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Christian Party

Entry 620, on 2007-10-09 at 19:32:24 (Rating 3, Politics)

Recently there has been a bit of news around a potential Christian political party being formed here in New Zealand. We have had Christian parties in the past but they have either been combined with more mainstream views to form a more conventional party or have been small and more specialised and unlikely to achieve political success. Actually, judging from the initial activities of this (so far unnamed) party they are unlikely to have a lot of success either.

The only real philosophy or policy I have heard from this party so far is that they support family values, whatever that means. But what political party is going to say they don't support family values? The left say they support family values because they want to use taxes to pay family support. The right say they support family values because they want a strong economy to help families survive financially. By the way, I don't think either of these approaches is likely to be very efficacious.

So what in particular is the Christians' spin on family values? Is it forcing kids to participate in prayer at school? Is it outlawing gay marriage? Is it closing shops or banning advertising on Sunday? I don't know. But what I do know is that, based on past experience, Christian solutions to the social problems of modern family life are very unlikely to be any better than those from the mainstream secular parties.

Christians have a right to participate in politics just like anyone else (although I find it odd that members of the Exclusive Brethren, who say they stay out of politics, are clearly involved) and it would be at least entertaining to see what they can come up with, but I think a strong role for religion in New Zealand politics is unlikely.

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Comment 1 (923) by sbfl on 2007-10-15 at 03:15:00: (view recent only)

"So what in particular is the Christians' spin on family values?" See New Testament.
"Is it outlawing gay marriage?" It isn't legal now.... "Is it closing shops or banning advertising on Sunday?" What about banning advertising on TV (see your 'Just One Good Channel' post). What about your leftie mates in previous Auckland city council trying to ban billboards and many other outdoor signage? I feel a coalition coming on between your concept of the new Christian party and the left...

I may be wrong but I understand that EB don't vote, not necessarily 'stay out of politics' as such.

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Comment 2 (924) by sbfl on 2007-10-15 at 03:34:28:

I would agree that they won't have much success and you first pic above is a good representation on how that party started off (even before the official opening!). Certainly with the strong Destiny influence they will be that cab off the rank for my vote!

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Comment 3 (931) by OJB on 2007-10-15 at 05:45:30:

See the NT for a Christian's spin on family values? Are you kidding? No one can agree on what the Bible means, it contradicts itself, its open to varying interpretations. I really wouldn't recommend it as a source of values on anything. So seriously, give me an example of a Christian family value.

Well gay civil unions are legal, which is the first step. I don't think a lot of religious people like even that. I am no great fan of advertising, believe me, but banning it on a particular day because of a personal religious reason isn't fair. I can't comment on Auckland's petty politics.

The EB's "policy" on politics isn't totally clear, but would it not be cynical and hypocritical to not vote yourself, but then use various (some would say dirty) tactics to influence the way other people vote?

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Comment 4 (942) by sbfl on 2007-10-17 at 06:20:34:

Lets see some evidence of contradictions, varying interpretations (outside of extremism). So they are not the same word-for-word, so spare me the nitpicking. As I know most Christian denominations have a pretty good agreement on the message from the Gospels.

Give you an example - read it! Here's one for you to nitpick at: ""He said to him, '"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" ... and if you can't relate that to family values then you know not of the virtue of love!

Ok, I'm not talking about all Sundays, but you say "banning it on a particular day because of a personal religious reason isn't fair." - why not? And before you focus on the fact you personally don't believe in religion, think of other non-advertising days. We don't all believe in war either.

Not dirty - all legal, though Labour are changing the law so it will be next time. Hmmm, how democratic....

Pamphlets in the mail - you call it dirty tactics to influence the way people vote - I call this freedom of speech. Actually, I think that also many politicians and lobby groups from all spectrum's of the political sphere use this method...

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Comment 5 (954) by OJB on 2007-10-17 at 09:20:03:

Points 1 and 2. Family values in the Bible? Let's try these: Deuteronomy 13:6-10, Luke 12:51, Mark 7:9, Matthew 10:34, Matthew 10:21, etc, etc. Right, I've converted to Christianity after reading the Bible. I'm off to murder my family and friends. See you later!

