework may evolve in response to this encounter but the subject is never outside a “web of interlocution.”  Rather, they have entered in to a different linguistic, and thus moral, community. Obviously, this depiction of the human agent stands in direct contrast to the modern conception of the “disengaged” subject who possesses the ability to think independently, rationally, and come to conclusions regarding what is worthy without outside interference.  Rather, the human subject is embodied, is bound up in frameworks of meanings that, by way of our interpretive capacities that depend on the norms of our language community, guide our thoughts and actions and therefore constitute in some important sense who and what we are.  Therefore, it is utterly impossible to understand the richness of the human subject when treating the self as disengaged, as an independent object appropriate to study like any other object within the natural world.  But to acknowledge that humans are self-interpreting animals partly constituted by their particular language community is to reject the premise that all social and political life can be explained by utilizing those “objective” research methods which attempt to replicate the study of the natural, non-human world.  Not only do such approaches attempt to compress the meaning that exists behind human action into easily quantifiable “preferences,” they further encourage researchers to think of themselves as value-free judges capable to rendering an objective explanation of the actions of others.  Indeed, to assert that humans are self-interpreting animals whose understandings and actions are bound up in a particular communal background is to say something about the subject of study as well as the researcher who is also a product of a particular background.  Thus, by accepting the picture of human agency provided by Taylor one is committed to a distinct 	
   mode of social inquiry, hermeneutics or “interpretivism,” that overtly grapples with both the meanings behind the actions of the subject being studied as well as the inescapable frameworks of the researcher that necessarily colour his or her interpretation of these meanings. As a method of inquiry, interpretivism begins from the premise that humans are self-interpreting animals, embodied beings whose actions are dependent upon our interpretations of meaning, our perception of our moral frameworks.  The task of interpretive social inquiry is to understand and make clear these meanings and thus provide an accurate explanation as to what the subject is doing by grasping why he or she is doing it. As Zygmunt Bauman has argued, humans do what they do on purpose and understanding their actions demands: [t]he retrieval of purpose, of intention, of the unique configuration of thoughts and feelings which preceded a social phenomena and found its only manifestation, imperfect and incomplete, in the observable consequences of action.  To understand a human act, therefore, was to grasp the meaning with which the actor’s intention invested in it…60  Taylor similarly states:  We make sense of action when there is a coherence between the actions of the agent and the meaning of his situation for him.  We find his action puzzling until we find such a coherence.  This coherence in no way implies that the action is rational: the meaning of the situation for an agent may be full of confusion and contradiction; but the adequate depiction of this contradiction makes sense of it.61  Because the “meaning” behind the actions of individuals is bound up in frameworks that are partly constituted by the community from which they come, the interpretive researcher is to pay particular attention to the communal or “intersubjective” meanings of 	
   60 Zygmunt  Bauman, Hermeneutics and Social Science: Approaches to Understanding, (Hampshire: Gregg Revivals, 1992), 12. 61 Taylor, “Interpretation and the Sciences of Man,” 24. 	
   linguistically expressed concepts in order to “make sense” of the verbal or written description of the reasons or “meaning” behind the particular action of a particular subject.  Our efforts to understand the actions of some individual within a particular culture, “cannot escape an ultimate appeal to a common understanding of the expressions, of the ‘language’ involved.”62 But to acknowledge the importance of communally shared understandings is to admit that a proper accounting of a particular action requires a more culturally-bound answer than many modern researchers are prepared to allow.  The interpretive inquirer accepts that those in the same situation can hold quite distinct reasons for doing the same action given their unique backgrounds, a notion that problematizes the explanatory power of large-n survey research that attempts to demonstrate correlations between certain personal attributes and particular behaviour.   Correlation of this sort can certainly point to valuable connections with respect to understanding particular outcomes but it is not capable of uncovering the particular causes of individual actions and thus is likely to promote general causal theories that do not correspond to what is actually occurring for human beings in their day-to-day life.  Because interpretivism seeks to unearth context- specific cause bound up in the common meanings present in any particular culture, its practitioners are highly suspicious of the quest for generalizable causal laws.  As Clifford Geertz has noted, the interpretive researcher does not seek to correlate behavior but rather works like a detective trying to get “a meaning frame to provide an understanding of what is going on.  You want to understand what it is that is motivating people…to do 	
   62 Taylor, “Interpretations and the Sciences of Man,” 17. 	
   these unaccountable things. “ And, he adds, “if you get interpretation right, I believe the causes will fall out.”63 Of course, the interpretive “detective” is also a self-interpreting animal and any explanation offered by the researcher with respect to the actions of another is itself inescapably shaped to a certain degree by his or her own grasp of particular concepts or prejudgments or expectations with respect to the subject in question.  The notion of complete objectivity on the part of the researcher in an attempt to simply replicate the subject’s point of view is not truly possible.  Rather, as Andrew Davison gently explains, “The interpretive hope is that what I say will be something that we both agree is true about your life when it is expressed and explained by me.”  Of course, this search for an agreement of some kind between researcher and subject with respect to the moral frameworks at work in the life of the subject is so bound up in the imperfect act of human interpretation, one’s explanations can never approach the levels of precision demanded by the natural sciences.  They can, however, be better or worse, and you know you are beginning to get it right when “you get intelligible responses from your informants,” when you say things about the action in question that your subjects regard as reasonable.64  Yet, this is not to say that the researcher is only seeking to grasp the subject’s self-understanding or hoping to provide an account of the subject’s actions solely in his or her own terms.  Indeed, Taylor has written at length about the need to gain a certain amount of critical distance by going beyond the subject’s self-description and attempting to offer an account that makes the reasons behind the action in question even clearer than 	
   63 Clifford Geertz, “Interview with Clifford Geertz,” in Qualitative Methods, Vol. 1, No. 2, (Fall 2003), 27. 64 Geertz, “Interview with Clifford Geertz,” 26. 	
   they originally were to the subject.  This obviously corresponds to the goals of the vast majority of social science but what sets interpretive social science apart is the acknowledgement that, because we are self-interpreting animals whose behaviour is motivated by complex moral frameworks, the inquiry into particular outcomes must begin with a focus on the subject’s own self-description of their perception of their moral framework.  Thus, we make sense of a subject’s action “if we grasp both how they see things and what is wrong, lacunary, contradictory in this.”65   Taylor has labeled this effort as the search for a “language of perspicuous contrast” which could “formulate both their way of life and ours as alternative possibilities in relation to some human constants at work in both” and allow for the articulation and comparison of conceptual meanings from both original languages.66  This is strongly related to Gadamer’s “fusion of horizons,” a conversation between interlocutors wherein the conceptual horizons of each participant are broadened relative to each other and an agreement is reached on a new common language of description that is neither “ours” or “theirs.”  It is in this language that a critique of the incoherence, for example, of the views and actions of the subject can be rendered that is not subject to the charge of ethnocentrism on the part of the researcher.67  It is my hope that this study into the influence of religion on the political thought of the leaders in question will live up to this interpretive hope by providing insight into the relationship between their religious perspective and their political thought that goes beyond even their own self-understanding. 	
   65 Charles Taylor, “Understanding and Ethnocentricity,” in Philosophy and the Human Science: Philosophical Papers 2, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 117-118. 66 Charles Taylor, “Understanding and Ethnocentricity,” 125. 67 Andrew Davison, Secularism and Revivalism in Turkey: A Hermeneutic Reconsideration, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 65. 	
   However, the conversation aimed at such agreement will only succeed if the researcher has studied the historical, social and linguistic context from which the subject comes for this background necessarily conditions the framework of meaning he or she operates within, whether or not the subject is even fully aware of this.  Thus, interpretivism requires an explicit awareness on the part of the researcher of the implicit negotiation that occurs in his or her own mind between their own personal background, the meanings certain concepts and actions have for them, the background of the research subject and the meanings certain concepts and actions have for the subject that he or she attempts to verbally explain to us in conversation (or in writing as the case may be).  As Geertz has argued, interpretivism requires “a continuous dialectical tacking between the most local of local details and the most global of global structures in such a way as to bring them into simultaneous view.”68  It is only by way of this effort to incorporate the local and the broader context, in addition to our conceptual understandings and theirs, can one legitimately approach a level of understanding required to explain the actions of the other.  This approach is often referred to as the “hermeneutic circle,” a continual shift in focus from the part and the whole and back in an effort to build toward fuller understanding. Interpretivism and the Study of Religion and Political Thought in Alberta Obviously, the above discussion has proceeded in a rather abstract and general manner.  It is one thing to pontificate on the embodied nature of the self and the moral frameworks and linguistic communities that stand behind human action.  It is quite another to actually design a research study and follow though in a practical way the 	
   68 Clifford Geertz, “’From the Native’s Point of View’: On the Nature of Anthropological Understanding,” in Michael T. Gibbons ed., Interpreting Politics, (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1987), 145. 	
   attempt to capture and make clear these moral frameworks that help us to understand why a certain research subject acts in a particular way.  Indeed, a common complaint about interpretive scholars is that they are better at offering philosophical arguments that question the validity of much contemporary social science methodology as opposed to offering much in the way of an alternative method of inquiry.69  It is true that those scholars who have been most active in pushing the “interpretive” agenda within the social sciences tend to operate in the more philosophical, rather than empirical, fields of social inquiry and thus are rarely forced to articulate in a more concrete manner what interpretive methodology looks like.  However, it is also true that the incessant demand for a clear and rigorous “step-by-step” research design does not necessarily fit well with the philosophical underpinnings of interpretivism.  In fact, Gadamer has argued that it is a serious mistake to assume social inquiry can be wholly governed by method, suggesting that good sense, judgment and insight, rather than the systematic gathering of brute data and formal reasoning, are often the keys to social understanding.70 Interpretivism then may be more properly described as an approach to, rather than a specific method of, social inquiry.  Yet that does not imply there are no guidelines that are to be adhered to.  Because the interpretive scholar seeks to understand some aspect of the subject’s framework of meaning, the actual research project is built around a “conversation” with that subject.  Although the notion of a “conversation” sounds rather informal given the weight it is given in this form of inquiry, interpretivism pushes the scholar to be aware of the various problems associated with any attempt to understand the frameworks or meaning of another “dialogical” human being, whether they are historical 	
   69 John Gerring, “Interpretations of Interpretivism,” Qualitative Methods, Vol. 1, No. 2, (Fall 2003), 3. 70 This point is made in: Davison, Secularism and Revivalism in Turkey, 52. 	
   or contemporary.  This begins with the acknowledgement that the researcher is already operating within a certain framework of meaning and comes to the research project, and the research subject in question, with a whole host of biases, prejudgments and conceptual understandings that will shape the manner by which we hear what the research subject tells us within this conversation, whether it be a verbal, in-person interview or the study of a historical document.  One cannot hope to fully escape this framework but can engage in the practice of explicit reflectivity throughout the research project.  This involves continually examining the ways in which one’s own frameworks of meaning, their biases, expectations and conceptual understandings shape the way in which data is both gathered and analyzed.71  Although this is a task that does not necessarily appear in the final written research report, such awareness at various stages of the collection and analysis of the data is vital to the interpretive approach. A second pillar of this approach is to acknowledge the importance of the broader language community of which the research subject is a part and the ways in which the intersubjective meanings drawn from this community inform the subject’s framework of meaning we are seeking to articulate.  This commits the researcher to a careful study of the historical, linguistic, cultural and political context within which the subject of study operates.  It is only by way of identifying the intersubjective conceptual meanings of the cultural or linguistic or historical community from which the subject comes that one can hope to authentically understand the meaning that is expressed by the subject in our 	
   71 Dvora Yanow, “Thinking Interpretively: Philosophical Presuppositions and the Human Sciences,” in Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea ed., Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Methods in the Interpretive Turn, (New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2006), 17.  See also: Samer Shehata, “Ethnography, Identity, and the Production of Knowledge,” in Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea ed., Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Methods in the Interpretive Turn, (New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2006), 244-263. 	
   interaction with them.  That is not to say that the context wholly determines the meanings for the subject, but it does provide a backdrop against which we can begin to see how the subject is operating in agreement to, or opposition against, the prevailing norms of the society.  As with the practice of explicit reflexivity, all aspects of the study into the subject’s context will not necessarily appear in the final written report but it remains a vital step in the interpretive process.  The specific method appropriate for studying the context of the subject is obviously depended upon the both the nature of the research question and the subject themselves. Taken together, the emphasis on practicing an explicit reflexivity and the searching for communal intersubjective meanings by way of the subject’s context ensures that the layout of an interpretive research study looks quite different than that of a study which follows the logic of the natural sciences.  The interpretivism approach does not begin with independent or dependent variables nor does it propose a hypothesis that it hopes to test.  This is because, as Dvora Yanow has noted, the researcher does not know what “meanings” will emerge in their interaction with the subject.  Instead, they begin with a general “hunch” as to how this meaning will be communicated, and it is this suspicion that directs the researcher in one way or another with respect to their potential interactions with the subject in their search for understanding.  It is by way of this interaction with the subject, as opposed to the correlation of variables, that understanding emerges.72  This difference in layout does not imply, however, that interpretivism avoids the issue of rigor.  It is, however, rigor by a different standard.  It does not borrow standards such as validity, reliability or generalizability from the natural science model.  	
   72 Dvora Yanow, “Neither Rigorous Nor Objective?” in Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea ed., Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Methods in the Interpretive Turn, (New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2006), 71. 	
   Instead, it relies on logical argumentation, backed up by detailed, thick descriptions, and presented in a clear and convincing way.  It offers, in other words, a new “interpretation” of why a certain subject acted in a particular way and it utilizes thick description to demonstrate why this interpretation “makes sense.”  This new explanation is the result of appropriate data gathering techniques, which attend to both the researcher and the subject’s frameworks of meaning, and a prolonged engagement with the data.  Yanow writes: The most exacting descriptions of forms of interpretive analysis describe a kind of indwelling with one’s data…the process entails reading and rereading and rereading again – musing, in an abductive way – until, in the light of prior knowledge of the theoretical literature or the empirical data, or both, something makes sense in a new way.  The experience feels like parts of a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle suddenly fitting together…73  Given the goal of this particular project, attempting to understand the manner by which the religious beliefs of certain individuals influence their thinking about politics, an interpretive approach is particularly apt.  The purpose is not to investigate the social or economic or cultural conditions that may help explain why these individuals are religious. Nor is it to explore how religious belief fulfills some psychological function in their lives. Rather, this project takes their religious belief at face value, or as its starting point, and understands this belief as a central component of their framework of meaning, and seeks to grasp the manner in which this aspect of their framework influences their thinking and acting in this world.  Therefore, the precise “research methods” utilized in this study are drawn from the field of interpretive-based inquiry and are meant to elicit some aspect of the “meaning” of the religious beliefs of these individuals and their relationship to their political thought.   	
   73 Ibid, 72. 	
   This required, first, a serious attempt at articulating my own background to ensure that the “baggage” I carry forward would interfere as little as possible in my interpretation of the religious aspects of the frameworks of meaning of the subjects studied.  More specifically, this required a critical assessment of my own “situated” nature in a particular time and place, coming from a particular culture and religious background, and possessing certain beliefs about politics, morality, and the existence of God.  This involved a constant reassessment of the meanings that certain concepts held for myself and a constant awareness of such meanings so as not to allow them to interfere with my efforts to grasp the meanings such concepts held for the research subjects in question.  On one hand, the broad similarities between my own background and that of my research subjects (generally, white males from Alberta who were groomed in a Protestant Christian faith) ensured that coming to a mutual agreement over the meaning of a certain concept with the subject was not difficult.  On the other hand, however, this general familiarity can easily seduce the researcher into assuming that such agreement exists when, in reality, it does not.  Geertz has written about the absolute necessity of “de-familiarizing” yourself, accepting that you do not immediately understand and thus must somehow “artificially make it strange.”74 Once committed to the practice of explicit reflexivity, the task shifts to the collection and analysis of appropriate data.  Because this project comprises both a historical and a more contemporary focus, the data upon which my conclusions are based has been generated in two distinct ways.  The historical section considers the religious beliefs of Henry Wise Wood, William Aberhart, and Ernest Manning, and the manner by which theses beliefs informed their political thought and, subsequently, their political 	
   74 Geertz, “Interview with Clifford Geertz,” 26. 	
   actions.  The primary research conducted for this section involved a careful examination of a significant collection of historical documents housed at the Glenbow-Alberta Museum archives, The Provincial Archives of Alberta, The University of Alberta Library, the University of Alberta Archives, and the University of Calgary archives. The goal was to find archived writings, speeches, letters and interviews that recorded each of these individuals’ thoughts on their religious belief and their broader political implications. The concrete “interpretive” approach utilized in the study of these archived documents was based upon that offered by Quentin Skinner who wrote much on the problems associated with the interpretation of historical texts.  Skinner’s intention was to formulate an approach capable of identifying the illocutionary meaning of the textual passage in question, the intended force or purpose the subject or author had when making the particular utterance under investigation. Because the contemporary researcher is necessarily situated in a particular historical, cultural, and linguistic context that is different from that of the subject in question, specific techniques must be followed to ensure an accurate interpretation of the intended meaning of a written or recorded utterance by a historical “other.”  The essential question in studying any given historical passage, Skinner notes, “is what its author, in writing at the time he did write for the audience he intended to address, could in practice have been intending to communicate by the utterance of this given utterance.”  It follows, he continues, “that the essential aim, in any attempt to understand the utterances themselves, must be to recover this complex intention on the part of the author.”75  To grasp this intention, the modern scholar must do 	
   75 Quentin Skinner, “Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas,” in James Tully ed., Meaning and Context: Quentin Skinner and his Critics, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), 63. 	
   as much as possible to bracket his or her own expectations and conceptual understandings throughout the process of interpretation.  Thus, great care must be taken to properly explicate the intellectual and social context in which the author finds himself in order to ensure one’s interpretation of what the subject intended to mean with their words is, in fact, something they could have meant given the historical and cultural period the author was situated in. For Skinner, the key to ensuring that the modern scholar is not imposing his or her own modern biases on the process of textual interpretation is to make certain that, “however bizarre the beliefs we are studying may seem to be, we must try to make the agents who accepted them appear to be as rational as possible.”76  In other words, Skinner continues: We must seek to surround the particular statement of belief in which we are interested with an intellectual context that serves to lend adequate support to it.  The primary task is therefore that of trying to recover a particular context of presuppositions and other beliefs, a context that serves to exhibit the utterance in which we are interested as one that it was rational for that particular agent, in those particular circumstances, to have held to be true.77   Andrew Davison, who has convincingly argued that Skinner’s approach represents an excellent concrete example of Taylor’s demand that interpretive scholars seek to articulate a “language of perspicuous contrast” when studying “the other,” has summarized three particular aspects of the “context” Skinner identifies as being crucial to grasping the potential intention of the author in question as follows:  	
   76 Quentin Skinner, “A Reply to my Critics,” in James Tully ed., Meaning and Context: Quentin Skinner and his Critics, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), 246. 77 Ibid, 247. 	
