Non-Christians Looking for More than Tolerance

February 19, 2007

Author: Simon Collins

Source: New Zealand Herald

Non-Christians say New Zealand is not welcoming to other religions and they want more than mere "tolerance" of their faiths.

Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims at a national forum in Hamilton yesterday all objected to the word "tolerance" in a draft National Statement on Religious Diversity.

But they all supported other clauses in the draft statement which are opposed by evangelical Christian churches - a principle that New Zealand "has no state religion", and another stating that all schools should teach about diverse religions "in an impartial manner".

Destiny Church leader Bishop Brian Tamaki has described the draft as "treasonous" because the British monarchy and the Maori king movement are both committed to Christianity.

But Governor-General Anand Satyanand, a Roman Catholic of Fiji-Indian descent, opened the two-day national forum about the statement last night by acknowledging that religious conflict was often "fuelled by a lack of understanding".