The Christian Heritage party's policy director, Mark Munroe, would be well advised to think before he speaks. Or more accurately, before he types.
An e-mail from Mr Munroe was posted on a political website recently, stating that convicted paedophile and former party leader Graham Capill's crimes did not meet the biblical definition of rape.
Mr Munroe may well be right, technically, but to make such a heartless statement so soon after Capill was sent to jail for sexual offending against three girls aged between five and 11, was callous in the extreme. The comment gives the impression that paedophilia gets some kind of Biblical nod and wink.
Yet, despite being asked to step down, he will not quit until he receives written notice of the case against him and until the matter has been considered by the party's board.
What is there to consider?
Members of Christian Heritage should be horrified at his minimisation of the admitted criminal behaviour of Capill. No right-thinking person can condone abusing and damaging innocent children.
At a time when many New Zealanders are deploring a perceived decline in moral standards in this country, the Christian political movement should have a role to play. Yet, even though Christian Heritage New Zealand apologised for the actions of its disgraced former leader and distanced itself from the man's crimes, it was clearly damaged during last month's election. When votes were counted the party registered just 0.12 per cent of the vote, down from 1.35 per cent in 2002.
It was always going to be tough to re-claim the moral high ground in the aftermath of Capill's imprisonment. However, tolerating party members who can still excuse or play down such offending will only prolong Christian Heritage's time in the wilderness.
Munroe wrote: "The offences were not rape as understood from what I understand the Bible to mean, which is why Graham had such a concern about how to plea ... "
This echoes the comments by Capill himself: "The law as it has been explained to me seems so different to what the Biblical law and indeed common perceptions are of rape. The fact that [name deleted] consented is irrelevant."
Apologists for such a brazen offender have no place in a position of power in a political party and Christian Heritage would be wise to purge themselves of Mr Munroe sooner rather than later.