An unlikely ally has come to the defence of Destiny Church as its controversial leader Bishop Brian Tamaki is under fire for blaming earthquakes on sinners, murderers and gays in a sermon.
Jevan Goulter, an openly gay man who is a close friend of Tamaki, said he did not agree with the Bishop's belief that homosexuality was a sin that played a role in natural disasters, but he added: "I respect that he is entitled to have his view and his opinion."
Goulter, 28, is not a member of Destiny Church but said he supports the church and all the "great work" it does for the congregation and the community.
"As a homosexual male who has suffered prejudice I do disagree with the part where he said homosexuality caused the earthquakes, but Brian's view is from the Bible and I respect the fact that he is entitled to have his view and have his opinion," Goulter said.
Tamaki's comments were made during a sermon the day before the 7.8 magnitude quake hit New Zealand, killing two people, isolating towns and leaving thousands stranded.
In the sermon, Tamaki also alluded to the fact that the marriage equality bill was born in Christchurch before the 2011 earthquakes - which claimed the lives of 185 people.
In light of his comments, politicians have spoken out against the Bishop and called for Destiny Church to be stripped of its charitable tax-exempt status.
Since then, Goulter said he has spoken to Tamaki - someone he has considered a friend for at least six years.
"I respect him as a person, I disagree with his view but I'm not going to write off the 35 years of work he has done with the people in his community or null and void a friendship," Goulter said.
"Seeing Peter Dunne and Jacinda Ardern and all them ripping pieces off him, well that's not fair, there's another side," Goulter said.
"This whole thing is bigger than Brian Tamaki, this is about an organisation that has rungs on the board and people are forgetting that. When they go to crucify him that's fine, but when you drag the church down that's a different beast."
Goulter said he had many friends within Destiny Church and he had personally witnessed all the people they had helped.
"I don't think that you can fault the work they've done with the families in their church," he said.
Goulter acknowledged that his defence of Tamaki and Destiny Church might result in him being "crucified" publicly.
"I get family members asking why; I have friends who are gay activists who completely don't understand," Goulter said.
He conceded that he had thought "very carefully" before agreeing to publicly weigh in on the latest Tamaki controversy.
"When it was about homosexuals and stuff I wasn't going to get involved, but when people are questioning the charitable status of the church and the members of the church I had to."