To every MP, from the undersigned National Church Leaders gathered today in Wellington
Tēnā koutou. Today, 17 March 2020, the national leaders of most New Zealand church denominations gathered together in Wellington, within sight of Parliament. We want to say to every MP: we urge you to look deep into your own moral conscience, and to vote against the Abortion Law “Reform” Bill at its final reading.
We acknowledge that a decision to seek an abortion is often a lonely and agonising choice for a woman, and that the aim of this Bill is to streamline access to abortion and reduce its stigma. We recognise there are complexities in the abortion issue. We do, however, see any abortion as a tragedy for all concerned.
The profound and pervasive flaw of this Bill is that it erases all consideration for the human worth of the unborn child, and (unlike the current legislation) makes no attempt to balance the needs of mother and child and to give at least some protection to the unborn. The Bill defies the obvious, scientifically incontestable reality that the unborn are living, beating-heart, human babies. Societies which practice great oppression often first dehumanise those they mistreat, asserting they are not really human, so killing them is therefore acceptable. Unwittingly, the Bill echoes that same chilling pattern: it assumes that unwanted unborn are neither human nor valuable and that their death is therefore of no consequence; their death is minimalised as just a “health” procedure for the mother, in which the real victim is determinedly overlooked.
The intent of the Bill may well be to advance women’s autonomy or health. But we believe its primary effect will be to further normalise unspeakable abuse and death against society’s most innocent, vulnerable and voiceless members, the unborn. We believe all human life is a sacred taonga, a priceless gift from God. Justice and compassion requires that we should allow the unborn to be safely born and to live the life they have been given. Those in great authority have a God-given responsibility to help protect everyone, especially those most vulnerable; to legislate instead to facilitate their death is culpably wrong.
And so, in the name of God, and of justice and compassion, and for the sake of future generations, we the undersigned national church leaders join with a vast number of other caring New Zealanders and implore you to exercise true conscience and to vote against this highly unbalanced and unjust Bill.
Rev Charles Hewlett Acting Chair
Bishop Mark Whitford Secretary
On behalf of the following National Church Leaders…
Pastor Adam White, Leader, New Life Churches Pastor Boyd Ratnajara, National Leader, Elim Church of New Zealand Pastor Peter Mortlock, Senior Pastor, City Impact Church Rev Setaita Taumoepeau Veikune, President, Methodist Church of New Zealand Pastor Steve Burgess, Regional Overseer / Senior Leader, C3 Churches Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington, Roman Catholic Church Rev Andrew Marshall, National Director, Alliance Churches of New Zealand Brent Liebezeit, President, Christian Churches New Zealand Right Rev Fakaofo Kaio, Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (personal support) Pastor David Macgregor, National Director, Vineyard Churches Bishop Jay Behan, Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa New Zealand Charles Hewlett, National Leader, Baptist Churches of New Zealand Rev Tale Hakeagaiki, Chairman, Congregational Union of New Zealand Pastor Eddie Tupa’i, President, New Zealand Pacific Union Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist Church Pastor Iliafi Esera, Senior Pastor, Assemblies of God New Zealand Rev Brett Jones, National Superintendent, Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand Rev Dr Stuart Lange, National Director, New Zealand Christian Network Rev Dr Jaron Graham, National Superintendent, Church of the Nazarene Bishop Mark Whitfield, Lutheran Church of New Zealand
Updates on the road to the 3rd reading of the proposed Abortion Legislation Bill
The next week or so is a very critical time for our nation, with major life and death implications for generations to come. The New Zealand Parliament is in the final stages of voting on the Abortion Law Reform Bill, a bill which further liberalises New Zealand’s laws on abortion. The aim of the Bill is to make abortion simply a medical procedure for the mother.
The Bill gives no consideration at all to valuing the life of unborn babies, or to protecting them. The protections in the current legislation (which have proved weak) are swept away. The Bill assumes that unborn babies have no inherent human worth, and no human rights. The Bill would establish abortion on demand up to 20 weeks gestation. From 21 weeks through to birth, all that is required is the agreement of the medical practitioner (the one about to conduct an abortion) that an abortion is “reasonable” with regards to the health of the mother – but with no regard to the life of the baby. Presumably “health” will include her emotional wellbeing. Will this apply to cases of Downs Syndrome, or the wrong sex? Even a baby born alive after a failed abortion will not be safe: MPs have voted down an amendment that would have required the baby to be given medical care, rather than left to die.
