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Herald asked to out stealth columnist

Mon 28 Feb 2005 In: New Zealand Daily News

Media watchdog group GayWatch has again called on the NZ Herald to acknowledge the fundamentalist Christian beliefs of one of its regular columnists on moral issues, Sandra Paterson. In Paterson's column of 19 February, she chided Christian fundamentalists and the gay and lesbian community for not being polite enough to each other in expressing their argument. "Both sides, in any debate, would do well to remember that even the strongest of opinions is most effectively expressed with graciousness and respect," she wrote, after a lengthy dissertation on the “positive and timely” move of a collection of Christian churches formally entering the political arena. Paterson caused a stir last year when she claimed a gay man's story of being denied access to his partner's body had nothing to do with discrimination, and was "propaganda" to pass the Civil Union Bill. It was subsequently revealed that Paterson, whom the Herald describes as a "freelance journalist", was also an evangelist at the Tauranga Worship Centre. "Letters to the editor pointing this out – of which GayWatch knows several have been sent – continue to be tossed into the rubbish bin," says GayWatch in a media statement released Friday. "The newspaper will simply not allow this subject to be raised. So much for the Herald's regularly trumpeted commitment to freedom of speech. On this subject it is non-existent." GayWatch says it has no problem with what Paterson writes, but think her religious beliefs are a relevant point when writing on homosexuality. "Because if someone wrote regularly about Jewish issues, for example, it would be highly relevant if they were personally associated with the National Front. Wouldn't it?" Christopher Dempsey, spokesman for GayWatch, says Herald editor-in-chief Tim Murphy has not responded to the statement.    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Monday, 28th February 2005 - 12:00pm

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