It just makes me nervous, you know? What with Hannah Tamaki taking up the reins of the Destiny Church Party (sorry, Coalition New Zealand) and Alfred Ngaro flirting with his own faith-based faction (before changing his mind).
I have fond memories of growing up in the church – and there are a number of individual Christians I like quite a bit (particularly my own family members). But when Christianity and politics threaten to intersect? Cue nerves.
It’s not that I don’t like Christianity, but the way other nations have used religion as an excuse to control women’s bodies and discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community makes me sceptical about the value of the whole thing. I also harbour a naïve superiority complex when it comes to New Zealand’s apparent political secularism. Yes, we’re a neoliberal nation of colonisers, but at least we aren’t like the States.
It’s meaningless, I know, but I’ve always enjoyed the idea that we don’t care about our leaders’ religious beliefs. I took our nonchalant attitude toward Ardern having a child ‘out of wedlock’, as a mark of our nation’s maturity. I took our lack of discussion around political church-going as a sign of our progressive nature.
Apparently I don’t listen to enough talkback radio.
On the other hand, it’s non-believer 101 to point out everything suss about the organisation. So how about a different approach? These are the Christian values I wouldn’t mind having an influence on our parliament.
The sanctity of life
He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata. What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.
If I had to sum up my political beliefs in a sentence, it would be this: I believe in the sanctity of life. Just not as it refers to clusters of cells that would be unviable outside of a woman or pregnant person’s body.
Look, life IS sacred. And we should treat life, and the lives of those around us, with dignity. That means dignified processes and resources for people on welfare, dignified treatment for people addicted to substances and, in my view, access to a dignified death if necessary.
As a church-child, ‘you belong in the church’ was a refrain I heard frequently. And as Brené Brown put it in her Netflix special The Call to Courage, ‘belonging is the opposite of fitting in’.
Belonging means finding a tribe who accept you as you are. A government in which everyone belongs – and which therefore reflects the nation as it is – is a government diverse in culture, race, sexual orientation, gender, and perspective.
Loving thy neighbour
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
In Leviticus he expands: You shall not oppress your neighbour or rob him […]You shall not hate your brother in your heart […] but you shall love your neighbour as yourself.
And you know JC wasn’t just talking about the mofo next door.
Charity is defined as the ‘voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need’.
Allow me to repeat: typically in the form of money.
Allow me to also repeat: to those in need.
Currently, ‘those in need’ includes teachers, nurses, the homeless, and the working poor, among other groups. Charity is not the sole domain of philanthropic millionaires and billionaires – nor is it up to the rest of us to ‘give what we can’. Yes, individual charitable giving is a social good, but in order for society to function equitably, we require a ‘charitable’ government.
“I like your Christ,” said Gandhi, once upon a time. “I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”Support Villainesse