Title: Comment: Slowly whirring Godbots? Credit: Craig Young Comment Sunday 12th February 2006 - 12:00pm1139698800 Article: 1116 Rights
Meanwhile, underneath the radar... godbots silently whir, blogging about religious freedom, social conservatism and writing glossy magazine articles. Alan Chesswas blogs as an 'agricultural Christian' which probably makes me an 'industrial neopagan.' In a recent blog, Alan ruminated about heading "Towards a Christian New Zealand" (1 February). Like Garnet Milne, he took issue with Don Brash's description of New Zealand as a secular, rational Enlightenment-based nation, and goes on to query whether the eighteenth century Enlightenment was a good thing, as it dethroned religious faith per se as the basis of making public policy, and substituted secular rationality instead. Au contraire, insists Alan, and remarks acidly about a liberal/fundamentalist 'culture war' and an 'Islamic bloc' that must despise us. Three points occurred to me. One, I doubt whether Alan actually means that he preferred the seventeenth century, given what would have happened to him in Western Europe during the Thirty Years War (1612-1648), French Wars of Religion in the 1580s and 1590s, the time of Mary Tudor (1553-1558) and so on. Enlightenment rationality produced our current democratic institutions and insured that no one religious faith or political philosophy enjoys prolonged control of government. Two, I'm not sure I like the metaphor 'cultural war,' given that US antiabortion terrorists took it rather literally during the nineties. Three, there are profound denominational, national and political regime differences within Islam, so does it make sense to talk about an Islamic bloc? Don't think so. Leaving Alan to care for his livestock, we now enter familiar territory, for the Maxim Institute has ventured into print once again. You may be forgiven for ignoring it, as it was within Joy, New Zealand's small format fundamentalist women's magazine. Amanda McGrail and Rachel Abernethy argue against church/state separation and state religious neutrality. Sorry, but they're obviously not keeping up with reading current conservative Christian political literature. Even Rex Ahdar and Ian Leigh acknowledge that yes, there are certainly circumstances where religious freedom of practice needs to be curbed for the good of other democratic rights and freedoms. For example, in the nineties, two devout Jehovahs Witnesses argued that their right to religious freedom was overrode when medical practitioners overrode that right to insure that their child got a vital blood transfusion. Thankfully, secular rationality prevailed, as did church-state separation in that instance. Might one suggest that Alan, Amanda and Rachel do some more reading and then come back to us? Recommended: Alan Chesswas: "Towards a Christian New Zealand" (01.02.06): Amanda McGrail and Rachel Abernethy: "A Question of Responsibility: Politics v Religion" Joy 9 (Feb-March 2006): 23 Rex Ahdar and Ian Leigh: Religious Freedom in the Liberal State: Oxford: Oxford University Press: 2005. Craig Young - 12th February 2006    
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