Up until the Royal Commission in 2014, the press were still reporting a single case of child sexual abuse in New Zealand by Frank. Brian Houston, CLC/Hillsong and the AOGA were the ones who fueled this public misconception and failed to correct the story when given opportunities (Mar 2002 -SMH1 Journalist, Jul 2002 -SMH1 Journalist, Jan 2003-SMH2-journalist). Brian actually lied to a journalist (Apr 2006-SMH3 journalist), lied to Ps Taylor; and lastly tried to claim Clergy Privileges before the RC’s report criticised Brian Houston.
The matter was totally mismanaged.
Hillsong recently responded to the 60 Minutes program which also announced that Brian Houston is now under police investigation. The program aired Brett Sengstock’s struggle to get justice for being sexually abused as a child by Frank Houston, and for being so badly dealt with by Brian Houston. The responding Hillsong media release, which will be reviewed below, is another example of their willingness to deceive and obfuscate.
“It is now a police matter. This week police have confirmed Brian Houston is under investigation,” 60 Minutes announced. They also stated, “Recently, in NSW, the maximum sentence for those who conceal child abuse has been raised from 2 years to up to 7 years.”
And when Brian declares his grief for his father’s victim, question how genuine that is.
Note that neither Hillsong/CLC nor Brian, nor his family have given Brett any support in finding justice, getting an apology from the church, getting help or financial compensation. (There was only the debacle of Frank Houston’s attempts to buy forgiveness / provide some compensation with $12,000, (and Brian’s concern was it may be seen as hush money); for which Brett had to chase up, and which Brian had to follow-up.) Brett has had to fight every step of the way.
Do you get the idea what we are dealing with here – the issue is lack of compassion. Compare the response from, 60 Minutes, to that of Hillsong:
You can See 60 Minutes Program footage below:
Source: 60 Minutes: Dying man wants justice after high-profile pedophile pastor allowed to live out days in peaceful retirement, https://www.9news.com.au/2018/11/18/07/13/60-minutes-frank-brian-houston-assemblies-god-hillsong-church-pedophile-crime-religion as of 20 Nov, 2018. (Archive)
For now we look only at the introduction of Hillsong’s media response.
Review of Hillsong’s media response to the 60 Minutes program
Hillsong’s media statement was brief (first section), followed by a direct copy/paste of an earlier media statement from 2015 defending Brian. (See full response on Hillsong’s website.)
We review the first section only. The 2015 media statement has been previously been covered on CWC. We will revisit this statement in an upcoming article.
“Statement from Hillsong Church – re 60 Minutes story
18 November 2018
In response to the matters raised on 60 Minutes on the 18th November 2018, while Pastor Brian is incredibly grieved on behalf of the victim, and acknowledges the inexcusable crimes committed against him, it is misleading that the report failed to mention the many who knew about this issue before it came to his attention. Pastor Brian was the one who actually took action when he learned of it as evidenced to by the transcripts of the royal commission readily accessible to the public. From the day Frank Houston was confronted by Pastor Brian, he never preached again. Further to that, Pastor Brian has specifically addressed these matters in the media and in our church as child abuse and pedophilia numerous times over many years well before the royal commission and since. Nothing was “brushed under the carpet”. For further details please refer to the statement below, which was released by the board and elders of Hillsong Church following the Royal Commission.” [… continues with copy/paste of 2015 media statement…]” (See full response.)
Let the Word Games Begin – analysing what’s been said and how.
- Obfuscating the facts:Hillsong leadership state: “In response to the matters raised on 60 Minutes on the 18th November 2018, while Pastor Brian is incredibly grieved on behalf of the victim, and acknowledges the inexcusable crimes committed against him, it is misleading that the report failed to mention the many who knew about this issue before it came to his attention.”Obfuscation is the action of making something obscure, unclear, or unintelligible. Note the long rambling sentences. That is a red flag. The clauses are not coherently connected. However, the 1st sentence serves to provide some truth, gain some sympathy and trust towards Brian and what is about to be said – then they attack the 60 Minutes report with some obscure charge.
- Obscure charge:Hillsong leadership state:“… it is misleading that the report failed to mention the many who knew about this issue before it came to his attention.”
Firstly, what has this got to do with anything in the program? At best, little.Secondly, what is being implied (without actually saying it, and without justification, and with all their authority):a. The program was misleading. (Where?)
b. There were many who knew about the issue before Brian– So blame should be shared or applied to others?– That Brian was not in a unique position of responsibility and authority when dealing with the “issue” (which is not clarified).
– That the “many” should have already been dealing with the issue
(We will discuss the possible “many”s later.)Thirdly, this is the perfect set-up for the next statement
- Hillsong engages in deflection tactics:
Hillsong leadership state:
“Pastor Brian was the one who actually took action when he learned of it as evidenced to by the transcripts of the royal commission readily accessible to the public.”
The above statement paints Brian as a hero, not like those “many” people (whoever they were). Hillsong are leveraging from references to the Royal Commission to gain a perception of credibility and openness. This is a deflection and thus misleading.Yes, Pastor Brian did take action when he learned of it. And that would be in the Royal Commission transcripts. However, that is not the issue. The issue is Brian’s failing to act with integrity. Brian’s attempt at cover-up/misleading and not informing police is what came out in the Royal Commission. In fact, the Royal Commission recommended Houston be referred to NSW police for failing to pass on that earliest claim of abuse.
- Hillsong publicly lies in their statement:
Hillsong leadership state:
“From the day Frank Houston was confronted by Pastor Brian, he never preached again.”The Royal Commission revealed that the victim’s personal support, Barbara Taylor, got upset with Brian back in 1999 when she learnt Frank Houston preached in Canberra. Witnesses from CLC Hawkesbury also recalled Frank preaching when he was moved there by Hillsong after 1999. Furthermore, a video on YouTube revealed Frank preaching in 2004 .
See: Brian Houston Lies under Oath
Brian Exposed Lying to RC, Father still preached in 2004 , Brian exposed lying about his father’s sickness
- The devil is in the details:
Hillsong leadership state:“Further to that, Pastor Brian has specifically addressed these matters in the media and in our church as child abuse and pedophilia numerous times over many years well before the royal commission and since.”
Like these generalisations, Brian avoids addressing these issues specifically. This statement is designed to have the reader think that this matter has all been addressed, been ticked off the list, and there’s nothing new. And this statement is setting up the conclusion of the next statement.
- Houston and Hillsong now declare they were not involved in any cover up.
Hillsong leadership conclude:”Nothing was “brushed under the carpet”.”
However, the issues were not dealt with properly by Brian, the church leadership and the denomination, hence the need for the Royal Commission, where Brian Houston was found wanting. Brian Houston’s focus all along has been to distance himself and Hillsong from the crimes of Frank Houston.
We will be addressing much more on these very serious matters in future articles, and we ask our readers to share these articles so the truth stays at the forefront.
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