Eternity News is nothing more than a ‘gagrag’ for the New Apostolic Reformation. And sadly, it’s being distributed to many undiscerning churches across Australia.
“A gagrag is a so-called “Christian” rag that shows no regard for journalistic ethics or biblical standards but serve the needs of, and are governed by, the standards of the Evangelical Industrial Complex.” [Read more here]
We note that John Sandeman (who founded Eternity News) is at the forefront of those attempting to ‘character assassinate’ discerning Hillsong critics, working hard to manipulate their readers to side with unbiblical leadership. Furthermore, Sandeman’s low view of scripture, lack of journalistic integrity and scrutiny, allows these cult leaders and their networks to operate within the Christian community. Who cares if a pastor is found guilty in a court of law for financial fraud (Kong Hee), sexual assault (Frank Houston) or deception (Sunday Adelaja, Brian Houston, Phil Pringle, Andrew Evans, Mark Driscol), the Bible Society’s ‘Eternity News’ would rather side with wolves than support their victims.
Sandeman is a major adherent of the New Apostolic Reformation and their networks and appears quite prepared to destroy the reputations of those who speak out against injustice. A case in point were his previous opinion pieces about Tanya Levin. These ‘opinions’ backfired when Tanya Levin responded with a biblical case for her views.
It’s a shocking scenario when Sandeman can write an open letter on the Bible Society website defending a movement like Hillsong by attacking ex-member Tanya, only to be refuted and confronted with his inability to take the bible seriously about fraudulent cults like Hillsong.
And it’s no different to his recent scathing attack on ’60 Miniutes’ and Frank Houston’s pedophile victim, Brett Sengstock. We would like to point out that the ’60 Minutes’ story had nothing to do with ‘schadenfreude’ (pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune).
Australian media have been anti-Hillsong for a very long time. And why? Is it because the true light of the gospel is shining forth and convicting them? Or, in truth, is it the hidden scandals that are finally coming to light? One could conclude that Hillsong and its leadership are accountable to no one. John Sandeman’s ‘schadenfreude’ excuse is a deliberate attempt to silence the victim by attacking the integrity of the report and those reporting – when in fact those who seem to delight in other’s misfortunes are cults like Hillsong – a classic example of this was their attempt to destroy the credibility of Tanya Levin. (Another example of this is Brian Houston’s apostolic friend Phil Pringle whose own ‘schadenfreude’ is clearly evident here.)
The ’60 Minutes’ report achieved its purpose in getting the victim’s story out in the public eye, this proved evident in 60 Minutes Australia online activity.
John Sandeman’s journalism was so poorly researched that even those commenting attempted to correct his errors in defense of Hillsong’s sexually abused victims. Here are some revealing comments under the piece:
I cannot believe you people are siding with Brian. What about the other 6 children he knew of (we know of 14 now) and also how his dad was removed from the AoG leadeship for pedophilia between 1972 and 1975?
Surely this magazine could not possiblity be run by Christians?
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His father was not removed from the aog leadership . There are victims in south Australia and New Zealand how could Brian have known when some of them have only come forward in the 5 – 10 years
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Brian admitted he knew of 6 little boys raped in the early 2000’s.
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Nick Sayers my father is one of the victims he was threatened by these horrible people. I spoken to this victim’s wife Lisa about it. My dad also will meet up with him and Lisa. My dad told people after a plane trip to America. We will not stop until justice has come.
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Nick, here’s one possible answer. Hillsong pays Eternity Newspaper (and its parent, the Bible Society) lots and lots of money to keep him onside. Mr Sandeman dare not bite the hand that feeds him. Mr Sandeman has been defending Hillsong and Mr Houston for years: https://hillsongchurchwatch.com/tag/john-sandeman/
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This is simply Channel 9 attempting to attack Hillsong, as they have done before. That’s it.
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60 minutes exists to sell advertising and Hillsong is a continual target for cheap shots twisting truth and ignoring facts.
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The facts? he covered up his father’s child sexual abuse that is a crime. He had every reason to cover it up it’s his own flesh and blood his father his protecting. You are another pedophile apologist. You sick scumbag.
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“Christians outside of Hillsong church” – and that’s exactly where any believer should be, unless of course they love having their ears tickled and revel in the narcissim and eisegesis flowing from Hillsong’s stages.
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Time is coming for justice to be done. Victims will unite and protest outside hillsong. This isn’t over.
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I am tired of the Bible Society and the influence Hillsong has on what was a fantastic organisation.
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It’s pretty low point in eternity “journalism?” when you try and find a silver lining and some form of redemption for such a repugnant act on a young child. I am astonished but not surprised considering that eternity news constantly tries to rehabilitate bigots and those that only bring hate and prejudice and use the gospel as a proxy to do so.
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What an embarrassing, shameful and disgusting piece of journalism. You have engaged in high level victim blaming. For any survivors of sexual abuse I wish you to know you are believed, it wasn’t your fault and you did nothing wrong. What an appalling written response to a tragic case of kids being sexually abused by someone in power. Shame shame shame.
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Some more interesting facts can be read here:
Here is the article by the Bible Society’s ‘Eternity News’:
Why Brian Houston is an odd target for 60 Minutes
Other churches beware of schadenfreude
Christians outside of Hillsong church should beware of “schadenfreude” following an attack on its global pastor Brian Houston by Channel Nine’s high-profile current affairs show, 60 Minutes.
