Money, money, money

December 2nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

It’s a great business Cardinal Tamaki has decided to go into. You don’t have to provide any goods or services. You just declare yourself a prophet of God, and people give you 10% of their income.

The City of God

May 29th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Destiny Church is inviting Aucklanders to share in the official opening of its long-promised ‘City of God’ headquarters in Manukau this weekend.

Australian Idol 2009 winner Stan Walker will sing in a free concert in a giant marquee put up yesterday in front of the converted pillow factory in Druces Rd, Wiri, which the church bought in 2010.

The price has not been disclosed but the 3.1ha site has a 2011 rating valuation of $7.65 million.

Guided tours will be offered of the sprawling complex, featuring what is said to be New Zealand’s biggest permanent LED wall, a 24-metre-wide screen which arrived from China last week to form the backdrop for the main 864-seat auditorium.

Giant photographs of founders Bishop Brian Tamaki and his wife Hannah hang in several public spaces in between a school with 170 students, an early childhood centre for 70, a gym, a recording studio and function rooms.

Oh dear. Rather North Korean isn’t it.

A chat on Destiny

August 14th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A very interesting chat at NZ Herald with Peter Lineham who has written a book on Destiny Church. His comments seem very balanced. A few extracts:

The benefits to families are usually that they get huge support for children and (women especially like that) drunken gambling husbands are called to account. It’s a very supportive movement if you are on the inside.

Destiny lives in the Old Testament a lot of the time, Kate. A lot of their language has this flavour. Tamaki is treated like a king. No animal sacrifice, but its give them a great feelingof being a people together like a tribe.

If we must have charter schools, then Destiny would be a great providor. they do a very good job in their college and school, and they have a non-nonsense approach to knowledge. Not a bad start for a not very satisfactory idea!

One of my big concerns with Tamaki is his claim to be an apostle and to speak authoritatively from God!

No, I think more good than harm. No-one is forced to join. Anyone can walk out without restraint. i think it is an entirely dodgy form of Christianity, but people choose to be in it.

As I said above, I appreciate that he is blunt with his criticisms, but also praises the good stuff he sees the church as doing.


July 25th, 2013 at 12:53 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Destiny Church has had an application to open a charter school declined by the Ministry of Education.

Church spokesman Richard Lewis said they were told on Tuesday evening the application to turn their existing private school into a charter school for years 1-13 had been turned down.

Good. I have no problem with religious groups sponsoring charter schools, and in fact many excellent schools in New Zealand have a religious element to them.

But Destiny Church is too cult like for me. There is a difference between a broad based religion and a cult. Destiny isn’t absolutely a cult, but it has cult-like tendencies.

A schism in Destiny?

January 27th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Tony Wall at SST reports:

Some of Destiny Church’s most senior members have defected, upset at Bishop Brian Tamaki’s calls to hand over money for his “City of God” in South Auckland.

The Sunday Star-Times has learned that Tamaki’s obsession with building the new facility in Druces Rd, Manukau, has caused a schism in the church, with some of his staunchest followers deserting him.

Janine Cardno, the church’s media spokeswoman for many years, left last year, along with Paul and Michelle Hubble, who had been with Tamaki since 1990. …

Tamaki has called on church members to contribute $1000 each to help renovate the warehouse that will house church facilities, including a school.

The departure of Cardno is seen as particularly significant. She and her late husband, Neil, moved from Rotorua to help establish Destiny in Auckland in the 1990s, and Neil, a former TVNZ employee, pioneered Destiny television.

The church helped Janine through her grief after Neil died in a road accident in 2005. She was the public mouthpiece for Tamaki, defending him against criticisms over his lavish lifestyle. She declined to comment on her reasons for leaving.

The Hubbles also declined to comment, but a close friend said they had become disillusioned with Tamaki’s vision for the “City of God”, as it seemed he was putting buildings ahead of people.

“There was an announcement made that they wanted everybody to raise $1000. They weren’t happy about that, because they could see families in the church that would struggle to raise that amount of money.

“They personally knew of couples who were thinking, ‘We can’t raise the money, what can we sell?’ You shouldn’t have to do that. At what point do flash buildings become more important than actually looking after those people?”

In a New Year’s Eve sermon, Nelson’s Destiny Church pastor Martin Daly said: “I love reading the Destiny Church Facebook page [and families] going without Christmas presents ‘cos they’re saving up for their $1000 grand slam offering for the promised land that’s gonna bless the people of South Auckland.”

