How Do Non-American Evangelicals Respond to the U.S.?

How Do Non-American Evangelicals Respond to the U.S.?

Now that Donald Trump has left the White House, how should Evangelicals outside the United States of America view this experience, and what counsel might they be able to offer their American brothers and sisters? Many non-Americans ask for my view on what has been transpiring recently in the US. Here are some thoughts. 

In my role as global ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance, as I attempt to explain the United States to others, a number of factors help in my understanding of Americans and, more importantly, American Evangelicals.

For the last four years, too many American Evangelicals have been caught up in passionate contests about the use of raw political power. This has embarrassed many of us and confused others. Never before have I heard so many people say that they either avoid or despise Evangelicals. There have been bizarre debates, sometimes pitting evangelical leaders against each other. Some self-proclaimed prophets even declared that God’s anointing was on President Trump; they predicted that he would win a second term as if this was a word from the Lord.

To understand where American Evangelicals are today, it is helpful to look at their heritage. The United States of America was founded amidst historic aspirations towards freedom, a founding myth that twentieth-century leaders traced to John Winthrop’s famous statement that they were “a city set upon a hill for all to observe.” This powerful religious vision, filtered through the dynamism imparted by mass migration and vast resources, implanted in American rhetoric and ethos a sense that their land had special divine promise and design. 

The fact that the USA been predominantly Christian from its beginning has powerfully reinforced this belief. Even in an age of increased secularization, it still enjoys strong denominations and has many megachurches. After World War II, the influence of the American South spread throughout the nation as many Evangelicals moved away from that region. White Evangelicals moved mostly to the West and Southwest, Black Evangelicals mostly to the North as well as the West. And here is another major point of confusion. Pundits often speak of “Evangelical” as if it simply equalled “white Evangelicals.” But there are many African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans who share Evangelical beliefs and practices, but not the political loyalties of white Evangelicals.

This sort of background information assists my non-American friends to understand the power and innovative skill of the American national persona, the unmatched creativity and productivity of Americans, and their unvarnished generosity and desire to be a force of good in the world.

In the wake of a discredited president to whom a remarkable number of (though far from all) white Evangelicals gave support, what are we Evangelicals in the rest of the world to do?

American politics divides into two primary sides—the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. In recent decades adherence to these parties has become much more important for defining social, cultural, and religious convictions. (A generation ago, maybe 15% in each party “hated” or gravely distrusted members of the other party. Now it is way over 50%.), From the start of Trump’s rise to power, while a determined and loyal rank-and-file of white Evangelicals latched on to Trump’s populism, other Evangelical leaders were profoundly concerned and attempted to warn America.  A number (seemingly too few) of highly visible pastors, educators and agency leaders were vocal in protesting that people were putting too much stock in one man. They critiqued those who attributed prophetic greatness to the president or the belief that he was under a divine call. They also warned against giving loyalty to any political party, political platform, or political leader a higher priority than loyalty to Christ.

Today, America is a wounded country. Many Evangelicals express embarrassment for their unguarded support others continue to be angry that their candidate didn’t win. A large minority of Americans in general (including Evangelicals) now have a profound distrust in their governmental institutions.

Second, because America is such a global cultural force and its role in evangelical expansion has been so influential, it is easy to overlook the fact that the real growth among Evangelicals recently has been in the Global South. Although the current malaise among American Evangelicals will inevitably influence us all, there is a strong tendency for the media to assume that a trend in the US is the same elsewhere.

But the United States is not the world. In a Christian community of 600 million Evangelicals, Americans don’t define who we are or should be for the rest of the world. As the term “Evangelical” has become mixed up with all sorts of political groups, views, political pressure and personalities, Evangelicals elsewhere in the world should insist that Christian belief and Christian practice deserve first place. Evangelicals elsewhere should not be looking to recent American history for what it means to “be in the world, but not of the world.”

