Evangelist's church spawns Christian political party

A new Christian political party has links to an evangelist who once said the "fatherless generation" was the reason New Zealand had so many female political leaders.

Destiny New Zealand has applied to the Electoral Commission to register its logo and name.

Its existence has also raised questions about the number of Christianity-based political parties.

Party leader Richard Lewis said he and party secretary Anne Williamson worked for Destiny Churches, which has about a dozen branches in New Zealand and one in Australia. Its headquarters are in Auckland, and it is fronted by the tele-vangelist Brian Tamaki.

Mr Tamaki caused a stir three years ago with comments to the Catholic Challenge Weekly about the "fatherless generation".

He said it "is even reflected in the fact that we have a female Prime Minister and a female Leader of the Opposition".

"Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against women. It is just that this is a reflection of what is happening in society - a lack of men in leadership, and sky-high divorce rates.

"This is the Devil's strategy because you can't have sons and daughters without a father."

Mr Lewis said yesterday that Mr Tamaki was not involved in the new party and he had been misquoted.

"He's committed to pastoring his church and the churches around New Zealand," he said.

"There's myself and a couple of other members from the church who are spearheading the political move."

Mr Lewis said Destiny NZ would be a "pure Christian party".

"We are founding ourselves on Christian principles. The members are Christians and have a strong faith in Jesus Christ. The message we will be presenting will be strongly aligned with Christian principles."

Mr Lewis heads a social services organisation, Destiny Social Services, which is part of the church. Anne Williamson heads the church's education department.

Destiny Church has a television show, DTV, which plays on TV 2 on weekdays between 6.30am and 7am.

Mr Tamaki ran into controversy in 2000 when TVNZ cancelled his Higher Ground television show because it did not meet broadcasting standards.

TVNZ said the series used language and phrases that did not meet standards of accuracy, fairness and balance.

Christian Heritage party leader Graham Capill said yesterday that the Christian party end of the political spectrum was now getting crowded.

"One must ask about the political naivety of starting yet another Christian party and fragmenting that vote."

He thought the new party would have a greater effect on United Future than on Christian Heritage.

"We tend to attract evangelical Christians from a variety of denominations.

"But United Future's Christian vote essentially came from pentecostal churches, and that is probably a particular attraction for anybody that would vote for Destiny New Zealand."

A United Future spokesman had no comment on the new party.