Sacred Histories in Secular New Zealand, by Edited by Geoffrey Troughton and Stuart Lange

Sacred Histories in Secular New Zealand, by Edited by Geoffrey Troughton and Stuart Lange (History)

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The secular character of New Zealand has become an accepted ‘fact’ of our time. Nevertheless, Christian organizations and discourses have played an important role in framing New Zealand’s life and identity. In many ways, they continue to do so. Despite recent declines in church attendance, the persistence of religious tolerance, spiritual belief and celebration of Christian festivals and ideals suggests that Christianity plays a more enduring and significant role in New Zealand life than the country’s secular reputation would indicate. Sacred Histories in Secular New Zealand examines some often neglected aspects of New Zealand’s history – from missionaries and Christian Ma-ori to charismatic preachers and puritan novelists, from sectarian conflict and competition to increased co-operation and unity. Together these highlight the interweaving of Christianity with culture, and the interplay of sacred and secular throughout New Zealand’s history.

Contributors: Allan Davidson, Malcolm Falloon, Stuart Lange, Peter Lineham, John Milnes, Kirstine Moffatt, John Stenhouse, Nicholas Thompson, Geoffrey Troughton, John Tucker, Kevin Ward

From: Sacred Histories in Secular New Zealand, edited by Geoffrey Troughton and Stuart Lange

Introduction: Sacred Histories in Secular New Zealand

Geoffrey Troughton

If the numbers are to be believed, New Zealanders have in recent decades become a pretty godless lot. Well-publicized data from the 2013 census tell us that 42% of New Zealanders who answered the ‘religion question’—and 38.6% of all respondents—claimed to have ‘no religion’ at all.1 Among younger generations, the idea of not being religious had evidently become normalized: 46.8% of all census respondents aged 15–29 years claimed no religion; less than 40% said they were religious; only one third claimed to be Christian. While 71.8% of those aged 70 years or older claimed Christian affiliation in 2013, even this was much lower than rates that prevailed through most of the twentieth century. In 1901, roughly 95% of Pākehā New Zealanders claimed Christian affiliation; as late as 1966, around 87% of the total population still did.

In this apparently secular and secularizing environment, why bother with religion, or with stories of Christianity in New Zealand? Perhaps paradoxically, the growth of a strong ‘non-religious’ trajectory may provide one of the best arguments for the continuing relevance of religious history, and the study of religion more generally. In a context where religious beliefs, values and ways of life are becoming less familiar, such knowledge is increasingly valuable in helping to understand not only New Zealand’s story, but also dynamics in the contemporary world. For, in global terms, the New Zealand situation is relatively unusual. According to a recent Pew Foundation survey of 234 countries and territories, New Zealand is one of just eight in which Christianity is projected to no longer have a majority status by 2050. In three of those eight places (Australia, the United Kingdom and Benin), Christianity will still be the largest religion; in two (Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina), Islam will supplant Christianity’s predominance. Only in France, the Netherlands and New Zealand are ‘no religionists’ predicted to become the largest group. Overall, Pew projects that the global share of the religiously unaffiliated will actually decline between 2010 and 2050, from 16.4% to 13.2%.2

In the context of international patterns, then, the strength of ‘non-religion’ in New Zealand appears to be something of an anomaly—whatever it actually means to people. Globally, religion remains an important dimension of human experience. To bother with religion is therefore to bother with a significant factor in the world we live in: understanding religion is essential to understanding the present, of this and any human society. In New Zealand, it is various forms of Christianity that have been central to the religious life and identity of this country. The stories of these traditions remain crucial for understanding our past, and consequently also our present condition.

