On Claims Of Christianity Being “Singled Out” Via Probing Of Luxon

There is currently some conversation around whether Luxon is being ‘singled out’ for his Christian faith. Or, rather, whether Christianity is being singled out – and is an ‘acceptable target’.

It’s an issue, sure – a religion is, implicitly, a set of values and adherence is resculpting the world around one to be in some measure more in accordance with same. Whether that’s just in our own personal life, or out more broadly in the lives of others and society, the nation, as a whole.

However, here’s the thing. The rhetorical question posed by at least one Nat is whether we think Luxon would be getting the same critical probing if he were Muslim. The implicit claim, as I say, is that it’s ‘acceptable’ to ‘pick on’ Christianity – and would not be so to similarly scrutinize a ‘minority’ religion.

Which leaves aside, for a start, that the particular rather evangelical flavouring of Christianity that Luxon’s previously been affiliated with is, itself, a minority religion on our shores.

And second, the very strong probability that *were* Luxon somehow a Muslim, the overarching level of potentially harsh scrutiny would, if anything, likely be worse. If, perhaps, ‘worse’ significantly because of those other quarters it would now be coming from at greater heat.

As somebody pointed out, though, the prospects of the National Party acquiring a Muslim leader in the near or even intermediate term future are … not exactly high – and in no small part because the cultural values of National (and a reasonable swathe of the rest of the country) are much more comfortable with a Christian leader than one of any other proclivity of faith.

Nevertheless, there’s some perhaps precedency value in the experiences of persons of other religions in other Anglosphere polities around the globe.

Close observation of certain of these means that I can genuinely state that if either major party had a prominently Hindu leader, I believe they’d get a pretty heavy grilling over it. It’d start out with “So, do you support Hindutva Fascism And Modi” and work out to “you oppose eating cows. Surely, for a beef exporting nation such as New Zealand, this is unpatriotic due to farming?”

It would be accompanied by commentary in some quarters about how we shouldn’t have “Demon-Worshipping” figures leading our nation. If you think I’m joking about this – it literally happened to Tulsi Gabbard during her electoral campaign efforts to represent Hawaii (a reasonably tolerant state) in Congress. Editorial cartoons would be making Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom references.

Meanwhile, closer to home – about a year ago, then-newly minted NZ Labour MP Gaurav Sharma was attacked by a journalist who claimed he was giving voice to Hindu “fascism” … by speaking Sanskrit in our nation’s Parliament.

So as I say – if we wound up with an overtly Hindu MP leading one of our major political parties, I feel pretty confident in asserting that they’d get at least as much of a ‘going over’ as Luxon is about his particular shade of Christianity.

Something which, again, probably isn’t much to do with Luxon being Christian in general terms – as the specific sort of Christianity which he’s previously been associated with.

To be clear about this – I think it’s perfectly reasonable for the electorate to want to ‘get to know’ the values and beliefs of somebody they might consider voting to support in the future. There’s ample room for probing questions about a whole host of viewpoints.

The issue arises when instead of ‘probing questions’ that seek to give us out here in the Cheap Seats an opportunity to understand what the elected representative may or may not do if given (further) power … we’re instead treated to a televised turkey-shoot wherein ‘questions’ are merely veils for invective and jeering.

In that circumstance – nobody really learns anything, and it just encourages a lack of transparency all around.

With somebody like Jami-Lee Ross being probed on his and his party’s Covid-19 attitude, it’s arguably a different story – there, it was reasonably plain that a grift was on, and in that rather prominent post-Election interview, Tova O’Brien’s ditching of the usual journalistic standards / approach effectively came across as expressing much of a nation’s boiled-over frustration with the man and his sidekick.

But that’s a door hitting a man on the way out. Something which, to be sure, with National’s ‘revolving door’ leadership scheme of late, may be a somewhat relevant concept for some of its lineup.

Luxon’s on his way in – as National Party Leader, at any rate. Enquiring about something that’s obviously very significant to him and which may have some bearing upon his political behavior in that role isn’t ‘singling out’ and victimizing a man for his faith … or, for that matter, engaging in a witch-hunt of anybody of avowed Christian proclivity in our nation’s politics.

Having said that, it’s certainly possible to do this in better and/or worse ways – but the evident claim that this is ‘just’ a Christian thing … and that no other person of faith would find themselves facing some (potentially rather severe) level of scrutiny simply doesn’t hold up.

Luxon’s Christianity is being probed not because it’s Christianity – nor, to a point, because it’s a smaller and more forthright branching thereof. Rather, it’s because it’s Luxon’s. If it were Luxon’s Islam, or Luxon’s Scientology, or other expressions of faith he’d lived ardently by – it’d be the same.

But, of course, it’s very convenient to claim there’s an Inquisition going on to unfairly single out Christians for drumming out of public life with as a pre-emptive distraction just in case some … unpalatable responses come up to the aforementioned probing of Luxon’s beliefs in question.

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