Thousands want Destiny Church declared a 'hate group'

Brian Tamaki (file)
Brian Tamaki (file)

More than 90,000 people have signed a petition calling for Destiny Church to be stripped of its tax-free status and declared a hate group.

It comes after church leader Brian Tamaki held a sermon on Sunday where he said natural disasters are the result of "sexual sins", such as homosexuality.

A post on the Church's Facebook page on Monday, made direct reference to the 7.8 earthquake in Kaikoura.

"I call upon John Key and the New Zealand Government to classify Destiny Church as a hate group and strip them of their tax-free status," organiser Aaron Smithson wrote on, where the petition is hosted.

As of 12:25pm Thursday, it had 31,265 signatures.

At 8:15pm Thursday, that number had jumped to 90,193.

Churches largely avoid paying taxes because, according to the law, the advancement of religion is considered a charitable purpose.

In a sermon delivered to worshipers on Sunday, the self-appointed bishop railed against gays and murderers. The church posted a section of the sermon on its Facebook page on Monday night.

"As predicted during yesterday morning's service, the recent natural disasters are a sign that 'nature was never created to carry the bondage of our iniquity'," a message alongside the video read.

Mr Tamaki said in a blog entry the sermon wasn't "prepared or planned", but "came at an inspired moment".

He later took to Twitter to complain about media coverage of the sermon, falsely claiming "not once did TV 1 & TV 3 nd Close Up at 7 contact me for response or comment [sic]".

Newshub did in fact contact the church for comment, was thanked "for the opportunity to submit a written statement from Bishop Tamaki" and was sent an excerpt from Mr Tamaki's blog. 

Thousands want Destiny Church declared a 'hate group'

Newshub has contacted the church for comment again, this time regarding the petition and Mr Tamaki's claims the media has "an agenda".

Calls to the church's media representative went to an answering service. A message has been left at its south Auckland headquarters.

Mr Tamaki appeared on Willie Jackson's RadioLIVE show where he refused to apologise for his comments, saying he was just passing on God's word.

"This is not Brian Tamaki's message. This is God's message. It's clear in his word," he said.

He tweeted just before midday on Thursday that "haters" had his Facebook page shut down.

Mr Tamaki has spoken out against homosexuality for years, notably rounding up 5000 people in 2004 to protest against civil union legislation.