The Spectre of Secularity and the Writing of Religious History

It may seem strange to begin a book about Christianity in New Zealand with remarks about secularity and non-religion. In a curious way, however, these terms are intimately interconnected—conceptually, in the history of Christianity (and religion more generally), and also in the historiography of Christianity in New Zealand. As numerous critical studies have demonstrated, the idea of the secular emerged from within Christian thought and culture. The most widespread contemporary understandings of the terms ‘religious’ and ‘secular’ were fashioned in the modern era. Reflecting the mythologies of modernity, these understandings encourage us to think in terms of discrete, stable and separable domains: the religious and the secular. Historically, however, these categories have not been entirely stable or separable; the various meanings of the terms are also deeply intertwined.3 What people mean by ‘secular’ remains tied to their particular conceptualization of ‘religion’. Similarly, meanings of ‘non-religion’ are closely connected to an image of religion that is being repudiated. Recognition of this intertwining of religion and secularity is especially significant in a country like New Zealand, where the most prominent narratives of religion in recent decades have arguably been the reputed secularity of New Zealanders, the secularization of society and the growth of non-religion. Those narratives are intrinsically bound up with the story of Christianity in New Zealand.

In terms of historiography, themes relating to secularity have had a profound effect on scholarly writing about religious history in New Zealand. They have influenced the general historiography, but also the development of the sub-discipline of religious history and the shape of much recent scholarship. Starting in the nineteenth century, older and predominantly church-sponsored traditions of writing about Christianity in New Zealand focused on missionary activity and the development of churches and denominations.4 Church leaders expressed concerns about levels of attendance and threats to Christian influence in society, but there was also considerable optimism and expansion during the first half of the twentieth century. The possibility of widespread waning of Christian belief, adherence and identification was almost inconceivable. It was only in the second half of the twentieth century, particularly from the late 1960s, that societal secularization became more evident and, in western societies generally, secularization theories started to gain prominence. In New Zealand, new rights movements and cultures of protest and experimentation challenged existing authorities, including religious ones; high profile controversies such as the Geering trial in 1967 also affected attitudes to religion and the churches. A combination of these and other factors led to a sense in some quarters that Christianity was in terminal decline. In the face of apparently ‘inevitable’ secularization, some interpreters sought to find the ‘seeds of decline’, even in earlier eras of reputed religious vitality. From the 1970s and 1980s, secularization became a key analytical paradigm for explaining historical patterns in New Zealand religious life—among historians and sociologists, but also in work emanating from newly formed Religious Studies departments.5

Intriguingly, despite advancing secularization, writing about the history of Christianity in New Zealand has not withered. To a remarkable extent it has in fact flourished. In an earlier collection of essays, from 2011, Hugh Morrison and I remarked upon indications of strength and growth in the field.6 This vitality continues. As Peter Lineham has recently commented, religious history is ‘one of the liveliest aspects of current New Zealand historiography’.7 In recent times there have been many studies addressing a wide range of themes, looking at disparate religious groups, including smaller faiths and traditions such as rationalism, spiritualism and esoteric spirituality.8 Nevertheless, as papers delivered to Religious History Association conferences attest, the field has largely focused on the history of Christianity, which has been analysed increasingly in social and cultural, rather than simply institutional, terms.9 This concentration of research on Christian traditions reflects historic patterns of religious affiliation within New Zealand.

Why has there been so much interest in the history of Christianity in recent years, in our apparently more secular context? In terms of scholarly production, the emergence of this lively sub-discipline can partly be viewed as an extension of the relatively recent growth of academic history in New Zealand, and of New Zealand history in particular. It has also been driven by key scholars, a number of whom are contributors to the present volume. Yet there is also a sense in which religious history has been shaped by a wider secular climate. This setting has provided a stimulus to understand the story of religion in New Zealand better, in a number of different ways. In addition to marking their milestones, religious communities have been encouraged to seek a better grasp of who they are by knowing where they have come from—to understand the pathways to their present, both from within their own tradition, and in the context of wider societal changes. Within scholarly circles, quite a lot of recent work (and a number of essays here) has aimed, implicitly and explicitly, to question secularist paradigms and assumptions. In this way, the discipline has arguably benefited from the outlooks it has sought to challenge.

