BRUCE LOGAN: When is an anthem not an Anthem?

BRUCE LOGAN argues that the NZ National Anthem unites us as a nation and proclaims our vision, and that by rejecting Christianity and its narrative as the foundation of New Zealand culture the secularist becomes embroiled in the creation of a new civil religion; the entrenchment of so-called political correctness. Significantly it does not have the vision of freedom that its host’s still small voice continues to whisper. Everyone must subscribe to, affirm and submit to the cult of diversity, inclusion and tolerance. The irony should be self-evident.


 

6 June 2019
Two things. There has been a call by some people, not very many I suspect, to secularise the National Anthem. It’s too religious, or more precisely, too Christian. And the other thing. Across the Tasman we are observing an increasing grassroots concern about the importance of religious belief and expression.

In a useful way they illustrate some difference between New Zealand and Australia. New Zealand has adopted progressive ideology with greater enthusiasm. We are a small country and trendy ideas seduce us easily. We have a small conservative rump and a media that nearly always misunderstands religion and the religious impulse. The mainstream churches have proved to be timid and politically naïve. I can’t recall any traditional church leader enter the public square with a clear prophetic voice in the last few years.

Australia would seem to have bolder church leaders and certainly a much larger and vocal conservative voice in spite of the ABC and a legion of latter day leftist academics. Aggressive progressivism, which is essentially the rejection of the Christian narrative and tradition, does not have the free ride it has in New Zealand.

The ordinary Australian is rediscovering that the freedom of religious belief and expression is essential to a healthy democracy. At least two events have been the catalyst; the Israel Folau affair and the right for religious schools to teach traditional sexual morality. The New Zealand Government appears to be moving in the opposite direction in its attempt to divest Parliamentary procedure of Christian prayer, symbol and imagery along with a sympathy for hate speech legislation which in practice is about silencing dissent.

Democracy as we understand it today remains possible only because we recognise the foundational importance of the freedom of religious belief and expression. It is that recognition that sustains freedom of speech and conscience. Democracy needs a vision of human dignity and meaning that the state cannot manipulate. The Godless experiments of the 20th century that degenerated into mass killing should have proved that to all of us.

Liberty will only be retained in a democracy by the preservation of the Christian explanation of human identity and dignity. Significantly it does not demand that everyone be Christian or that everyone subscribes to Christian doctrine. The secularisation of the Christian explanation of dignity and freedom, which does demand total submission because it is the creator and sustainer of its own truth, will undermine the very freedom it thinks it’s preserving. Secular logic will always claim that the state has greater authority than God.

One of the great strengths of the New Zealand National Anthem is that it recognises an authority above the power of the state. That’s why it’s called an anthem and not a song. The anthem declares there is a transcendent law to which everyone must yield including the lawmakers. If there is no “God of Nations” then no individual in any nation will stay free for long because each nation will grow to worship its own version of the supplanting secular deity. There’s always going to be a god, it’s just a matter of which god.

Secularism is a parasite unaware that it is killing the host that gives it life. Its working ideology of diversity, inclusion and tolerance, is a pick and choose game from Christianity. It steals its selective morality from Christianity while denying its foundations. For example, Christianity declares that every man and woman has intrinsic dignity because they have been created by God in his image. The secularist tries to retain the idea of dignity but only on the basis of a tautology. A human being has dignity because he or she is human. And just what human means will be determined by the loudest voice and the biggest gun.

By rejecting Christianity and its narrative as the foundation of New Zealand culture the secularist becomes embroiled in the creation of a new civil religion; the entrenchment of so-called political correctness. Significantly it does not have the vision of freedom that its host’s still small voice continues to whisper. Everyone must subscribe to, affirm and submit to the cult of diversity, inclusion and tolerance. The irony should be self-evident.

The National Anthem unites us as a nation and proclaims our vision. It’s secularisation would diminish both by exchanging nationhood for tribalism and turn vision into utopianism; a politicised Garden of Eden. How would that give us a meaningful national identity or uplifting vision? It would just widen the road to the new tribalism of identity politics we’re already on.

Bruce Logan is a Board Member of Family First New Zealand

 

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