Most Christian people do not oppose abortion under all circumstances, and feel compassion towards those women who have been in a very difficult situation and have agonisingly decided to have their baby aborted.
The New Zealand public needs to understand, however, that this Bill is very unbalanced: it entirely takes the side of the pro-abortion lobby, and completely disregards the intrinsic value of unborn human life. Regardless of whether or not unborn human babies are currently recognised in our society’s laws as fully-fledged “human beings”, they are still unquestionably human babies. Respect for the value of all human life is a basic building block of a safe society. Justice and compassion call out for the protection of the powerless and the voiceless. Christians – and many others – see every human life as a sacred gift of God, and the destruction of innocent lives as a terrible stain upon our nation.
We strongly encourage all Christian people to shake off apathy, to be constant in prayer, and to urgently contact members of Parliament and make known their deep concerns (be courteous, clear, well-informed, and brief). MPs names and contact details are linked below.Church leaders also need to speak out (see here a plea for that), and here is a good sermon on abortion from last Sunday.
Mark Maney speaking at Massey Presbyterian Church, Auckland – 8 March 2020
Dr Stuart Lange, National Director New Zealand Christian Network
Abortion Legislation Bill — Second Reading 3 March 2020
One organisation has observed that it is still possible to swing the decision in the final reading. How?
21 MPs need to be change their vote at the final reading. This would produce a tie.
Of those, if the amendment for a referendum on the issue is not passed, all 9 NZ First MPs will apparantly vote against the bill. +
Therefore, only 12 MPs from National / Labour would need to change their votes to ‘No’. The MPs listed above with an asterisk * are ones they particularly recommend be challenged on their position.
YOU can do
to change the tide
Pray for our MPs… Thank the lord for their service and ask that He give them wisdom making decisions that affect the inhabitants of Aotearoa New Zealand. And pray for yourself. Pray for wisdom and courage to contact your local sitting and list MPs and seek guidance as to other MPs you should approach.
Explain your connection: do you live in their electorate, go to the same church, are part of the same denomination, are members of the same club or ethnic group? RESPECTFULLY challenge their position – they also have a right to their opinion.
SPREAD THE WORD. Talk with your peers and encourage them to make a stand. Abortion isn’t a silent issue.
A letter urging Christian leaders to demonstrate a united voice on the abortion issue and against the proposed Abortion Legislation Bill
9 March 2020
I am writing this to a collective group because I do not know how else to reach the leaders en masse. My hope is that it will actually be forwarded and read by YOU, the leadership of the large churches, movements and denominations. I would love to come and meet with and speak with you directly. I am one of the key people who got “March for Life Auckland” up and running – but I am not writing in that capacity. It is as a fellow believer who is greatly concerned that we are not seeing or hearing a united and collective voice from our church leadership (across the multiple denominations). That is no easy thing, but when was it ever meant to be easy being a follower of Christ? We are trying, but we need leaders to step up.
I attended the Open Heaven NZ event in early Feb. Church leaders from the larger (Pentecostal/Charismatic) denominations stood up and rallied us to pray – we collectively gathered to pray for our nation. We worshipped. We felt the presence of God. We sang songs declaring ‘’We are an Army“ and I was left thinking… Really? Are we? We certainly don’t act like it on the big issues – the nation shaping events, laws etc.
We are scattered on so many things and when a clear and pressing blatant issue (such as the abortion bill) is right in our faces, we leave it to a few privates, corporals and volunteers to lead on. While our Lord Jesus, the one we all serve, is highlighting this pressing issue. The timing of it – is happening now; a group of Christians across various faith streams joining to make something happen. The many who sent in submissions to the Bill. The many praying, lobbying. The March for Life Auckland team… We requested your assistance. That the issue could be declared, spoken into, to focus the 10,000 on an issue that is life or death.
We didn’t get it, so we simply handed out all our flyers to the many streaming into the venue. That was effective. The silence and lack of mention of the issue at the event was deafening. I left thinking, “Do these leaders actually truly, deeply care about what happens to families, women and the unborn who are being slaughtered… every day?”
Something was missing. It was a “show” of UNITY… But the depth and breadth of it translating into an actual tangible… felt lacking. I’m open to having this conversation… Are you?
This nation is facing the reality of an Abortion Law being passed, that will allow abortion – up to birth. So many Christians who care and are acting on this issue are looking to church leaders, those who hold an carry a movement, a large congregation to UNITE and LEAD – demonstrate a voice in this issue of life and death.