A nagging question coming out of the Trumpian mobilization, however, relates to the “brand” value of the name. Should we replace the name “Evangelical”? Arguments in the affirmative say that the term lacks definition, that it has been coopted by political debate, and that it is now a term driving some away from the Gospel. Others, given this American debacle, feel that the name has been simply emptied of its usefulness.

I disagree. First, it’s a biblical name. The word euangelion, or “Evangel”, meaning “the good news”, has been used for centuries, particularly for the followers of Martin Luther and then more broadly at the time of William Wilberforce. Today, in many parts of the world, it remains an important means of identity. For example, if you are in a Muslim or Hindu majority country, and you are not Roman Catholic or liberal Protestant, what name do you use? As a threatened minority, the ability to identify with over 600 million fellow Evangelical Christians provides shelter in identity and bonding in fellowship. As a friend noted, every time a priest takes a misstep, do Roman Catholics wonder about a name change?

Finally, to my Evangelical friends in the rest of the world, let’s not be naïve about the temptation that we too might get caught using our church base and witness to gain political power. We have seen this happen in other countries: Kenya, South Korea, and Brazil, to name a few. As the number of Evangelicals continues to grow, there is a natural inclination to turn size and presence into political power. We may think that the Gospel inhibits us from being seduced by power, but we must recognize our own vulnerability as we seek to parlay our global growth into greater political influence.

Americans need space and time to make sense of the choices they confront. Let us pray that they will make choices based on the Christ they serve and the Bible they read. My prayer is that this hurtful and damaging American moment will be followed by a time of national confession, spiritual healing and a resolute will to make the first priority biblical in faith and Christ-honoring in words and actions.

Brian C. Stiller
Global Ambassador, World Evangelical Alliance

This article has been posted with the author’s permission

Turning Blindness into Sight in the remote Highlands of Papua New Guinea

Turning Blindness into Sight in the remote Highlands of Papua New Guinea

…I have come into this world, so that the blind will see…

– Jesus, John 9:39

Imagine being blind and isolated, unable to be with your loved ones, and having to fend for yourself during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Eyesight is something we often take for granted. Yet there are many people in the remote Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG) who are needlessly blind.

With a Covid-19 lockdown in PNG, many people with disabilities cannot access the services they need and others risk having their life-changing surgeries delayed or cancelled.

But there is good news. Because most of cbm New Zealand’s projects are medical, they are essential services and can go ahead. cbm will adapt their work to help with the prevention of the spread of Covid-19 and to offer care and treatment.

Having access to vital sight-saving surgery is an incredible blessing. Many people in PNG have never seen a doctor before. Approximately 86% of the population live in rural areas, however, most health services and specialists’ practices are located in larger towns, this results in many people being deeply affected by avoidable blindness. In fact, 1-in-15 men and 1-in-10 women in the remote Highlands struggle with blindness.

Blindness is often met with suspicion, as those who are blind are usually stigmatised and become victims of human rights abuse. Isolation is commonplace. But thankfully, there is hope…

cbm New Zealand is an international Christian development organisation who have been working in PNG for the past forty years, delivering sight-saving cataract surgeries and other services. The aim is to reduce avoidable blindness, and build an inclusive world in which all people with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential.

One person, whose life was completely transformed by attending a cbm funded outreach clinic, was Jack. Blindness had crushed Jack’s spirit. This was devastating for him as everything he did – to stay safe, earn a living and support his family – all depended on his sense of sight. He was unable to leave the house without being led. He lost all desire to be with other people. In his village, no-one knew how to encourage him and his family stopped being able to talk to him. Jack became depressed, angry, isolated and withdrawn. He lost hope of ever being a productive member of his family and his village.

Through the generosity of others, it was possible for Jack to undergo an operation for his sight to be restored at a cbm funded surgical outreach clinic. When Jack arrived at the outreach clinic, he was very concerned the surgery would not work, but he did not need to be. The surgery was a success and after the bandages were removed, his sight was restored. Relief and joy flooded his face. From that moment, Jack was a completely different man. He said he felt he had “been away” since losing his sight.

