Social development minister Paula Bennett has confirmed that Te Runanga a Iwi o Te Oranga Ake (TOA) – the social services arm of homophobic organisation Destiny Church – has received $860,000 in government funding for various projects.
Speaking to media this afternoon, Bennett said the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) had approved $850,000 to fund four “Community Max” programmes in Auckland, Waikato, and Bay of Plenty for 79 young people, as well as $10,000 for Breakaway youth programmes.
“Let me be clear, Government funding decisions are not based on religious affiliation. Organisations are funded to deliver programmes based on merit, just as funding is declined where there is no discernible merit,” she said.
A quick search on TOA reveals the organisation’s founding principles, which include a “family focus”.
The founding principles state, “TOA is a faith-based organisation and affirms the Lordship of Jesus Christ, from whom the values, aspirations and ideals of the organisation are derived: including the freedom of religious choice and expression.
“TOA [also] believes the intergenerational ‘marriage-centred’ family is the tried and proven stable basis for child-raising: it is the basic building block of society and central to the stability, viability and prosperity of present and future generations. TOA is also wholly committed to the well-being and support of sole parent families and ‘standing in the gap’ for fatherless children.”
Gresham Bradley, chair of the gaba Charitable Trust, says there must be serious questions posed around the government’s decision to fund TOA.
“Why has an organisation with such extreme religious views been given such an enormous amount of money? Destiny Church has proved itself to be an extremely polarising group on both social and political levels time and time again. The ministry’s decision to fund the church is, on the face of it, highly inappropriate.
“I think of the number of organisations that are actively and transparently working to help families, single mothers and children who have been abused, and how so many of these organisations are struggling to get the necessary financial resource to have their programs funded. To then find out that this kind of money has been given to an organisation like this… absolutely floors me.”
Destiny Church was responsible for the black-shirted “Enough is Enough” march on Parliament against civil unions in 2004.
| Hannah JV