Tamaki - Open Letter To Political Party Leaders
Open Letter To Political Party Leaders
New Zealand Parliament
(Sent 24 May 2007)
From: Bishop Brian Tamaki
Asia Pacific Interfaith Forum At Waitangi – 29 May 2007
On 29–31 May at Waitangi, the Prime Minister will present New Zealand as a religiously ‘neutral’ country to an international audience by way of a ‘National Statement on Religious Diversity’ (NSORD) which has been crafted as a guiding document for future reference on matters pertaining to nationhood and religion.
The Statement declares, “New Zealand has no official or established religion” and amongst other things contends that schools should teach a diversity of religions. Of the eight principles contained in the NSORD no reference whatsoever is made to New Zealand’s significant Christian heritage. Moreover, most of the principles outlined in the statement already exist in New Zealand law. Which begs the questions, “why is such a statement necessary and what’s the motivation behind it?”
I hold grave concerns that if this Statement were to be adopted by the Labour-led Government, which is clearly its intention, then those ‘established’ elements of Christianity that currently exist within our constitutional, political and social arrangements would have no basis to remain. Some examples include the Bible in our justice system, prayer in parliament, Christmas and Easter holidays, our National Anthem ‘God defend New Zealand’ and Civic Oaths that acknowledge a greater authority, to name but a few. Virtues and ethics based on Christian presumptions will come under even greater scrutiny and risk being redefined. Examples include Christian traditions of truth and justice, rights balanced by responsibilities, the nuclear family and parental rights.
Please understand I affirm the separation of church and state and an individual’s freedom of religious choice. Nor is it my intention to impose the Christian religion on Society. However I, and many other New Zealanders believe the religion of Christ, as declared in our prayer in Parliament, is the one true religion. I say this not to in any way to offend or impose by personal belief on anybody, but contrary to what the proposed Statement on Religious Diversity says, New Zealand does indeed have an established ‘Christian’ religion (meaning those things that have been set in place) that has played a major role in shaping our national identity.
I do not believe it is in New Zealand’s best interests to minimise or deny our founding faith for the sake of religious or political correctness. Matters pertaining to diversity, inclusiveness and tolerance are best approached when we are secure in our own identity without fear of causing offence to individuals, groups or even countries of alternative religious persuasions.
As such, I would expect that any statement pertaining to religious matters in the context of our country would honour the founding faith of our nation so that future generations can enjoy the moral traditions, values, benefits and freedoms that Christianity affords.
And since the Government has moved to formalise a statement on religion in our country (known as the Waitangi Declaration), I intend to present a counter-statement (Waitangi Declaration) to the Forum that documents our Christian heritage in such a way that it cannot be tampered with by future Governments. In fact, I hope a future Government would be moved to officially recognise New Zealand as a Christian nation.
To that end, I will lead a delegation of church representatives at Waitangi to coincide with the Asia Pacific Interfaith Forum on Tuesday 29th of May (next week), gathering at the Ngapuhi grounds at Waitangi by 12pm (midday).
I would like to extend an invitation to you or a representative from your party to attend. Event details can be viewed on www.christiannation.org.nz.
Bishop Brian Tamaki
Destiny Churches New Zealand