Be careful of judging

Two articles in the Herald which are a good reminder of not being too quick to judge.

The first is from Jevan Goulter, a gay activist, about his friendship with Brian and Hannah Tamaki:

In regards to Brian Tamaki’s comments over the weekend at the conference, my opinion is simply that it’s not a big issue because it is not any different from what he has said in the past.

I was not present at the conference that took place over the weekend but, was Tamaki’s speech a fire and brimstone homophobic rant designed to offend people? Maybe to those who let themselves be offended.

But it is something that certainly does not preclude me from being proud of calling Brian and Hannah Tamaki great mates. …

Yes it is true, I like to sleep with men, and in case there’s any confusion or anybody wants to save me from that, it is okay, you do not need to, because I completely enjoy every moment of it!

Has this ever created an issue between the Tamaki’s and myself? Never.

I know their view on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community, however if I based my friends simply on who did and did not agree with me, I would be the biggest loner in New Zealand and sitting on my own like Brendan Horan did in Parliament. …

I am not a member of Destiny Church, but I have been there on numerous occasions, and two of their annual conferences.

I’m not particularly inspired by Brian or Hannah specifically, however I am inspired by how many families and individuals they have helped in their congregation, who I now have the privilege of knowing personally.

I’m not fan of Brian Tamaki or Destiny. But it is a good reminder that people can do good and kind things on an individual level, even if you disagree with them strongly on certain issues.

Likewise while I regard Destiny Church as mainly an ATM machine for the Tamakis, there is no doubt it does play a positive role if the life of many of its members.

On the same note the Herald talks to a photojournalist who spent time at Gloriavale:

A photojournalist has been given full access to the daily lives of residents as part of a project to document the reclusive Christian community in a book.

Cameron McLaren spent two days in the isolated West Coast community last month and is planning more visits.

The 31-year-old Aucklander said he was made welcome throughout his stay.

He ate with members of the community and slept in the same communal living quarters as the families. …

Despite negative attention on the community, McLaren saw “nothing but a city of children running around being happy kids”.

“Sure the place is unusual compared to the rest of the world, the people are very religious and take the Bible literally. And, yes, the way of life is very different, people work very hard, some work throughout the night.”

His book would take at least another year to complete. Although some documentary work had already been done, McLaren said there seemed to be almost no still photography from within the community.

“The fact that they are almost entirely self-sufficient yet have such a high population brought up many questions for me.

“I wanted to know if the people of Gloriavale have a decent lifestyle and get everything they need as human beings. From what I saw, it looks like they do.”

McLaren was amazed by the facilities available and said many were “state-of-the-art and very modern”. The community had commercial kitchens, multiple dairy farms and a fully operating abattoir. He left feeling envious of some aspects of the way of life.

“Imagine living surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes you might ever see with a whole bunch of your friends and family. It would be great.”

Now again I think Hopeful Christian (Neville Cooper) is a bad man with bad motivations, let alone being a sex offender. But that doesn’t mean everything at Gloriavale is bad, and that for many kids growing up there, they have a happy fulfilling life. Not one for me, but it doesn’t mean every member there is unhappy, brain-washed or wanting to escape.

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