Should Eternity News be held accountable for their biased journalism? 

In a recent Eternity News opinion piece, John Sandeman waded in to help the Hillsong’s damage control narrative after the ’60 Minutes’ tv program aired further complaints about how they dealt with the matter of Frank Houston’s child sexual abuse of victim, AHA.

See 60 Minutes’ “Crossing the Line – Part one” ,
See Hillsong’s legal response to misleading statements by 60 Minutes
See Eternity News claims that Brian Houston is an ‘odd target’?

Further down, we analyse sections of the Eternity News article, but first a little background to the AHA matter and the 60 Minutes program. This helps put the Eternity News article in perspective.

Relevant Context:

What sets the AHA matter apart from all the other victims of pedophile Frank Houston? The victim is Australian and so this requires the Australian church leaders and institution to meet their legal obligations to their members. Note there is NO evidence that there was any announcement that Frank was a pedophile in 2000.

  1. AHA was Australian and the abuse took place in Sydney, Australia.
    (It wasn’t until 2014 that the church and the Australian public found out there was an Australian victim. The AHA matter was finalised in Dec 1999 and it was kept confidential. NZ victims came forward a year later, however Brian Houston, Hillsong/CLC and the AOGA liked to conflate the matters, to hide this Australian victim – which they had covered up and for which they had legal obligations.)
  2. Brian Houston is at the helm of Hillsong/CLC and the AOGA. He needed to step aside and ensure the AOGA procedure was followed, and that the matter is handled properly and independently, which included all legal obligations.
    (Instead, even though he was the son of the perpetrator, Brian took charge of the AHA matter, despite the conflict of interest. Brian failed to follow AOGA procedure himself, failed to ensure the executive fulfilled their duty, and failed to ensure both his church and the national executive fulfilled their legal obligations.)
  3. It was mandatory to report child sexual abuse to the NSW police.
    (This was not done by Brian Houston, Hillsong/CLC or AOGA.)
  4. It was mandatory to report an employee’s discipline over such matters to the Commission for children and young people.
    (This was not done, even though Frank remained an employee of CLC/Hillsong.)
  5. Frank Houston should have been fired from Hillsong/CLC when he confessed.
    (Instead, Frank remained an employee. It wasn’t until the AOGNZ investigation in late 2000 when Frank confessed to further abuses, that he submitted his retirement letter. The Hillsong/CLC elders allowed him to retire quietly, with a retirement package. At the same meeting they stopped Frank from signing a confession and also refused support to another victim. In the minutes of that meeting they referred to “apparent moral failure” of Frank Houston.
    Note: the AHA scandal and Frank’s pedophilia was hidden from Oct 1999 to Nov 2000 from church, pastors of the movement and the general public, with Frank remaining on staff and his credentials not being permanently removed. It was the Nov 2000 investigation with the AOGANZ batch of complaints that triggered the AOGA to remove Frank’s credentials permanently, for Frank to be retired, to ensure procedure was followed… but still kept the matter confidential.)
  6. AOGA church leaders should follow the AOG Admin Manual procedures.
    (This was not done by Brian Houston, Hillsong/CLC or AOGA.)
  7. AHA should have had an independent contact appointed to him and and independent investigation.
    (This did not happen. Brian Houston was self-appointed to this role, despite his conflict of interest and the trauma to the victim. The complaint was never heard, presented, nor documented. The victim never had the process explained to him or his ‘rights’/types of support offerings available.)
  8. Frank Houston should have reported himself to the AOG executive when he heard of the AHA complaint in Dec 1998.
    (Instead, Frank evaded meeting with AHA and his pastor Ps Taylor, stalled for time in order to hand over Sydney CLC to Brian in May, 1999, deceitfully contacted the victim directly – cutting out Ps Taylor, and tried to pay off AHA with $2,000 ‘forgiveness’ money, much to the distress of AHA.)
  9. Frank Houston should have been given an independent investigation, with the complaint put to him along with his response, with witnesses and appropriate documentation.
    (Instead, Brian confronted Frank. No one knows what the confession actually was, which was a concern because Ps Taylor thought Frank lied, made it seem less, just a one-off incident. The obvious conflict of interest undermined confidence in the process. Nothing was in writing and there is no confession from Frank. Brian was charged with informing Frank about the AOGA determination. Hillsong/CLC leaders stopped Frank from signing an admission for the NZ victims in late 2000 – a separate confession. There is still no confession from Frank, nor any charge.)