The North American historian Jay Green recently analysed the motivations of Christian historians, and ways in which they relate their faith to scholarship.10 According to Green, such historians have often seen their work as an expression of ‘taking religion seriously’, and have been motivated by a desire to see their colleagues take it seriously too.11 While not all New Zealand religious historians identify personally as being religious, this emphasis on ‘taking religion seriously’ has nevertheless been evident here too. Historians of religion have regularly remarked upon the marginalization of religious factors in the nation’s historiography, and sought to remedy this deficiency.12 John Stenhouse’s provocative and widely debated interpretation of the secular nationalist historiographical tradition highlighted its tendency to either exclude religion as irrelevant to most New Zealanders’ lives (and to historical interpretation), or to represent it, in jaundiced fashion, as a negative, retrograde force.13 By contrast, religious historians have understandably emphasized religion’s enduring significance, seeking to demonstrate the importance of churches as social institutions and the role of religious beliefs and identities in shaping culture. Of course, such focus on religious factors does not always mean emphasizing religions’ benevolent aspects. As John Milnes’ chapter in this volume highlights, it is not always the ‘nice’ dimensions of our religious past that warrant closer attention.

The apparent vitality of religious history in New Zealand is consistent with a post-secular ‘return to religion’ that has been widely identified elsewhere within the academy. Internationally, this trend has been evident in fields as diverse as politics and international relations, philosophy and cultural theory, sociology and anthropology (notably in the anthropology of Christianity and of Islam), and in some areas of psychology, health and the sciences.14 In New Zealand, however, history seems to be something of an anomaly: it is perhaps the only discipline in which such notable attention has been directed to religious factors, or where the ‘return of religion’ has had significant local expression. As Kevin Ward notes below, even in sociology there has been no trained-in-the-discipline religious specialist in a New Zealand university department for the past two decades. Tellingly, the closest current exception to Ward’s claim is Mike Grimshaw, who is presently an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Canterbury. Grimshaw teaches courses in the sociology of religion, but was formerly a lecturer in Religious Studies. Significantly, his academic qualifications are in history and theology, and he claims that he is ‘best described as a secular theologian and critical theorist’.15 What do these scholarly patterns tell us? Do they represent further evidence of the secularity of New Zealand society (or at least its tertiary institutions)? Is religion primarily of interest in New Zealand only when it is safely contained in the past?

Storylines

Religions, cultures and identities of all kinds are moulded by stories and myths. The following essays tell stories that aim to provide insights into the history of Christianity in New Zealand and to illuminate aspects of New Zealand history and identity. Some of them consciously interrogate particular stories from within the Christian tradition, while others interact with narratives about it. Storylines about Christianity and secularity in New Zealand often interweave, but they are also frequently at odds. One key trope that Stenhouse identified in his earlier appraisal of the secular nationalist historiographical tradition was that of religion as a ‘Bad Thing’; in other words, religion presented as an instigator and perpetrator of various social ills, including racism, sexism, ‘pleasure-hating’ puritanism, bigotry and intolerance. This recurring motif has also been influential within the wider culture, though specialist religious historians have typically doubted its adequacy as an account of religious life—even if they have raised similar complaints about particular Christian failings at times.16

A number of the ‘bad religion’ themes noted above are highly relevant to the essays that follow. These begin with Stuart Lange’s analysis of the historiography of missionary and Māori Christianity. Missionaries were once widely feted in New Zealand, regarded as heroic nation-builders, though such sentiments were largely eclipsed by less positive assessments in the second half of the twentieth century. Interest in the missions never entirely faded, however, and there have been numerous recent publications in this area, and also increasingly on Māori Christianity.17 The bicentenary in 2014 of the founding of the Church Missionary Society mission in the Bay of Islands provided a stimulus for some of this productivity. Within the historiography as a whole, Lange’s analysis identifies celebratory and disdainful traditions that both trace back to the mid-nineteenth century. Such storylines have significant deficiencies, but have been remarkably resilient. Lange also identifies the emergence of a more satisfactory ‘mediating’ approach, which he outlines in relation to more recent work. Lange is more optimistic about these studies, suggesting that they perhaps indicate growing maturity in evaluations of missionary activity and Māori Christianity.

