They brought to our attention the fact that some of the groups campaigning for the referendum have been receiving funds from conservative US religious groups (see US funding for ‘no’ vote). the article gave information for Focus on the Family but I am sure that US fundamentalist largess extends to other NZ groups.
Take, for instance, the United church of God – New Zealand. In 2008 it received 40% of its revenue from its parent organisation based in the US. I suspect these sort of subsidies are widespread amongst religious groups.
This sort of behavior annoys me – on two grounds:
1: Most of these organisations are tax exempt – on religious grounds! In other words, you and I subsidise them (through our taxes) purely because they propagate a supernatural message. We susbsidise a message we find abhorrent.
2: This religious activity (for which we subsidise them) is interpreted very widely, by them. Political activity, such as this recent referendum is one example. Another which annoys me is active anti-science activity. The United Church of God -New Zealand, for example, is currently distributing (free of charge) an anti-science booklet “Creation or Evolution“). Why should my taxes be used to subsidise such activity?
But, back to that referendum.
Despite the low turnout, the large “no” vote has certainly enthused some Christian blog sites. I say “some” because the different attitudes within Christianity really just underline the moral relativism of religion. Top Anglican clergy have condemned the attitude of Christians claiming a “God-given right” to hit children. On the other hand US Focus on the Family claims “a little bit of pain goes a long way for a young child.”
Conservative Christian blogs are calling for a law change. But they can’t actually say what should be changed. This is because the referendum question actually bears no relation to the law.
Our current law does not make light smacking of children illegal (see “Smacking not an offence”). Consequently, the only literal interpretation of the referendum result must be support for the status quo. The referendum result indicates that New Zealanders do not want the law changed to criminalise parents who use light smacking. We want things to stay the way they are.
However, the Prime Minister has, I believe rightly, recognised the result indicates there are still parents out there who are afraid that the current law could criminalise their parenting behavior. He has proposed measures, not including law changes, to address that concern.
Perhaps we need a government financed campaign to explain to New Zealand parents just what our current law says. Alongside that information of the actual operation of the law would also help.
The police reviews have been quite clear in showing that parents are not being criminalised. That information should be more widely available.
If the media won’t report this issue properly, perhaps the government needs to do the job for it.