www.stuff.co.nz Wellington | Thursday, 3 May 2007
The Destiny Church leader revealed his disciplinary habits at Parliament yesterday, after about 1000 Christians rallied against Green MP Sue Bradford's anti-smacking bill.
Organised by three conservative churches, the demonstration contrasted starkly with a modest vigil hosted up the street by mainstream Christians. Yesterday's event was a far cry from Destiny's 2004 protest against civil unions and prostitution, when 7500 black-shirted church members marched through the city.
This time, the assembled masses were dressed in casual clothes, and theatrics were kept to a minimum.
The stage-managed event passed with only one real disturbance.
After Mr Tamaki invited good parents to Parliament to spank "errant" MPs, Labour's Parekura Horomia joined him by the podium for a handshake and a hongi, only to usurp the microphone and declare his support for the bill.
"I am not a Kahui," shouted one angry woman in response. "You leave my democratic rights alone."
Protesters were largely unaware of a last-minute amendment to the bill affirming police's discretion not to prosecute for "inconsequential" assaults.
Bishop Tamaki said he still opposed the bill but the amendment was "a glorious victory for every good, caring Kiwi parent".
But the Rev Mike Weitenberg, of Metro Global Church, said the amendment was a "sugar-coated pill" that would deliver a "deathly blow" to families.
Mr Tamaki and City Impact's Pastor Peter Mortlock also spoke out against the liberal, secular policies they said were destroying family values.
Speaking after the rally, Mr Tamaki, a father of three, said he used smacking "as a last resort to follow through when there was any type of defiance from my children".
Only a few people turned out to oppose the church demonstration.
Ken Findlay planted himself in the middle of the crowd hoisting a placard that read: "Peace in our families. Repeal s59".
"They're actually quite a small minority and I think they've been misinformed," Mr Findlay said to opprobrium from those around him.
A short distance up the street, Christians supportive of the bill gathered at Wellington's Anglican Cathedral for a prayer vigil that was also attended by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Ms Bradford.
The bill has the backing of the Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist churches and the qualified support of the Catholic Church. Candles were lit as the church bells tolled 11 times - once for each child who dies in family-related violence in New Zealand every year.
From the altar, children's author Joy Cowley read from A Letter to Parents, which she wrote especially for the service.
Church leaders then presented an ecumenical letter to Ms Bradford.