Schadenfreude is the delight in others’ misfortune. And misfortune is an apt description of 60 Minutes’ attempted takedown of Hillsong’s global pastor.
But it is fair to say 60 Minutes scored something of a scoop in interviewing a survivor of sexual abuse, Brett Sengstock, who was known as AHA at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Sengstock, now facing stage-4 cancer, is brave to appear on 60 Minutes. His courage deserves to be applauded, along with the other survivors who appeared before the royal commission and made public appearances.
Sengstock had not only requested there be no police investigation but also that no church investigation should take place.
“I am sick of other people telling the world how I feel,” he tells reporter Liz Hayes.
“I could not speak, I could not scream, or push back. I just went rigid. I could not breathe. I was petrified,” Sengstock recounts of his experience as seven-year-old being sexually assaulted by Frank Houston, Brian Houston’s father, who was visiting Australia as head of the New Zealand Assemblies of God church
Sengstock’s 60 Minutes interview repeats the story viewers could have watched on the royal commission livestream. But the royal commission’s Case Study 18, which examines several Pentecostal cases, contains information missing from the 60 Minutes account. For example, Sengstock had not only requested there be no police investigation but also that no church investigation should take place. This goes against the theme of cover-up in the 60 Minutes story. The Case Study 18 transcript also makes it clear there were memory problems, which is not apparent in the 60 Minutes story.
60 Minutes’ intro to the story states that Brian Houston “did not want to have anything to do with this story.” This is technically true in that he did not take part in its latest report. But it is misleading in that he has, quite voluntarily, been upfront and part of the story of his father’s downfall for years. And he announced it, in sorrow, to the church. This is not a story Houston has evaded. Schadenfreude is not called for at this point.
The 60 Minutes narrative reads as though Brian Houston was a passive or evasive participant in the public exposure of his father. But this is far from the truth.
For example, as the royal commission transcripts show, Brian Houston, as national president of the Assemblies Of God (AOG), suspended his father’s ministerial credentials, and was tasked with conveying that decision to him.
“The matter was quietly dealt with,” Liz Hayes summarises. “Frank confessed and Brett was paid $10,000 for his forgiveness,” 60 Minutes says, “but there was no apology and ultimately no justice.”
“I would have expected some godly assistance, some help, maybe some counselling,” Sengstock tells 60 Minutes. “But it was swept under the carpet.”
“I did not have any doubt that it was criminal conduct.” – Brian Houston
However, in the royal commission transcript, Sengstock says he would not have accepted counselling from the church.
While the Sengstock interview is new, other parts of the story are told as though 60 Minutes is revealing material for the first time when this is not clear.
A critical part of the 60 Minutes report is the footage of Brian Houston at the royal commission: “I did not have any doubt that it was criminal conduct,” Houston tells the commission.
“But Brian Houston took the view that it was up to Brett to report his abuser to the police,” Liz Hayes then comments.
It was slightly more complicated than that. Sengstock testified at the royal commission that, at that time, he did not want there to be “an investigation by the public authorities.”
This makes sense of the next bit of Brian Houston’s testimony to the royal commission, as shown in the 60 Minutes report: “Rightly or wrongly, I genuinely believed that I would be pre-empting the victim if I was to call the police.”
Wrongly, as it turns out.
“Many have made this exact error, in many cases with catastrophic effect, which is not the case with Houston.”
In common with many cases of abuse, people who hear a report are tempted not to report it when a victim asks them not to. But in the case of a criminal act, it is any citizen’s responsibility to report it.
This brings us back to schadenfreude because many have made this exact error, in many cases with catastrophic effect, which is not the case with Houston. This writer is unaware of any suggestion that at the time the younger Houston heard about the sins of his father, his father was still an active pedophile. In many cases of abuse by clergy in other case studies by the royal commission, not reporting crime to the police left offenders free to offend. There is one high-profile case we are unable to report on.
Houston was the subject of particular misfortune. He was tasked with punishing his father. The royal commission case studies show many religious leaders acting out denial about colleagues or friends. Overseas cases such as the Catholic cases in Boston show the same. But Houston followed through in dealing with the sins of his father.
It may have been better for the AOG to ask someone else to take charge of that. (That was the view of the royal commission). But the younger Houston discharged his responsibility. Ministers in the AOG were informed of a serious moral failure by Frank Houston and that he had lost his licence as a result. The AOG should have made a public announcement, as other denominations do when a minister is removed.
But members of other churches should bear in mind that sexual abuse was taking part in church institutions on an industrial scale; entire networks of pedophiles stretched across state boundaries; elaborate cover-up schemes operated for decades.
The royal commission stats indicate why any schadenfreude in regard to Hillsong or the Australian Christian Churches denomination is unwarranted. In all, 1334 survivors told the royal commission in private sessions about abuse by an adult in a Catholic institution, 309 in an Anglican one, 126 Salvation Army, 66 Uniting, and 27 Pentecostal. (The Pentecostal number will include abuse within denominations other than the ACC/AOG network.)
Source: John Sandeman, Why Brian Houston is an odd target for 60 Minutes, Eternity News, https://www.eternitynews.com.au/opinion/why-brian-houston-is-an-odd-target-for-60-minutes/?fbclid=IwAR37IP-nHsNb_SR4skg2r0zAA9nyh-vMyKENoaPQIpbs5xLJzDvL_3nDLNU, Published November 23, 2018. (Accessed November 24, 2018.)
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