Bible-banging peaceniks should forsake Isaiah and take a leaf out of the Book of Joel

The vast majority of God-fearing Christians in this country – and Alf puts himself in that category – have not been overcome by an urge to destroy bits of the Waihopai Valley satellite communications station in Marlborough.

Accordingly, it is being argued, we have not being taking The Lord’s Word seriously. By implication, we are an ungodly bunch.


But the Bible is being brandished on some blog sites by the three Catholics charged with breaking into the satellite communications station, where a dome was slashed.

They plan to defend the criminal charges against them by saying they were trying to save lives overseas.

Otaki organic gardener Adrian Leason, 45, Auckland Dominican friar Peter Murnane, 69, and Hokianga farmer Sam Land, 26, have pleaded not guilty to two counts of intentional damage and one of burglary.

Wellington District Court was packed with supporters of the trio yesterday for the trial that is expected to last into next week.

Outside, about 150 protesters sang John Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance as the three men were ushered through tight security. The men were activists from non-violence action group Ploughshares Aotearoa.

The Dom-Post today gives us the guts of the prosecution case.

Crown prosecutor Hugh Boyd-Wilson said that on April 30, 2008, shortly after 6am, security guards at the Waihopai satellite base, run by the government Communications Security Bureau, investigated alarms going off and found the three men sitting near one of the domes that covered a satellite.

One of the 30-metre domes was slashed and deflating. The three men had sickles, bolt cutters and Stanley knives. They had got in through wire fences and used the sickles on the dome.

Two of them later told police they had planned to “disarm it”.

The Crown reckons that even if one of the three did the act, then the others were party to the offences and their plan was to damage the dome.

It’s pretty bloody obvious to Alf they did something.

Murnane, who is representing himself, explained to the jury of six men and six women, that “we did what we did to honour laws above fences and plastic property”.

“We were acting from necessity in the defence of countless others.”

The Catholic priest, who was ordained 44 years ago, said they felt extremely strongly about the unspeakable evil caused by activities enabled by spy bases, like torture, war and use of weapons of mass destruction, like depleted uranium.

Murnane said they felt it was reasonable to use the force they did against government property. He said he was convinced the base and the system that used it was causing great harm to his fellow human beings in other countries and he felt moved to prevent the torture of others.

So are they above the law?

It seems they think so.

Tony Shaw, a lawyer for Land, said the three accused felt justified as a matter of law because of the higher legal, moral and ethical principles that were being followed by them.

Mike Knowles, a lawyer for Leason, said they did it because they felt human life was at risk in foreign lands and did an act that would otherwise be unlawful.

The troublesome threesome are profiled on a web-site which explains their commitment to turning swords into ploughshares.

Sam Land explains on this site –

I am fed by my Christian faith and take my ideals from the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John – which (by taking them seriously) has led me to this.

Those of us who are indifferent to Waihopai, in other words, have not been taking the Gospels seriously.

Murdane has explained elsewhere:

I believe it is part of my work as a priest to remind people of these gross crimes and stir again the hope expressed by the prophets Isaiah (2:4) and Micah (4:3) that one day, led by God’s Word: “They shall turn their spears into ploughshares and their spears in to sickles”.

Alf wonders if there should be a sword in there somewhere.

Regardless of the accuracy of the quote, he wonders how many spears or swords there might be at the Waihopai communications station.

Anyway, he is tempted to take his guidance from the Book of Joel which is part of the Hebrew Bible – it’s one of a group of twelve prophetic books known as the Minor Prophets and (depending on whose translation you use) it says –

Hammer your plowblades into swords and your pruning shears into spears. Weaklings should say that they are warriors.

That advice sits very comfortably with Alf.

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