Self-appointed bishop Brian Tamaki was immensely proud of the money raised by his self-created Destiny Church this week. He asked parishioners to put their tithings on stage, and posted pictures of the sea of $100 and $50 notes on Twitter. He called it, "a sweet-smelling fragrance acceptable to God".

Later, he was proud of the media attention it attracted. "Top 10 news every time," he tweeted. "Media criticise but boy, they love the ratings they get."

There is something endlessly fascinating about Tamaki. To see him doing an imitation of a slick American-style evangelist in a Kiwi accent is to wonder every time how gullible people can be.

It is their own money, of course. They will be aware of the lifestyle they are providing their pastor and his wife. Whatever he is putting into their lives, they must think it worth the money.


That haul on stage, Tamaki told his congregation, was an idea the Holy Spirit had put in his head the night before.

What was the point? Were they celebrating money itself, or the sacrifice of a congregation who probably have not much to spare, or the charitable purposes for which it might be spent?

If the latter, they were not saying what those were.

The point was publicity, which is good news. It suggests business has been slowing for them and needed a boost.

It is nearly 10 years since Tamaki's delusions of a large following led him to think he could be elected to Parliament. Destiny received just 0.62 per cent of the vote in 2005, less than half the number who voted this year for Kim Dotcom's Internet-Mana Party.

There is seldom a second coming in politics and Tamaki has not tried again. He has contented himself with maintaining his church, based in South Auckland where, sadly, his is not the only Christian sect that collects a great deal of money from people who can ill afford it.

The churches demand much more of these people than the fees asked by the schools that teach their children. Yet fees go unpaid while churches rake in the money.

None have done so as tastelessly as Tamaki did this week.


A man who displays donations as some sort of evidence of divine favour and self-worth is not a Christian many other churches would recognise.

Some of the harshest passages in the New Testament are directed at the worship of money.

These are probably not passages the Destiny congregation hears.

But in the end, it is their money. They can throw it away if they like.