   1. Intersubjective Context: The prevailing linguistic, ideological or intellectual assumptions, conventions or vocabulary that help to make the “best sense” of the speech act of the subject.  2. Social Context: The social and political context that the subject finds him or herself in.  3. Personal Biography: The subject’s personal history that reveals the potential framework of meaning they operate within and its relation to the intersubjective context.78  It is by way of careful attention to each of these three aspects of the context that the author operates within that the scholar builds a “framework for helping to decide what conventionally recognizable meanings, in a society of that kind, it might in principle have been possible for someone to have intended to communicate.”79  In this way, the context is treated as vitally important but not wholly determinant.  The author in question retains an agency that must be respected but any hope to grasp the author’s intentions requires rigorous contextual study.  The work of Skinner on the interpretation of historical texts is particularly appropriate for this research project.  Not only does an understanding of the political thought of Wood, Aberhart and Manning require the interpretation of historical documents, the focus on religious belief presents a unique challenge given the contemporary disdain for such belief, especially that related to the Christian fundamentalism of Aberhart and Manning, within the academy.  As will become clear in later chapters, it is my contention that much of the contemporary misunderstanding with respect to the relationship between the religious belief and political thought of Aberhart is due to the tinge of anti-fundamentalism sentiment at work (consciously or otherwise) in 	
   78 Davison, Secularism and Revivalism in Turkey, 73-74. 79 Skinner, “Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas,” 64. 	
   the minds of scholars who have studied Social Credit.  Rather than offering an implicit judgment on the “correctness” of the religious belief of these historical figures, this project attempts to approach this belief with a seriousness that is not often granted by academics and, in the words of Skinner, “surround the particular statement of belief in which we are interested with an intellectual context that serves to lend adequate support to it.”  Although many scholars have rightly alluded to the political or economic context surrounding the UFA and Social Credit governments in addition to the personal biographies of the political leaders in question in their attempts to make sense of their political thought, there has been a significant gap in our grasp of the broader intellectual and religious context within which such leaders found themselves.  Thus, in an effort to provide an appropriate intellectual framework by which one can judge the nature of the religious belief of these leaders and make sense of their recorded pronouncements on such, this project includes an important prefatory chapter (chapter three) which chronicles the relevant intellectual development of various religious strands within American evangelical Protestantism.  It is in understanding the conceptual meanings (or intersubjective meanings) present in this historical movement that, I argue, one is best positioned to interpret the utterances of the Alberta political leaders in question given their attachment (discussed later) to this movement.  The contemporary dimension of this project, which explores the influence of religion on the political thought of Preston Manning, relies much more heavily on one- on-one, in-depth, semi-structured interviews of both Manning and his contemporaries. Although the goal remains the same, attempting to articulate the meaning of terms or events or situations relevant to the individual politician’s religious belief and political 	
   thought, the approach obviously differs from that of archival-based research.  Rather than scanning through a significant pile of historical documents in order to find some relevant commentary on religious belief, the in-person interview allows for the direct questioning of the subject on the topic of interest.  Yet, this may also present a greater temptation to simply accept the subject’s initial response without ensuring you understand it fully.  Just as one must take great care to ensure they are approaching the “meaning” of concepts and descriptions of those from a different historical period with the proper contextual awareness, the interpretive interviewer must seek to avoid overlooking the potential for substituting their own expectations and conceptual understandings upon the responses of the interview subject.  Of course, grasping the self-understanding of the subject is not the end point of interpretive social science, but any eventual critique of the subject’s actions can only proceed after the subject’s self-descriptions are properly understood.   In this spirit, Joe Soss has identified three central objectives around which the interpretive interviewer must structure his or her interview approach.  First, the researcher must prioritize his or her skepticism about shared meaning.  In other words, one should “place greater empirical pressure on [one’s] assumptions that particular words, actions, objects, people, and events had self-evident or widely shared meanings.”  Second, the researcher must place the subject’s understanding at the forefront of one’s empirical investigation, and seek to clarify such understandings on terms and in a language that is plausible to the subject.  Third, the researcher should attempt to ascertain the sources of these understandings as well as their consequences.80 	
   80 Joe Soss, “Talking our way to Meaningful Explanations: A Practice-Centred View of Interviewing for Interpretive Research,” in Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea ed., Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Methods in the Interpretive Turn, (New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2006), 131-132. 	
    Therefore, the interviews conducted for this study were flexible, slightly directed conversations wherein the subject was permitted space to explore and further reflect upon their ideas and responses.  In addition, the interviewer also sought clarification about certain terms and descriptions by way of rephrasing the subject’s response using a slightly different vocabulary in order to ensure the meanings were clear to both interviewer and subject.  The specific nature of the questions posed during the interview was also informed by a careful study of the intellectual and cultural context of the subject and his or her religious background in question.  Finally, an explicit reflexivity on the part of the researcher was continually adhered to during the interview as well as throughout the data-analysis stage.  As a Christian who adheres to a more progressive and flexible interpretation of Christ’s message than many of the key participants of this study, it was a challenge at times to ensure my personal response to certain religious-based social views offered by participants within the interview did not impede my ability to grasp the meaning that their religious interpretation had for them.  The goal is always to overcome the potential for ascribing meaning to the thought or action of a subject from outside.  One is to use the interview conversation as an opportunity to seek out a mutually agreeable understanding of the meaning (in this case religious meaning) behind a thought or action in question.  Within the extended analysis that appears in the concluding section of each of the chapters that follow, I do go beyond this mutually agreeable understanding of the relationship between the subject’s religious belief and their political thought and offer a fuller account of the consequences of this thinking on Alberta’s broader political development, but this type of reasoning can only occur once I have demonstrated a strong grasp of their own frameworks of meaning in addition to my own. 	
   Chapter Three:  Democracy and Millennialism in American Evangelical Protestantism: The Context of Religious Interpretation in Alberta  Seymour Martin Lipset, in his influential comparison of the institutions and values of America and Canada, begins with a simple yet compelling thesis: Americans do not know but Canadians cannot forget that two nations, not one, came out of the American Revolution.  The United States is the country of the revolution, Canada of the counterrevolution.  These very different formative events set indelible marks on the two nations.1 It is this revolution-counterrevolution dichotomy that, he argues, essentially explains the fundamental differences between the neighbouring countries.  One of the most significant of these differences with respect to the development of social and political values has been that relating to the influence of religion.  Following independence, American religion embarked on a more sectarian path, embracing a congregational and voluntary style that encouraged a participatory and egalitarian populist spirit prone to protest when encountering traditional class hierarchy.  Canadians, on the other hand, remained loyal to the motherland and thus maintained stronger links with the European-based Catholic or Anglican churches and their hierarchical structures that encouraged, according to Lipset, an attitude of deference to traditional sources of authority among adherents.  The Protestant Canadians who did break away from the Anglican Church tended to gravitate towards the homegrown United Church whose ecumenical and communitarian leanings clearly distinguished it from the dominant “individualistic” spirit of American Protestantism. 	
   1 Seymour Martin Lipset, Continental Divide: The Values and Institutions of the United States and Canada. (New York: Routledge, 1990),1. 	
   Although the revolution-counterrevolution thesis, and the impact this difference had on the nature of religious practice in Canada and America, remains a rather helpful starting point for general comparison, there is little doubt that any attempt to generalize on a scale this grand is bound to overlook examples of diversity that do not quite fit with this simple interpretation.  This is especially true with respect to Canada, whose “loyalist” tradition is much stronger in Eastern and central Canada (with the obvious exception of Quebec) than in the Prairie Provinces, most especially Alberta.  Thus, I want to suggest that Lipset’s interpretation of Canadian religious development as essentially “counterrevolutionary” and therefore more oriented towards hierarchy and stability is much more applicable to the Protestant sections of Ontario and Atlantic Canada, and perhaps to a certain extent Manitoba and Saskatchewan, than it is to Alberta.  In fact, I want to make the broad argument over the next three chapters that the particular religious perspectives that most influenced political thought in Alberta within both the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) and Social Credit movements respectively have much more in common with the American tradition of religious development than the Canadian one that I associate more accurately with the Protestantism of Eastern and Central Canada. That is not to say that the UFA and Social Credit leaders interpreted Christianity in precisely the same way for they did not and their political ideology differed accordingly, a claim that will be substantiated in far more detail in the following two chapters.  However, there are two broad yet fundamental aspects of the American Protestant tradition that became significant cornerstones underlying the religious perspectives that most influenced the UFA and Social Credit. In particular, I argue that a radically democratic evangelical ethos and a strong tendency toward Christian 	
   Millennialism, two central dimensions of “American” more so than “Canadian” Protestantism, lie at the foundation of the religious perspectives that guided political thought in both the UFA and the Social Credit movements.  Therefore, from the beginning, the interplay of religion and political ideology in the Province of Alberta has much more in common with the similar interaction that occurs in America rather than that of central or Eastern Canada.  The remainder of this chapter will expand on the dichotomy identified by Lipset with a particular emphasis on the democratic and millennial elements within American Protestantism before concluding with some general thoughts on the migratory and ideological connections between America and Alberta.  It is against this brief depiction of the evolution of American evangelical Protestantism that the more specific religious perspectives found in the UFA and Social Credit will make the most sense. A Note on the American Protestant Tradition  To suggest that one can capture the whole of the long history of the American Protestant religious tradition in the matter of a few pages is, of course, ridiculous.  My hope is rather to highlight some of the key intellectual and theological developments within this history that both capture something of the essence of this tradition and also help to frame the eventual religious and political pronouncements of influential leaders in Alberta who were well versed in certain aspects of this tradition.  Although Lipset begins his analysis from the American Revolution, it is important to understand that many of the seeds of the “populist” religious tradition he identifies as quintessentially American were actually sown well before the Revolution took place.  Thus, I want to replace the 	
   “revolutionary” label and instead refer to this religious tradition as that of American evangelicalism.  However, such a label requires a certain qualification. The term “evangelicalism” is one that can often mean different things to different people, so much so that some have wondered aloud about the contemporary usefulness of employing the term at all.2  Much recent scholarship, and nearly all contemporary journalism, tends to equate evangelicalism with conservative Protestant sects that operate outside of traditionally mainstream Christian avenues and espouse a strict literal interpretation of the Bible, often centered around prophetic themes involving the “second coming” or the Rapture.  The popularity of this definition of evangelicalism has grown in step with the reemergence of the “religious right” in the public sphere of America and, most especially, the demands from certain sectors of this movement that America’s domestic and foreign policy be structured around the goal of hastening this “second coming.”3  In fact, this group of Christians have literally appropriated the term “evangelical” as their own, referring to themselves as “evangelical Christians” as a way to distinguish themselves from more “liberal Christians.”  However, within this chapter I want to retrieve a much broader definition of evangelicalism of which this conservative Christianity is only a part. Following Canadian religious historian John G. Stackhouse, I use the term evangelicalism to identify a broad historical stream of Christianity that begins with the Protestant Reformation and carries on though the creation of the Methodist Church in England and the popular evangelical revivals of the American “Great Awakenings” and, 	
   2 See, for example, Donald W. Dayton, “Some Doubts About the Usefulness of the Category ‘Evangelical’,” in D. Dayton and R. Johnston ed., The Variety of American Evangelicalism, (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1991), 245-251. 3 For an excellent recent commentary on the role of this strain of Christian religion within the contemporary American public sphere see: Kevin Phillips, American Theocracy, (New York: Viking, 2006). 	
   at all points, places special emphasis on the individual believer’s personal relationship with God.4  Importantly, no one Protestant denomination can claim ownership of this stream for evangelicalism has infiltrated a number of churches, both mainstream and unorthodox, and has influenced, and been influenced by, the specific theological commitments and cultural traditions of various churches for a very long time.  In fact, the particular patterns of thought and practice of evangelicals often differ substantially from one denomination to another for this stream of Christian practice has shown itself to be quite flexible it terms of intermingling with distinct traditions.5  However, it is still possible to identify certain foundational characteristics that bind these various denominational groups together under the banner of “evangelical” and distinguish them from other currents within Christianity. Stackhouse, who follows David Bebbington’s influential work, suggests these basic characteristics are fourfold.  First, evangelicals affirm the good news of God’s salvation in Jesus.  Second, they believe this good news is expressed most authoritatively in scripture.  Third, evangelicals believe personal salvation requires an individual transformation or conversion and fourth, they are active in proclaiming this good news.6 Mark A. Noll has condensed this core down further by suggesting the central characteristics of evangelicalism include both an acknowledgement of the bible as a fundamental bedrock of authority as well as the conviction that true religion requires the 	
   4 John G Stackhouse Jr., Canadian Evangelicalism in the Twentieth Century, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993), 7. 5 Two valuable collections which demonstrate this variation in both Canada and America respectively are: G. A. Rawlyk ed., Aspects of the Canadian Evangelical Experience, (Montreal and Kingston: McGill- Queen’s University Press, 1997) and D. Dayton and R. Johnston ed., The Variety of American Evangelicalism, (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1991). 6 John G. Stackhouse Jr., “Who Whom? Evangelicalism and Canadian Society,” in G. A. Rawlyk ed., Aspects of the Canadian Evangelical Experience, (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997), 56.  See also: David W. Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain, (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989). 	
   active personal experience of God.7  It is the broad, trans-denominational grouping of Protestant Christians that practice their faith within this “biblical experientialist” tradition that I deem evangelical.  Such practice often takes place in a “low church” congregational structure which parallels the evangelical emphasis on egalitarianism and anti-elitism for it was clearly understood that all members stand as equals under God and must approach and experience His saving power directly as individuals.  The active pursuit of this personal experience was often encouraged within a mass revival led by a pastor who delivered unsophisticated sermons in a manner that excited the emotions rather than the intellects of participants.   No doubt such a loose definition of evangelicalism ensures significant theological and organizational deviation between evangelical practitioners within divergent denominations but this shared emphasis on the need for a personal experience of God is, overall, that which holds “evangelicals” together as a useful historical category.   Any use of the term “evangelical” in this project, unless otherwise noted, refers to this broad definition as opposed to the more contemporary “conservative Protestant” definition often employed by present-day journalists and scholars. The Democratic Theology of American Evangelical Protestantism Implicit within Lipset’s comparison of mainstream religious practice in Canada and the United States is the influence social conditions have on religious development. For Lipset, it is the act of political revolution, not a theological breakthrough on the part of a secluded monk, which sets American religion on its distinct path.  Although I will argue shortly that the seeds of American Protestantism were sown well before the 	
   7 Mark A. Noll, “Revolution and the Rise of Evangelical Social Influence in North Atlantic Societies,” in M. Noll, D. Bebbington and G. Rawlyk ed., Evangelicalism: Comparative Studies of Popular Protestantism in North America, the British Isles, and Beyond, 1700-1990, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 129. 	
   Revolution, it is worth remembering that Christianity has never been a “pure” set of doctrines operating in a vacuum untouched by historical happenings. Theological breakthroughs such as those by Paul or Augustine or Luther have influenced the course of world events but the progression of history and broad social changes that accompany it have similarly impacted the direction of Christian theology.  Indeed, the story of American religious development that this chapter will briefly tell is one of a constant interplay between traditional religious ideas and broader social developments. The initial social conditions that have most impacted the direction of American Christianity are not simply those related to the late eighteenth century Revolution but rather those that stretch back to the conditions of colonial settlement.  America was perceived to be a New World, a blank slate, tabula rasa, a stretch of land open to those eager to experience the power or wealth available on a new continent but also to those who took issue with the conditions of life in the Old World.  The Old World religion surely accompanied the settlers but so too did a spirit of freedom from Old World conventions and constraints.  The vast spaces free of traditional denominational control offered the opportunity to those with such a spirit to propose and develop new interpretations of the Christian religion.8 This desire for a “new start” was encapsulated most clearly by the Puritans, a group of religious dissenters who arrived from England in the 1630’s eager to build an authentic Christian nation free of the corruption they sensed in the Church of England.  It was the influence of this group that planted the first seeds of a religion that would grow to be a distinctly American version of what historian George Marsden labels a “dissenter 	
   8 For a more in-depth discussion of this point see: Mark A. Noll, The Old Religion in a New World: The History of North American Christianity, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2002), 12-14. 	
   Protestantism.”9 Dissent in this context refers to the initial challenge posed to the Church of Rome by Martin Luther whose ruminations set off the Protestant Reformation.  The events generated by the Reformation surely touched all Christian denominations but a proper understanding of American religious development requires an acknowledgment of the importance with which early American Christians believed they were “completing the Protestant Reformation” on American soil, something the Europeans, stuck in their hierarchical class structures and traditions, had left unfinished.10  Central to his act of “completion” was a rededication by the Puritans to two key Protestant tenets: the sole authority of the Bible as a guide to proper Christian living and the principle of justification by faith rather than works, the idea that God’s righteousness, and thus salvation, is not earned by humans but given freely by God.  The two foundational theologians of the Reformation, Luther and John Calvin agreed on these basic ideas but only Calvin envisioned justification (becoming righteous before God) as predestined and a permanent feature of being connected to Christ following a spiritual re-birth. Importantly, the dissenting Puritans were Calvinist and thus popularized a strong emphasis on the authority of the Bible and a personal relationship with God built upon a “once-in-a-lifetime” personal conversion or re-birth. It is upon these two tenets that American evangelicalism would thereafter grow. Although the origins of American “dissenter” Protestantism stretch back to the Puritans, it was the revivalism associated with the First Great Awakening in the first half of the 18th century that was the central stimulant in the shift from an English-based 	
   9 George M Marsden, Religion and American Culture, (Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jonavich, 1990), 45. 10 Frank Lambert, Religion in American Politics: A Short History, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), 17. 	
