Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki has taken aim at Kiwis who believe parts of the Bible contain hate speech, saying "this will be war".
Taking to social media, Tamaki has taken a stand following the fallout from Israel Folau's comments last week when he said "hell awaits" "homosexuals, drunks, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters."
In a post to Twitter, he claims "this will be war" if anyone labels the Bible as hate speech.
"This will be war if you call the Bible Hate speech when any verse in it is quoted," he wrote.
"Whether at home ... at work or on the street ... how dare secular, liberal, left-leaning, atheists openly attempt to legislate our founding faith.. Christianity or the Bible as hate speech."
This will be War if you call th Bible Hate speech when any verse in it is Quoted..whether at home..at Work or on th Street..how dare Secular,Liberal,left leaning,Atheists openly attempt to legislate our Founding Faith..Christianity or Th Bible as Hate Speech. pic.twitter.com/PY8p1kqhFP— Bishop Brian Tamaki (@BishopTamaki) April 14, 2019
Social media followers of Brian Tamaki have hit out at the pastor, with one saying it's not the content that promotes hate but the context in which it is preached.
"It's unarguable that the Bible contains passages that we today consider 'hate speech'," they said.
"The issue isn't with the existence of these passages, but with the application of them out of context in contemporary discourse, under the bully-boy declaration 'God says ...' "
Following Folau's outburst on social media, the Government is reviewing its laws surrounding hate speech.
Asked if Folau's comments should be regarded as hate speech, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters that even if they didn't fit a legal definition they nonetheless could be very damaging.
"Obviously at a personal level I clearly don't agree with what he said and very mindful of the fact he is for many a role model, he's a person in a position of influence and with that comes responsibility.
"I'm particularly mindful that young people are members of our rainbow community [and] there's a lot of vulnerability there," Ardern told reporters.
"I totally disagree agree with what he says and how he's using his platform," she said.
The review has the support of the National Party but its Leader, Simon Bridges, said free speech should not be limited as a result of any changes that may be made.
However, ACT leader David Seymour has warned New Zealand is at risk of facing an "Orwellian future" if the Government wades too far into what is, and is not, considered hate speech.
Seymour said any form of a Government censor that had the ability to make "arbitrary judgments" of what is and isn't a reasonable opinion would go against the Bill of Rights Act.
That Act says: "Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form".
Creating a "public decency tribunal" – as has been mooted by former United Future Leader Peter Dunne – would be "the stuff of police states and third world dictators".
"That Orwellian future is one that must be resisted by every free-thinking New Zealander at all costs."