But thanks to receiving sight-saving surgery he could again live his life to the full – just as God intended!


One person, whose life was completely transformed by attending a cbm funded outreach clinic, was Jack. Blindness had crushed Jack’s spirit. This was devastating for him as everything he did – to stay safe, earn a living and support his family – all depended on his sense of sight. He was unable to leave the house without being led. He lost all desire to be with other people. In his village, no-one knew how to encourage him and his family stopped being able to talk to him. Jack became depressed, angry, isolated and withdrawn. He lost hope of ever being a productive member of his family and his village.

Jack before surgery
Jack’s gratitude after receiving life- changing cataract surgery

Through the generosity of others, it was possible for Jack to undergo an operation for his sight to be restored at a cbm funded surgical outreach clinic. When Jack arrived at the outreach clinic, he was very concerned the surgery would not work, but he did not need to be. The surgery was a success and after the bandages were removed, his sight was restored. Relief and joy flooded his face. From that moment, Jack was a completely different man. He said he felt he had “been away” since losing his sight.

But thanks to receiving sight-saving surgery he could again live his life to the full – just as God intended!


cbm New Zealand is continuing to transform the lives of many others like Jack. While Covid-19 has changed so much, cbm is grateful for the generous gifts from its supporters to be able to continue this vital work.

If you would like to learn more about how you can help build an inclusive world in which all people with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential, please visit www.cbmnz.org.nz

Kids benefit from seeing euthanasia close up, says Canadian doctor

Kids benefit from seeing euthanasia close up, says Canadian doctor

It helps to normalise the process of doctors killing patients

by Micheal Cook, editor of MercatorNet and BioEdge


Bedside gatherings at Canadian euthanasia deaths are normally an adults-only affair. Of course we’re not privy to most of them, but occasionally a journalist describes the last moments of an elderly man or woman in a magazine feature. Sometimes there’s a party, glasses of champagne, hilarity — until the doctor arrives. The friends and relatives gather around the bed while the doctor administers a lethal injection.

In fact, most of these deaths are of people well over 65. Very few are of an age to be leaving youngsters behind. It is their children or grown grandchildren who are with them in their last moments.

What about people with young children? One experienced MAiD doctor suggests that young children will benefit from becoming involved.

In a blog entry at a University of British Columbia site, Dr Susan Woolhouse, who has been involved in some 70 “assisted deaths”, says “instinct told me that involving children in the MAID process of their loved one was possibly one of the most important and therapeutic experiences for a child. My past experiences during my palliative care rotations reassured me that children could benefit from bearing witness to a loved one’s death. Why would MAID be any different?”

She gives some tips about how to explain the process of dying to young children:

Assuming that children are given honest, compassionate and non-judgmental information about MAID, there is no reason to think that witnessing a medically assisted death cannot be integrate as a normal part of the end of life journey for their loved one. If the adults surrounding them normalize MAID, so will the children.

“These conversations can easily be had with children as young as 4,” she says.

Dr Woolhouse estimates that between 6 and 7 percent of MAiD deaths are of people under 55. As the numbers grow, “this will result in more children being impacted by the assisted death of a loved one.”

This is how she would explain euthanasia to a child:

“In Canada, when someone has an illness that will cause their body to die, they can wait for this to happen or they can ask a doctor help. The doctor or nurse uses a medication that stops the body from working and causes the body to die. This is done in a way that isn’t painful …

“I am going to give your [loved one] medication over a period of about ten minutes. This medication will make her very look very tired and then she will very quickly go into a coma. This means that she will no longer be able to hear, see or feel any pain. You might hear strange breathing sounds, however these do not cause her any pain. Her skin will get colder and maybe even change colour. She will stop moving her body. Her heart will eventually stop beating and this means that her body has died. When a body dies, it can no longer see, feel pain, or hear. It can’t ever be fixed.”

