Let's set the record straight for everyone conflating religious freedom with some sort of noble "freedom of speech" rhetoric.
New Zealand is a democracy and we can say what we want.
But with freedom of speech comes responsibility and there's the rub.
Say a religion has a doctrine that declares all people with a particular sexual orientation will, upon death, burn forever.
Say another religion preaches tolerance, compassion and forgiveness for all, even to those who would gun such believers down in their place of worship.
One of these religions will have the freedom to spread their beliefs across all platforms and one will not.
This is not hypocrisy — this is because all thought is not equal and never has been.
It's actually quite simple and at the risk of sounding like a latter day Pollyanna, the fact is this: If your message is one of aroha (compassion), manaakitanga (caring for another's soul) and whanaungatanga (positive kinship and connection), you will be at liberty to spread the word far and wide.
If your message is one of intolerance, bigotry and hatred, expect to be shut down.
Because we are not only a democracy — we are a decent democracy and that is the most important quality of all.
Letters: Oranga Tamariki, cannabis use, children's rugby and consumerism
Fritha Parkes, Mangere.
Lizzie Marvelly keeps going on about marriage, love, particular brands of love or marriage , but never do we see a mention of the fact that barely two-thirds of marriages survive beyond 25 years.
So, all this being "deeply in love" for the moment or a debatable "commitment to being together for the rest of our lives" only applies to over half the New Zealand population.
Of those who married in 1980, one-third of couples had already divorced by their silver wedding anniversary.
For a young, albeit apparently committed, lady to debate a — to herself — relatively new topic of long-term commitment, makes many of us (who have seen how life's journey can evolve, change paths or interests) wonder why she bothers indulging into this topic.
Rene Blezer, Taupo.
I write in response to Simon Wilson's rather dismissive comments about St Heliers residents' battle to save their on-street parking.
Why does he think this is such a vibrant lively village and the residents are so happy with it as it stands?
They live there. They know better than anyone why their village is so successful.
Simon says "the shopping village is utterly clogged up with cars. You can park everywhere."
He also notes that they have a "shopping centre full of real shops as well as restaurants and cafes".
Does he not see the connection?
The reason, for example, that I changed from my city optometrist to one at St Heliers is precisely because I can park on the street. It's precisely for this reason that people travel there to go to the shops, cafes and restaurants.
Simon and the planners would remove those parks and hollow out the village, remove the customers who happily arrive and park, and create a wasteland such as has occurred in other suburbs.
Older residents or mothers with babies are not going to walk to a bus stop and stand in the wind and rain waiting for an unreliable bus.
Please rethink this anti-car policy. It is killing our suburbs.
Dame Jenny Gibbs, Orakei.
If Australian former professional rugby player Israel Folau really has the courage of his conviction in his religious beliefs, then he will know that God will provide and pull down his crowdfunding site leaving money for those in genuine need.
Marie Kaire, Whangārei.
'Junior staffer' cop-out
I was shocked and stunned to hear Sir John Key on television use the words "junior staffer" in relation to an issue at ANZ Bank during his press conference about its former chief executive David Hisco.
Simon Bridges used those same words to describe the person who removed information from the National Party website after the mosque shootings in Christchurch.
It amazes me that a junior staffer would have anything to do with anything important at the ANZ Bank.
The mind boggles, what a cop out.
I note the National Party staffer with seven years' service resigned, hardly a junior staffer.
Sharon Marks, Te Aroha.
Children at risk
In the rush to apportion blame are we again losing focus on the real issue, which is surely the rights of children — our future adults — to a positive and protected early life?
Every time there is an incident, in the main, we react by producing yet another report (doorstop).
However, as former judge and human rights commissioner Graham MacCormick wrote, on his retirement as a Family Court judge eight years ago, we are constrained by the fear of infringing adult rights and freedoms — the supposed "right" of every parent to parent how they see fit.
Since then others, like MacCormick, have supported the early identification of children at risk through a universal assessment in the first six weeks of a child's life.
The assessment would be a prerequisite for any child-related benefits. Further, universal well-child assessments would regularly follow.
Resources would then be targeted at the parents and caregivers of those children considered most at risk.
Better this, MacCormick says, than later involvement of a government agency or in the murder or manslaughter of a child.
Furthermore, MacCormick argued, in this model, government agencies would only have a default role when community support was unable to assist the primary caregiver or family/whānau.
In his view, from 16 years' experience in the Family Court, most people want to parent their own children and most children want to be parented by their birth parents.
In noting Whānau Ora as a positive step, MacCormick posits that there needs to be greater public awareness of the importance of early intervention.
Glennys Adams, Waiheke Island.
Greg Bruce's article on Saturday interviewing Jane Goodall was light and almost breezy.
What a pity it didn't dig a little deeper into reasons why she held such strong convictions about climate change and her views on how she sees her role now, as an 85-year-old, toward the survival of our planet.
Like Sir David Attenborough she uses her popularity, knowledge and ability to help remind us of the fragility of our planet and the consequences of ignoring it.
They draw large crowds wherever they go and although it's a slow way of helping people change behaviours, it is nevertheless valuable.
Two strong statements did come from Jane though, through Greg's questioning. Her much-quoted comment that every individual can make a difference every day is powerful. We need to know we can and we need to know that we must.
She also wondered why there were so many different environmental organisations all fighting for the same pool of money.
It's a good question and one that needs to be considered quickly.
It could harness all our energy toward one particular goal and make more sense to the populace to see it financed adequately.
Their work is relentless and tireless on behalf of us all.
The overriding message from both Jane and David, I think, is that it really doesn't matter who you are, or where you come from, it will eventually affect us all.
No wonder our young people are out on the streets marching for their future. The question is, why aren't we all?
Emma Mackintosh, Birkenhead.
The teachers' union won the day, teachers are jubilant. Will others in the state sector now stake their claim?
Finance Minister Grant Robertson, less than two years into his Cabinet posting and inheriting a large surplus, is already talking debt as an optional weapon in his armoury.
Just announced, in excess of $200 million is budgeted just for the firearms amnesty.
Steven Joyce's "fiscal black hole" prophecy may materialise after all.
Parallel traits are emerging akin to [former Australian Prime Minister] Julia Gillard's administration whose spendthrift zeal almost derailed the Australian economy despite a substantial surplus transferred from the Howard Government.
New Zealand's middle-income earners, already squeezed and on the highest tax rate, will ensure increased taxation revenues remain constrained, the coalition mindful an economic downturn would weigh heavy on government accounts.
Should a shortfall arise would a GST increase be uppermost in their minds?
P.J. Edmondson, Tauranga.