Hillsong’s influence with influential people: Australian Treasurer Peter Costello and Houston’s invite for opposition leader Mark Latham

“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

“Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?” James 2:1-7


We are posting all these articles to highlight the fact that Hillsong is not afraid to “leech” on people who make it big in society. And “leech” is the right word. (It is emotive because we have personally seen how the inside operations work with these mega-church phenomena.) As you can see with our recent articles, Hillsong likes to invite/associate with influential people, which then allows them to leverage off their “influential” status. If it’s at the expense of the celebrity they have befriended or talking to – they don’t care. The philosophy is for “The Cause” of Brian Houston’s movement. At the end of the day, it’s about Hillsong using these people to give Hillsong more credibility. The influential simply become an asset like everybody else.


The role of the church is to represent God and His Word – not political parties. Hillsong thinks likewise. In the article below, you will notice that Brian Houston allowed Australian treasurer of the Liberal Party, Peter Costello, to speak and pray at his annual Hillsong Conference. You will also notice Brian Houston’s apparent swipe at the Labour party leader Mark Latham although he invited him to speak at the Hillsong Conference:

“I gave Mr Latham an invitation to come this year and speak for a few minutes about his vision for the country but maybe they’re not quite seeing this demographic as important as some in the Liberal Party have seen it.”

Why is it so important for Houston to invite political leaders to speak from the Hillsong Conference stage? Notice how Houston and Rick Warren are both using their pastoral positions to get in the media spotlight over their celebrity/political stunts (Rick Warren: “Both of them are my friends” 2:35) to get a name for their churches. We stress again – if you’re famous, just like everybody else, you are simply an asset to these movements. The 7:30 Report published this transcript on Hillsong,

God and politics mix at Hillsong

MAXINE MCKEW: This week, a rocking religious worship album became the biggest selling CD in the country – that’s the biggest selling CD – leaping over big-label pop releases on the mainstream chart, surely something of a first.

It’s the latest outing from the Sydney-based evangelical church Hillsong, which also ships millions of CDs overseas.

The church is fast becoming an emerging religious powerhouse in Australia, with thousands of recruits and some influential figures taking more than a passing interest.

It’s no great political secret that governments these days are largely won or lost in the handful of marginal seats on the outer edges of our capital cities.

Winning the hearts and minds of these so-called aspirational voters is the door to government.

And it seems politicians are starting to realise that God may hold some of the keys.

Political editor Michael Brissenden reports from Sydney’s north-west, the rocking heartland of Australia’s booming evangelical Christian movement.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: No, it’s not a rock concert, well, not like they used to be.

There’s no wayward behaviour, no bad-boy stage antics, no backstage atrocities, no drugs.

No, these people are high on God.

SONG:# One way, Jesus, you’re the only one that I could live for.

# MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Well, God and politics.

BRIAN HOUSTON, HILLSONG CHURCH: We’ve asked Mr Costello to come tonight and to greet Hillsong 2004, so why don’t you give him a big warm welcome as he comes to greet us tonight.

PETER COSTELLO, TREASURER: To Brian, to Bobby, to the wonderful people of Hillsong.

I’ve addressed a few audiences in my time, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one with the enthusiasm and the commitment of tonight’s gathering.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: In just 20 years, the Hillsong Church in Sydney has gone from a small service in a school hall in the north-western suburbs to this.

SONG:# You live and you die.

And you rose again on high.

# BRIAN HOUSTON, HILLSONG CHURCH: These days, every weekend over 17,500 people pass through the doors from Friday night through to Sunday night and it’s been quite a miraculous story.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: This is now the fastest growing religious experience in the country.

The new Pentecostal preachers know it, the mainstream churches know it and, increasingly, the nation’s politicians know it, too.

DR DAVID MILLIKAN, UNITING CHURCH MINISTER: What was we see at Hillsong is the beginnings of a whole new shift in Australian Christianity.

Churches like Hillsong have a lot of money and they have a lot of political power.

PETER COSTELLO: We need a return to faith and the values which have made our country strong.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Peter Costello’s remarkably passionate opening address to the Hillsong conference in Sydney last week was public affirmation of the growing political influence of this new spiritualism.

PETER COSTELLO: The editorial writers may not understand it, but I want to say to you – more lives have been transformed by faith in Christ than have been transformed by the editorial writers.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Peter Costello, the son of a Baptist lay preacher, had been promising for some time to show a more compassionate political face and it seems it’s faith that’s emerging as the vehicle to help broaden his political image.

Not that that surprises many.