   Puritanism to an indigenous American evangelicalism. 11  An important consequence of Calvin’s doctrine of predestination was the presence of anxiety among followers who were eager to assure themselves they had been “predestined” to receive God’s salvation. According to Calvin, only those called by God to experience a spiritual re-birth or personal conversion would be saved.  Believers thus went through life anxiously awaiting their own personal conversion.  The introduction of the evangelical mass-revival meeting in the first half of the eighteenth century encouraged a permanent shift in style of religious worship in America because they helped to ease this angst.  Revivals were often led by talented orators, gifted in both biblical knowledge and the ability to speak in an unsophisticated yet emotional manner to common people, and were generally understood to be an instrument of the Holy Spirit.  By promising to assist with the “conversion experience,” and thus the salvation anxious believers were seeking, revivals exploded in popularity.  The result was a sudden upsurge in religious activity that built upon the Puritan/Calvin premise which emphasized the ultimate authority of the Bible and the need for personal conversion but moved in a new direction by encouraging a more active and emotional Protestantism as local and national preachers took to the open-air pulpits and delivered the Word of God in plain language to the plain people of colonial America. Implicit within this popular religious movement was a rejection of the Puritan desire for an established national church complete with formally trained ministers and a new emphasis on the layman’s ability to interpret scripture and experience a personal conversion in an emotional revival setting rather than in the formal church.  This line of 	
   11 Mark A. Noll, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1992), 100-105. 	
   thought opened the door for a variety of non-Puritan denominations to grow and the religious pluralism that blossomed has been a feature of American life ever since. It was the Congregationalist, Presbyterian, and Baptist denominations, the latter being the most numerous and thus influential in 18th century America, which gained the most adherents from this sudden upsurge in religious activity.12  Each of these denominations embraced the tradition of religious dissent introduced to America by the Puritans but it was the Baptists who further popularized the Calvinist doctrine of personal conversion.  However, they did so in a manner that explicitly emphasized the spiritual equality of all individuals who committed themselves to a Christian life.  Such a notion implied that a church was not meant to be a hierarchical organization but rather a gathering of individuals who stood equally before God.  It is difficult to overstate the significance of such a class-leveling notion for a society that was still quite familiar with the hierarchical structures of both traditional religious organizations and the general societal order of the Old World.   In fact, Marsden suggests that the popularization of such ideas related to individual equality and capacity and the right to challenge established forms of power within popular religious circles intensified the sentiment of dissent in America to such a degree that the Great Awakening can be understood as a significant factor in the eventual Revolution which took place in the second half of the eighteenth century.13 If the development of an American-based Protestant theology before the Revolution assisted in laying the necessary groundwork for the broader acceptance of 	
   12 Marsden, Religion and American Culture, 20, 29. 13 Ibid, 29-30.  See also Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, (Cambridge: Harvard, 1967). 	
   basic democratic principles such as individualism, egalitarianism, and the right to challenge authority, it was the explosion of ground-level religious activity in the period immediately following the Revolution that not only fortified the righteousness of democracy in the minds of practitioners but further permanently legitimated a populist dimension in religious practice. This was essentially the completion of the shift towards evangelical Christianity initiated by the revivalism of the First Great Awakening.   In the course of documenting religiosity in post-Revolution America, Nathan Hatch has argued that it was ordinary people, “aided by a powerful new vocabulary, a rhetoric of liberty that would not have occurred to them were it not for the Revolution,” that turned their sights on the church and effectively reshaped the practice of Christianity in America.14 Building upon this rhetoric of liberty, and the accompanying sense of individual capacity, American “populist” evangelicalism took off, driven by “increasingly assertive common people [who] wanted their leaders unpretentious, their doctrines self-evident and down- to-earth, their music lively and sing-able, and their churches in local hands.”15 The result was the emergence of a wildly popular evangelical movement in the early nineteenth century (the Second Great Awakening), complete with the formation of many new religious sects led by “folksy” pastors who relied on unsophisticated sermons and urged much congregational participation. As Donald Matthews has argued, by encouraging the multiplication of religious units, or sects, the revivalism of the Second Great Awakening 	
   14 Nathan O. Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), 6. 15 Ibid, 9 	
   facilitated American democracy by encouraging the creation of local religious organizations that provided important avenues for lay participation.16 Such ground-level action was supported by similar shifts within theological and intellectual circles in America.  Although the promise of “conversion experiences” made by revivalists during the First Great Awakening seemed to imply a degree of human agency in the quest for Christian salvation, it was not until Charles Finney, a leading post-Revolution revivalist from 1825-35, began explicitly promoting the notion of conversion as an act of choice by a free individual rather than one initiated by God that American evangelical theology shifted from a purely Calvinist foundation to one fused with the Methodism of John Wesley. This Arminian notion that conversion, and thus salvation, was now an act of free individual choice had little trouble gaining support for it coalesced rather neatly with the broader Republican ideals that were prominent in post- Revolution America. 17  Indeed, William McLoughlin has argued that the revivalism of the Second Great Awakening provided American Protestants with the reassurance that God approved of the principles espoused by the Revolution.18 This fusion of republican and religious ideals even extended toward the approval of commercialism according to Noll who points to a correlation between early American evangelicals and their preference for a free market.19 	
   16 Donald G. Matthews, “The Second Great Awakening as an Organizing Process, 1780-1830: An Hypothesis,” in American Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 1, (Spring 1969), 39. 17 Marsden, Religion and American Culture, 52-54. 18 William G. McLoughlin, “Revivalism,” in Edwin S. Gaustad, ed., The Rise of Adventism, (New York: Harper and Row, 1974), 138. 19 Mark A. Noll, “Protestant Reasoning about Money and the Economy, 1790-1860: A Preliminary Probe,” in Mark A. Noll ed., God and Mammon: Protestants, Money and the Market, 1790-1860, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 265-294. 	
   In addition, the religious and political empowerment of the “plain people” in this period was aided by the popularity, in American post-Revolutionary intellectual an theological circles, of the Scottish Philosophy of Common Sense which emphasized the capabilities of the “common man” to interpret reality by way of his “common sense” and thus think and act in an intellectually and morally sound manner, regardless of social classification and without assistance from a mediator.20 This emphasis on individual capacity was essential for it provided a philosophical foundation for the evangelical Christian to personally experience God and freely choose to accept his Grace by way of conversion thus fulfilling a fundamental requirement for salvation. Of course, the flip side of this coin has been, according to Richard Hofstadter, a tendency toward anti- intellectualism, “a resentment and suspicion of the life of the mind and those who are considered to represent it,” in American life.21    Nevertheless, the Baptists, and now the growing contingent of Methodists, stormed the American frontier with this evangelical message of individual capacity and emotional, personal religious worship and American Protestantism has maintained this tendency towards individualistic, emotional and participatory behaviour ever since. There is even a branch of scholarship that has successfully connected this democratic evangelical spirit to the populist political movements that stormed across America in the late nineteenth century.22 	
   20 For a more in-depth consideration of the relationship between “common sense” philosophy and Evangelicalism see: Mark A. Noll, “Common Sense Traditions and American Evangelical Thought,” in American Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 2 (Summer, 1985), 216-238.  For a more in-depth demonstration of this relationship “on the ground” see: Joe Creech, Righteous Indignation: Religion and the Populist Revolution, (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2006), 22-27. 21 Richard Hofstadter, Anti-intellectualism in American Life, (New York: Alfred A, Knopf, 1962), 7 and Chapters 3-5. 22 See, for example, Rhys H. Williams and Susan M. Alexander, “Religious Rhetoric in American Populism: Civil Religion as Movement Ideology,” in Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, vol. 33, no. 1, (1994), 1-15, and Creech, Righteous Indignation. 	
    Certainly a great deal more could be said about the long and varied development of Protestant theology and practice in America but the very brief overview provided should be enough to give the reader a sense of the intensely democratic nature of American evangelical Protestantism. The revolutionary social nature of this American evangelical spirit can best be grasped, according to Michael Gauvreau, by contrasting it with medieval or early modern religious practices “which subsumed the individual in a web of divinely sanctioned hierarchies…buttressed by established churches, which claimed…to mediate between the individual and God.”23 American evangelicalism radically challenged such hierarchical relationships by interpreting the condition of the individual as one of impressive moral and intellectual capacity.  Because a personal and unmediated experience of the divine was necessary for salvation (and made possible by the moral and intellectual capacities of the individual), evangelicals placed extreme importance on the notion of freedom of individual conscience.  Unsurprisingly, such an outlook produced a strong democratic ethic among followers who, by way of their quest for personal religious experience, sought political structures that allow for the individual freedom required to live their faith.  Of course, the social consequences of an influential faith that empowered the individual at the expense of the elite within religious establishments in this way are such that traditional hierarchies of a non-religious nature were eventually met with the same dissenting spirit from individuals who may no longer abide by the original Protestant faith. 	
   23 Michael Gauvreau, “The Empire of Evangelicalism: Varieties of Common Sense in Scotland, Canada, and the United States,” in M. Noll, D. Bebbington and G. Rawlyk ed., Evangelicalism: Comparative Studies of Popular Protestantism in North America, the British Isles, and Beyond, 1700-1990, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 219. 	
   That said, it is not my intention to trace the history of the “secularization” of this spirit of dissent.  Rather, I simply want to reiterate that a radically democratic theology that emphasized the freedom and capacity of the common individual to shape society according to the dictates of God, as they, rather than established clergy, understood Him, is a central component of American evangelical Protestantism and its individualistic conception of faith.  Of course, the connection between theological interpretation and religious practice in America and its distinct form of democracy has been a topic of study ever since Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of the intermingling of religion and liberty in the first half of the nineteenth century.24  However, as McLoughlin has argued, this religious tradition contains an inherent tension between this radically democratic and anti- establishment sentiment and a broader conservatism associated with the belief in a universal moral code established by God that governs the conduct of individuals.25 From the Puritans, through the sects that emerged out of the First and Second Great Awakenings, and into the fundamentalist sects of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the absolute authority of the Christian Bible has remained paramount.  This continuity has ensured a long-running adherence to a particular moral code derived from the Word of God that places Divine restrictions on the conduct of individuals.  Beyond specific biblical commandments, American Protestantism emphasized the need for an “orderly life” built upon sobriety, discipline and hard-work upon which a proper family could be raised.26  Given the fallen nature of humanity described in scripture, the societal stability and order necessary for the further spreading of God’s word required the constant 	
   24 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, G. Lawrence trans., J.P. Mayer ed., (New York: Perennial Classics, 2000), 286-295. 25 McLoughlin, “Revivalism,” 125-130. 26 Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007), 451-452. 	
   protection and maintenance of institutions that could both educate and police individuals with respect to God’s laws.  It is in this spirit that one finds religious groups from nearly any period of American history praising the church and family as the central pillars of society due to their function as moral/religious educators, while occasionally demanding the state enact legislation that can assist with such guidance.  To recognize this internal tension between these conservative and radical tendencies is to see the significant gulf that exists between the radically individualistic and democratic ethos of American Protestantism and the individualism of secular liberalism or even post-modernism.  As Phillip Hammond has argued, American evangelicalism “saturated America with the idea that people should be free to do pretty much as they like, as long as they look out for themselves…and, of course, behave.”27  Exuding both radical and conservative tendencies such as those identified by Hammond, this American evangelical tradition helps to explain the parallel tensions that exist in American public life.  In fact, these same tensions between radicalism and conservatism will appear again as a major theme in our examination of political thought in Alberta in the following chapters where I will argue that this broad American evangelical perspective was a critically important influence. The suggestion that there is something quite distinct about the evolution of American evangelical Protestantism becomes all the more apparent when compared to religious development in Canada.  Historians now agree that evangelicalism was an important cultural/religious force in late eighteenth and early nineteenth English-speaking Canada as well, counteracting the conservative tendencies present within traditional 	
   27 Phillip E. Hammond, The Protestant Presence in Twentieth-Century America: Religion and Political Culture, (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992), 45. 	
   Anglican circles.  In fact, the strong evangelical current in Atlantic Canada in the late eighteenth century may have been even more radical that its counterpart in America.28 Evangelicals in Upper Canada, primarily Methodists associated with the American Methodist movement, were also embracing the very same radical democratic ethos that swept through post-Revolution America.  Nancy Christie has convincingly argued that this strand of evangelicalism was one of the central mechanisms responsible for implanting anti-establishment and reformist notions in the minds of the common people of Upper Canada who stood outside the Tory Anglican elite. 29  This anti-elitism was shared by Upper Canadian Baptists who, with the Methodists, offered a critique of traditional and hierarchical religious and political institutions by way of their emphasis on spiritual egalitarianism and the necessity for individuals to develop an unmediated connection with God.30  This radicalism came to a sudden halt, however, in the wake of the War of 1812 and the anti-Americanism that followed, after which Upper Canadian evangelicalism became much more British in character and would, over the next century, adopt a Victorian worldview that stressed order and theology over the popular emotionalism of “republican” evangelicalism.31  The notion of personal conversion so 	
   28 George Rawlyk, Canada Fire: Radical Evangelicalism in British North America, (Montreal: McGill- Queen’s, 1994). 29 Nancy Christie, “In These Times of Democratic Rage and Delusion: Popular Religion and the Challenge to the Established Order, 1760-1815,” in G. Rawlyk ed., The Canadian Protestant Experience, 1760-1990, (Burlington: Welch Publishing Company, 1990), 22-24. 30 Ibid, 36. 31 For further discussion on this shift, and the evolution of this more conservative “British” evangelicalism see: Goldwin French, “The Evangelical Creed in Canada,” in W.L. Morton ed., The Shield of Achilles, (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1968), 15-35, William Westfall, Two Worlds: The Protestant Culture of Nineteenth-Century Ontario, (Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s, 1989), Michael Gauvreau, The Evangelical Century, (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s Press, 1991), Marguerite Van Die, “The Double Vision: Evangelical Piety as Derivative and Indigenous in Victorian English Canada,” in M. Noll, D. Bebbington and G. Rawlyk ed., Evangelicalism: Comparative Studies of Popular Protestantism in North America, the British Isles, and Beyond, 1700-1990, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 253-274, and G.A. Rawlyk, “Introduction,” in G. A. Rawlyk ed., Aspects of the Canadian Evangelical Experience, (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997), xiii-xxv. 	
   critical to American evangelicalism was present within this strand of evangelicalism but, as Noll has argued, “that conversion had to be joined to public responsibility in the construction of a civilization.”  Noll continues with a succinct summary of the essence of Canadian Protestantism: Ontario’s Protestants were evangelical but…not quite as democratically or individualistically evangelical as those in the States.  Canada’s dominant Protestant theology….was uniquely Canadian in balancing an American openness to innovation, optimism, and personal liberty with a British commitment to order, stability, and tradition.32  If the above synthesis of American religious development was remarkably brief, this overview of Canadian Protestantism is no doubt absurdly so.  However, it is not my intention to provide a detailed comparison but rather to demonstrate that Lipset was largely correct to suggest that there is a distinct democratic and individualistic essence within the American evangelical tradition that is not as prominent in its (central) Canadian counterpart.  However, I want to also suggest that it is wrong to simply assume the “Canadian” tradition is equally applicable to all parts of Protestant Canada.  This second point will become much clearer in the following two chapters when we examine the religious perspectives that most influenced political thought in Alberta.  For now it is enough to have provided this general comparison as well as a bit more detail with respect to the American tradition, against which the dominant strands of religious interpretation in Alberta will make the most sense.   	
   32 Noll, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada, 268, 275-276. 	
   Millennialism and American Evangelical Protestantism The notion that America was God’s chosen nation, a new land comprised of unusually devout followers that were destined to escape the corruption of Old World Christianity and develop a proper relationship with God by building the authentic Christian state in accordance with His will has been one of the most important elements of America’s broad self-understanding.  This belief stretches back to the Puritans, was prominent in the revivals of both Great Awakenings, and remains close to the heart of a number of contemporary American Christians.  A central consequence of this belief is the parallel notion that America has a special responsibility to ensure the coming of the kingdom of God promised by Christ in the New Testament.  In fact, prominent American theologian Richard Niebuhr has argued that American Christianity “is a movement that finds its center in the faith in the kingdom of God…indeed [it has] been the dominant idea in American Christianity.” 33  Although the concept of the kingdom of God has been interpreted quite differently at various points in American history it is the interpretation related to Christian Millennialism and the “end of days” that is most applicable to this project. American religious historian Timothy Weber has defined Christian Millennialism, as “the belief that there will be a long period of unprecedented peace and righteousness closely associated with the second coming of Christ.”34  This “long period” is usually interpreted as a reference to a one thousand year period, or millennium, which either is, or is the preface to, the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth.  This is a Christian notion that originates in Chapter twenty of the Book of Revelations wherein an angel is 	
   33 Richard Niebuhr, The Kingdom of God in America, (New York: Harper and Row, 1937), ix, xii. 34 Timothy P. Weber, Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 9. 	
   witnessed depositing and locking Satan into the Abyss for one thousand years while the souls of those who resisted the temptations of Satan during their lifetime return to life to reign with Christ for the same thousand year period.  Weber notes that Christians have interpreted this biblical verse in one of three general ways.  Amillennialists understand this reference in a symbolic manner and contend that Christ’s reign will occur in the hearts of His followers.  Postmillennialists believe Christ’s second coming will occur on earth after the millennium has been established by the work of the church. Premillennialists contend that Christ will return to earth before the thousand-year period begins and will use His powers to establish it.35  It is the latter two of these eschatological views that have been most influential in American Protestantism that, in the nineteenth century, “was drunk on the millennium.”36  On the surface, post and premillennialism are distinguished from each other simply by the question of timing: will Christ return before or after the thousand-year period of peace and righteousness? At a deeper level, they presuppose very different conceptions of divine and human agency with respect to the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth.  It is the implications of each of these different eschatological viewpoints that have had a significant impact on the direction of the political thought espoused by various groups of Christians in America and a similar influence will reappear when we look at religion and political thought in Alberta. Christian Millennial thought in America stretches back to the Puritans, who advocated a premillennial position, and into the thought of Jonathan Edwards, theologian 	
   35 Ibid. 36 Ernest R. Sandeen, The Roots of Fundamentalism: British and American Millenarianism 1800-1930, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), 42. 	
