The revelations about Hillsong just keep coming. This week, in a leaked letter, a senior church manager suggested board members consider resigning and a former insider described the church’s ‘sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll’ ethos. Plus, a former senior member alleged Brian Houston knew of his father’s child sexual abuse years before he admits.
In January, Brian Houston stepped down from ‘ministry responsibilities’ at Hillsong. He said at the time he needed to focus on fighting charges that he concealed his father’s child sex offences. Then in March, the church revealed that an internal investigation found Houston behaved inappropriately towards two women. Less than a week later, Houston resigned as global senior pastor ahead of a church board meeting. The following day, Discovery Plus releases the docuseries Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed.
Multiple sources point to a church in turmoil since Houston’s resignation. And perhaps it’s time to rewrite the Book of Revelation because the Hillsong revelations just keep on coming. Hillsong Hallelujah!
Beyond disciplinary boundaries
The Guardian reports that Hillsong’s head of people and development wrote to the megachurch’s global board in March recommending the church permanently fire Brian and Bobbie Houston. John Mays alleged Brian Houston ‘considered himself beyond disciplinary boundaries’. He added that Bobbie Houston as Global Senior Pastor failed her ‘biblical, professional and corporate responsibility to ensure accountability’.
In his March 19 letter, John Mays said Brian Houston defied disciplinary boundaries ‘without further recourse from those responsible for his discipline’.
“Unfortunately, I believe this typifies the leadership that is foundational to many unhealthy people practices employed within our Church based on my observations over many years.”
John Mays ridiculed the church’s official descriptions of the incidents with women that led to Houston’s resignation.
“I do not believe our employees have bought the narrative within the statement made in the staff meeting…
“One insulting example (of many) is that Brian lost his room key, so knocked on the lady’s door, a detail he no doubt recalls despite memory loss during the following 40 minutes. Are we really asking our staff to accept such dribble and defend our Church with such?”
Of course, detractors of Hillsong church, including queer activists, warned of the church’s hypocrisy for decades. However, it’s unlikely the corporate behemoth will acknowledge that now.
Meanwhile, over at NewsNation, an early Hillsong leader says that Brian Houston told him about the allegations of his father’s child sexual abuse in the early 1990s. Houston denies knowing about Frank Houston’s abuse before 1999. However, Geoff Bullock who oversaw Hillsong’s music and production until 1995, told NewsNation that he and other senior members of the church had heard about Frank Houston’s offending.
“This story came out after 1999 when Brian said he first found out about his father’s behavior but unfortunately the story was known about in the early 90s by a few senior members of what was then the Assemblies of God.
“And I know that because I knew about it.”
Sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll
Since the revelations of Brian Houston’s inappropriate behaviour with women, nine of Hillsong’s 16 American branches have left the fold. But they may not be the last to go.
Gawker now reports on what a former insider describes as the church’s ‘sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll’ ethos. Other sources quoted in the article talk of the church turning preachers into rock stars. The preachers consequently acting like rockstars. One American Hillsong pastor described a visiting preacher requesting that church volunteers drive him and his entourage to a strip club.
Would it be petty to describe such revelations as delicious?
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