I wonder if a child will find this explanation convincing. The doctor will not be around to answer her questions as she becomes a teenager, a young adult, and a parent. One researcher found that, years afterwards, some children still described the death of a pet as “the worst day of their lives.” How much worse will it feel to remember the day that your mother or father was put down?

Dr Woolhouse’s brief essay leaves some questions up in the air. The obvious question is “where is Dad now?” She can’t offer the child the comfort of an afterlife. Dad isn’t anywhere anymore; he’s just dead.

In her description of her hypothetical patient’s last hours, it’s clear that he is not suffering unbearably, at least at that moment. Why, the child is bound to ask, did Dad want to leave me? Why did he choose to die and leave me an orphan?

But Dr Woolhouse is right about one thing: if you want to normalise euthanasia, what better marketing device could there be than photos of little kids watching her give a lethal injection?

Michael Cook, editor of MercatorNet and BioEdge


This article by Michael Cook was originally published on MercatorNet under a Creative Commons licence. The original article can be found here. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines.

A Giving Strategy for Churches

A Giving Strategy for Churches

Helen’s Headlines

Management, governance and individual resources with a personal touch

Time Management and Personal Organisation, by Helen Calder, was peer-reviewed by Wayne Kirkland (Naenae, Lower Hutt, New Zealand)

Many churches struggle with balancing the books and with inspiring their congregation about giving. This eight point approach was developed in two large churches in the UK. It emphasises the importance of a vision and mission for the church that is understood and owned by the congregation.

Many churches rarely mention money in their sermons or in their communications until there is a financial crisis. At that point they often only talk about the deficit, rather than inspiring the congregation with the vision and mission that together they are engaged in.

In my experience every church needs a joined up plan, a jigsaw if you like, which integrates several aspects of the church’s activities. I call this a strategy for giving. Each church needs to develop and implement its own customised giving strategy. This can be based on the strategy and the methodology for developing and implementing a strategy explained in this resource.

It’s important to recognise at the outset that giving isn’t just about money, it includes time, talents, practical service and prayer. In any congregation there will be those who are “richer” in some aspects of these than in others.

An eight point giving strategy includes

  1. ​An agreed Vision for the church’s mission within & beyond the local area, which is owned by the congregation.
  2. Regular Prayer for the vision and mission of the church, to include prayer for this to be fully resourced, both financially and practically, and trusting God to provide.
  3. Biblical Teaching about generosity, money, good stewardship and giving. The giving aspect should always be in the context of giving as part of Christian discipleship, to provide for the church’s vision and mission. It should also explain the responsibility of members of the church family to support the church financially whilst acknowledging the giving of time and talents as equally important.
  4. Practical Education about how to give (including tax effectively) and about money management. This can be through testimony and practical explanation in a church service, as part of a discipleship course, through articles on the church website and in a magazine. An information sheet, the availability of advisers at the end of some services or separate training events may also be helpful.
  5. Regular Communication inspiring the congregation about the church’s vision, as well as raising awareness of the financial resources needed to deliver that vision and mission. The latter delivered in a simple and interesting way which demonstrates that funds are well managed and that the budget prioritises the ministries in the church vision.
  6. Regular Feedback & thank yous. This engages people: inspire them with the outcomes of the activities that have taken place such as: an evangelism course, the homeless shelter, the food bank, the children’s holiday club, the work of mission partners overseas, the Christmas services. Thank them that this is as a result of their giving, as well as their prayer and practical service. Update them (eg quarterly) regarding the income and expenditure for the year so far and how that compares with the amount needed to fulfil the vision and mission for the full year.
  7. Providing Opportunities to pledge and to give, as well as a variety of ways to give. There need to be plenty of opportunities which could include an annual pledge day or membership day at the start of the calendar and/or financial year, gift days for specific projects as well as a thanksgiving prayer (for all that has been given by whatever means) at every service. In addition collecting cash, cheques and charity vouchers at services, online giving, text giving, direct debits and/or standing orders should be available.
  8. A competent Finance team to oversee and undertake the practicalities. This will include setting a budget for the year with a “balanced portfolio” across different aspects of the church’s ministry and mission.

