Would the Jacinda government’s paid media dare attack Muslim religious teaching that — among other things — women are inferior to men, that a man can have four wives, a man can divorce a woman, but a woman can not divorce a man; and that homosexuality is sinful? Of course not.

The media has recently provided extensive coverage of the Christian School’s beliefs about marriage. In addition to references to belief in the Trinity and resurrection from the dead, the school claims that marriage is an institution created by God “between one man and one woman.” Two caregivers of children who attend the school are asked to sign a statement to acknowledge the school’s values when their child enrolls. 

Many Kiwis don’t agree that marriage is only between a man and a woman, in the same way many Kiwis don’t believe in the Trinity or the resurrection from the dead. But predictably, the would-be-censors are only concerned about one of these issues and now they are trying to force the school to remove its statement about marriage.  

Statement of Beliefs

Local pride advocate, Gordy Lockhart, claims the school is discriminating against members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Other prominent individuals, such as Shaneel Lal, have started advocating for the Ministry of Education to intervene in this ‘situation’. 

Sorry, what exactly is the ‘situation’? A special character school is expressing perspectives consistent with its special character, and people are surprised?

We can’t let this sort of censorious intolerance shut down the diversity of expression and belief in our nation. Sign our public letter now to remind those calling for the Ministry of Education to intervene that many Kiwis still believe in free speech. 

Sections 13 and 14 of the Bill of Rights Act state that every Kiwi is entitled to freedom of thought, belief and expression. The simple fact that many New Zealanders oppose the view that marriage is between a man and a woman by no means gives them a right to stop others from expressing that belief.

Special character schools are designed to give children and their families access to education from that specific perspective. Even if most Kiwis don’t agree with the beliefs of religious schools, that isn’t sufficient to censor others from expressing what they believe on this issue any more than it would be acceptable to censor others from their perspective on Islamic teachings or Maori creation stories. 

<<Whether you agree with them on marriage or not, sign our public letter to support Bethlehem College’s right to state their beliefs openly. That’s free speech.>>

One of the great advancements of peaceful societies has been the notion that individuals should be free to believe according to their conscience, and express that belief without fear. We know most government departments are only too eager to tread on Kiwis’ free speech. But intervention by the Ministry of Education to suppress Bethlehem College’s belief would be the opposite of this progress, undermining a crucial liberty and setting a very worrying precedent.  

We can’t let that happen. With your help, we can show that Kiwis are still tolerant and accept others who think differently. 

Dane GiraudDane Giraud
Free Speech Union