   of the First Great Awakening, who was America’s first prominent postmillennialist.37 Since the time of Edwards, through the American Revolution and Second Great Awakening (including the preaching of Finney) and up until the American Civil War, the revivalism that dominated American Protestantism was full of an optimistic spirit that tended towards postmillennial thought and the implicit understanding that the church was doing its part to usher in the kingdom of God.  At its foundation, American postmillennialism understood history as being shaped by a cosmic struggle between the forces of God and Satan.  The upsurge in outward and emotional religious activity combined with the success of the Revolution convinced Christians that things were in fact getting progressively better and it was their own piety, undertaken by their own free will, in combination with God’s Grace, that was moving them toward God’s final victory. In fact, early nineteenth century postmillennialists were convinced that the spiritual and cultural progress of America had grown so substantially that the defeat of Satan and the beginning of the Millennium was imminent.38 This optimism, combined with the belief that both individual humans and the collective church possessed significant efficacy with respect to establishing the Millennium, encouraged a whole host of social reform movements.39  In fact, certain elements of this postmillennial stream of Protestant thought underlie the emergence of the American “social gospel” movement that formed largely in the urban centres of the Northeast in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Responding to the social 	
   37 Donald W. Dayton, “Millennial Views and Social Reform in Nineteenth Century America,” in M. Darrol Bryant and Donald W. Dayton ed., The Coming Kingdom: Essays in American Millennialism and Eschatology, (New York: New Era Books, 1983), 134-135.  For a much more comprehensive history of Millennial thought in Britain and America see: Sandeen, The Roots of Fundamentalism. 38 George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture, 2nd ed., (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 49. 39 Timothy L. Smith, Revivalism and Social Reform: American Protestantism on the Eve of the Civil War, (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1980). 	
   problems associated with rapid industrial expansion in American cities, a collection of progressive pastors and academics sought to apply Christ’s “Golden Rule” to industrial organization in the hope of constructing a literal “kingdom of God” on earth.  Although policy prescriptions meant to hasten the building of this kingdom varied from a call for a more “co-operative” approach to economics to the more radical demand that capitalism be abolished and replaced with socialism, the overall progressive influence of the movement was strongly felt in both the political and religious circles of America.40 However, the degree to which America’s evangelical Protestant tradition influenced this particular strand of Christian theology is a point of contention. Richard Goode and Paul Harvey have both argued that a more authentic “evangelical” version of a “social gospel” message is to be found in the agrarian populist movement of the American South and Midwest in the late nineteenth century.  This was a “rural social gospel” that was distinct from, and less sophisticated than, the northern, urban, and largely academic social gospel espoused by the likes of Washington Gladden and Walter Rauschenbusch.  This rural social gospel drew heavily from the evangelical values of individual autonomy and piety but shared with the northern social gospel a social condemnation, based on the “Golden Rule” of Christ, of the political and economic conditions imposed upon the plain people by an ever-industrializing economy.41  Joe 	
   40 More detailed commentaries on the American Social Gospel movement are available in: Charles Howard Hopkins, The Rise of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism, 1865-1915, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1940), Henry F. May, Protestant Churches and Industrial America, (New York: Harper and Row, 1949), Paul A. Carter, The Decline and Revival of the Social Gospel: Social and Political Liberalism in American Protestant Churches, 1920-1940, (Hamden: Shoe String Press, 1956), and R.C. White, Jr. and C.H. Hopkins ed., The Social Gospel: Religion and Reform in Changing America, (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1976). 41 See: Richard C. Goode, “The Godly Insurrection in Limestone County: Social Gospel, Populism, and Southern Culture in the Late Nineteenth Century,” in Religion and American Culture, Vol. 3, No. 2, (Summer 1993), 155-169 and Paul Harvey, Freedom’s Coming: Religious Culture and the Shaping of the 	
   Creech also distinguishes the evangelical “social Christianity” that motivated the American populist agrarians from the more sophisticated combination of theological liberalism and progressive economic theories that emerged from the oft-cited northern social gospel movement.  This “common-folk,” evangelical-based social Christianity combined evangelical conceptions of benevolence and anti-elitism with Jeffersonian rural ideals related to agrarian purity, self-sufficiency, and small-scale commerce to produce “the simple yet powerful idea that economic relationships should be guided by the law of love.”42  As will be explored in more detail in the following chapter, although the ideas of Gladden and Rauschenbusch were known by Alberta agrarian leader Henry Wise Wood, his political thinking was influenced more significantly by this rural and evangelical version of social Christianity. Yet, as important as the American social gospel movement was, it is worth reminding the reader that the dominance of postmillennial thought within the halls of American Protestantism ended much before the height of the social gospel movement. This was largely due to the arrival of the American Civil War as well as the introduction of both the theory of evolution and the rise of scholastic higher criticism, which applied new methods of historical research to the Bible, in the second half of the nineteenth century.  Indeed, the challenges posed to the biblical literalism central to American evangelicalism, let alone Christian belief itself, by Darwin’s theory of evolution and the introduction of higher criticism in America represented the beginning of a monumental shift with respect to the unity of American Protestantism.  The theological reaction these challenges stimulated would eventually blossom into the full-blown fundamentalist-	
   South From the Civil War Through the Civil Rights Era, (Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press, 2005), 47-53. 42 Creech, Righteous Indignation: Religion and the Populist Revolution, 30. 	
   modernist controversy of the early twentieth century.   Decades before that controversy erupted, liberal theologians who felt an outright rejection of Darwin’s theory was, in the end, untenable, were eager to adopt a notion of evolution within which God’s design was firmly encapsulated.  Drawing heavily upon the work of English philosopher Herbert Spencer, a conception of theistic evolution was worked out which accepted the empirical findings of Darwin but insisted such progress was the work of the Christian God who set such events in motion.43  However, the overt supernaturalism of God, the notion that He may again intervene at any point in history to alter its course, began to give way to an evolution-friendly conception of gradual social change driven largely by human action in accordance with the growing presence of a “Christian spirit” on earth.   Liberal postmillennialists who adopted this evolutionary framework retained the traditional confidence in the coming of the kingdom of God, as well as a commitment to the basic moral teachings of the bible, but understood this coming kingdom in a much more secular fashion.  The perfection of social institutions in America came to represent the “millennium” or kingdom of God for many progressive Christians and the actual physical return of Christ to earth following this period of righteousness seemed to slowly vanish from their theology.44  The result was a view that remained quite optimistic, and continued to motivate social reform, but provided only vague promises of progress that would be realized over long periods of time and was, in the end, quite susceptible to transforming into a secular humanist rather than traditional Christian outlook. Although American postmillennialism tended toward this liberal, evolutionary framework in the late nineteenth century, its decline in popularity was more immediately 	
   43 Ferenc Morton Szasz, The Divided Mind of Protestant America, 1880-1930, (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1982), 1-15. 44 Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture, 49-51. 	
   attributable to the arrival of the Civil War in 1861.  In short, conditions seemed to be getting worse rather than better and the optimism of the liberal postmillennialists seemed misplaced.45  Around the same time, a premillennial eschatological outlook dubbed “dispensationalism” was gaining followers in certain segments of evangelical America. This was a strand of theology that originated with John Nelson Darby, founder of the British Plymouth Brethren sect, and was eventually popularized in America by C.I. Scofield.46  The essence of dispensationalism was a radical re-interpretation of Christian scripture that was based on the notion that history has been divided by God into separate “dispensations,” and certain verses of scripture were only applicable to one particular period of history or dispensation.  Within each dispensation, God presents mankind with a different kind of governing relationship and humans in turn must accept and fulfill a specific responsibility to God within each historical period.47  While the theology of dispensationalism is far more complex than the summary I have provided, it should be clear that such a reorganization of the applicability of biblical scripture allowed for the Christian to continue adhering to the principle of biblical literalism in the face of contradictions unearthed by biblical scholarship or challenges presented by modern science.  Any specific collection of biblical verses that seemed particularly contradictory or unbelievable in the face of newly articulated scientific principles were simply interpreted to apply to a different dispensation than the one currently occupied.  A central consequence of this line of thought was the resurrection of the literal notion of the coming of the kingdom of God from the claws of evolutionary theory and liberal 	
   45 Dayton, “Millennial Views and Social Reform in Nineteenth Century America,” 133, 139. 46 A far more detailed description of both the history and theology of dispensationalism is available in: Sandeen, The Roots of Fundamentalism and Weber, Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming. 47 Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism, (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2007), 27-51. 	
   postmillennialism.  According to dispensationalism, the coming kingdom is, in fact, the literal reign of Christ but it is to occur in the next and final dispensation, not our own, and any efforts to hasten its arrival in this period through social reform, such as those urged by postmillennialists, were of no use because it was the will of God alone that moved history from one dispensation to the next. The sudden popularity of dispensationalism in America following the Civil War has generally been attributed to its interpretation of scripture with regard to the “end of days” and the coming millennium.  Dispensationalists believed that the social conditions of the present dispensation would, according to the biblical prophets, get far worse rather than better.  This outlook dovetailed perfectly with America in the period following the Civil War because social and economic conditions had deteriorated but evangelicals were not yet ready to let go of their tendencies toward millennial thinking and the arrival of a “golden age.”48  According to the dispensationalists eschatology, Christ would remove his true followers from earth (the Rapture) once conditions deteriorated to a certain point and the antichrist would be left to rule the world (the Tribulation).  Christ would then return with his followers and defeat the antichrist in a final battle that would usher in the millennium, the literal kingdom of God promised by Christ in the New Testament. Therefore, in contrast to the postmillennial view, Christ returns before the millennium and brings about the kingdom of God by His will alone.  It is this premillennial strain that now dominates evangelical Protestantism in America. Despite originating in Britain, dispensationalism has been far more successful within mainstream American Christianity than in Britain or Canada.  Marsden has provided a compelling explanation for this by pointing to the consequences of “the 	
   48 Weber, Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming, 41. 	
   dynamics of unopposed revivalism,” in America when contrasted to other countries.49 More specifically, Marsden suggests that the simple dichotomies or “black and white” thinking popular in the context of the evangelical revival, in combination with American Protestantism’s heightened sense of God’s supernaturalism, lends itself to a strict biblical literalism that underlies the dispensational appeal.  Despite the presence of evangelicalism, both the British and Canadian Protestant traditions retained a stronger conservative and intellectual dimension that prevented the outright victory of an emotional and anti-intellectual revivalism and was therefore also less prone to feel the need to defend a strict literal interpretation of the bible.  Indeed, it is worth noting that the nineteenth century brand of Ontario-based Protestantism that was associated with the more conservative “Victorian” evangelicalism of Britain in the preceding section, encountered challenges from a number of premillennial sects but managed to withstand their advances by responding with a more postmillennial interpretation wherein the mainstream churches, rather than Christ alone, were understood to be working towards the millennium.50  Thus, postmillennial Christianity was present within Ontario but the millennium itself was never a central theme in the same way it was in nineteenth century America.  In fact, as we shall see in the following chapter, the postmillennial eschatology that most influenced political thinking in Alberta was a direct import from a liberal American Protestant sect and its American roots gave it a particular “republican” slant that would have been foreign to Ontario postmillennialism or the “social gospel” based postmillennialism that emerged in Saskatchewan and Manitoba in the early twentieth 	
   49 George Marsden, “Fundamentalism as an American Phenomenon, A Comparison with English Evangelicalism,” in Church History, 46 (1977), 215-232.  A similar argument is made in: Mark A Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, (Grand Rapids: Wm. Eerdmans, 1994). 50 William Westfall, Two Worlds: The Protestant Culture of Nineteenth-Century Ontario, (Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s, 1989), Chapter 6. 	
   century.  Ironically, the premillennialism that would strongly influence the Alberta Social Credit movement 1930s was learned by William Aberhart in Ontario, not America. However, its overall character was certainly derived from the American premillennial tradition. Conclusion Obviously, the above synopsis fails to do justice to the rich and diverse development of American Protestantism but it does, I hope, provide an appropriate religious and intellectual context by which one can properly grasp the conceptual and religious framework from which Henry Wise Wood, William Aberhart and Ernest Manning drew.  As will be discussed more fully in the next two chapters, Wood’s religious background was quite different from that of Aberhart and Manning but, at the same time, was also similar in its adherence to certain broad pillars of American evangelicalism, namely the radically democratic ethos and the strong emphasis on millennial thinking.  It is this influence that, I argue, helps to place Alberta outside of Lipset’s general dichotomy and thus differentiates Alberta in an important way from the rest of the Canadian Provinces.  Of course, to suggest that Alberta has been influenced by American modes of social, political, or even religious thought is certainly not a revolutionary notion.  It has long been assumed by scholars that any exploration of early Alberta political culture must dedicate space to the role of American influence due to the direct impact of significant American immigration. Foremost among this group is Nelson Wiseman who has argued that it was the “radical populist liberalism” brought to Alberta by the significant number of mid-west American farmers who immigrated in the first 	
   quarter of the twentieth century.51  However, this analysis had next to nothing to say about the role played by religious ideas crossing the border.   Beyond immigration, the broad similarities between much of the post- Revolution American frontier and early Alberta also contributed to the adoption of a similar religious outlook.  As W.L. Morton has noted, “Alberta was the frontier of frontiers…[and] the characteristic frontier malaise of debt, dislocation, and restlessness was active in the province.”52 Just as the participatory and egalitarian evangelicalism emanating out of the American Revolution was a perfect fit on the American frontier, it is not difficult to imagine that a similar religious disposition would become popular with Alberta agrarians who, for simple geographical reasons, operated in a space devoid of much traditional denominational influence, when compared to nineteenth century Ontario. Add to this rather conducive environment the steady stream of agrarian newsletters and periodicals that made their way from America to Alberta and one begins to see the possibilities of transmission beyond direct immigration.53  Indeed, as Noll has argued, not only is evangelicalism an agent of democratization because of its internal democratic ethos, it also tends to prosper in Protestant societies that have recently undergone democratic revolutions or were frontier societies.54  Although the collection of scholarship focusing on the development of religion throughout the early prairies is surprisingly small, it is not hard to find census statistics that provide a rough estimate of the numbers of prairie settlers who belonged to each of 	
   51 Nelson Wiseman, “The Pattern of Prairie Politics,” in Queen’s Quarterly, Vol. 88, No. 2, (Summer 1981), 298-315. 52 W.L. Morton, The Progressive Party in Canada, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1950), 37. 53 Paul F. Sharp, The Agrarian Revolt in Western Canada, 2nd ed, (Regina: Canada Plains Research Centre, 1997), 44. 54 Noll, “Revolution and the Rise of Evangelical Social Influence in North Atlantic Societies,”113-136. 	
   the five major Christian churches in the early twentieth century.55  Yet the usefulness of such statistics is not as apparent as it may seem.  As each of these official churches moved westward in an effort to win converts, first from the existing Native population and later from the settler communities themselves, the challenges associated with frontier expansion forced competing denominations to cooperate or, at the very least, cede territory.  It was not uncommon for settler community “A” to be served by a single Methodist church, community ‘B” to contain only an Anglican one and community “C” be without any regular church service.  It was even common for the minister of one denomination to serve in the church of another when required or vice versa.56  In other words, the considerable theological differences that make such denominational statistics significant for scholars hoping to assess the potential social or political impact of these established churches on the populations of Eastern or Central Canada did not necessarily survive the move west intact.  In fact, religious historian John Grant has argued that the ecumenical spirit generated by such denominational cooperation in the region ensured that prairie Protestant churches developed a religious ethos associated with unsophisticated theology, practicality, participation and community spirit that was quite distinct from the Eastern Canadian emphasis on refined sermons, rituals, and the traditional forms of piety that not only reinforced denominational differences but further engrained hierarchical relationships between the church elite and the congregation.57 	
   55 The five major denominations were the Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians.  A helpful compilation of these census statistics covering a 40 year period can be found in: Phyllis D. Airhart, “Ordering a New Nation and Reordering Protestantism, 1867-1914,” in G. Rawlyk ed., The Canadian Protestant Experience, 1760-1990, (Burlington: Welch Publishing Company, 1990), 102- 104. 56 C.A. Dawson, Pioneering in the Prairie Provinces: The Social Side of the Settlement Process, (Toronto: Macmillan, 1940), 207, 214-215. 57 John Webster Grant, The Church in the Canadian Era, 2nd ed., (Burlington: Welch Publishing Company, 1988), 51-53. 	
    This religious ethos identified by Grant is reinforced by the findings of W.E. Mann, who studied the nature of religious practice in Alberta in the early twentieth century and found that Alberta, more than any other province, followed the post- Revolution American pattern of generating a high number of non-traditional religious sects.  Most interestingly, however, was the manner by which the beliefs and practices of these sects paralleled those associated with the American evangelical tradition described above.  Mann observed that the religious services conducted by sects in Alberta were relatively informal affairs characterized by unsophisticated sermons, congregational participation, and a general concern for individual salvation.58   Mann’s study certainly contained a more detailed look at the nature of religious practice in Alberta than this brief synopsis but, at this point, it is enough to note this important similarity between American and Albertan religious practice.  No doubt a further comparison of grassroots religiosity between the America and Alberta would be interesting but the goal of this section is to simply suggest there are reasons to suspect important parallels exist between religious perspectives in both post-Revolution America and early twentieth century Alberta.  The following two chapters will shift gears and examine in detail the political thought of the leadership of both the UFA and Social Credit movements and it is here that one will begin to see more clearly the impact that “American” religious perspectives had on Alberta politics at the elite level. 	
