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Religious Group News


Religious Group News, June 2022:

  • Two high ranking leaders of the Gloriavale comunity have made public apologies and resigned from their positions. More detail in Off site link: this report from the NZ Herald.

  • On 12 June TV One's Sunday programme featured a story by John Campbell about Gloriavale, which revealed more information about how bad the community is.

  • On Monday 27 June the NZ Herald published an article under "The best of BusinessDesk" (sic) about the Latter-day Saints (Mormons). It's primarily written about the financial affairs of "the Mormon church" (it doesn't refer to the official name, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, although there is a mention of "Latter-day Saints" in a quote from a spokesperson for the cult), but does mention some of the ways in which the cult controls its members, including time control and relationship control. Regarding the latter of those, an example is given that unless a member has been a good member (paying tithes, etc), they would not be allowed into a temple to attend their own children's weddings. This is surprising, because it may break the law; New Zealand weddings are (or were?) required to be public, with the door literally open, even at a registry office wedding.

    The article points out 53.6% of members come from the 20% of the most deprived neighbourhoods in New Zealand, and that there is "intense pressure to contribute money and labour [which] doesn't take individual circumstances into account and can push members into financial difficulties". Also that a meeting between the global leader President Russell Nelson and NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on 20 May 2019, where Mr Nelson presented her with "a leather-bound copy of the Book of Mormon with her name on the front."


Religious Group News, May 2022:

  • Canterbury University has Off site link: announced it has a Wicked Bible (aka Adulterer's Bible) – an extremely rare Bible printed in 1631 which has a misprint which changes one of the Ten Commandments to "Thou shalt commit adultery." While the printer's mistake – if that's what it was – earned him an absolutely huge fine and the ire of King Charles I, for some reason this version of the Bible is now very popular. However, there are only about 20 known copies in the whole world, and this is the only one in the Southern Hemisphere.

  • Off site link: Newshub reports that Chief Judge Christina Inglis of the Employment court has released her reserved decision, ruling that Gloriavale leavers were employees from the age of six years old.

    During a hearing in February, Courage said he was hit with a shovel handle and denied food for not working fast enough as a six-year-old.

    In her decision on Tuesday, Judge Inglis found the leavers were in fact employees from the age of six until they left Gloriavale.

    "The fact that the work was undertaken within a religious community, and according to a particular set of beliefs and values, did not mean that it could escape close scrutiny by external agencies or avoid minimum employment standards if they applied," the judge said in a media release.

    ...

    "It was the Gloriavale leadership group which decided what child labour resources were required and where they were to be applied. Parents had little influence, and no final say, over where, when, and for how long their children worked," Judge Inglis said.

    Judge Inglis also said that this particular ruling did not resolve all the issues, and that there would be further judgments.

  • The Disinformation Project has been researching sources of misinformation and disinformation during the Parliament grounds protest earlier this year. Off site link: Newshub reports "On 2 March alone, 73 percent of interactions in the mis and disinformation ecology were generated by just a dozen accounts," – a proportion which had increased significantly from the 10 February start of the protest.


Religious Group News, April 2022:

  • Russia continues attempting gaslighting the world (and especially Russian citizens), as Off site link: The Guardian reports (warning, disturbing content in link).

    Western sanctions on Russia over its nearly six-week invasion of its neighbour gained new impetus this week after bodies of civilians shot at close range were discovered in the town of Bucha, after a retreat by Russian forces.

    Russia, in playbook style, has denied responsibility and suggested the images are fake or the deaths occurred after its troops pulled out. However, satellite images show that bodies were lying on streets in Bucha for days before Russian troops left the town.

    That in itself gives an idea of how many civilians were killed.

  • Russia's gaslighting is having a significant effect on Russian citizens, leading to the breakdown of long-standing relationships, as Off site link: The Guardian reports (warning, disturbing content in link).

    Nadezhda Bakran, 73, a nurse in the local hospital, cowered in the hospital’s basement together with her patients, as a Russian tank took potshots at the building, which is now empty and wrecked. Her nearby apartment block has also been reduced to a skeleton, with all the windows blown out and serious structural damage.

    But when she called her best friend in Moscow, with whom she has been on holiday almost every year since they met in Crimea 43 years ago, she heard only sceptical derision and accusations.

    “I tried to explain it to her, but she doesn’t believe me. She believes her television. I said: ‘Your people are destroying my town’. She said: ‘You caused this war yourself’… We were friends, what we had was even closer than just friendship, and she doesn’t believe me. I don’t understand.”

    For many, this sense of betrayal from their friends and family has hit almost as hard as the material losses.

    Sasina, the beauty-salon owner, listed the losses her family had taken from a month of Russian occupation: her house was destroyed, her beauty salon looted, her mother’s toy shop also looted, her friend’s car stolen, daubed with Zs and then smashed up. Her brother now walks on crutches after his car was shot at on the first day at a checkpoint and a bullet lodged in his lower back. Russian soldiers even shot her grandmother’s cat during a house inspection, she said.

    When Sasina called her aunt, who lives outside Moscow and had visited her in Trostianets most summers, to inform her of the horrors unfolding, her aunt told her she was talking nonsense. “She said it’s not possible, she said probably the soldiers are Ukrainians dressed up as Russians. She has stopped speaking to me now,” Sasina said, shaking her head in disbelief.

  • Part of gaslighting is claiming the complete opposite of the truth. Russia has been doing a lot of that, such as when kicked out of the Human Rights Council for "gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights" as Off site link: reported by Newshub; Russia again claimed the opposite of the truth.

    Russia's deputy U.N. Ambassador Gennady Kuzmin said now was not the time for "theatrical performances" and accused Western countries and allies of trying to "destroy existing human rights architecture."

    "We reject the untruthful allegations against us based on staged events and widely circulated fakes," Kuzmin told the General Assembly before the vote, defending Russia's record as a Human Rights Council member.

    China didn't like the move at all.

    "Such a hasty move at the General Assembly, which forces countries to choose sides, will aggravate the division among member states, intensify the confrontation between the parties concerned - it is like adding fuel to the fire," China's U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun said before the vote.

    However, China hypocritically chose a side, voting against kicking Russia out. China abstained from two previous votes, but Russia had earlier warned that abstentions from this vote would be taken as an "unfriendly gesture".

    After being kicked out, Off site link: Russia announced it had decided to withdraw from the Council and refused to clarify that it really did just try to do that. (Video in the link which includes the volting results by country.) Ukraine's UN Ambassador's response to a reporter afterwards was "You do not submit your resignation after you are fired".

  • Russian president Putin steps up his gaslighting of the Russian people, as Off site link: reported by the NZ Herald.

    It's a contradiction in terms. But President Vladimir Putin is doubling down on his bizarre claim that Russia is single-handedly battling a West controlled by "liberal-Nazi dictatorships".

    Putin launched his assault on Ukraine amid assertions that the nation needed to be "de-Nazified". He claimed its capital Kyiv of being run by "neo-Nazis". He whipped up a nationalist frenzy based on the Soviet Union's World War II success.

    It's just that very little of it has any foundation in truth.

    The article goes on to give examples of Russia claiming the rest of the world is going to become fully Nazi very soon.

  • David Farrier has been investigating Arise ChurchOff site link: part 1, Off site link: part 2, Off site link: part 3, Off site link: part 4 – revealing some serious problems in the church, especially in its treatment of interns (who pay for their internship). Testimonies of interns include examples of several techniques of mind control, including fear, guilt, and intimidation, love bombing, relationship control, reporting structure (which they call uplining), shunning, and time control.

