Title: Comment: Uncertain Destiny? Credit: Craig Young Comment Wednesday 28th March 2007 - 12:00pm1175040000 Article: 1646 Rights
Destiny Church has some unexpected problems. Comparative scrutiny of its website church listings reveals either apparent closure or consolidation. What do I mean by this? Simply that when I first covered Destiny Church for Gaynz.Com in 2003, it included branches in Kaitaia, Opotiki, Taumaranui, Porirua, Hawkes Bay (and Dunedin, which came and went later). Those branches have either closed or been consolidated into surviving church branches in Whangerai, Whakatane, South Auckland, Wellington, Gisborne, Rotorua, Tauranga, Nelson and Christchurch, although Destiny has retained its church in Brisbane. Of course, the South Auckland headquarters has no shortage of members, so it can compensate for all this. Isn't it interesting that if I'm reading it correctly, it seems that iwi-affiliated Maori may be deserting Destiny Church in droves. A fortnight ago, Destiny Church presented the sermon of David Grace, a fundamentalist ex-transperson who has become caught in the clutches of that sect. One could have been forgiven for ignoring it. Not for the first time, pakeha fundamentalist media ignored the conversion story in question, just as it had done Tamaki's vanity biography last year. Anyway, ex-transgendered people are comparatively rare on the Christian Right. Even in the United States, one can only think of one- Sy Rogers, now embarked on a career as a fundiepop singer. There are no support groups for 'former transsexuals' out there. David Grace's story is this. According to Destiny's flier, he's originally from Ngatiporou stock, but was 'rejected' because he couldn't play rugby. And so, he decided to leave New Zealand and live as "Denise" but was rejected all over again. Then he saw "Enough is Enough" on television and turned Pentecostal and became a "Real Man" at last. For some reason, Destiny Church has it in for whakawahine. I suspect it's because the idea of gender reassignment seriously upsets their quaint rigid worldview about rigid gender roles. Never mind that Judaism and Christianity arose millenia ago, and gender reassignment surgery has only existed for the last eightyyears. Never mind that eunuchs and castrati were barred from neither religion, or that intersexed people were tolerated if they stayed put in a continuous social gender role. Never mind that traditional Polynesian societies have always recognised a place for whakawahine, fa'afafine and their other Pacific Island sisters. Problem is, Destiny Church has never been about iwi-centred Maori in touch with ancestral traditions and indigenous identity. It preys on those who are not so fortunate, and has attracted strong detractors for breaking up whanau and hapu solidarity for reasons not to do with substance abuse or family violence. I suspect that David may come from this morehu background, was probably brought up in a fundamentalist home, and that this may be simple recidivism on his part. If David didn't formally change his name to Denise too, I suspect that we are dealing with someone who isn't TS here. For his sake, if he still lives with gender dysphoria, I hope David comes to terms with himself and seeks an alternative destiny to one within Tamaki's pressure cooker sect. Meanwhile, though, Tamaki is being a nuisance to pakeha fundamentalists through vowing to hold a seperate march to the one scheduled to occur on Wednesday 28 March against the possible third reading of the Bradford Bill. He's scheduled another Destiny Church march for May 2nd, perhaps after the passage of the bill, so he may have dropped the ball with this one. One hopes it lands painfully on his foot. Not recommended: Brian Tamaki: More Than Meets the Eye: A Biography of Brian Tamaki: Auckland: Tamaki Publishing: 2006. Craig Young - 28th March 2007    
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