   58 W.E. Mann, Sect, Cult, and Church in Alberta, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1955), 44-45. 	
   Chapter Four:  Religion and the Political Thought of Henry Wise Wood: The Liberal, Postmillennial Perspective   Scholars have typically interpreted the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA), which ruled the province from 1921 until 1935, as an economic and educational agrarian organization that eventually evolved into a dominant provincial political party.  Formed in 1909, the immediate goal of the organization was the improvement of the economic condition of the farmer who, in their eyes, was beholden to the exploitation of monopolistic central Canadian grain buyers and industrialists whose financial interests were protected by a distant Federal government that showed little sympathy for the concerns of hinterland agrarians.  Building upon the gains of the larger North American agrarian movement, the UFA developed into an extensive network of highly participatory “Locals,” community-level groupings of farmers that sought to protect their economic interests by lobbying government and by “pooling” both their purchasing power and their agricultural produce in an effort to leverage their way to better financial outcomes.  These specific efforts were driven by a broad educational campaign waged by the organization’s headquarters that provided a vast array of literature that offered, in plain language, an analysis of the farmers’ economic condition and a concrete plan to improve it.  In 1919, under intense pressure from the popular Alberta chapter of the Non-Partisan League, it was decided that these Locals should take direct political action and in 1921 the UFA, an “economic group” rather than a “traditional political party,” swept into power, led initially by Herbert Greenfield but soon replaced by John Brownlee who served as Alberta premier for nine years.  However, the UFA’s inability to spur Alberta’s economy out of the eventual worldwide recession cost them much electoral support and, on the 	
   heels of a sex scandal that engulfed Brownlee in 1934, the UFA was swept from office by William Aberhart and the Alberta Social Credit in the summer of 1935. That the UFA was perhaps the first and only authentic grassroots participatory movement in Canada to attain political power on the back of an impressive and pre- existing network of community-level groupings of farmers has led to a significant level of attention from academics.  In fact, luminary Canadian scholars such as W.L. Morton, Frank Underhill, C.B. Macpherson, Gerald Friesen, Nelson Wiseman, Thomas Flanagan and David Laycock have all studied aspects of the UFA.1  However, when one takes a step back from the immediate economic and political themes recounted by such scholars and examines the more abstract elements of the overarching vision held by the group’s most influential leader, a slightly different picture emerges that has yet to be fully articulated.  The UFA was certainly eager to improve the economic position of the Alberta farmer, and it stressed vigorous participation and education at the local level as a way to meet this goal, but it was also understood by much of its leadership to be a significant player in a much larger, religiously-inspired reform movement that would improve conditions for all people.  Indeed, the UFA’s official organ declared in 1920 that it was “the most powerful agency in Canada today for the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.” 2  Of course, this idealistic mindset dedicated to broad social reform was not exactly unusual in the early twentieth century, especially on the Canadian 	
   1 Aspects of the UFA are discussed in: W.L. Morton, “The Social Philosophy of Henry Wise Wood,” in Agricultural History, Vol. 22, No. 2, (April 1948), 114-123, W.L. Morton, The Progressive Party in Canada, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1950), C.B. Macpherson, Democracy in Alberta, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1953), Gerald Friesen, The Canadian Prairies: A History, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987), Nelson Wiseman, “The Pattern of Prairie Politics,” in Queen’s Quarterly, Vol. 88, No. 2, (Summer 1981), 298-315, Thomas Flanagan, “Political Geography and the United Farmers Of Alberta,” in S.M. Trofimenkoff ed., The Twenties in Western Canada, (Ottawa: National Museum of Canada, 1972), 138-169, and David Laycock, Populism and Democratic Thought in the Canadian Prairies, 1910 to 1945, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990). 2 “Editorial: U.F.A. Sunday,” in The Western Independent, May 12, 1920, 1. 	
   prairies wherein a number of utopian visions were hatched from the optimism that accompanied a “new start” on the frontier.3  Although a good deal of this utopianism was a product of the Christian social gospel message that seemed to emanate out of Winnipeg’s Wesley College and the lectures of Salem Bland and onto the pages of the popular agrarian periodical, the Grain Growers Guide, the UFA was somewhat unique in that its most influential leader and thinker was someone who had migrated north from America and brought with him a religious perspective that, although similar in certain respects, was not identical.   No doubt William Irvine, student of Bland, played an important role within the UFA and for this reason a strand of Bland’s more “socialistic” Christianity was clearly present within the UFA from its early years.   However, it was the more “American” liberal evangelical Protestantism of longtime UFA president Henry Wise Wood, which was tinged with a particular American social gospel interpretation, that most influenced the political thought of the UFA. Of course, Alberta was very much a Christian society during these years and it is not hard to find some basic Christian teachings at the heart of the Alberta agrarian movement that stretch back well before Wood became UFA president.  As early as 1902, one can find calls for governments to operate on the principles of Christ while at the same time reassuring farmers that God intended profits to flow to those who tiled the soil rather than the dreaded middle-men.4  The influential agrarian periodical of the time, the Grain Growers Guide, was a forum for early advocates of the social gospel to spread their 	
   3 Prairie historian W.L. Morton has written about this utopian-tendency on a few occasions.  See: W.L. Morton, “The Bias of Prairie Politics,” in Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Vol. 49, series III (June 1955), 57-66, and W.L. Morton, “A Century of Plain and Parkland,” in R. Douglas Francis and Howard Palmer ed., The Prairie West: Historical Readings, (Edmonton: Pica Press, 1992), 27- 42. 4 Bradford James Rennie, The Rise of Agrarian Democracy: The United Farmers and Farm Women of Alberta, 1909-1921, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000), 20, 57. 	
   message of a “new social religion” that demanded commerce and politics be conducted by way of Christ’s “Golden Rule.”5  In 1910, UFA president James Bower insisted that the UFA was founded upon the “principle which true Christianity and humanity stand for: namely, the brotherhood of man.”6  Within a few years of their establishment, UFA Locals had become centres of intense social and educational activity, including a dedication to provide unofficial Christian church services in the many frontier rural areas that had been spiritually underserved.  By 1914, this religious presence culminated with the introduction of “UFA Sundays,” an annual afternoon picnic which featured both religious and agrarian speakers emphasizing a “practical Christianity” that could be concretely applied to the farmers’ movement.7   However, it was not until the appearance of Wood as president of the movement in 1916 that the UFA shifted from an organization built upon a few broad Christian precepts to one that was, for all intents and purposes, a central player in the establishment of nothing less than the kingdom of God on earth. The UFA itself was both a very diverse and very democratic institution, ensuring that the views of many distinct men and women from many different countries and cultures were influential.8  Yet, it is also not an exaggeration to suggest that Wood, president from 1916 until 1931, was, by far, the movement’s most influential figure or, in the words of his biographer, “the uncrowned King of Alberta.”9  The UFA’s own periodical praised Wood’s selflessness, his commitment to humanity, and his insistence 	
   5 See E.A Partridge, “The New Religion,” in Grain Growers Guide, August 28, 1909, 4.  In addition to the agrarian leader Partridge, prominent social gospel clergymen such as J.S. Woodsworth and Salem Bland also secured regular columns in the Grain Growers Guide.  For an in-depth discussion of their message see: Richard Allen, “The Social Gospel as the Religion of the Agrarian Revolt,” in George Melnyk ed., Riel to Reform: A History of Protest in Western Canada, (Saskatoon: Fifth House, 1992), 138-147. 6 James Bower, “The United Farmers of Alberta and Co-operation,” in Grain Growers Guide, February 16, 1910, 10. 7 Rennie, The Rise of Agrarian Democracy, 81-84. 8 The diversity of the UFA is discussed in much detail in: Rennie, The Rise of Agrarian Democracy. 9 William Kirby Rolph, Henry Wise Wood of Alberta, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1950), 192. 	
   on co-operation and local democracy, and claimed that “no other one person in Alberta has done more to arouse the people to accept the responsibility of their own institutions than he.”10  Consequently, Wood’s thought has garnered much interest from scholars eager to make sense of the UFA’s highly participatory nature, its support for economic co-operatives, and its peculiar advancement of “group government.”  However, although most historians and political scientists have mentioned Wood’s religious background, the precise influence of his particular Christian perspective on his political thought has been largely glossed over.11  Richard Allen, who has taken religious influence more seriously than most prairie scholars, did acknowledge that “Wood’s whole programme was ultimately theological,” yet in the end, did little to distinguish Wood’s thought from key Western Canadian social gospel leaders Bland, Irvine, or J.S. Woodsworth.12  As we shall see, despite broad agreement on the need to import the social teachings of Christ into the political and economic realm, Wood’s American evangelical Protestant background would ensure important differences between his thought and that of the mainstream prairie social gospel crowd, differences that would help to steer the early political development of Alberta in a distinct direction.  This chapter argues that Wood’s personal interpretation of Christianity was a much stronger influence on his political thought and on the corresponding practical 	
   10 “Who’s Who in the Farmers Movement: H.W. Wood,” in The Western Independent, January 21, 1920, 7. 11 For brief discussions on Wood’s religious background see: W.L. Morton, “The Social Philosophy of Henry Wise Wood,” 114-123, Rolph, Henry Wise Wood of Alberta, 9-11, Rennie, The Rise of Agrarian Democracy, 212-213, Richard Allen, The Social Passion: Religion and Social Reform in Canada 1914- 1928, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1971), 205-208, and Allen, “The Social Gospel as the Religion of the Agrarian Revolt.”  See also: Franklin Lloyd Foster, The 1921 Provincial Election: A Consideration of Factors Involved With Particular Attention to Overtones of Millennialism Within the UFA and Other Reform Movements, (MA Thesis, Queens University, 1978).  Foster went beyond many UFA scholars by noting that the organization relied on a “civic” version of optimistic millennial thought that envisioned the coming of a new and better age so long as the people continued to work towards it by obeying the laws of God, although his analysis does not do much to trace the roots of this pattern of thought. 12 Allen, The Social Passion, 206. 	
   organization and direction of the UFA than has been previously recognized.  It was by no means the only influence on the UFA, nor was religion the only influence on Wood, whose thought was clearly influenced by additional scientific, economic and philosophical currents.  However, existing expositions of his thought remain incomplete for they fail to develop a full accounting of Wood’s “framework of meaning,” the canvas of ontological beliefs against which his more practical political analysis becomes more coherent.  Doing so in this case requires a much more detailed examination of Wood’s foundational religious views which, as we shall see, played a prominent role in his eventual social and political thought, from his views on social evolution to his advancement of a political system organized around economic groups.  That said, Wood was not religious in the traditional, mystical sense of the word.  He expressed very little interest in themes related to personal spiritual salvation or the afterlife.  Rather, he found the teachings of Christ “to contain a wonderful storehouse of practical information,” and defined his religious creed as “a desire to understand natural social law and to live and construct in accordance with that law.”13  Yet, his religious perspective was clearly derived from the American liberal and post-millennial evangelical Protestant tradition that valued democratic participation, stressed personal responsibility, and understood individual Christians as possessing the agency required to slowly reform social institutions according to the dictates of Christ’s moral message.  The culmination of such efforts would be the establishment of Christ’s promised kingdom on earth.   What follows is a brief reexamination of Wood’s religious and political background and a detailed 	
   13 Wood discusses the “practical” value of the message of Christ in an undated address entitled “My Religion,” currently located in the Alberta Wheat Pool Fonds, Glenbow-Alberta Museum Archives, Calgary, Alberta, File M-2369-125.  For his definition of his religious creed see: H.W. Wood, letter to R.W. Frayne, August 17, 1925, Alberta Wheat Pool Fonds, Glenbow-Alberta Museum Archives, Calgary, Alberta, File M-2369-125. 	
   reinterpretation of his social and political thought with particular emphasis on this religious foundation.  Not only does this present a more complete picture of the political theory standing behind the UFA’s emphasis, under Wood’s leadership, on local participation, education and co-operation.  It further demonstrates an important link between the American evangelical Protestant tradition and the early development of Alberta’s unique political development.  The broader political implications of Wood’s religious-based thought, and its impact on the direction of Alberta’s politics, is discussed in the concluding section. Wood’s Political and Religious Background In order to truly appreciate the link between the American evangelical Protestant tradition and the early direction of Alberta politics, it is first necessary to explore the precise political and religious context from which Wood emerged.  In fact, without this exploration one could easily fall prey to the argument that Wood was simply another social gospel advocate alongside Bland, Irvine and Woodsworth.  As I mentioned above, Wood’s thought was similar in many respects to this strand of religious interpretation, owing largely to his own familiarity with, and approval of, many of the works of key American social gospel writers that emerged from the urban Northeast of America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  However, Wood was initially exposed to a highly democratic evangelical “social Christianity” in the rural American South and it was this particular interpretation that stood at the foundation of Wood’s thought.  It was by drawing from each of these two distinct strands of religious-based social thought that Wood constructed his own unique interpretation that helped to set Alberta on a different path than both neighbouring Prairie Provinces and more distant eastern ones. 	
   Wood was, like many of his UFA contemporaries, a recent immigrant from America.  In 1905 he left his Missouri farm and settled on a similar plot in southern Alberta.14  His appreciation for grassroots democracy can certainly be traced back to his rural American heritage and the agrarian “populist” movement of the American South and Midwest that he supported as a young man.  Although not a significant player in the movement, Wood was a participant in his “Local” of the Farmers’ and Laborers’ Union in Ralls County, Missouri and a careful observer of the broader movement, which clearly influenced his eventual analysis of the economic and political conditions faced by the Alberta farmers.15  Although Wood’s brush with the populist movement has been mentioned by nearly all those who have written about him, most commentators, having relied upon the standard historical accounts of the American movement penned by the likes of John D. Hicks, Norman Pollack, and Lawrence Goodwyn, have failed to emphasize the strong religious current which ran through it.16  However, recent scholarship has done much to highlight the significant religious dimension of the American agrarian movement from which Wood emerged. As Rhys Williams and Susan M. Alexander have argued, traditional, non- religious interpretations of American populism have overlooked the heavy influence of evangelical Christianity on the moral and philosophical foundations of the movement in 	
   14 For a comprehensive account of Wood’s life see: Rolph, Henry Wise Wood of Alberta. 15 Wood’s brother J.S. Wood noted this in a short untitled and undated biography he wrote on H.W. Wood currently located in the Alberta Wheat Pool Fonds, Glenbow-Alberta Museum Archives, Calgary, Alberta, File M-2369-125. 16 The standard histories of the American populist movement include: John D. Hicks, The Populist Revolt: A History of the Farmers’ Alliance and the People’s Party, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1931), Norman Pollack, The Populist Response to Industrial America, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962), and Lawrence Goodwyn, The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978). 	
   the American South and Midwest.17  Joe Creech, who has thoroughly documented the evangelical Protestant “patterns of thoughts” that sat at the foundation of the populist movement, has furthered this point by noting the manner by which the agrarians were strongly moved by the evangelical belief in the capacity of the “common man” to not only interpret sacred scripture but, more importantly in this regard, to apply it to day-to- day circumstances.  Thus, the plain, God-fearing agrarian within the populist movement was provided with both the confidence and the divine inspiration required to challenge traditional forms of political and economic authority in the name of Christian justice in much the same way they were previously able to undercut the power of the elevated clergy in traditional hierarchical churches.18  Beyond providing a normative foundation that praised their individual capacities to challenge a system responsible for their hardships, the evangelicalism of the rural South and Midwest also offered particular solutions. Richard Goode and Paul Harvey have both demonstrated the manner by which American populist agrarians drew on a “rural social gospel” that was distinct from and less sophisticated than the northern and urban and largely academic social gospel espoused by the likes of Washington Gladden and Walter Rauschenbusch.  This rural social gospel drew heavily from the evangelical values of individual autonomy and piety but shared with the northern social gospel a social condemnation, based on the “Golden Rule” of Christ, of the political and economic conditions imposed upon the plain people 	
   17 Rhys H. Williams and Susan M. Alexander, “Religious Rhetoric in American Populism: Civil Religion as Movement Ideology,” in Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, vol. 33, no. 1, 1994, 1-15. 18 Joe Creech, Righteous Indignation: Religion and the Populist Revolution, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2006), 22-28. 	
   by an ever-industrializing economy.19  Creech also distinguishes the evangelical “social Christianity” that motivated the American agrarians from the more sophisticated combination of theological liberalism and progressive economic theories that emerged from the oft-cited northern social gospel movement.  This “common-folk,” evangelical- based social Christianity combined evangelical conceptions of benevolence and anti- elitism with Jeffersonian rural ideals related to agrarian purity, self-sufficiency, and small-scale commerce to produce “the simple yet powerful idea that economic relationships should be guided by the law of love.”20 The strong evangelical basis of this sentiment ensured that agrarian populists remained fixated on individual piety even when sternly challenging a political and economic system they viewed as corrupt and oppressive.  The anger of agrarians was largely directed at economic and political elites who had failed to embody the moral axioms of God and had thus allowed their corporations and political parties to operate in manners contrary to God’s principles.  Therefore, as Creech notes, agrarians did not view state-led regulations on industry or private property as the answer.  Instead, “a permanent change in the economic system required a change in the hearts of individuals and then through those individuals a change to political and economic organizations.”  Thus, Creech continues, “through a process of moral suasion, discipline, and education, the [agrarians] hoped to create an army of enlightened individuals and then to provide pathways for those individuals, acting cooperatively, to effect change in the political 	
   19 See: Richard C. Goode, “The Godly Insurrection in Limestone County: Social Gospel, Populism, and Southern Culture in the Late Nineteenth Century,” in Religion and American Culture, Vol. 3, No. 2, (Summer 1993), 155-169 and Paul Harvey, Freedom’s Coming: Religious Culture and the Shaping of the South From the Civil War Through the Civil Rights Era, (Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press), 2005, 47-53. 20 Creech, Righteous Indignation: Religion and the Populist Revolution, 30. 	
   economy.21  As will become clearer as this chapter progresses, it is difficult to overstate the degree to which this particular evangelical-based remedy for social change articulated by American agrarian populists in the 1890s, foreshadowed the essence of Wood’s social and political thought made manifest in Alberta three decades later.  Closely related to Wood’s exposure to this evangelical Protestant dimension of the American populist movement was his membership and active participation in the Missouri branch of the Disciples of Christ, a point made by a number of scholars, although rarely developed beyond a few paragraphs of commentary.22  The Disciples, a sect stretching back to Alexander Campbell and the American Restoration Movement of the early nineteenth century, had as their mission the reconciliation and unification of the various denominations of the Protestant Church by stressing a return to “primitive Christianity” based solely upon the teachings of Christ in the New Testament.23 Primarily rural in nature, the Disciples in the American South and Midwest in the late nineteenth century were, in the words of historian David Harrell, “a case study of the Protestant ethic,” embracing small-scale laissez faire capitalism, individual responsibility, honesty and frugality, as well as a distinctly “lower class prejudice” that singled out the unethical practices of “plutocrats.”24  Combined with this traditionally conservative evangelical outlook, however, was the Disciples prototypical post-Revolution religious preference for an organization that rejected the cold, formal and hierarchical nature of traditional Christianity and its tendency to elevate the learned clergy. In its place grew an 	
   21 Ibid, 80. 22 See: W.L. Morton, “The Social Philosophy of Henry Wise Wood,” Rolph, Henry Wise Wood of Alberta, 9-11, and Rennie, The Rise of Agrarian Democracy, 212-213. 23 Wilfred Ernest Garrison and Alfred T. DeGroot, The Disciples of Christ: A History, (St. Louis: The Bethany Press, 1948). 24 David Edwin Harrell Jr., Sources of Division in the Disciples of Christ, 1865-1900: A Social History of the Disciples of Christ, Volume 2, (Tuscaloosa and London: The University of Alabama Press, 2003), 34- 47. 	
