Sunday, July 10, 2005

Rant: Fundamentalism at it's most offensive

So, one of my intellectual pursuits is following the antics of the so-named Destiny Church and associated political party in New Zealand. Yes, you heard me right, this is an outfit that has completely missed that whole separation of Church and state that was decided hundreds of years ago with the blood of political and religious martyrs. I have to bless the folks at google news for setting up the news alert thing; it makes my life so much easier to just get the stuff in my email.

Anyways, after watching the horror unfold in London, wondering if my chief PhD supervisor and close friend was okay, wondering if Mike's sister was okay, and generally feeling alternately weepy and ill, I got this link in my inbox.

The background to the story is that the Destiny political party has just announced its candidates for the upcoming general election in New Zealand, and are touring the country having "rallies" where they spew doctrine. The star attraction at these rallies is Brian Tamaki, the charismatic-but-creepy leader of the church side of things, who is not standing as a political candidate at all because he is "called by god to do higher things".

While Tamaki described the London attacks as "despicable" and "tragic" (yeah, he's a real genius, that man) he also had this to say:
"What people in New Zealand don't realise is we have been enduring a type of terrorism of another kind - acts of terrorism against the family."
He claimed that the civil unions bill, teen pregnancies, legalisation of prostitution, and abortions and the lowering of the drinking age to be terrorist acts by the state against the "family".

Now, while I am far from being a young drinker, teen mother, prostitute or veteran of the abortion clinic (and most of that I cannot claim credit for, I had a good upbringing and great opportunities), I nonetheless see a lot of problems with many of those laws. The prostitution law in particular seems to me to have been counterproductive, though I don't have a better solution to the situation. Having said that, though, Tamaki calling this terrorism makes me very angry. These laws were deigned to allow people civil liberties in most cases, and can hardly be said to have killed or maimed innocent people. To compare this kind of lawmaking to the tragedy suffered in London is an insult to the families of the victims, the emergency services, and to any thinking person who was saddened by what they saw on the news. And Tamaki is the leader of a church, with his followers blindly accepting and agreeing with what he says (I say this from experience -- I have friends who were normal, reasonable people until they got involved).

Preaching of this kind is not only rude and disrespectful, it is dangerous. If a person feels persecuted by their government, particularly in a religious way, what is the accepted response these days? Al Qaeda, the Tamil Tigers, SPUC, and the IRA are all example of just how dangerous a group of people can get when they believe (rightly or wrongly, and I am not going to get into what I think of each of those individual cases) that they are religiously wronged. I wonder, if someone who agrees with Tamaki plants a bomb in some public building and kills a number of people in protest against "terrorism against the family", whether Tamaki will consider that "tragic and despicable", or whether he will declare it a victory of God, and I wonder whether he will feel any responsibility for the lives lost. I hope I never have to find out.

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