Article Title:Maxim Institute: Beyond the Christian Right?
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:12th October 2008 - 07:03 pm
Internet Archive link:
Story ID:6599
Text:In order to survive, the one-time Christian Right frontline Maxim Institute has had to change. Does it no longer constitute a threat to our communities? Pondering the future: A member of the Maxim 'thinktank' It is beginning to look like the Institute has relinquished hard core frontline Christian Right activism to Family First, while it moves into the more rarified atmosphere of concrete debates about social policy. When I looked at the Institute's last Real Issues newsletter, I noticed that they were about to host a new seminar from the UK Centre for Social Justice. CSJ isn't neccessarily a fundamentalist Christian organisation. However, it does try to rehabilitate the bowdlerised Maxim Institute/New Right version of 'social justice,' through appealing to social cohesion as its outcome. The Centre for Social Justice has strong links to the UK Conservative Party, and is trying to soften the image of the Conservatives as the party of community disintegration and individual selfishness, through promoting the virtues of strong families and community organisations. However, in doing so, it betrays its Tory associations through trying to ringfence the benefits of active community organisations off from democratic participation and citizenship, as if there was no central government partnership with community groups to produce positive social and individual outcomes. The Maxim Institute appears to share this agenda, given its own past publications on the subject. It is true that family breakdown contributes to negative social outcomes like educational disruption, unemployment, poor mental and physical health and criminality, but while social service providers do an excellent job as a safety net, this conflicts with reports from the New Zealand Salvation Army and Caritas, as well as the ongoing efforts of the New Zealand Council for Christian Social Services, calling for greater substantive central government spending on social welfare benefits. Sorry, but I'd rather trust New Zealand social service providers who work at the coalface, especially if they have concrete evidence to back their assertions. And here's the Institute's problem. If we're talking about strong families as a source of social cohesion, then the research literature on same-sex parenting suggests that we are excellent parents, and likely to insure that our offspring are productive citizens, not liable to contribute to crime and social welfare statistics. In other words, they can't promote their 'social justice' agenda without buying into a policy context where we can assert the positive aspects of same-sex parenting. This may be because Britain has already adopted inclusive adoption reform, and thus, CSJ has shrugged its shoulders and moved on. CSJ also talks about civil society, the network of active social service providers and support networks- but doesn't conspicuously privilege religious institutions. Just as well, because religious social service providers here are calling for greater governmental responsibility in social service provision, not less. Moreover, it doesn't exclude organisations like the AIDS Foundation from this model, either. These close UK Tory linkages suggest that the Maxim Institute has left its fundamentalist origins behind, and may even be a tacit acknowledgement that we will prevail when it comes to adoption reform and same-sex marriage. Will history show this to be the point that the Maxim Institute bid goodbye to its Christian Right past? Craig Young - 12th October 2008    
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