Smear leaflets creation of religious sect
Political parties and academics have been surprised to learn Exclusive Brethren Church members are behind leaflets attacking the Green and Labour parties.
Two smear mail-outs have surfaced, one calling Labour’s health policies an “uncaring legacy” with an agenda including legislation that would “see men in dresses and male transvestites in women’s toilets”. The other takes aim at the Green Party – Labour’s likely coalition partner.
One News tracked the names on the leaflets and found the authors are all members of the 300-year-old conservative religious group.
Greens’ co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said she was “quite surprised” the Christian group is behind the leaflet drops. “The Exclusive Brethren say they have no involvement in politics at all and don’t vote.”
The leader of the Christian Heritage Party also says he is surprised to learn the churches members are behind the leaflets.
Christian Heritage leader Ewan McQueen says the Exclusive Brethren don’t usually get involved in politics and it would have been wiser for them to be open about who they are and what they stand for.
He says he admires the Green Party because it stands up strongly for what it believes in.
The Exclusive Brethren has been described as a church which isolates itself from other Christian churches and which usually avoids political activity.
An Associate Professor of History at Massey University in Auckland Dr Peter Lineham says historically members shun anything to do with the wider world and political activism is highly unusual.
He says the church regards such activities as the works of darkness.
Lineham says in recent years the sect has become more open and perhaps the pamphlets are a sign of this.
National leader Don Brash says his party is not involved in the production of the flyers.
But on TVNZ’s Breakfast programme former National Party president Michelle Boag said there was nothing wrong with the pamphlet campaign.
“I think it’s ironic that the Greens are complaining about someone exercising their democratic right,” Boag said.
She said there is no difference between what the Exclusive Brethren have done and what business groups and trade unions do during elections.
A statement from the religious group about the pamphlet is expected on Wednesday.