♦ Returning to the “dark ages”?

The campaign to make Christianity New Zealand’s official religion continues. The latest action encourages people to turn off their electric lights and instead use a candle next Friday (see Light a candle for Christ). Normally I am opposed to making fun of others beliefs. But I make an exception in this case because the proponents of a “Christian nation” are arrogantly disrespecting the beliefs of others and attempting to impose a reactionary legal framework on us. So I am tempted to suggest their protest action has some symbolism – an attack on the light of knowledge and freedom.

An email promoting this campaign demonstrates the possible political motivation, and dishonesty, of some of the campaign’s backers. It says, in part, “You will be aware that last week the Prime Minister, Helen Clark wanted to declare this nation as having no religion. A heavy sadness came into many of our hearts as to how to respond to this action.” We know that Helen Clark is not advocating declaration of anything – it is in fact church representatives who have made the point that New Zealand “has no official or established religion” in their National Statement on Religious Diversity. This misrepresentation and attack on the Prime Minister is reminiscent of the Exclusive Brethren leaflet campaign before the last national elections. We don’t have a state religion and most people reject this idea. It is the backers of this campaign who wish to change the status quo and impose their prejudices on others.

The email also portrays the campaigners as victims, as if their rights were being violated, hence their “heavy sadness.” This is a common tactic of those wishing to promote intolerance and restriction of freedom. To portray the freedoms of others as somehow showing disrespect for their own beliefs, or limiting their own freedoms.

Some idea of what making Christianity the official state religion might mean is suggested by this Atheist Eve cartoon taken from the Atheist Community of Austin website.


About the author

Tracie Harris is a graphic designer in Austin, TX. Raised in Orlando, FL, she received her BA in Liberal Studies from the University of Central Florida. Her long, slow recovery from a rabid fundamentalist upbringing led her to the creation of Atheist Eve. Go to Atheist Eve to see more of her cartoons.

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