Destiny Church has fired back after leaders Brian and Hannah Tamaki were criticised for leaving Auckland before the alert level 3 lockdown.
In a statement posted on Facebook, the organisation accused the media of discriminating against people of their church and suggested they should focus on bigger issues surrounding COVID-19.
The church claims the leaders are unable to do their job from the "comforts of home" and it's not the media's job to tell them what "they can, and can not do."
After lockdown was announced on Saturday evening, the Tamaki's left the city for Rotorua, which is under level 2 restrictions.
The couple's exit has drawn the attention of COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins who has labelled their behaviour as "completely irresponsible".
The media release also claims that in the current setting, people need to be able to turn to faith, otherwise all they are left with is "hopelessness".
Destiny Church has thousands of members across Aotearoa, who are being asked to ignore negative reports about the pair.
In the comment thread, one person has accused the Tamaki's of thinking "they are better than anybody" with others claiming they should be required to take services from home, like other churches.
With the rest of the country under level 2 restrictions, the leaders are now touring around the country, where they will finish in Invercargill this weekend.