On Monday I read (in The Toronto Star article Bush to make promotional appearance in Toronto for Christian college) that
The former U.S. president has a stopover in Toronto next week that will include a Sept. 20 breakfast gathering on behalf of Tyndale [University College & Seminary] for an invited audience of 150 at the Hilton Toronto Hotel. Bush is expected to address the subject of Christian higher education.
In the article Gary Nelson, Tyndale\’s president, acknowledges that Bush was a controversial figure even among the different Christian groups represented at the university:
Nelson pointed to the fact that Tyndale represents 40 Christian denominations, making it the most multicultural seminary in North America. Included among the staff and students are Mennonites and followers of other pacifist faiths.
On Wednesday the same newspaper published a follow-up article Outrage spreads over Bush visit in which the reader learns that although none of the faculty at Tyndale University College had resigned, other members of the staff had and there was considerable controversy among current and former students, faculty and staff about how appropriate it was that Bush \”could be given a place of honour at a promotional event for a school that stands for peace and justice.\”
Also on Wednesday three former students started a petition asking that the college cancel the planned event
On Wednesday the college posted an announcement on its website that \”due to scheduling change\’\”[sic] the event has been canceled. According to the spokesperson quoted in Bush’s Toronto appearance cancelled there are no plans to reschedule Bush\’s visit.
This entire sequence of events stands out to me as an example of people within evangelical Christianity reclaiming a rhetoric/territory they believe Bush attempted to take as his own. There are, as the articles point out, many pacifists within the Christian denominations who are part of Tyndale\’s community. Many of them (and a good number of other Canadians) consider Bush to be a war criminal. Current and former students of Tyndale did not wish Bush and his worldview to be associated with their institution.
One part of the Christian community has declared firmly that what Bush calls speaking and governing as a Christian they call a war crime.