Six steps for developing and implementing the strategy

Here are a series of steps to help you develop and implement your tailored church giving strategy.

1. Engage the leadership team (PCC, elders, diaconate or ministry team) in discussion to ensure they understand and support the church’s vision and so that they buy into all the aspects of the giving strategy (or to developing one) and to the method of implementation.

2. Use an interactive approach to obtain feedback and to facilitate the cross fertilisation of ideas. With a larger group (such as a church council) it may help to use a structured conversation process (known by some as a World Café) for opinion and information sharing in which small groups discuss a series of topics at several tables, each with a well-briefed table host. People move tables every ten minutes or so and are introduced to the previous discussion at their new table by the table host. The host records the comments, questions and ideas on flipchart paper on the table for all to see.

Here are some suggested questions you could use, grouped by 4 themes which link to the strategy:

Vision, Mission & Prayer

  • What is (or should be) the church’s current vision and mission?

  • What would help church members understand and own the vision and mission better?

  • How can the church community pray more effectively about its vision, mission, activities and finances?

  • Finance & Giving strategy

  • What’s good about the proposed giving strategy concept that’s been outlined?

  • Is there anything you’d add to the giving strategy for this church?

  • Is there anything you think should be removed from the giving strategy?

  • Should anything be done to strengthen and support the church finance team?

Finance & Giving strategy

  • What’s good about the proposed giving strategy concept that’s been outlined?

  • Is there anything you’d add to the giving strategy for this church?

  • Is there anything you think should be removed from the giving strategy?

  • Should anything be done to strengthen and support the church finance team?

Preaching, teaching & practical education

  • What topics around money, giving, generosity and stewardship/trusteeship does our congregation need preaching and teaching on to help them in discipleship?

  • What other ways could we practically educate our congregation about:

    • Their use of money

    • Giving

Communication, engagement, raising awareness & opportunities

  • How can we raise awareness & increase congregational engagement with:

    • The church’s vision and mission.

    • The annual budget in the context of the vision & mission.

    • Current income levels, the financial forecast for the year and where appropriate the need to increase income/giving

  • What opportunities and practical means might facilitate an increase in giving?

Of course you may also like to ask all church attendees to answer these questions, perhaps undertaking an on-line survey using Survey Monkey www.surevymonkey.co.uk

3. Ask each facilitator to write a summary of views and suggested actions from all that’s been discussed on their theme. This should be given to the person or team tasked to develop the strategy. The answers will be different in every church.

4. The feedback is worked into a draft implementation plan or several plans (one for each of the discussion themes) by the person or ideally a small working group tasked to develop the giving strategy. The tasks identified will need to be prioritised. Each plan should have a champion and the plan will show tasks with the name of the person undertaking on each task and a suggested completion date. Tasks can be shared between ministers, treasurer, other members of the leadership team, church staff and congregation members, as relevant to the particular setting. NB The exercise may identify that the congregation (and even some leaders) aren’t clear about the church’s vision and mission or there may not be one in place yet. This is the priority before giving can be addressed.

5. The giving strategy and implementation plan is reviewed by the church leadership, then edited as appropriate, before being affirmed and approved by them.

6. The champions implement the tasks in the plans and report progress to the church leadership for example at leadership team meetings or church council meetings at appropriate (eg quarterly) intervals.

Intended Outcomes

  1. The congregation understands and owns the church vision and mission.
  2. The congregation is better informed and better educated about money and giving, including their responsibility to give and how to go about it.
  3. The congregation is inspired to give and use the opportunities provided to increase their giving.
  4. The church is able to fulfil its vision and mission more effectively.
  5. God, as ultimate provider, honours the prayers and giving of His people.

