Will the Churches be sent to jail

May 21st, 2008 at 9:25 am by David Farrar

Despite advice from the that they should register as third parties, six are funding a $100,000 campaign on “social justice” and refusing to register, and presumably refusing to put authorisation statements on the campaign advertisements.

They are lucky to only be spending $100,000 as if they spent more than $120,000 and they were deemed to be election advertisements, it would be an automatic corrupt practice [s66(1)].

The Herald reports:

The churches’ leaflet urges local churches to act directly by “supporting activities at a lower decile school in your area, volunteering your time to help with some form of family support or youth work, or being a good friend to families who may be isolated or in ”.

It also encourages them to ask politicians two questions: “Do they have explicit policies about lifting children out of poverty? Do they have clear policies about provision of social services to help children in need?”

Now the second part could be seen as advocating against parties and candidates that do not policies to lift children out of poverty.  And considering the churches use a definition of poverty which makes it basically impossible to have some families not in poverty (this is known as the poverty industry), it is a very loaded question that is promoting extreme income redistribution.

Now let us look at s5(1)(a)(ii) of the :

In this Act, election advertisement … means any form of words or graphics, or both, that can reasonably be regarded as doing 1 or more of the following: …

encouraging or persuading voters to vote, or not to vote, for a type of party or for a type of candidate that is described or indicated by reference to views, positions, or policies that are or are not held, taken, or pursued (whether or not the name of a party or the name of a candidate is stated);

Does the pamphlet encourage people not to vote for a party which doesn’t have explicit policies to lift children out of poverty? I wouldn’t want to say without seeing the full pamphlet, but it is certainly arguable.  What is the point of encouraging people to ask politicians the question unless it is to then take that into account when voting? If anyone has a copy of the pamphlet, could they send one to me?

The Electoral Commission has said:

Electoral Commission chief executive Helena Catt said she gave the churches the same advice that she gave to any group planning election-related advertising – that the definition of an election advertisement was still “a large grey area” and it would be “safer to list [as a third party] than not”.

But Annette King said it was a law of common sense, so how can it be a “large grey area”?

As I said above, a copy of the pamphlet would be most useful.

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38 Responses to “Will the Churches be sent to jail”

  1. goodgod (1,348 comments) says:

    Quite the spectrum of churches behind this too: Anglicans (Left wing social Liberal/Labour blah blah) right through to Catholic (erm… far right wing fundie blah blah blah?)

    So whose spending total will it come off?

    Going by my own “common sense” (As encouraged by Annette “Moonwatcher” King) I’d say it was a advertisement against the government, since if you have to ask the candidates, they obviously aren’t doing anything themselves about it and if it was in support of the status quo you wouldn’t ask at all.

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  2. Murray (8,845 comments) says:

    Common sense, rocking horse shit, fairy dust and socialist ethics.

    Good luck with your search.

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  3. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    Well, here’s the part of the linked story that really pisses me off:

    Methodist Church president Brian Turner said the Electoral Commission recommended that they should “err on the side of caution” and register as third parties under the new Electoral Finance Act. But they decided not to.

    “We don’t see it as electioneering or promoting any particular party against others, so we didn’t see the need to register,” he said.

    The leaflets and 2500 posters are being sent this week to Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian and Salvation Army churches under the auspices of their umbrella group, the Council of Christian Social Services.

    Well, that’s nice. Perhaps the CCSS might want to disclose exactly what advice ‘we’ received, and who is going to be picking up the bill if “we” don’t know better than the Electoral Commission. Does actually matter, because I suspect the Catholic Church has much better things to do with its resources than defending a (totally avoidable) potential prosecution for breaking electoral law.

    I’d also make this suggestion to Mr Turner: I wouldn’t go to Helena Catt for advice on the finer points of Methodist doctrine and practice. But she does have access to one or two bods who know their arse from their elbows where electoral law is concerned.

    In the end, if the churches are found to have broken the law, they’ve got to wear the consequences.

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  4. sonic (2,818 comments) says:

    Planning on taking the church to court now Mr F?

