Scott & Sarah Kennedy

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Christian Extremism

I was reading a few blogs, and I was directed to this editorial in the Sunday Star Times.

What a distrubing editorial. As most of my readers will know, I am a follower of Jesus Christ - a Christian if you prefer. While I may be different from many New Zealanders, I suspect that like most I care deeply about this country. And so I was annoyed by the insinuations that this editorial made about Christians who have begun to actively promote the referendum on smacking. Consider the introductory paragraph with me.

The Right has found a heavy club to beat the government with: a referendum on smacking at the next election. This is a brilliant ploy by the religious extremists of Family First. It will gather not only libertarians, Act voters and other motley fanatics of that kind, but many decent and ordinary people. It is as though the Brethren had found a cause that appealed to the mainstream. The political and social effects are likely to be large and wholly malign.

Notice the words 'religious extremists.' Why does agreeing with over 80% of the New Zealand population on the smacking issue make one an extremist? Aren't people with religious convictions allowed to promote what they believe is right without being labelled as extremists? Are we supposed to lie down and let the government tell us how to live without attempting to play our part in the democratic process? Is democracy not intended for Christians?

Notice also that by implication 'Christians, libertarians, Act voters and other motley fanatics' are not decent and ordinary people. No - they are a separate category. Presumably they are indecent and peculiar people. But surely if many 'decent and ordinary' people are getting behind this referendum attempt - the cause in itself can't be all that bad. Just because the people out on the streets collecting signatures are Christians doesn't mean that the cause itself is somehow evil.

It saddens me that an intelligent journalist could have written such ill-thought comments. Like the Exclusive Brethren, Christians are being portrayed as social lepers. We are painted as people who can't be trusted; people who have a dangerous agenda. The reality? We're just normal people trying to follow Jesus in this world - trying to love God and our neighbour - failing often. But we're not the big bogey man.

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