From all corners of the church, the Treasurer’s religious convictions are well known.

BRIAN HOUSTON: I think that he is a man of faith and he is a man of values and I took great encouragement from the fact he was courageous enough to be so bold about those issues.

DR DAVID MILLIKAN: I think Peter Costello has deep religious feelings within him.

I actually think that he feels that he has been destined by God to be the prime minister.

I’m sure he feels that in his very being.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: What does surprise many, though, is his enthusiastic embrace of Hillsong.

It’s a long leap of faith from Baptist austerity to rock’n’roll religion, but then, these days that could just as easily be interpreted as simply smart and pragmatic politics.

This is the key to why the Hillsong Church and churches like it have become so successful and why the politicians in turn are becoming more interested.

The message is a thoroughly modern one and one that sits neatly with the aspirations of people who live in suburbs like this.

A powerful part of that message is the gospel of prosperity.

If you believe in Jesus, the Church says, he’ll reward you here on earth as well as in heaven.

Brian Houston, the head preacher at Hillsong, is also the author of a book called You Need More Money.

It’s a Christian gospel that sits easily alongside today’s dominant political paradigm.

BRIAN HOUSTON: The church isn’t about money, but I do believe it is about equipping people to live lives that are bigger themselves.

And if we have nothing, there’s nothing we can do.

If we have a little, we can help a little.

And if we’ve got a lot, there’s a whole lot we can do.

DR DAVID MILLIKAN: Hillsong says that if you come to Jesus, then Jesus offers you, in fact promises you, that you will have a prosperous life, you’ll be healthy, you’ll be wealthy, your marriage will flourish, you’ll have a good sex life, your business will flourish and you will be a prosperous winner in this society.

Now, that is the religious version of exactly what the Howard Government is saying to us, and what they are holding out as the idea for Australian society.

So in that sense, Hillsong is the Howard Government at prayer.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Well, Mark Latham might have something to say about that.

The fact is the aspirational suburbs, of course, are often the ones sitting on the closest margins and both the preachers and the politicians want to win them over.

Louise Markus is the Liberal candidate for the western Sydney seat of Greenway.

She’s campaigning hard and could be a real chance to win in what used to be safe Labor territory.

But the demographics here are changing fast and, while she doesn’t want to make much of it, at least to us, the fact that she’s an active member of the Hillsong Church won’t actually do her any harm.

LOUISE MARKUS, LIBERAL CANDIDATE FOR GREENWAY: Well, I’m not here to talk about Hillsong Church specifically.

What’s important to me is the people across the whole of this electorate and what’s important to them.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Do you think being a member of the church, though, gives you some advantages here?

LOUISE MARKUS: I think people make their decision about who they’re going to vote for and who they want to represent them for a number of different reasons.

I think the values that people represent is significant.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Ms Markus says her values are the values of the Liberal Party, with family and individual responsibility at their heart.

Religious activists like David Millikan say the two are a comfortable and convenient mix?

DAVID MILLIKAN: The mainline churches are more problematic.

The mainline churches ask questions about refugee policy, about welfare policy and, see, the Howard Government has a very troubled relationship with people who question or argue about the justice or equity of what’s happening in Australia.

They’ll never get that discussion from Hillsong.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The Hillsong Church, though, says it hasn’t deliberately set out on a partisan political path, but Brian Houston says his flock is naturally interested in the direction the country’s taking.

BRIAN HOUSTON, HILLSONG CHURCH: I gave Mr Latham an invitation to come this year and speak for a few minutes about his vision for the country but maybe they’re not quite seeing this demographic as important as some in the Liberal Party have seen it.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Maybe Mr Latham should re-think.

Peter Costello’s obviously onto something here.

This week, the Hillsong worship album has become the biggest selling CD in the country.

BRIAN HOUSTON: The worship of Jesus Christ, this week at least, is the number one most popular music in the nation.

So, that’s what I stand for.

That’s what we live for.

It’s certainly a great moment.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: It’s certainly great marketing, but then maybe that’s what both the preachers and the politicians have always been looking for.

BRIAN HOUSTON: Father, we thank you for Mr Costello, we thank you for your PM, John Howard, we thank you, Father, for the Leader of the Opposition, Mark Latham.

Source: By Michael Brissenden, God and politics mix at Hillsong, ABC (7:30 Report), http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2004/s1154131.htm, Broadcast 14/07/2004. (Accessed transcript 01/03/2015.)

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1 reply

  1. BH says, ‘And if we have nothing, there’s nothing we can do.’
    Act 3:6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

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