Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Christian politics NZ - the triumph of commonsense

MMP brought with it high expectations from the Christian Heritage Party. It saw a chance to hold a government to account according to Biblical principles - you know, reversing the Enlightenment concept of separation of church and state - as it believed it could easily rally 5% of voters to stand behind "traditional values". Meanwhile another group had a similar idea, backed by the homophobic advocate of strong censorship laws, ex. National MP Graeme Lee. The Christian Democrats and the Christian Heritage Party were competing at the soft and hard end of Christian politics, but even when they came together as the Christian Coalition in 1996, 5% couldn't be reached.

Brian Tamaki promised great things for his flock - the flock that sadly or stupidly, depending on your point of view, present tithes to keep him and his comrades in a style very few of his flock would be accustomed to. It certainly shouldn't be banned, but there is something immoral about spreading judgment among the ignorant, and convincing them to pay him to live a lavish lifestyle, while condemning those who don't to hell. Tamaki's promises that the Destiny NZ party would enter Parliament in 2005 and be in government in 2008 were either a marketing exercise or the voice of the truly deluded. No one looking relatively objectively at NZ politics can see fundamentalist Christian politics having much of a market.

The best a Christian party has done in NZ was when Peter Dunne's centrist (middle muddle ground as Bob Jones once called it) United Party, which had been languishing at 0.9% merged with the happy clappy Christian Democrats (once led by a charismatic young preacher, of whom it has been said fell from grace following allegations of conduct that is all too often laid at the feet of high profile Christian politicians, although nothing like Graham Capill). Dunne becoming the media darling in 2002 saw his party hold the balance of power then, and now - and we have the Families Commission. However, with United Future halving its vote in 2005, and Dunne distancing himself from the Christian dimension, AND Gordon Copeland slipping away, it would look like United Future will be a party of Dunne only in 2008 - which of course, is a triumph of commonsense. Dunne after all is a man with more intelligence than he has shown, with a political career of highlights such as creating the useless Families Commission, appealing to homophobes by not debating civil unions, but saying they are a proxy for gay marriage (without saying whether he thought that was bad or not, but implying that it was), and campaigning for a cargo cult highway with a billion dollar cost that the funding system he supported in Cabinet has constantly rejected.

The relaunch of Destiny as PC has pointed out, has to make you laugh.

What the new party will do is continue to attract a small number of voters who, in all probability, would either have voted National or stayed home. However, Brian Tamaki's time will come.

I believe fundamentalist pre-enlightenment Christian politics are a potential disaster for humanity, fortunately in New Zealand (as in the UK), the appetite for going back to witch hunts, jailing heretics and abolishing free speech on Christian grounds, is not high. What good that some churches offer their members in setting some rational moral rules around treating others, and instilling some discipline and respect is not seen in Christian politicians - the likes of Tamaki have no respect for those of other religions or no religion - they are the wannabe Taliban of New Zealand.

Over 95% of New Zealand voters reject this, now if only the US could follow...

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