    There was one instance where I said I had completed my work — and I had, I was a hard worker. I ended up having to have a meeting with the pastors I was working with. They called me a liar, gaslit me. I feel like this term is thrown around incorrectly, but in this instance it was the very definition. The irony is the work I had completed had been presented to them earlier that day. I sat there and took it, crying because I felt so bullied.

    ...

    “There is a massive culture of uplining. I guess you could liken this to an MLM, where you have people down the bottom who report to middle management who report to the top. Most of the information that is uplined is private and personal information — and the person who it concerns is often not aware that it has been shared.

    Off site link: RNZ reports on some of the damage being done by Arise Church to their interns.

    Raymond's son Peter is still unable to talk about the damage the church has caused. Peter was encouraged by Arise leadership, directly led by Brent Cameron, into leaving university with just one year left on his degree, to pursue the internship. Despite Raymond's protests, Peter was determined to follow the path Cameron had convinced him was his calling.

    However, just a few years later Peter was broke, homeless, and physically sick from exhaustion.

    "Over two years my son was working 55-60 hours a week and that did not include hours on a Sunday at the church. That 10 hours is additional."

    Raymond eventually cut off his financial aid in a desperate attempt to get his son away from Arise and bring him home.

    "He was sleeping on a couch, he lost a third of his weight, it was killing me but I had to break him away from this cult. My wife and I were convinced he was going to die if it continued any longer."

    Peter raised his health concerns with Arise but Raymond says they were not interested. "They just wanted more and more and more, it just never stopped and when you asked for support they gave absolutely nothing."

    After leaving Arise, Peter was also left completely isolated from his peers.

    "You are not allowed to socialise with people that do not go to Arise."

    Raymond believes the level of manipulation was incredibly sophisticated.

    "When they decide to disown you, you lose all your friends as well."

    After becoming an intern, Peter learned the friendships he forged when first joining Arise were manufactured. Interns would phone him on a Saturday asking if he would be in church.

    "That's disgusting, he thought they were his friends, but it was their job to get him there."

    Two years on, Peter is slowly recovering but still unable to talk about his experience.

    "Even now he does not discuss it, he has put it in a box."

  • Off site link: Newshub reports the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled three Voices for Freedom billboards are misleading, and are to be taken down and not used again. This is not surprising, since to make any point the group has to twist the truth, or simply lie. The article summarises the problems: "The three main issues found in the billboards were breaching social responsibility, truthful presentation and advocacy advertising."

Religious Group News, March 2022:

  • One of the favourite claims of anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists is that there has been a huge number of deaths in New Zealand from the various vaccines. This is simply not true. It's important to realise that people die anyway, and it is to be expected that some people will happen to die shortly after a vaccination. The large numbers claimed by conspiracy theorists include many deaths of people who clearly died of other causes, unrelated to the vaccine.

    The truth, which the anti-vaxxers do not want you to know: "To date, the observed number of deaths reported after vaccination is actually less than the expected number of natural deaths."

    A small portion of the total deaths after vaccination were reported to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM). Of that much smaller number, only two of the deaths in New Zealand have been deemed "likely due to vaccine induced myocarditis" but even these two are not certain, and are "awaiting Coroner’s determination".

    With just two likely deaths from Off site link: more than 10.6 million vaccination doses administered in New Zealand, the vaccines have been clearly shown to be incredibly safe. They are not experimental, and were not experimental when they were approved for use in this country. With only a few thousand anti-vaccine protestors in total over the whole pandemic so far (it hasn't finished yet), the vaccines are about three orders of magnitude (roughly 1,000 times) safer than the mere act of protesting against vaccines, which has directly contributed to three deaths in New Zealand. With 278 people in New Zealand having died while infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (one of those people died because he was shot, not because of the virus) it is blatently clear: The virus is far more deadly than the vaccines. To say otherwise is dangerously stupid.

    COVID-19 is known to cause myocarditis at a much much higher rate than any of the vaccines. The virus can infect any cell in the human body; it's not "just" a cold or mild flu, which infects only the respiratory tract. Long COVID has been seen to affect 1 in 10 cases, even if they were mild cases.

    During the Delta and Omicron outbreaks in New Zealand, 1 in 15 cases in unvaccinated people have been hospitalised. Only 1 in 213 cases in people double-vaccinated and boosted have been hospitalised. At time of writing there are presently Off site link: 817 in hospital (down from the maximum 1016), with older data indicating an average stay of 2.2 days, and average age 52. 24 people are in ICU (down from the maximum 33).

    The vaccines have a strong protective effect. If you are unvaccinated it may not be too late to get that protection.

    (Some figures have beeen updated since first posted. Hospitalisations and deaths from the pandemic continue to increase.)

  • More attempts at gaslighting the world:

    • Russia's Ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, tried gaslighting the United Nations. He claimed that there is no Off site link: evidence of civilian deaths caused by Russia – clearly a lie. He also Off site link: claimed the adoption of the resolution could fuel further violence – more gaslighting. It is blatently clear that Russia is the instigator and sustainer of the violence and bears full responsibility for the continuation of the war in Ukraine.
      • Update: Vassily Nebenzia is now gaslighting by blaming the Russian shelling of the largest nuclear power station in Europe on Ukrainian saboteurs provoking Russian forces into doing it. NOTHING can justify such a reckless action. Russia engaged in more gaslighting when it accused the Western media of hysteria over the shelling.
    • Russian talkshows are gaslighting Russian citizens by trying to employ "mythbusting" to refute clear video evidence of Russian missile attacks on civilians, while pro-Kremlin journalist Alexander Kots is gaslighting by calling a missile strike on a Kyiv TV aerial part of the "denazification of Ukrainian television". More detail Off site link: here.
      • Update: The Kremlin is gaslighting Russia by introducing a new law with a penalty of up to 15 years imprisonment for publishing "fakes" about the Russian military – anything not approved by the Kremlin. Expect Russia to regress into a ruthless dictatorship as the information control attempts grow more desperate and repressive. Russia was also gaslightingwhen it said this new law is essential to protect the Russian military. It is very clear that the very best way to protect the Russian military is to move it out of Ukraine.
    • Countering some of the worst Russian gaslighting, The Guardian has made a list of the Off site link: Top 10 War Myths of the invasion.
    • Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov continues his own attempts at gaslighting Russia and the world by repeating the ridiculous claim that democratically elected Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, an ethnic Jew, is presiding over "a society where Nazism is flourishing".
      • Update: Sergei Lavrov continues his gaslighting, and he's badly hypocritical. He's claiming the West is waging a hybrid war against Russia (arguably true) and that's bad because he says it was used by Hitler's Germany in World War 2. Actually it's a term that was coined by Frank Hoffman in 2007, and more importantly the Russians Off site link: embraced the idea Off site link: years ago (linked article posted 2 March 2015 and quoted here).

        Putin and the Russian military have incorporated these tactics into a larger strategy of 21st-century hybrid war. Valery Gerasimov, chief of staff of the Russian armed forces, rolled this out in a January 2013 speech. He announced the Russian military would engage in a “new kind of war” fought with “nonmilitary methods to achieve political and strategic goals.”

