So there’s plenty to follow up after the anti-trans rally controversy over the weekend. Though it’s doubtful even the conservative Christian anti-trans lobbies knew she was coming or were associated with her, they have subsequently sought to champion her cause without looking really seriously at the extreme nature of the way this issue has played out. That extremism is well highlighted by two media commentators who have posted in the last couple of days:
- Martyn Bradbury posts on The Daily Blog and he wrote this supposedly nearly a week ago (22nd March).
- Dr Bryce Edwards is an academic widely recognised for a broad depth of political commentary and insight and he wrote this in the NZ Herald on 27th March.
And how does this affect churches? Whilst the first post on this blog highlighted the reluctance of many churches to enter the court of public opinion on matters like these, a lot of them are expressing their views quietly behind the scenes. Think of the support that a Maori-based evangelical church based in Auckland or a prominent conservative Christian lobby receive from fellowships the length and breadth of the land. A church may simply state a view in a statement of belief that affirms the traditional view of marriage, for example. That is just a form of free speech by a different name. A great deal of media attention was given recently to an integrated school in the Bay of Plenty which had asked parents to affirm traditional Christian marriage as a part of their agreement to support the special character of the school. However, it appears unlikely Christian schools would be prevented from including such statements in their belief statements or other documents and the primary issue seems to be that the integration agreement was amended without consent from the Ministry of Education.
The Government’s abandonment of free speech law changes which are also unlikely to be a priority for the National Party and informed balanced commentary (from a secular perspective) from people like Dr Edwards indicate that the issues raised by the anti-trans campaign over the weekend are now not considered to be mainstream politics and appear to be stoked by the Act party on one side and Greens on the other side of the political spectrum. In effect, the conventional view of free speech in New Zealand is pretty much the status quo for the major political parties and it could be expected there is unlikely to be any movement on this, but the Human Rights Act protections that currently exist will also be maintained and will be the primary method for people to address issues of discrimination.