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Sunday 09 April 2017

Brian's Pathetic Fallacy

Posted in: Comment
By Craig Young - 21st November 2016

For several days, I debated whether Brian Tamaki's latest anti-LGBTI outburst was even worthy of media coverage. Ultimately, I decided that this was indeed the case.

For those who overlooked or ignored the diatribe in question during the drama of the Kaikoura earthquake and storms of last week, what happened was this: "Bishop" Brian Tamaki of the Destiny Church fundamentalist Pentecostal sect decided to attribute the recent Kaikoura earthquake to the increased profile of LGBT individuals, especially in Christchurch. In literature, this is called "pathetic fallacy." It is characteristic of substandard, bad gothic novels in which a character's confused or turbulent emotional state is reflected by weather events or seismic upheavals. Applied to fundamentalist theology, it reduces YHWH to a temperamental Middle Eastern weather deity who resorts to exhibitionist meteorological acts, seismic activity or volcanic eruptions to "reveal" "divine displeasure" at whatever-the-Deity-is- displeased-at. In this case, it was Christchurch's gay subculture.

Tamaki said:
"The land actually speaks to God. Out of the soil...Abel's blood spoke to God from a murder. The earth can speak. Leviticus says that the earth convulses under the weight of certain human sin. It spews itself up after a while...that's natural disasters. Because nature was never constructed to carry the bondage of our iniquity.""No other sin in the whole of the Bible has any connection to earthquakes, floods and volcanic eruptions, but sexual perversions alone."The above diatribes appeared on his website and on his blog

Why was this considered newsworthy in the first place? And why did Tamaki do this? At present, Destiny has branches in Auckland, Brisbane (its only non-New Zealand one), Christchurch, Nelson, Taranaki, Hamilton, Rotorua, Tauranga, Wellington, Whakatane and Whangarei. That means that there are only two South Island branches. Moreover, on its website, some of the branches do not appear to have detailed descriptions. This may be either because the website itself has been newly designed, or it may be attributable to the cessation of activity at those branches. As for objections to this latest outburst, they were not slow in coming forward. In Parliament, Chris Finlayson, Steven Joyce and Paul Foster-Bell (National), Denise Roche (Green), David Clark and Grant Robertson (Labour) all expressed their disgust at Tamaki. So did the Anglican Bishop of Dunedin, Kelvin Wright, Prime Minister Key, Methodist Minister Francis Ritchie (who also noted that Tamaki had botched his Leviticus citation), former Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker (who angrily demanded that Tamaki apologise to both Christchurch and Kaikoura) and Kaikoura Mayor Winston Gray (understandably). An online petition has started to strip Destiny Church of its tax-exempt status.

Overseas, the story made it to the UK Pinknews LGBTI media outlet,Gaystar news,Attitude(UK), Zimbabwe Star, BuzzFeed, BBC News, Channel Nine News(Australia) and others. But why? Some have argued that there's a double standard involved here. Tamaki is treated with ridicule, as opposed to other prominent New Zealand Christian Right figures such as Bob McCoskrie (Family First) who make similarly questionable statements, because Tamaki is a Maori Pentecostal figure without tertiary education. I do agree that we should treat Tamaki with critical respect and try to analyse the origins of his current belief system, which may be derived from his Tainui iwi traditions, African-American Pentecostalism and that particular supernaturalist fundamentalist tradition. I also agree that McCoskrie receives too little critical media analysis on some issues too. This probably won't be the last we hear from Tamaki, but he isn't a major player within the cesspool that is the New Zealand Christian Right.


Lloyd Burr: "MPs disgusted by "sick" Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki"Newshub:17.11.2016:http://www. disgusted-by-sick-destiny- church-leader-brian-tamaki- 2016111716

Hamish McNeilly: "Bishop of Dunedin on Brian Tamaki: He's telling porkies" 17.11.2016:http://www.stuff. bishop-of-dunedin-on-brian- tamaki-hes-telling-porkies

Susan Strongman: "Bishop Brian Tamaki blames gays, murderers and sinners for earthquakes:New Zealand Herald:16.11.2016:http://www. article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid= 11749215

Francis Ritchie: "Opinion: Leviticus, spewing and Brian Tamaki"TVNZ News:17.11.2016:

"Sir Bob Parker demands Brian Tamaki apologise to the people of Christchurch, Kaikoura for blaming quake on sins" TVNZ News: 17.11.2016:https://www.tvnz. sir-bob-parker-demands-off- beam-brian-tamaki-apologise- christchurch-kaikoura-blaming- quake-sins

Not Recommended:

Craig Young - 21st November 2016

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