I wonder what this new City of God will be called? Brianville?

Danger Will Robinson Danger

June 3rd, 2012 at 12:28 pm by David Farrar

Tony Wall at SST reports:

Bishop Brian Tamaki has raised the stakes with his Destiny Church followers, exhorting them to leave behind houses, jobs – even family members – to join him at a “City of God” he is building in South Auckland.

At the church’s annual conference in Rotorua on Friday night, Tamaki spent his entire two-hour sermon talking about how God had told him to build the city and why his followers had to lose their “parochialism” towards their home areas, even if it meant leaving behind loved ones.

Cult expert Mark Vrankovich said the speech was designed to “soften up” Tamaki’s followers and the real pressure to move to South Auckland would come with one-on-one sessions with local pastors.

“Saying that the church family is more important than your physical family, that you must go with the spiritual family, is a classic cult idea. This will put great pressure on families and break up families.”

Vrankovich was also concerned that Tamaki appeared to be encouraging people to sell their homes. “They’ll be pressured to give the money from the house sale to the church, and they’ll never see it again. He’s extracting money from people for his dream, and something that he will effectively own. He wants to be mayor or king of this ‘city’ so he’s softening them up to get them to move [to Auckland] so he’s guaranteed not to be losing money on the deal.”

I suspect Tamaki will own all the properties in his “city” and that indeed his followers will be urged to hand over the proceeds from selling their own home in exchange for being allowed to live rent free in their new allocated home. However if you leave the faith or criticise Lord Brian, then I imagine you will get turfed out with nothing. It will give him huge power over his flock.

A defence of Destiny

January 16th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Tahu Potiki writes in Stuff in defence of Destiny:

Why is it that a Christian-based church that has never done anything legally wrong has raised the ire and suspicion of so many?

Because we expect better things of some, than merely not breaking the law. Lots of unethical scumbags never broke the law.

But the general population, and certainly the media, have an inherent distrust of the man and his church. In fact, he has been voted one of the least-trusted high-profile men in New Zealand on a couple of occasions.

How very sensible.

Let’s have a look at those accusations because, although his time as church leader has certainly been controversial and he stands for many things that are unpopular in modern times Destiny Church is certainly not alone with these views.

He has a big problem with homosexuality. He is outspoken and judgmental about the issue and has condemned the past Labour government for their civil union legislation which legitimises such relationships. Because of this, and other statements, he has been labelled a homophobe which implies he is frightened of homosexuals or homosexuality.

I don’t actually think he is any more frightened of gay people than the Pope is. Instead he has adopted a very puritanical and rigid interpretation of scripture which utterly condemns the idea of any sexual relationship that is not between a man and a woman. This is pretty consistent with other conservative church positions, including the official position of the Catholic Church. But, despite the proven Catholic clergy proclivity for moral indecency and the obvious hypocrisy of their stated position, the stated Destiny position is seen as more offensive than the Catholic one.

Potiki misses a huge point here.

The Catholic Church never formed a political party that stood for Parliament on a platform of forcing its religious beliefs on all New Zealanders.

The Catholic Church also never organised a march called “Enough is Enough” where a thousand or more identically clad black shirted followers marched in military like precision down the main street of Wellington, waving their pre-supplied signs to support the Church’s agenda.

Another criticism of Tamaki is that he is practically self-ordained and that he is the church. Followers pledge their allegiance to him as the “man of God” and not to the more depersonalised church itself. Religious and spiritual philosophy is a terribly complex subject but it is important to note that many of the large religions have a spiritual head who, although they are earthly and of real flesh and blood, are also a spiritual vessel on earth for their particular god.

Yes, but Catholics do not worship the Pope and Anglicans do not worship the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Most of us accept that this is simply part of the faith and do not lose sleep over such claims even though in general terms it would be considered pretty questionable. Despite that the Dalai Lama, the Pope and the Grand Ayatollah are followed both as corporeal individuals and spiritual representatives of God. But Tamaki’s claim to be a vessel of God’s power on Earth is treated with disdain by most.

Yes, party because he appointed himself God’s vessel. For all their faults, the other churches were not created just to benefit their current head. That is a huge difference.