   ecumenical and co-operative sentiment within the church as well as a broader democratic tendency toward anti-establishmentarianism and a decentralized congregational organization that demanded laymen participation.  This was founded upon a strict adherence to a “populist hermeneutic” that understood the common individual as one who possessed the intellectual capacity required to interpret the teachings of Christ for him or herself.25  The social and economic thought of the Disciples that grew from this “populist hermeneutic,” which Keith King describes as “Christianized, Jeffersonian agrarianism marked by antimonopoly sentiments and frontier egalitarianism,” ensured that members of the Disciples congregation were avid participants in the broader agrarian populist movement.26  As will become apparent, it is not difficult to discern a distinct version of this “Christianized Jeffersonian agrarianism” in the eventual political thought of Wood, although he would also draw from a more radical interpretation of Christianity. In the final decade of the nineteenth century, young liberal Disciple ministers began exploring the “kingdom theology” emanating out of the early northern social gospel movement and preached the “brotherhood of man” message to their congregations.  The Disciples’ traditional emphasis on the social teachings of Christ and their broader evangelical-based insistence on the dangers of centralization ensured that Wood and his fellow Disciples were particularly well-suited to embrace elements of the broader social gospel message and, before long, the works of early social gospel stalwarts Washington Gladden, Josiah Strong, and Richard T. Ely were printed and discussed in 	
   25 Nathan O. Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), 71. 26 Keith L. King, “Disciples of Christ and the Agrarian Protest in Texas, 1870-1906,” in Restoration Quarterly, xxxv, second quarter, (1993), 82.  Creech also notes the significant relationship, with respect to both theoretical positions and active participation, between the Disciples of Christ and the American populist movement in the American South and Midwest.  See: Creech, Righteous Indignation: Religion and the Populist Revolution, 12-13. 	
   the Disciples press.27  Related to the introduction of social gospel themes was the Disciples’ new commitment to the principles of the Enlightenment, most especially the notion of a “scientific method” that gained significant traction in nineteenth century America, from a Christian perspective.  Just as the establishment of a proper method of scientific inquiry would lead all rational humans to agree on the laws at work in nature, a focus on the New Testament alone, without the interference of traditional clergy, would lead the common people to the true Christian message, and the laws it contained.28  In fact, this emphasis on the “natural laws” contained within scripture, in conjunction with the broader rural-based “lower class prejudice” that ran though the sect, led the Disciples’ to embrace the notion that the Antichrist was working through the elites in society in order to prevent the coming kingdom of God, a central theme eventually found in the thought of Wood.29   Wood’s exposure to Christian-based natural law theory was furthered by his studies at Christian University in Missouri where, according to his brother, he was deeply moved by professors who taught that co-operation rather than competition was the true social law and the inspiration for this philosophy “was not the communist saint, Karl Marx, but the Christian saint, the Apostle John.”30 Wood completed only two years of University before returning to fulltime farm life but he remained a voracious reader throughout his lifetime. In addition to close personal study of the Bible, especially the gospels of Christ, which he declared, “have been the greatest influence of my life,” Wood 	
   27 Harrell Jr., Sources of Division in the Disciples of Christ, 1865-1900, 85-95. 28 George M Marsden, Religion and American Culture, (Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jonavich, 1990), 58-59. 29 Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity, 76. 30 Wood’s brother J.S. Wood noted this in a short untitled and undated biography he wrote on H.W. Wood currently located in the Alberta Wheat Pool Fonds, Glenbow-Alberta Museum Archives, Calgary, Alberta, File M-2369-125. 	
   studied the works of Adam Smith, J.S. Mill, Karl Marx and Herbert Spencer alongside American progressives Frank Norris, M.P. Follett, Henry George, Washington Gladden and others.31  The lessons Wood drew from this personal study were added to many of the central religious themes Wood was exposed to in both the agrarian populist movement and the Disciples of Christ sect and the result was a pattern of social and political thought that retained a striking similarity to the central tenets of the liberal, post- millennial stand of American evangelical theology, but was also tinged with aspects of the more sophisticated northern social gospel movement.  This puts his religious views in a category separate from both the more orthodox Protestantism of Ontario and the western Canadian social gospel movement, both of which had a more European and less individualistic and democratic flavour.  In the sections that follow I spell out in far more detail the religious views of Wood and how they influenced his own social and political thought as well as the organization and direction of the UFA. Religion and the Social Theory of Wood  The social thought of Wood was grounded on two fundamental assumptions. First, human beings are naturally social beings who have a particular destiny to fulfill: to construct a proper social system within which they can flourish.  They have been provided by nature with certain intellectual faculties as well as a blueprint in the form of natural laws in order to facilitate this construction, “but it is up to [them] to do the construction work.  [They] can do this only by using [their] faculties under the guidance 	
   31 Wood mentions the influence of the teachings of Christ in: H.W. Wood, “My Religion,” in Winnipeg Free Press, nd, Earl G. Cook Fonds, Glenbow-Alberta Museum Archives, Calgary, Alberta, File M-255- 47, n.d.  For scholarly discussions of the intellectual influences of Wood see:  Rolph, Henry Wise Wood of Alberta, 11-14, 62-66, and Rennie, The Rise of Agrarian Democracy, 208-213. 	
   of those natural laws.”32  Second, the history within which humans find themselves progresses in a linear fashion and has been characterized from the beginning by a cosmic struggle between two opposing forces, the true and false laws, those of co-operation and competition, that will eventually collide one final time producing a definite victory of good over evil.  Wood writes: Competition is the false social law, and no social system based primarily on this law can ever reach perfection.   Co-operation is the true social law, and a true social system must be founded primarily on that law.  All past social progress has been founded primarily on the law of competition, but the law of co-operation has been operating secondarily.  These laws are ever acting and reacting upon each other, the destructiveness of competition forcing co- operation to higher development, and this in turn increasing the destructiveness of competition.  Competition is the law of destruction, and all the destruction that has ever been wrought by man against his fellow man has been wrought by competition.  All construction of social strength has been done by co-operation.33  He continues:  Democracy can be established only on the basis of co-operation.  The great masses of people have failed in their competitive struggle…[but they are now] marshalling their forces in stable groups.  When these forces are finally thus marshaled the irrepressible conflict will be on.  The conflict between democracy and plutocracy; between civilization and barbarism; between man and money; between co-operation and competition; between God and Mammon.  To say that democracy will fail will be to say that the design of nature in creating a social being and bringing him into obedience to social laws has failed.  It will be to say that nature has failed in her supreme effort; to say that wrong is stronger than right; error stronger than truth; Mammon stronger than God.  It will not fail.  It cannot fail, because the Supreme Power…will not let it fail.34  	
   32 H. W. Wood, “U.F.A Political Movement and the Alberta Wheat Pool Greatest Products of the United Farmers of Alberta, Declares President Wood in Annual Address,” in The UFA, February 1, 1927, 12. 33 H. W. Wood, “The Significance of Democratic Group Organization – Part One” in The UFA, March 1, 1922, 5. 34 H. W. Wood, “The Significance of Democratic Group Organization – Part Four,” in The UFA, April 15, 1922, 25, 27. 	
   This teleological interpretation of both man and history was heavily influenced by the work of Herbert Spencer, the English evolutionary philosopher and favorite of Wood. Following Spencer’s general argument, Wood understood history to be unfolding by way of an evolutionary process which had as its end the creation of the morally perfect man within a perfectly moral society.  This perfected society, governed by the social law of co-operation, will “be a living thing, not one that lives, reproduces and dies.  Its life will be eternal and in it human well-being will be established.”35 The positive progression of man and society was thus a natural process that occurred according to natural laws in the same way physical evolution takes place.  Much work had already been done to unearth the operation of these natural physical laws but, according to Wood, an exploration of the natural social laws, what he deemed “the realm of spiritual science,” was still required for it is here “man will eventually gain an understanding of the truth that will make him free.”36  Even a quick glance at human history confirmed for Wood that humans had failed to comprehend, let alone follow, the natural social laws: We look into the universe and see everywhere the works of nature and we see them all in obedience to natural law.  Till we come to man, the creature that was created as a social being.   There we see the great exception.  Man to the present time has stubbornly refused to come into obedience to natural social law.  Now there is one of two things that is going to happen…man is going to come into obedience of nature’s laws or else he is going to become self- destructive.  No work of nature can exist and can continue to violate natural law.37  Thus, the articulation and exposition of these natural social laws became the central focus of Wood’s social thought, a task made all the more necessary given the 	
   35 Wood, “U.F.A Political Movement and the Alberta Wheat Pool Greatest Products of the United Farmers of Alberta, Declares President Wood in Annual Address,”12. 36 Wood, “My Religion.” 37 H.W. Wood, “Social Regeneration,” speech given to the Calgary Labour Church, April 30, 1922, Walter Norman and Amelia Turner Smith Fonds, Glenbow-Alberta Museum Archives, Calgary, Alberta, File M- 1157-102, 11. 	
   unprecedented magnitude of death and destruction occurring in the Great War of Europe. For Wood, the technological machinery required to produce death on such a scale only confirmed his thesis that mankind had progressed by great strides in the field of natural sciences but remained stuck in a state of social competition and barbarism.  It was during his personal quest to identify and make known the natural social laws that would end such competitive misery that his thought takes a distinctively Christian turn.  This is also the point at which most scholars that have commented on Wood’s thought tend to depart from his writings and begin their own analysis of his political prescriptions and thus fail to pay much attention to the religious interpretation that drives Wood’s practical mission within the UFA.  For Wood, history began with primitive man who, although provided with an intellectual or reasoning capacity, was initially guided by the spirit he inherited, the animal spirit, the law of the beasts, of competition, of every man for himself.  However, implanted within man was also a “germ” of something more pure, a capacity to eventually hear “the call of nature for co-operation.”38   This call would come from Christ whose appearance and teachings on earth represented the first stage of the positive moral progression of man.  This call is heard most authoritatively in the Sermon on the Mount, the most substantial collection of Christ’s ethical teachings recited in the Book of Matthew.  According to Wood, Christ’s intention in this sermon is the eventual establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven that, importantly, is not to be found in a mystical heaven in the afterlife for: He instructed them to pray for the coming of the Kingdom, and the doing of the Will of God on earth.  This locates the Kingdom on earth, and makes it a 	
   38 Wood, “Social Regeneration,” 6. 	
   practical institution.  This can mean nothing less than a social structure built in conformity with natural, social laws.39  However, this Kingdom will not come along by way of prayer alone.  The natural development of the Kingdom is, in fact, a two-stage process.  First, man must come to abide by natural social laws, the moral laws of Christ delivered in the New Testament. At the heart of these teachings is the call for repentance, the beginning of individual regeneration wherein man turns away from the primitive animal spirit that is the law of Satan and embraces the demand of Christ to “be ye perfect as your father in Heaven is perfect” by bearing one another’s burdens and following the Golden Rule by “doing unto others what you would have them do to you.” 40  This revelation by Christ represented “the climax of the true principles governing individual relationships.”41  These social commands are natural because man is a social being and it is his natural end to evolve into the morally perfect social being by treating his fellow human beings in the proper manner, the manner taught by Christ. Once man completes this individual regeneration he is ready to contribute to the second phase of the development of the coming Kingdom:  When man comes to act naturally and normally under the guidance of the true spirit he will be ready to begin construction of the Kingdom.  The call to repentance was a call to man to turn away from the dominion of the animal spirit that has led him into the bondage and darkness or barbarism-the world, and to turn to the true social spirit that would eventually lead him into the light and liberty of true civilization – the Kingdom.42   The second phase required of the coming Kingdom, social regeneration, is thus initiated by those who have already accepted the teachings of Christ and are therefore “born again” as moral humans acting in accordance with the natural social law.  The 	
   39 H. W. Wood, “The Significance of U.F.A Sunday,” in The UFA, May 15, 1923, 5. 40 Wood, “Social Regeneration,” 3. 41 Wood, “My Religion.” 42 Wood, “The Significance of U.F.A Sunday,” 5. 	
   social system they build will be founded upon the call for social co-operation issued by Christ.  However, Wood is adamant that such construction will take place not by way of a quick and violent victory but rather by a gradual, evolutionary process wherein the spirit of co-operation overtakes that of competition.  This rejection of violent revolution is again based on the teachings of Christ, most especially his “parable of the tares” recited in Matthew 13: 24-43 wherein a farmer, eager to separate the tares, or weeds, from his wheat field, is instructed by Jesus to avoid immediately pulling at the weeds for such an action will disturb the wheat as well.  Instead, the farmer is to allow both plants to mature at which point it will be possible to extract the weeds without damaging the wheat. Wood, understanding the weeds to represent the spirit of Satan, the false social law that currently dominates the world and the wheat as that which is good and associated with the Kingdom of God, writes: When both [seeds] were sufficiently mature, the false would be carefully separated and destroyed, the true only remaining.   In the destruction of the false the “world” would disappear and the Kingdom only remain.  This is a gradual evolutionary process.  The uninformed servants, on discovering the evil tares in the field, wanted to go out and eradicate them by violent force or by revolutionary methods.  The householder informed them that revolutionary violence would not only destroy the evil, but would destroy the good with it.43  Relating this interpretation to the point in history he finds himself situated in, Wood writes: At the present time the good and evil in our social system are so interrelated and interwoven with each other that to undertake to destroy the evil by violence would be impossible without destroying the good also.  But, by the evolutionary process of gradually building up the good, the evil can as gradually be eliminated.44  	
   43 Ibid. 44 Wood, “My Religion.” 	
    To add further credibility as well as an air of inevitability to his particular interpretation of Christ’s teachings Wood turned to the Book of Revelations wherein one finds “the most wonderful picture of the development of a social system, from the false social system on up to a perfect civilization.”45   The vision presented throughout is the coming battle between the growing force of the true social law and that of the false law. The true force faces an uphill battle, encountering a number of set backs until the breaking of the seventh seal at which point the final conflict occurs.  Babylon, the evil city that is toppled by the true forces represents, in Wood’s interpretation, the competitive nature of commercialism one finds in present day society and its prophesized fall in Revelations 18 signals that “the superstructure has been changed from a false foundation to a true one.”46  Despite a last-gasp effort on the part of Satan and his minions to retake control, the forces of God withstand their advances and the evil one is “cast out forever, into a bottomless pit, and a social system was founded absolutely.”47  This is represented by the establishment of the New Jerusalem described in Revelations 21 where “the laws of Christ were put into complete operation…it was the ultimate accomplishment of perfect spiritual life.  There was no darkness; man understood the spiritual laws of life; they didn’t walk in darkness anymore, but walked in the light of truth.”48  This was the perfect social system for its construction has been guided by the “ultimate knowledge of the truth as taught by Christ,” and its development has taken place “in perfect harmony with nature’s laws, which are the laws of God.”49  	
   45 Wood, “Social Regeneration,” 8. 46 Ibid. 47 Ibid, 10. 48 Ibid. 49 Wood, “My Religion.” 	
   Religion and the Political Thought of Wood  Up to this point, Wood’s interpretation of the direction of history, guided by his personal reading of the New Testament, has pointed towards the gradual coming of a new age highlighted by the creation of a perfect social system.  Although he is clear that humans have a substantial role to play in this development, very little has been said in the way of a detailed plan.  Surely the process begins with “individual regeneration,” the spiritual rebirth of the human who brushes aside selfish impulses and follows the social edicts delivered by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount.  This individual rebirth paves the way for “social regeneration” whereby a collection of such people begin to work together in an effort to ensure the co-operative social spirit they have learnt from Christ is extended to more and more groups of people thus building a certain momentum that ensures this spirit begins to overtake public life, eventually resulting in its complete domination over the spirit of competition.  But this seems to be where the divine instruction stops.  Wood writes: Christ did not go into details in regard to social reconstruction, but many of His sayings prove conclusively that He had a clear understanding of the underlying principles of that process.  After all, these principles are eternal and of primary importance, and while details will change as conditions change, it is up to us to work them out.50  Wood was therefore left to his own devices to work out these details in accordance with the conditions he found himself in, those of the agrarians in rural Alberta.  Thus, it is not surprising that he turns to the already existing UFA as an outlet for his broader goal of establishing a Kingdom of Heaven on earth.  Consequently, many of his practical political and economic demands are made with the Alberta farmers in mind.  However, at this point we have not yet drawn a clear connection between Wood’s interpretation of 	
   50 Wood, “The Significance of U.F.A Sunday,” 14. 	
   Christianity and the practical work of the UFA under his guidance.  The theoretical implications of his religious beliefs upon politics must first be made apparent.  Although Christ provided no specific blueprint for the creation of perfect political institutions, Wood was convinced that the moral teachings of Christ demanded, at minimum, a democratic system.  He writes: Real democracy and co-operation are not one, but they are inseparable. Democracy cannot be established or maintained except through co-operation.  This conflict [between the spirits of co-operation and competition] can be repressed only by establishing the true social law.   Christ understood this and taught the true law and upheld the ideals of democracy.   What could be more expressive of the true ideal of democracy, and the true function of democratic leadership than [Christ’s demand that]: “whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant?” 51  Although Christ fails to provide a more specific description of democratic governance, Wood’s overall interpretation requires that, whatever its practical manifestation, it must be based upon the social law of co-operation rather than competition.  A system dominated by competition, the law of Satan, is autocratic.  It is one that is ruled by those who excel at competition, those who can dominate the weak.  Any further practical details regarding the workings of a proper democratic system required a study of present conditions. For Wood, this study quickly revealed that Canada was an autocracy ruled by the wealthy “plutocrats” rather than a democracy.  This “money power,” made up of large groups of industrialists and grain-buyers from central Canada, held strong monopolies in their respective fields that enabled them to exploit western Canadian farmers. Furthermore, their wealth allowed them to control politicians within the “democratic” 	
   51 Wood, “The Significance of U.F.A Sunday,” 14. 	
   system by way of the lobbyist and thus it was the “money power” that, in effect, ensured the survival of the national tariff which protected their monopolistic position.52  This outcome was rendered possible by the current structure of the Canadian political system. Although a democracy in the sense that the people’s representatives were chosen in free elections, the particular evolution of the electoral system along competitive lines in Canada inhibited actual democracy from occurring.  Despite being a collaboration of individuals seemingly working towards a common end, political parties failed to deliver accurate or honest representation of the people because they ultimately lacked unifying principles and were, in the end, simply large vote-seeking organizations offering anything to anybody in their search for power.  Here Wood touched on a concern that has continued to hound contemporary democratic theorists.  He writes of parties: False appeals are frequently made in the name of the most sacred things. Prejudices and passions are appealed to.   Patriotism is prostituted to the services of the most selfish interests and designs.  Few questions are seriously discussed on their merits.  Truth is frequently not sought after, but systematically concealed in a mass of confusion.  [Citizens] have been like the sands of the desert, blown back and forth by the changing winds of false propaganda.53  It is within this confusion that the wealthy industrialist gains control of individual politicians eager to accept the donated funds of industry in order to finance their electoral campaigns or simply line their pockets.  The result is autocracy, or more specifically, plutocracy.  The interests of the masses become subservient to the greed of the wealthy and the politically powerful.  Because the individual citizen is too weak to challenge the plutocracy and traditional political parties are susceptible to such corruption, the masses 	
   52 H. W, Wood, “The Significance of Democratic Group Organization – Part Three,” in The UFA, April 1, 1922, 5. 53 Wood, “The Significance of Democratic Group Organization – Part Four,” 5. 	
   must therefore form their own groups capable of providing proper representation within the political realm in order to overthrow the “money power.” The basis on which these groups were to organize and operate within the political system has since been recognized as Wood’s most original contribution to Canadian political thought, that of group government. Wood’s proposition was founded upon his contention that groups designed to articulate a political viewpoint can only remain stable, and thus effective, if they are organized around that which is of supreme interest to all and “at the present time humanity’s greatest general interest is economic.”54  But Wood understood that it was not realistic to assume all people could agree on a single economic viewpoint so he argued group organization should be sub-divided by economic class.  This did not refer to an upper, middle and lower class or a bourgeoisie and proletariat class but rather something akin to general occupational classes.  The western world had developed as a “trading world” and its evolution had produced distinct groups of people producing certain goods or services such as farmers or bakers or labourers engaged in manufacturing.  Each of these groups had particular economic interests and it is these common interests shared by members of each respective group that would encourage them to co-operate with their fellow farmer or baker or labourer within their own organization.55  	
   54 Wood, “The Significance of Democratic Group Organization – Part One,” 5. 55 Of course, Wood never did spend much time focusing on the make-up of particular groups outside of his own “agricultural class,” a weakness that Macpherson picks up on in his insightful critique of Wood’s overall group government scheme.  See Macpherson, Democracy in Alberta, chapter 2.  Furthermore, it is worth noting that the notion of Group Government was not initially part of Wood’s thought when he took on the presidency.  In fact, he was hesitant to allow the UFA to enter politics preferring instead to lobby existing parties.  Essentially having his hand forced by a restless membership encouraged by William Irvine and the Non-Partisan League, Wood allowed the locals to participate in direct political action so long as they remained agrarian-based and did not merge with other reform-minded groups.  Wood’s theory of group government appeared after this compromise was made.	
