Hillsong’s leader, Brian Houston, would claim his movement is nothing like the Roman Catholic Church with their suppression of stories of child sexual abuse by their clergy. However, Pope Francis recently accepted the resignation of Archbishop Philip Wilson from the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide, who was convicted of concealing child sexual abuse. Has Hillsong take a more honest approach than the Catholic church – in trying to clean up their leadership?
No doubt Brian Houston and his elders would have us believe they have acted with far more integrity than the Roman Catholic Church.
In this article, we point out that Brian Houston appears to have incriminated his own CLC/Hillsong elders by privately revealing Frank Houston’s sexual abuse of young boys to these same elders – the full extent of which Brian and his elders decided to cover-up until the 2014 Royal Commission? We address their media statement back in 2014 below.
THEY’RE ALL IN IT TOGETHER.
Based on their official media statement back in 2014, these are the elders we believe are potentially guilty of failing to report Frank Houston to the police:
Another person that should be noted in this potential cover-up is Bobbie Houston, wife of Brian Houston. Although not an elder or board member, she was in a position to speak out against the cover-up and report Frank Houston to police. Instead of defending victims or supporting the Royal Commission, she also attacked their credibility, accusing them, along with the media of assailing her husband’s integrity.
Both the Christian community and the media need to put pressure on Hillsong leadership to admit to their willing suppression of their knowledge of Frank Houston’s pedophilia. If it was not for AOG Pastor Philip Powell, Barbara Taylor and Evangelist ‘Mad Dog’ Kevin Mudford and two of Frank’s victims, Apostle Brian Houston, the Apostolic NAR leaders of the AOG/ACC and Hillsong elders would have allowed the sexual abuse crimes of Frank Houston to go unnoticed – at the expense of his victims. While it is true that they acknowledged the sexual abuse that happened in New Zealand very early on, they did not report the fact that these crimes also happened in Australia. In other words, AOG/ACC Apostles and Hillsong elders defended Brian Houston after the Royal Commission, knowing full well that he denied Australian victims justice back as early as 1999.
On November 23, 2015, Hillsong Board and elders released their media statement which we published on HillsongChurchWatch stating, “We will review this questionable media statement in future articles by drawing on exhibits and testimonies from the Royal Commission and other sources.”
Hillsong board members and elders are:
- Elders: Nabi Saleh, George Aghajanian, Joel A’Bell, Dr. Gordon Lee, Robert Fergusson, Gary Clarke, Steve Dixon, Craig Coles, Dr. Jo Thomas, Andrew Denton
- Board: Brian Houston, Nabi Saleh, George Aghajanian, Joel A’Bell, Leigh Howard-Smith, Grant Thomson, Dane Gambrill, Phillip Bradley Denton, Dwayne Mark Nielsen, Don Cooper-Williams, Lalita Stables, Ben Houston
At this point we would like to refute their cleverly crafted and heavily loaded media statement back in 2014. Their words are indented and bold. If you are confused with the commentary below, please follow this link that documents the timeline of the scandal from the beginning to 2014.
“Response to Royal Commission report – from Hillsong Church Board and Elders
23 November 2015
Hillsong Church supports the objectives of the Royal Commission and our hopes and prayers are that this will help bring peace to those who have been abused [A], and that there will be a dramatic change in the way abuse allegations are dealt with [B], particularly by those institutions that have previously let down those in their care [C].”
[A] “our hopes and prayers are that this will help bring peace to those who have been abused”
i. If Hillsong ‘supports the objectives of the Royal Commission‘, why didn’t Hillsong/CLC offer support to the victims of Frank Houston?
Or ensure their needs were met? A love offering for them?
Evidence suggests that the leadership were too busy covering Frank Houston’s crimes, protecting the Hillsong franchise and the ‘Apostolic’ Houston family’s reputation by not being upfront with its members.
ii. Why didn’t Brian or his family support and/or cooperate with the NZ victims and the AOGNZ? Aren’t they ‘blessed so they can bless others’ – or do Frank’s victims not count? Were they too busy protecting their own?
iii. Why couldn’t Frank Houston (a Hillsong/CLC employee) meet with victims as requested, or at least make some attempt of repentance? Offer an apology? Sign an admission – which would provide some healing and make it much easier for victims if they wanted to pursue legal avenues? The biggest fear one victim, ‘AHA’, had about going to the police was that Frank would deny it. Frank’s health was sound enough to be travelling the world preaching – his health did not instantly render him incapacitated when he confessed.