Signposts

Helen’s Headlines are short resources with a Christian ethos

Produced by Helen Calder, Helen’s Headlines are short resources with a Christian ethos for anyone involved in leadership of a Christian charity or church, especially smaller ones. With 40 years of experience, including 17 years as executive director: finance and services at the Evangelical Alliance, Helen is well-placed to share the lessons she has learnt during a career in industry and the Christian charity sector.

Each resource introduces key points on a topic, often including a checklist for action and signposts to more detailed information on the subject. They cover aspects of the following areas: governance, strategy, management and leadership, money, personal matters and end of life.

All Helen’s Headlines resources are available for anyone who finds them useful. This includes trustees, staff and volunteers of charities and churches, as well as individuals.

New Zealand MPs legalise ‘end of life choice’ of euthanasia, but the public must vote

New Zealand MPs legalise ‘end of life choice’ of euthanasia, but the public must vote

A referendum gives everyone the jitters

by Carolyn Moynihan, deputy editor of MercatorNet

Image: TVNZ

The New Zealand Parliament legalised euthanasia this week by 69 votes to 51, pending the outcome of a referendum next year. On paper, The End of Life Choice Act 2017 looks restrictive. Its architect, libertarian MP David Seymour, claims it permits “one of the most conservative assisted dying regimes in the world.”

Opponents say it is full of loopholes, which would make it like every other piece of euthanasia legislation in the world. Indications are that, once such a law is in place, nobody much cares about how it is working.

As National MP Chris Penk said at the final debate: “The question is not whether some people will die in the way the bill allows, but whether many people could die in a way that the law does not allow.” That is what has happened in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Hospices won’t be exempt

The Act allows assisted suicide by a lethal dose of drugs, either self-administered or administered by a doctor or a nurse practitioner. This option would be available to New Zealand citizens or permanent residents aged 18 and over who have been diagnosed as terminally ill and having less than six months to live.

Originally, the Act also covered people with “grievous and irremediable” conditions, which could apply to depressed and disabled persons, but this was dropped by Seymour to garner more support from MPs.

Conscience protection for doctors and nurses was added. They are not obliged to participate in any part of the assisted dying process or suffer any penalties for opting out. However, an attending practitioner with a conscientious objection must tell a patient that they have a right to ask the group administering the scheme for the name and contact details of a replacement doctor or nurse.

An amendment drafted in consultation with Hospice New Zealand that would allow organisations to opt out without risking losing public funding was voted down.

Other efforts to address weak provisions concerning safeguards and accountability were shut down in successive debates by members impatient to get the bill passed.

The beautiful-young-woman-with-a-tumour factor

In the end, Seymour got 69 of the 120-member Parliament on his side. However, to get the eight votes of the New Zealand First Party members (led by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters) he and supporting MPs had to accept the party’s demand that the Act go to a referendum. It will be one of at least two proposals the public can vote on alongside next year’s general election, the other being the legalisation of recreational cannabis.

It has taken four attempts, starting in 1995, to get euthanasia across the line in the New Zealand Parliament. Its success this time is in keeping with social trends such as secularisation, but also owes a lot to the advocacy of Wellington lawyer Lecretia Seales, who died of brain cancer in 2015. As an attractive, clever 42-year-old tragically facing death, she has done for euthanasia in this country what another beautiful young woman with a brain tumour, Brittany Maynard, did for the cause in California.

Ms Seales, who had worked for the liberal-minded Law Commission, applied to the New Zealand High Court for a declaration that she had a “right” to assisted suicide under the NZ Bill of Rights Act. She failed at court, but succeeded in the public domain where the support of her husband and family and influential figures such as former Law Commission chief Sir Geoffrey Palmer – not to mention massive and sympathetic media attention – emboldened politicians to have another go at legalising euthanasia. Seales died peacefully of natural causes in June 2015 and in October Seymour lodged his member’s bill. In December that year the New Zealand Herald declared Lecretia Seales “New Zealander of the Year”.

