social justice

introduction

Our Anglican notion of social justice is built on the teachings of Jesus Christ. These are encapsulated in his Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

As Christians, our responsibility is to live out these principles and remember the promise of Isaiah 61:to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to comfort those who mourn. 

This priority goes beyond equality-and even equity-and strives for liberation. Angus Maguire (IISC) seeks to demonstrate that difference in the images below.

Our Provincial (New Zealand, and the Polynesia) social justice resource site is here. At this site you can find, download and upload resources in the following areas:

In addition to this, read on for information on specific Diocesan projects.

Climate Change

“Climate change, quite simply, is the issue of the twenty-first century. It is not one issue among any, but, like the canary in the mine, it is warning us that the way we are living on our planet is causing us to head for disaster. We must change. All of the other issues we care about – social justice,  peace, prosperity, freedom – cannot occur unless our planet is healthy. It is the unifying issue of our time.”

Sallie McFague, A New Climate for Theology: God, the World, and Global Warming (Fortress Press, 2008)

As Christians we have an unambiguous responsibility to care for creation. As a Diocese we are seeking to do what we can to reduce our carbon footprint. This includes such simple strategies as:

  • An emphasis on video conference technology and remote meetings;
  • Electronic correspondence and distribution of papers (e.g. synod, registration, surveys, newsletters, etc);
  • Limiting air travel and choosing to carbon offset.

In addition, we encourage all ministry units to read and respond to the strategies recommended in For Creed and Creation : A simple guide to greening your church by Gillian Straine and Nathan Oxley.

Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Dying

In November, the End of Life Choice Act 2019 (EOLC Act) passed its third and final reading in Parliament after a two-year process. During this time the Justice Select Committee examined the largest number of submissions in our legislative history.[1]  During the 2020 general election, New Zealand voters will decide whether they support the Act or not through a binding referendum.

At Synod in September 2019, the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki passed this motion:

“That this Synod reaffirms its decision of 2014 (Motion 4) and continues to oppose any move to legalise euthanasia or physician-assisted-suicide in New Zealand. Furthermore, it urges ministry units and individuals to: 

  • Make submissions opposing the End of Life Choice Bill to their local MPs;
  • Advocate increased spending on and resourcing for enhanced palliative and end-of-life care.
  • Request Standing Committee to appoint a group to advise and comment on any amendments to the Bill."

At this year's General Election on September 19, there will be a referendum: Do you support the End of Life Choice Act 2019 coming into force?

  • Yes - I support the End of Life Choice Act coming into force.
  • No - I do not support the End of Life Choice Act coming into force.

As a Diocese we are urging you to vote "No" and reject the End of Life Choice Act coming into force. To access the "Vote No to Value Life" material click here.

_________________________

[1] The Justice Select Committee received over 38,707 independent written submissions, with 91.8% opposed to the EOLC Bill.

Abortion Law Reform

The Abortion Legislation Bill is described by the NZ Parliament as follows: 

"This omnibus bill amends the law to decriminalise abortion, better align the regulation of abortion services with other health services, and modernise the legal framework for abortion currently set out in the Crimes Act 1961 and the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977."

On the 14th of February, 2020, the Abortion Legislation Committee delivered its report on the Abortion Legislation Bill.

Among the recommendations in the committee's report, it called for safeguards to address sex selection, late-term abortions, and the removal of some of the barriers for women who require abortions.

The Select Committee received more than 25,000 submissions on the bill, which would ultimately remove the medical procedure from the Crimes Act.

Then, on the March 1, the Bill passed its second reading in Parliament in a conscience vote: 81 votes in favour and 39 votes opposing (narrower than the 94 to 23 margin at the first reading last year).

All NZ First MPs supported the bill in order to try to have an amendment passed at a future stage of the bill that would put the issue to a referendum.

The Bill will drop the current test for an abortion after 20 weeks, which can be approved if deemed necessary to save the woman's life or prevent serious injury.

In addition, there would be no legal test for earlier than 20 weeks, leaving the decision up to the woman and her doctor.  For later than 20 weeks, a medical practitioner - after consulting at least one other qualified health practitioner - would have to agree that an abortion is appropriate, having regard to the woman's physical and mental health and "overall wellbeing".

The next stage is the Committee of the Whole House (likely to be mid-late March), when amendments can be lodged to try to change the bill and which it must pass before a third and final reading.

See here to keep up with the Bill's progress through parliament

Cannabis Law Reform

The second of the two referenda to be considered at this year's General Election on September 19 concerns proposed cannabis legislation. All registered voters will be offered the following two statements:

  • Yes, I support the proposed Cannabis Legalization and Control Bill
  • No, I do not support the proposed Cannabis Legalization and Control Bill

The NZ Government has created a site that introduces the referendum, associated legislation, and additional information.

