How is it that Brian Tamaki and the Destiny Church can have so many followers?

How is it that a man who blames earthquakes on gays and sinners and murderers still attracts the loyalty and support of those in his church?

And he said this, oddly, the day before the 7.5 earthquake - now upgraded to a 7.8 - hit Kaikoura. He said the earth convulses under the weight of certain human sin.

Not all sin, clearly. Just certain sinful acts according to Tamaki.


The earth can speak, he says. The land? It speaks to God, apparently.

I don't know why he stopped at earthquakes, actually. Perhaps homosexuality, murder and sinners are blamed for Brexit and Donald Trump too. Maybe they're responsible for this year's seismic political decisions too. And perhaps the reason a woman wasn't elected to the head of the UN is the fault of lesbians. Let's blame lesbians for that as well.

Tamaki has a right to free speech, of course. But there's a fine line between free speech and being an ill-informed, ignorant, bigoted ass. And let's not forget that while he's preaching to his congregation he's urging him to throw money at him too. Who on earth listens to him? Who believes the kind of tripe that spills from his mouth?

He also said Christchurch's people are to blame for the quakes. There is money to be made, clearly, by spewing forth fear and loathing and blame for those who don't live their lives like Tamaki suggests they should.

But what is so unfortunate about Tamaki is that he speaks on behalf of a church. Sure it's his church, and essentially his religion. But in times of crisis, in times of national disasters, churches and religious groups are often in the thick of it, helping those who need it. I know last year, churches here contributed thousands and thousands of dollars to Syria's forgotten millions campaign. Huge money came in. And churches will be among it in Kaikoura now too.

But when we hear the bigoted preachings of Brian Tamaki, I think - in this secular country - many of us recoil in horror and it fuels our mistrust in religion and our fear of churches too. But it shouldn't. Churches do an enormous amount of good work in our communities.

If Tamaki was truly a man of the Good Book, he'd be collecting for Kaikoura right now, not for himself, not for his own pocket. And he'd be in North Canterbury, helping those caught up in the disaster.

I don't know anyone who follows him. That's perhaps not a surprise. I don't know anyone who's a member of Destiny Church, either. But I'm intrigued to know why you would sit and listen to this man. And throw money at him. How is it that this man's offerings can improve your life?


Tamaki's bigoted views, I think, make him the greatest sinner of us all.

Rachel Smalley hosts Early Edition on Newstalk ZB