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Wednesday 08 October 2008

Proclamations of the Red Queen

8th October 2008

United Kingdom: The Vicar of Idiocy

Posted by: Craig Young

 Elderly Reverend Peter Mullens (66) is a Church of England cleric who serves as largely honorary chaplain to the London Stock Exchange. Most of us will have heard about him because of the furore that surrounded his call for gay men to be tattooed with the words SODOMY CAN SERIOUSLY DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH and FELLATIO KILLS in capital letters on our hindquarters.

Mullen is an Anglican traditionalist, which is a nice way of saying barmy fundamentalist, although his previous claim to notoriety was the retention of the 1662 Anglican Book of Common Prayer. He also whinged recently about Reverend Martin Dudley’s wedding ceremony for the civil partnership of two gay Anglican ministers in the historic church of Saint Bartholemew the Great, in London, whereupon he penned this offence against the profession of poet:

 “The Bishop of London is in a high huff, Because Dr Dudley has married a puff; And not just one puff - he’s married another: Two priests, two puffs and either to other.”

If you can imagine the similarly superannuated Jeremy Clarkson as a vicar, you’d probably also get something like these other misdemeanours, listed in an article on the furore on the UK Times website:

In that sermon he referred jokingly to God being incarnated as “the master of the Worshipful Company of Knicker Elastic.”

He also compared the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams to a “wraith-like political druid on his way to another synod debate on the pagan fantasy of global warming.”

The elderly cleric also wants gay pride marches banned as ‘obscene,’ and has been reprimanded by the Bishop of London, Right Reverend Richard Chartres, who forced him to take the offending and offensive sentiments off his blog.  Sadly, he can’t dispense with the elderly fellows services altogether, because:

Clergy are entitled to remain in post in the Church of England until the age of 70 if they benefit from the security of tenure given by the freehold, which Mr Mullen enjoys. New disciplinary tribunals carried out in secret however have made it easier for bishops to oust clergy without the expense of a consistory court. Mr Mullen could face disciplinary action for an alleged offence such as conduct unbecoming a person in Holy Orders, but no action would be taken without a complaint.

It seems Mullen is a regular misanthrope, as can also be witnessed by his Islamophobic ravings about the hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. Out of respect to Muslim religious sensibilities, I shall refrain from repeating them here.

As if the poor old C of E didn’t have enough problems, now they have to put up with this buffoon…


Ruth Gledhill: “Chaplains Blog calls for Homosexuals to be Tattooed” Times Online:07.10.08:

→ No CommentsTags: Politics · Religion

6th October 2008

US Christian Right: Oh, Now They’re Economists?

Posted by: Craig Young

The US Christian Right is well-known for pontificating about areas that it is ill-qualified to evaluate. Now they want us to believe that they’re economists as well?!

What caused the current woes in the United States economy? Was it runaway deregulation, privatisation, and lack of fetters on unrestrained profiteering? Well, no, not according to the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family and the Southern Baptist Convention of Texas. It turns out that the US Christian Right opposes the recent Bush/Congressional bailout of ailing US financial institutions because they view it as ‘God’s punishment.’

They sniffily comment that credit card profligacy and the cult of instant gratification has resulted in neglect of the classical virtues of thrift and hard work, indebtedness is wrong, and fiscal responsibility is the fount of all virtue.

Wait a minute. Is this the same US Christian Right which emphasises the so-called prosperity gospel amongst Pentecostal middle-class adherents? Is this the same US Christian Right whose televangelist mainstays made millions from gullible television audiences, through donations and merchandise during the Republican heyday in the eighties? Is this the US Christian Right whose own businesses often crash due to their lack of strategic management skills?

Is this the US Christian Right who sold its soul to the Republican Party fiscal agenda of reduced central government regulation of the banking and finance industries?

Right, I’ve had quite enough of this empathy-free zone, so over the next few columns, I’ll be focusing on New Zealand mainstream churches and poverty relief. The above are making me violently ill with their lack of responsibility and even more so, compassion or care for families who will suffer from unemployment, lack of government social services and possibly even homelessness due to the excesses of  US right-wing ‘court Christians.’


