Destiny Church‘s self-proclaimed Bishop, Brian Tamaki, said he feels uncomfortable with members of his parish giving him gifts but the rules were written by the church’s elders.
Bishop Tamaki appeared on RadioLive today and was questioned on the gifts.
“We don’t expect it. We feel very uncomfortable with even a small gift,” he said.
He was also asked if people were allowed to question him and other leaders of his church.
“I am accountable, we have a board of National Elders which I am accountable to,” Bishop Tamaki said.
But he said there are some “non-negotiables” when people joined up. Just what those are, Bishop Tamaki was not asked but said it was like a company’s vision statement and could not be changed.
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“If you join the church, you’re joining us, we’re not joining you,” Bishop Tamaki said.
He said there was no peer pressure if people did not want to donate but the church did have running costs and tithing was in the bible.
“There is no way I put pressure on anyone,” Bishop Tamaki said.
He was also questioned about his lavish lifestyle and million dollar home.
“So what? I’ve never been on the benefit and I worked hard.
“It was never in my mind or heart that this vocation is the vocation you take to make money, in fact I was warned off by my relatives,” Bishop Tamaki said.
He said he had been ready to take a vow of poverty but that was not what God wanted.
The vast majority of the 20 or so callers to the station spoke in support of the Bishop and at one point co-host John Tamahere said to his colleague Willie Jackson: “Willie, he’s starting to win me over here”.
Bishop Tamaki’s guest spot on Radio Live comes as controversy surrounds the Destiny Church’s Brisbane branch.
The practice of tithing, or donating a percentage of one’s income to the church, has brought bad publicity to Destiny, but the custom is common in many New Zealand churches.
A former employee of Destiny Church said Bishop Tamaki was given up to $500,000 every year in donations from Destiny Church members, on top of a six-figure salary.
However, donations given to other churches are usually voluntary and used for church initiatives, property maintenance and stipends for ministers.