    • China is gaslighting the world by claiming the USA provoked the war.
      • PS: China was also gaslighting the world last month when it claimed "Taiwan is not Ukraine", meaning China still had a basis for invading Taiwan because China claims Taiwan is actually part of China. However, both Putin and Xi have claimed Ukraine and Taiwan, respectively, are not countries in their own right, so there's not actually much difference in their situations.
      • Update: NATO Secretary General Off site link: Jens Stoltenberg has stated "China has provided Russia with political support, including by spreading blatant lies and misinformation".
    • Russian president Putin tried gaslighting French president Macron by repeating claims he was going to do whatever was needed to achieve the de-nazification of Ukraine. (Macron's response was that Putin was making a major mistake and that Putin was lying to himself.)
      • Update: Putin continues his gaslighting by telling German chancellor Olaf Scholz that reports of airstrikes are "gross propaganda fakes".
    • Kremlin spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has been gaslighting after Off site link: feeling the pressure that the BBC's news website is causing to Russia's lies. She also said Russia had been the victim of “unprecedented information terrorism”. Unprecedented information control by Russia is more like it. Information control is a well known cult mind control mechanism.
    • Putin is gaslighting anyone he can, claiming the invasion is not delayed, and all schedule targets have been met. If that was true he wouldn't have moved to heavy shelling of and using cluster bombs against civilians, civilian medical centres and schools, all of which are war crimes; Russia is a rogue nation.
      • Update: Putin is increasing his gaslighting by blaming the continuation of the war on the Ukrainian leadership, and said "If they continue to do what they are doing, they are calling into question the future of Ukrainian statehood. And if this happens it will be entirely on their conscience." This is interesting for several reasons, not least of which being that it reflects the complete lack of conscience shown by Putin, a psychopath (and therefore lacking a conscience). Redefining who is responsible (and even redefining the meaning of words) is a classic gaslighting technique.
    • Off site link: This Guardian article reveals more Russian gaslighting: "Throughout the war in Donbas, the families of Russian soldiers killed in action were told their relatives had died in training accidents." The article also points out that for the present invasion the soldiers themselves were not told they were about to go to war in Ukraine – a country many of the soldiers have relatives in. The article finishes with a classic summary of Putin's gaslighting: "Putin set out to reunite a fellow people. Instead, he is making a desert and calling it peace."
      • The Off site link: NZ Herald has an article which lays it out the lack of communication plainly:

        His troops didn't know.

        They believed they were taking part in just another exercise. Even the mid-level commanders crucial for the planning and preparing were kept in the dark.

        Others raced into Ukraine with the expectation of being a peacekeeping force. Not the cutting-edge of a full-blown invasion.

        They were there to "de-nazify" the Kyiv government. They were there to "disarm" those responsible for the "genocide" of the Russian ethnic group.

        Now they know none of it was true.

    • In the Ukraine city of Mariupol, Russian forces have Off site link: ignored a ceasefire which was to allow civilians to flee for safety. Russia's defence ministry is gaslighting by blaming the broken ceasefire on Ukrainians shelling their own civilians. Russia's defence ministry continues to deny it has invaded, continues to deny its continued shelling of civilians, and still calls the invasion a "special military operation".
      • Update: Director of the Russian National Center for Defense Management, Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, is gaslighting while claiming "A terrible humanitarian catastrophe has developed". There is certainly a terrible humanitarian catastrophe occuring, but it's the direct result of the Russian invasion. Off site link: Newshub reports:

        Mizintsev, without providing evidence, said that Ukrainian "bandits", "neo-Nazis" and nationalists had engaged in "mass terror" and gone on a killing spree in the city.

        ...

        Mizintsev said Russia was not using heavy weapons in Mariupol.

        The truth is that Russian forces have been indiscriminately shelling and bombing civilians and civilian buildings, and there is barely a Mariupol building untouched by Russian heavy weapons.
    • Russia is now gaslighting with claims Ukraine has stocks of chemical and biological weapons – a claim Russia also used as justification to attack Syria, particularly to support ground troops with indiscriminate blanket bombing.
    • Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church has been gaslighting about how the war is part of a struggle against sin. Truly, the invasion is sin, and the Patriarch is lying to himself and his followers. In Off site link: this article Kirill is accused of 'help[ing] “supply the ideology” that Putin has used to justify Russian hegemony over the region, and in return the church has received strong government support.' Kirill's theology has been bought. For more insight into how religion plays into the war see Off site link: this column.
    • Putin is gaslighting that Ukraine has taken Indian students hostage. India has Off site link: outright denied it.
    • Various Russian officials have Off site link: been at crossed purposes with their gaslighting attempts regarding the Russian bombing of a children's hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine. One official tried flatly denying that Russian forces fire on civilian targets (then said the next day that they will ask their military because neither they nor the reporters really know anything), another called the clear bombing evidence "information terrorism", while a third claimed (also in the face of clear evidence) that the only people in the hospital for days had been Ukrainian extremists.
    • National Party deputy leader Nicola Willis apparently tried gaslighting parliament by using the word gaslighting, but Off site link: was called on it by Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard for using language that wasn't allowed.
    • She doesn't quite compare to Belarus president Lukashenko, who is Off site link: attempting gaslighting all NATO by claiming NATO is pushing Russia into World War 3. He's probably just trying to earn some kudos from the Russian guy who actually started the war. A characteristic of strong gaslighting is claiming the opposite of the truth, creating Off site link: cognitive dissonance which can make people easier to control.
    • Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu hasn't been seen for 12 days and even the Russian media are beginning to ask questions about rumours of him having heart trouble. Soon after, the Kremlin trotted out a short video clip allegedly of him participating in a security council teleconference, accompanied by gaslighting with the claim he had reported "progress in the special military operation and efforts being made by the military to provide humanitarian aid, ensure security, and restore vital infrastructure on the liberated territories". The truth is the Russian forces are causing the humanitarian crisis and are hell-bent on destroying infrastructure. Causing as much damage as possible is how Putin is hoping to cow the Ukranian nation.
    • When American right-wing reactionary Tucker Carlson was gaslighting last month when Off site link: he called Russia's invasion of and war against Russia was a "border dispute".
  • 5 March 2022: For some time there has been research available showing Russian interference in the 2016 American election, and that a significant portion of COVID-19 disinformation has been amplified by Russian bot farms posting to social media. There are Off site link: now reports that Russian bot farms have been diverted from posting COVID-19 disinformation to posting Ukraine war disinformation. This is already producing the result that anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists in the rest of the world are starting to turn their attention from vaccines and mask wearing to Ukraine-related conspiracies, include the New World Order. This is one to keep on eye on; if it's true we can expect wide swathes of the present conspiracy crowd to forget about COVID-19, especially as the Omicron peak passes, and embrace Putin as being someone hard done by and unworthy of all the sanctions, while accusing their own leaders of wanting to join a One World Government.

    • Update 12 March 2022: New Zealand conspiracy theorists are starting to embrace this, as reported on TV 1 News this evening. There was some surprise/concern expressed at the pace at which the conspiracy theories are spreading.
    • Update 20 March 2022: Australian conspiracy theorists have started to very publicly promote this. Read more in Off site link: this NZ Herald article:

      A prominent pro-Putin activist has used an anti-vaccination protest in Sydney to spread misinformation about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

      Video posted to social media showed Simeon Boikov, who goes by the name Aussie Cossack online, addressing the crowd outside Scott Morrison's official residence, Kirribilli House.

      "This latest act by the West, what it is a deep state. It's not Russia versus Ukraine. It's Russia versus the New World Order," the Russian nationalist told the crowd.

    • Update 25 March 2022: Moldova is feeling the effects of Russian troll farms, as reported by Off site link: The Guardian:
    • Valeriu Paşa from Watchdog, a Moldovan thinktank, adds: "We have noticed a change in the Kremlin’s tactics on social media." Russian troll farms "are now hunting for authentic social media posts that fit their agenda and artificially making them viral".

      "A video that has 12,000 shares but only 16 comments is clearly artificially viral," Paşa commented.

