Title: The Building Blocks of Maxim Credit: Craig Young Comment Monday 24th March 2003 - 12:00pm1048464000 Article: 70 Rights
Where did fundamentalist organisation The Maxim Institute spring from and who are some of the people behind it? Wellington-based gay researcher Craig Young probes its history and emergence. The Maxim Institute started its existence as the Education Development Foundation in 1994. Its Director, Bruce Logan, was initially the Principal at Auckland's Orewa College, before he took a more congenial job at Middleton Grange in Christchurch, New Zealand's longest-lived and largest fundamentalist Christian school, as curriculum director. Amongst its other dubious achievements, the school unleashed Graham Capill onto a contemptuous world, and his dad, Don, a Society for Promotion of Community Standards activist, used to be a Vice Principal there.* The EDF was a different kind of New Zealand Christian Right political organisation. It rejected the Christian Heritage Party's separatist leanings and worked toward making conservative Christians more acceptable as a useful strategic constituency for centre-right political parties. Unfortunately, the CHP got in the way during the debacle of the 1996 New Zealand General Election, when Logan turned up on the "Christian Coalition" party list. As Peter Saxton noted in his Massey University M.Phil Sociology thesis, the EDF tried to convey the impression that it supported centre-right constraints on central government social services expenditure as one of its primary objectives. It tended to prefer broader social commentary to the nuts and bolts of specific, evidence-based educational policy analysis, and its "Cutting Edge" journal increasingly came to neglect coverage of educational policy analysis, allegedly the EDF's raison d'etre. Unfortunately, while the National Party was unwilling to actively endorse the Christian Right agenda, ACT New Zealand had no such scruples. In 1999, ACT's Muriel Newman invited Bruce Logan onto a "welfare dependency" debate website as one of the contributors, and has been a vocal proponent of Christian Right stances toward adolescent access to reproductive and sexual health services, as well as an opponent of lesbian/gay adoption. Stephen Franks has been another advocate of Christian Right philosophical positions, and the CHP and SPCS echoed him on his opposition to hate crimes legislation last year. In 2001, the Education Development Foundation rebranded into the Maxim Institute. It could be cynically suggested that the name change reflected its impotence over educational policy issues, but the Maxim Institute has been a ringleader in campaigns against hate crimes legislation and prostitution law reform, while predictably neglecting fiscal conservative concerns over taxation policy and social welfare expenditure. The Institute publishes "Evidence," a quarterly journal that reprints Anglo-American conservative Christian and fiscal conservative material, and still seems disinclined to engage in original empirical research of public policy issues. In the case of prostitution law reform, it has relied heavily on the strategic ineptitude of quisling "feminists" and their higher research standards, even if this material is seriously flawed through methodological shortcomings. According to "Evidence's" title page, the Derek Corporation is one of Maxim's primary funders. According to the Net, the Derek Corporation is an Auckland-based clothing manufacturer. It should be noted that Maxim displays long periods of inertia on its core issues. Is it a stalking horse for the US Christian Right? Greg Fleming, its Auckland-based managing director, used to work for Focus On The Family New Zealand, the New Zealand franchise of a notorious Colorado-based antiabortion/antigay "profamily" organisation that tried to obstruct Colorado's state antidiscrimination legislation in the early nineties before the US Supreme Court ruled that the repeal referendum was invalid. Is it a fundamentalist Baptist stronghold? Unlike the US Southern Baptist Convention, the New Zealand Baptist Union has shown a membership nosedive over the last three consecutive censuses. More recently, the Maxim Institute has started to branch out and woo other centre-right political parties. Fleming is one of the co-ordinators of the centre-right Silent Majority website (, for example. In Challenge Weekly (NZ's fundamentalist national newspaper), Logan has sung the praises of New Zealand First, although its own concern is anti-Muslim immigration policies. Logan is a regular host on NZ's national fundamentalist radio network, Radio Rhema, as well as a frequent opinion leader cited in Challenge Weekly. However, Logan has been unable to sustain his earlier rate of conservative opinion pieces for mainstream New Zealand media. Can the Maxim Institute succeed? It should be noted that "Evidence" may be a quarterly publication, but, apart from the bimonthly/trimonthly "Pro-Life Times," there are no other regular New Zealand Christian Right publications left in this country. It would be unfortunate if lesbian and gay community complacency allowed the Christian Right to rebuild itself over its opposition to prostitution law reform so it presented an eventual threat to our own communities over relationship and parenting equality issues. Craig Young [* Middleton Grange's street address is listed in Maxim Institute material as the Institute's Christchurch address.] Craig Young - 24th March 2003    
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