Sunday, August 23, 2009


Mainstream New Zealand newsmedia have FINALLY exposed the nefarious connections underpinning the far-right christianists behind New Zealand’s vanity referendum advocating smacking children. Today the New Zealand Herald reported on the money from American ultrafundamentalists which is propping up one of the main christianist groups behind the vanity referendum.

The Herald reported that the over the past six years, the New Zealand branch of Focus on the “Family” has received over $1 million in American money to prop up their activities—including foisting the referendum on New Zealand taxpayers. Their American home organisation has been active in extremist christianist politics for years, especially on behalf of the US Republican Party.

Dobson’s group is also especially noted for its virulently anti-gay agenda. Over the past 20 years, it’s been the source of many of the lies and smears repeated by the christianist right in America—and here in New Zealand.

The New Zealand branch office was involved in getting the referendum on the ballot and was apparently intimately involved in working out how to convolute the wording of the question. The other pusher of the petitions, Larry Baldock is now furiously backpedalling and distancing himself and his christianist political party. “They didn't do a great deal of the heavy lifting," he told the NZ Herald. "That was done by individual volunteers all over the country." Yeah, well, he would say that. Unfortunately for Baldock, his party has many if the same “principles” embedded in its party constitution (yes, I’ve read it), so how different are they really?

For its part, the New Zealand branch office of Focus on the “Family” claims that “each office is autonomous." And to prove it, they distribute materials provided by the home office in America and promote the same rabidly anti-gay and hyper-masculine religious ideology. Don’t take my word for it: Look at their website (you’ll have to Google it: I have a policy of never linking to a wingnut site).

So far, no one is alleging anything illegal. Pesonally, I doubt they did anything illegal—they raise their own money locally too, after all. And, once the referendum was forced onto the ballot, they don’t seem to have taken a public role (their website didn’t even have a banner ad promoting the referendum the times I checked, a few days before the deadline). So, regardless of the source of their funds, they don’t seem to have spent much on the campaign itself, though we’ll know that for sure once campaign reports are filed.

The point is that these christianist groups aren’t being honest about who they are or who they’re connected to. In the case of this group, they failed to disclose how much they’re part of a foreign extremist organisation. Up until now, the New Zealand newsmedia has done little to expose who these groups really are and how their agenda is so radically different from what New Zealanders want. Kudos to the New Zealand Herald for finally shedding light on one of these extremist groups. Pity they didn’t do so sooner.


Dennis said...

Here might be the real source of the money. I'm reading Sharlet's book, "The Family", now - chilling.




Arthur Schenck said...

Thanksfor that. I've heard of the book, and heard the author on Rachel Maddow's show, so it intrigues me.