  • A Off site link: new study into the effects of COVID-19 gives insight into why anti-vaxxers start making worse and worse decisions. It turns out that even mild cases of COVID-19 can increase cognitive decline and decrease brain size. Anti-vaxxers encountering the SARS-CoV-2 virus while unprotected by vaccination are more likely to be infected and more likely to have a more serious case of COVID-19, and are thus more likely to have their brain rotted, rendering them much less able to make sensible decisions; the disease affects exective functioning, which includes self control and flexible thinking. This raises the possibility that many of the protestors at parliament had already had COVID-19 and were violently protesting because of COVID-19-caused brain damage which affected their ability to figure out why what they were doing was wrong. (The conclusions of this news item are satirical, but the study is genuine and makes interesting reading, while giving even more good reasons to stay away from the virus – Editor.)


Religious Group News, February 2022:

  • The Off site link: NZ Herald reports New Zealand musician Jason Kerrison tweeted veiled death threats to Hilary Barry and Russell Brown on 18 Feb. In one of his Off site link: responding tweets, Russell Brown offers this insight:

    I think these people genuinely have no idea how this might come across to anyone who doesn't share their delusions. It's like there aren't any normal boundaries.

    In another tweet he lets us know a little more about the state of mind of the singer:

    Jason Kerrison has written a song he wants to play on the steps of Parliament. The lyrics invoke "love", but also warn that the "demons" who do the bidding of the "traitors" (ie: elected political leaders) will "get shot or hang from trees". Good to know.

    Ignoring normal boundaries goes hand in hand with refusing to deal with either evidence or evidence-based reasoning. For example, Jehan Casinader includes in Off site link: an article on Stuff more examples of the disconnect with social norms, and the disconnect from reality by even well regarded public figures.

    So I feel bemused as I wander around Wellington, trying to make sense of placards that are crying out for “freedom”. Freedom from what, exactly?

    The last time I checked, New Zealand was one of the most free countries in the world. In other states, protesters who trashed Parliament grounds would be tear-gassed, arrested or even shot. Here, Police offered to arrange free parking. Doesn’t that tell us something about our freedom?

    ...

    While Omicron is different, initial data suggests unvaccinated Kiwis are about 27 times more likely to end up in hospital compared with those who are boosted.

    But in some ways, all of this Covid stuff feels like a made-up scenario in a school exam, because New Zealand hasn’t experienced the death and devastation that other countries have seen.

    ...

    The majority of protesters aren’t just anti-mandate – they’re anti-Covid. At Parliament, one protester declared: “None of us are wearing masks or social distancing, and we’re all pretty healthy!” The crowd erupted into a massive cheer.

    This protest is a middle finger to all public health advice – and the very idea that Covid should be taken seriously.

    If protesters genuinely believed in Covid, they wouldn’t be describing it as a “scam”. They wouldn’t be spitting at locals wearing masks. They wouldn’t be harassing pregnant MPs. They wouldn’t be intimidating schoolkids. And they certainly wouldn’t be sharing a portaloo with people who are openly advocating for violence against public figures.

    ...

    Sailor Sir Russell Coutts, who plans to join the protest, has claimed New Zealand is a “dictatorship”. How many dictatorships offer free tours of Parliament?

    The virus SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes, COVID-19, are both very real. At time of writing the United States has had almost 960,000 deaths from the disease. The pandemic continues: thanks to the Omicron strain the US is now suffering more daily deaths than it had from the Delta wave (and has had about 17% more total deaths from Omicron that Delta). We have not seen anything like that sort of death rate directly because of the protective actions we have taken up to this point – the very actions that the protestors are abusing their freedom to protest against.

    And the photo Jason Kerrison tweeted to the two recipients? It's not of politicians and journalists being hung in some semi-fictitious version of the Nuremberg trials. It's Nazi soldiers being hung in Ukraine in 1946 (and was possibly a war crime by Russia).

    Update: The very next day after the above news item was posted, the protesters started throwing human excrement (21 Feb). To quote Russell Brown again:

    I think these people genuinely have no idea how this might come across to anyone who doesn't share their delusions. It's like there aren't any normal boundaries.

    Off site link: Newshub reports the council is also investigating reports of raw sewage being tipped down stormwater drains.

    Update 2: A couple of days later, five days after Jason Kerrison tweeted his veiled death threats, Off site link: RNZ reports (23 Feb) he has denied that any excrement throwing happened, 'and that people should stop being "hypnotised" by mainstream news and "that stupid scripted rhetoric".' The poor guy is far down his rabbit hole.

  • Several Destiny Church charities have lost their charitable status for failing to file annual returns. This is likely to be temporary. Off site link: Stuff reports:

    On Tuesday, February 15, the Charities Services changed the listings for Destiny Church Auckland Trust, Destiny Church Taranaki, Destiny International Trust and Te Hahi o Nga Matamua Holdings Limited.

    Their removal from the register comes two months after Charities Services revealed it launched an “initial inquiry” into the charities, having received 28 complaints about Destiny Church in the space of a few months.

    ...

    It is the second time in six years Te Hahi o Nga Matamua Holdings Limited and Destiny International Trust have been deregistered for failing to file annual returns. They also failed to report in 2017.

  • A former Gloriavale member has testified at an Employment Court case that "he was hit with a shovel handle and denied food for not working fast enough as a six-year-old." As reported in Off site link: this Newshub article.

    [Hosea] Courage, who left Gloriavale in October 2019, described Gloriavale as a "terrible place" of religious enslavement where the residents didn't have control of their own lives.

    He described working as a boy aged six gathering moss and sorting it in the community's processing plant.

    "When I didn't collect the moss fast enough, I was not allowed to eat as a punishment," he said. "If you don't work, you don't eat."

    On other occasions, he said he was hit on his backside with a shovel handle, leaving him with bruises.

    When he turned 16 years old he was asked to sign a Partnership Agreement. He said he signed the document but didn't feel like he had a choice, saying it was expected and if you didn't, you'd be disobeying God.

    The court case is challenging the findings of a Labour Inspectorate investigation last year which concluded Gloriavale members are not workers.

  • Winstone Peters Off site link: defended his attendance of the Wellington protests mandating no mandates by claiming "a massive majority [of the protestors] are law-abiding". Actually, they're all trespassing, so none of them are law abiding. He continued, saying it was "the people that are being gaslit by the media". No, it's Winstone Peters who is attempting gaslighting here, with a lie. When it was pointed out to him that Assistant Police Commissioner Richard Chambers had said the day before that multiple "law-abiding" protestors had left because of what was happening, Winston Peters replied "you're just making it up as you go along". That's more gaslighting by Winstone Peters.

    Update: The NZ Herald has fact-checked Winstone Peters' claims about masks.

    Speaking at the time and in subsequent interviews, Peters said masks were "worthless" unless they were medical-grade. He also said journalists were not up with the latest medical science on the issue. The Herald spoke to an expert to fact-check his claims.

    ... University of Auckland aerosol scientist Dr Joel Rindelaub [said] even surgical masks worn properly can be highly effective.

    "Any mask is better than no mask," Rindelaub said. "With case numbers skyrocketing right now, if you are interacting with people without wearing a mask, you are not helping."

    ...

    He pointed to a study in Bangladesh of nearly 350,000 people, split into a mask-wearing group and a control group, which found that surgical mask use led to lower incidence of symptomatic Covid infection. The gold-standard research backed up hundreds of previous laboratory and observational studies.

    The reduction in infection was much higher among higher-risk people, including older people. Peters is 76.