Please note:
  • this referendum is about legalizing cannabis rather than decriminalization;
  • this referendum IS NOT about medicinal cannabis. The Medicinal Cannabis Scheme came into effect on 1 May, 2020. You can read more about it here.
  • the proposed law would allow individuals to obtain up to 14 grams of dried cannabis per day (approximately 21 'joints' per person, per day)

In addition, please find a number of external resources at the bottom of this section:

  • ICBC Cannabis Reform Discussion Document: In May 2019 the InterChurch Bioethics Council compiled a 30-page document entitled: Legalisation of Cannabis for Medicinal and RecreationalPurposes in New Zealand.A guide for discussion. It addresses a wide range of issues including the current legislation,  justice and health-related costs, testing, effects, overseas models, science, recreational use, ethical/biblical considerations, and a summary. 
  • Canada National Cannabis Survey: In October 2018, Canada legalised cannabis. In May 2019, Statistics Canada released its first report into the effects of legalisation on the populace. 
  • Enquiring Minds Cannabis Resource: The Centre for Science & Citizenship has produced a one-page flyer highlighting some issues and inviting readers to engage with an array of resources. It includes a particularly useful set of questions.
  • Patterns of Recreational Cannabis Use in Aotearoa-New Zealand: On May 3, 2020 the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand published an article entitled, "Patterns of recreational cannabis use in Aotearoa-New Zealand and their consequences: evidence to inform voters in the 2020 referendum." This scholarly cross-discipline article captures the work of seven NZ-based experts researching and analyzing our context. 
Credit: Icon Sportswire (2020)

Credit: Icon Sportswire (2020)

ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM – WHEN #BLACKLIVES DON’T MATTER

(The following is a part of an international campaign responding to the Black Lives Matter movement.)

Black lives are disproportionately affected by police brutality; COVID-19 sweeps through crowded vulnerable communities unable to  socially distance; toxic dump sites are placed next to poor communities of Black people; indigenous people are forced off their land.

The world is slow to respond to climate change, hanging on to an increasingly precarious and unjust economic system. It is predominantly  Black lives that are being impacted by drought, flooding, storms and sea level rise. The delayed global response to climate injustice gives the impression that #blacklivesdontmatter. Without urgent action Black lives will continue to be the most impacted, being dispossessed from their lands and becoming climate refugees.

We stand at a Kairos moment - in order to fight environmental injustice , we must also fight racial injustice.

In the words of Archbishop Tutu  “If you are neutral in times of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

The Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN)  calls attention to environmental racism. We issue this urgent statement today, June 19 2020, a day known as Juneteenth in the United States, marking and remembering the official end of slavery in that country in 1865.
We call attention in particular to the  impact of environmental racism on indigenous peoples decimated  by the effects of colonization. Tribes of people were enslaved, and annihilated by harsh conditions and by diseases for which they had no immunity in the first decades of colonization. Later indigenous groups such as the Taíno in what is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic were replaced by enslaved peoples from Africa.

From the Gwich’in in the Arctic Circle to the many tribes in the Amazon River Basin, indigenous people continue to be subjected to intense, sustained racism.
Unjust economic structures and extractive industries subject indigenous peoples and traditional Black communities to forced, violent removal from lands with which they have been integrally connected for centuries. Prominent indigneous leaders - defenders of the land - from tribes such as the Guarani in Brazil, have been murdered and  tribes terrorized.

For example in  Panama, the Guna and Embera were granted land rights under the Comarcas (Reservation). However, land grabbers - non indigenous farmers - seize this  land for their own farms,  leading  to escalating levels of violence from house burnings to murders.

ACEN also witnesses  the growing and alarming rise in the number of people becoming  refugees due to climate change. It is estimated  that there are 40 million climate refugees in the world today, and by 2050 that number could reach one billion. Communities are being forced from their traditional lands due to drought and sea level rise. Climate change can lead to increased conflict as farming communities are forced off their land into cities.

In Central America thousands of indigenous people have been made climate refugees. Upon reaching the United States, they  are often subjected to double discrimination, firstly for being refugees and then as people whose first language is a tribal language rather than Spanish.
Pacific islanders in places such as Tonga and Fiji face the destruction of their homes and cultures due to sea level rise.

Even in the midst of the wealthiest countries Black people bear the brunt of environmental racism. Dumpsites for toxic chemicals are situated near poorer Black communities. These communities become food deserts-  lacking both access to nutritious food and safe water.

Take action for climate justice to show #blacklivesmatter

June 19, 2020

God of love and peace,
God of justice and fire,
when the order put in place disorders your grace with bullets and bullies,
hear those who shout, "I can't breathe."
In the midst of corporate control and the conspiracy of lies,
we plead, "I can't breathe."
As a virus raids a slum and insidiously tracks a migrant camp,
have mercy on those caught who cough and struggle, "I can't breathe."
As the cars return and the airlines receive huge government subsidies,
listen to the earth gasping, "I can't breathe."
The waters rise, God of sea and sky, but dominions do not rest from their wrecking power.
Heed the world as it cries, "I can't breathe."
When we continue to inhale and exhale
as if the suffocation did not matter,
as if our breathing were somehow separate from the struggles of others for air,
align our lives with our prayer.
Forgive us all that does not honour your love,
all that does not live gratefully from the gift of your grace,
all that restricts the communion that your Spirit extends far and wide.
Alongside all those who can't breathe,
we seek the fresh wind over the chaos of our lives,
setting us free,
setting all your people free to breathe,
through Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Sunday Prayers Service of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Geneva (English) , Terry MacArthur and team)
 
As the Anglican Communion Environmental Network we commit to :

Listening to voices of indigenous people.

