Leaders of the controversial Destiny Church believe they are being discriminated against after more than 300 of their applications for government funding were denied.
But Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said they were given $860,000 for two programmes and money was awarded on merit.
Destiny Church manager Richard Lewis said the church had lodged more than 300 applications over four years through its social services arm Te Runanga a Iwi o Te Oranga, and had been successful just twice.
"We've asked for a reason behind why so many applications would be declined ... I think there is obviously an issue behind the scenes with the people who make decisions."
Destiny wanted to be funded for the same services that were provided by other church and community groups, he said. It was awarded $850,000 for four Community Max programmes in Auckland, Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty and $10,000 for a Breakaway youth programme.
Ms Bennett said the results from the church's Community Max courses were good, with 63 of the 79 people who took part not going back on a benefit.
She was aware of Destiny's claims that it was being discriminated against but said funding decisions were not based on religious affiliation.
"They're taken on merit and not based on anyone's affiliations ... it's about the best provider in the best area."
Destiny is keen to provide services under the Whanau Ora programme but its application was denied.
Whanau Ora Minister Tariana Turia said Destiny had contacted her about its discrimination concerns. Asked if the discrimination was based on the church's religion, Mrs Turia said: "Well, I don't think it's because they're Maori."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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