Empty words from an empty columnist

Sheesh, Rudman’s column today is so full of nonsense it’s hard to know where to start.

Don’t you wish Bishop Tamaki and John Campbell would stop all their highly public flirting and just meet up?

Well, it’s hardly like John’s been avoiding Tamaki- it’s Tamaki who’s hiding from his most strident critic. In fact, John’s been trying so hard to get responses to his questions that he’s been accused of stalking.

If the jousting goes on much longer, I’ll start to think it’s all a publicity promo for the Destiny leader’s new pre-breakfast time show on John’s channel.

As much as I dislike John Campbell’s political views, I don’t believe for one moment that he’s interested in anything other than exposing something that is wrong. I do however believe that Rudman is making that statement for his publicity.

There was a time when I might have joined the fulminating about how super-salesman Brian Tamaki was brain-washing simple folk into parting with their hard-earned cash so he could enjoy the good life. But on reflection that does seem rather patronising.

Oh, someone‘s being patronising.

If people want to hand over 10 per cent or more of their hard-earned cash in the hope of a life of luxury in the kingdom to come, then more fools them. But it’s a free world and the good bishop is only repeating what popes and other prelates of the established churches have been preaching for 2000 years.

So one minute it’s a brain-washing cult, the next minute we should leave people to exercise their free judgment. That would be the free judgment that doesn’t exist in a mind control cult one presumes?

While popes and other prelates have been known to accumliate vast wealth, it’s generally agreed today that those that did were in most cases wrong. I see no reason to make a mistake today, just because someone made one 500 years ago. It’s called learning from history Mr Rudman.

My advice to his followers would be to invest the money in a Lotto ticket instead, and take a punt on a lifestyle change for the better in the now and present. But if people convince themselves of the need to clutch a religious Linus blanket, then why not Bishop Brian’s brand?

Well, we won’t be taking any financial advice from Brian Rudman very soon.


It’s not as though he squirrels away his loot and pretends to a humble life of poverty. He flaunts his boat and his flash motorcars and claims from the pulpit that he deserves it.

As Peter Lineham, associate professor of religious history at Massey University pointed out last year, “unhealthy over-deference” to religious leaders isn’t new to New Zealand churches. He noted how the founder of the Ratana Church was considered a mouthpiece of God.

Well, then get Campbell onto Ratana too! We don’t stop prosecuting crooks just because there’s moer out there.

Pacific Island congregations can also treat their leaders with great respect. My colleague Tapu Misa a few years back criticised her old Porirua Samoan Church when the leaders got the parishioners “to cough up” $500 for each family to shout the minister a $20,000 holiday in Samoa.

Some rebels among the congregation pointed out the minister owned four houses worth $750,000 and lived rent-free in a church house, paying neither power nor phone bills.

Again, as a christian I’m saying we should shine the spotlight on these practices – it’s desperately needed.

In this you can’t help noting, these new-to-New Zealand churches are only aping the past practices of the old churches. The Anglicans seem to be going through a sackcloth and ashes phase at present, but it’s not so long back that their prelates lived in palaces and answered to My Lord.

There was as much genuflecting to them as to the Lord they were supposed to be worshipping. Even the old vicarages were substantial residences.

The better question is not how big the house is, but rather how many are fed and slept there. I suspect that many large houses were originally intended for the minister to practice charity. Our last church had a substantial number of bedrooms, but was frequently loaned out whole to visitors. The change from this to a house that’s a reflection of wealth can be a simple relaxing of zeal over time, and again this must be challenged!

And if tithing is not now in fashion, it’s partly because the large land banks built up in the first years of settlement provide a financial cushion the newcomer churches don’t enjoy.

Probably, but even in churches that don’t have such banks, no one is pressured to give more than they can afford, or any specific amount, or to the church at the exclusion of other charities- those are the issues here.

I find the claims on Bishop Tamaki’s website that he’s “the physical manifestation of God” and that “as the Last Days unfold, Bishop Tamaki will undoubtedly come under increasing attack from his enemies” rather loopy. But I find it rather one-sided that there seems to be open season on the Destiny Church, while the similarly whacky beliefs of the mainstream churches go unremarked.

Clearly not someone who reads blogs like Not PC…

The poor old Catholics, for example, have had to call time out in their fast-tracking of Pope John Paul’s ascension into sainthood. Seems that three years ago a bed-ridden French nun provided the “miracle” needed to prove John Paul was saintly.

She said she’d prayed all night to him and awoken cured of her Parkinson’s disease. There was jubilation in the Vatican. The poor nun has now had a relapse, exposing the silliness of the whole process.

Yea, thing is with the Catholic church is we protestants started the criticism about 500 years ago. Today, we consider that an old story. But if you look around, there’s still plenty of coverage.

To me, the sensible thing to do where religion is concerned is to ignore it and it will eventually go away. At the last census in 2006, 1.3 million New Zealanders – a third of the population – happily declared themselves heathens. Another 12 per cent either didn’t answer or refused to answer the question.

Sigh. Once again Rudman ignores the big problem: Destiny is turning into a cult, which expresses unhealthy levels of control over it’s members. The fear is that soon, it will be impossible to leave. In other words, potentially this is not some problem that will just “go away” short of some sort of Jim Jones mass suicide.

Given the low turn-out and advanced age of most church attendees, one presumes that this year’s census will show a further increase in the ranks of non-believers.

Even amongst the Christians, many seem to be having a bet each way. The Anglican dean of Auckland a few years ago confessed to not believing in Adam and Eve or that there was any proof of the virgin birth.

Yes, meaning that he is in fact an atheist. Many churches are today led by atheists, which leads to the aging congratulation mentioned as the only reason to stay is “I’ve always gone on Sunday”. Churches that are not lead by atheists, where the gospel is preached, are in fact growing quite smartly and attracting large numbers of young people.

And just a couple of weeks back, Archdeacon Glynn Cardy, vicar of St Matthew-in-the-City, spoke up in support of a group of atheists who had been blocked by New Zealand Bus from running ads on its buses reading “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy life.”

Mr Cardy argued that free speech was good. True, but hardly a ringing endorsement of one’s product.

Actually, I’d say it was exactly that. But he was also right – the church is founded on both faith and reason, and has nothing to fear from the campaign.

What struck me about the advertisement was why the organisers were bothering.

With the $23,000 they’d already collected, why didn’t they take a leaf from Bishop Tamaki’s book, and, as their advertisement says, “stop worrying and enjoy life”.

Funny how people worry so much. Perhaps Rudman should stop worrying about John Campbell trying to get answers and simply let him do his job?

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