[B] “that there will be a dramatic change in the way abuse allegations are dealt with”
i. This was proven to be false when Hillsong was summoned the second time at the Royal Commission in 2017. While there were ‘some’ changes made, Brian Houston and Hillsong elders still remain in their positions since 2014. If they honestly believed in making appropriate changes, they would have realized that they themselves need to ‘lead by example’ and step down from their pastoral roles, for their covering up the crimes of a serial pedophile. From a biblical point of view, their unbiblical handling of the situation means they are not qualified to remain in their pastoral office. The fact that they disregard the bible on such serious issues is a clear indicator that they are above all forms of law and accountability, biblical and legal.
The way Hillsong/CLC dealt with the abuse allegations was to distance themselves as far as possible from the matter. This meant the victim did not get an independent investigation or a compassionate hearing. In fact, ‘AHA’ was dealt with appallingly, and primarily by Brian Houston.
George Aghajanian submitted to the RC:
”it was felt more appropriate that the matter was handled by our denomination due to the personal relationship of Frank to Brian; … ”
Brian proceeded to take over the investigation anyway.
ii. When Frank, their employee, was requested by the AOGA to sign an admission, the “Hillsong City Church” eldership stopped Frank from doing so until they sought legal advice. Why didn’t the elders take this opportunity to clarify their legal obligations with their legal advisors?
Frank never signed a confession.
It was a crime and Hillsong/CLC had a mandatory obligation to report it to the police.
They also had an obligation to report Frank’s discipline to the NSW Commission for Children and Young People.
They did neither.
iii. Did Hillsong/CLC act like a church or a corporation? What happened to biblical discipline – public rebuke/repentance/forgiveness? Instead, the CLC and Hillsong congregations got a confusing hero/victim narrative from Brian Houston and his family. Other pastors have made public confessions in the past, why was Frank the exception? There may have been other victims and it would have given Hillsong/CLC parents the opportunity to see if their children had been sexually abused by Frank Houston. Did Brian Houston care more for his reputation than the children in his church? And is this the case with Hillsong elders?
[C] “particularly by those institutions that have previously let down those in their care”
i. We have to ask the question: Did Brian write this? This form of piety and arrogance sounds like something Brian would say or write:
We are not like THOSE other institutions!
Hillsong/CLC failed to deal with the allegations compassionately, pastorally or legally. The Australian victim ‘AHA’ and his support pastor were both upset by the way the matter was handled. Peter Fowler and another NZ victim did not have their pastoral needs met and were dissatisfied with their treatment as well.
“This Royal Commission did not directly involve Hillsong Church [D]. The abuse committed by the late Frank Houston, the father of our senior pastor Brian Houston, occurred many years before Hillsong church existed, when he was a credentialed Assemblies of God minister in New Zealand [E].”
[D] “… did not directly involve Hillsong Church”
i. Frank was employed by Hillsong/CLC and was on Hillsong/CLC staff. So what does Brian Houston and his elders mean when they say “directly?” They had a duty of care to deal with their biblical obligations in that matter, including reporting Frank to the NSW police.
ii. Hillsong chose to rename the CLC churches to Hillsong and merge them during this time. However, the ‘working with children’ check was registered in August, 2000 under “Hillsong City Church”, before Sydney CLC and Hills CLC were officially merged into Hillsong Church in 2001.
“Although Mr Frank Houston had resigned from his role as Senior Pastor of Sydney Christian Life Centre, he was still employed by Sydney Christian Life Centre with ‘the idea that he was going to be an itinerant’.”
Source: 2015 Report of Case Study No. 18 (Royal Commission Findings), Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/CMSPages/GetFile.aspx?nodeguid=8103dfce-6eeb-40ea-9349-ae994815869d&lang=en-US. (Accessed March 16, 2016.) pg. 31. [Archive]
[E] “… when he was a credentialed Assemblies of God minister in New Zealand.”
i. Though technically correct, Brian Houston and his elders seem to suggest this could be interpreted as though all abuses occurred in NZ. Did the AOGA and Brian/Hillsong/CLC use this phrasing to deliberately achieve that end and hide the fact that there was an Australian victim (who was improperly dealt with)? There were ample opportunities to correct journalists over the years – instead they still use this phrasing to give the impression that all of Frank’s victims were in New Zealand.