“Evangelicals blame Wall Street woes on morals” Reuters: 02.10.08:

-Charles Hembrick-Stowe: “Sanctified Business:” Historical Perspectives on Funding Religious Revival” (pp.81-103);
-Michael Hamilton: “More Money, More Ministry: The Funding of American Evangelicalism Since 1945 (pp.104-138);
-Robert Burkinshaw: “The Funding of Evangelical Higher Education in the United States and Canada in the Postwar Period)(pp.274-297);
-Thomas Berg: “Too Good to Be True? The New Era Foundation Scandal and Its Implications” (pp.374-398):

in: Larry Eskridge and Mark Noll (ed): More Money,More Ministry: Money and Evangelicals in Recent North American History: Grand Rapids: William B Eerdmans: 2000.

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5th October 2008

The Bill and Ben Party: An In-Depth Gay Probe!

Posted by: Craig Young

billandben.jpgThe Bill and Ben Party is a joke political party, something that has been sadly lacking since the much-lamented demise of the McGillicuddy Serious Party. The party’s leaders are Jamie (”Bill”) Linehan and Ben Boyce (”Bill” and Ben) of TV3’s satirical sports show Pulp Sport.

As a joke political organisation, it shares a rich and varied heritage with the defunct McGillicuddy Serious Party and Imperial British Conservative Party, both humorous political entities which contested New Zealand general elections over the last thirty years.

In early 2008, Ben Boyce came up with the idea of having a political party. Initially, Lineham didn’t like the idea and said he  preferred a seventies themed party instead. After this was cleared up , the duo decided that they should run for Parliament. Just as well, because the idea of a seventies party is seriously traumatic to those of us who remember Muldoon, ABBA and Patricia Bartlett from that decade.

The two gentleman (and whatever species their Mascot is) have a Facebook page. However, they seem to be similarly confused over  the meaning of the word ‘run.’ Linehan fancied himself as a long distance runner, as he placed third in the Bay 10k Under 12 Champs in 1990. Ben was happy to follow him in his beat up Nissan Sunny due to lack of exercise, so Messrs Boyce and Linehan decided that they would run for Parliament.

Unfortunately, the two guys have had another mishap. Look at their Facebook page, and you’ll note that both of them are labelled Number 1 on their respective party list.  Are we in for another unseemly dust-up about who should be on top in this context, given horrible memories about Graham C, Graeme Lee and the Christian Coalition fiasco? If so, why not compromise and have the Mascot serve as a single nonsense leader? It worked for Graeme Lee. And, eventually, B&B could change their name and sneak into Parliament under false colours, just like the Christian Democrats/Future New Zealand I/United Future/Future New Zealand II/the Kiwi Party did.

The Bill and Ben party wanted their key policy to be “New Zealand’s lowest food prices.” Unfortunately, Pak n Save had already beaten them to it. As a result, there’s been a legal battle. Although they’re short on the logistics about how they’ll do it,  the Bill and Ben party plan to provide New Zealanders with cheaper cheese by the end of the year.  I’m sure that will appeal to fromage fans across the country.

The Bill and Ben Party have promised nothing except diminished cheese costs. As they have promised no promises they have actually made a promise, but that’s the only promise that they have made.

The party applied for registration on July 1, and  was registered by the Electoral Commission on 29 July. They also have a logo of their own, even if it looks suspiciously like an Land Transport Safety Authority Bed and Breakfast hostelry sign.


So, what’s in it for LGBT voters? Thus far, the party seems to have some implicit appeal to very shallow gayboys and straight women, given the presence of intensely homoerotic ‘man love moments’ on Pulp Sport.  Now, does this mean that they stand for increased gay appeal in sports matches?

And then there’s the gratuitous male nudity angle, as there are equally appealing Super-Streaker segments on their programme. Unfortunately, Bill and Ben themselves haven’t tried to garner cheap publicity through issuing a nude calendar of themselves for 2009 to defray campaign expenses and arouse interest through exposure of themselves. However, I’d buy it if they did. Again, does this mean that we’ll be in for gratuitous displays of male nudity if there’s B&B input into the next government, or am I making an inferential leap of potentially cataclysmic proportions?

