Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Petition to stop Destiny Church having tax-free status gaining support

A petition against Destiny Church's tax-free status is gaining momentum as Brian Tamaki hits back over the backlash to his homophobic sermon blaming gays, sinners and murderers for earthquakes.

The petition, on Change.org, sprung up after the self-appointed Bishop's Sunday sermon in which he told his congregation the earth "convulses under the weight of certain human sin".

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The sermon came one day before a massive 7.8 earthquake struck central New Zealand killing two and leaving thousands stranded, with limited food, water, shelter and communication.

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.

"The land actually speaks to God. 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.

The comments have attracted widespread condemnation and have been labelled homophobic.

Prime Minister John Key called the comments "ridiculous".

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

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

Attorney General Chris Finlayson, who is gay, said Tamaki was "a sick puppy."

"I think he needs a bit of counselling, frankly. He's a sick puppy."

Today Tamaki hit out at media in a Tweet about the saga.


"How's this for so called media fairness... not once did TV1 and TV3 and Close Up at 7 [sic] contact me for response or comment... they had an agenda."

However when contacted by the Herald this morning Tamaki said through a spokeswoman that he would not respond to the backlash.

The spokeswoman said Tamaki would speak on radio this afternoon instead.

In another Tweet Tamaki said "haters" had managed to hack and shut down his Facebook page.

"So if you think I've unfriended you... I haven't!" he Tweeted.

At the same time a petition against Tamaki's Destiny Church and its tax-free status is growing.

The petition, set up by Aaron Smithson with a single signature, has now attracted a staggering 102,000 supporters.

"With the recent news from the self-appointed "Bishop" Brian Tamaki that gays were to blame for the earthquake in Kaikoura, I call upon John Key and the New Zealand Government to classify Destiny Church as a hate group and strip them of their tax free status," Smithson said on Change.org.

The Destiny Church spokeswoman said Tamaki was not concerned by the petition.

"It would create a precedent if our church was to be deregistered in New Zealand," she said.

"Other churches could potentially be deregistered. We're just about what we're doing and we're very busy with what we're doing.

"There's a Charities Commission in this country and they audit our books every year and see how valid and legitimate everything is and so that's our position."

To view the petition go to:
https://www.change.org/p/john-key-strip-destiny-church-from-tax-free-status

- NZ Herald

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