“We note that the findings of the Royal Commission contain the same information that was dealt with during the hearings, about which Pastor Brian spoke extensively both within the Commission and to media at the time [F].”
[F] “… Pastor Brian spoke extensively both within the Commission and to media at the time “
i. Is Hillsong leadership implying that the matter has been dealt with, and Brian has satisfied the Royal Commission and the media? How does Brian speaking ‘extensively’ make it all OK? The findings of the Royal Commission revealed that Brian Houston, the AOGA and Hillsong/CLC were covering up the ‘AHA’ matter and the AOGA failed to meet their responsibilities and legal obligations. What normally remains hidden within the depths of Hillsong/AOGA was exposed – and the Royal Commission’s findings did not give the AOGA and Hillsong/CLC a good report card.
“We are confident that the actions of Pastor Brian, from the moment he discovered the news about his father, were done with the best intentions towards the victim [G]. The findings of the Royal Commission confirmed that his actions resulted in the perpetrator being immediately removed from ministry.”
[G] actions of Pastor Brian, … were done with the best intentions towards the victim [G]
Note: Hillsong leadership cannot give praise for the way Brian conducted himself. He lacked integrity for:
- Not following biblical and legal procedure.
- Inappropriately taking over the AHA investigation (despite the obvious conflict of interest).
- Influenced the AOGA executive (as Brian was the only conduit of information between the AOGA exec and both the victim and perpetrator).
Ps. Barbara Taylor and Keith Ainge acknowledged they based their decisions on what Brian told them, including whether to go to the police. There is little to redeem from any of Brian’s conduct. He did suspend his father’s credentials immediately, however his credentials were not removed permanently at the AOGA executive meeting in 1999, which should have been the case. The matter was kept confidential and Frank was allowed to apply for the AOG restoration program. Brian did not cooperate with the AOGNZ or assist the victims. He was not straightforward with his congregation, he lied to Ps. Barbara Taylor and to the media. When the media had the wrong story (eg. only one victim in NZ), he had ample opportunity to correct it, but instead continued with a false narrative to cover up for his father, himself, his AOG Apostolic friends and Hillsong elders’ misconduct. The Hillsong leadership is content to continue with this standard of operation and endorse Brian’s deceit.
“It should be emphasised that Pastor Brian is not a perpetrator of abuse [H], has never been accused of abuse [I], and took immediate action to expose and stop a child abuser [J].”
[H] “… Pastor Brian is not a perpetrator of abuse…”
i. No one has ever said he was, it is clear he isn’t. This is deflecting from the issue of not handling the allegation properly.
[I] “… has never been accused of abuse…”
i. If he has never been accused of abuse, why the need to emphasise this point?
However there are some grounds for ‘accusation of abuse’ with these points:
- It is alleged that Brian Houston accused pedophile victim ‘AHA’ for leading on the perpetrator.
- Knowing full well that the victim was being harassed by the perpetrator to meet with the perpetrator, Brian Houston did nothing to prevent it (read more below to see details of how Frank harassed his victim).
Instead, Brian Houston continued to isolate both the victim and Barbara Taylor, misleading Ps. Taylor into thinking that he, Brian, was in control of the situation. The victim did not want to meet with the perpetrator in the past and had issues with meeting with his perpetrator later on, insisting if he did, he wanted Barbara Taylor present. This was denied him. Instead, Brian Houston gave the impression to Taylor that he was operating within his professional capacity and that an elder would be present to deal with Frank Houston and his victim. Instead, the victim felt intimidated that Frank Houston came with ‘a friend’ to give what many believe to be ‘hush money’, to forgive Frank and then move on. The meeting was not about supporting the victim but supporting the perpetrator. In other words, Brian cared more about his pedophile father seeking resolution with the victim than actually caring for the interests of the victim. It was revealed that Brian did not disclose this meeting to the AOG Executive. Could this be considered a form of psychological abuse used to intimidate AHA into silence with Brian Houston using his pedophile father to ‘scare away’ the victim?
