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Shaky times; rock-steady principles

November 4, 2008

Shaky times; rock-steady principles

Wild stockmarket gyrations; giant banks and insurance companies teetering; vast bailouts; looming recession; thousands losing their homes and jobs… as New Zealanders scan the international headlines, and head to the polls this Saturday, many will be feeling that the future is less certain than it’s ever been in their lifetimes.

All the more reason, say the country’s two Anglican Archbishops, David Moxon and Brown Turei, for New Zealanders to cast their votes according to principles that have, they say, never failed. Principles such as:

We are our sisters and brothers’ keepers:

“As times tighten, we will need to do much more to look after each other,” say Archbishops Moxon and Turei.

“The Gospels reveal a vision of a just society, where the plight of the poorest of the poor is totally bound up with the social responsibility of the wealthy and the powerful. We are our sisters and brothers’ keeper: the destiny of the most at risk will implicate us all.”

Point to ponder: Even before the financial tsunami struck, there was hardship for some in this country. There were, according to research conducted by the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services , already around 550,000 people in poverty. That’s one in every seven households, including 170,000 children. We need, as a country, to raise benefit levels and income support levels so those people can move out of poverty.

Taxes are the dues we pay to belong to a civilised society:

“In the leadup to this election there’s been a lot of emphasis on tax cuts.

“Personal tax cuts may be in order, but we’re wary of appeals to self-interest. And we’re sceptical of the notion that every tax cut generates more tax revenue, and that if you cut benefits and social services, you will somehow drive the needy into the middle class.”

Point to ponder: Oliver Wendell Holmes, the famous US Supreme Court Judge, said: 'I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilisation.'

Generosity, not hoarding, is our finest response to need:

“At election time, we need to offer parliamentarians challenges from the justice vision of the Bible. But it’s even more important that we challenge ourselves, our own lifestyle choices and our willingness to live justly where we are.

“For some New Zealanders, the extra $12 to $28 a week that came as a result of the October tax cuts will really help them make ends meet.

“Many of us, however, were doing fine without that. We can afford to simply give our tax cut to worthy causes who struggle because of insufficient funding.”

Point to ponder: We encourage people to look at http://www.giveitup.org.nz.

Keeping promises is always good:

“Our nation was founded on a solemn covenant. We are bound by the promises our Maori and Pakeha forefathers made in the Treaty of Waitangi – and we must honour the heritage and rights of every ethnic community in this land.”

“Treaty-based solutions to social tensions and difficulties are important to us, and as a church we recommit ourselves to the tikanga partnership we have.”

Point to ponder: We look for party policies and for party coalitions that emphasize partnership under the Treaty of Waitangi.

Our children’s birthright should be protected:

“It’s easy to become hypnotized by the global financial turmoil.

“Yet the pressing need to protect the planet and live sustainably hasn’t gone away. We are stewards of God’s good earth – and we urge people to continue to think about alternative means of transport; about energy efficiency and about re-use and recycling.”

Point to ponder: We affirm the need for environmental responsibility – and we believe our politicians should work towards carbon neutrality.

Archbishop Brown Turei
Archbishop David Moxon


Notes: Some of the many Biblical texts which support the principles cited include: Zechariah 7: 8-10 (Care for people in general, and for the disadvantaged in particular); Isaiah 65: 17- 25 (A vision for homes, good health, long life and fulfilling work for all); Matthew 5: 1-12 (A call for civil humanity); Luke 4:14-21 (Care for the disadvantaged); Genesis 4:9 (Being our brothers’ keeper); Psalm 146 (Justice for the oppressed and downtrodden); Psalm 104 (Care for creation).

A more detailed election letter, addressed to Anglicans, can be seen at: http://www.anglicantaonga.org.nz/Comment/letter-to-churches

Some relevant websites include:
The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services: http://www.justiceandcompassion.org.nz/site/home.php; and in particular their PDF: http://www.nzccss.org.nz/uploads/publications/Facts%20About%20Poverty%202008%20Aug08.pdf.
The Anglican Social Justice Commission:


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