Recognising and challenging white privilege in society and the Church.

Recognising the colonial past of the Anglican Communion, its ongoing Euro-centric values and the dominance of English.

Identifying the need for further study and active listening around issues of racism.

Recognising and challenging theological ideologies and social norms that perpetuate racism

Acting in solidarity with vulnerable populations experiencing eco-injustice by actions such as: advocacy for policy change at national and regional levels; nonviolent protest; boycotts.

Acting as  a mediator between  indigenous people and farmers or  extractive industries, understanding the legal frameworks involved.

_________________________________

Signed [as at 23 June 2020]
Archbishop Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop Julio Murray, Primate, Anglican Church of Central America
Archbishop Mark Macdonald- National Indigenous Archbishop of Canada
Archbishop Naudal Gomes, Primate, Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil
Archbishop Don Tamihere, Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia.
Archbishop Philip Richardson, Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia.
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Primate, Anglican Church of Southern Africa
Archbishop Francisco Moreno, Primate of the Anglican Church in Mexico
Archbishop Linda Nicholls, Primate Anglican Church of Canada
Archbishop Winston Halapua, Retired Primate of Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
Bishop Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, The Episcopal Church
Archbishop Ian Ernest, Director of Anglican Centre in Rome
Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya, Diocese of Swaziland
Bishop Marc Andrus, Diocese of California, USA

Bishop Nick Holtam, Diocese of Salisbury, UK
Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Suffragan, Diocese of Canterbury, UK
Bishop Geoff Davies, Patron SAFCEI
Bishop Francisco Duque- Gomez; Bishop of Colombia
Bishop Bertin Mwale Subi - Diocese of Katanga , Democratic Republic of the Congo
Bishop Bill Mchombo.  Diocese of East Zambia
Bishop Lloyd Allen, Diocese of Honduras
Bishop Kee Sloan, Diocese of Alabama, USA
Bishop Mike Harrison, Bishop of Dunwich, UK
Bishop Dave Bailey, Diocese of Navajoland, USA
Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick, Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii and the Episcopal Church in Micronesia
Bishop Marinez Bassoto, Diocese of Amazon, Brazil
Bishop Philip Mounstephen, Diocese of Truro, UK
Bishop Andy Dietsche, Diocese of New York, USA
Bishop David Rice, Diocese of San Joaquin, USA
Bishop Doug Sparks, Diocese of Northern Indiana, USA
Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, Diocese of Long Island, USA
Bishop Mark D.W. Eddington, Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe
Bishop Jane Alexander, Bishop of Edmonton, Canada
Bishop Patrick Bell, Diocese of Eastern Oregon, USA
Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori,  XXVI Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church USA
Bishop Gretchen Rehberg, Diocese of Spokane USA
Bishop Philip Huggins President , National Council of Churches of Australia
Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, Diocese of Washington USA
Bishop Anne Hodges-Copple, Bishop Suffragan, Diocese of North Carolina USA
Bishop Eugene Sutton, Diocese of Maryland, USA
Bishop Karowei Dorgu, Diocese of Woolwich, UK
Bishop Steven Benford, Diocese of Dunedin, New Zealand
Bishop Karen Gorham, Diocese of Sherborne, UK
Bishop Keith Joseph, North Queensland, Australia
Bishop Geoff Quinlan, Retired Regional Bishop of Cape Town, South Africa
Bishop Oswald Swartz,(retired) Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman, South Africa
Dr Rowan Williams: Honorary Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Ely. (Former Archbishop of Canterbury) UK
Bishop Eric Pike, Retired Bishop of Port Elizabeth South Africa
Bishop Peter John Lee Retired bishop of Christ the King Diocese , South Africa
Bishop Steven Croft, Diocese of Oxford, UK
Bishop Guli Francis-Dheqani, Diocese of Loughborough, UK
Bishop Sam Rodman, Diocese of North Carolina
Bishop Nick Drayson, Diocese of North Argentina
Bishop Olivia Graham, Diocese of Reading, UK
Bishop Richard Cheetham, Diocese of Southwark, UK
Bishop Isaiah Beardy of the Northern Manitoba Region of Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh.
Bishop Peter Carrell  Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch N.Z.
Bishop David Alvarado  Bishop of Iglesia Anglicana de El Salvador
Bishop H Sharma Nithiyanandham, Diocese of Vellore, India
Bishop Andrew Rumsey, Bishop of Ramsbury, Salisbury, UK
Bishop  Dr S E C Devasahayam;Thoothukudi - Nazareth Diocese; South India