United Future is NOT a Christian Party
17 June 2005
The Fundy Post - United Future is NOT a Christian Party
It needs to be made absolutely clear, from the start, that United Future is NOT a Christian Party. We need to stop these rumours before they get around and cause damage. Before you know it, people will be saying that United Future is a Christian political party, which is not true. In fact quite the reverse is true: United Future is NOT a Christian party. Let's be quite clear about that.
We can be sure that United Future is not a Christian party because the party's leader says so. Haydon Dewes reported in the Dominion-Post of 21 April that ‘Mr Dunne is adamant United Future is not a "Christian" party. It couldn't be much more plain than that, could it?
Then there is Marc Alexander, the United Future MP who has just published a 'politically incorrect' cookbook. In the Herald, Jonathan Milne says "United Future has been anxious to thrust forward the devoutly atheist Mr Alexander to help dispel perceptions that it is a religious party, and the book’s sentiments are most un-Christian." There, you see: he is 'devoutly atheist' and not a Christian, so United Future could not be said to be a Christian Party, could it?
Then there is Larry Baldock, definitely not a devout atheist, in fact quite the opposite; there is no doubting that he is a Christian. He got quite rattled when GayNZ.com suggested that United Future was a Christian Party, quite a lot rattled, very rattled indeed: “We’ve answered that question on many occasions and it’s a pretty dumb question. I know it’s one you like to keep asking, but it’s just a dumb question.”
So, what do Christians think about United Future? Do Christians think that United Future is a Christian Party, however wrong that thought may be? For instance, what might someone like Garnet Milne, Pastor of Wanganui Reformed Church and author of the popular Reformation Testimony website, think? Just by chance, he has been thinking about this very subject, and this is what he thinks:
fascinating to see the dispensationalist influence of Future
NZ being imported into United Future [UF]. The Christians
in UF continue the rather inane mantra “political parties
are not Christians, but people are”. They, therefore,
reject any attempt to label UF as a Christian party. On
the other hand, behind the scene UF is actively promoting
itself in the Christian community, even though their
rejection of a “Christian” label sends the message that
somehow Christianity, including Christian morality, has to
be divorced from politics.
As Garnet reminds us, Peter Dunne formed Future New Zealand, which then merged with United to become United New Zealand. Then United New Zealand merged with another Future New Zealand, to become United Future New Zealand. This other Future New Zealand were once called the Christian Democrats.
So there you have it. United Future is NOT a Christian party, even though it is trying to gather votes among the churched and it does include some people who have rather old-fashioned, Old Testament, ideas. I am glad we managed to sort it all out.
Next week: Michael Jackson is NOT a child-molester.
Letter to the Editor
I received this email from Madeleine Flannagan, a reader from Dunedin:
Your article "The Fundy Post A review of the strange world of the Religious Right Issue Twelve: 16th May 2005" commits the guilt by association flaw of reasoning. "Watchdog also provides hosting services for our friends, the Maxim Institute." Ihug provides hosting for www.soul.org.nz Freeparking provides hosting for www.lockefoundation.org.nz I suppose these two ISP's can now be tarred with the ad hominem brush too now?
Your argument against Watchdog appears to be that they support other groups you do not like. Did you have an argument beyond 'we don't like who they like'/guilt by association or do you prefer ad hominem rant than to actually addressing the arguments offered by those you denigrate? Not very rational for the Rationalists to utilise flawed reasoning.
Further, your use of the term fundamentalist of Christian groups that do not hold to the teachings of Fundamentalism is defamatory and ad hominem as you use it not to be accurate, because it is not an accurate use of the term, but to be derogatory and to lower the people of whom you speak in the eyes of your readers. Educate yourselves as to what Fundamentalism is as none of the groups quoted in your article hold to the teachings of Fundamentalism.
Madeleine Flannagan Locke Foundation http://www.lockefoundation.org.nz
This was my reply:
Thank you for your email; it is always nice to hear from readers. However, I am concerned that you should believe there is some guilt by association in my mention of Watchdog hosting the Maxim Institute's web pages. I mentioned it only in passing, but obviously you think there is some stigma attached to the Maxim Institute. I was in fact more concerned about Watchdog's open support for such illiberal groups as Focus on the Family, as this hardly seems appropriate for a company entrusted with controlling access to information.
My argument against Watchdog is not that they support groups I do not like. It is that they have the ability to censor schools' access to the internet and that the standards they use in deciding which sites to block are those of the Christian Right. I should have thought that the Locke Foundation would agree with me that such censorship is wrong, given that John Locke both argued for religious toleration and persuaded Parliament to end press censorship in 1695.
I understand that the governors of Takapuna Grammar School have taken the Lockean attitude and ended the use of Watchdog's technology, which should be a cause for celebration by all those who love liberty. I hope they will be the first of many schools to do so.
As for my use of the term 'fundamentalist', I believe this is a term in common use that identifies members of what might otherwise be called the Protestant Right, whether or not they adhere to the 'Fundamentals.' Perhaps you can think of a more apposite term I could use.
I would be grateful for your comments.
I have yet to receive a reply. If any readers help me find a better term than fundamentalist, I would be grateful for your assistance. In the meantime, I shall be writing about the Locke Foundation, a curious organisation, to say the least. Watch this space.
Thought for the Week
From the Maxim Institute's Real Issues, in a section called Did You Know: "In the tiny Indian Ocean island group, the Maldives, only 1 percent of births are to unmarried mothers, the lowest ex-nuptial rate in the world. The rate in New Zealand is 44 percent (UN World Fertility Report 2003)."
Makes you think, doesn't it? Makes me Google; Did You Also Know that:
The prevalence of remarriages is a common phenomenon in the Maldives. In the Maldives both men and women marry more than once in their lifetime. The 1995 Report of the Survey on Causes of Divorce in Maldives, Ministry of Youth, Women’s Affairs and Sports, reveals that more than 1/3 of females marries at least twice by the age of 20. More than ½ marry thrice by the age of 30 and the same number of people marries 4 times by age 50. (Refer to table 5, graph 5 of Annex)
“You are more likely to be physically assaulted, beaten and killed in your own home at the hands of a loved one than any place else or by anyone else in the society (Gelles and Strauss 1988.18). The family has two faces. On one side it can be a haven. But there is also a dark side of the family. Many wives and children are assaulted by the husbands and parents in our society. These forms of domestic violence are difficult to examine and are rarely reported to the concerned authorities. Studies have shown that approximately 90% of all parents use physical punishment on their children.
Another source of marital instability is the wide spread use of drugs among the youth. Statistics from the Narcotics Control Board reveals that from July to September 1999 out of the persons arrested for drug related cases 64% of the cases were under 25 years of age. The rehabilitation centre designed to house the people who are on drugs lack the physical capacity in accommodating the clients who volunteer for treatment.
As a social unit the family has been undergoing transformation in its formation and structure in the past decade [1984-1994]. Widespread divorce, the growth of single parent families, and co-habitation without marriage is increasing. The society is tolerating the trend of co-habitation, especially in the urban capital Male’. The effect of this trend on family formation and structure is yet to be known, however this needs to be considered while formulating policies.
According to the 1995 Population assessing census only 1 in 11 of all men were married to more than 1 wife.
The mean age of first marriage for male and female respondents is 21.3 years and 17.5 respectively.
Source: Nuptiality Trends in the Maldives: http://www.planning.gov.mv/pp/nup.htm
Production of this edition of the Fundy Post was hindered by too many bottles of Rioja, the names of which now escape the Editor.