[J] “… took immediate action to expose and stop a child abuser”
The only ‘exposing’ Brian Houston did was limited to top leadership, and then only after it became necessary.
“Here are the facts that are indisputable and were part of the evidence given at the Commission by both Pastor Brian and the victim of his father: [K]”
[K] “Here are the facts that are indisputable…”
Hillsong leaders ‘cherry-pick’ some facts and don’t mention those that are incriminating. We will go through these facts point by point:
- “The victim was a 36 year old adult when this abuse became known and could have taken the matter to police himself at any time.”
i. Why would the Hillsong elders say this when they could not even get a written confession out of Frank Houston?
‘AHA’s biggest fear was that Frank would deny the pedophile charges and the church would not believe him. Unfortunately, ‘AHA’ went through even further abuse from Frank when he refused to honor his agreement to meet with ‘AHA’ with Ps Taylor present. Instead Frank imposed himself on ‘AHA’ with pestering phone calls. ‘AHA’ had to deal with Frank’s ‘crocodile tears’ and long-winded phone dramas. ‘AHA’ found it distressing and eventually agreed to a meeting Frank was organising. Brian Houston did not try to protect ‘AHA’ from this. Brian knew of one specific meeting where Nabi Saleh accompanied Frank as his friend, yet no support was provided for ‘AHA’. Frank was a law unto himself and manipulated ‘AHA’ and Ps Taylor until he handed over Sydney CLC to Brian in May 1999.
ii. And why was ‘AHA’ vacillating?
‘AHA’ now suffers post traumatic stress syndrome and depression (due to his past child sexual abuse), and was immensely ashamed of what had happened at the hands of Frank Houston. ‘AHA’ did not raise the allegation, his mother did. Imagine how his mother must have felt, believing she exposed her son to a pedophile in their family home? When she found out, she was then caught between:
1. Blowing the whistle and supporting her son.
2. Or keeping quiet so the respected pastor, Frank Houston, can ‘save’ more people.
She is another victim.
When the investigation of her son’s abuse was met with such ineptitude, lack of compassion and care for truth with the church letting her down, imagine how she must have felt. ‘AHA’s mother thinks she just added to her son’s pain and feels she betrayed his confidence.
The church, and its leadership in particular, betrayed a church family. As Ps. Taylor said, she should have gone to the police first. Taylor was hugely let down by the leadership as she believed in the church helping the parties to heal and that it could deal with its own mess. AHA was a victim in need of help and this betrayal is still Hillsong’s fault.
- “The victim did not want Pastor Brian or others to go to the police or to make this matter public.”
i. This is partly true but muddied. Because of the way ‘AHA’ was handled, the matter was exacerbated. Brian Houston presented this excuse to justify why he and the AOGA failed in their duty of care and responsibility. ‘AHA’ was of two minds about how to proceed, especially when Frank Houston was being uncooperative and the AOGNSW executive, McMartin, did not do anything for many months. As mentioned above, ‘AHA’ was afraid Frank may deny the sexual abuse anyway.
Brian Houston then received a letter from Ps Barbara Taylor dated 29/11/1999, saying AHA was considering legal proceedings in response to finding out Frank had not denied it to Brian. Brian did not still not reported this to the AOGA exec on 22/12/1999, and did not tell them about Barbara Taylor either. They thought Brian was the only one who knew the identity of the victim, and the victim did not want any investigation.
In light of this evidence, it would seem more likely Brian Houston crafted a narrative that invented a ‘straw-man victim‘ so that no one would ‘go to the police or make this matter public’.
ii. Even if the matter went public, the identity of the victim could have been protected. It’s just that ‘AHA’ did not know what options he had and how the process could work. ‘AHA’ was not provided with an independent contact to explain the process or how his concerns could be addressed. Instead, ‘AHA’ was left to fend for himself and deal directly with the perpetrator Frank Houston, the son of the perpetrator Brian Houston, and with the decisions of an incompetent AOGA leadership. Brian Houston took the case over from Ps Barbara Taylor and effectively cut her out.
iii. By the elders focusing only on the Australian victim, they are spinning a dishonest narrative and excluding victim ‘AHG’ and others in New Zealand. What about the other New Zealand victims who went to the police in NZ? It was Frank’s ‘health’ and lack of cooperation from the Houstons that made it difficult for charges to be made. Frank Houston wouldn’t even sign a confession or give an apology.
