oppose lockdowns and vaccination
Was anyone surprised when New Zealand's self-made Apostle Brian Tamaki courted controversy and arrest by participating in two anti-lockdown protests in Auckland recently? Or that during one of these events he declared he would rather live in "dangerous freedom than peaceful slavery" and likened the director-general of health to Hitler?
This was, after all, the same Brian Tamaki whose Destiny Church followers wanted to reclaim Christchurch "for Jesus" in the immediate aftermath of the 2019 terrorist attacks. And who blamed the Christchurch earthquakes on "gays, sinners and murderers".
Those familiar with the branch of modern Christianity known as Pentecostalism would not have been surprised at all. Tamaki's Destiny Church is part of the fastest-growing religious movement in the world, with an estimated 500 million adherents.
Today the average Pentecostal is as likely to be Nigerian, Fijian, Korean or Brazilian as they are to be British, American, Australian or Kiwi.
Aotearoa New Zealand is just one of many places Pentecostalism is flourishing. As well as the more prominent churches such as Destiny, City Impact, the Assemblies of God (AOG) and Elim, a host of smaller congregations exist throughout the country.