Members of the Exclusive Brethren say the Government has been persecuting them following attempts to influence the last election.
Three members of the reclusive 7500-strong sect on Tuesday warned an interfaith forum in Hamilton they could be next if they dared criticise Labour, The New Zealand Herald reported.
Mangere Brethren Barry Pinker said the message contained in the anti-government pamphlets sect members distributed before the last election was never discussed in Parliament. The leaflet campaign, which attacked Labour and the Green Party, was worth up to $1.2 million.
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Instead, the sect, which followed the biblical principle of “separation” from society and did not vote in the elections, had been “systematically persecuted”, he said.
“These attacks, included in over 330 demeaning comments made under the protection of parliamentary privilege, have been a very hurtful experience, especially to the many of our community who were unconnected to activity in the 2005 election,” Mr Pinker said.
“If the leaders of a nation attack and demean a minority, where do they turn? Our fear is that any of the minorities represented here today could be the next.”
Examples of the alleged persecution included prime minister Helen Clark calling the sect a “weird cult” and cabinet minister David Parker calling it “the Christian version of the Taliban”.
Labour MP Georgina Beyer had asked for members of the church to be “dragged out of the country”, he said.
After the address, a Wellington Jew, Dave Moskovitz, told the paper it was “highly ironic” the Brethren were complaining of intolerance, as neither homosexuals or prostitutes were tolerated by the church.
“How do we combat bigotry and intolerance, because that exists in the wider society? How do we deal with intolerance? To what extent do we tolerate intolerant people?”
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