Recommended: I Think…

Bill and Ben Party: Facebook

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4th October 2008

Canada: Same-Sex Marriage- I Do/I Don’t?

Posted by: Craig Young

After a brief flurry of tuxedo and lace fetishism, Canadian lesbians and gay men are sitting down and pondering whether or not they want to get hitched, now that they can, according to Jillian Deri in Xtra.

gay-wedding-cake.jpgI have to say that I’m still sceptical about the value and worth of the institution of marriage per se. For one thing, as I’ve said time and time again, my Mum and Dad recently celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. They’re also the only ones in my dad’s generation who are still together, for that matter. As for my sister, the only worthwhile thing my no-good ex-brother in law left her was my five year old nephew, Jordan.

So yeah, when all’s said and done, I prefer civil unions. However, I also realise that other LGBT folk will make different choices. Some of the ‘radical queer’ or lesbian feminist persuasion believe that marriage is an assimilationist and male-dominated institution, and they don’t need the blessing of church, state or market to sanction their relationships. We have developed our own alternative models of relationships and families, and shouldn’t be in such a hurry to abandon them, or so this thought goes.

And given that heterosexual marriages often end in divorce (given my own family experience above), then isn’t it also a good idea to evaluate what will happen in the event of same-sex divorce before one rushes into marital fetishism? Or, for that matter in our own context, civil unions?

Of course, not all of us do think same-sex marriage is a bad idea. According to Craig Maynard of Canadians for Equal Marriage British Columbia, there are three aspects to the same-sex marriage debate-legal, cultural and personal. In Canada, the first two have been resolved, so what about the third? For one thing, we haven’t had relationship equality long enough to evaluate the effectiveness of same-sex marriage or civil unions. For another, won’t polyamory continue to co-exist alongside same-sex marriage anyway?

And here’s a surprise- even some religious LGBT folk don’t want to marry, primarily because any Canadian same-sex marriage would be a civil one,  devoid of any explicit sanction for their inclusion within their community of faith, which is of paramount importance to them.

Whatever one thinks, though, many of us would agree that marital status should not be an excuse to deny resources to alternative relationship models or family structures- solo parents, civilly united couples and others. We should be pro-families, as Judith Stacey, US progay and feminist family sociologist, has said.

It does raise an interesting question, though- what about transgender individuals who are married? How do they find things, given that they won relationship inclusion well before lesbians and gays did, at least in our context?


Jillian Deri: “Why most Canadian lesbians and gays are choosing not to marry”

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3rd October 2008

Same-Sex Marriage: The Christian Right’s Rearguard Activism

Posted by: Craig Young

If you thought that the New Zealand Christian Right had given up trying to get same-sex marriage banned after the failure of Gordon Copeland’s same sex marriage ban bill back in 2005, then be aware that two Christian Right groups are trying to get the issue back on the agenda.

These are Family First, which included the vote for or against Copeland’s same-sex marriage ban bill as a ‘family’ issue in its voters guide, and Right to Life New Zealand, an extremist, Christchurch-based anti-abortion group that wants abortion banned completely in this country. One of its forthcoming questionnaire items for candidates is “Do you support the law that marriage should be between one man and one woman?” I fail to see what this has to do with the abortion debate, given that we don’t tend to get married in shotgun weddings as yet.

So, what should we do about this? I suggest that we reciprocate by asking them point blank whether they want to enshrine discriminatory marriage provisions in New Zealand law through mangling the Bill of Rights Act 1990, as Copeland advocated in his private members bill three years or so ago. Helen Clark will probably say that she will abide by the Solicitor-General, Michael Cullen, and his findings that the proposed private members bill would breach the Bill of Rights. Jim Anderton and the Greens would probably agree with that. For different reasons, so might the Maori Party- after all, the Hawaiian sovereignty movement tells us that pre-colonial Polynesian culture had its own same-sex nuptial ceremonies.

I would invite John Key to make a similar commitment, given that he also voted against the same-sex marriage ban bill. As his Canadian counterpart, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, did with the abortion debate, recently, I think it would be a useful bridge-building exercise for him to firmly state that he did not want any member of his caucus to revive the same-sex marriage ban issue during any prospective tenure as New Zealand’s governing party. Or, for that matter, ask Rodney Hide whether, given that his initial vote for the ban, ACT will now oppose any such measure as unconscionable state interference with what should be a private ceremonial event of significance. Given the ‘loss’ of Copeland and Baldock to the Kiwi Party, even Peter Dunne might decide to change his vote, especially given that current polls have him losing Judy Turner.

