‘Christian vote’ not a guarantee for possible Christian party

May 22, 2019

‘Christian vote’ not a guarantee for possible Christian party

Reverend Frank Ritchie stated Christian opinion is too diverse to be represented well in one party. Photo: Supplied.

Pastor Clint Gibson expresses what may be problematic for the proposed conservative Christian party.

Some Christian leaders are saying a conservative Christian political party could be problematic.

National’s leader Simon Bridges has confirmed he was talking with MP Alfred Ngaro around establishing a “values-based, religious party”.

Christian figures have expressed unease about the values of a proposed New Zealand Christian party, which is expected to be conservative, and whether it has a place in politics.

Reverend Frank Ritchie said the use of Christian in the party title would be in danger of sending the wrong message.

“All of a sudden there is one party with a bunch of values, which then might cause people to see Christianity through a single lens.

“Christianity is a religious structure, not a political structure,” said Mr Ritchie.

Mr Ngaro, a former pastor and current list MP for Te Atatu, hasd been given space to explore the idea of establishing the party after reportedly being approached to form one.

However, Edge Kingsland pastor Clint Gibson said he does not think a country should be run from religious viewpoints.

“I think it just creates division and factions in society which are not helpful.

“We need to dig deeper into what our values are as a society regardless of our religion,” Mr Gibson said.

In the 2013 census, 47 per cent of New Zealanders described themselves as having a Christian religious affiliation.

However, Mr Ritchie said parties that are based on religious views have historically been unsuccessful.

In 1989, the Christian Heritage Party of New Zealand (CHP) was formed supporting conservative social policy and ‘Christian values’.

After sex crime scandals surrounding former CHP leader Graham Capill, the party disbanded in 2006.

The most successful religious foray into politics was the Māori Christian movement Ratana, which held seats in the New Zealand parliament during the 1930s.

Following the 1935 election, they chose to form an alliance with the first Labour government. In following elections Ratana candidates ran as part of the Labour party, holding Māori electorate seats until the 1990s.

The Ratana Christian movement remains a key alliance for Labour.

The Christian-influenced Conservative party nearly crossed the 5 per cent threshold in the 2014 election, in part due to support from evangelical Christians.

Mr Ritchie also said he would only see the party being sustainable if they were socially minded and “not just angry and anti-stuff”.

The National Director of the Family First lobby group, Bob McCoskrie, told RNZ that the party would succeed if voters believed an electoral seat could be won.

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