Former Christchurch mayor Sir Bob Parker has called on Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki to apologise to the people of Christchurch and the Kaikoura district for "utterly disgusting" comments blaming Christchurch's "sins" for the earthquake that claimed 185 lives.
Tamaki, a self-appointed bishop in the church, made his remarks in his sermon in Auckland on Sunday morning, hours before the 7.8 quake struck in North Canterbury just after midnight, killing two people.
"Leviticus says that the earth convulses under the weight of certain human sin," Tamaki told his followers, citing The Bible's Old Testament.
"And it says it spews itself up after a while. That's natural disasters. Massive earthquakes have already hit in Christchurch.
"You could have just about predicted that one. It had the highest murder rates. It was a haven for those who were absolutely anti Christ," he said in the video posted on the Destiny Church Facebook page.
Sir Bob, who was mayor at the time of the deadly 2011 earthquake, told Seven Sharp the comments were absolutely disgusting, made him feel sickened and Tamaki must be "a little bit off beam" to make them.
"And, you know, I believe in free speech and he has a right to say what he believes in his church. This is in the public domain. It's utterly disgusting. Terribly upsetting for a lot of people," Sir Bob said.
"I think he owes an apology, not only to the people of this city, but as it actually turns out to the people in North Canterbury and Marlborough. Two lives were lost there. He's saying this is his loving God at work. And I'm afraid it has no credibility. it's disgusting."
'Inspired moment' before his sermon
In a Facebook post yesterday, Tamaki offered "my heart-felt prayers" to the Kaikoura quake victims, and said he had warned of it during the Sunday service.
"It was not a prepared or planned message at all - but came at an 'inspired moment' before the sermon," Tamaki wrote.
Sir Bob said he's no theologian and there'd be others who would like to pick Tamaki to pieces.
"But just on an emotional and human level, to say that when like everybody in this city I knew people who lost their lives, people whose lives were changed forever by the terrible injuries that they had and by the psychological damage that they took."
He said: "I'm told it's out of context. I'm told by people who are good Christians that it's disgusting, utterly disgusting was the word that they used."
Sir Bob told Seven Sharp "I think the guy's got to be honestly a little bit off beam here to say things like that and to be so removed from the reality of the pain and real suffering of people", particularly as "a person who is apparently espousing the religion of love"
"That's not the religion of love, that's not what my Christian mates believe and I'm really, really saddened. Great misjudgement on his part.
"There'll be a lot of people who felt like me quite sickened, quite hurt, really disappointed to hear that sort of thing being said.
"His timing was, as it turns out, horrible. But I don't think he's walked away from it since that time. And I think perhaps he should rethink that and I think he should look to apologise to the people here."