Point 3. Curtailing other people's freedoms (advertising) just because of some unsubstantiated superstition doesn't sound fair to me.

Point 4. I know that the proposed law would limit some freedom of expression but you can see why it might be a good thing on balance. If we allow pressure groups with plenty of money to use that influence however they want we will end up with a political system like the one in the US where big corporations and other groups just "buy" the policies they want.

Point 5. It wasn't so much the mechanism as the message. I admit i can't remember the exact wording but the message was misleading and exaggerated. That seems like something that some people might construe as a dirty trick.

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Comment 6 (1299) by SBFL on 2008-03-21 at 03:44:17:

Sorry i have just read this comment now (5 months!). I need to study all those quotes to understand the meaning and context. However in the meantime please don't kill your family (hope I wasn't too late with this advice despite the 5 month lag!) I did read Mark 7:9. Brilliant stuff which you may even appreciate! The verse says "And Jesus continued, "You have a clever way of rejecting God's law in order to uphold you own teaching.". The whole chapter (well 1-13) refers to the manipulation the Jewish leaders took on the teachings of Moses etc in order to support their own rules. Much of Christianity today has much to learn from this. This should explain (somewhat) the difference between the fundies and the moderates. We (Christians) must steer clear of the man-made rules and follow the heart (Mark 7:6-7).

Re Point 3: "unsubstantiated superstition" is your view of course. Personally, if I was a non-Christian, i would appreciate some time-off from relentless commercial advertising.

Re Point 4: How do you define "plenty of money"? Where does Owen Glenn and the unions fit into this? If I (as an individual) want to say something about my society politically, why should I be restricted just because of my earnings? Is that fair? I respect you say "the proposed law would limit some freedom of expression" but you need to look at the bigger picture. We cannot endorse legislation that favours the incumbant. At this level it should be bi-partisan - as was the case in 1993.

On Point 5: so you didn't like the message?!?! Boo hoo! This is how democracy works. As for your comment the message was 'misleading and exaggerated" - prove it. As I understand it was based on comments made by the Green Party themselves.

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Comment 7 (1302) by OJB on 2008-03-21 at 10:23:14:

I'll just wait for you to get back with some sort of justification of those verses from the New Testament then.

Some definitions. Unsubstantiated (adjective) not supported or proven by evidence. Superstition: (noun) excessively credulous belief in and reverence for supernatural beings. Seems to fit perfectly to me. If not, show me the evidence supporting Christianity and the lack of credulous belief in the supernatural involved.

No one is restricted by their earnings, they just have to register if they want to spend a lot on political advertising. What's actually wrong with that? Can you not see that a government being controlled by rich business interests is worth avoiding?

I don't mind political messages, even if they use dirty tricks. I just want to know who distributed them so they can be made accountable. I really can't remember what that was all about now but I do remember thinking at the time that it was misleading and not entirely honest.

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Comment 8 (1323) by SBFL on 2008-03-21 at 23:12:04:

Well I did read one, and responded, but it appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

Your definition used "excessively" - again, a subjective term when applied to Christianity. I don't think we really need to go down the material evidence and faith debate again.

And rich union interests? Rich or not so rich, I am not keen to have to put my home address on the many and varied methods that fall under the EFA.

Accountability is advisable in many instances. It is always a good look but I also respect the right of anonymity. eg few bloggers use their real name, and this could be for any one of a set of reasons. Some reasonable, other not so.

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Comment 9 (1332) by OJB on 2008-03-22 at 21:56:39:

Your interpretation of Mark 7:9 is completely contrary to mine. It seemed to me Jesus was saying we should obey the Old Testament laws. I mean, do we or don't we? Tell me, where do you find out what this drivel actually means? And how about the other verses I listed? That's why the Bible is useless. It contradicts itself and no one knows what it means so they change it around to mean what they want. Why would we take that sort of thing seriously?

Well if you require faith to support your belief then it is unsubstantiated isn't it? I mean, that's what faith is: believing something which isn't true. Take out "excessively" if you wish, the comment still stands.

