Monday, February 19, 2007

News from New Zealand

A national statement (whatever that is) was released which says that New Zealand has no state religion. The response from some religious groups has been ... odd.

At the weekend Destiny Church and Vision Network of evangelical churches expressed outrage that the statement said there was no state religion.
What is there to be outraged about? As the Commissioner for Race Relations pointed out, this 'outrageous' statement about NZ not having a state religion is not some new law. It's just a statement about the way things are.
...the State seeks to treat...all faith communities and those who profess no religion equally before the law. New Zealand has no state religion.

"It's a statement of fact as far as I know."
I can't be the only one who is puzzled by the reaction. Where is the outrageous bit? Were the evangelicals so ignorant of law that they thought NZ did have a state religion? Maybe they are outraged that the groups consulted when drafting the statement included Rationalists and Humanists. Ouch.

I suppose the evangelical churches could be outraged because they don't want to tolerate and respect the human rights of other religions, or of non-religious people, but to suggest such a thing would be unkind, and probably intolerant, so I won't.

But that's not all! The evangelicals are not the only ones objecting to this statement, and this story made me sit up straight and go, "Eh?"
Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims at a national forum in Hamilton yesterday all objected to the word "tolerance" in a draft National Statement on Religious Diversity.
(That's the bit where I said, "Eh?")

This statement came from a Buddhist:
Ms Buchanan said: "Tolerance is a low virtue. I don't want to be tolerated, I want to be respected and understood. Tolerance is what I do when I have a sore tooth."
Oh, I see. She has a point, don't you think? Well, except for the tooth bit. (Is it only me? When I have a sore tooth I don't tolerate it. I go to the dentist.) But aside from that, I think she is right, and I have decided to demand respect and understanding, too. NZers should be instructed to respect and understand ME. And if you insist on placing me in some sort of group (because you have to have a group to be respected and understood, or even tolerated, apparently), WE EXPATS demand to be respected and understood. There should be special classes at school just so that children can learn all about how wonderful expats are so that we can get the respect and understanding we are entitled to. We're sick of going home, telling people about our marvelous adventures, and seeing eyes glaze over. It isn't fair.

Yes, that's what I want, I mean, demand, because haven't you noticed? NOBODY RESPECTS ME! IT'S SUBTLE, BUT I CAN TELL, YOU SNEAKY KIWIS YOU! I SAW YOUR FACES WHEN YOU THOUGHT I WASN'T LOOKING. YOU PRETEND TO BE NICE BUT UNDERNEATH YOU DON'T RESPECT ME! I DEMAND RESPECT. OH, AND UNDERSTANDING, TOO. AND WHILE YOU'RE ABOUT IT, LOVE! YES! I DEMAND TO BE LOVED!

And if you want to know why I am entitled to these things, I have an answer ready.

BECAUSE.

It's all the answer you're entitled to.

10 comments:

A. J. Chesswas said...

I'm not puzzled by Bishop Tamaki's comments.

General practice in matters of faith is that if you make a commitment, then it defines you until you renounce it. New Zealand has inherited the Westminister system, which is grounded in a commitment to Christian theology and implicitly to the Anglican church. As far as I can tell the proposed statement has the same effect as a renunciation. The government of New Zealand is rejecting The Lord to whom its people have been collectively committed for well over 1000 years. Scary stuff.

Potentilla said...

There does seem to be a constitutional argument for saying that NZ is still somehow involved in the Church of England.

http://www.iheu.org/node/2304

We do, of course, have an established church over here. No-one takes it very seriously, however, and I am fairly sure that if it came to the crunch in repesct of something practical, we would get rid of it.

Radioactive Jam said...

I am *so* glad such expressions of outrage and other... thingies never happen in the US.

Badaunt said...

Potentilla: Well, that taught me something. I'm not quite sure what, though - it's all a bit fuzzy, isn't it? I guess the point of the 'national statement,' if it's ratified, is that it makes clear what was fuzzy before, and what was de facto true before anyway. Which would be, I suspect, a good thing.

RaJ: You are indeed lucky. (It's the parallel universes thing again, isn't it. Which one are you from, again?)

Megan said...

Love it. My first thought after reading this? They talk like this in NZ, too? I thought only my fellow Americans were this big of nutjobs. Glad to know that the US doesn't hold the copyright on this kind of thing. haha

The Editter said...

I respect you. Even when I don't understand you.

Love, The Editter xxx

Lippy said...

Now how can I offer you respect and understanding when you make me laugh so hard I just about wet my pants! Honestly, it's not on, y'know.

This reminds me of that Seinfeld show where the lads wanted to do a show about Nothing. The TV producers say, "So what's it going to be about?" And the lads say, "Nothing! It's about nothing! Nothing happens. The show starts and nothing happens. Then nothing happens. Then the credits roll. And nothing happened. It's a show about nothing!"

See? We can whip up a froth about nothing too! Actually, I think it was a slow day in Wellington that day - the politicians were taking a break from biting each other's ankles.

Paula said...

Religious nutballs are LUCKY peeps are willing to tolerate them. Ick. Some loons here wish we had a state religion. Which religion? Why, the RIGHT one, of course! ;)

Mark said...

That reminds of of the CNN clip I saw on Reddit, in which all but one of the show hosts were saying atheists need to "shut up". The sad part is that CNN's supposed to be one of the more "liberal" news networks.

It's great living in Taiwan! The occasional Buddhist televangelist notwithstanding, nobody's too fanatical about anything.

Pearl said...

lol.

While I can see not wanting to be merely tolerated, lobby sabre-rattling is not likely an effective way to get more.

I can see them feeling threatened by having no legal protection since the framework of some fundamentalist faiths has identity based in being a persecuted minority against the world that must overcome it. It's a hard place to keep any semblance of balance.