GAYNZ.COM ARCHIVED ARTICLE
Title: MAXIMum Impact: Overseas Links Credit: Chris Banks Features Thursday 21st October 2004 - 10:01am1098306060 Article: 6304 Rights
 
They're campaigning for a vision of what they call 'civil society', but what does this vision bring with it, and what does it mean for glbt people? Certainly all my discussions with Maxim Auckland staff (there are more in Christchurch) have been nothing but pleasant. But how much can we trust them? For one thing, they've publicly denied for months any connections with antigay fundamentalist Christian groups in the United States, a claim which is unravelling faster than a ball of string down Baldwin Street in Dunedin. Associate Justice Minister David Benson-Pope said in July he had proof of Maxim's links – long-rumoured – with fundamentalists, the first time a high-ranking public figure had made such a claim. His comments were largely ignored by the mainstream media. “They portray themselves as an international think tank,” he says. “They ain't. They're a fundamentalist organization - they're allowed to be - highly resourced... I think part of the positive side of all this discussion has been that people are starting to realize that they've got an axe to grind, and I think that's appropriate, and that contributes to good positive debate.” Maxim didn't agree. They accused Benson-Pope of stifling free debate, in fact. In documents released to GayNZ.com under the Official Information Act, we find Maxim's elusive Christchurch-based research director Bruce Logan writing to the Minister personally to express his disappointment at his public comments. “We have no links with any U.S. organization, neither do we get any money from outside of New Zealand,” Logan wrote. “We do not have large financial resources. The money comes from New Zealand citizens who support what we do.” Well, I suppose that depends on your definition of “large financial resources”. According to North to help the leaders of today, and tomorrow, ask the right questions and begin to find answers.” Looking at the aims of Maxim's Compass partner the Masters Institute makes the picture a little clearer: “Masters Institute seeks to train Christian leaders and educators for the 21st century who will influence their professions, their culture, and their worldview for the cause of God's Kingdom.” But we need to turn to the United States to get the full story. It was Summit Ministries, a fundamentalist group in Colorado, that were the backbone of Compass. Summit flew speakers over for last year's camp, hailed as a great success in the February edition of their magazine “The Journal”. Summit is an educational Christian ministry, whose courses involve high school and college students from across America being intellectually inoculated against modern ideas like formal logic, rationalism, physics, and Darwinian evolution. Pluralism, a philosophical mainstay of Western democracy in which diversity of cultures and religious belief are accepted in society, is also denounced. Even more frightening is Summit's longstanding relationship with the conspiracist John Birch Society, formed in the late 1950's to combat the perceived threat of Communism in the United States. They advocate the abolition of civil rights legislation, which they see as communist. John Birch opponents have characterized it as a white citizens' society dedicated to preventing minorities from gaining political power. Summit has often placed large advertisements in John Birch publications. Summit's founder, Dr. David Noebel, is the author of numerous books, ranging from the scary to the surreal: try “The Homosexual Revolution”, in which Noebel “traces his discussion of Sodom and Gomorrah, Sparta, pedophilia, AIDS and the agenda for homosexual marriage”. Or “Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles”, in which Noebel has a go at the Fab Four, whom he'd labelled in the sixties “wizards who transform teenagers into homosexuals”. Or how about “Mind Siege”, co-written with Tim LaHaye, which some reviewers have compared to Hitler's “Mein Kampf”? Secular humanism is the root of all the world's evils, according to this book. Lumped in with that is civil rights for gays and lesbians. “Some readers will be thrilled by this call to trek what the authors feel is the moral high ground, especially those who base their religious values upon intolerance of racial equity, homosexual love, and women's right to choose… others will most likely find this a disturbing and offensive contribution to the American landscape,” says Amazon.com reviewer Gail Hudson. According to the February edition of “The Journal”, copies of “Mind Siege” were given to each student who attended Maxim's Compass camp here in New Zealand. Noebel, who edits “The Journal”, was full of praise for the Maxim staff – including Greg Fleming and Scott McMurray – who put in “hard work and long hours to make Summit New Zealand (nee Compass) a reality.” Noebel then quotes the first and last verses of the New Zealand national anthem in full, before musing: “One could nearly have a religious revival by singing all five verses and yet the political and educational powers that be in New Zealand, like in America, are seeking to remove God from the public square.” Noebel goes on to speculate what may happen if the “secular” minds have their way and manage to remove God from New Zealand's national anthem: “You can hear their new refrain even now… ‘United Nations! At Thy feet… in the bonds of sex we meet”. “Pray for Summit New Zealand,” Noebel concludes. “They are already making plans for next year and seeking the guidance of God. In fact, they feel there is such interest even now to merit a number of 10-day programs. May God bless their efforts as they seek to remain faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ.” I decided to call Summit Ministries to discuss this further, and spoke to Chuck Edwards from Summit's Curriculum and Resources Department. He was one of the five speakers flown over by Summit to speak at Maxim's camp. I read him the relevant passages from “The Journal”, and asked if this meant Summit were planning to set up a branch in New Zealand. “Not at this point, not an official branch,” he answered. “We will be doing it in Australia, but Maxim is doing such a good job of promoting and co-ordinating just from a philosophical standpoint in all those ways that we feel like we don't need to set up something with Summit, we just are encouraging Maxim to continue to do what they do, and again, we can offer whatever support we can in that way. New Zealand is a fairly small country, so we feel like we want to encourage the ministries that are there to do what they're best at.” I also asked whether Summit funded Maxim to set up the Compass programme in any way. “Yes, we helped with the funding as far as getting our US speakers over there,” he replied. “It was basically their thing, they did all the local advertising and securing of the facilities and they ran the programme, and we just had some of our people come over to help do some of the teaching. So that was really the only basis.” In an email received this week, Noebel outlined to me Summit's position on homosexuality: “Our stance is really quite simple...It is a lifestyle that is not pleasing to God the Creator who made us male and female (Mark 10:6) for a reason.” Maxim finally agreed to be interviewed on camera for “Queer Nation”, directly following Maxim's oral submission before the Justice   
 
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