    Also, because Winstone Peters has smoked for much of his life his lungs aren't as good as they could and should be anyway. He really doesn't need to catch a disease known to permanently damage lungs.

    Update: From Off site link: this Newshub article: "... for the record, Peters was spotted leaving Wellington on Wednesday all masked up."

  • In a bid to be the absolute lowest of the swamp-dwelling gaslighting creatures ever kicked out of Washington DC, Donald Trump Off site link: has claimed the invasion of Ukraine "is happening because of a rigged election." Yes, the fair and democratic election he lost to Joe Biden.

  • Other notable gaslighting in recent days:

    • Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, who is trying to gaslight the world into believing he's invading Ukraine because Ukraine was threatening Russia so he now he's aiming at the "de-Nazification" of Ukraine (no, none of it makes sense, especially since the democratically elected president and the prime minister of Ukraine are both Jewish).
    • China's president, Xi Jinping, who is (still) trying to gaslight the world into believing Taiwan is and always has been part of Communist China, in preparation for his own invasion.
    • To provide further justification for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Putin, various Russian leaders and the Russian news media are gaslighting by claiming Ukraine has been engaged in genocide against its own citizens; there is no evidence of any such thing.

Religious Group News, January 2022:

  • Brian Tamaki has been arrested for breaching his bail conditions, and has had bail refused – more details Off site link: at Newshub or Off site link: at Stuff.

  • Another anti-vax GP has been outed, this time by a whistleblower who has made numerous claims, including that the doctor referred to vaccinated patients in medical notes as "magnetic" – more details Off site link: reported by Newshub.

  • The Advertising Standards Authority has found a Hamilton car dealer's advertising post on Facebook was misleading. The post featured a poster claiming vaccinated and unvaccinated people were welcome, with the car dealer defending the post by disingenuously claiming "we downloaded them [the posters] from the Off site link: MBIE website". However, all official COVID-19 posters can actually be Off site link: found on the COVID-19 website, and Off site link: the Newshub article points out "There are many different posters available on the Government's COVID-19 website ..." but nothing matching the car dealer's poster, which had the wording "All welcome - Vaxed & Unvaxed. Our business does not discriminate. Unite against Discrimination". How about we unite against Hypocrisy and Lies? The car dealer clearly does discriminate, because the company would be breaking the law if it did not discriminate against people without a driving license who want to test drive a car. The point is we all have to discriminate at some point. This story is newsworthy here because of the hypocrisy of and deception by the car dealer; the poster was actually produced by the Freedom and Rights Coalition. (Also of note, the term "muppet" the car dealer repeatedly uses is commonly employed by the American right to describe someone the speaker disagrees with.)


Religious Group News, December 2021:

  • Anti-vax, anti-lockdown protestors outside Lone Star restaurant on Sunday 5 December, as Off site link: reported by Newshub, provided more evidence that the protest movement is being influenced – maybe even directed – by right-wing interests in the United States, with multiple Trump banners proudly flying. In Newshub's photo, one of the red-hatted protestors is holding a sign reading "mandates ruin lives". At best this is disingenuous nonsense, at worst a deliberately deceptive and dangerous lie – typical of Voices for Freedom's propaganda. Car accidents ruin lives, which is why safety belts are mandated, and minimum driving ages are mandated, and driving licenses are mandated. Mandates save lives and keep people safe while allowing as many people as possible to do the things they want to do.

    One of the problems the protestors have is that they are unable or unwilling to take a realistic, nuanced view of either the actual present global situation, or the reasons why lockdowns and vaccine passes are good ideas. The truth is that we are still in the middle of a pandemic, with multiple places in the world, in both northern and southern hemispheres, now experiencing their fourth wave of SARS-CoV-2 infections. The pandemic is a complicated situation that does not have simple answers, and even with very safe and effective vaccines available will still take a long time to resolve. The more that people refuse to acknowledge reality, the less able they are to deal with the present situation effectively, and this results in counterproductive action such as protesting against sensible actions that will help us get back to normality as quickly as possible. We can get through this, and the more we work together, the easier that will be.

  • Also Off site link: reported by Newshub, a code of conduct complaint has been laid against Thames District Council mayor Sandra Goudie by councillor Gary Gotlieb, who pointed out that days after the council "unanimously passed a motion supporting the vaccine rollout" she spoke at an anti-vaccination meeting. The council declined to do anything about the complaint, saying the matter had been sorted out internally "between parties" (whatever that means). However, RNZ made Mr Gotlieb aware of a 12 minute anti-vax video in Australia the mayor featured in, and he now believes the council needs to properly resolve the complaint instead of having "just parked it".

    Sandra Goudie has Off site link: stated in the past she is not anti-vax, but does not want the (extremely safe) Pfizer vaccine, and that she would be willing to have the Novavax vaccine instead, which has not available in New Zealand, but Off site link: may be approved in 2022. She does not understand how her ongoing refusal to get vaccinated increases the risk for her community, and thus it seems that she is another example of an individual who is struggling to accept the present situation.

    The official alternative vaccine, approved in New Zealand for 18 years old and over, is the Off site link: AstraZeneca vaccine.

  • Stuff has Off site link: posted an article which looks at how hard it can be to escape conspiracy theories. Once a person has gone down the rabbit hole, it's very hard to climb back out. Sanjana Hattotuwa, of the University of Auckland Te Punaha Matatini’s The Disinformation Project:

    “I can’t stress this enough. The social fabric of New Zealand is being tested and threatened daily, in ways that are historically unprecedented,” Hattotuwa says.

    “You have here, and for the first time with this voracity and increasing violence, an issue that has been brewing in other parts of the world. It is here, and it is a hellscape.”

    The article highlights that sometimes people make the wrong choices. At the end of last month, anti-vax, anti-pandemic journalist Off site link: Rex Warwood died of COVID-19.

    I don't know why everyone's pandering to this pandemic, what pandemic?

    ...

    I've got an immune system, have you never heard of one of those?

    One of the problems with that attitude is the way the immune system works, and how the virus interacts with it. This was covered by Rod Jackson's Off site link: explanation of how the SAR-CoV-2 virus works last month. It needs to be repeated, because this is Really Important:

    When a vaccinated person is subsequently exposed to the virus, their immune system is immediately able to recognise the virus as foreign and start fighting it, which dramatically reduces the risk that the virus will spread and cause severe disease or death. In contrast, an unvaccinated person's immune system does not immediately recognise the virus as foreign and it takes much longer to recognise the virus and start fighting back. This time delay is what allows the virus to spread all over the bodies of many unvaccinated people and can cause death, disease and long Covid.

    This is pretty straight forward science, which raises another problem with anti-vaxxers. They must deliberately ignore science and common sense to hold their views, which means they may be in a state of tension also seen in cult members who know the cult they belong to is bad, but are unable to reject it. This can lead them to react unpredictably and say ridiculous things in an effort to reduce the tension. Some examples are rationalising Donald Trump's lies while in office, or denying that the pandemic exists at all.

  • An Off site link: undercover Newshub reporter has filmed Dr Jonie Girouard, a registered GP who runs a weight loss clinic in Kaiapoi, 20 km north of Christchurch, giving a fake vaccine exemption certificate, and encouraging the recipient to lie and use the certificate to deceive employers. This is a problem because actual vaccine exemptions must be applied for, then granted by the Director-General. Jonie Girouard is strongly anti-vax regarding the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and is not vaccinated with it herself – she stated in the video she has had other vaccines, but will "stop practising medicine" before getting the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and called the very safe vaccine a "horrible, horrible medicine"; see paranoia.

