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Section 59 Repeal: The Greens versus the Christian Right

Wed 7 Sep 2005 In: Comment

Has the Christian Right just inadvertantly helped the Greens on their road to centre-left coalition partner status? It's not all about us. Just over a week ago Family Integrity and Panmure's Carey Christian College circulated the former's horrid little pamphlet, which encouraged fundamentalist parents to use broomstick handles to hit their children. While I gather that the Greens have benefited from voter slippage, it's intriguing that Section 59 Repeal hasn't cut into their electoral chances, despite repeated polls that show majority approval for 'smacking.' Quite rightly, Sue Bradford described the nasty little piece of work as "pro-beating" and a product of 'bad theology.' Whose? Well, it doesn't take much investigation to notice that Family Integrity, Garnet Milne ad nauseum have a common bond- some connection to either the Reformed Church of New Zealand and/or the CHP. There's a highly unpleasant extremist, sectarian conservative Calvinist taint to the anti-repeal lobby which suggests that Sue is more correct than she may suspect. It's the same theology that has led conservative Calvinists to support capital punishment, hardline stances on availability of social welfare benefits, theonomic execution of homosexuals, apartheid and Ian Paisley's brand of sectarianism in the past. They're the 'elect' and infallible. And Graham Capill believed in that theology, which fed into his paedophilia and enabled him to avoid responsibility and retribution for his actions. What if abusive, violent and dysfunctional fundamentalist parents are using the same rationale to hide under bogus rhetoric about 'parental rights.'' Predictably, the obnoxious Stephen Franks (ACT) and Judith Collins (National, Clevedon) have weighed in, and sided with Family Integrity, without even investigating its background. Oh, and Franks sees nothing wrong with advocating censorship of Childrens' Commissioner Cindy Kiro for daring to advocate an end to beating children. Who died and appointed Franks the thought police? Or is free speech only permissible for social conservative ideological purists? It is painfully obvious that the New Zealand Christian Right Old Guard have never had the services of a professional strategist like the US Republican Party's Ralph Reed in the mid-nineties. Family Integrity, Garnet Milne et al routinely use sectarian language that identifies and stigmatises them, giving their electoral support to unelectable fringe parties like the CHP, United Future, Destiny New Zealand...and now, ACT? It's a far cry from the Greens, who have most of New Zealand's child health, protection and welfare professional groups onboard. Over at the NZ Association of Rationalists and Humanists, Paul Litterick reckons that 'respectable' Christian Right pressure groups like the Maxim Institute keep deliberately throwing their games to retain fundamentalist identification with them as social conservative outsiders and underdogs. Yeah, but it does little for their alleged rep as a professional lobby group. In any case, it is the Christian Right Old Guard that presents fundamentalist parents as targets of soulless child welfare professionals and predatory government departments out to squash conservative Christian opponents of state tyranny. Sure, CYFS should be reprimanded when it gets things wrong, and heads should roll. However, some of its fundamentalist opponents have extreme ideas about authoritarian parenting and use of extreme violence to discipline children, and agendas against any government child protection agency intervention, even if warranted. Recommended Reading: Section 59 Reform: "BMA Drops Euthanasia Opposition" (4.07.05): Crimes (Amendment of Force as A Justification for Child Discipline) Bill: Christian Right Anti-Child Groups: Family Integrity: ["Working Definition of Spanking" is in their brochures section] Maxim Institute: Reformation Testimony: See also: Rex Ahdar and James Allan "Taking Smacking Seriously: A Case for Retaining the Legal Status Parental Smacking in New Zealand" New Zealand Law Review 2001 Part 1: [Ahdar and Allan attempt to make an evidence-based anti-reform argument. Thus far, theirs is the only such attempt. Ahdar is a self-acknowledged conservative Christian and legal academic at Otago University] Ralph Reed: Politically Incorrect: The Emerging Faith Factor in American Politics: Dallas: Word: 1994. Craig Young - 7th September 2005    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Wednesday, 7th September 2005 - 12:00pm

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