Brian the seismologist

brian-tamaki-destiny-church-2004-getty-images
“I made my lenses out of my hair”

In the wake of America’s harrowing election results (let’s be honest, it would have been pretty harrowing either way), New Zealand got it’s own taste of an, albeit watered down, Trump-like ego. More of a reminder than a taste, actually. ‘Bishop’ Brian Tamaki and his Destiny church have always been a good source of entertainment for anyone centered enough to not let his frankly ridiculous hate speech bother them. More of a ‘check out what he’s said now’ kinda guy – like Trump was when the joke about him running was still a joke.

But, following New Zealand’s 7.8 earthquake which has left many small towns stranded without direct access to aid, he went a little too far. I like to believe that generally us Kiwis don’t care what you do as long as it’s not hurting anyone, so when Brainless Tamaki made the ‘yuge’ call that gays were to blame for the plates shifting we all got really pissed. Our friends, our teachers, sports coaches, mums, dads, brothers, sisters, are gay. Don’t you dare, especially at such a time, go and spread this isolated hate and fear – exploiting a national tragedy to try and justify your Mercedes-Benz. To Destiny church fear=donations, and a tax-free status means that donations=profit.

He then went on to clarify that, oh no it wasn’t just gay people, it was all people having extra marital sex. So the implication there is that gay sex is extra marital (a.k.a wrong) by default, thus in his mind gay marriage is not valid.  Regardless of the harmful, bigoted comments about homosexuals, the idea that sex is bad seems to directly oppose the Christian message of being ‘fruitful’ and to ‘multiply’. Trying to clarify, or downright alter, what God (God!) ‘meant’ to say takes balls of a size I can’t fathom. Not only are his views on sex essentially oxymoronic, but they are irresponsible as an adult and as someone of influence. Naive kids of all ages hear that sort of thing and take it seriously, often regardless of religious orientation. How is it fair for some 16 year olds who don’t know any better to feel so guilty over something so devastating like an earthquake, all because of something so unscientific?

This is far from the first time he’s managed to cause a headline-sized fuss. One such time is called to mind wherein some of the original 26 families that helped build Destiny church had left after becoming disillusioned with church spending. One such member even being Tamaki’s public mouthpiece, often defending him and his lifestyle.The straw that broke the donkey’s back , apparently, was Tamaki asking each family for a $1000 contribution to build his new ‘City of God’. Apparently people who couldn’t afford to donate any money were trying to come up with things they could sell. Destiny Church pastor Martin Daly went so far as to say “I love reading the Destiny Church Facebook page seeing 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.” Nice bunch, huh?

A change.org petition has so far garnered nearly 120,000 signatures after only a few days. The timing couldn’t be better though (or, for Tamaki, worse). The most powerful man in the world was elected just weeks after it came out that he spoke about “grabbing” a woman “by the pussy”, and people are sick of it. The PC among us are sick of it because it is harmful and discriminatory, while the more right-leaning of us are sick of it because the implication is now that any conservative (or Trump-voter) must think that way, too. I imagine it must be the same for certain members of Destiny church. In a way you have to feel sorry for them. They are lost in a world of niche religions, disenchanted with the ‘standard’ ways. So much so that that they turn to the obscure off-shoots of Christianity that sound more like they take their inspiration from Leviticus than the Bible as a whole. I’m sure even Pope Frank would agree that a 2000 year old book of rules may not hold all the same relevance as it did back then. And so what? I can’t think of many things, written or otherwise, that do. There’s no denying that the Bible is full of great life-lessons and teachings. Not killing people is a good one, so is treating others the way you’d like to be treated. On that note, I don’t think any book of the Bible specifies how God will punish gay people – definitely no mention of New Zealand’s Alpine Fault. I’m struggling to find any mention of the straight people that were also affected by the gays’ and their (how dare they!?) sexual activities. What was God’s plan for me, then? I’m not gay, therefore shouldn’t have to suffer. Oh, it’ll be the extra marital sex, damn. Guess it is my fault, too.

I wonder why God chose little old Kaikoura in little old New Zealand to punish the roughly 200,000,000 gay people worldwide, pretending the USA is a giant focus group, the last census had 4% of their population as gay. If 200,000,000 people truly evoked God’s wrath so, it seems the last week was more of a ‘ceremonial’ smiting – in that, God doesn’t care who’s gay, he just has to pretend to because of High Council tradition, or something like that, God’s just a figurehead you see?

That seems to me like the only explanation that might be parallel to Tamaki’s. He did seek to remind us all, however, that this was only God’s view and not his. So, he can speak for God, but doesn’t necessarily agree with God? Jeez(us), makes you wonder how he sleeps. Depressing answer incoming: on silk sheets, I bet.

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