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March 25, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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God Defend New Zealand?

Politics Left

On Tuesday 5 March, you can be sure that an ever-growing proportion of New Zealanders ticked the “No religion” box on their Census form. In 2011, one third of New Zealanders were not affiliated with any religion, and all indications show that this number is increasing.

Good. Because God isn’t real, duh.

However, many people don’t agree with this, and that makes things complicated. I hasten to point out that Buddha, Krishna and Allah aren’t real either, but, for the purposes of this column, “God” refers to the garden variety, grey-bearded saviour preferred by the majority of New Zealand and its Parliament. This focus on Christianity should, in theory, have a positive influence on the laws of New Zealand. After all, the main teachings of Jesus Christ advocate love, charity and kindness. “Kewl!” I might hear you exclaim as you get a free hot chocolate from Huge!, “This Jesus guy sounds grand!” however, the application of these teachings has been anything but consistent. The biggest proponents of Christianity in the house of representatives all too often use a misguided sense of ‘family values’ to justify perpetuating social injustice while ignoring Jesus’ main focus of giving to the poor. Religious convictions should not be trotted out as a convenient excuse to halt progressive change; especially when those same beliefs are thrown to the wind to empower the free market to the detriment of the poor. “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, ” Matthew 19:21. “Ew gays,” Not Jesus, ever.

In the last fortnight, this blurring of the line that should exist between religion and the making of laws was brought to the forefront in the marriage-equality debate. The fine National member for Hamilton West, Tim Macindoe commented during the second reading debate that Parliament should “not be moving ahead of the churches”. Not only does Macindoe misinterpret Jesus’ main intent of lovin’ ya fellow man (not in an anal way), but also questions our position as a secular state. To suggest that Parliament should be constrained by the will of churches is to suggest that New Zealand should be a theocracy and is, frankly, unacceptable for a lawmaker.

Of course, Macindoe isn’t alone in his blurring the lines of secularity. Whenever our MPs take their seats in the debating chamber there is a prayer, blessing the house and acknowledging the need for “Almighty god[’s] … guidance in all things”. A survey of MPs in 2007 revealed that a significant majority preferred to keep the prayer, which is hardly symptomatic of a secular state. Our national anthem seeks defence, not from tanks and bombs, but how the magic man in the sky. In a country where we not only separate religion from government, but where over one million of us have no religious belief isn’t this a problem?

Should the census reveal that we are an even less holy nation than expected, calls for the removal of these religion remnants should be forthcoming. As for Macindoe and his religiously inclined colleagues? Let us pray that God can give them a helping hand in the ballot box.

 

Carla Marx

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