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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 13 June 18, 1968

The Right To Speak

The Right To Speak

Comment on New Zealand's military involvement in the Vietnam war has, from time to time, spotlighted the role played by the churches, in the formation of an informed and ethical public opinion.

This role came under scrutiny when the National Council of Churches issued reports on the Vietnam war and the present Rhodesian government. These reports opposed New Zealand's military commitment in the former case and candemned the actions of the Smith regime.

The right of the churches to offer advice on international affairs has been questioned both by MPs, such as Mr L. F. Sloane, and clergymen, such as the Chaplain to the Royal New Zealand Navy. It has been suggested that ministers should confine themselves to moral evaluations of our internal way of life—drinking, gambling and illegitimacy—and leave international affairs to the experts—politicians.

Individual members of the NCC have defended their right to suggest as ethical perspective for international decisions (reputed to have been referred to disparagingly by Cardinal Wolsey, as "moral squint"), and asserted that the moral value of these decisions was the ultimate criteria for our way of life.

But, not stressed, was the formidable composition of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs which prepared and documented the NCC statements in this area.

It is doubtful whether a comparable body exists in New Zealand with members of such unquestionable knowledge and integrity NCC Secretary, the Rev. David Taylor said "many people would be surprised if the knew the fine qualities of the individual concerned."

The commission represents a combination of expertise in both international problem and Christian ethics. Its chairman is G. C. Burton, formerly of the External Affair Department. Other well-known member include the Ombudsman, Sir Guy [unclear: Powles] Director of the Economic Research [unclear: Institute] J. W. Rowe; the Secretary of Labour, M N. S. Woods, and also included the formed prime minister, the late Sir Walter [unclear: Nas]

University members include Dr Joh Roberts, professor of Political Science an Public Administration, Dr D. W. [unclear: McKen] professor of Geography, Dr G. B. Bartor senior lecturer in Law, the Rev Joh Murray, formerly NCC. Chaplain to [unclear: Victori] University. Mr T. A. Roberts, a lawyer, secretary.

The churches themselves are represented by the Rev. G. Wilson, L. B. Robinson, J. S. Ford and Mr J. S. Reid.

When considering specialist topics an gathering further information and advice outside the experts areas, the commission breaks up into sub-committees.

Reports are adopted by the whole commission. To date, there have been no divisions according to one member, the [unclear: Re] John Murray. Statements and reports are compiled on behalf of the NCC and released by the NCC secretariat.