Issues of violence, bigotry and intolerance are also addressed in this volume. A central tenet of the Enlightenment critique of religion was that religion not only represented superstition, but also a force for conflict and division that could only be contained through the secular state. Such ideas have become unquestioned in many quarters, aided in part by certain secularist narratives that cast religion as unusually divisive and violent. William Cavanaugh has dubbed this narrative the ‘myth of religious violence’. As Cavanaugh argues, the storyline is a myth because it depends upon problematic categorizations of ‘religion’ and invokes spurious distinctions between species of violence. Crucially, it has also served historically as a founding myth to legitimate the primacy of the secular state, and to sanctify the state’s own violence.18

One problem with the ‘violent religion’ thesis is that it tends to underestimate ways in which religions can contribute to social harmony. Indeed, the narrative runs strangely counter to a long line of theoretical reflection, from Durkheim and Weber onwards, that emphasizes religion’s role in aiding, perhaps even creating, social cohesion—that is, in binding people together (some scholars suggest that even our term ‘religion’ may ultimately derive from the Latin word ‘religare’, meaning ‘to bind’).19 A related issue with the ‘violent religion’ story is its marginalization of counter-narratives of faith-inspired goodwill, and its blindness to religious resources for building peace. Malcolm Falloon’s essay explores the history of what is arguably New Zealand Christianity’s most famous story, in an account that challenges the image of religion as a generator of violence. His essay concerns the story of the death of the 12-year-old Māori Christian Tārore, and her father Ngākuku’s remarkable, conciliatory response to her murder. This oft-told story has proven to be highly malleable in the retelling. In a rare instance of New Zealand reception history, Falloon highlights how successive interpreters gradually shifted the focus away from the original missionary emphasis on Ngākuku to Tārore herself. His account highlights the role of myth-making in these accounts, and how changes in the story provide insights into the changing priorities and social location of Christianity over time.

The Enlightenment notion of the secular state as peacemaker emerged in the wake of the so-called Wars of Religion between Catholics and Protestants in post-Reformation Europe. The existence of sectarian rivalry between these groups is well known, even if the local history of sectarianism has been more widely noted than analysed in detail. Nicholas Thompson’s essay tests the temperature of nineteenth-century sectarianism by considering the six-month tour of a noted North American anti-Catholic speaker, the ‘escaped nun’ Edith O’Gorman, in 1885–1886. Thompson analyses press coverage, comparing evidence from these sources with reports from her tours in Australia and Great Britain. He argues that, despite the sensationalism often attached to such tours, and to sectarianism generally, there appeared to be less religious hostility in New Zealand during the mid-1880s than in either Great Britain or Australia. His analysis raises intriguing comparisons with contemporary inter-religious dynamics. It also probes the character of New Zealand secularity and the question of secularism’s contribution (or otherwise) to harmonious relations between religious traditions. For though sectarianism was present in New Zealand, the nation also developed a reputation for religious freedom and relatively peaceful interdenominational and inter-religious relationships.

Perhaps the most intense and well-known outburst of sectarian tension in New Zealand occurred during the period of the First World War. Indeed, Rory Sweetman has previously noted that sectarian tension was generally milder in New Zealand than Australia, but that sectarian conflict was much sharper in New Zealand during the First World War than it was across the Tasman.20 John Milnes’s essay on wartime sectarianism emphasizes the explicitly religious basis of rivalry between Catholics and Protestants—an emphasis that he considers lacking in many previous analyses. By contrast with Thompson, Milnes sees sectarian rivalry as a central feature of New Zealand Christianity prior to the war. On this account, the boiling over of tension during the war period was fundamentally the consequence of longstanding religious divisions that were perpetuated by all sides. Where Milnes emphasizes strains of bigotry and hostility within New Zealand Christianity, Allan Davidson’s essay highlights processes through which denominational suspicions were reduced, dating from exactly the same period. His study of the relatively unexamined field of New Zealand military chaplaincy during the First World War notes the fault-lines that existed between Anglicans and other Protestants. He demonstrates that shared experiences in the context of actual war contributed to the advance of co-operation among Protestants. Over the longer term, such co-operation had profound implications for the denominations.

