Prime Minister John Key has ridiculed Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki after he launched a bitter attack on the LGBTQ community, blaming them for New Zealand's earthquakes.
In a fiery sermon posted to Facebook before Monday's earthquake, Mr Tamaki told his congregation that the world "convulses under the weight of certain human sin".
"The land actually speaks to God. Out of the soil - Abel's blood spoke to God from a murder. The earth can speak. Leviticus says that the earth convulses under the weight of certain human sin," he said.
"It spews itself up after a while - that's natural disasters. Because nature was never created to carry the bondage of our iniquity."
However, in an interview with Duncan Garner on RadioLIVE, Mr Key disagreed.
"Oh yes, it's ridiculous, isn't it. I mean, give me a break. Look, you always get people coming out with these stupid statements. The facts of life are New Zealand is a seismically prone country, with a number of very well identified fault lines," Mr Key said.
"We've been a bit unlucky I think, clearly those plates are moving around a bit… it's nothing to do with people's sexuality. I mean, it's just madness."
Mr Tamaki has followed his speech with a written statement to Newshub, warning that natural disasters would continue.
"Leviticus 18 is God outlining the types of sexual sins that when they are practiced to a point of blatant disregard to a certain depth of perversion that the land will actually react and spew up the inhabitants!" he says.
"No other sin in the whole of the bible has any connection to earthquakes, floods and volcanic eruptions, but Sexual Perversions alone."
People opposed to LGBTQ activities often point to Leviticus in the Bible to argue against homosexual activities.
However, Helen Jacobi - the Vicar at St Matthews in the City - disagrees.
"I think any connection made there is completely ridiculous," she says.
"God doesn't work like that. That would mean God is someone up there zapping people. That would mean every child that died of cancer was then in fact being punished for something. The logic is ridiculous.
"It's sad he's making comments like that on people's suffering when the role of the church is to help, and be part of a community that puts life first"
Human Rights Commissioner Richard Tankersley says Mr Tamaki's "frankly disgusting" comments are both ignorant and ironic, given that Wednesday was UN International Day for Tolerance.
"Mr Tamaki's words are a lesson to us all that intolerance and prejudice is very real," he said.
"At this time when families are mourning loved ones and many more are scared and wondering how to face the next day: this kind of message is frankly, disgusting.
"I encourage New Zealanders to continue to look to our earthquake scientists and our civil defence experts for guidance, rather than putting their trust in Mr Tamaki's sermons."