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  5. Zippy Gonzales (485 comments) says:

    Heh, this advertisement was authorised by God.

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  6. dudeabides (15 comments) says:

    goodgod — how do you come up with the idea of Catholics as “far right fundies”? In terms of social justice, these guys are obviously all singing from the same, er, hymn sheet. The denominations you don’t see in this group are the likes of Destiny — who really are far right fundies and on whom most basic Christian ideas are wasted.

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  7. pushmepullu (686 comments) says:

    Arresting the Churches? Careful, I’m pretty sure that eradicating the Churches is one of those things, like making us a Republic under President Clark, that Labour would do in two winks if they thought they could get away with it

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  8. David Farrar (1,883 comments) says:

    Sonic: Only if God tells me to.

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  9. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    When any organisation chooses to use the tired old far left expression “social justice” in their literature it means such publications automatically become a political statement. The churches are just one more facet of the NZ social structure that has been infiltrated by left, and now they talk this extremist bullshit as if it was mainstream language.

    It isn’t. Its the rhetoric of the far left, and if the ‘useful idiots’ (the ignorant of history products of the Marxist education system will need to look this term up) pushing this propaganda had half a brain, they’d be looking back at history and observing what has been the outcome for churches when leftists have taken control of a country.

    The churches are being conned by the secular progressives and they’re too damn stupid to see it. Make them register.

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  10. sonic (2,818 comments) says:

    “Only if God tells me to”

    Hear from him much?

    [DPF: Yes normally after the fifth vodka]

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  11. Lindsay (142 comments) says:

    The pamphlet is here; http://www.justiceandcompassion.org.nz/uploads/publications/A5%20brochure%20final_bw.pdf

    “Governments play a leadership role in putting policies in place that will support
    families and communities to value and treasure our children.
    Social justice demands that we question those policies. For example, are benefit
    levels adequate? Is support for low income families reaching all who need it?
    One of the roles of NZCCSS is to advocate for policies that better meet the
    needs of those people who are marginalised by poverty or disadvantage.”

    I have blogged about the politics of the CCFSS. Of course they are attempting to influence voters towards certain parties.

    http://lindsaymitchell.blogspot.com/2008/05/churches-refuse-to-register-as-third.html

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  12. Paul (1,315 comments) says:

    “Common sense, rocking horse shit, fairy dust and socialist ethics”

    Murray, is that it? Please tell us what you really think? Imagine thinking that people are the most important commodity of any society, and that they should be looked after. That’s far left shit that is.

    “Republic under President Clark” The closest we’ve ever gone to taking this route was under Jim Bolger, get the facts right sunshine. Besides correct me if i’m wrong but aren’t you just being reactionary for the sake of showing off, isn’t the notion of true independence from the old country a right wing ideology. But if you’re still happy having Queenie the highest position in the nation fine by me.

    How does a conservative right winger reconcile the notion that our sovereignty (albeit symbolically) is ultimately residing in the castles and palaces of England?

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  13. Paul (1,315 comments) says:

    “tired old far left expression “social justice””

    and who said this place wasn’t for the far right extremists, those poor frog bloggers are so wrong – NOT!

    Imagine placing humans at the top of the food chain – unspeakable.

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  14. goodgod (1,348 comments) says:

    dudeabides: Just outlining the media sterotypes of those churches, that’s why I added the blah blah blah. I’m sure the EB’s have a social conscience too, but leftwing politics says it all oppression and hate. On the other side you have the Anglicans lapping up every social liberal idea they can get their hands on to the point of rewriting their religion. People like me think that’s absurd.

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  15. sean14 (62 comments) says:

    Sonic – are the churches involved in the administrative affairs of the Labour Party, as the EPMU are?

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  16. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    The EFA (with apologies to Niemoller):

    When the Socialists came for the Rednecks,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a Redneck.

    When they silenced the Exclusive Brethren,
    I said nothing;
    I was not an Exclusive Brethren.

    When they came for the Employers,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not an Employer.

    When they came for the Media,
    I remained silent;
    I wasn’t a Journalist.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.

