Archive for the ‘Church and State’ category

Silver ring thing

July 19, 2007

Yesterday’s Dominion Post (Teen looses ‘purity ring case’ B4) reports on how a British girl, Lydia Playford, lost her court case to be allowed to wear a ‘purity ring’, as a sign of her commitment to refraining from sex until marriage, at school, despite Muslim and Sikh students being allowed to wear religious bracelets and head-wear. This may appear to be religious discrimination.

However, the case is very complex, and it appears the school had no problems with her purity ring until the habit started to catch on. It also turns out that the girls parents worked for the “Silver Ring Thing’, an organisation to promote the rings and chastity. Thirdly, the girl involved, is no longer a student at the school, and wasn’t when the court case was launched, so its almost a non-issue. These facts give the appearance of her parents using her to test the law, to enable christian students to spread the ‘silver ring thing’  at their local school, and possibly other christian evangilisation, not about religous freedom. In which case the court verdict appears reasonable, but a mere ban on religous proselytising could be more appropriate.

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Church and State

May 29, 2007

Recently, Bishop Brian Tamaki of the Destiny Church has caused a lot of controversy, by saying that New Zealand is a “Christian Country”. More specifically he sugested that people from other countries shouldn’t be allowed to pray in schools, or do things in New Zealand they would do in their home countries. He also sugested that the parliamentary prayer should continue to refer to “the Christian God, Jesus Christ” and people ahould continue to be sworn in to public offices using the bible.

The way I tend to aproach such issues is based on the Christian principle “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). Under this principle, banning private non-Christian prayer in state schools would be funadamentally unacceptable. people should (within reason) be allowed to pratice whatever religon they choose. As for the aprliamentry prayer, there should at minimum be an opt out provision for non-christian MPs, and possibly replaced with a minute of silence when MPs can pray to whatever God they believe in.  However, one should not go overboard with secularism. The statement of religous diversity goes too far in saying “New Zealand has no offical or established religion”. While I agree with the “no offical religon” part of it, Christianity has been in New Zealand for two hundred years and most new Zealanders still identify themselves as Christian., and it appears to say that religon doesn’t exist in nNw Zealand.  In some countries such as France and Turkey we have laws banning people from wearing headscarves, and thus banning people from practicing their religon. Practices that try and ban people from practicing religon should be considered violations of human rights, and secular fundamentalism.  In general the aproach to church and state should be to give all religons equality under law, even if allowing for minor exceptions (e.g. public holidays on Easter and Christmass, national anthem), allowing people the right to practice their religon, and tolerating religon and other religons. All attempts to forcibly stop people practicing their religon, without very good reason, should be opposed.