    Jonie Girouard's vaccination status is also a problem, because she conducted the examination in person (and without wearing a mask). Health practitioners must be vaccinated to see patients in person; even receptionists for general practitioners need to be vaccinated. The consultation took only six minutes, and included a blood pressure test "just to show" the person had been there.

    Not surprisingly with all the right-wing misinformation and disinformation coming from the United States and influencing the beliefs of protest groups in New Zealand, she and her husband Michael P Girouard have strong links to the USA, where they run online weight loss clinics. Further details can be found in a Off site link: follow-up article from Newshub.

  • Queen guitarist Brian May (age 74) has announced he has COVID-19, and has shared a few thoughts on vaccinations, as Off site link: reported by the NZ Herald.

    Of course there are so many people in hospitals who weren't jabbed, who are on the line between life and death and I can't emphasise enough this is not the response my body would have made on its own, it's because I had three Pfizer jabs, so I beg and implore you to get jabbed if you haven't already because you need the help.

    I lost one of my best friends to Covid very early on, in six days it killed him, it could have killed me if I hadn't had the jabs.

    I despair of these people protesting against the vaccine, [or because] their rights are being violated to have to wear a mask... [...] guys, our parents fought through wars and had their civil rights knocked away. All anyone is asking is for you to play your part, it's a nasty thing and it isn't finished yet.

    By all means protest, but protest against stuff you should be concerned with [...] Get real, this is not about you.

  • In a recent interview (Monday 20 Dec), single-term former president Donald Trump admitted he has had a vaccine booster... and got booed for it. The interview comes just after the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has overtaken Delta as the dominant strain in the USA (73% of new cases in one week, and still most of a week before Christmas), but after saying in September that he probably wouldn't get a booster. He's not completely stupid, and he has some idea of how bad it could be if he gets COVID-19 again (especially without a military hospital to treat him).

    Update: In a new interview, Donald Trump has not only told the truth, but defended the truth against an anti-vax interviewer. This is quite unprecedented. Off site link: From Stuff.co.nz:

    Then, during an interview published Wednesday by the Daily Wire, Trump told conservative commentator Candace Owens that the coronavirus vaccines are "one of the greatest achievements of mankind". Owens tried to cast doubt on this, saying that "more people have died" since the vaccines became available and calling their efficacy into question. Trump interrupted her.

    "Oh no, the vaccines work," Trump told her. "The ones who get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones that don't take the vaccine. But it's still their choice. And if you take the vaccine, you're protected."

    Candace Owens went on to say that she still refuses to get the vaccine – a position based in superstition and disinformation, not on the clear evidence of how safe and protective the vaccines are. Since the vaccines became available, the difference between counties believing the superstitions and disinformation and those disbelieving them have had Off site link: very marked differences in outcomes in COVID-19 case numbers and deaths. This isn't new information – it's been Off site link: known for months:

    For example, here is the relationship between cases, deaths, vaccinations and 2020 vote as of Thursday [9 September]. Of the 23 states that have new case totals per capita higher than the nation overall, 21 voted for Donald Trump in November. Sixteen are among the 17 states that have the lowest rates of vaccination. Of the 18 states that have new death totals higher than the national ratio, 14 voted for Trump and 12 are among the 17 least-vaccinated states.

    The Trump flags that are proudly on display at New Zealand vaccination protests (as mentioned below last month) are a sign that the protestors reject science and evidence, and embrace superstition and disinformation, yet Trump himself has been triple vaccinated, and rejects the idea that vaccines are not strongly protective.


Religious Group News, November 2021:

  • University of Auckland epidemiologist Rod Jackson has written an easy to understand Off site link: explanation of how the SAR-CoV-2 virus works, how it infects cells in the body, how everyone will come into contact with the virus eventually, and how getting vaccinated will avoid the chance of having the virus use your ovaries or testes to reproduce itself. He writes:

    Delta doesn't listen to the "my body my choice" mantra of the unvaccinated and ironically, only those who choose the vaccine will have any choice of how and when they will get immunised.

    Getting immunised by the virus is the hard way to do it.

    Like all viruses, Covid-19 is a message on how it makes copies of itself, made up of letters from the genetic alphabet, wrapped in a protein skin covered in spikes. The Covid-19 virus will attach to billions of cells all over the body, wherever cells have docking stations that are the perfect fit for the spikes on the virus surface. These cellular docking stations are found in the lungs, brain, heart, gut, blood vessels, ovaries, uterus, testes, and elsewhere. Once the virus attaches to a cell's docking station, it injects a self-replicating 40,000 letter genetic message into the cell which is an instruction manual on how to make multiple copies of itself.

    It hijacks the cell's factories to make these new virus copies, and makes the cell sick by stopping the production of the proteins required to keep a cell functioning properly. New copies of the virus leave the cell and repeat the process all over the body. The virus can stay around for weeks, causing death, disease and long Covid. People infected with Delta will also infect many others and possibly cause their death, disease or long Covid.

    In contrast, getting immunised by the Pfizer vaccine is the easy way to do it. The vaccine is a short, non-replicating 4000 letter genetic message wrapped in an envelope of fat.

    It's more like an instruction "brochure" than the virus instruction "manual" because all it does is describe how to make a couple of hundred copies of a small section of the virus spikes. A vaccine particle is extremely fragile and cannot actively enter cells like the virus does. It is only taken up by one type of cell, which are defender cells in the body's immune system. The vaccine seldom travels beyond the defender cells in the arm in which the vaccine is injected.

    The Off site link: whole article is well worth reading for the insight it gives to the differences between letting an unprepared immune system suddenly encounter the virus, and giving the immune system the best possible preparation in the gentlest possible way.

    When a vaccinated person is subsequently exposed to the virus, their immune system is immediately able to recognise the virus as foreign and start fighting it, which dramatically reduces the risk that the virus will spread and cause severe disease or death. In contrast, an unvaccinated person's immune system does not immediately recognise the virus as foreign and it takes much longer to recognise the virus and start fighting back. This time delay is what allows the virus to spread all over the bodies of many unvaccinated people and can cause death, disease and long Covid.

    And that time delay of an unvaccinated person's immune system is what gives the virus the chance to turn the person's ovaries or testes into reproduction machines of the wrong kind.

  • In today's COVID-19 press conference (Wednesday 10 November 2021), COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that port workers have been specifically targeted with misinformation. (The deliberate spread and targeting of the false information makes it disinformation.) He went on to explain that when presented with accurate information the workers made informed decisions to get vaccinated.

  • Conspiracy theorist lawyer Sue Grey is Off site link: being investigated by the Standards Committee of the NZ Law Society, which wrote to a complainant "... the Standards Committee has resolved of its own motion to investigate general concerns raised around Ms Grey's activities." Any other consideration of complaints about Ms Grey will wait until their own investigation is complete.

  • Conspiracy theorist Karen Brewer has been arrested for a second time. At the time, she was driving and decided to use a cellphone to make a video recording as she was being pulled over, thus adding another offense, that of using a cellphone whilst operating a vehicle. The Off site link: NZ Herald reports she has again been released on bail and will appear again in court on 16 November, but doesn't mention if she spent time in a holding cell in her underwear like Brian Tamaki did following his second arrest. (Brian Tamaki's experience of his second arrest appears to have knocked some sense into him, but there's little hope Karen Brewer's second arrest will do likewise.)

  • In a letter to the NZ Herald, appearing on Friday 19 November, Warren D points out that "Violent threats to MPs are a sign that, like the virus, Trumpism is now here in New Zealand." Indeed – it has been for a while, but mostly out of sight, and certainly not as blatant as some of the behaviour from protestors this month. An Off site link: article on ReNews explains why the protestors have been using Holocaust and Nazi imagery.