   In accordance with his broader social theory, the formation of this occupational group represented for Wood the initial stage of the social regeneration process whereby the true social law of co-operation would be introduced into the political realm and it must be done within economic classes because “trade is the central influence in human relationships.  Man touches his fellowman more often here than anywhere else and the touch is more vital than anywhere else.” 56  But such co-operation does not only guide humans closer to the long-term goal of a perfected society built on the true social law.  In the immediate term, this cooperation would ensure stability within each occupational group that would allow them to maintain and articulate a consistent message in the political realm, something traditional political parties could not do.  These groups would thus be resistant to the seductions of the industrial lobby and contribute to an authentic democratic dialogue by making heard the voices of the masses, at least with respect to their economic demands. The distinct economic groups, already consisting of individuals co-operating at a local level, were to co-operate with each other in the political realm or legislature in order to secure the most just outcome with respect to particular policy decisions. This was the logic behind Wood’s radical recommendation that occupational groups replace traditional parties within the legislature.  It was also the reason behind Wood’s insistence that the UFA remain an “economic group” that would participate in politics rather than a traditional political party that would seek broad-based electoral support. The health and viability of such economic groups within the legislature was, for Wood, depended upon the lengths such organizations went to ensure sufficient influence from the deliberative, community-level groupings of occupational members, or “Locals.”  	
   56 H.W. Wood, “Observe U.F.A. Sunday, May 27,” in Grain Growers Guide, April 18, 1917, 12. 	
   It was only by way of intense grassroots participation and significant avenues for membership control that such a political organization could avoid the fate of traditional political parties and resist manipulation by outside interests.  As Laycock has noted, although the implementation of true “group government” within the Alberta legislature fell short, the UFA itself operated as a highly participatory and deliberative institution that maximized the democratic potential of community-level involvement by ensuring Locals maintained significant influence over the UFA’s central leadership.57  In fact, Frank Underhill went as far as to claim that the UFA “had worked out a method of combining constituency autonomy with group solidarity, and local initiative with central direction, which no doubt is not perfect, but does achieve the most complete and real democracy that we have yet seen in Canadian politics.”58 Of course, the notion that citizens were to co-operate with their neighbours and participate in community-level endeavors was certainly not foreign to the farm families who were attempting to carve out a living on Alberta’s unforgiving frontier.  However, the strong emphasis the UFA did put on such local activity as a prerequisite not just for economic survival but for good, democratic government and improved social conditions was championed most strongly by Wood.  Indeed, he argued: If one UFA Local could establish a purely co-operative community where all community affairs, both social and business, were dealt with in a practical co- operative way, that pioneer Local would be contributing more to right social construction and human welfare, than any individual that has ever lived.59  Therefore, for Wood the introduction of group government, built upon a network of participatory and co-operative Locals, would ensure both a co-operative spirit in politics 	
   57 Laycock, Populism and Democratic Thought in the Canadian Prairies, 90-94. 58 Quoted in Laycock, Populism and Democratic Thought in the Canadian Prairies, 80. 59 H.W. Wood in a speech to the Alberta Institute of Co-operation in September 1929 quoted in: Laycock, Populism and Democratic Thought in the Canadian Prairies, 92. 	
   as well as an authentic vehicle of political representation.  Thus, the spirit of co- operation, the true law of Christ, and the establishment of true democracy perfectly coalesced in Wood’s political theory.  In fact, Wood argues, “The Kingdom of Heaven and perfect democracy are synonymous terms.”60 The identification of group government by economic class as a practical solution to the undemocratic nature of the political system introduces a more foundational dimension of Wood’s political and economic thought.  Much to the chagrin of the more radical advocates of the social gospel who called for the introduction of socialism on the prairies, Wood never questioned the economic foundation of the western world. As Macpherson has noted, Wood’s theory remains faithful to a basic economic liberalism and is essentially built upon the assumption that man is a “trading animal.”61  Indeed, Wood interpreted the beginning of human progress to be the point when “a primitive savage conceived the idea of trading some article he possessed beyond his immediate needs, for something he wanted that another savage had.” This initial trade represented the “discovery of the great central institution of present civilization, namely, trade and commerce.” 62  From then on, social institutions have been built up with the specific purpose of governing this method of exchange, the free trade of goods and services. Because the origins of this trading system appear to Wood to be natural, he never once considered the merits of an economic system built upon anything other than the market. Thus, any social or economic problems that develop in society could not be attributable 	
   60 Quoted in Rolph, Henry Wise Wood of Alberta, p. 66. 61 Macpherson, Democracy in Alberta, 34. 62 H. W. Wood, “The Significance of Democratic Group Organization – Part Two,” in The UFA, March 15, 1922, 5. 	
   to the natural practice of trading but to the unnatural development of the social institutions that determine how trading takes place.  This element of Wood’s thought contrasted sharply with the views of the main spokesmen of the prairie social gospel movement, notably Salem Bland, J.S. Woodsworth, and Alberta’s own William Irvine.  Bland, theology professor at Wesley College and unofficial philosopher and mentor of the movement, was convinced that capitalism was a corrupt system that must be replaced by socialism.  Thus he, along with Woodsworth and Irvine, were strong critics of capitalism and strong allies of the urban labour movement.  In fact, Bland and Woodsworth played influential roles in the Winnipeg general strike in 1919.63  Irvine, a longtime member and spokesman for the UFA (although not himself a farmer), was a friend of Woodsworth and a student of Bland’s at Wesley College and his conclusions matched those of his teacher.64  Although he often lauded Wood’s emphasis on the social nature of Christianity and broadly supported the concept of group government, he did not share the same feelings toward the market system.  In fact, by 1935 he had published a short book entitled “Can a Christian Vote for Capitalism?” within which he makes the case that the capitalist economic system is “ethically indefensible” if one bases his moral judgments on the teachings of Christ.65  However, although Irvine had a dedicated group of radical left- leaning followers within the UFA, the bulk of the farmers agreed with Wood and his attachment to the market system and thus socialism was never fully embraced by the organization.  Subsequently, Irvine would eventually continue working towards his goal 	
   63 Allen, The Social Passion, 89-97. 64 Anthony Mardiros, William Irvine: The Life of a Prairie Radical, (Halifax: James Lorimer and Co., 1979). 65 William Irvine, Can a Christian Vote for Capitalism? (Ottawa: Labour Publishing Company, 1935). 	
   of an anti-capitalist alliance between farmers and urban labour within the newly formed national Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF).  From the perspective of Macpherson, the fact that Wood was a longtime farmer whereas Bland, Woodsworth and Irvine, although familiar with and supportive of small- scale agriculture, were writers and clergymen, most likely goes a long way towards explaining the divergent attitudes toward capitalism.  For Macpherson, Wood and the bulk of the UFA membership were simply unable to break away from the standard economic conservatism inherent in what he labeled “petit-bourgeois agrarian radicalism.”66  Because the particular style of small-scale agriculture practiced by prairie farmers in Canada and the United States had traditionally depended upon a system of private property and a market capable of selling their produce, the notion of increased co- operation, as opposed to outright socialism, represented the only reform they considered viable.  Bland and his followers, personally unencumbered by a perceived dependence of small-scale private property and acutely aware of the injustices committed upon urban labour by owners of industry, were able to avoid this “inherent conservatism” and seek a true alternative, the introduction of socialism.  There is little doubt that Macpherson uncovered an important explanatory variable in his analysis by pointing to the nature of Wood’s occupation and its position within the market system but I want to suggest that the divergent views towards capitalism between Wood and the more mainstream social gospel proponents also owe something to the distinct religious interpretations of Wood and Bland.  As Richard Allen has noted, Bland derived his social interpretation of Christianity from European rather than American 	
   66 Macpherson, Democracy in Alberta, 220-221. 	
   sources.67  In fact, his reading of the Bible in conjunction with social conditions led him to conclude that it was capitalism itself that was to blame for the economic oppression of the plain people, not the “original sin” of man and thus the essential task of “true” Christianity was not individual regeneration but the abolition of capitalism and the introduction of public ownership.68  In other words, Bland’s vision of the social gospel, with its particular European theological and social roots and tendency towards socialism was not the same strand of Christianity Wood adhered to.  Although they shared a basic rejection of the otherworldliness of Christianity as well as a desire to see better conditions for the plain people of the prairies by way of increased co-operation, Wood’s interpretation, although tinged with an appreciation for certain elements of the American progressive social gospel movement, was primarily derived from the evangelical “social Christianity” he had experienced in the American South.  This was a more conservative interpretation that combined a basic co-operative, “brotherhood of man” ethos with a more traditional “Jeffersonian” embrace of individual piety and small-scale commercial self-sufficiency rather than a wholesale restructuring of the economic system.  In fact, Wood framed his solution to the problems of the market around his broader post- millennial understanding of social life and the need for individuals and groups, motivated by the message of Christ, to embrace co-operation. “Commerce,” he argued, “systematically used in accordance with the true social laws of life, would be the greatest binding tie in the social system.”69  However, the economic system had become dominated by the false social law, the spirit of competition, 	
   67 Richard Allen, “Salem Bland and the Spirituality of the Social Gospel,” in D. L. Butcher, C. MacDonald, M. E. McPherson, R. R. Watts, ed., Prairie Spirit: Perspectives on the Heritage of the United Church of Canada in the West, (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1985), 227. 68 Allen, The Social Passion, 151-152. 69 Wood, “The Significance of Democratic Group Organization – Part Two,” 5. 	
   and the terms of trading had thus been engineered to favour those who, driven by incessant greed, excel at competition and are therefore able to build up monopolies that exploit the masses.   The solution, therefore, did not lie in a radical retreat from traditional conceptions of private property and free trade, as demanded by the socialists, but rather in a straightforward shift in spirit on behalf of individuals and the groups they participate in.  Thus, Wood’s thought comes full circle as he returned to his foundational belief in the teachings of Christ to offer a solution to the economic troubles the masses were facing: Until the problems of trade are solved according to the laws of Christ, His will cannot maintain on earth, and His great prayer cannot be answered.  The solutions of the economic problems must be spiritual, rather than intellectual.  Henry George cannot solve them, neither can Carl Marx (sic). Both may, and will give valuable assistance, but the solution is beyond them. Christ can and must solve them.70  Therefore, the collection of economic groups co-operating with each other within the political system, made possible by the initial spiritual rebirth of individuals demanded by Christ, would move humanity closer to the coming kingdom: If the relationships between economic classes can be adjusted in accordance with the true social laws of life, other social problems will almost automatically adjust themselves.  When we learn to trade right we will have largely learned to live right.  When man trades with man, class with class, and nation with nation in accordance with the true principles of trade, the world will be living in accordance with true social principles, and civilization will be perfected.  As long as trade is carried on barbarously our so-called civilization will never rise above the level of barbarism.71  This perfected civilization is the culmination of the process of individual and social regeneration highlighted in the previous section.  The practical construction of this civilization was to be completed by citizens who, over time, evolved into their natural 	
   70 Wood, “Observe U.F.A. Sunday, May 27,” 12. 71 Wood, “The Significance of Democratic Group Organization – Part Four,” 5. 	
   “co-operative” state by following the teachings of Christ and, in the context of commercial North America, organized themselves in appropriate economic groups that would overtake competitive political parties within the democratic system of governance. In this way, the UFA, as a particular economic group participating in the political realm, was, in the view of Wood, striving toward something well beyond the immediate economic interests of Alberta agrarians.  It was an organization dedicated to ushering in the perfect democracy, the kingdom promised to us by Christ. Conclusion: The Political Thought of Wood and the Trajectory of Alberta Politics   For Wood, the notion that religion must be held out of politics or economics was unthinkable.  Christianity, he noted, is a “capable physician, able to heal all the ills of our social an economic body.”72  Indeed, Wood’s entire system of thought, from the initial regeneration of the individual to the transformation of the social realm by way of group government, was built on a particular interpretation of Christianity.  Yet, for the long list of scholars that have studied the thought of Wood and the practical achievements of the UFA, the role played by religion has been largely overlooked.  It is true that nearly all those who have written about Wood or the UFA have mentioned religion but, for the most part, these brief references have tended to imply that the UFA was part of the broader social gospel movement that swept through the Prairie Provinces in the first quarter of the twentieth century.  There is little doubt that the social gospel movement touched the UFA in important ways but, as was discussed above, Wood’s Christianity, and his subsequent conclusions regarding social reform, drew from the American evangelical tradition and was therefore distinct from the interpretations of Bland, 	
   72 H.W. Wood, “U.F.A. President’s Address,” in Grain Growers Guide, January 31, 1917, 7, 22. 	
   Woodsworth and Irvine, the central purveyors of the mainstream social gospel message on the prairies. Wood’s interpretation of Christianity drew from the distinct American evangelical Protestant tradition in a number of ways.  Most fundamentally, he agreed with the general contention that humans are born as imperfect beings that are initially guided by “the animal spirit.”  It was the dominance of this spirit in public and economic life, not the capitalist economic system that required change.  Given humanity’s “fallen” condition, the individual required a personal conversion or rebirth through Christ to ensure they were “regenerated” as individuals.  Of course, Wood’s notion of conversion was not the deeply emotional, mystical, or immediate experience it was for many of the American revivalists.  It was instead a gradual acceptance of the “co-operative spirit” that was at the heart of Christ’s teachings.  Nevertheless, embracing the populist and egalitarian sentiment inherent in the post-Revolution American evangelicalism from which he emerged, Wood understood this conversion to occur by way of the individual’s free will. Once the common individual dedicated himself to the teachings of Christ, he or she could be “reborn” in a way that did not require elitist education or the blessing of the traditional clergy.  Regeneration was provided to those who carefully read and took to heart the New Testament and most especially the parables of Christ.  By structuring the parables around everyday situations, surely Christ intended them to be understood by ordinary people.  Yet, by suggesting that social regeneration, the victory of Christ’s spirit of co- operation over Satan’s competitive spirit within society, rather than individual conversion was the true end for humanity, Wood also embraced a more radical and progressive Christianity akin to that espoused by mainstream social gospel advocates.  However, even 	
   this dimension of his Christian interpretation had strong roots in American evangelicalism.  It was the liberal Christian thinkers in mid-nineteenth century America that emerged out of the revivalism of the Second Great Awakening that first articulated a modern postmillennial interpretation that viewed humans, following the teachings of Christ, as possessing the capacity to establish the kingdom of God on earth.  Furthermore, Wood interpreted this process through an evolutionary framework just as those liberal evangelicals in America had when confronted with the challenge of Darwin. Similarly, the physical return of Christ following the establishment of this kingdom was noticeably absent from Wood’s vision.  Christ had already intervened in human history to provide the natural social laws required to achieve the kingdom, those of co-operation.  The cosmic struggle between God and Satan would be decided gradually as this natural law identified by Christ slowly overwhelmed humanity and they, in turn, directed their social efforts toward co-operation rather than competition and thus defeated the Antichrist in the form of a competitive spirit.   Personal salvation in the foretold kingdom would thus be found on earth at the culmination of a long historical process that is bound to produce a perfect democratic society in which Christ’s social teachings reigned supreme. There can be little doubt that the broad parallels between post-Revolution American evangelicalism and the thought of Wood are attributable to his general exposure to the evangelical Protestant culture of the American South and Midwest, including the agrarian populist movement of the late nineteenth century, and his particular upbringing in the Disciples of Christ sect.  The anti-elitism generated by a belief in the capacity of the common individual, the defense of individual autonomy and small-scale commercial self-sufficiency, the emphasis on personal piety and 	
   responsibility, and the related embrace of individual-level regeneration as the appropriate tool for social change were themes central to rural evangelical Protestantism in the American South and Midwest.  The intense focus on the gospels at the expense of the remaining scriptures, the emphasis on meaningful participatory democracy and co- operation at the local level, Christianized theories of natural law, and the notion of the Antichrist working through societal elites and oppressing the plain people were all staples of Disciple theology.  To this foundation Wood mixed ideas from the northern American social gospel tradition (particularly notions related to the Kingdom of Heaven on earth) and broader philosophical currents (particularly Herbert Spencer’s progressive evolutionism and Adam Smith’s defense of laissez faire capitalism), to produce a thoroughly unique liberal and postmillennial Christian interpretation.  When applied to the particular conditions that Wood found himself in as a farmer in Alberta, he turned to group government.  Only this arrangement could lead to the construction of an authentic co-operative and democratic society built upon the laws of Christ within which ordinary people retained the right to participate in government through local avenues and to trade freely within the marketplace, while slowly chipping away the competitive spirit that oppressed the common people. Although there is little evidence to suggest that Wood’s peculiar interpretation of history, complete with the cosmic struggle between antithetical social laws foretold by the Christian Bible, was shared, or even fully understood, by the majority of farmers that toiled in the various locals of the UFA, the strong Christian message that it contained was an easy sell in the overwhelmingly Christian province, especially one with such a strong American presence.  Of course, as Macpherson has noted, the attempted transformation 	
   to a “group government” legislature by the UFA following their 1921 electoral victory was a complete failure.73  In addition, the UFA provincial government, facing increasingly tough financial conditions, was unable to offer much in the way of radically “co-operative” policies, with the exception of some assistance to agrarian cooperatives, including the Alberta Wheat Pool.74  So what then of the influence of Wood’s religious- political theory with respect to the direction of Alberta politics? First, regardless of the difficulties the UFA government faced attempting to implement Wood’s vision within the constraints of a pre-existing, party-dominated parliamentary system, the theory of Wood did underlie the highly successful actions of the UFA movement outside of the legislature.  By 1920, the UFA had roughly 30 000 members in addition to the 4005 women members of the United Farm Women of Alberta, all toiling in approximately 1200 Locals throughout the province.75  In 1923, the UFA began the successful Alberta Wheat Pool, an organization led by Wood that pooled the wheat of Alberta producers to ensure a fair price.  This was the culmination of a flourishing agrarian-based social movement and the success with which these Locals engaged and educated citizens in the political and economic conditions of the day has been clearly documented by scholars.  However, the success of the UFA in this regard has yet to be interpreted through the lens of Wood’s religious-based political thought. From this perspective, participation and co-operation at the local level were not simply tools to be utilized in the quest for economic stability on the part of the agrarians.  Rather, co-operation between citizens was the key activity required of mankind in its struggle to 	
   73 Macpherson, Democracy in Alberta, chapter 3.  See also, Carl Frederick Betke, “The United Farmers of Alberta, 1921-1935: The Relationship between the Agricultural Organization and the Government of Alberta,” (MA Thesis, University of Alberta, 1971). 74 Betke, “The United Farmers of Alberta,” 71-72, 93. 75 Howard Palmer and Tamara Palmer, Alberta: A New History, (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1990), 194. 	
