The Destiny Church, Pastor Brian Tamaki and his legion of Christian soldiers do not represent middle, majority New Zealand.
The Destiny Church is marching and preaching about the evils of the Labour Government’s Civil Union Bill, which aims to give legal status to gay and lesbian couples.
Theoretically, Pastor Brian should have no trouble gathering support to his cause, and perhaps pick up another several thousand adherents willing to tithe 10% of their gross income to his church and himself.
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There is a widely held anxiety about the elevation of same-sex “marriage” and its countervailing effect of diminishing the status of traditional marriage – and at a time when the nuclear family is both undervalued by the Government and yet has never been needed more by society.
However, the televangelist Destiny Church and its freshly launched political wing are not the face of that disquiet. In fact, they make the other side look good.
New Zealand has come a long way in 19 years. The 1985 Labour government passed controversial legislation decriminalising homosexuality, and the humane gesture was well overdue.
The sexual activities of consenting adults are no business of the state. Now another Labour-led government is intent on fulfilling an election promise to formalise gay partnerships, removing all legal obstacles to such couples being treated – in the eyes of the law, at least – equally to marriage.
The Civil Union Bill, currently hearing public submissions before being returned to Parliament for another vote, is basically the Marriage Act with the word Marriage replaced with Civil Union.
Such partnerships will inevitably call themselves married, despite the clear preference by the country’s majority of traditionalists who want that institution to relate only to a man and a woman.
It is an age in which rampant political correctness has morphed into moral correctness. The best intentions of a score of years ago have led to a public environment that discourages judgment of other people’s values and behaviour.
Everything is deemed to be equal, even though common sense and the forces of nature tell us that this cannot be so. The trouble is that it is difficult to challenge the notion of non-judgmental tolerance and its ever-expanding, unpoliced boundaries without sounding like Pastor Brian.
The real mouthpiece for the country’s silent majority needs to be sensitive, compassionate, calm and sensible, educated and articulate – and look believable. Such personalities are rare – as the proponents of just about any cause discover.
Into this particular vacuum might step the slick and frock-coated Brian Tamaki, but his simplistic pulpit message designed for an unquestioning congregation is not adequate for a more complex and sophisticated wider society.
In between the chanting ranks of black-shirts – with a worrying total absence of women – and the strident demands of the gay lobby, middle New Zealand has trouble choosing which are the “modern barbarians” that Cardinal Tom Williams was warning about.