- “At no time did Pastor Brian attempt to dissuade anyone – including the victim – from going to police.”
i. Although Brian Houston wouldn’t have dissuaded anyone from going to the police, why didn’t he go to the police himself and go public with this? Instead, he deliberately constructed a culture where all of the Executive were in line with his vision (and his father’s) for the AOG and Hillsong church. Which means the AOG completely submit to Brian Houston – Brian makes this clear in his book ‘Live Love Lead’ when he recounts the Exec meeting in December 1999.
The question is, did Hillsong elders and the Executive dissuade anyone from going to the police?
ii. Let’s say Brian Houston didn’t dissuade anyone from going to the police. Nevertheless, there are two people controlling this entire cover-up outside of the power of the victim and exec. Those two people are Frank and Brian Houston.
Frank Houston was already trying to contact the victim to meet and when he did, gave him $10,000 to encourage ‘AHA’ to ‘forgive and forget’. That does not sound like Frank wanted ‘AHA’ or a Hillsong elder to go to the police. It sounds like Frank Houston wants the problem to go away. Brian Houston allowed that meeting to occur. It appears Frank’s motive was to save his image and ministerial reputation.
Brian Houston was attempting to visit all his elders individually to order to give his version of events regarding Frank’s confession. Notice in doing this, there is no paper trail? No one knows what he said to his elders. Later, he asked Ps. Barbara Taylor to call him rather than email him. Again – this appears to be another way to remove evidence in written form. Ps. Taylor felt this entire scandal was being covered up – as there appeared to be very little progress. By dealing with his father individually, elders individually, Barbara Taylor individually and the victim individually, it would be hard for any individual to go to the police if it’s all based on what Brian Houston said in word.
Ps. Barbara Taylor was smart enough to record in written form what Brian Houston said to her. Nevertheless, Brian Houston was able orchestrate events, meetings and information that suited him so that no one would want to go to the police. Even the Exec meeting in December 1999 was at the mercy of what Brian Houston told them. So who would feel comfortable going to the police if Brian Houston has ‘disempowered’ individuals, making sure all information channels went only through him?
Brian Houston’s motive was to save his Apostolic image from being tarnished and to preserve the image of his CLC/Hillsong church. He could not afford for the victim ‘AHA’ to go to the police which is why he did not follow policy or procedures, biblical instruction or even bother to step away from the situation altogether. Evidence (and even the lack of important evidence) suggests he had to get involved because he and his father had too much to lose. (For example, Brian Houston’s book ‘You Can Change the Future’ was published the following year, upholding Frank Houston as a righteous man; Apostle David Cartledge in the original Executive meeting in Dece 1999 published ‘The Apostolic Revolution’, claiming that Frank Houston was an ‘internationally recognized Apostle’ like his son. Both men thought it was appropriate to publish material that promoted Frank Houston to appear as a ‘divine agent’ called by God.)
So in many ways, ‘dissuade’ is perhaps not a strong enough word. It appears that many times, Pastor Brian attempted to manipulate people, circumstances and events so no one could, or would, want to go to the police.
- “Pastor Brian immediately reported the abuse to each board member of Sydney CLC and also the executive of the Assemblies of God, the denomination that issued the ministry credentials for Frank Houston.”
i. They are not saying Brian told his congregation soon after. That didn’t happen until 2002, and only as serious moral failure.
ii. They are not saying Brian told the Hills CLC board, nor leaders.
iii. They are not saying Brian told the 2000 Hillsong Conference during one of his sermons (as per Brian’s statement to the RC. Does this mean Brian didn’t?
iv. Notice that Brian told his board individually. Why not simply organise a urgent, special board meeting – where they could all discuss and deliberate on how to manage the issue?
Individual disclosure meant Brian:
- Kept in control of all information
- Could gauge each board member’s response
- Could navigate how to proceed.
- Would know who could be most useful strategically.
