Select Committee Submission: Conversion Practices Prohibition Law Bill

Dear Prime Minister Ardern, Minister Faafoi, and Members of Parliament,

Thank you for giving your time to read and consider the following statement with regards to the recently proposed “Conversion Practices Prohibition Law Bill”.

I have read the proposed piece of legislation and have grave concerns. Concerns for two fundamental principles of Liberal Democracy: 1. Freedom of Speech and 2. Freedom of Religious Expression.

I am most certainly opposed to the use of coercive, abusive, or involuntary practices which might be used with the intent to change or suppress an individual’s “sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.” I am also thankful that there is no evidence of any such practices occurring in New Zealand to my knowledge.

Yet, I am committed to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religious Expression with regards to these same matters. I am equally convinced that anyone who is committed to the basic and historic tenets of a Liberal Democracy will be as well. Therefore, as you will note, my first point of concern is as a citizen of this country. I desire to uphold what is good, right, and just for the society of New Zealand at large.

However, I am also a Christian and a Christian Minister. I am committed to the ethical teaching and demands of the Bible in all areas of faith and practice. I believe the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins for all those who trust in Him – is the greatest truth to ever be told. I believe that the full reality of this truth changes people. In fact, the message of the Bible is, to a very large extent, a message of change – God changing people through Jesus into what He truly created them to be.

Therefore, it is essential for a Christian parent, schoolteacher, medical professional, office worker, minister – simple member of society – to speak openly of the truth of the Bible helping and encouraging people to better understand who God created them to be and how, through Jesus Christ, He can bring them hope, joy, and eternal satisfaction.

This law will make it illegal for Christians to simply just be Christians in society. It will bring an infringement upon our freedom to speak of the Bible’s teaching on identity, gender, and sexuality. It will suppress our freedom to encourage people (even our own children) to change any part of their thinking that does not align with the Bible through the hope found in Jesus Christ.

We cannot cease to speak of this truth. We cannot cease to seek to change people’s minds and understandings when they do not align with the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A change of law won’t change our mission as Christians.

Therefore, we implore you to reject this piece of legislation. Reject a law that will fundamentally alter Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religious Expression in this country. Reject a law that is dangerous for the very future of Liberal Democracy as it has been known for generations.

In service as a citizen of this great land,

Joe Fleener, Pastor, Rolleston Baptist Church, Rolleston