The association of Christianity with moralism and ‘pleasure-hating’ puritanism, as Stenhouse put it, has led to some traditions and sources receiving less scholarly attention than they arguably warrant. Kirstine Moffat has previously highlighted the existence of an extensive but unappreciated body of ‘puritan’ fiction.21 Her essay in this volume focuses on the fiction of two preacher novelists of this genre from the early twentieth century. While neither novelist will ever be celebrated for the quality of their prose, their work was widely read in its time and provides a rich resource for exploring the religious and cultural moods, values and emphases of the early twentieth century. Moffat finds virtues at play in these writers’ works, and surprising parallels between the concerns that fired them and more recent social values. John Tucker’s essay also examines the work of an early twentieth-century preacher—in this case, J. J. North, one of the most prominent Baptists of the period. Where Moffat explores her subjects’ fiction, Tucker examines his subject’s core craft. While preachers—North included—have received extensive attention, analysis of their actual preaching has been much less common. This is perhaps surprising given the social status clergy and preachers were accorded for a long time in New Zealand, and the vast volume of sermon material that is available in manuscripts, newspapers, books and elsewhere. Tucker highlights North’s preaching emphases and methods in an effort to understand his success in the context of a rapidly modernizing society. Taken together, Moffat’s and Tucker’s essays provide useful insights into the contours of early twentieth-century evangelicalism in New Zealand.22

The ‘secular’ character of New Zealand has become an accepted ‘fact’ of our time. Yet this perception masks a number of important debates about the meaning of secularity. What being secular, or a secularist, means to people varies and can change.23 As one interesting recent study of a New Zealand secularist demonstrates, secular identities have not always been fixed, nor have they necessarily supposed an anti-religious perspective.24 All of which suggests that such terms need to be evaluated carefully in their historical context. Stenhouse provides such consideration in this volume by revisiting one of the key figures in late nineteenth-century colonial politics and culture, William Pember Reeves. A father of New Zealand historical writing and a central figure in the Liberal government of the 1890s, Reeves has often been viewed as a leading New Zealand secularist and opponent of religion. Stenhouse’s analysis probes this perception, arguing that Christian ideas and identity played a more enduring role in Reeves’s life than previous interpreters have allowed. His essay highlights the importance of more nuanced appreciation of secularist language, but also the relatively thin historiography of secularist traditions in New Zealand.

In the political sense, New Zealand was born modern, without an official established state religion. Yet as contemporary examples indicate—in places such as France, the United States, India, China and Turkey—even political secularism can take many forms, owing partly to differences in religious cultures. Some commentators distinguish between ‘operational’ or ‘procedural’ secularism and more exclusionary ‘programmatic’, ‘ideological’ or ‘creedal’ forms that view religion as dangerous, for various reasons, and therefore to be resisted.25 Despite the growing visibility of the latter in contemporary times, as Thompson and Stenhouse suggest, the earliest basis of New Zealand’s secularity owed far more to Lockean tolerance of religious diversity than anti-religious insistence on the exclusion of religion from public and political life—even if there was never a wholeheartedly or unambiguously religious public square. The mood has evidently changed somewhat in New Zealand,26 though the key turning points require further analysis.

These changing attitudes to the role of religion in political life are doubtless related to broader shifts in attitudes toward religion generally. Here, too, theories of secularization that held sway until recently have come under significant scrutiny by sociologists, and also by historians.27 While the precise contours of secularization theory remain contentious, significant changes clearly occurred during the twentieth century and these need to be explained. Two concluding essays in this volume deal explicitly with such issues in rather different ways. Peter Lineham emphasizes the interconnectedness of religious and cultural developments. His essay on the history of Christmas in New Zealand suggests that adaptations in celebration of this festival might be as aptly termed ‘commercialization’ as secularization. Lineham also cautions against overstating the marginalization and eclipse of religious elements in the twentieth century, noting that Christmas celebrations had long been largely ‘secular’ in orientation before churches embraced them in new ways for more explicitly religious purposes. The banning in January 2015 of public celebrations of Christmas in Brunei certainly suggests that, from a global perspective, this interweaving of religious and secular elements is still highly significant, however secular and commercial the modern Christmas might be.28

The final essay in this volume is written by Kevin Ward, whose sociological research has focused predominantly on changes within New Zealand Christian churches since the 1960s, and critiques of secularization. Ward’s analysis of the post-1960s scene emphasizes ‘deinstitutionalization’ rather than secularization. This interpretation accords with data from elsewhere which shows more persistence in spiritual and supernatural belief than high rates of ‘no religion’ in the census might imply.29 Ward’s essay is a reminder that religious history is actually written from many angles, and for different reasons. Specialists, and academic and professional historians, write religious history, as do many others; the field also benefits greatly from interdisciplinary perspectives. In terms of some of the key themes of this volume, Ward’s essay is also a reminder that the meanings of being religious or not religious, secular or Christian are not reducible to simplistic terms.

