The self proclaimed "bishop," Brian Tamaki, is in the news in my little corner of the multiverse. The New Zealand Herald, via columnist Garth George, is labeling the prophet of many hairstyles a cult leader. In a sudden rush of blood to a bodily appendage unused to such things - his head - Bishop Brian, founder and boss of Destiny Church, has had seven hundred male members, uh, yes that's the term the Herald uses, swear a loyalty oath to him. And, oh whoopee, they even get to wear loyalty rings!
...the church document says that proof of a man's covenant with God is how they "submit to God's chosen man ... We are blessed to our spiritual father through whom this principle is being restored."
God's chosen man? Deja vu: I think I'm going to be sick. I'm told some ex-WCG members now sit in Destiny services each week. Out of the frying pan...
Now, to be honest, I'm no fan of Garth George. He is a former editor of the loathsome Challenge Weekly, the fundamentalist tabloid. I have never yet read a column of his that I agree with, though that may partly be because I make a point of not reading his columns. Nevertheless, in this case, I was prepared to make an exception after a copy of this one was emailed to me by a former WCG member (thanks Seamus.) Tamaki reminds me of a tithe-sucking vampire, preying on the credulity of decent, everyday folk who are just trying to make sense of life.
So Garth George - and it pains me to say it - does have a point. And if someone doesn't slap Tamaki down, the very stones may cry out. One positive aspect of the Herald column is that George does have a degree of "cred" with the very people who are most vulnerable to Tamaki and his ilk. Hopefully this punch will have connected.
There is a real difference between the blather that comes from the fundagelical heartland, and the loon-call of someone like Tamaki, but the irony is that it's arguably people like Garth George who prepare the ground for movements like Destiny. Tamaki simply takes the same fundagelical agenda and drives it off in the direction it's already pointing - over a cliff. Garden-variety evangelicals, on the other hand, may picnic at the edge of the cliff and admire the scenery below, but usually have enough nous not to jump.