There are no minutes of board meetings presented to the Royal Commission which would show they met and determined how the church would deal with Frank’s discipline or any announcements. The only minutes presented from the CLC/Hillsong leadership to the Royal Commission was for Nov 2000 when the elders stopped Frank from signing the admission agreed by the AOGA executive, where they discussed Frank’s retirement and refused to assist with a victim’s request for support.
- The perpetrator, Frank Houston, was immediately removed from ministry by Pastor Brian and church leadership and never ministered in the church again, ensuring no child was placed in danger. He is now deceased.
If people known about ‘AHA’ and there were no other NZ abuses coming forward, would Frank have been allowed to enter the AOG restoration program after a couple of years?
Note that the 22/12/1999 AOGA Exec meeting minutes did not mention ‘child sexual abuse’, only ‘sexual abuse’. Therefore, technically, Frank’s offence was not enough to have his credentials permanently removed. The congregation members at Hawkesbury Christian Centre where Frank Houston was sent, have said they were not told Frank was a pedophile when he was moved there. This adds weight to the ‘AHA’ matter being a cover-up.
“The evidence also stated that there were many others who knew about this abuse well before Pastor Brian was told and after, as Frank confessed to different people about separate cases of abuse. In the 16 years since these revelations came to light – despite Pastor Brian widely sharing this information, even to the entire church – no one had ever advised that this historical complaint coming from a mature adult needed to be reported to the police [L]. On the contrary our barrister provided the Royal Commission with a strong argument that Pastor Brian acted appropriately and legally.” [M]
[L] “… In the 16 years since these revelations came to light – despite Pastor Brian widely sharing this information, even to the entire church – no one had ever advised that this historical complaint coming from a mature adult needed to be reported to the police.”
i. Are Hillsong leaders saying that others should have reported Frank’s abuse, and Brian wasn’t the only one with that responsibility?
In ‘AHA’s case, Brian Houston put himself in the unique position of being the only person to hear Frank’s confession. Brian should have followed legal procedure. And since ‘AHA’ is the only Australian victim, he was the only one that needed to be reported to the NSW police.
BRIAN IS THE ONLY PERSON WHO HEARD THE CONFESSION OF FRANK HOUSTON ABOUT AUSTRALIAN VICTIM ‘AHA’. Being the only Australian, that is the ONLY case that should have been reported to the Australian police.
Brian put himself in that position and chose not to get proper legal advice. Why doesn’t he blame his elders and board members for not taking the initiative to find out their legal obligations?
Nabi Saleh took Frank to seek legal advice. He could have asked then.
Consider all these leaders in Hillsong, HCLC, SCLC and the AOG executive. Not one thought to seek legal advice? Could it be they thought Brian knew? Also, did anyone know the victim was Australian? Brian had been so busy convincing people it only happened when Frank was in New Zealand. And it was only Brian who knew the identity of the victim, and to some degree, Nabi Saleh.
Did Frank Houston tell Hillsong elder Nabi Saleh that he was meeting up with one of his Australian victims?
The elders state Pastor Brian shared these revelations ‘even to the entire church’. We are aware that politicians, lawyers and police attend Hillsong. If Hillsong elders said Brian Houston was forthcoming with the situation, they have essentially incriminated other members for failing to alert their leaders to report Frank Houston to police. By Hillsong elders ‘passing the buck’ to their attendees, is this a possible indictment against people such as (now former) NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione or Scott Morris (if they were in their professions and attending Hillsong during this period) for failing to handle the situation in their own church?
ii. Is Hillsong Church suggesting Ps. Barbara Taylor should have reported the ‘AHA’ matter to the police? She certainly wishes she did now, after having to deal with the AOG executives and seeing the outcome for ‘AHA’. Barbara Taylor was more professional, diligent and caring than any of the AOGA executives, and as it turns out, Hillsong leadership.
Ps. Taylor wrongly believed the AOGA would handle the matter properly and ‘AHA’ would find justice. She put her trust in Brian Houston and his leadership – and was betrayed. She properly reported the matter to AOG executives, and the case was taken from her, to be handled by the ‘big boys’. Taylor knew ‘AHA’, never heard the full complaint details and never heard Frank Houston confess his sins.
iii. Is Hillsong suggesting it’s the AOGA executives who have responsibility for reporting ‘AHA’s abuse to the police, and that it wasn’t just Brian Houston’s responsibility? Normally that would be the right procedure, except they didn’t know who the victim was. Nor did they hear the confession. It was all with Brian Houston – he had ‘duty of care’ and should have followed procedure.
