National MP Christopher Luxon has defended his Christian faith, saying in his maiden speech in Parliament that his beliefs have given him purpose and shaped his values.
Luxon, who was Air New Zealand's CEO between 2012 and 2019, was elected to Parliament in last year's election for the Auckland electorate of Botany.
He used his maiden speech on Wednesday to confront some of the stereotypes he says those of a Christian faith face.
"It seems it has become acceptable to stereotype those who have a Christian faith in public life as being 'extreme', so I will say a little about my Christian faith," he told Parliament.
"It has anchored me, given my life purpose, and shaped my values, and it puts me in the context of something bigger than myself. My faith has a strong influence on who I am and how I relate to people.
"I see Jesus showing compassion, tolerance, and care for others. He doesn't judge, discriminate or reject people. He loves unconditionally."
Luxon says Christians throughout history have made a difference by entering public life, including the leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade, British politician William Wilberforce, civil rights activist Martin Luther King, and suffragette Kate Sheppard.
"My faith is personal to me. It is not in itself a political agenda. I believe that no religion should dictate to the state and no politician should use the political platform they have to force their beliefs on others," he says.
"As MPs, we serve the common cause of all New Zealanders - not one religion, not one group, and not one interest. A person should not be elected because of their faith and nor should they be rejected because of it. Democracy thrives on diverse thinking and different world views."
Luxon also used his maiden speech to draw on his time at Air New Zealand. He said it represented a cross-section of New Zealand life and he had the opportunity to "get things done".
He says this includes introducing a three-week paid leave policy for victims of family violence, reducing the pay equity gap to zero, and upping the number of women in the senior leadership team from 16 percent to 44 percent.
"I understand, of course, that a country is not a company. However, New Zealanders look to the Government to get things done," Luxon says.
"Talking about it gets you a headline but only doing it makes a difference. I have entered politics because I want to make a difference, I want to solve problems and I want to get things done."