In an insightful recent article, John Seed explored contemporary debates about ‘religion’ and the ‘secular’. His analysis especially noted a growing emphasis in current scholarship on both the interpenetration of ‘religion’ and the ‘secular’ and the need for careful, historicized understandings of those terms. In light of these emphases, Seed contended that ‘religious’ organizations and discourses ‘need to be demystified and treated as an active part of the culture and life of people’. Furthermore, he suggested that ‘Because the “secular” is now being historicized in ways which bring it into more fluid and shifting relations to “the religious”, it may be increasingly difficult for historians to avoid issues that have previously been corralled into “religious history”.’30 Seed’s observations raise important disciplinary questions for historians, but also for anyone who is committed to increasing cultural and historical understanding. Christian organizations and discourses have played a crucial role in framing religious (and secular) life and identity in New Zealand. The essays in this volume suggest that, in the search for greater understanding, the storylines of New Zealand Christianity repay much more careful examination, as do those of other religions and spiritualities, alongside the stories of our purportedly secular society.

Notes

1 New Zealand census data are available online through Statistics New Zealand. http://nzdotstat.stats.govt.nz/wbos/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=TABLECODE8021# (accessed 15 September 2015). Roughly 300,000 New Zealanders did not answer the ‘religion question’.

2 The Pew data suggests that, if present patterns persist, the proportion of Christians in New Zealand will keep decreasing; small increases in the number of Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus will come primarily through immigration. Pew Research Center, The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010–2050, April 2015, pp.18, 51. http://www.pewforum.org/2015/04/02/religious-projections-2010-2050/ (accessed 14 September 2015).

3 For important discussions of some of these issues, see Brent Nongbri, Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept, New Haven, 2013; Craig Calhoun, Mark Juergensmeyer and Jonathan VanAntwerpen, eds, Rethinking Secularism, Oxford, 2011; Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, Cambridge, 2007; Talal Asad, Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity, Stanford, 2003.

4 See Hugh Morrison and Geoffrey Troughton, ‘Introduction: Perspectives on Christianity and New Zealand History’, in Geoffrey Troughton and Hugh Morrison, eds, The Spirit of the Past: Essays on Christianity in New Zealand History, Wellington, 2011, pp.12–16; Peter Lineham, ‘Trends in Religious History in New Zealand: From Institutional to Social History’, Religion Compass, 12, 4 (2014), pp.333–43.

5 For example, Maureen Garing, ‘Four Square for Christ: The Presbyterian Bible Class Movement 1902–1972: Its Background, its Rise, its Influence and its Decline’, MA thesis, Victoria University of Wellington, 1985.

6 Morrison and Troughton, pp.11–12.

7 Lineham, ‘Trends’, pp.333–4.

8 For example, Leonard Bell and Diana Morrow, eds, Jewish Lives in New Zealand: A History, Auckland, 2012; Bill Cooke, Heathen in Godzone: Seventy Years of Rationalism in New Zealand, Auckland, 1998; Shaun Broadley, ‘Spirited Visions: A Study of Spiritualism in New Zealand Settler Society, 1870–90’, PhD thesis, University of Otago, 2000; Robert Ellwood, Islands of the Dawn: The Story of Alternative Spirituality in New Zealand, Honolulu, 1993.

