The Christian Heritage Party put out this release this morning:
Christian Heritage NZ “Parks” Capital Punishment
Press Release by Christian Heritage NZ at 7:22 AM, 15 Feb 2005
Christian Heritage NZ announced today that it was putting to one side its previous policy of capital punishment for murder.
CHNZ leader Ewen McQueen said the policy was being “parked” because there was not widespread agreement on the issue within the Christian / family values constituency. It was also a policy that tended to be controversial, and had the potential to be a distraction from the key family values issues that the party wanted to focus on at the next election.
He said “The new leadership team is not afraid of being controversial. However capital punishment is not a hill we are willing to die on. We want to fight for positive policies to affirm marriage, rebuild family life, and protect the lives of unborn children. Those are the sorts of issues and policies that are going to unite our core constituency. Those are also the issues and policies that New Zealand needs to address, rather than having an unfruitful debate about one particular type of punishment.”
The CHNZ leader went on to say that the party still believed the justice system needed to be tougher and supported longer sentences for violent crime and progressive sentencing to deter repeat offending. CHNZ also wanted families of murder victims to be allowed to make personal impact statements to sentencing judges and to be given direct representation at Parole Board hearings.
However Mr McQueen said the root of much crime was family breakdown and there was an urgent need for policies that addressed this issue. He stated,
“The rising numbers of fatherless families in New Zealand over the last thirty years has helped to create a generation of alienated and angry young men. It has been one of the key drivers of increasing levels of violent crime. In light of this the best crime prevention programme we can implement is to take steps to rebuild family life. CHNZ’s primary commitment is to doing just that.”
The decision to “park” the capital punishment policy has the strong support of CHNZ members. Over 80% of those who participated in a recent membership vote on the issue were in favour of the change. Mr McQueen said this reflected a genuine desire on the part of the party to avoid unnecessarily divisive issues, and instead focus on the key pro-marriage and pro-life areas that would have strong support in the wider Christian community.
Very Christian of them.