This week at work I received a Happy Holidays card from a supplier. The sentiment was appreciated and I replied thanking them for their work during the year and wishing them a Merry Christmas. It was a large New Zealand company so I asked that they also pass on a brief message to their marketing and communications department.
Our Judeo-Christian cultural and spiritual heritage is precious. It is the foundation on which so much of what we enjoy today has been established. Freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and toleration of other faiths are not natural features of human society. However they have all arisen in countries where the Judeo-Christian faith, its worldview and its values have infused and moulded the culture for centuries.
In light of this why would you denigrate that heritage by actions which undermine the social significance of Christmas? Why would you join the efforts to make Christmas invisible? The usual justification offered is that we must be cognisant of those of other faiths more recently arrived in New Zealand. Apparently celebrating our own heritage risks offending them and so we must be more inclusive – hence Happy Holidays.
However this rationale ignores the reality of the changes in our country. Many of those migrants who would purportedly be offended and feel excluded are themselves Christians. Our nation is now abounding with Christian Koreans, Filipinos, Chinese, Africans and Indians. Go to any New Zealand church on Sunday and you will meet them.
And migrants who are of other faiths are well aware they came to a country with a Judeo-Christian heritage. They are certainly aware of the all the benefits which that offers. That is no doubt why they came here. Most are probably perplexed, if not bemused, at the efforts of some Kiwis to “include” them by denying who we are.
Perhaps there is an even greater irony to the efforts to exclude Jesus Christ from this season. Christmas is inherently inclusive. As the angels declared to the shepherds in the fields that wonderful evening – Behold we bring you glad tidings of great joy which shall be for all people!
For nearly 170 years our Parliament has opened each session with a Christian prayer. Last week the new Speaker of the House, Trevor Mallard, unilaterally ditched it. Gone were references to both the Queen and Jesus Christ….
To continue reading the full article published this week in the NZ Herald click here.
Eight years – 94 child abuse deaths. These were the numbers reported this week at the inquest into the violent death of three year old Moko in 2015. Family “diversity” isn’t working.
Little official attention will be paid to the the family background of these 94 child victims. However it is highly likely that most came from family situations which our socially liberal establishment likes to describe as “diverse” or “fluid”. The Government’s 2011 Green Paper on Vulnerable Children took this approach. Its primary outcome has been a new Ministry tasked with better co-ordination of social workers and agencies responsible for intervening to protect “at-risk” children.
The Ministry may well be necessary to deal with existing problems. However to reduce the number of “at risk” children in future generations we need to find the moral courage and intellectual honesty to face the truth about what is driving this crisis.
As I noted at the time in my Green Paper submission the research is very clear that the move away from married two parent families is one of the the primary causes of increased child abuse and neglect. The evidence from New Zealand was also clear. Of the 23 child deaths in the three years before that submission, 17 involved an adult who was not biologically related to the child – primarily mum’s boyfriend. That’s nearly 75%.
No doubt the same would be found for the 94 child deaths reported this week. It is now five years since the Green Paper discussions. We have a new Ministry but we still have an establishment in denial. Diversity isn’t working.
It’s not law yet. But it should be. It’s the Abortion Funding Conscience Act. Any MP in our Parliament could submit it as a members bill. Indeed any political party that values freedom of conscience could introduce such a bill. The question is – will they?
As noted in my last blog, our current system means MPs who affirm the sanctity of human life are forced to support abortion funding because it is packaged within vote Health in the budget. Tax payers are likewise forced to fund via their taxes the “choices” of others that they may wish to have no part in. However it doesn’t have to be this way. And it won’t be when we have the Abortion Funding Conscience Act.
This legislation would do two things. Firstly it would require public funding for terminating the lives of unborn children to be separately identified in each year’s annual budget appropriations. That funding would be ring-fenced and required to be voted on separately from the rest of the budget. MPs would thus have the freedom to express their conscience on the matter – either way. In particular Government MPs would not be forced to vote through abortion funding simply because it is part of their party’s Health budget.
