Nando’s Adds Some Flava

Free speech and Julius Malema are hot topics at the moment, certainly on Longwind, and they have converged nicely in the recent Nando’s ad, which until recently featured a puppet called Julius. The mildly amusing ad lampooned the call for change that is current electioneering favourite, with Julius claiming that if you buy your chicken with a hundred, you get more change than you paid in the first place. Continue reading

Some Prize Engrish

An online games-for-girls site seems to have confused the product of wedding-cake baking with the product of the act of marriage. Nice one.

Engrish: cake embryo?

Engrish: cake embryo?

SA Voters’ Guide Critique #7: Homosexual Marriage

We continue our critique of the Christian Action document Biblical principles for Using Your Vote on The author’s seventh point has undergone a recent change, and its form at time of writing reflects a bit of both. It previously was called ‘Opposes Homosexual Agenda’ (as it still says in the list of relevant scripture verses on the page), whereas it now reads, ‘Opposes Homosexual Marriage / Civil Unions’. Continue reading

SA Voters’ Guide Critique #3: Education

We continue our critique of the Christian Action document Biblical principles for Using Your Vote on The author’s third point concerns the parties’ position on parent / state control of education.

The author’s heading of this section reads, ‘Education: Parent Controlled and for Religious Freedom’. His thinking here is rather mystifying. There seems to be something of a false dichotomy at work. It is not at all clear that parent-controlled education has anything to do with religious freedom, and nor is it a given that state-run education is opposed to religious freedom. But let’s have a look at what guidance is given us. Continue reading

SA Voters’ Guide Critique #2: Abortion

We continue our critique of the Christian Action document Biblical principles for Using Your Vote on The author’s second point concerns the parties’ opposition to abortion.

Is this principle Biblical?
Yes, it is. The Christian case against abortion rests on the idea that man is created in God’s image, and that man’s life is a gift of God from the womb. For Christians, human value rests in our created nature, and every living human being is worthy of protection.

Is it essential?
This certainly is an essential issue for Christians. However, I am hesitant to say that a Christian may not vote for a party that is pro-choice for the following reasons.

Christian arguments against abortion seem to begin with the Christian presuppositions mentioned above, and tend not to go any further than that. Peter Hammond’s article against abortion does just that. It begins with a brief Biblical case proving that abortion is murder in scripture, and then provides anecdotes from people who now regard abortion as despicable. In other words, the only argument of any kind is a scriptural one.

But given that we live in a plural society in which scripture is not acknowledged as authoritative, can we hold parties responsible for not listening to us if we have failed both to understand abortion from a secular viewpoint, and failed to argue in terms that are common to all? We have quoted scripture to a world that disbelieves it, but we have done little or nothing to actually persuade our nation of the wisdom of our beliefs.

Almost everyone agrees that a foetus is alive in its own right. We disagree over whether human life is worth protecting in itself. From a secular perspective, personhood depends upon the functioning of human memory, reason, will, self-awareness etc. If these elements are not present, a human might be alive, but it is not a person. Killing it, therefore, is much like killing an animal, which, while not desirable, is not usually illegal. If a family can’t afford to keep its dog and thus has it put down, we might frown upon the action, but we wouldn’t call it murder. If we want to outlaw abortion, we need to demonstrate why killing a thing that may not even have a functioning nervous system yet is worse than killing a pet, and as serious as killing the child’s mother.

Given that we generally fail to argue convincingly (or at all), we can hardly find political parties culpable for sustaining their own beliefs and rejecting ours. After all, we do much the same when reject Sharia Law because it holds no authority for us.

Abortion is important, but it is a relatively small part of governance in general, and so if there is a party that stands for justice (and which therefore might become convinced that abortion is unjust), a Christian might be able to suspend judgment upon their attitude to abortion until such time as we’ve made a properly reasoned case against abortion.

The rule here is for Christians to obey conscience in voting, and to work harder in persuading the world of our wisdom.

Has the author been fair?
In general, yes. However, a simple yes or no answer is often not satisfactory. For example, although he marks them as in favour of abortion, the IFP claims to be opposed to abortion but with limited exclusions, such as when the mother’s life is in danger. I would be interested to hear what Christian parties say about such extreme cases.