Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel: Who is the controversial ‘TikTok bishop’ stabbed in his own Sydney church?

Sean Smith
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Mar Mari Emmanuel is a TikTok-famous bishop, known for espousing his ultra-conservative views online.
Mar Mari Emmanuel is a TikTok-famous bishop, known for espousing his ultra-conservative views online. Credit: Good Shepherd Church

The orthodox Christian leader stabbed in his Sydney church has attracted a global following as “the TikTok bishop”, promoted on social media for his ultra-conservative views on politics, the LGBTQIA+ community and vaccines.

However, Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel is also renowned for his work in helping preserve Assyrian culture and heads a registered charity that has raised millions of dollars with the aim of helping disadvantaged people.

The 53-year-old was seriously injured on Monday night when he was stabbed multiple times while delivering a sermon at the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley in Sydney’s west, allegedly by a 16-year-old boy.

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Typically, the sermon was being live-streamed, with the broadcast showing a person approaching the altar and then appearing to stab the bishop.

Bishop Emmanuel has become a prolific figure on social media, attracting millions of views on TikTok, YouTube and podcasts.

He first gained prominence outside his church during the pandemic by ridiculing vaccines and describing lockdowns as slavery.

COVID was “just another type of flu, no more, no less”, the bishop said in 2021, calling it a “plandemic”, while also expressing concern about the impact of the lockdowns on his community.

At the time, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard responded directly to the comments, saying “anti-vaxxers obviously live in another universe”.

However, Bishop Emmanuel is probably better known among his followers for his ultra-conservative religious views, even questioning the Islamic faith.

“You flourish through love, not by chopping heads,” he said in a post last month.

“With all my love and respect to the Muslim people, I don’t have a problem with the Muslim people. But I have a question mark with the faith of the Islamic world.”

Elsewhere, he has been critical of “woke” Pope Francis’ luncheon meeting with transgender women, says tattoos are a sin and during a sermon referencing Sodom and Gomorrah promised he would “never” as a church leader accept the LGBTQIA+ community.

“I will never accept such lifestyle, you can shred me to pieces,” he said.

The bishop, who preaches that only Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the way to heaven, has also urged the US to “repent ... before it’s too late”, saying it has moved away from Christianity after bringing “in laws that are against almighty God”.

More recently, he weighed into the US presidential election, describing Donald Trump as the country’s “only hope”.

“This has got nothing to do with Donald Trump, it has got to do with the Lord Jesus — once Donald Trump goes, kiss America goodbye for good. It’s gone.

“At the moment, it’s on the verge of collapse.”

Bishop Emmanuel said he hoped Mr Trump would reverse “offensive” laws, “stop this LGBT nonsense” and “bring back the bible into schools”.

The website of the Christ The Good Shepherd Church, founded by the bishop in 2015, has little personal history on him, saying only that he was ordained a priest in 2009 and then a bishop two years later.

A social media profile, however, says he was born Emmanuel Shlimon in Iraq to a devout Christian family in 1970, settling in Sydney in the early 1980s and working as a bank manager after attending Fairfield High School.

He adopted the episcopal name of Mari Emmanuel, for Saint Mari, who is venerated by the Ancient Church of the East, after becoming a bishop.

The online profile says that he had a strained relationship with the church, which split from the Assyrian Church of the East in 1967, before branching out and setting up the independent Christ The Good Shepherd Church.

Corporate filings list him as a director of the Logos Foundation — a Christian ministry of the same name flourished in the 1980s — and OneJesus Ltd, which is registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

ACNC records describe the activities of OneJesus as “helping the wider community by providing facilities” and says it is supported by 30 volunteers.

The filings show it took in $1m in donations and bequests last financial year, on top of $3m raised during 2021-22.

Its related operations include OneJesus Care, an NDIS-registered provider of disability support services, which operates from Christ The Good Shepherd Church’s Wakeley address.

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