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  17. Paul (1,315 comments) says:

    goodgod, with regard to the EB’s which part of the complete and total domination of the female isn’t oppression. If it isn’t dominance and oppression why can’t they wear what they like, why can’t they act as they like.

    Anglicans, have you been to an anglican church lately, pot and kaftans everywhere, it’s a freaking orgy man. Or back in reality, the Anglican church that I was bought up on is called High Anglican, very ritualistic and close to the thoughts and sentiments of the Roman Catholics. The cardigans and hair nets that waddle out of our local Anglican church could hardly be accused of ‘liberal’ thoughts.

    Go on bigballs give me an example of rewriting religion (as if religion has ever stood still, or those whom have are of course routed in Religious Dogma with little or no relation to modern society). Most of the New Testament was written well after the fact, what is that if it isn’t rewriting religion.

    And imagine, if you are taking the working of Jesus Christ (or whichever flavour of religion) to be anything than that of social justice. I can’t find too many passages in the bible that exposes the virtues of the Sock Market of hedge funds. There was something in there about a tax collector.

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  18. Paul (1,315 comments) says:

    Johnboy, aren’t you speaking now, or is the irony of continued free speech too much for you to understand.

    When the Socialists came for the Rednecks? Who da fuck are the rednecks and when did they come for them?

    When they silenced the Exclusive Brethren? No they didn’t the EB broke a code of insular silence. As the saying goes are you taking the piss – or just giving it away.

    When they came for the Employers? Jesus who’s running the wheels of industry at moment? Ah that’s what those heads on the stakes in the Octogan are – thanks for clarifying that.

    When they came for me? Nah, they just come for Dad4J. Or you could wake up and end the dream.

    When they came for the Media? As i was reading in the paper just the other day over a coffee talking politics to a group of friends, I was saying, isn’t it a shame that we don’t have a media in this country any more.

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  19. Ross Miller (1,689 comments) says:

    Churches have historically involved themselves in the political process ranging from the passive (encouraging their congregations to vote) to the active (Paul Reeves as a leading light in the Citizens for Rowlings Campaign and the EBs).
    No big deal about that except that taking an overly partisan view can alienate parishioners who surely encompass the whole political spectrum.

    But the real point of this story is to once again throw into sharp focus the total absurdity of the EFA. It is probably the most stupid, badly written, undemocratic and downright corrupt piece of legislation ever to ‘grace’ the statute books.

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  20. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    Paul you ask (using your amazing command of the language):”Who da fuck are the rednecks and when did they come for them?”

    You are obviously out of touch with current left wing terminology. Redneck is a derogatory term coined by the socialists for those who oppose the constant stream of PC shit that emanates from the comrades of the left wing. It has recently become less popular as it has been replaced by the even more derogatory title “Climate change denier.” Try to keep up to speed sadass.

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  21. sonic (2,818 comments) says:

    “You are obviously out of touch with current left wing terminology”

    As a current lefty can I just say I’ve never heard anyone in NZ use the word.

    “those who oppose the constant stream of PC shit”

    I tend to call people who say that frustrated bigots.

    Just FYI.

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  22. davidp (3,578 comments) says:

    I vaguely recall from failing Commercial Law 101 in 1985 (it was a requirement of my degree, and they passed me anyway as long as I promised never to attempt to take another law course as long as I lived) that there is an Act which precisely defines the legal terms in use in other Acts.

    I think NZ now needs an equivalent ‘Common Sense Interpretation Act’ that precisely describes how common sense is to be applied in cases where it is a component of other legislation.

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  23. slightlyrighty (2,471 comments) says:

    Sonic.

    Is there any difference in the Mainstream churches partaking in campaigning for issues that they feel connected to and the Exclusive Bretheren campaigning for the Family Values they felt connected to?

    Now before you go stating the obvious Sonic, yes there was communication between National and the EB ensuring that such campaigning did not breach electoral law, and as a result we now have the Electoral Finance act. However the Council of Christian Social Services have decided that this law does not apply to them and as such will not register as a third party.