While it’s unlikely any of us would want to vote for United Future, asking Key and Rodney those questions is something that some of us need to seriously consider. I hope that they will positively affirm that same-sex marriage is a matter for a future New Zealand Parliament to legislate for, not foreclose it altogether out of homophobic malice.

Not Recommended:
Family First’s Value Your Vote website
Right to Life New Zealand

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2nd October 2008

Canada: The Peculiar and Profane Mr Popescu

Posted by: Craig Young

Following an incident when a wingnut threw a bible at poor old George Hawkins, Labour MP for Manurewa, at a meeting at the Manurewa Baptist Church, I spotted a piece on a certain other ‘committed’ fundamentalist Christian. His name is David Popescu, and he is a professional candidate for Sudbury elections in Ontario, Canada.

He is currently running in Canada’s present federal election as an independent candidate. His objective is not to win votes, but to harangue anyone unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity about the evils of Canada from the sectarian perspective of fundamentalist Christianity. Gambling, smut, the absence of Sunday observance, contemporary music, dragon boat races (Hi, Calum!) and …yes, us…are events that will draw down Gard’s wrath on the True North. In fact, we ’should’ be put to death, as we were in the Sodom and Gomorrah myth, according to one of his recorded tirades.

There’s a darker side to this fellow, though. He was arrested and convicted of hitting his elderly mum, enough to leave a bruise on her arm. He alleges that it was only a ‘light swat,’ which euphemism we’ve heard before in the context of fundamentalist Christian pro-belting apologists here. Moreover, he had a history of violence toward her, and had been sole carer since his dad died in 1969. It was a suspended sentence, and he’s worked part time at the Salvation Army ever since (hopefully not with elderly female clients, one hopes. Elder abuse is elder abuse).

On September 29, Popescu delivered a rant at a high school in Sudbury and repeated his ravings. This time, irate teachers and staff posted it on Youtube, and the Greater Sudbury Police Service are investigating these repeated instances of hate speech. Ontario’s Crown Prosecutor and the federal Attorney-General will then be consulted.

What a disgusting creature. He should’ve had the book thrown at him when he beat up his elderly mother. Elder abuse is a violent crime, and should not be tolerated in any civilised society.


“Sudbury police investigate candidate over gay comments:” Canada.Com: 29.09.08:

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2nd October 2008

Voice for Life: Meanwhile, Back at the Abortion Debate…

Posted by: Craig Young

Meanwhile, and probably hoping like hell that the Court of Appeal will not reaffirm Wall v Livingston and kick anti-abortionists back out of interference with abortion access…

Voice for Life (SPUC) has borrowed the Value Your Vote voters guide from Family First, and has delivered the following verdict about the current political parties…

Election 2008 information

Based on their actual Party Voting record, this is the position of the parties currently in parliament:

Kiwi (Copeland) – support anti-abortion initiatives
United Future – majority support anti-abortion initiatives (even if Peter Dunne has said he supports decriminalisation)
National – majority support anti-abortion initiatives (even if John Key has said he supports the status quo)
Maori – majority support anti-abortion
NZ First – majority support anti-abortion initiatives (coveniently forgetting Peter Brown’s Death With Dignity Bill)
Labour – majority are pro-choice (never mind Helen Clark’s support for international action against capital punishment…)
ACT – majority are pro-choice (especially Heather, although Rodney also supports decriminalisation)
Progressive (Anderton) – is pro-choice on abortion (but opposed to euthanasia. Let’s not mention that, though).
Greens – pro-choice (but Sue Kedgeley opposed to euthanasia)

The Electoral Finance Act appears to be having a limiting effect on groups who want to highlight issues relating to current government policy.

[Ah- that must explain why Family First has an operational voters guide website!]

Voice For Life…will be providing a list of electorate candidates from all parties as best we can determine, based on who consistently takes a prolife position on life issues or who approaches discussion on life issues openly. We will update this information as often as we can.