Yes, I think rich union interests should be (and are) equally limited by the legislation. Good idea. From what I understand you won't need to put your address on anything unless it is a well funded or high profile political campaign. Again, what's the problem? If anyone wants to make a political point I think they should have the courage to say who they are. Why shouldn't they? Do you like secretive campaigns? Why would anyone feel the need to hide - it seems a bit dishonest.

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Comment 10 (1350) by SBFL on 2008-03-30 at 23:21:11:

Sorry, I don't see any contradiction. I actually thought you would appreciate the meaning of that verse....that man should not manipulate the Bible to support his own man-made rules. Surprised we couldn't come together on this. Instead you seem to avoid my point and blabber on about how the "Bible is useless". What a shame.

On your 2nd paragraph: Interestingly the Gospel at last Sunday's mass (yesterday) was the story of 'Doubting Thomas'. Sadly I thought of the likes of you in this scenario (don't take that the wrong way). I wish you could have heard the priest's homily. It wouldn't have converted you but it would have given you some insight into faith.

On the EFA - well I have read a bit about this and I understand you do have to put your home address on any political advertising in election year. It does not have to be "well funded" or "high profile". I think Bill English is putting forward an amendment to avoid this. Many political commentators/activists are groups, and politics is an emotive issue (axe through Helen's electoral office for low-level starters). I wouldn't want my family home targeted by activists just because they disagree with me. I would like to make my point without violent repercussions.

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Comment 11 (1364) by OJB on 2008-04-01 at 11:31:09:

When you say "the meaning of the verse" you mean the meaning you happen to have attached to it (where I attached a totally different meaning). This seems to be a very common problem with interpreting what it is supposed to mean. Not only can the same text be interpreted multiple ways but different bits of text contradict each other as well. That's why the Bible is useless. Actually, its worse than useless because it gives people an excuse for their negative actions.

I have all the insight I need into faith. I have seen it on so many occasions. Blind adherence to something which just isn't true really disturbs me. Its sad and dangerous.

Well you would have to weigh up the consequences of making political statements really. I personally think that anonymous campaigns should never be allowed because there's no accountability. If you are worried about repercussions of your political opinion join a group to express it and make it less personal.

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Comment 12 (1377) by SBFL on 2008-04-01 at 22:59:47:

Okay on the first point we need to clear this up because I am not sure you will disagree - there is some tangent thing going on here that I am not comfortable with. I read the verse and the response was mine alone. You referred to Mark 7:9 "And Jesus continued, 'You have a clever way of rejecting God's law in order to uphold your own teaching." I am now going to quote the entire story in order to obtain some context:
"The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were "unclean," that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with 'unclean' hands?"

He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
" 'These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.' You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."

And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that."


Now, if you go back to my comment of 2008-03-21 at 03:44:17, and focus on Jesus's comments in verses 6-7, you might see what I mean. People should not interpret the scriptures for their own motives, as the Jewish leaders did on this occasion. Like I acknowledged above, many people, including Christians, have much to learn from this.

I have explained my meaning of the verses. If yours is different, please explain. Otherwise I would have thought you would have some recognition of the meaning I have conveyed (hypocrisy).

Here is another view from the web: Jesus Breaks Bread, Breaks Tradition (Mark 7:1-13)

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Comment 13 (1378) by SBFL on 2008-04-01 at 23:07:57:

"I have all the insight I need into faith." - a bit of an arrogant response don't you think?

'If you are worried about repercussions of your political opinion join a group to express it and make it less personal." - so I have to join a group now? Can't I have my individual opinions free from draconian regulation? Hmmm, I seem to see why the left is so intent on all employees joining a trade union. "Free choice" - what the hell is that?!

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Comment 14 (1386) by OJB on 2008-04-02 at 19:59:43:

Well I hear various justifications for faith and I haven't heard anything new or anything which makes much sense. I just keep hearing faith as an excuse for believing something which isn't true. Do you have a new angle on it?

From what I understand the regulation would only apply to campaigns involving significant amounts of money. Is that right or was that just a suggested change? If that's the way it works then I can make political comments on a blog, etc but I can't launch a TV campaign. If that's the case its not unreasonable.

