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Wednesday 08 October 2008

Proclamations of the Red Queen

1st October 2008

United Kingdom: Onward? Fundamentalist Lawyers…

Posted by: Craig Young

Ordinarily, I don’t bother with subcultural luminaries like fundamentalist academics and philosophers when they visit New Zealand, but one recent fellow caught my eye- one Mark Mullins, formerly of the UK Lawyers Christian Fellowship, and now associated with an outfit entitled Christian Concern for Our Nation.

As one might guess, the Lawyers Christian Fellowship isn’t just a worship and social network for fundamentalist lawyers in the United Kingdom. It’s a UK Christian Right pressure group, with a broad-spectrum focus on issues relevant to their community. More recently, it spawned Christian Concern for Our Nation, complete with frontline staff, media monitoring, action alerts and position papers to assist activism. As for the activism itself, it includes abortion, stem cell research, pre-embryo experimentation, fundamentalist child fostering/LGBT anti-discrimination regulations/homophobic hate crime laws, discrimination against fundamentalist individuals and organisations, opposition to blasphemy law repeal, opposition to meaningful religious pluralism (especially when it comes to Islam), ‘restrictive’ charities law provisions and so on.

Neither Lawyers Christian Fellowship or Christian Concern for Our Nation are terribly politically effective, despite their semblance of professional infrastructure. It has been defeated on lowering the UK time limit for abortion, banning stem cell research and pre-embryo experimentation, failed to halt repeal of Britain’s antiquated blasphemy law, and has really only had success when it comes to the human rights and civil liberties of fundamentalist Christians.

This is as it should be. I have always maintained that fundamentalist Christians should have the right to freedom of worship, assembly, belief, conscience and organisational self-determination insofar as the latter does not tangibly harm others. Within the bounds of defamation and copyright law, they should also have freedom of speech. These are guaranteed by British (and New Zealand) assent to multilateral treaties that enshrine meaningful religious freedom, freedom of expression and free speech, as well as faith/state separation.

However, I do object, most strenuously, when militant fundamentalist Christians deny the human rights and civil liberties of others. Women have the right to reproductive freedom, we should have the right to family formation through adoption and access to marriage as well as provocation defence repeal, children should have the right to nonviolent parenting, blasphemy law is an unwarranted sectarian curb on free speech, and we should extend meaningful religious and philosophical freedom to all faiths, as long as they follow tenets that do not advocate physical harm toward others.

I’m just left wondering why Mark Mullins is bothering with the dying SPCS, now down to one hundred members and falling, and which regularly annoys the Office of Film and Literature Classification with its incessant advocacy of banning any literature or DVD that it thinks is contrary to its own narrow and puritanical standards. Similarly, Right to Life New Zealand is pursuing a similar court case, so it really doesn’t look as if Mullins can teach the Christian Right very much.

One wonders what he would say to poor George Hawkins, Labour member for Manurewa, who was literally bible-bashed by a manic fundamentalist in his sixties who threw a large bible at him during an otherwise cordial meeting at Manurewa Baptist Church, accusing the government of food poisoning. One understands that Mr Hawkins has complained to the police about this incident, and I hope the miscreant gets his just desserts.

Mullins isn’t only here for SPCS. He’s also advertised as a speaker at the Bethlehem Community Church in Tauranga. I haven’t spotted any other engagements for him as yet.

Not Recommended:

Society for Promotion of Community Standards

Lawyers Christian Fellowship (UK)

Christian Concern for Our Nation (UK)

Tags: Politics · Religion

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