After already appointing a climate change denier and a creationist who believes the earth is 5,000 years old to important scientific positions within his administration, Stephen Harper has officially crossed the line.
Mr. Harper has appointed evangelical pastor Chris Summerville to head a committee to study the “link” between marijuana and schizophrenia. Mr. Summerville is the interim CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada. He is not a medical doctor. He has no background in science. He has mental health issues himself.
He is a creationist and a biblical literalist who once said, “Satan will use any opportunity to attack, including mental illness.” A member of his evangelical group said that this is “a wonderful opportunity” for Christians to influence public policy.
This should not only be highly offensive to Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Catholics, agnostics, and atheists who do not wish to have Pastor Summerville’s fundamentalist Christian agenda financed by their tax dollars, it should scare any person who values science, morality, and truth in public policy.
Rather than select a doctor or a scientist, this government has taken this opportunity to both guarantee the studies done will be unscientific propaganda, and to further a religious agenda that makes a mockery of the values of secular democracy that our country is founded upon.
And for the record, there is no conclusive link between schizophrenia and cannabis. There is a correlation, but anyone with Grade 10 science knows that correlation does not mean there is a causal link.
Maybe they didn’t teach Mr. Summerville this when he was learning to become a pastor. Meanwhile, if the government was really concerned about schizophrenia, it would be studying alcohol, which has a correlation to schizophrenia that is at least four times greater than that of marijuana.
We need scientists and doctors, not religious officials, to investigate the true causes of mental illness. People who have mental health issues need medicine and therapy, not exorcisms.
And it is downright obscene to fund a religiously motivated agenda with public funds. Meanwhile, the media has not reported on this story at all.
What is happening to our country?
Travis Erbacher, Langley
– Letter to the editor from The Langley Advance.