    Why are anti-vaccine protestors using Nazi insignia?

    Disinformation researcher Kate Hannah says there has been a dramatic increase in online misinformation about Covid-19 in the last 12 weeks since New Zealand went into the Delta lockdown.

    Nazi references are common “and have become increasingly so” since we went into Level 4 in August.

    “We’ve seen over the course of the pandemic the increasing use of appropriated imagery from the Holocaust, and accusations of the government and state being Nazis and acting in Nazi ways.”

    She says the content is purposely designed to make people feel under a huge amount of pressure, to feel a need to defend their family and loved ones, and to suggest there is “a group of people [the government] behaving in the worst possible way – they’re being Nazis”.

    “That’s why we see the proliferation of that kind of imagery, it's used for its shock value and horror value, there is a sense of perversity.”

    ...

    Kate says many of the people who are framing the government as Nazis actually hold views “that are much more aligned with Nazis than our centre-left Labour government has”.

    This is what researchers term “accusation in the mirror”, where “people who hold quite right-wing and even white supremacist beliefs then accuse others of being Nazis, so it’s a flipped accusation”.

    ...

    And what about the Trump flags?

    The Disinformation Project found international content, particularly from the US and Australia, is being increasingly repackaged and re-shared in Aotearoa, “framing a state that is described as tyrannical, treacherous, and forsaking international and/or national law”.

    Over the last 12 weeks, since our Delta lockdowns began, the researchers have seen a dramatic increase in US-based and Q-Anon content.

    “We’re not surprised to see Trump insignia,” Kate says. “People use it as another social cue of upset, much like the Nazi insignia. It’s a social cue to piss people off.”

    Why is there such an increase in this content now?

    New Zealand is beginning to see conversations that have already taken place in other parts of the world, Kate says.

    “People are really exhausted and tired and this is really scary. We know from decades of research that cults and conspiracy theories and extreme ideologies like that, people are more receptive to them when they are feeling alone, alienated, anxious and feeling like their life doesn't have much purpose.”

    “We had a whole year of imagining that this terrible thing that was happening in the world had somehow skipped us, and that we could be the one country in the world that could remain unchanged. So in the last 12 weeks we've had a big jump.”

    ...

    What should we do about it?

    For those who feel worried about the large turnout of anti-vaxxers and Nazi sign-holders today, she says, keep it in context. “It was loud and noisy and scary, but nine out of ten New Zealanders have had their first vaccination.”

    In the Auckland DHB area at time of writing (20 Nov 2021), over 95% of eligible people have had their first dose and over 90% have had their second dose, a total of 7.3 million vaccinations.

  • Glynn Steel, 54 year old male, vegan, had refused to get vaccinated because it had been tested on animals (this is a legal requirement before human trials can start). He contracted COVID-19 but thought he had a cold. His disease got worse and he tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on 27 October 2021. The Off site link: NZ Herald reports "He then deteriorated rapidly because of his age and lack of vaccine." He died on 16 November 2021, two months short of turning 55.

    She [his wife Emma] revealed some of his last words, where he said: "I have never felt so ill, I wish I'd had the vaccine."

    "It was heart wrenching.

    "He begged for the vaccine when he was in intensive care before he went on life support but they said that it was too late.

    "I've been crying myself into a dehydration every night, and letting the tears flow like a river in the morning and waking up in the night crying."


Religious Group News, October 2021:

  • In response to cult leader Brian Tamaki's counter-productive "protest" against lockdowns and mask wearing on 2 October, a petition has been launched to "Charge Brian Tamaki over the illegal protest" and making clear his behaviour is unacceptable. Estimates of the protesters varied between 1,000 and 2,000; at time of writing there are over 120,000 signatories on Off site link: the petition.

    Update: Possibly quite independently of the petition, Brian Tamaki is indeed being charged. In Off site link: announcing he is "surprised" to be charged (thereby showing how out of touch he is with reality), he also throws in some gaslighting: "It will be a sad day if simply speaking up against what is wrong is unlawful and someone can be convicted for standing up for what they think is important," Tamaki says. He is, of course, being charged for breaking the law, not for protesting. The petition now has over 150,000 signatures.

    Update again: A 57 year old man has also been charged. The petition has closed with 153,381 signatures.

    Update again: Brian Tamaki didn't learn from his first warning, and after helping promote and speaking at a second protest was arrested again. Hanging out in a holding cell in his underpants appears to have shocked some long-missing sense into him, and after another stern warning in a video conference, was released on bail for a second time. He has not been seen at subsequent protests. He is due to appear in court on multiple charges in November.


Religious Group News, September 2021:

  • Just sneaking in at the end of last month was Off site link: this Newshub story about conspiracy theorist Karen Brewer getting arrested for protesting to get parliament dismissed (because she thinks they're just a bunch of Freemasons and poodlephiles, or something). A Off site link: follow-up article here mentions she was released on bail, and highlights a few other groups which could cause trouble.

  • Meanwhile, a former anti-vaxxer in Sydney, Australia is recovered at home after being hospitalised and is now strongly pro-vaccination. As the Off site link: NZ Herald reports:

    Sydney woman Amanda Gulasi was a proud anti-vaxxer who didn't believe in the Covid-19 pandemic – until she caught the virus herself and wound up struggling to breathe in hospital.

    Now she has completely changed her tune, and begged Australians to take the virus seriously and get vaccinated during an emotional interview with A Current Affair.

    Appearing on the programme on Monday night, the mother of three, who is now recovering in her southwest Sydney home, said she regretted her previous stance.

    "Vaccinate people, vaccinate. No, seriously, it's not fun," she said. "At the start of Covid, I was completely on the side of the conspiracy theorists. Now I definitely believe it, and it will kill you. It is true, it is real."

  • The Off site link: NZ Herald reports disinformation from Brian Tamaki.

    Brian Tamaki of the Destiny Church has used an online sermon to tell followers to "do away with the masks" and take a stand against a lockdown he describes as "home detention". ... "Do away with the masks. Not only are they ridiculous, there's no evidence they protect you from catching Covid," he said.

    This is disinformation because it's well known that masks can help prevent infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and reduce the viral load if infection does occur, meaning a less serious infection results. His advice is extremely reckless, since it could endanger people's lives.

    The article also quotes him saying "I believe it's time to stop all lockdowns. Finish them. No more lockdowns." This is ironic, because the government wants the same thing, which is why it's encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. It's particularly disappointing that the Tamakis are not telling their followers "stop future lockdowns by getting vaccinated", but instead are saying the opposite:

    Tamaki said that vaccination was not a long-term solution to the pandemic ... He told viewers that the long-term effects of the vaccine were "unknown" and also claimed the vaccine was "untested".

    These are false claims, and Brian Tamaki is spreading more disinformation. Populations being widely vaccinated is absolutely the best solution to the pandemic, and the Pfizer vaccine (the only one of several vaccines that is used in New Zealand) has been very well tested both here and internationally.

    Tamaki added that new variants would mean more vaccinations.

    This is disingenuous. New variants are expected to arise, but will do so because of the lack of widespread vaccination. Brian Tamaki's disinformation will cause exactly what we all want to avoid. His dangerously bad advice will only prolong the pandemic and possibly lead to more unneccessary deaths.

    He also called for an end to mass testing, which combined with no masks would mean nothing standing in the way of the virus spreading unhindered. We've seen what happens in other countries where that occurred. It's really not good. Brian Tamaki is a complete idiot.

