Insider speaks: Hillsong’s secret ‘Sin Files’?

Did you know Hillsong collects information on your children’s sins? Did you know that they would use this information “to isolate and make fun of people”? We have heard about a lot of bizarre happenings behind the scenes at Hillsong youth groups. However, one specific case appears to tie many of these stories together.

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^ Scott (Sanga) Samways, The Sin Files originated under the leadership of Scott (Sanga) Samways.

Hillsong are part of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). The NAR apostolic model makes the church board accountable to Brian Houston and Brian Houston accountable to no one. Remember, there is “no printed doctrinal statement or code of ethics” of the NAR.

“Whereas denominations are legal structures, the NAR is a relational structure. Everyone is related to, or aligned, with an apostle or apostles. This alignment is voluntary. There is no legal tie that binds it.” [Source]

As we saw with the Royal Commission, the New Apostolic Reformation (which took over the AOG back in 1975), had no problem disregarding their own policies and rejecting their legalities to report Frank Houston to appropriate authorities. Hillsong are no different when it comes to policies of privacy.

Last year, someone who was involved in collecting information for Hillsong’s secret ‘Sin Files’ came forward and challenged Hillsong’s senior pastor Joel A’Bell about this secret system. Keep in mind that the words of Senior Pastor Joel A’Bell ring hollow in light of Hillsong leadership covering up, lying and misleading Hillsong members, government and news media over the pedophilia of Frank Houston and victim AHA.  The exchange below is between an ex-Hillsong leader who was involved in Hillsong’s “Sin Files” system and Joel A’Bell.


Insider: Posted twice, once as my own response and once in agreement with someone else. As someone who was a member of Hillsong for a long time, there is no convincing me on where the money is spent, since I’ve seen where it is spent. Even if a fraction of the tithing money is being spent on extravagance and pastor perks, then you should be concerned. I’ve also seen unethical and downright illegal ways Hillsong has ‘helped’ the community E.g. The ‘sin files’ kept on youth members and the forced closure of mercy ministries. Guard your heart Joe. This is a business, not a church AND for the record, if any other person in a leadership position was found to have lied, failed to report, and obstructed justice for a child abuser, they would be stood down as unfit for leadership… but you trust this person with your spiritual growth…. be careful.

David Hall: (Insider) you need a hug!!! I hope Joel A’Bell gives you a nice hug to take the anger away!!! Hugs all round!!!

Insider: Ah David, I respect your dad a lot. Very good man. And I respect Joel. But are you saying I shouldn’t be angry about that kind of behaviour in church? Or anywhere? As a leader, do you really think that hugging out and glossing it over comes from a place of wisdom or a place of wanting to maintain your own privilege? I know the status quo is the hillsong happy face mask but being angry isn’t wrong or make what I’ve said less true.

Joel A’Bell: Some people may abuse … but I would say merging if I saw something. We go to great measures to ensure things are done according to best practice and legality.


Insider: Toni-Anne would you say all houses and cars are created the same? There’s a difference between a car that gets you from a to b, and a Ferrari. There’s a difference between a home that covers a person’s needs and a mansion. The point wasn’t that pastors shouldn’t have things, it was that the tithes shouldn’t go towards purchasing $50,000 plus cars per pastor. That’s called misappropriation of what God had trusted them with. And idol worship refers to the celebrity status of pastors which are beyond question and scrutiny. I respect Joel, but his claim about tithing is not based on the bible. Its pseudo-gospel. Which others have pointed out as well.

Insider: Joel I’m happy to discuss why you take spiritual leadership from a man who obstructed justice to protect a self-confessed paedophile. Or the sin files. Or the wages of senior pastors in whatever post you’d like. But please don’t make assumptions about my relationship with God because I question practices in the church.

Joel A Bell: Not sure where you get your facts from (insider). Any malpractice would be dealt with according to law. Our books are audited annually and the Royal Commission findings have already dealt with things. Our focus should be on helping victims and strengthening child safety systems to ensure this madness does not happen again.

Insider: I get my facts from first hand experience. I was there when the sin files were operational. I’ve never seen hillsongs books, only C3’s, but they practice the same prosperity pseudo-gospel. And you can see the findings and evidence for the rc online. And I agree with you in that the focus should be on the victims – that’s where mine is.


So what are these “Sin Files”? The Hillsong Insider observed,

“Joel A’Bell knows what I’m talking about which is why
he’s gone very quiet on the subject.”

The way this information is collected falls in line with Hillsong policy:

“A youth would confide in their connect leader. Connect
leader would enter it into the system.”

The Hillsong policy suggests that these “Sin Files” can exist,

“We do not use the information in any way other than in the furtherance of our objects and purposes… We collect your information in the following ways: face to face contact… We only use your personal and sensitive information for the reason we collect it as set out above and for the purpose(s) for which it was collected, or as otherwise permitted by law.” [Source]

In other words, Hillsong will use your information however they want as long as they don’t get caught.

This is what the insider said about the Sin Files:

“The sin files was a database of information that we kept on youth group attendees. E.g. A youth would confide in their connect leader. Connect leader would enter it into the system. It was done without their knowledge, without parental consent. It was sensitive information used to screen people if they wanted to step into leadership and often it was used to isolate and make fun of people. Any leader could access this info, it wasn’t passworded or protected…

… Joel knows what I’m talking about which is why he’s gone very quiet on the subject. But it was originally under sanga’s leadership.”

Date: 11/01/2016 20:55

We have come to understand that many people in Hillsong are aware of these “Sin Files”. We would like to know who is prepared to come forward and say something about it.

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