Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Lee was first elected to Parliament in the 1981 elections, winning the seat of Hauraki as the National candidate. Lee was replacing Leo Schultz , a relatively prominent National minister. He retained his seat from then until the 1996 elections, although a change of electoral boundaries resulted in the seat being renamed Coromandel.
Lee was known as one of the more conservative members of Parliament, being one of the most vocal opponents of Fran Wilde 's bid to lift restrictions on homosexuality. Lee gradually came to believe that the National Party was drifting away from conservatism, but initially resolved to fight the shift from within the party. When Lee was dropped from Cabinet in 1993, however, Lee began making plans to quit the National Party.
At first, it was thought likely that Lee would join the Christian Heritage Party, but talks between Lee and Christian Heritage broke down. An important issue was that of "confessionalism" - Lee, while strongly believing in Christian teachings as a basis for morality, believed that anyone who shared the proper principles should be allowed to contribute, even if they were not actually Christian. The Christian Heritage Party, being strongly confessionalist, rejected this, saying that it was only logical that a Christian party should bar non-Christians from membership. This issue, as well as a number of smaller points, caused Lee to turn away from Christian Heritage and establish his own party in 1994. Lee initially called his group the United Progressive Party, but in 1995, it was relaunched as the Christian Democrats.
Sporadic talks with Christian Heritage continued, with many Christian activists putting pressure on both sides to unify. Eventually, in late 1995, the Christian Coalition was established. In the 1996 election, however, the Coalition narrowly missed out on entering Parliament. It later collapsed amid many accusations and recriminations.
Lee had told his family that if he failed to remain in Parliament, he would retire from politics. He did so, leaving the Christian Democrats leaderless. The party eventually travelled further down the non-confessionalist path, converting itself into the values-based (rather than religion-based) Future New Zealand.
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