   establish the millennial kingdom of God.  In fact, once the individual had made the choice to be reborn, to accept the call for co-operation issued by Christ, he or she would be naturally inclined to co-operate with their neighbours and this would lead to the establishment of the Local that, in turn, would nourish the provincial organization and society at large by applying the co-operative message of Christ to the social and political realms.76  Co-operation obviously demanded intense participation from members of the UFA and this in turn fostered a highly participatory and deliberative democratic structure. This was authentic grassroots democracy where concern for the public good was paramount and citizens were expected to devote much energy towards it, the payoff being the establishment of the ultimate common good, the kingdom of God on earth.  Although this emphasis on meaningful, community-level participation would eventually wane under the Alberta Social Credit (as will be discussed in detail in the following chapter), Wood’s influential insistence that the UFA encourage such activity was directly related to his interpretation of Christianity. Second, despite advocating a system of commerce based upon co-operation rather than competition, a notion that clearly seems quite radical and left-leaning from our contemporary perspective, Wood’s religious interpretation ensured that the UFA rejected the more radical demands for socialism or increased state-ownership from mainstream social gospel advocates such as Bland or Irvine.  Not only was commerce a “natural” institution, the notion of centralizing more economic control in governments went against Wood’s evangelical populist impulses which stressed the problem-solving capacity of ordinary people.  More practically, as Wood’s preference for a voluntary rather than compulsory system of grain-pooling among Alberta agrarians made clear, socialistic 	
   76 H.W. Wood, “Democratic Organization,” in The Western Independent, October 1, 1919, 8. 	
   arrangements impeded individual liberty and opened the door for manipulation by the political parties of the day which were controlled by wealthy industrialists.77  Surely this perspective was partly rooted in Wood’s particular American agrarian and Jeffersonian liberal upbringing but by arguing that the only authentic solution to the problem of the economic oppression of the plain people required spiritual regeneration at the individual level, Wood drew directly from the American evangelical Protestant tradition.  By instructing agrarians to embrace the teachings of Christ and “be ye perfect as your father in Heaven is perfect,” Wood rejected both the secular intellectual solutions of Marx and the Christian-based social gospel calls for socialism and placed the onus squarely on the individual to bring about the perfect democratic and economic system.  In doing so, Wood helped to steer early Alberta society in a decidedly anti-socialistic direction by harnessing the prairie-wide utopian hopes of Alberta agrarians to a stern emphasis on individual responsibility.  As will become clearer in the next chapter, utopian dreams of a perfected co-operative society on earth would quickly fade from the Alberta political landscape under a Social Credit government but themes related to the importance of individual responsibility and a distinct antipathy towards socialism would continue unabated as the province continued to chart a political and economic course distinct from its prairie neighbours. Third, and closely related to the points made above, the broader aspects of Wood’s religiously-inspired political thought helped to solidify an adherence to a unique variant of conservatism at odds with the British-based “tory” conservatism that played such and important role in the ideological development of much of the rest of English 	
   77 H.W. Wood, “Compulsory Pooling of Wheat,” nd, Alberta Wheat Pool Fonds, Glenbow-Alberta Museum Archives, Calgary, Alberta, File M-2369-125. 	
   Canada.78  I label this variant “populist conservatism.”  Like the tory strain, Alberta’s populist conservatism shares a Christian foundation and thus seeks to preserve the institutions capable of spreading this moral message in the name of social stability but it does so from an individualistic and egalitarian perspective that rejects the hierarchical tendencies of tory conservatism by stressing the capacity of the common individual and the need to ensure his or her freedom from the oppressive nature of certain established authorities.  Wood’s political thought, built upon an American evangelical foundation, insisted that only through an individual rebirth in Christ could society begin to improve. This rebirth required personal study of the gospels and an individual dedication to the moral code demanded by Christ.  The most obvious lesson to be derived was that of co- operation, but Wood and the UFA also focused much energy on educating agrarian youth with respect to the parables of Christ and the broader Protestant ethic, including hard work and self-discipline required to become proper, contributing citizens.79  By demanding personal responsibility, guided by basic Christian precepts, the UFA could conserve the institutions of democratic governance and commercialism that were “natural” but in need of reform.  However, this reform was to come gradually for revolutionary violence would surely destroy both the good and bad in the social system and humanity would be left in a state of dangerous anarchy. 	
   78 The classic Canadian articulation and defense of this “tory” conservative variant remains: George Grant, Lament for a Nation, (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1965).  I originally discussed the distinction between “tory” and “populist” conservatism in: Clark Banack, “American Protestantism and the Roots of ‘Populist Conservatism’ in Alberta,” in J. Farney and D. Rayside ed., Comparing Canadian Conservatism: Principles, Politics, and Policy, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Forthcoming in 2012). 79 See: Irene Parlby, “Mrs. Parlby’s Address,” in Grain Growers Guide, January 29, 1919, 8.  Rennie has also commented on the strong evangelical commitment to personal responsibility and character development within the UFA.  See: Rennie, The Rise of Agrarian Democracy, 122. 	
   On the other hand, the appeal to the individual and his or her capacity to interpret both the moral lessons of the bible and the nature of political and economic problems they faced offered a radical challenge to the more traditional attitude of deference to established power present within orthodox versions of conservative political thought. This egalitarian and dissenting sentiment, in conjunction with Wood’s postmillennial sympathies related to the social aspects of Christianity and the coming kingdom, put a more radical stamp on his thought.  The conception of citizenship that Wood’s political theory implies shares this tension.  In abstract terms, citizenship required emulating Christ and thus co-operating with those in their community.  More practically, this meant contributing to your local and educating yourself with respect to the gospels in addition to current political and economic problems.  By doing so one worked towards the success of the UFA that, on a higher plane, was the same as working toward the coming kingdom of God and the establishment of a just society.  The role of the citizen therefore implied a duty one must fulfill in order to advance the interests of the whole society but it also contained a more radical interpretation of the common person as one of significant moral and intellectual capacity, a stance often denied by orthodox conservatism.   Thus, Wood’s political thought, derived from his religious perspective, maintained both the conservative, religious-based demand for individual moral responsibility and the populist anti-establishment and egalitarian orientation that blossomed in post-Revolution evangelical America.  Although unsuccessful when it came to permanently instituting his vision of group government within the political realm, the Alberta populace has, to this day, remained faithful to the populist variant of conservatism inherent in Wood’s political thought, including the radical emphasis on the 	
   virtue and capacity of the common people and the more conservative demand that individual and societal well-being is dependent upon the exercise of individual responsibility as opposed to state intervention and socialistic arrangements.                     	
   Chapter Five:  Religion and the Political Thought of William Aberhart and Ernest Manning: The Fundamentalist, Premillennial Perspective   Like the UFA, there already exists a substantial academic literature on the Alberta Social Credit that examines the rise and fall of the party, the unique interpretation of the “social credit” economic theories of British engineer Major Douglas by Alberta Social Credit founder William Aberhart, and the subsequent abandonment of social credit theory by Ernest Manning following Aberhart’s death.  Unlike most academic treatments of Henry Wise Wood and the UFA however, scholars have paid plenty of attention to the strong religious current that reverberated through the political speeches of Aberhart. Indeed, a whole host of works have been produced which tell, and re-tell, the story of Aberhart as a devout Christian who was introduced to a particular version of premillennial fundamentalism in his home province of Ontario before moving to Alberta where he embarked on a successful career as school principal and radio preacher before becoming premier.  In addition, nearly all commentators have mentioned the unusual mix of radical economic theories and prophetic Christianity he would eventually blend together on his radio program in the months ahead of his surprise participation, and victory, in the Alberta provincial election of 1935.   Yet, rather than exploring the precise relationship between Aberhart’s Christianity and his political thought, the vast majority of this scholarly work on Aberhart’s religious beliefs has focused most intensely on either the role Aberhart’s radio ministry played in popularizing his religious-economic message, the manner by which Aberhart’s religious message spoke to the hopes of an economically insecure population in Depression-ridden Alberta, or the broad philosophical similarities 	
   that existed between Aberhart’s Christian interpretation and the economic theories of Douglas.1 Thus, it is the goal of this chapter to move beyond these works and demonstrate a clearer understanding of the very real connection that existed between Aberhart’s Christian interpretation and his political thought.  In fact, without a proper grasp of the implications of his religious perspective, his politics, I suggest, make very little sense.  As will become apparent, the same relationship between the theology and political thought of Aberhart would exist for his protégé Ernest Manning who would become premier upon his teacher’s death in 1943 and lead Alberta until his retirement in 1968.  Aberhart moved from Ontario for a teaching job in Calgary in 1910.  In 1918 he began a bible study group that steadily grew in popularity and by 1925 had turned into a Sunday afternoon radio broadcast that, by 1933, would be followed by more than 300 000 people.2  In 1932 Aberhart became interested in the “social credit” economic theories of Douglas who argued that the Great Depression could be solved by the state issuing individual citizen’s additional credit to enhance their purchasing power.  Aberhart spent three years attempting to convince the governing UFA to adopt this economic strategy of providing “social credit” to Albertans but, after being rebuffed on numerous occasions, took to politics himself and led the newly formed Alberta Social Credit to victory in 1935.  Although the economic depression was the prime catalyst behind Aberhart’s 	
   1 See, for example, John Irving, The Social Credit Movement in Alberta, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1959), Harry H. Hiller, “A Critical Analysis of the Role of Religion in a Canadian Populist Movement: The Emergence and Domination of the Social Credit Party in Alberta,” (PhD Dissertation, McMaster University, 1972), Thomas Flanagan, “Social Credit in Alberta: A Canadian ‘Cargo Cult’?” in Archives De Sociologie Des Religions, Vol. 34, (1972), 39-48, and Thomas Flanagan and Martha Lee, “From Social Credit to Social Conservatism: The Evolution of an Ideology,” in Prairie Forum, Vol. 16, No. 2 (Fall 1991), 205-223. 2 David Laycock, Populism and Democratic Thought in the Canadian Prairies, 1910 to 1945, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), 216. 	
   entrance into the political realm, it was the broader fundamentalist-modernist religious controversy that had been raging in the Protestant churches of America, and to some extent Canada, since the early 1920s that most shaped his thinking. Reacting to both Darwin’s theory of evolution and the application of new scholarly methods of historical interpretation to the Bible (Higher Criticism) in the late nineteenth century, many American Protestant clergymen had begun re-interpreting scripture in a way that questioned the doctrine of scriptural inerrancy.  In turn, a subsequent reaction erupted within American Protestantism against the growing popularity of these modern liberal interpretations of Christianity.  Fundamentalism, a term derived from a series of pamphlets published between 1910 and 1915 that took aim at Higher Criticism and reaffirmed a conservative interpretation of scripture, would henceforth represent the Christian beliefs of those who rejected modernism by insisting on an absolute literal interpretation of the Bible.  This included a recommitment to the doctrine of scriptural inerrancy and thus the historical reality of the virgin birth of Christ, His bodily resurrection, and all His miracles and literal pronouncements, in addition to those of the Old Testament Prophets who had come before Him.  Aberhart came of age in the heat of this controversy and had been groomed in his early days in Ontario by a staunchly fundamentalist preacher, Dr. William Nichol.  Shortly after, Aberhart enrolled in an influential correspondence course offered by the American biblical scholar C.I. Scofield, the man most responsible for popularizing biblical prophecy and premillennial dispensationalism in American fundamentalist circles.  As will become apparent throughout this chapter, it would be difficult to exaggerate how influential Aberhart’s 	
   religious views, derived squarely from the fundamentalist side of this great religious controversy, would be on his political thought and action until his death in 1943. In short, both Aberhart and Manning subscribed to a fundamentalist, premillennial perspective.  In contrast to the postmillennialism of Wood, the religiously-inspired political thought of Aberhart and Manning did not aim toward gradually perfect society through works based upon the teachings of Christ.  Rather, Aberhart and Manning’s premillennial theology insisted that Christ alone would bring about the Kingdom of God. Therefore, they sought to encourage individual Albertans to seek the eternal salvation offered by God prior to the point at which He would establish the millennium.   This goal demanded certain political conditions be implemented in order to facilitate the personal conversion of those individuals who had not yet “found” God.  It was the desire to implement these conditions that motivated Aberhart and Manning in the political sphere. However, this religious perspective did grow out of the same broad tradition of “American” evangelical Protestantism that produced Wood’s religious outlook.  Thus, it shared the same emphasis on individual capacity and democracy, as well as the same tensions between this more radical understanding and the conservative tendencies inherent in the Christian faith, that characterized the history of American evangelicalism and largely distinguished it from other countries, including much of English-speaking Canada.  The remainder of this chapter expands on this assertion by first examining the shared theology of Aberhart and Manning before considering the manner by which this particular Christian interpretation influenced each of their political goals.  The chapter closes with a comparison between the religious and political views of Wood and those of Aberhart and Manning that help to illuminate some of the more prominent differences 	
   between the two movements as well as highlighting the broader implications of their religious-based thought and its impact on the direction of Alberta’s politics. The Shared Theology of Aberhart and Manning That Aberhart was a Christian fundamentalist who developed a particular fondness for premillennial dispensationalism is well known.  As discussed in more detail in chapter three, premillennial dispensationalism entailed an understanding of history wherein the world progressed through a series of “dispensations” within which God had a slightly different relationship with his followers.  However, it was God and not man who moved history from one dispensation to the next, an outlook that was diametrically opposed to the “postmillennial” view which placed the onus on humanity to bring about the millennial reign of Christ’s peace and righteousness.  For premillennialists, the passage from the contemporary dispensation to the “millennial” dispensation would be solely God’s doing.3  In other words, humans are active in the world but significant change, like the movement from one dispensation to the next, occurs only through divine intervention.  Although introduced to dispensationalism in Ontario, it was upon his arrival in Calgary that Aberhart’s involvement in prophetic bible studies and teaching blossomed and by 1924 he had published a series entitled “God’s Great Prophecies” in which he outlined his dispensational theology.  In 1925, he began broadcasting his sermons on radio and his highly popular “Back to the Bible Hour” program became his central outlet for espousing his fundamentalist message and attacking the growing “modernist” sentiment he sensed in the mainstream churches.4  In the fall of 1927 Aberhart opened the Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute and Ernest Manning was one of 	
   3 Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism, (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2007), 27-51. 4 David R. Elliott and Iris Miller, Bible Bill: A Biography of William Aberhart, (Edmonton: Reidmore Books, 1987), 67-75. 	
   the first students to enroll.  It was here that Manning received and internalized a heavy dose of Aberhart’s preferred version of Christianity.  It was upon this religious foundation that they would build both a long lasting radio ministry and a durable political movement, two activities that, I will argue, must by understood as complementary strategies motivated by their larger theological beliefs. The most thorough accounting of the relationship between Aberhart’s religious interpretation and his politics to date has been completed by David Elliott whose careful study of Aberhart’s early sermons and Institute writings has revealed a clear propensity toward dispensationalist themes relating to the downward course of history, the depravity of man and the coming Rapture and Tribulation prior to the millennium.5  Yet, Elliot moves beyond this point by arguing that Aberhart’s eventual political pronouncements as leader of the Alberta Social Credit were “antithetical” to his long-held premillennial dispensationalist Christian outlook.6  More specifically, Elliot points to Aberhart’s clear disapproval of  “modernist” Christian ministers who espoused a “social gospel” version of Christianity that argued man’s salvation lie in the good social works that would lead to a perfected society.  From Aberhart’s premillennial perspective, any effort aimed at perfecting society was “as futile as a farmer hoping to purify a polluted well by painting the pump.”7  Such hopes were severally misplaced