Eyes Above The Waves

Robert O'Callahan. Christian. Repatriate Kiwi. Hacker.

Wednesday 5 September 2007


A NZ Herald columnist, Tapu Misa, just "came out" as a Christian convert in her column for today. Amazing! When I used to read the Herald more, she vocally expressed disdain for "religion" (unsurprising, that seems to be shared by most New Zealanders). You never know what God is going to pull off.

The Herald's opinion page will be a bit more interesting now; if I recall correctly she's somewhat left wing, and will therefore be an interesting counterpoint to Garth George, who seems almost the stereotypical crusty right-wing conservative Christian.


Kyle Lahnakoski
Please keep me up to date on this. I am interested in if she will loose her left leanings in the process. Religion has a powerful hold in the USA, and has been slowly infecting my country, Canada. It appears religion turns people into hateful, selfish creatures when it cones to the "greater good" (measured by action, not words*). Although this appearance is most probably media-hyping the extremes, I am desperate to find an example of a "born-again" who is still cares for those she does not know. I need this example for fear I am beginning to paint all religious people as preferring fascist states.
*I should qualify this, as some profession's actions ARE their words.
Robert O'Callahan
> Although this appearance is most probably media-
> hyping the extremes,
I think this is a large part of it. Vast numbers of Christians are actively caring for people they do not know. Huge organizations like http://www.habitat.org/ and http://salvationarmy.org/ get little press (unless they screw up).
I suspect your problem here is the common identification of "religion", particularly evangelical Christianity, with US Republican politics. This is very unfortunate and rather inaccurate. There are more evangelical Christians in Africa than the USA, and probably more in China too. South+Central America are catching up. I suspect most of these Christians would be considerably to the left of even the US Democrats on most issues.
Christianity, especially theologically conservative Christianity, does tend to steer people towards "social conservatism" on issues like abortion and homosexuality, and in the USA that can drive Christians towards the Republican camp. But in truth those issues are very separable from other Republican planks like gun rights, lower taxes, corporate welfare and invading other countries.
Another factor driving US Christians towards the Republicans is the hostility of many Democrats and the "left wing" in general. This was particularly clear to me in the "red state, blue state" hysteria after GWB's reelection; the left-wing blogosphere's contempt for ignorant red-state religious freaks was undisguised. This makes it unnecessarily difficult for evangelical Christians who don't want to vote Republican, of which there are many --- in 2006, for example, 28% of white evangelicals who voted in House elections chose Democrats. You get the feeling that BOTH sides want Christians to vote Republican. Given US demographics, that has played into Republican hands, with disastrous effect.
In other countries, such as New Zealand, the political fault lines are different. For example, abortion is not a politically divisive issue. No-one pushes the line that if you're a Christian you should vote for a certain party.
So, I think Tapu Misa may end up changing her positions on some issues, but I doubt she will feel compelled to leave the left-wing camp altogether.
[The real tragedy of the "Christians == Republicans" equation, beyond the increase in Republican power, is that it's a huge distraction from what we're really about: Jesus, how he came to free us from sin and judgement, and how we should respond to that. At the evangelical churches I've attended in the USA and here, we spent very little time any topics the press cares about.]
Peter Lund
I would call that '-1' :(
I hope she will at least stay secular.