Reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Shock over Destiny leader Brian Tamaki's homophobic comments

Brian Tamaki, pictured with his wife Hannah, has blamed gays for earthquakes. Photo / Michael Craig
Brian Tamaki, pictured with his wife Hannah, has blamed gays for earthquakes. Photo / Michael Craig

Comments by Destiny Church leader Bishop Brian Tamaki blaming gay people for earthquakes are just "plain loopy", a rainbow community advocate says.

And New Zealand's human rights commissioner Richard Tankersley has branded the homophobic rant as "disgusting."

"It's crazy stuff," said Lexie Matheson, who was this year made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the performing arts, education and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) rights.

Quoting the Old Testament in a Destiny Church sermon on Sunday, before Monday morning's 7.8 magnitude quake struck, killing two and leaving thousands stranded, Tamaki said "sexual perversion" and "homosexuality" was to blame for natural disasters.

Later, in a blog post Tamaki claims to have warned people of Monday's devastating 7.8 magnitude quake in an "inspired moment," ahead of his sermon.

Video

"To blame us for the earthquakes is just plain loopy," and outraged Matheson said.

"I'm just gobsmacked that anybody could say these sorts of things when people are suffering right through the country.

"He's joined a long line of fundamentalist people who've blamed us for everything from plagues of frogs and natural disasters ... to hurricanes and swarms of meteors."

"It's crazy stuff. Was the man drunk?" Lexie Matheson wondered about Brian Tamaki's latest homophobic rant which blames gays for earthquakes. Photo / Dean Purcell.
"It's crazy stuff. Was the man drunk?" Lexie Matheson wondered about Brian Tamaki's latest homophobic rant which blames gays for earthquakes. Photo / Dean Purcell.

In his sermon, Tamaki said the earth "convulses under the weight of certain human sin."

He also blamed a gay priest and the people of Christchurch for the devastating earthquakes that hit Canterbury in 2010 and 2011 and killed 185 people.

"The land actually speaks to God. Out of the soil ... Abel's blood spoke to God from a murder. The earth can speak. Leviticus says that the earth convulses under the weight of certain human sin.

"It spews itself up after a while - that's natural disasters. Because nature was never created to carry the bondage of our iniquity," Tamaki said.

Matheson said Leviticus was probably the most misinterpreted piece of scripture of all time.

"It's often cherry-picked by fundamentalist religious people to try and explain why bad things happen in the world.

"It's disturbing and it's dangerous and Bishop Tamaki should stop doing it. In a world where we have permission being given for the most extraordinary discrimination ... To blame a small sector of our society for something as awful as what's happening in New Zealand now is reprehensible."

Human Rights Commissioner Richard Tankersley said blaming gay people and other New Zealanders for deadly quakes is disgusting.
Human Rights Commissioner Richard Tankersley said blaming gay people and other New Zealanders for deadly quakes is disgusting.

Tankersley said blaming gay people and others for the recent deadly earthquakes was both ignorant and ironic, given today was the UN International Day for Tolerance.

"Tamaki's words are a lesson to us all that intolerance and prejudice is very real," Tankersley said.

"At this time when families are mourning loved ones and many more are scared and wondering how to face the next day, this kind of message is frankly, disgusting.

"It is humbling to see local and central government and community coming together - as is often the case the local marae has taken in hundreds of stranded people while Ngai Tahu iwi stepped in quickly with donations including tonnes of kaimoana. Please continue to stick together and look after one another, he said.

"I encourage New Zealanders to continue to look to our earthquake scientists and our civil defence experts for guidance, rather than putting their trust in Mr Tamaki's speeches.

"We are all born free and equal in dignity and rights and we are entitled to be actively included in our shared world. This is the foundation of the UN Declaration for Human Rights that our nation is a signatory to," Tankersley said.

Tamaki's comments have also been labelled "ridiculous" by John Key, while the mayor of Kaikoura called them "pathetic".

Bent train tracks south of Kaikoura after a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the region just after midnight on November 14, causing widespread damage.
Bent train tracks south of Kaikoura after a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the region just after midnight on November 14, causing widespread damage.

Prime Minister Key said this afternoon that Tamaki's comments were "ridiculous".

"I mean, give me a break," Key told Radiolive.

"Look, you always get people coming out with these stupid statements.

"The facts of life are New Zealand is a seismically prone country, with a number of very well identified fault lines.

"We've been a bit unlucky I think, clearly those plates are moving around a bit.

"It's nothing to do with people's sexuality. I mean, it's just madness."

Tectonic uplift of the seabed of between 2 and 2.5 metres, caused by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck near Kaikoura on Monday.
Tectonic uplift of the seabed of between 2 and 2.5 metres, caused by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck near Kaikoura on Monday.

The mayor of earthquake-ravaged Kaikoura also weighed in, saying comments by Tamaki were "pathetic".

Winston Gray said the comments were ridiculous "in a situation like this".

The mayor said people in the area were still struggling, after Monday morning's massive 7.5 earthquake cut off the town's power, communications, water and transport.

"What pathetic comments," he said.

Auckland vicar, reverend Helen Jacobi, said Tamaki's comments are "completely illogical," and compared them to blaming sin for child cancer.

A video of Tamaki's sermon is pinned to the top of the Destiny Church Facebook page.

In it, he also blamed a gay priest and the people of Christchurch for the devastating earthquakes that hit Canterbury in 2010 and 2011 which killed 185 people.

A spokeswoman for Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel said she was not available to comment.

Tamaki's sermon continues:

"The land actually speaks to God. Out of the soil ... Abel's blood spoke to God from a murder. The earth can speak. Leviticus says that the earth convulses under the weight of certain human sin.

"It spews itself up after a while - that's natural disasters. Because nature was never created to carry the bondage of our iniquity," Tamaki said.

"God does not send punishment on people in that kind of a way," reverend Jacobi of Auckland church St Matthew-in-the-City said.

"If that was the case, if you followed that to its logical conclusion, a baby dying of cancer would be somehow sinful, and that's ridiculous. It's just completely illogical."

She said the things people and churches should be, and were focusing on in Kaikoura and other places, was gathering and supporting rather than blaming others for the earthquake.

"They should be helping people get through this terrible time and that's where God is seen in our community - by the way people respond," Jacobi said.

She said evidence of God's presence was not in punishment, but in people doing good to help those in need after Monday's disastrous earthquake.

Monday's 7.8 magnitude earthquake caused widespread damage.
Monday's 7.8 magnitude earthquake caused widespread damage.

A Destiny Church spokeswoman said: "In view of the terrifying events that have impacted the cities and families of New Zealand over the last few days, our heartfelt condolences go out to the victims affected by the earthquakes and floods over this last week."

She referred the Herald to a blog post by Tamaki, which elaborates further on his Sunday sermon.

Tamaki says that natural disasters are side-effects of environmental pollution, abuse and sexual sins.

Referencing Leviticus, from the Old Testament, he writes: "No other sin in the whole of the bible has any connection to earthquakes, floods and volcanic eruptions, but sexual perversions alone."

In Leviticus, God also warns men not to have sex with varying people including, but not limited to, women with their period, animals, or their sister.

- NZ Herald

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