Hillsong scandal makes a mockery of Christianity in court
This article is covering two news stories reporting a Hillsong scandal last decade. This scandal is not a parody. This Hillsong scandal and the following court proceedings actually occurred.
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Brian Houston writes in his book “You Need More Money” how to become a “money magnet”:
GET COMFORTABLE AROUND MONEY
It is time to relax and become comfortable around money. You need to stretch yourself and position yourself right out of your comfort zone.
For example, it may involve a little exercise like putting on your best clothes and ordering coffee in a fancy restaurant or hotel lobby. Even though you could make the coffee for half the price at home, the total experience may enlarge your thinking. You may even feel better about yourself and life. [Source]
What do you call a “big-time property developer” who is not a big-time property developer? A fraud. So what do you a “pastor/financial advisor” who is not?
What is ironic about the below scandal is that Brian Houston will not allow what he called a “predator” back into his earthly kingdom. But who turned him into this “predator”, Brian?
And one might ask just why Mr Houston’s own “predatory” behaviour is still tolerated? After all, what is the difference between Mr Orehek owning an upmarket motorcycle and an investment property, and Brian Houston owning the same?
Well, the obvious answer is – a court case. The only difference is that no one has gone after Brian and Bobbie Houston for promising “your best life now” concepts, along with their own Word of Faith outlook on tithing as a part of their “prosperity” doctrine. If you’re going to exercise their kind of ‘faith’ you might as well book it all up on Visa Card.
Didn’t executive pastor Joel A’bell get his fingers badly burnt over this scam, along with another “pastor’, to the tune of some $540,000? Where were the prophets, who could have pointed out the loss (pun intended)?
Where were the good shepherds of Hillsong, who should have warned against such an investment scheme wherein some people were expecting unrealistic returns? Did anyone check Mr Orehek’s credentials (degrees in business and investment management and his licenses with ASIC) first? Anyone?
Actually Brian Houston, your leadership, your members and Orehek fell for your lies and gimmicks. The joke is not only on you, it is you. Do you still believe that your book “You Need More Money” has even one scrap of credibility left in it now? And did Mr Orehek fall under the influence of that publication and become ensnared in the “gospel of greed”?
The Sydney Morning Herald reports,
Jailed for ripping off Hillsong Church
A failed Sydney property developer who convinced the Hillsong Church and its parishioners to invest millions of dollars in a property scam has been jailed for 18 months.
Robert John Orehek, 45, was a successful businessman and member of the Pentecostal Hillsong Church when fellow parishioners began to approach him in 2002.
Sentencing him in the District Court in Sydney today, Judge Bennett said Orehek had been driven by greed and an inability to say no when he accepted offers of investment money which well exceeded his management ability.
“Orehek felt that he was invincible and other people in the church thought they were invincible,” Judge Bennett said.
“With the power of God they were able to trust each other implicitly.”
Orehek collected $4.6 million from investors, claiming it was for use on property projects in Sydney’s north.
Instead he lived a “lavish” lifestyle, owning a red Ferrari, a Porsche, and a Ducati motorcycle and used $150,000 as a deposit on a $3.5 million luxury beachside apartment.
Judge Bennett jailed Orehek for 18 months, allowing a 15 per cent discount for his guilty pleas to three fraud charges and one breach of corporate regulations.
When his 18-month non-parole period expires, Orehek will be released on a $5,000 bond to be of good behaviour for two years and four months.
Judge Bennett said Hillsong’s interest in Orehek’s business was the “beginning of the road to disaster”.
“He had greater ambition for wealth and the lifestyle it might provide,” the judge said.
“Unfortunately these ambitions substantially outweighed his ability to manage his finances.
“Instead of moderating his lifestyle (Orehek) continued a relatively extravagant lifestyle.
“He chose to forge ahead, enticing investors to part with their money, leaving them out of pocket.”
Orehek was expelled from the church and banned from setting foot on any Hillsong premises after his conduct became known.