    Some will argue that they are campaigning on issues, others that they are encouraging readers to vote for parties whose policies match their own views.

    On a personal level, I have no problem with such campaigning, as I had no problem with the campaign run by the EB. This is what I expect in a robust inclusive democracy. But the fact that such debate may well fall foul of the Electoral Finance Act only serves to highlight what an insidious, far reaching and poisonous peice of legislation it is and Sonic, that is the point that DPF is making.

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  24. Paul (1,315 comments) says:

    Johnboy,

    once again you are of course wrong. Redneck came from the Appalachian area of the US, and of course from Scottish immigrants.

    But don’t let your radical right wing thought corrupt the language now, we’d hate to re-write history wouldn’t we (goodgod at 10:20am)

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  25. Paul (1,315 comments) says:

    slightly right,

    huge difference. The assumptions that their religious beliefs are based upon are fundamentally flawed. Their views deliberately belittle and denigrate half of the population – hardly a notion of fairness. And if fairness isn’t at the heart of society, then that isn’t a civil society.

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  26. Murray (8,845 comments) says:

    God was busy so he sent the SAS.

    Who sent McChronic the Boy Blunder?

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  27. Johnboy (15,903 comments) says:

    If you had read a little further down when you were looking it up Paul you would have seen:

    “The use of a derogative term, such as redneck to belittle the working class, would have assisted in the gradual disenfranchisement of most of the Southern lower class, both black and white.”

    Sounds like what you comrades have been doing since the Helen and Micky show started. Where is our money by the way?

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  28. slightlyrighty (2,471 comments) says:

    Paul,

    Just because you do not agree with the fundamental beliefs of an organisation is no basis for denying rights to one group over another group. While I accept that this way of thinking allows for the promotion of views that many, including myself, would find repugnant, I would rather live in a society where all views are allowed to be expressed than some views selectively repressed.

    I would rather know where the idiots are.

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  29. Mr Dennis (348 comments) says:

    There are a few posters here hassling the churches, quotes such as “The assumptions that their religious beliefs are based upon are fundamentally flawed.”(Paul) etc. This is NOT a thread debating religion. Who cares whether you agree with what someone says or not? If this thread was discussing any other group, many of the people posting negatively would possibly be supporting them. Just because it is a group of churches, suddenly many turn against them. Why is that?

    If we are to have freedom of speech, everyone needs the freedom to speak, not just people you agree with. The fact that the churches are being expected to register to express their views is just as ridiculous as the EPMU needing to register.

    The EFA is ridiculous and must be repealed.

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  30. FletcherB (60 comments) says:

    It appears that these leaflets are intended for distribution into the churches, rather than to the public at large? They appear to advise the churches and their congregation on actions worth taking that are nothing to do with elections per say, but also some questions to ask parties/candidates that might be pertinent in helping a person decide which way to vote…

    Obviously, congregation members are also voters, so its a bit of a grey area, but couldnt these be seen as internal memos rather than “advertising”? I presume none of the political parties, large or small, have to include the costs of thier internal memos and inter-communications as part of thier total spend?

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  31. Paul (1,315 comments) says:

    slightlyrighty

    my opinions of the EB are neither here nor there, except if we are looking at a religious group to provide on of the most basic of human traits – respect.

    They way they treat the members of their group whom are the while male economic elite isn’t respectful. To openly disenfranchise on whole section of your group based purely on the fact that they are female is not respectful.

    and “I would rather live in a society where all views are allowed to be expressed than some views selectively repressed.”

    is what I am doing, I am selectively repressing the radical and inhumane ideals of the EB. I have no beef with religion, I am agnostic, in that the views of one Lord Russell very much influenced my departure from the church. I have no ability to prove or disprove the existence of a deity, thus I keep out of it.

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  32. slightlyrighty (2,471 comments) says:

    Paul.

    Again you miss the point. You as an individual can and should choose who you wish to agree with or not.

    It is NOT the role of the state to determine, thorugh overt or covert means, who can and cannot express a viewpoint. Down that path lies repression.

