This year’s conference was marred by an extremist Christianist TV preacher who has demanded that
Far more worrying is the bigotry and hatred he’s spewed in his latest stunt. He said that in his “Christian” nation “alternative or foreign religions would not be afforded equal status to the established national religion, therefore restrictions on those religions would need to apply.” He went on to warn about Western countries like
I have never heard the TV preacher express his bigotry so openly, apart from when he was attacking gay people to win headlines during his crusade against
Shane Jones, a Maori MP for the Labour Party, accurately summed it up when he said the TV preacher’s claims were “hyperbole designed to profile his own political ambitions”. He added that when dealing with the TV preacher, “we live in the real world and he lives in [his] world, and never the twain shall meet.”
As I’ve written before, the percentage of New Zealanders who call themselves Christian is declining, and is now barely over half the population. If the TV preacher were mainly concerned about his brand of fundamentalist christianism, that could rile him up because in a few years time self-identified Christians will be the minority, and nothing frightens conservatives more than change. But like a lot of people, I suspect the TV preacher is playing on those fears to promote his own political fantasy in which he sees himself as Prime Minister.
It’s never going to happen. Not only are New Zealanders increasingly secular, they’re also fair-minded, tolerant and anti-authoritarian—all of which the TV preacher is not. We are so tolerant that we even allow far-right TV preachers to run around leading political rallies for non-existent issues. Were he in power, he’d never allow that, which is why he’ll never amount to anything.
And if I were religious, I’d surely say “thank God for that!”