Rather than worry about the 100 Kiwi’s crossing the ditch every day, Copeland wants the secular N.Z Government to grant exemptions (read special privileges) to asylum seekers who profess to be Christians and claim to be under some threat were they returned home.
His Press Release of the 17th April 2008, is headed ‘Copeland seeks moratorium on deportation of Christians’ & reads:
Independent MP Gordon Copeland today utilised a Parliamentary Question to enter a plea with the Minister of Immigration on behalf of Iranian asylum seekers, who convert to Christianity.
“Following the introduction of legislation in Iran mandating the death penalty for apostates from Islam, there can now be no doubt at all that the deportation of such converts is a death sentence,” said Mr Copeland.
“In the light of that reality, the Dutch, British, Canadian, and Australian Governments have stopped deportation to Iran and New Zealand should, in my view, do the same.”
“This country’s foundations are based upon liberty of conscience and freedom of religion, including the freedom to change one’s religion. We abolished the death penalty about 40 years ago and its application anywhere in the world is abhorrent to New Zealanders.”
“In these circumstances it is simply unconscionable to continue deportation.”
Mr Copeland has said that any claim to Christian conversion needs to be genuine and able to be authenticated by clergy or other pastoral workers in testimony before the Refugee Status Appeals Authority. However, should testimony provided in that manner affirm that the conversion is genuine, then it should be accepted and asylum granted to the claimant.
“At the end of the day, there is simply no option in the matter and I would rather see the benefit of the doubt extended to the asylum seeker than take the risk of discovering later that we have sent a person back to their death in Iran.”
Apparently Copeland’s crocodile teared cry for “freedom of religion” did not extend to other faiths.
If Copeland got his way converted Bahá'ís arriving into the N.Z would be returned to face their fates. Iran is of course is both the cradle of the Bahai’s religion and it’s followers form the countries largest religious minority & have endured persecution for centuries under successive regimes.
But of course Copeland is only interested in Christian refugees.
So Refugees from other converted faiths, plus those dreaded atheists, would be on the first plane out of New Zealand, were he to have his way.
The other question that comes to mind is - who would qualify as a Christian?
The Refugee Status Appeals Authority could face arguments that a non-monotheist Coptic Egyptian was not infact a follower of Jesus and therefore would not qualify for Copelands rigid rules as who was a Christian and who wasn’t.
This isn’t the first time Copeland has wanted a say as to who can come into the country, and who can’t. In 2006 he approached The Minister Of Immigration (David Cunliffe) in an attempt to frustrate Australian euthanasia-activist Philip Nitschkes attempts to settle in N.Z.
No prize for guessing Mr Nitschkes point of view on the terminally ill differs from Mr Copelands, and that was good enough for Gordon to partition the authorities (including visits to The N.Z Police at one stage) to get him banned.
Copeland’s ‘Christians Only Refugee’ proposal is of course patently ludicrous.
Asylum seekers, would seize upon this window of opportunity to covert, as an easy path to follow to gain residency. Of this there is little doubt.
They would be quoting Bible passges to the cow’s come home and whole chapters of L.Ron Hubbards ‘Diagenics’ verbatim if it lead to citizenship in godzone.
The sooner the tax-payers of New Zealand see the back of this ‘lame duck’ MP the better.
PS; Would someone kindly tell Gordon, the most Christian nation on the planet, is one of the last in the Western World, to still practice the "abhorrent" death penalty he deplores.