    The tenet of this debate is not about the merits or otherwise of a select point of view, or the morality or otherwise of a belief system, but if the EFA is a justified piece of legislation, given the processes required for reasonable people espousing reasonable viewpoints to do so in accordance with the law.

    So if you would care to engage in the debate, leave the theological discussion for another thread. How do you feel about the EFA, and are you happy with the effects on free democratic discussion?

    My own belief is that free speech should be free from having to comply with government regulation before being embarked upon. I for one am happy that the churches in this country feel free to engage in this debate. I am not religious in that I belong to no church but the fact that we now have a law in this country that provides for a government entity that moniters this sort of speech and threatens fines and/or imprisonment if such speech is deemed to fall outside certain critera is very disquieting.

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  33. Scott (1,765 comments) says:

    The pamphlet seems to me to be very standard Christian understandings of our faith and its out working. Who can argue with the churches, “supporting activities at a lower decile school in your area, volunteering your time to help with some form of family support or youth work, or being a good friend to families who may be isolated or in poverty”.

    Good on the churches involved for wanting to help the poor. Good on them for wanting to help others.

    This exposes what poor legislation the Electoral Finance Act is. Suddenly if you advocate helping the poor you have to register as a third-party and face a jail term if you don’t! Scandalous! And this piece of legislation was bought in by the Labour Party! Michael Joseph Savage would be turning in his grave.

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  34. Paul (1,315 comments) says:

    Slightly right.

    I am more than comfortable with the EFA. Despite the very vocal cries as to the death of freedom of expression and speech of a very small minority, bugger all has changed. The sky has not fallen, and of the 150 or so people who marched down Queen St in a city with the population of 1.2 million, there were probably more people at the North Shore Crochet outing that day than there were people concerned about the so called loss of freedoms. I mean this has been portrayed as the biggest attack on our democracy since the Jap subs were spotted off the coast some 60 years ago, but is it really? The sky hasn’t fallen and if you intend to spend more than (what is it $15k ????) on political advertising you must be registered, no problem with that. Transparent and accountable political influence isn’t a bad thing. The EB’s and their weirdo views are foreign to most Kiwis, but their ability to spend over $1m to wield disproportionate lies was even more abhorrent to kiwis, why else was it such a big issue?

    What are we doing here if not expressing our free speech?

    Freedom of Speech in NZ has not died.

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  35. PhilBest (5,120 comments) says:

    St Paul; in 2 Thessalonians Ch 3 Vs 10:

    “If any man will not work, neither let him eat……”

    Which of the “social justice” advocates in the Catholics, Anglicans, or whatever, are taking ANY NOTICE of THAT verse, pray?

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  36. slightlyrighty (2,471 comments) says:

    Paul.

    Have you heard of the phrase “thin end of the wedge”

    Are you happy that the government can regulate when, how and by whom it can be criticised?

    Do you think that it is right that there are now laws on our books that enable individuals to be prosecuted, fined and imprisioned for participating in free speech the government or it’s agencies does not approve of?

    Do you think it is appropriate for incumbent poiliticans to have a state sanctioned financial advantage over challengers to political office?

    The EFA is bad law, partisan in the extreme, drafted in haste, initiated in anger.

    We have churches, MP’s and unions caught out by it’s provisions. The HRC and Law society have said the bill was fundamentally flawed and this afternoon’s decision regarding the status of the EPMU and Crown Laws’ opinion on it’s connection to Labour serves to re-inforce how much of an ass the EFA is.

    That something so fundamental as how we debate the merits or otherwise of who we choose to lead our country is governed by law as bad as the EFA is a travesty.

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  37. Anthony (789 comments) says:

    Shouldn’t the churches be spending their spare money on helping the poor and disadvantaged rather than trying to influence the behaviour of the general population?

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  38. dave (987 comments) says:

    “If any man will not work, neither let him eat……”
    Which of the “social justice” advocates in the Catholics, Anglicans, or whatever, are taking ANY NOTICE of THAT verse, pray?

    In terms of the NZ Council of Christian Social Services, all of them. It’s their job. Because it’s their job,. they can eat. OK?

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