Perhaps the most damning accusation of Tamaki is his wealth accumulation philosophy which apparently emerges from prosperity theology. This is the idea that personal empowerment is advocated as a core part of Christian doctrine and that part of empowerment is personal wealth. Not surprisingly this philosophy is very controversial and does not find favour with most mainstream Christian churches. But, as we know, most of the traditional Christian churches have also accumulated enormous wealth as a result of leveraging their position within their communities over the past couple of millennia, so assuming the moral high ground now that values and social mores have shifted dramatically is a little bit rich.

I think the Catholic Church is also obscenely rich. But again there are huge differences. Destiny mandates a 10% or more tithe, and aggressively pressure people to pay it. They actually pass EFTPOS terminals around their church. They visit you at home if you do not pay. And they come up with numerous other ways to fleece people into paying more money.

The Catholic Church doesn’t see Easter as a commercial opportunity. Destiny tends to see everything as a commercial opportunity. They are more akin to Scientology without the aliens.

So what is it that gets everyone’s goat when it comes to Brian Tamaki and Destiny Church? Is it more distasteful to us because his particular position is 100 per cent home-grown, or because we find it easier to accept such statements from geriatric Germans in golden robes and jewellery rather than a flashy toothed, Maori man wearing a tailor-made suit?

Nope, nothing to do with that. It is the combination of having formed a political party to force his religious views on us, having declared himself God’s vessel on earth and having an extremely aggressive approach to forcing believers to tithe that get’s my goat, and most people’s. Nothing to do with him being Maori.

Having said all that I acknowledge Destiny do some good with some of their community programmes in South Auckland. If they stayed out of politics, didn’t portray Tamaki as the Messiah, and were less aggressive in their fleecing of followers then most people would not care about them, or even mildly approve of what they do.

Silly TEU

January 10th, 2012 at 9:31 am by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

The tertiary education union is criticising plans for a Destiny Church ‘university’ – saying it makes a mockery of public education responsibilities.

The Church plans to build its own village in South Auckland which would include schools and a university.

TEU President Dr Sandra Grey says public universities all provide accredited evidence based high quality public education.

She claims in all likelihood Bishop Brian Tamaki’s university will do none of those things.

Calling it a plan, is giving Bishop Tamaki too much credit. All we have is a press release. He probably has no idea what an institution needs to do to become a university. The Education Act in s162(4)(a) specifies they must do all of the following:

(i) they are primarily concerned with more advanced learning, the principal aim being to develop intellectual independence:

(ii) their research and teaching are closely interdependent and most of their teaching is done by people who are active in advancing knowledge:

(iii) they meet international standards of research and teaching:

(iv) they are a repository of knowledge and expertise:

So up until now, I’m agreeing with the TEU that a Destiny university won’t qualify. But then a swipe at the Govt for some reason:

Dr Grey says the combination of this proposal and the Government’s Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement threatens to open the floodgates for dozens of foreign privately-owned, extremist ‘sham’ universities.

Oh please. A “combination” of this proposal and the proposed TPPA? That is clutching for straws. Is Destiny foreign-owned? Is anything in TPPA going to change the law and criteria for any bid by Destiny?

TPPA could well have something about not discriminating against foreign universities who wish to set up here, but that does not mean the provisions in the Education Act would not apply to then.

Don’t get me wrong. I have reservations around TPPA – especially the intellectual property chapter being pushed by the US. But debate on TPPA should not just be scare-mongering, linking it to Destiny Church.

Destiny City

January 6th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

NZ Herald reports:

Destiny Church has reportedly obtained resource consent to build its own “town” in South Auckland.

Bishop Brian Tamaki told his Rotorua congregation a contract had been signed and the church will take control of a three hectare block of land on Druces Road, Wiri, in December, One News reported.

“We had to get resource consent, meaning that the council would let us build our schools, our auditorium – basically building a town,” he said. “We got it.”

In the One News footage the self-proclaimed bishop outlined his plans for the town, which will include schools, a university and a massive auditorium.

The Destiny leader is now appealing for donations from his followers to help fund the town.

“Much of your seed is going to go toward the foundations of an offering toward our promised land, and that beginning is not going to come without a fruitful start financially,” Mr Tamaki said.

Destiny have every right to buy land and build what they want on it.  Of course any activities within that area are still subject to the laws of New Zealand.

I do feel a bit sorry for the followers who will all pour money in to help the Bishop buy the land, and then probably get charged massive rents to live there.