In a letter to the New Zealand Herald this week Bob Harvey compares the Destiny Church leader to the founders of the Salvation Army and Martin Luther, spearhead of the Protestant Reformation.As far as I'm aware, neither Martin Luther nor the Salvation Army require their do-gooders to swear an oath of loyalty to one man. Not the CEO, not the cause, but the man.
Harvey said he does "anything to cheer on people who are turning people's lives around".
Sure, the Salvation Army employment contract and attached appendices do require some sort of position on god. They have a brand to maintain after all (and they have the bigshot lawyers to back it up). Fortunately for the plebs, this god bloke is very hard to pin down, so there's always plenty of wriggle room.
I mean, how many times have you heard someone say "as god as my witness" and that bugger Jesus never actually turns up? Him and his Mum appear on everything from burnt toast to semen stains on eBay. But according to Brian Tamaki, he has a signed character reference from Him and it pays the bills nicely.
Why is this Briantology thing a Bad Idea? Well, firstly there's that whole idea behind the anonymity of charity. The donors don't brag so the beggars don't starve. Whether it's the burden of guilt that comes with relying on the kindness of strangers, or the master slave relationship that threatens the character of the giver, it's fucked up.
Secondly, here's David Kilcullen saying it out loud:
The classical counterinsurgency theorist Bernard Fall wrote, in 1965, that a government which is losing to an insurgency isn’t being out-fought, it’s being out-governed.
It's how Hezbollah gained legitimacy in Lebanon, by feeding and sheltering the masses. It's what Al Quaida are doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And it is this threat that Tamaki poses with his flock.
Bob Harvey might just be in thrall of the marketing machine's beauty, but its purpose cannot be underestimated. Because the third reason is the most important. Financing. This is the hurdle, among many many others, that prevented Tame Iti's Flightless Circus from being a serious threat. Briantology has really really good financing.
The links between the Destiny Church and the US Southern fundamentalist barons make this an international affair. If you're looking for a branch of God's Warriors in this young country, you could do worse than keep an eye on those guys.
Once that disaffected X and Y lot come online from within, and more join up when this Supercity squid starts sucking, you've got a generation of people who have but one constant, Bishop Brian Tamaki, in their lives. The man who can move mayors.