We know you care. But if this seems like simply another “thing” to add to a busy schedule or workload. What’s wrong? Tangible action. UNITED CHURCHLEADERS that our nation can see is what we lack. And that has weakened the church, many times over, when these issues arise. We don’t see UNITY and a VOICE rise to speak – the collective song sheet being sung loud and clear for our nation. So people like me, and the next-gen, rise up and just get done what needs doing.
We sent out emails to 800 churches in the Auckland Region. We did phone ups and call arounds. We spoke if anyone gave us an opportunity. We blitzed social media. We advertised on radio. We paid a price. We got very mixed responses. We are not radicals or crazy people. We are simply believers who care enough to do something. And those who got the message – responded. Some let their people know it was happening – many didn’t. (We got feedback – it might take people away from a conference, a church thing being organised… it wasn’t something they would speak about.)
Yet, the people came, those who did hear – it was a majority of believers who came. They cared. They marched. They spoke. We prayed. We respected and reflected. It was initiated by a mostly young team. This was incredibly heartening and humbling to be a part of. No big names, no “known” church leaders or voices, just people who turned their care, their prayer, their voices into action. And NZ responded.
It may not be your “thing” your passion, something you will speak to from the pulpit. I challenge you. WHY NOT? Are we too afraid of upsetting people? Isn’t Love our goal? Love for the women still grappling with her grief or guilt or shame… for the unborn, the women who would make a different decision, if she knew that whanau, people around her, truly cared and would support her? No condemnation, no shame. For those in Christ. That is our goal.
If other organisations can band together and sign letters “supporting” this heinous Bill – why are we not seeing the voice of righteousness from our church leaders in In NZ? The world can do it. So why can’t we?
A joint effort – across the various faith streams, Baptists, Anglicans, Charismatics, Pentecostals, Catholics… collectively saying ‘NO this is not right for our NATION.’ It gets left for the brave few. So unity is not demonstrated at a leadership level.
So what does God do? He hands it onto those who are listening – and who will act. It is left to a handful of people who are passionate about the cause to stir, convict, advocate, lobby and make others aware. I am left perplexed why we have had resounding SILENCE at a National level from church leadership. Do you just leave it to those “other” organisations? What message does that send our society? That the church – the Body of Christ – is not UNITED and cohesive in being a voice, the salt and light we are called to be.
This isn’t a ministry that is trying to promote itself, It isn’t a program to win people to Jesus and into congregations. It is the most vulnerable members of our humanity that we seek to give value to, and a voice for – and protect. It is a reflection of Gods Heart.
The time is NOW… If not… When?
Psalm 139, Proverbs 24.11
It takes ONE leader to do this. I am not a leader of a denomination or church. I am simply a fellow believer who cares deeply enough to ACT. And I challenge you to do the same. Reach out to other leaders – any who will UNITE and speak as ONE – to send a message to the leaders of our Nation who are taking us down a dark path.
If you know and turn away, doing nothing, it is on your head. Will you respond?
With respect and an openness to meet, to strategise, to stand in prayer – and action.
Over three thousand pro-lifers at March for Life in Auckland today.
Saturday 29 February 2020
Three thousand five hundred Kiwis attended the March for Life in Auckland today.
With Parliament just days away from voting on a Bill to liberalise abortion-up-to-birth in New Zealand those who marched made a public stand for the unborn and their often vulnerable mothers.
“We showed Parliament today that unborn life is not without advocates in New Zealand, chanting ‘love them both’ and ‘a person’s a person no matter how small’ throughout the march,” says Emma Rankin, March for Life Auckland spokesperson.
The family friendly and peaceful March for Life finished with speeches at a gathering in Aotea Square. “One speaker shared about the pain she still experiences from remembering her three abortions, but encouraged those who have had abortions that healing is possible.”
“Another spoke about the shame he carries having driven 14 year olds to get abortions without the girls’ parents knowledge or consent while he worked in the school system, highlighting the fact that this happens frequently across New Zealand”, says Rankin.
Members of Parliament, including Agnes Loheni, Alfred Ngaro, and Simon O’Connor also addressed the thousands present, encouraging them that we as a nation must be the voice for the unborn.
