The Fundy Post: Edition Nine
The Fundy Post: Edition Nine
Greetings and welcome to the ninth issue of the Fundy Post, which just scrapes in at the end of the week. First, a public information message, and then on with the fun:
It is still not too late to show your support for the Civil Union Bill and Relationships Bill by signing the advertisement, which will be published in a major national newspaper. Go to https://www.civilunions.org.nz/ad?r=f and use your Visa or Mastercard to have your name on the advertisement. Or, if you prefer, download and print the form and post a cheque.
Death of a Spokesman
Public Relations people are, of course, hired guns, charged with putting a spin on everything their employers do and taking the flak when everything goes wobbly (to mix a few metaphors). Someone who takes a job as Director of Communications at a body like the Maxim Institute could expect to take a few hard knocks in the line of duty. Nevertheless, one would be hard-hearted not to feel some sympathy for Scott McMurray, who currently holds this position. As viewers of last week's and last night's broadcasts of Queer Nation will have seen, Mr McMurray had a somewhat difficult interview with Chris Banks.
Maxim watchers will know that the Institute likes to be thought of as a "social policy think-tank" or words to that effect, which "performs timely, accurate research and analysis on key policy issues" Queer Nation watchers will have seen that Mr Banks had some pretty clear evidence that Maxim is not what it claims to be and does not do what it claims to do. Thus it came to pass that Mr McMurray had to field questions about Maxim's connections with scary fundamentalist organisations in the USofA and about the quality of its research. It was a painful experience, at least for Mr McMurray. As each question hit his cerebral cortex, he looked heavenward for guidance, but none was forthcoming. The realisation that so much was known about his employers obviously came as news to him. At times it appeared as if his whole career was flashing before his eyes.
Fundy Post readers will not be surprised at the general drift of these revelations; had Mr McMurray been a reader, he might have been a little less surprised as well. However, viewers would have many new disclosures, such as Maxim's links with Summit Ministries and my own modest contribution on the work of noted anthropologist John D Unwin, which has been cited by Maxim in two submissions to Parliamentary Select Committees. I did some timely and accurate research on this author, which involved borrowing his book from a library and reading it. As the author's name is Joseph Daniel Unwin and as his book (which has the enticing title of Sex and Culture) contradicts everything Maxim has said about him, I think we can conclude that they did not do the same. As the misnaming and the quotations they use appear on numerous fundamentalist websites, I think we can be reasonably sure of how they perform their research: in a word, Google; or, in two words, Cut and Paste.
There will be another chance to see the second edition of the programme on Sunday; don't miss it. For the detailed story, go to www.gaynz.com and read MAXIMum Impact Parts 1 and 2 by Chris Banks.
Out and Proud
Oddly enough, the day after the first Queer Nation broadcast, a link appeared on Maxim's home page to the Compass website. Queer Nation had revealed that Compass is a fundy boot camp run by Maxim on behalf of Summit Ministries. Maxim ran the Compass event in New Zealand last year and received much praise from Summit Ministries for their work, although they were too modest to advertise it on the Maxim website. This year, they have taken the opportunity to make use of the publicity provided by Queer Nation to advertise Compass 2005 on their site and in the current edition of their newsletter, Real Issues. Compass is a "worldview conference designed to help young leaders engage with the ideas and worldviews shaping society, along with other local and international speakers."
The speakers with whom the students will be engaged include the usual Maxim crowd and some imports, including one Greg Koukl, who runs a "Christian Apologetics" website called Stand To Reason ( www.str.org) which publishes his thinking. Needless to say, none of it is reasonable. Koukl is against pretty much everything, including abortion, euthanasia, evolution and homosexuality. His advice to followers, however, is not to argue from a religious viewpoint, because people will reject that, but to appeal to the public good. This all seems very familiar to anyone who has followed Maxim's antics.
The owner of Compass, Summit Ministries, is an outfit in Colorado run by Dr David Noebel, author of Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles and co-author of Mind Seige, an extended rant against the "foul-smelling sewer of secular humanism". This work (reviewed by Bill Cooke in the Spring 2003 issue of Open Society, the NZARH journal) blames everything on secular humanists, including the return of ownership of the Panama Canal to Panama. Why did this happen? "Because we are being ruled by a small but very influential cadre of committed Humanists. These politicians are determined to turn America into an amoral, humanist country ripe for merger into a one-world, socialist state". According to the Summit Ministries Journal, every student attending the Compass New Zealand event last year received a copy of Mind Seige.
Maxim has been a little coy about their involvement with Compass until now. After all, they did want us all to think they were just a social policy think-tank which is concerned about maintaining a secular society, at least when issues arise about Islam or Maori spirituality. However, now they have been outed. Perhaps Maxim's public acknowledgement of Compass marks the the first tentative steps towards shouting to the world "we're fundies and we're proud".
Trick or Treat
Enough of Maxim for the time being; there's more, but it can wait. One thing that will not wait is Halloween, although it may be early if you live in Greenville, Georgia. Our Victorian (the Australian State, not the Historic era) correspondent forwarded an article from The Age about this town's problems. The folk of Greenville are worried because, this year, Halloween falls on a Sunday. According to one resident "You go to church on Sunday, you don't go out and celebrate the devil. That'll confuse a child." The town's solution to this problem is to move Halloween to Saturday, which pleases the shopkeepers no end, because they are not allowed to open on Sunday. Many other Bible Belt towns will be doing the same this year. True believers want Halloween abolished altogether, along with Harry Potter and Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
One group who will be celebrating Halloween are the Canadian Wiccans at http://www.wiccanweb.ca/index.php, who graciously mentioned the Fundy Post in relation to last week's Website of the Week. I expect the SPCS will now accuse us of consorting with witches as well as the Gay Mafia, but that could at least make for some interesting parties.
Website of the Week
Normally, the WOTW would be something weird and wacky, but a brief mention in a New Zealand Herald article today brought up a matter of importance. In a report on the US elections, Helen Tunnah said that "the conservative Christian Coalition ... confirmed it works with like-minded organisations in both New Zealand and Australia....", which raises the question of which like-minded organisations it is working with. If you are not alarmed already, you should be: the Christian Coalition is the organisation that managed to infiltrate the Republican Party with fundies and turn it from a reasonable secular party to the hotbed of religious lunacy it is today. You can learn all about them at their website: http://www.cc.org/
Quote of the Week
From the Fundy Post's Forensic Friend Liz McKenzie, whose reaction to an article about how science and religion can co-exist was, "Who cares what the bible says? It hasn't been peer-reviewed".
Radio Show of the Week
Last Sunday, George FM invited me to come along and ramble on their weekly programme, Explorations with Joe Descartes (no relation). It runs from 8pm to 10pm every Sunday and it is about ideas: philosophy, politics, religion, that sort of thing. Joe also plays some rather nice music. You can find your local frequency for George FM or listen to the live stream at their website www.georgefm.co.nz. Try it: it's better than Evensong.
This week's Fundy Post was produced by Paul Litterick entirely without the benefit of alcohol. However, since several South Australian reds have been recommended by readers (who may themselves be South Australian Reds) normal service will be resumed next week.