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Parl Democracy Is Part Of Our Christian Heritage

Parliamentary Democracy Is Part Of Our Christian Heritage

Christian Heritage NZ leader Ewen McQueen said today that in calling for the prayer that opens Parliament each day to be abolished, MP Matt Robson ignored the historical foundations of the institution of which he was a member. Mr McQueen said the historical-cultural context in which parliamentary democracy has arisen was undeniably Christian. Given this it was entirely appropriate that prayer retained a place in the day to day running of Parliament. Mr McQueen stated,

“The Judeo-Christian worldview has played a pivotal role in forming social values and institutions in the western nations where democracy was nurtured. As a result great progress has been achieved, including the recognition of basic human rights, the growth of political freedom and the establishment of democratic institutions including Parliament itself. In contrast, cultures underpinned by the worldviews of other religions have not given rise naturally to such institutions. Where democracy occurs in these cultures it tends to be a colonial hybrid, often struggling just to maintain its existence. Alternatively where the atheistic worldview of Marxist-Leninism has been imposed on a society, democracy if it existed has invariably been snuffed out”.

Mr McQueen said the reason for the close association of Christianity with the development of institutions such as Parliament was that it provided two foundational ethical principles upon which democracy has been established. Firstly, that all individuals were created in the image of God and thus of equal and inestimable value. And secondly, that all human authority is accountable to a higher authority. He stated,

“The notion rulers could not simply do as they wished, but were bound by a higher law was hugely influential in the development of parliamentary democracy. It was the principle driving force behind the enactment of the Magna Carta in 1215. This charter of human rights contained many references almost straight out of the Bible and was a watershed for the cause of liberty in Britain. It was no coincidence that not long after this the first English Parliament began meeting - at Lincoln Cathedral.”

Mr McQueen noted that it was ironic that the very freedom that allowed Mr Robson to make his proposal existed largely due to the influence that the Christian faith has had on our culture for centuries. In view of this he suggested that,

“Rather than attacking the Parliamentary prayer, Mr Robson would be better off actually participating in it - in grateful recognition of the freedom we have all inherited as part of our Christian heritage.”

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