“This Abortion Bill before us in Parliament is a wake-up call. A time for us as a society to sit-up. … This Bill seeks to remove outright what little legal rights are left for the unborn child. Proponents of this Bill will tell you otherwise, but this Bill is effectively abortion on demand up till birth”, said MP Agnes Loheni March for Life Auckland was a grassroots event organised by a team of dedicated Kiwis who are passionate about the future for our country.
“We all come from a range of different cultures, faith backgrounds, and lived experiences, but we all agree on one thing, that extreme abortion laws are not who we are as Kiwis and that women and children deserve better than abortion,” says Rankin.
Listen to Jacqui’s deeply personal and moving story as she shares the courage of her grandmother and mother, who chose to allow a pregnancy to continue that was the result of rape and the difficulties to reconcile her life with the violent act that her mother had suffered.
“Over the years, I’ve come to realise [that] it’s actually not the child’s fault that their mother may have conceived against her will. It’s almost like a punishment to abort that child.”
Today’s challenges come in the form of pushback given around the abortion issue. “Oftentimes the pushback is ‘Oh, but what about women who have been raped?’
“The challenge that I face when I hear comments like that is like, ‘Should I be alive?’ But I am reconciled and grateful. I am reconciled that I am alive and that’s OK. And yes, my conception didn’t come about in a romantic, pretty way… I value that… I value life. I have just as much right to be alive as anyone else.”
Jacqui wanted to make an oral submission to the select committee regarding the proposed changes to abortion law but was declined. When she asked why not, they were unable to provide a clear answer.
“Eventually they said they had heard from lawyers, doctors, teachers… Basically everybody better than me.” Given the opportunity, she would have told them the same as what she would tell any woman who had been raped, ‘Please consider carefully the ramifications of this Bill that you are trying to pass because the premise of aborting due to rape, you’re basically saying that I – and women like me, children, you know – shouldn’t be alive. And to be honest, I find that very arrogant.’
“I don’t believe that we should be deciding who lives and who dies. I find it arrogant that someone would be saying, ‘You shouldn’t be alive, Jacqui.’ … I’m still a human being.”
Jacqui concludes her story with a message to others who have been conceived in similar circumstances, but the same would apply to anyone who’s life was threatened with the ‘offer’ of being aborted.
I would encourage you to stand up. Be proud. Live your life. It’s a cheesy statement but take each day and make it yours. You have every right to life – just as much as everyone else.
There is a cluster of highly dangerous changes for our society currently being pushed through Parliament: euthanasia, unlimited abortion, and the legalisation of recreational marijuana.
These initiatives will affect us all, and all generations to come. These matters are life and death issues. They transcend mere party politics. It is time the New Zealand public (including the Christian public) arouse themselves from their sleepiness and apathy.
The recent majority (69/51) vote by MPs to legalise euthanasia in New Zealand, subject to a referendum at the next election, is very disappointing. It appears that many MPs (along with much of the media and the general public) simply do not understand the extremely serious implications of legalising euthanasia in this country. For doctors and nurse practitioners to be authorised to actively end patients’ lives, even on request, is to cross a critical threshold. Euthanasia is an entirely different thing than ceasing treatment or turning off an artificial life-support machine when there is zero chance of survival. MPs have no moral right to legislate to allow anyone to kill.
The task of doctors has always been to help heal their patients, not to dispatch them. The inevitable outcomes of allowing “assisted dying” include a lessened societal respect for life, growing pressures to opt for death, and the undermining of doctor-patient trust, of palliative care, and of hospices. All this was very ably pointed out, in the outstanding speeches of some MPs.
The euthanasia debate is not over yet. In 11 months (or less) there will be a Referendum. Given widespread public misunderstanding, excellent anti-euthanasia information will be needed to be vigorously disseminated.
The very liberal abortion bill presently before Parliament is even more unethical. In the so-called Abortion Law Reform Bill none of those unborn babies whose killing is to be freely allowed are recognised as human, none are recognised as having any human rights, and none will be given any choice at all. How liberal and compassionate is that? Again, over 90% of public submissions are opposed to the Bill. But many MPs do not appear to be listening, and the select committee process is shamefully selective.
On a happier note, six of us Kiwis have just come back from the General Assembly of the World Evangelical Alliance, in Indonesia. New Zealand Christian Network is one of national evangelical alliances in 130 countries all over the world, and 92 of those were represented at the Assembly. It was an inspiring time, and great to become better connected to that global community. We met delegates from some very hard places. We all came back determined to see NZCN flourish and grow, and to work for an increasingly effective and united Gospel witness in Aotearoa New Zealand.