At the 22/12/1999 AOGA exec meeting, it was noted in the minutes that legal advice had been sought but wrongly stated there was no legal obligation to report AHA as he was an adult. At the Royal Commission, no one could recall who gave that ‘convenient’ wrong advice. How was anyone prepared to give advice when the only one who knew about the content of the meeting was Brian himself?
iv. And who has ready access to legal advice for these circumstances? AOGA executives and church executives. Brian sought some legal advice when his father confessed, and found out Frank would be incarcerated if he was reported to police. Why did he did not ask the big question:
What is our legal obligation regarding Frank?
Brian also sought legal advice at the same time Frank Houston and Nabi Saleh were preparing a ‘forgiveness note’ for ‘AHA’ to sign. Why didn’t they ask the big question then? Or ask the Hillsong elders – in particular Nabi Saleh and Robert Ferguson? They were to discuss, with AOGA exec John Lewis, why Frank wouldn’t be signing an admission of guilt until ‘appropriate legal advice’ was obtained. Did they obtain that advice and ask the question about Hillsong/CLC’s legal obligations? Frank was still an employee and they knew he had committed a serious crime. Were they aware ‘AHA’ was Australian, or was Brian Houston the only one who knew?
[M] “On the contrary our barrister provided the Royal Commission with a strong argument that Pastor Brian acted appropriately and legally.”
Brian Houston and his elders claim their barrister provided a ‘strong argument that Pastor Brian acted appropriately and legally’. But this is completely false. What Brian Houston really think of his barrister?
After the Royal Commission, Brian cowardly tried to claim he heard Frank’s confession as a minister of religion. This means he completely ‘back-flipped’ on his submission to the Royal Commission, making his entire testimony questionable from start to finish. That’s how he ‘rejected’ the argument from his barrister.
“In terms of the findings of a “potential or perceived” conflict of interest, it is easy to look back many years with hindsight, however Pastor Brian acted in the best way he felt at the time and took decisive and immediate action against his own father.” [N]
[N] “… Pastor Brian acted in the best way he felt at the time and took decisive and immediate action against his own father“
George Aghajanian admitted they understood there was a conflict of interests, which is why Hillsong/CLC decided the ‘AHA’ matter be handled by the denomination. This was mainly due to Brian’s own conflict of interest. It’s a pity Brian didn’t respect proper procedure, even though it is his job to ensure proper ‘duty of care’ – an important part of his job as President of the AOGA.
In closing, the Hillsong elders appear to have incriminated themselves. Here was their chance to take responsibility, confess that they did a poor job and work with the Royal Commission in dealing with this situation in a more appropriate manner. As we speak, the health of some of Frank’s victims is deteriorating and Hillsong have given these same individuals very little pastoral consideration.
Sadly, within the Hillsong culture permeates the unbiblical idea that if God can ‘use’ a pedophile like Frank Houston, God will use anyone. A glaring example of this was ‘Wendy’ calling in to an Australian radio show, defending Frank Houston, claiming he was ‘good’.
This is the culture of Hillsong. Their ‘God’ allows people to think that unrepentant pedophiles can be Apostles, used bofGod to ‘advance the kingdom’. Their ‘God’ had no problem with leading apostolic figures and elders not reporting the serial pedophile Frank Houston, still on their staff.
Now on a personal note to Hillsong leadership:
You need to be like true biblical shepherds and act with integrity. How can you sign your name to this media statement when it is filled with half-truths and vagaries? Don’t you realise how poorly this reflects on your character and your lack of due diligence? Can’t you see that you are no different to Archbishop Philip Wilson – by covering up Frank Houston’s crimes and failing to report him to the police?
In this instance, Brian Houston hid behind ”word games’ relying on you, his elders, to trust him. Brian has groomed you well, you should be deeply ashamed of yourselves. You should be more concerned about the lack of integrity on the inside of your movement rather than keeping the outside ‘relevant’.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” Matthew 23:27
Email all comments and questions to email@example.com