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Comment 15 (1387) by OJB on 2008-04-02 at 20:23:28:

OK, going back to Mark. I have re-read it (KJ and ASV) and it still looks like he's saying they should be following the Old Testament laws. What was it we were actually debating here again? I think the original point was that following OT laws means all the nasty stuff has to be obeyed and a lot of OT stuff is contradictory to the NT.

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Comment 16 (1400) by SBFL on 2008-04-13 at 23:32:08:

This is where we'll never come together. Faith is more than just a word, it's very complex. I know however that it will never be sufficient for you as you require evidence.

Definitely affects individuals, that's why there has been an uproar. This guy was shut down unless he put his home address: http://www.dontvotelabour.org.nz/
Blogs are exempt, which is why the above website was changed form it's original form.

Originally you were stating some perceived contradictions in the Bible. In the above one, Jesus is accusing the Pharisees of placing man-made laws ahead of the intent of God's teachings, yet at the same time they are paying lip-service to God. Hence he called them hypocrites.

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Comment 17 (1406) by OJB on 2008-04-14 at 23:03:49:

But is faith really complex or is that just an excuse to make it seem more than it really is? The problem I keep coming back to with faith is that it can be used to believe any number of contradictory things. And also, why should there is no evidence for something? Does that not seem just a bit suspicious? How would you really know the difference between a delusion, a deliberate fraud, and a real phenomenon which requires faith?

I think that anyone making a blatant political statement like that should make their identity known. if they aren't prepared to do that then they shouldn't get involved at all. I really don't see what the problem is.

He was saying they should follow the Old Testament laws, right? And the OT has a completely different philosophy than most of the NT.

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Comment 18 (1411) by SBFL on 2008-04-16 at 00:43:34:

It is not only complex, but also broad and therefore can be "used to believe any number of contradictory things". One's faith is very individualistic, and I doubt and two persons faiths are ever exactly the same. Regarding evidence, well you should reword this "hard evidence known of today". Even 'evidence' is a bit broad. Does it need to be physical or logical? If someone says they like the colour blue, what evidence to prove this other than the key witness account? And don't tell me you're going to measure brain activity with a polygraph when the colour blue flashes across a screen before the persons eyes!! Then there's love....

Unbelievable. Every man and his dog would probably have a view "don't vote xxx". Now we need home addresses to say this? For a 'free thinker' you don't much believe in free society or free democracy!

On the last issue, you are going totally generalistic and not reading the context of the verse you initially proposed. I don't think I can explain it much more than I already have. I hope you're not letting your bias get in the way of your intellect, because I have figured you to be rather 'switched on'.

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Comment 19 (1418) by OJB on 2008-04-16 at 14:28:08:

I don't believe faith is complex at all - its just self delusion and what's so complicated about that? And yes, FMRI scanning and other techniques are revealing the physical reality behind emotion and belief. Did you know, for example, that its possible to stimulate an area of the brain to create a religious experience? Interesting, isn't it?

There's a difference between expressing a view and creating a public campaign to push your view. You are indulging in a straw man argument here. As it happens, I don't think the act is a good idea, but I do object to the exaggerated criticism of it that many people indulged in.

Well, when it comes to Bible verses I barely think its worth worrying. It would be like analysing a speech by Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings. I think the Bible is basically fiction so its not worth taking it seriously. The fact that many parts of the Bible have been reinterpreted to suit current conditions just shows how meaningless it really is.

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Comment 20 (1426) by SBFL on 2008-04-17 at 23:37:44:

I can probably sum up all three of your responses in that you appear to have quite a closed mind. You decide to shut out what you believe not to be true rather than exploring it. Your choice of course but I sense you don't like to be challenged. Your last paragraph is especially disappointing. I thought I could get some intelligent debate here, but some people just decide to stick to the hard line for the sake of it. Shame.

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Comment 21 (1430) by OJB on 2008-04-18 at 13:37:21:

Well instead of changing the subject and attacking me, why not defend my attack on your beliefs? What it really gets down to is this: how can you justify a belief system which relies on faith. Faith can lead you to believe anything. If faith is the foundation of your belief how can it be seen as better than any other belief also based on faith?

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