This is not about the legality (or otherwise) of the vast majority of abortions being undertaken in our country. That is a separate issue. This is about how it is all funded. If Parliament decides not to provide public funding for abortion then those who wish to make that “choice” would simply have to pay for it themselves. There are plenty of other health services which are not publicly funded in New Zealand – all of them far less controversial than abortion. Think of dental work, drugs not funded by Pharmac, or long term dementia care for those with assets.
The second key feature of the Abortion Funding Conscience Act would allow all New Zealanders, not just MPs, to express their conscience on the issue. Because even if Parliament decides to publicly fund abortion, there will remain a large proportion of of tax payers who hold profound ethical objections to having their taxes used for this purpose.
In recognition of this the Act would establish an on-line register held by IRD where such tax payers could record their conscientious objection. There would be no cash or financial implications, just a simple registering of opposition. This would not be mere token symbolism . It would be a legally recognised declaration of deeply held conviction.
Of course there are many publicly funded activities which individual MPs and tax payers may find objectionable. It would be inappropriate and impractical to make conscientious allowances for them all. In most cases it is simply a matter of accepting the outcome of the democratic process. However when it comes to the sanctity of human life there is a line which no-one should be forced to cross against their conscience. This is a matter of honouring and respecting the values and beliefs of many New Zealanders on a foundational ethical question.
Will we ever see the Abortion Funding Conscience Act in our nation? We will if our Parliamentarians put into practice what it truly means to be an “Honourable Member”.
The New Zealand taxpayer picks up the tab for 13,000 abortions annually. It costs around $20million. However you won’t find it identified anywhere in today’s Budget. It’s well hidden in the Vote Health appropriation. That’s the way our politicians like it – out of sight, out of mind.
Over the next few weeks Government politicians will dutifully vote through the funding without a second thought. Even ostensibly pro-life MPs will simply endorse the Health appropriation without ever considering that it includes financing for terminating the lives of unborn children. None them will raise a question. They never have.
Of course the abortion funding is a very small component of a very big budget. But it’s not the amount of funding that is the issue. It’s the principle. In our system the “choices” of some become the tax bill of others – others who may hold profound ethical objections to those choices. New Zealanders who affirm the sanctity of human life are left with no choice. Through their taxes they are forced to participate in something they want no part of.
It is not this way in other countries. In the United States for instance, Federal funding of abortion is specifically legislated against. Their leaders understand that when it comes to terminating the lives of unborn children, those who support so called “choice” should not expect others to pay for it.
Our pro-life MPs need to find some courage. They should at least seek to have abortion funding separately identified in the Budget, ring-fenced and voted on separately from the rest of the appropriations. They could then express their own conscience on the matter. They could also represent the views of many ordinary citizens – New Zealanders whose views are currently kept well hidden by the silence that prevails on this issue in our Parliament.
Family dysfunction and relationship breakdown are key drivers of suicide in New Zealand. Yet the Government’s latest suicide prevention strategy doesn’t even mention them. Instead there is the usual sophisticated bureaucratic waffle and nice framework diagrams that mean nothing and will achieve the same.
Mike King, a member of the panel that helped prepare the strategy, expressed his disappointment bluntly. Plenty of others in the media have also joined in the criticism. However even they are missing the point. Against their chorus of cries for the Government to “do something about mental health” is the fact that much is already being done.
Over $1.4 billion of taxpayer’s money is now spent on mental health services every year. Fully staffed acute psych units are available 24-7 all around the country. Community mental health teams provide outpatient care. GPs see and prescribe anti-depressants to tens of thousands of New Zealanders.
No doubt there can be improvements to services. Yet the real question is why are so many more New Zealanders needing help? It is true that stress in all forms can lead to mental health problems. However probably the greatest area of growing stress in our community over the last thirty years has been the increasing dysfunction in our families and relationships.
It is no coincidence that, as the strategy notes, suicide rates among young Maori men are far higher than for others. As a group they have borne the brunt of the new culture of “fluid and diverse” family forms. For many of them fathers have been substituted by a series of mum’s latest boyfriends and they have grown up in insecure, and abusive environments. Is it any wonder they struggle to find meaning, value and hope?
Our ongoing pretense that marriage and commitment do not matter is an exercise in national delusion. It is messing with our minds. Deal with it and then we will make real progress to improve mental health in New Zealand.