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Title: US fundies attack NZ Civil Unions bill (Pt. 1) Credit: Craig Young Comment Wednesday 12th May 2004 - 12:00pm1084320000 Article: 246 Rights
 
According to a flier from Focus on the Family New Zealand, we are about to be invaded by a US Christian Right multinational- 'Focus on the Family'. Predictably, its target is the Civil Union Bill. The flier is entitled Why Marriage Matters. It argues that: "Marriage has become the major battleground in Western Culture. Christians must learn how to intelligently respond to the challenges facing marriages worldwide from civil unions legislation, and the worldwide trend toward same-sex, polygamous and polyamorous marriage rights." Focus on the Family New Zealand is a branch of a predatory Colorado-based fundamentalist Christian multinational, based in Colorado Springs. In the early nineties, it was involved in opposing inclusive state anti-discrimination legislation in that state when a citizens' initiated referendum temporarily repealed that legislation, until the US Supreme Court voided the result in its Romer v Evans decision. In 1996, a Focus antigay resource, Setting The Record Straight, was distributed through the Wellington-based offices of the Strategic Leadership Network, New Zealand's second attempt at launching a national fundamentalist lobby group (which fell apart after the fiasco of the Christian Coalition that year). It is significant that the parent organisation, Focus on the Family has dispatched its Vice-President, one Bill Maier, to New Zealand as part of Focus on the Family New Zealand's seminar series on "Why Marriage Matters." Who is Bill Maier? According to the Focus on the Family US website, this is his biography: Dr. Bill Maier, Vice President, Psychologist in Residence Dr. Bill Maier is Focus on the Family's vice-president and psychologist in residence. A child and family psychologist, Maier hosts the national "Weekend Magazine" radio program and the "Family Minute with Dr. Bill Maier." He is a frequent guest host for the daily "Focus on the Family" radio program and "Focus on the Family Commentary." He also acts as a media spokesperson for Focus on a variety of family-related issues. Dr. Maier received his masters and doctoral degrees from the Rosemead School of Psychology at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has served at respected institutions such as Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Camarillo State Hospital, and the Long Beach Child Guidance Center. He has extensive experience in parent training and education, and his major area of research interest is the impact of cultural trends on child development and family functioning. (Source: http://www.family.org) (Biola University is a converted former fundamentalist theological college. It should be asked whether the State of California recognises this institution's qualifications, or whether Maier practices within the fundamentalist Christian ghetto). Craig Heillman is probably unknown, and has played a minor role in his Focus on the Family New Zealand networks. According to the Net, he seems to be a Pentecostal/charismatic fundamentalist, and the Focus on the Family New Zealand website itself is highly rudimentary. However, it has a linked "Marriage Matters" website, which links to other New Zealand fundamentalist organisations. One of these is New Zealand's national evangelical/fundamentalist church network, Vision New Zealand, while another is Daystar, an Auckland-based monthly fundamentalist tabloid. According to its website, its staff co-ordinator is one Bruce Nicholl, who may have been involved in anti-Hero Parade organising at the fundamentalist Auckland Baptist Tabernacle in the mid-nineties. Daystar's editor is Julie Belding, former Christian Coalition/Christian Democrat party list member, who obviously still has close connections to the current United Future caucus. She was former New Zealand Baptist editor, and has also contributed to Challenge Weekly. Ian Grant of Parenting With Confidence is more well-known. It should be recalled that his wife, Mary Grant, ran a "Campaign for our Children" anti-Hero organisation in the mid-nineties. Grant seems to need a shot across his bows over this issue. Complain if you notice any Parenting With Confidence products in supermarkets or department stores, and explain the reasons for your complaint in letters to management. Unfortunately, Larry Baldock needs no introduction to anyone familiar with matters of reproductive and sexual health, or prostitution law reform. This Tauranga-based United Future list MP has made absurd statements on the matters above, and his presence will only reinforce public concerns about the imported fundamentalist agenda of his party of origin, given the presence of Maier at a New Zealand antigay conference. Back to the flier. This conference is intended to 'help' its attendees to: "Understand: The forces- intellectual, moral and social-working against God's design for marriage, including understanding various liberal agendas"; "Defend: Marriage against its detractors in a culture that has lost its moorings in the truth through practical, loving and gracious ways." Finally, the flier lists various times and addresses for these little gatherings: Auckland: Tuesday May 18, Greenlane Christian Centre, 17 Marewa Road, Greenlane, 7.00 pm. Tauranga: Wednesday May 19, Tauranga Assembly of God, 252 Otumoetai Road, Otumoetai, 7.00 pm. Palmerston North: Thursday May 20, Courtyard Christian Community Church, 54 Pascal Street, 7.00 pm. Dunedin: Friday May 21, Shoreline Christian Centre, 47 Timaru St, 7.00 pm. Christchurch: Saturday May 22, Grace Vinyard Church, 150 Ferry Rd, 7.00 pm. It appears battle has been joined in earnest. If the fundamentalist community believes that inviting a US Christian Right multinational to pursue its antigay agenda within this country is not provocative, then it is more foolish than one thinks. Many forty-something or so community members remember the trauma of homosexual law reform all too well, and the role that US Christian Right propaganda, tactics and strategy played within its New Zealand counterparts. New Zealand Christian Right websites: Daystar: http://www.daystar.org.nz Focus on the Family New Zealand: http://www.family.org.nz Focus on the Family (US): http://www.family.org Marriage Matters (NZ): http://www.marriagematters.co.nz Maxim Institute: http://www.maxim.org.nz United Future NZ: http://www.unitedfuture.org.nz Past Focus antigay propaganda: Larry Burtoft: Setting the Record Straight: What the Research Says About Homosexuality: Colorado Springs: Focus on the Family 'Research Paper:' 1994. In the second part of this article on Friday, I'll look at what US Christian Right sources can be expected, given disclosure of the involvement of Focus on the Family in the current New Zealand Civil Union Bill and same-sex parenting debates. Craig Young - 12th May 2004    
 
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