Tens of thousands of opposing public submissions binned

The Seymour bill was drawn from the ballot in June 2017 and had its first reading in December. It then went to a select committee of MPs for study and to receive public submissions. More than 39,000 submissions were received, 90 percent opposing it. Over four months touring the country the committee heard over 2000 oral submissions, of which 85 percent were opposed. These included the majority of medical associations and individual doctors and nurses who addressed the committee.

In addition, a grassroots effort saw published a number of excellent video testimonies from people who had faced a terminal diagnosis or lived with a severe disability, as well as professional commentary on the issue. One of the people appearing in these videos, Clare Freeman, who became tetraplegic at 17 and attempted suicide, addressed hundreds of opponents in front of Parliament on Wednesday as MPs prepared for the final vote. She recounted how a psychiatrist suggested that she could get help to end her life overseas.

[mom_video type=”youtube” id=”rEBa891eRpw”]

[gap height=”24″]

All of this has counted for very little with the majority of our political representatives. The public opinion they fear is the referendum looming at the election next year and the debate that will precede it. As NZ Herald writer Claire Trevett commented today: “Few MPs will want to take the lead in that debate – for few will want to be defined by it and have it overshadow their campaign.” That is probably truer of those supporting the legislation than those against it.

The “misinformation” spectre

Supporters have already raised the spectre of “misinformation” to ward off inconvenient publicity about euthanasia and the End of Life Choice Act itself. In fact, Minister of Justice Andrew Little (a supporter) is so concerned that the public may be misinformed and misled that he has talked about setting up a unit in the Ministry of Truth – sorry, Justice – to monitor advertising campaigns. This applies also to the cannabis referendum.

Following an interview with Little, however, the NZ Herald reports, “Teams in the Justice Ministry will prepare neutral, factual information for each referendum and make that publicly available, but they will not be tasked with calling out misinformation.” The Minister expects things to get “ugly” and expects the worst of social media, but has indicated that complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority are the way to go for disgruntled members of the public. He will simply do what he can to “call out misinformation.”

It would be foolish to think that the public is already well informed (and could only be misled by further debate), although politicians and the media regularly invoke opinion polls that show a level of public support for euthanasia of around 70 percent. If the public is generally ignorant, what is the value of a poll that asks a superficial question such as, “Parliament is considering passing a euthanasia law that would allow terminally ill patients to die with the help and approval of their doctors. Would you support it?”

Of course people should be allowed to die. Of course doctors should do what they can to ease their symptoms and reassure them as they die. Aren’t they, don’t they already? Yes. But the euthanasia movement fosters the deceitful idea that people are being kept alive against their will by extraordinary means.

Three-quarters of Kiwis don’t know what ‘choices’ the Act allows

poll commissioned by Euthanasia-Free NZ and released early this week showed that, despite the legislation being around for four years, the great majority of the public do not know what “choices” the End of Life Choice Act would legalise.

* 74% thought the Bill would make it legal for people to choose to have machines turned off that are keeping them alive, when in fact this is already legal.

* 70% thought it would make it legal for people to choose to not be resuscitated, when people can already ask for such a request to be added to their medical file.

* 75% thought that the Bill made euthanasia available to terminally ill people only as a last resort, after all treatments have been tried to control their pain.

“However, the Bill does not require an eligible person to have tried any pain relief or palliative care before requesting a lethal dose, or to have a consultation with a palliative care or pain specialist to find out what options are available to them,” says Euthanasia-Free NZ.

Like the Act’s supporters. this group is concerned about the referendum. “We doubt that another year would be long enough to allow the public to become adequately informed about the Bill’s content, amid contentious debates on cannabis and the general election,” says its executive officer Renee Joubert. “We are concerned that a referendum result may not reflect the public’s true sentiments.”

There seems, indeed, a real possibility that the cannabis referendum, being a more grass-roots issue (so to speak) and therefore given more media time, will eclipse that of euthanasia. The best we can hope for in any case is a change of government.

Carolyn Moynihan, deputy editor of MercatorNet

This article by Carolyn Moynihan was originally published on MercatorNet under a Creative Commons licence. The original article can be found here.