“I’m aware of interest in claims made by Church members that Government departments aren’t funding their projects,” said Ms Bennett.
However, Ms Bennett said Destiny’s social services arm Te Runanga a Iwi o Te Oranga Ake had received Minstry of Social Development (MSD) funding.
MSD had approved $850,000 to fund four Community Max programmes in Auckland, Waikato, and Bay of Plenty for 79 young people.
The organisation also received $10,000 for Breakaway youth programmes.
“Let me be clear, Government funding decisions are not based on religious affiliation. Organisations are funded to deliver programmes based on merit, just as funding is declined where there is no discernible merit.”
Ms Bennett also said Destiny had been lobbying the Government “regarding its complaint of a lack of funding”.
Destiny founder and self-proclaimed ‘bishop’ Brian Tamaki demands cult-like devotion. He has proclaimed himself the church’s “spiritual father” and designated the male members of the church as “spiritual sons”. In October, 2009 about 700 male members of the church swore a “covenant oath” of loyalty and obedience to Mr Tamaki and were given a “covenant ring” to wear on their right hands.
Tamiki also claims he is the “tangible expression of God.”
Destiny Church is also controversial for its extremely intolerant stance on homosexuality.
The New Zealand Herald notes:
The church has attracted criticism in the past over its controversial stance on homosexuality and claims from former churchgoers that it is a money-making venture.
The MPs’ attendance coincided with calls from the church for Government funding for its social services, including from the Whanau Ora programme.
Whanau Ora minister Tariana Turia said she would not treat Destiny any differently from any other community group and believed they were a strong organisation.
“I would never, ever discriminate against Destiny Church. My firm belief is that they do a really great job. We contracted them for Community Max, they did a great job, they do a great job with families, they run an excellent kura.”
A number of politicians attended church’s annual conference in Auckland this past weekend.
Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples said he would consider a request from Destiny Church for Whanau Ora funding.
The Maori Party co-leader was one of several Maori politicians who spoke at the church’s annual conference in Auckland at the weekend.
Whanau Ora is a Maori Party initiative that funds social services to empower families. [...]
Other MPs at the conference were National MP Tau Henare, Labour MP Shane Jones and the leader of the new Mana Party, Hone Harawira.
Prime Minister John Key defended Henare’s attendance, saying he expected his MPs to go to such events and promote National’s policies.
“Destiny’s not running a political wing this particular election, so it makes sense for National to be there.”
In 2003 Richard Lewis — a member of Destiny Church Auckland, manager of Destiny Church and portrayed in the media as Tamaki’s right-hand man — formed the political party ‘Destiny New Zealand.’
In October that year Brian Tamaki predicted that Destiny Church would be ruling the nation by its tenth anniversary (which came and went in 2008).