  • Anti-lockdown, anti-mask wearing protestors in Melbourne, Australia, have assaulted reporters on live TV and have promised to keep protesting until a range of conditions are met, including the bizarre demand to have cattle drench ivermectin widely distributed. Stupid feral cows. See Off site link: this NZ Herald report for more information.


Religious Group News, August 2021:

  • In another very similar case in the UK Off site link: reported by the NZ Herald, a "super fit" iron man competitor and father has died of COVID-19 after declining to get vaccinated in May when his twin sister was. He thought he was fit enough to not need any extra protection against SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes the COVID-19 disease. Among his last words he said before he was intubated for ventilation, he "wished he had listened". He leaves behind his 19 year old daughter, while his twin sister is urging people to get vaccinated. He was only 42 years old.

  • Back in the USA, Off site link: The Guardian reports Dick Farrel, a rightwing TV and radio host, had died of COVID-19. The report highlights the man's sad realisation he had made the wrong choice:

    [Dick Farrel] had urged people not to get vaccinated as recently as June.

    He reportedly changed his opinion about vaccines after falling ill and later being admitted to hospital before passing away on 4 August aged 65. “He texted me and told me to ‘Get it!’ He told me this virus is no joke and he said, “I wish I had gotten [the vaccine]!” close friend Amy Leigh Hair wrote on Facebook.

    ...

    Described as an ardent supporter of Donald Trump, Farrel went all-in on unsubstantiated 2020 election fraud conspiracy theories about election fraud and questioned the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines.

    Hair told WPTV: “I was one of one the people like him who didn’t trust the vaccine. I trusted my immune system. I just became more afraid of getting Covid-19 than I was of any possible side effects of the vaccine. I’m glad I got vaccinated.”

    This is particularly disappointing because it's so easy for families to avoid this sort of heartbreak, and for countries to return to normal life. Just get vaccinated – as the Off site link: NZ Herald pointed out last month:

    Here are the two key statistics though: Of the people in hospital with covid [in the USA], about 97 per cent are unvaccinated. And among those who died recently, 99.5 per cent were unvaccinated.

    It's clear that vaccines have huge protective power, and the Pfizer vaccine that New Zealand is using is one of the best.

  • Anti-vaccination group Voices for Freedom was "booted off Facebook" at the end of last month, as Off site link: reported by Newshub. An older article from October 2020 explains why the Advance NZ Facebook page was removed at that time.

  • With so many Republicans in the United States refusing SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and state governors even banning mask wearing, it's getting harder to not draw parallels to notorious death-cults such as the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project – better known as Off site link: Jonestown, where 907 people died from cyanide poisoning (and several more from other causes) in a mass murder-suicide event. Off site link: The Guardian's latest report from Washington DC:

    Some Republican leaders are seeking to support Joe Biden’s efforts to beat the pandemic by encouraging the public to get vaccinated as soon as possible. But others are actively trying to undermine the president’s offensive by embracing what critics regard as lethal mix of ignorance, irrationality and nihilism.

    These Republicans seem intent on scoring political points by appealing to a pandemic-weary’s public yearning to get back to something like normal life. Still in thrall to former president Donald Trump, they fiercely oppose mask or vaccine mandates by invoking traditional party tenets of individual freedom, personal responsibility and resisting state interference.

    But with America now averaging about 113,000 cases a day, an increase of nearly 24% from the previous week, and hospitalizations up 31% from the week before, Republicans stand accused of causing the deaths of their own voters as the highly contagious Delta variant scythes through red states where vaccination rates are low.

    Elaine Kamarck, a Democrat who served in the Bill Clinton administration, said bluntly: “They’ve gone out of their minds. There’s just no other way to describe this. This is about the dumbest thing you could imagine because the only people listening to them are their voters. So this is the first time I’ve ever seen a political party advocating things that would harm their voters, maybe even kill their voters.”

    ...

    But Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, [said] “Never before in the history of our country where we’ve had to confront national crises have elected officials behaved so badly, so disingenuously and with so much disregard for the safety and security of the American people, ... the only freedom you get from not wearing a mask is death.”

    The actions of those Republican leaders, especially their lies and deception – hallmarks of cults worldwide – have already caused more needless deaths from COVID-19 than the number who died in the mass murder-suicide at Jonestown.


Religious Group News, July 2021:

  • This report from someone attending the mass vaccination event at Manukau:

    Got COVID-19 vaccinated today. The protestors were out. They said some really dumb stuff.

    "You're just believing what you've been told." Hey, that cuts both ways, buddy. You've just believed what you were told. You want us to just believe what you're telling us. (Personally I trust qualified virologists more than poorly conceived conspiracy theories spread by random idiots on the Internet or idiots protesting to people who have already committed to receiving the vaccine.)

    "The virus doesn't kill blah blah percent." So we agree it does kill people. Remember, it's the overweight ones which are first to go. (The most vocal protestor was, shall we say, not slim.) The Delta strain is more lethal and much more contagious than previous strains we've had here. Besides, COVID-19 does lots of other really bad stuff as well as killing people.

    I asked a protestor what she did for a job. There was a bit of a pause before she thought of something to say. "My job is saving lives blah blah blah." Funny that, so is mine – and I held up my wristband.

    "What's the [colour] wristband for?" You don't know? Maybe you should go inside, get vaccinated, and find out. (She moved on quickly.) Lady, you're making your decisions based on incomplete information.

  • Relevant to the discussion about how easy and safe vaccines now are, is Off site link: this short video showing how people used to be protected against smallpox – a process called variolation – before Off site link: Edward Jenner came up with the world's first vaccine (for any disease). Vaccines and vaccine distribution have improved over the years, and in 1980 the World Health Organisation declared smallpox an eradicated disease. Vaccines work.

  • The deliberate spread of misinformation about vaccines is nothing new. For example, Off site link: this satirical image from 1802 shows small horned cows bursting forth from vaccinated people. (Cowpox was used to vaccinate people against the deadly smallpox virus.)

  • Meanwhile, the Off site link: NZ Herald reports on another case of a person in the USA finding out the hard way that he should have got vaccinated when he could. 39 year old father of five, Michael Freedy, decided to wait and see what effect the vaccine would have on people. (Keeping people alive is a good effect! – Editor.) Mr Freedy uttered "I should have gotten the damn vaccine" amongst the last words he said. His fiance and oldest child have now been vaccinated.


Important Old News


Religious Group News, March 2020:

  • Abortion in New Zealand has been decriminalised. Off site link: Stuff reports the Abortion Legislation Bill passed its third reading with 68 in favour and 51 votes opposing. The article highlights that there are still members of parliament who care for all human life:
  • National MP Simon O'Connor referenced Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's speech following the March 15 mosque terror attacks.

    "They are us and we are them. I've said many, many times before that human rights apply to all humans.

    "And I find it sadly sad ... that for people to say they are us and we are them but when it comes to the unborn child, according to those who will support the bill, unborn children are certainly not with us and we are not with them and I condemn this position."

    He said he wouldn't support the bill as it gave no rights or dignity to the human child developing.

    Also:

    National MP Chris Penk said it was wrong to suggest the current law criminalised women who got procedures as it instead was the health practitioners who were subject to the Crimes Act.

    "Much of the debate from those who have put forward this legislation as supposedly needed to this nation at this time has been founded on the argument that the unborn child deserves no protection under our law – that is wrong."

  • The Off site link: NZ Herald reports "... Justice Minister Andrew Little ... said women should not be subjected to harassment when going to receive a medical procedure." It's rather disturbing that a New Zealand MP can confuse a medical procedure – which saves a life – with a capital procedure – which terminates a life.
 
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