[Consistently? Even on their stances related to nuclear weapons and capital punishment, you mean? And incidentally, guys, not all social liberals support the decriminalisation of voluntary euthanasia or physician assisted suicide, yet…]

Nothing from ALRANZ yet, although they’ll probably have something out before the election.


Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (New Zealand’s oldest pro-choice group)

Not Recommended:

Voice for Life:

Misogynist religious fanatics who want to force their sectarian hatred for women’s reproductive freedom on the rest of us.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Politics · Religion

2nd October 2008

Maxim Institute: Silent Portal?

Posted by: Craig Young

It seems that the nzvotes website is going to be rather anodyne during this general election, probably because the Maxim Institute is trying to balance its two constituencies.

During the last general election, as Nicky Hager notes in The Hollow Men (2006), it was all much simpler. Bruce Logan was still in charge, and under Don Brash and due to the latter’s Exclusive Brethren linkages, the National Party was experiencing one of its periodic delusions that social conservatives were a reliable constituency for the New Zealand centre-right. Accordingly, Logan pursued his usual social conservative bias, with clip-on acknowledgement of the importance of free market economics.

And then, it all fell apart. Brethrengate happened, National lost the general election, and Bruce Logan ‘retired’ from the Maxim Institute shortly afterward, due to Paul Litterick’s revelations about his plagiarism of Anglo-American social conservative source material. The Institute closed down Evidence magazine and its Christchurch offices, and experienced a rapid staff turnover, leading some observers to question its ultimate survival prospects.

Three years later, the Institute has metamorphosed into a substantially different organisation. One look at its current policy briefings, submissions and Real Issues email newsletter will tell you that it has shifted allegiances to the New Right, and it is social conservatism that is now the optional extra.

Sure, the Institute still runs its Compass indoctrination camps for fundamentalist tertiary students, and sure, it signs up to initiatives that Christian Right organisations operate, but its preference is for New Right policy issues these days, because social conservatism doesn’t pay the bills. It’s more likely to provide the Business Roundtable and Centre for Independent Studies with column space, and there’s an implicit bias toward ACT and National’s New Right within its current work.

One wonders how long it will continue to be known as the “Maxim Institute”, given its transition, and how much longer it will continue to exist as a seperate entity, rather than as (say) an educational policy unit within the Centre for Independent Studies. I imagine the Business Roundtable and its other new allies would want to fund a single consolidated organisation, rather than two unneccessarily seperate organisations.

Will this be the Maxim Institute’s last election as an independent organisation? Will it make any attempt to enhance what has become an increasingly thin social conservative veneer? Don’t count on it.


Nicky Hager: The Hollow Men: Nelson: Craig Potton: 2006.

Maxim Institute websites

→ 4 CommentsTags: Politics · Religion

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)

→ No CommentsTags: Politics · Religion

30th September 2008

Canada: Pragmatic Conservatism Vs Hardline Social Conservatism

Posted by: Craig Young

It seems that Canadian Tory PM Stephen Harper is a pragmatist, not a dogmatist, preferring to guy his social conservative heartland over issues that he knows that he can win. Apparently, rehashing Canada’s abortion debate isn’t one of them, according to the Globe and Mail.

Harper stated that he was a fiscal conservative first and foremost, which will probably antagonise his more fanatical fundamentalist supporters, who will have to settle for his populist attacks on federal arts funding- even if it has badly backfired on the Tories in Quebec, which tends to be fiercely protective of its French-derived cultural specificity, art and literature compared to anglophone Canada. Furthermore, he has no intention of ever opening the debate, and antagonising Canadian female voters. He further indicated that as parliamentary party leader, he’d impose a whip on hardline Tory social conservatives, so that they wouldn’t introduce any legislation that might rock the boat either. One wonders whether John Key will emulate such tactics here in the course of our own election campaign?

Furthermore, Quebec is also strongly social liberal, and raising the issue of restricting abortion rights there would be political suicide. One wonders what temper tantrums Canada’s extreme rightist anti-abortionists will pull, deprived of their pet issue.


Jane Taber: “Harper rules out abortion debate” Globe and Mail:…

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