9 Some of the most substantial recent contributions include: Laurie Guy, Shaping Godzone: Public Issues and Church Voices in New Zealand 1840–2000, Wellington, 2011; Geoffrey Troughton, New Zealand Jesus: Social and Religious Transformations of an Image, 1890–1940, Bern, 2011; Allan K. Davidson, ed., Living Legacy: A History of the Anglican Diocese of Auckland, Auckland, 2011; Martin Sutherland, Conflict and Connection: Baptist Identity in New Zealand, Auckland, 2011; John Tucker, A Braided River: New Zealand Baptists and Public Issues, 1882–2000, Bern, 2013; Stuart M. Lange, A Rising Tide: Evangelical Christianity in New Zealand, 1930–1965, Dunedin, 2013; Peter J. Lineham, Destiny: The Life and Times of a Self-Made Apostle, Auckland, 2013; Brett Knowles, Transforming Pentecostalism: The Changing Face of New Zealand Pentecostalism, Lexington, 2014.

10 Jay D. Green, Christian Historiography: Five Rival Versions, Waco, 2015.

11 For critique of the assumptions and deficiencies in calls to take religion seriously, see Elizabeth A. Pritchard, ‘Seriously, What Does “Taking Religion Seriously” Mean?’, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 78, 4 (2010), pp.1087–111; James Chappel, ‘Beyond Tocqueville: A Plea to Stop “Taking Religion Seriously”’, Modern Intellectual History, 10, 3 (2013), pp.697–708.

12 Ian Breward, ‘Religion and New Zealand Society’, New Zealand Journal of History (NZJH), 13, 2 (1979), pp.138–48; P. J. Lineham, ‘Religion’, in Colin Davis and Peter Lineham, eds, The Future of the Past: Themes in New Zealand History, Palmerston North, 1991, pp.3–28; Allan K. Davidson, ‘New Zealand History and Religious Myopia’, in Susan Emilsen and William W. Emilsen, eds, Mapping the Landscape: Essays in Australian and New Zealand Christianity. Festschrift in Honour of Professor Ian Breward, New York, 2000, pp.205–21. 


13 John Stenhouse, ‘God’s Own Silence: Secular Nationalism, Christianity and the Writing of New Zealand History’, NZJH, 38, 1 (2004), pp.52–71; Peter Lineham, ‘The Controversy over the Recognition of Religious Factors in New Zealand History’, in Troughton and Morrison, pp.25–42; John Stenhouse, ‘The Controversy over the Recognition of Religious Factors in New Zealand History: Some Reflections’, in Troughton and Morrison, pp.43–54.

14 Two particularly useful, influential websites that give an insight into these disciplinary debates and developments are: ‘The Immanent Frame: Secularism, Religion and the Public Sphere’, http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/ (accessed 10 December 2015), and ‘Anthrocybib: The Anthropology of Christianity Blog’, http://www.blogs.hss.ed.ac.uk/anthrocybib/ (accessed 10 December 2015).

15 Grimshaw’s teaching includes an undergraduate course, ‘Sociology of Religion’, and a graduate course, ‘The Return of Religion? Issues of Post-secular Society’ http://www.arts.canterbury.ac.nz/sociology/people/grimshaw.shtml (accessed 15 December 2015).

16 For example, Guy, Shaping Godzone, which includes trenchant criticisms of Christian complicity with racism and injustice at various points in New Zealand history.

17 Timothy Yates, The Conversion of the Māori: Years of Religious and Social Change, 1814–1842, Grand Rapids, 2013; Tony Ballantyne, Entanglements of Empire: Missionaries, Māori and the Question of the Body, Auckland, 2014; Angela Middleton, Pēwhairangi: Bay of Islands Missions and Māori 1814 to 1845, Dunedin, 2014; Allan K. Davidson, Stuart Lange, Peter Lineham and Adrienne Puckey, eds, Te Rongopai 1814, ‘Takoto Te Pai!’: Bicentenary Reflections on Christian Beginnings and Developments in Aotearoa New Zealand, Auckland, 2014; Stuart Lange, Te Rongopai: 200 Years of the Gospel in Aotearoa, 1814–2014 (DVD), Auckland, 2014; Hugh Morrison, Lachy Paterson, Brett Knowles and Murray Rae, eds, Mana Māori and Christianity, Wellington, 2012; George Howard Douglas Connor, ‘Whāia te Atuatanga: Theological Education, Textbooks, Te Rau College, Cultures and Contexts’, MA thesis, Massey University, Albany, 2012; Hirini Kaa, ‘He Ngākau Hou: Te Hāhi Mihinare and the Renegotiation of Mātauranga, c.1800–1992’, PhD thesis, University of Auckland, 2014; Marjorie Newton, Tiki and Temple: The Mormon Mission in New Zealand, 1854–1958, Salt Lake City, 2012; Selwyn Katene, ed., Turning the Hearts of the Children: Early Māori Leaders in the Mormon Church, Wellington, 2014.

