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.
While the removal of these cultural icons is a disrespect to our cultural forefathers, heritage and values, 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?
We see no conflict between viewing New Zealand as a Christian nation (its historic and cultural identity – further underscored by our identity in Te Tiriti o Waitangi as a part of the British Empire, which is constitutionally Christian) while also as a multi-religious nation (through the giving of grace to all people). A Christian naturally becomes 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. These Christian foundations protect freedom of religions and speech – while is becoming an increasingly relevant matter in our times.
This dynamic is no different to the way we are bicultural in identity as a nation (constitutionally), while being multicultural in practice – because we extend common grace to all people.