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Maxim v the Christian Right Old Guard?

Mon 10 May 2004 In: Comment

One can now witness a schism between the Maxim Institute's use of conservative Catholic "natural law" and rank and vile "old guard" fundamentalist ravings about the Civil Union Bill and same-sex parenting. The Maxim Institute has the following problem. It realises (or should realise) that it would be useless or politically embarrassing to cite already discredited sources like Paul Cameron and Judith Reisman in public debate. For that reason, the Institute has taken its cues from conservative Catholic "natural law theory" and used its alliances with the US Marriage Law Project over these issues. It has cited the work of Anthea Nagai and Robert Lerner, even if that hatchet job is itself vulnerable to methodological criticism, as I have shown in an earlier article, "Relative Problems." Unfortunately, conservative Catholics are thin on the ground in New Zealand. There are individual exceptions like United Future's Gordon Copeland, ex-National leader Bill English, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Wellington's Marilyn Pryor, as well as hack Investigate tabloid "journalist" Bernard Moran. Whatever the New Zealand Catholic Bishops might wish, the flock goes its own way, and it isn't in the direction of antifeminism and antigay politics. Liberal Catholics prefer to focus on issues like economic inequality, international solidarity politics and the peace movement. Moreover, New Zealand Catholicism hasn't had the institutional scale to endow its own universities, as Australian and US Catholics have done. For this reason, conservative Catholics have been restricted to particular provincial areas and generational cohorts, while fundamentalist Protestants dominate the New Zealand Christian Right. Fundamentalists find universities unfriendly places to someone who has minimal social networks and exposure to critical inquiry before this point. They acknowledge that there is a problem, and that they need to provide greater intellectual support so that university-bound fundamentalists are not "adversely" affected by exposure to intellectual and academic freedom. According to one Maxim Institute youth seminar, seventy percent of university-bound fundamentalists leave their earlier faith once they develop critical inquiry and analytical skills. For this reason, the Maxim Institute uses conservative Catholic rhetoric a lot. Unfortunately for the Maxim Institute, it may not have taken rank and vile fundamentalists into account. In fundamentalist churches, the politically unsophisticated "old" Christian Right is still in evidence, and does not realise that it cannot cite discredited old Christian Right sources like Judith Reisman and Paul Cameron, and not expect to be laughed at. Why would they make this mistake? Some fundamentalists are sceptical about "homosexual activist" claims against their flawed idols, and disregard the fact that mainstream social science and medical data has been marshalled and used against these "experts" in documented censorship regulatory and court cases, as well as within parliamentary submission. It failed, which means that it lacks credibility, and as their political opponents, we are well aware of what to cite as rebuttal. They disregard its failure in regulatory, judicial and parliamentary contexts at their own peril. Moreover, some of them appear to be living in the past. It is one thing to pretend that New Zealand regulatory, judicial and parliamentary debates and rebuttals of Reisman and Cameron don't exist, even if we won't. In other cases, they seem to be unaware that they will have to advance (junk) social and medical 'science' that is relevant to relationship and parenting equality debates in particular. Cameron may have produced such material, but rebuttals of his work are ridiculously easy to find online. As for Judith Reisman, she has been prevented from filing further vexatious litigation against Indiana University and the Kinsey Institute due to her absurd and unsubstantiated claims against that prominent medical and social scientific source of mainstream information about human sexuality. Why do New Zealand's old guard fundamentalists do this? The old guard Christian Right lives in a conspiratorial and enclosed set of social networks related to their churches, media and Christian Right pressure groups, and ignore anything outside this virtual fundamentalist unreality. It's their movement's funeral when they do that, and the Maxim Institute cannot welcome bizarre outbursts like the Society for Promotion of Community Standards' comments about creationist 'intelligent design," for example. Bring it on. Recommended Reading: New Zealand Administrative Reports: Court of Appeal: SPCS v Everard (Reisman)[1988-89] Exposing the AIDS Scandal (Cameron) [1994] Available in any university law library. 1. Judith Reisman: Indiana University: Rebuttal of Reisman's Attacks on Kinsey: Poppy Dixon: "I'm Ready for My Closeup, Captain Kangaroo" (June 2000). According to Dixon, US Christian Right organisations like Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, American Family Association and Concerned "Women" for America have cited Reisman's pseudo 'science': Carolyn Moynihan: A Stand for Decency: Patricia Bartlett and the Society for Promotion of Community Standards: Upper Hutt: SPCS: 1995. 2. Paul Cameron: UK Press Complaints Commission: Rebuttal of right-wing UK tabloid hack Anne Atkins' attack on UK gay age of consent equality, which cited Cameron as if he were a mainstream source. PCC upheld the complaint against Atkins and Cameron. Greg Herek: University of California (Davis): [Cameron Biography and Fact Sheet] [Criticism of Cameron's "Research" Methodology] [Cameron's "Journal" Sources] Rebuttals of Cameron's Paedophile Claims and "Medical Consequences" of Gay Sex: Past New Zealand antigay literature that cites Cameron: C.James Bacon: The Social Effects of Homosexuality in New Zealand: Christchurch: Coalition of Concerned Citizens: 1985. Briar and Neil Whitehead: My Genes Made Me Do It!: Lafayette: Huntington House: 1995. New Zealand Christian Right websites: Compass (Maxim Institute Jan 2004 Youth Seminar): Maxim Institute: SPCS: Craig Young - 10th May 2004    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Monday, 10th May 2004 - 12:00pm

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