Religion just as important as it always was


Juliet Chevalier-Watts is challenging the view that New Zealand is becoming more secular.

She says religious belief appears to be just as important to society as it’s always been.

Chevalier-Watts is a University of Waikato senior law lecturer who is a charity law specialist and is in completing a PhD in which she reviews religion and charity law.

She says that charity law is the ideal vehicle to support religion “because of the rules surrounding charity law that actually may give confidence to the public that when it comes to charity, religion is not always the tyranny that people might presume it to be.”

Chevallier-Watts said she found that it is extremely rare for people not to have some kind of belief system.

“If you try to remove a system out of society, as occurred in a number of Communist states, it simply goes underground.

“Once religion is permitted again, it flourishes once more.”

She suggests that religion “is here to stay and in many regards it is fundamental to society.”

Chevalier-Watts says there are some high-profile and influential people who denigrate religion, demanding that it should not exist anymore.

“Obviously, people are entitled to be as negative as they wish, and it is perhaps right in a contemporary society that we can challenge beliefs and religions.

“However, I’m coming at it first from a legal context, and then a societal context and, if you examine the way humans operate, it is apparent that in many ways humans prefer to operate within a religious construct.

“As a result, it is right that it is recognised, and charity law provides a way of ensuring that it is recognised, and charity law provides a way of ensuring that religion is acknowledged and also underpinned by stringent governance.”

Chevalier-Watts has written three books on equity, trusts, and charity law.


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News category: New Zealand.

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