Christ has been all-but fully removed from CHRISTmas nationally in New Zealand — including Television, print-media, Council decorations, shopfront windows, Christian lyrics in CHRISTmas carols in public places, CHRISTmas Cards and CHRISTmas decorations for the home.
Shockingly, churches in our nation’s cities and towns are now even being denied invitation to have involvement in Community CHRISTmas Carol and other gatherings, or any welcome for involvement in CHRISTmas parades.
The removal of these cultural icons is a disrespect to our cultural forefathers, heritage and values. Yet it remains that we are not powerless. We can maintain a basic respectful Christian presence – and that is what Hope Project CHRISTmas is about!
But aren’t we multi-religious?
There need be no conflict between viewing New Zealand as a Christian nation (its historic and cultural identity – also underscored by our bicultural in Te Tiriti o Waitangi as a part/with the protection of the British Empire, which is constitutionally Christian) while also as a multi-religious nation (through the giving of grace to all people). Many do not yet understand how a true Christian national (in this era of human history) will concurrently become multi-religious in practice because of the freedom of the will that Christianity affirms and empowers. (Faith cannot be coerced). This process of thinking is reflected in the ease with which ‘religious freedom’ was added to Te Tiriti or Waitangi during the korero in 1840. Yet in the first sitting of Parliament there was not a seconds thought that the meeting did not need to begin with prayer (and that prayer was never protected by any laws because no one ever imagined an identity so far changed from who we were that it might be removed). Concurrent to that – while Maori were being denied equality (we were being colonised), more than half of all Maori were in a church service on the Sunday, and often in a Maori Church, conducted in Te Reo. These Christian foundations actually protect the freedoms of religions and speech. They are not in conflict with them. This is becoming an increasingly relevant matter in our times.