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Comment: Stimulating thoughts

Tue 6 Dec 2005 In: Comment

Even the evangelical Stimulus magazine appears to be having second thoughts about the New Zealand Christian Right, in its latest issue. It's a pearler. I've repeatedly used Census 2001 religious data results to demonstrate the falsehood of fundamentalist claims that Christianity and fundamentalist versions of it are 'growing.' Charles Crothers has now done the same for thinking evangelicals and come to the same interpretation of the data, so they now have no excuse for telling porkies about religious observance in New Zealand. Raymond Miller analyses the New Zealand Christian Right, acknowledges its intellectual dependence on the US Christian Right, and argues against religious adherence trumping class (and probably ethnicity now as well, given the rise of the Maori Party). Interestingly, Baptists and Pentecostals are abnormally conservative when it comes to conservative values about gender, sexuality, corporal punishment of children and LGBT rights compared to mainline Protestants and most Catholics. Is there an organised Christian Right? Miller argues not, given their poor organisation, deep division and internal squabbles. However, Laurie Guy provided the most intriguing article. Guy was unusually honest when it came to the debate over homosexual law reform twenty years ago. He admits that the Christian Right of the eighties proof texted, resorted to conspiracy theories, cults of personality, included theonomist advocates of the death penalty for homosexuality like Reformed Church minister Richard Flinn, that the Reformed Church dominated the Coalition of Concerned Citizens apart from Baptists and Pentecostals, and that Paul Cameron is a junk scientist. In other words, he acknowledges everything we said at the time. And yours truly even gets cited at the end. He agrees with me about the lack of intellectual firepower in the Christian Right. At the end of a remarkably candid paper, he asks whether the current New Zealand Christian Right has learnt anything from the mistakes of the past. One wonders how long he'll be allowed to utter such thoughtcrimes within the Baptist Union, given Michael Riddell's expulsion over his artistic freedom of expression. All in all, it's good to see that at least some evangelicals do have a conscience. Recommended: Stimulus website Charles Crothers: "New Zealand Religious Affiliations in the New Millenium" Stimulus 13: 4: November 2005: 31-49. Raymond Miller: "The Future of the Religious Right in New Zealand Politics" Stimulus 13:4: November 2005: 50-58. Laurie Guy: "Evangelicals and the Homosexual Law Reform Debate: 1985-1986" Stimulus 13: 4: November 2005: 69-77. Craig Young - 6th December 2005    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Tuesday, 6th December 2005 - 12:00pm

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