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Spirits Of Perversion?

Sun 1 Jun 2003 In: Comment

Following the announcement of New Zealand's third fundamentalist Christian political party, researcher Craig Young shines a little light on the people and organisations behind the movement. Last week fundamentalist Destiny Church members announced that their sect was going to start up yet another fundamentalist political party, to be named Destiny New Zealand. The party's head is Richard Lewis, who is head of Destiny Social Services, the social services and pastoral care branch of the church in question. Another figure, Anne Williamson, is communication director for Destiny Social Services. Destiny's controversial Pentecostal founder, Pastor Brian Tamaki, is not said to be involved with the new political party. What do we know about Destiny Church? In March 1997, Australian anti-gay fundamentalist campaigner Fred Niles' "Family World News" reported that Tamaki was one of the featured speakers at a World Festival of Praise, at which then-Fijian PM Sitiveni Rabuka was one of the principal guests. In March 2000, the Churches Broadcasting Commission complained about misogynist references to Prime Minister Helen Clark and then-Leader of the Opposition Jenny Shipley, as well as attacks on "fatherless families." Despite this, Destiny Church has a weekday religious broadcasting slot on TV2 at 6.00am. In August last year, it attacked mainline denominations and talked darkly about "vipers in the church." Tamaki has also spoken at Promise Keepers rallies in Dunedin, and it should be remembered that Promise Keepers has attacked Tim Barnett's Prostitution Law Reform Bill. Within New Zealand fundamentalism itself, Tamaki's conduct has not gone without criticism. Destiny Church was formerly known as Lake City Church when it was based in Rotorua, and it is striking that its listed branches are based in strong areas of Maori habitation- Kaitaia, Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Taumaranui, Taranaki, Whakatane, Hawkes Bay, Opotiki, and Porirua, while there are comparatively few branches outside the North Island (Nelson, Christchurch) and its sole Australian outpost (Brisbane). Brian Tamaki's iwi affiliation is Ngati Ngawaero (Tainui). In February 2002, Christian Witness Ministries criticised Brian and Hannah Tamaki because they'd allowed Ian Bilby, a disgraced former Auckland Elim Church pastor, back into pastoral responsibilities. According to one online article, Bilby had left the Elim Church ministry, had divorced and undergone counselling after the revelation of a string of extramarital affairs with female parishioners in 1998. The Tamakis spotted Bilby in the congregation at Kaitaia Destiny Church in February 2002, and CWM and Elim criticised the Tamakis for employing someone who hadn't apologised to the Elim Churches for his earlier behaviour, as well as remarrying. Despite this, Tamaki asserted that Bilby had been rehabilitated and was under his supervision. When Destiny New Zealand was announced, erstwhile Christian Heritage Party leader Graham Capill wasn't very happy about yet another competitor, although he thought that the Pentecostal bias of the new party wouldn't attract supporters from the remnants of his own battered, dying organisation. He gloated over United Future's potential loss of support, but UFNZ had nothing to say about these new developments. So, is this a threat to us? Tamaki hasn't made that many references to lesbians and gay men, although there have been generalised ones to "spirits of perversion" which probably includes us. Moreover, despite their relative intensity, Tamaki's church membership is lower down the socio-economic scale than the membership of United Future and the CHP, and appears strongly rurally based. As with Capill and the CHP, it may be the case that this latest New Zealand fundamentalist political gambit will fail in its turn. Destiny Church has a website: As yet, this is a new website, and there is no mention of Destiny New Zealand online. Craig Young - 1st June 2003    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Sunday, 1st June 2003 - 12:00pm

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