Twenty-seven people, including a quadriplegic, lost money in his schemes.
The judge found there were special circumstances in the case, saying it was Orehek’s first criminal offence and it had caused him suffer severe anxiety and depression.
Dressed in a black suit, Orehek sat looking sombre as he was sentenced.
He will be eligible for release in May 2009.
Source: Jailed for ripping off Hillsong Church, Sydney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/jailed-for-ripping-off-hillsong-church/2007/11/21/1195321837164.html, Published 21/11/2007 – 1:44PM. (Accessed 26/11/2014.)
The Australian reports,
‘Fraudster’ blames Hillsong
ROBERT Orehek admits he did the wrong thing but claims it was the materialistic ethos of the pentecostal Hillsong Church that made him do it.
The 45-year-old former property developer is the man known for “fleecing” $25million from investors — predominantly members of the Hillsong congregation — to fund a property empire that failed spectacularly in 2003.
Mr Orehek faced the NSW District Court yesterday on four counts of fraud — to which he has pleaded guilty — but his trial has placed the spotlight on the “greed is good” mantra of the Hillsong empire, which preaches that material wealth is a badge of God’s favour.
Mr Orehek strenuously denies the portrayals of him as an evil property developer intent on embezzling investor funds.
And he has an unlikely ally. Consumer advocate and real estate novelist Neil Jenman — who has built a reputation for fighting unscrupulous property spruikers — yesterday took to the witness box in defence of Mr Orehek.
Mr Orehek, Mr Jenman said, was a “dreadfully inept businessman” and “not particularly intelligent” but not someone who had set out to deceive investors.
In 1998, Mr Orehek was a small-time property developer, building single houses and “dual-occupancy” apartments. He had been worshiping at Hillsong twice a week for five years but had made “very few friends”.
That changed in 1998 when parishioners discovered Mr Orehek was a “property developer”. Suddenly he was contacted by “more than 100” members of the congregation seeking to invest in his developments.
Among those church members to invest were Hillsong pastor David Crafts and executive pastor Joel A’Bell, who poured in a combined $540,000.
The churchgoers were chasing returns of 25 per cent on their investments that Mr Orehek said he could deliver because he intended making 100 per cent on all equity invested, and “didn’t want to be too greedy and keep all the profits myself”.
Mr Orehek’s workload of two small-scale developments suddenly grew to more than 10 major projects. The group unsurprisingly fell into liquidation in 2003.
But before the crash Mr Orehek, who believed he was “blessed to make money”, started spending big, moving into a multi-million-dollar apartment and buying a Porsche and a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
Following the collapse, a suicidal and “deeply remorseful” Mr Orehek was banned from worshipping at Hillsong.
On behalf of Hillsong management, elder Kevin Brett wrote to Mr Orehek in February 2004 threatening to call the police if hereturned.
“I was in shock. I thought it was a public place, I didn’t think they could stop you going to public places,” Mr Orehek said.
Hillsong refused repeated requests for an interview, but in a written statement the group’s founder Brian Houston — who had been a neighbour of Mr Orehek in the late 1990s — defended the move to ban the failed developer.
“We maintain our right to ask anyone displaying predatory behaviour to cease attending our church, and it was our leadership’s belief that there was a good reason to do so in this situation,” Mr Houston said.
In court yesterday judge James Bennett said Mr Orehek’s actions as his company crumbled reflected someone who believed “perhaps with a little of trust in God it will all work out at the end of the month”.
Mr Orehek has been charged with four counts of fraud over the use of investor funds for different property development projects to which they were prescribed. He is also accused of using $150,000 of investor funds to pay a deposit on an apartment in Sydney’s exclusive Balmoral.
He is expected to be sentenced on September 5.
Source: By Anthony Klan, The Australian, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/archive/news/fraudster-blames-hillsong/story-e6frg6no-111111426458225/08/2007