18 William T. Cavanaugh, The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict, New York, 2009.

19 On this and rival interpretations of the etymology, see Jonathan Z. Smith, ‘Religion, Religions, Religious’, in Mark C. Taylor, ed., Critical Terms for Religious Studies, Chicago, 1998, pp.269–70.

20 Rory Sweetman, ‘“How to behave among Protestants”: Varieties of Irish Catholic Leadership in Colonial New Zealand’, in Brad Patterson, ed., The Irish in New Zealand: Historical Contexts & Perspectives, Wellington, 2002, pp.89–90.

21 Kirstine Moffat, ‘Destruction, Transformation, Rebellion, Alienation: The Critique of Puritanism in pre-1930 New Zealand Novels’, Journal of New Zealand Literature (JNZL), 16 (2000), pp.86–96; ‘The Puritan Paradox: An Annotated Bibliography of Puritan and Anti-Puritan New Zealand Fiction, 1860–1940. Part 1: The Puritan Legacy’, Kotare, 3, 1 (2000), pp.1–46; ‘The Puritan Paradox: An Annotated Bibliography of Puritan and Anti-Puritan New Zealand Fiction, 1860–1940. Part 2: Reactions Against Puritanism’, Kotare, 3, 2 (2000), pp.3–49; ‘The Demon Drink: New Zealand Prohibition Novels 1882–1917’, JNZL, 23, 1 (2005), pp.139–61.

22 See further, Lange, A Rising Tide.

23 Among other things, secularity can refer to a form of religious identification, in which religious identity is either disregarded or eschewed; a cultural frame, in which religious beliefs and perspectives are no longer taken for granted; an epistemological method, in which questions of knowledge are pursued without recourse to religious authority or supernatural explanation; a political doctrine of impartiality (a kind of religious equal opportunity); or a doctrinaire opposition to religion (particularly in public life).

24 Stephen Robert John Clarke, ‘Restless Spirit, Resolute Conviction: The Life and Times of Joseph “Ivo” Evison’, MA thesis, Victoria University of Wellington, 2015.

25 Graham Ward, The Politics of Discipleship: Becoming Postmaterial Citizens, Grand Rapids, 2009, pp.125–31.

26 Andrew Bradstock, ‘Doing Public Theology in a Straightened Public Square’, International Journal of Public Theology, 9, 2 (2015), pp.212–27.

27 J. C. D. Clark, ‘Secularization and Modernization: The Failure of a “Grand Narrative”’, The Historical Journal, 55, 1 (2012), pp.161–94; Jeremy Morris, ‘Secularization and Religious Experience: Arguments in the Historiography of Modern British Religion’, The Historical Journal, 55, 1 (2012), pp.195–219; David Nash, ‘Reconnecting Religion with Social and Cultural History: Secularization’s Failure as a Master Narrative’, Cultural and Social History, 1, 3 (2004), pp.302–25. For an older dialogue between historians and sociologists, see Steve Bruce, ed., Religion and Modernization: Sociologists and Historians Debate the Secularization Thesis, Oxford, 1992.

28 ‘Brunei Officially Bans Future Christmas Celebrations’. http://www.ibtimes.com/brunei-officially-bans-future-christmas-celebrations-1777526 (accessed 15 December 2015).

29 Franco Vaccarino, Heather Kavan and Philip Gendall, ‘Spirituality and Religion in the Lives of New Zealanders’, The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, 1, 2 (2011), pp.85–96; see also various studies emerging from the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study. http://www.psych.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/our-research/research-groups/new-zealand-attitudes-and-values-study.html (accessed 10 December 2015).

30 John Seed, ‘“Secular” and “Religious”: Historical Perspectives’, Social History, 39, 1 (2014), p.12.

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