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The Lone Strangers?

Wed 23 Feb 2005 In: Comment

I've been thinking about irate Independent Baptist Justin Pearce gatecrashing of Auckland's Big Gay Out where he raved muchly about sodomy, perversion etc. Solo fundamentalist efforts seem to be on the increase, so what does this mean? In some cases, it is because the backing organisation that once included these individuals has gone away and left them alone. In about three cases of solo skippydom here, this is what has happened. Of course, this doesn't discount the effect of the Maxim Institute, Destiny Church and larger anti-gay groups, but they don't encompass everyone. The Institute finesses its message. Destiny Church consists predominantly of Maori and Pasifika Pentecostal parishioners. Not all fundamentalists are Pentecostal, and few New Zealand fundamentalists moderate their godbot rhetoric as the Institute urges them to do. In two cases of solo skippydom, individual action has occurred because of the subsidence of a former conservative Christian pressure group. Matt Flannagan imitated a Tui poster when he plastered David Benson-Pope's billboard in Dunedin, while Garnet Milne's Campaign Against Civil Unions and Reformation Testimony website are transparently individual efforts. Both gentlemen are former CHP office holders or candidates. Granted, the CHP is still there, but only just. Ewen McQueen uses his media appearances sparingly, and the CHP never was electorally significant. Neither Flannagan or Milne are Pentecostals, as the Reformed Church frowns on that sort of thing. In the case of Pearce, he seemed to be acting as an individual and very Independent sort of Baptist. Over the nineties, the Baptist denomination lost about twenty thousand adherents, one of the steepest declines in any New Zealand religious category, despite its social conservatism and evangelical bias. Granted, the decline has now slowed, but fundamentalist belief and social conservatism do not seem to have arrested that precipitous decline. Pearce might have been responding to the absence of Baptist forums for acting out his social conservatism and the eclipse of fundamentalist Baptist conservative activism after the mid-nineties. Will we see more solo skippy antics? It depends on whether there is a causal relationship between subsidence of particular Christian Right pressure groups and solo protest tactics. However, it is merely protest for its own sake, and nothing more. It doesn't mark an elaborated strategy. If the Batts turn off funds for the Maxim Institute, or if Brian Tamaki decides he wants more money overseas, then it'll be interesting to see what happens in their wake. Recommended Reading: Statistics New Zealand: New Zealand Census of Populations and Dwellings (2001): Wellington: Statistics New Zealand: 2002. Craig Young - 23rd February 2005    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Wednesday, 23rd February 2005 - 12:00pm

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