  10. The AOGA executive, when they first met and were told about the AHA matter (in 22 Dec 1999), should have followed AOGA procedure, and initiated a formal independent investigation. After that, they would be in a better position to properly determine the matter. They would have recognised Brian Houston’s conflict of interest, and removed him from the process (especially directly dealing with AHA and Frank Houston)(.
    (Instead, the AOGA executive allowed Brian Houston to be the only investigator and source of input for their decision making. They were unaware of Ps Taylor’s previous support role for the victim and that Brian had effectively sidelined her, that she had informed Brian that AHA was considering going to court, and that Frank had lied.
    – Brian led the executive to believe that the victim was so fragile that he did not want a church or police investigation, and that the executive could not know the victim’s identity. [Brian said he did not talk to the victim prior to this meeting, only to the victim’s mother.]
    – Hence the executive had to rely on Brian as the only conduit between the executive and the victim, much to the victim’s distress.
    – As a result, the victim was denied a support contact to assist him through the process, an independent investigation and having his complaint heard. )
    Source: (Trans88/Page 9324)
  11. The AOGA executive should have determined the AHA matter according to AOGA procedure, giving appropriate support to the victim and dealing with the perpetrator properly.
    (Instead, the Assemblies of God national executive determined the AHA matter on 22 Dec, 1999, based purely from what Brian told them at the meeting. Nothing was documented. The AOGA executive thought only Brian could know the identity of the victim, and that he was so fragile he didn’t want an investigation by church or police. The AOGA executive decided not to notify police, that it was to be kept confidential. Frank Houston remained in Hillsong’s (formerly CLC Syd) employment and his credentials were not permanently removed. Brian was charged with informing Frank of the outcome and telling the victim about the process of discipline and rehab had been followed, that his anonymity had been honoured and he is offered counselling if he chooses.
    (Paragraph 8 of AOGA Exec Minutes)
    See Royal Commission 02: Submission Findings – Problems with AOG/ACC & Brian Houston’s Management
  12. Public announcement: Frank’s moral failure of child sexual abuse and his discipline should have been made public within the movement, and his repentance public. Frank was a very public figure, having spoken at many AOGA events and churches. This would also assist others in coming forward if they had been abused, plus help plan for support for those who struggled with the news.
    (Instead, there was no public announcement about Frank’s child sexual abuse charges in regards the AHA matter, nor repentance by Frank. The AOGA directive was to keep it confidential and any enquiries were to be directed to the AOGA secretary. Due to Frank’s failure being one of a criminal nature, the AOGA executive would not want to be exposed to possible legal action by announcing it so plainly. (Source). In May2001 Brian Houston told the AOGNZ executive he still didn’t want to go public with Frank’s discipline. (Source)
    It wasn’t until Dec 2001 that the AOGA and AOGNZ were forced to make an announcement to their ministers about Frank’s discipline for “serious moral failure”, due to rumours. The Australian AHA matter is concealed by conflating it with the later matter of victims in New Zealand.
    See Royal Commission 03: Review of Letter From AOG to All Ministers – Damage Control)
  13. Brian Houston, Hillsong/CLC and the AOGA executive should have been upfront and honest with the media about AHA.
    (There was nothing in the media for the first 2 years, nor announced to the movement. After rumours forced Brian Houston and the AOG to go public, they hid the Australian investigation cover-up by conflating the Australia and NZ investigations, and with careful wording, implies it all happened in NZ, that they don’t hold information back and Brian keenly addressed the issue right from the start. At this stage the media were unaware that Frank’s ‘moral failure’ was pedophilia.)
    Note: It wasn’t until the 2015 RC that Australia found out there as an Australian victim. See SMH, Oct 2014.

60 Minutes Report – Key Points.

Royal Commission victim AHA finally came out of anonymity with 60 Minutes announcing: “It has taken a lifetime for Brett to come forward to tell his story“. Frank Houston “was a high profile church leader who used his position and influence to abuse children.”

60 Minutes: “All Brett wants is justice and acknowledgement of his ordeal and his abuser’s role in it.

“It’s just like it’s been brushed under the carpet.” said Brett Sengstock (AHA), child sexual abuse victim of Frank Houston, after Brian Houston and the Assembles of God dealt with his case.

Brett Sengstock felt he did not receive justice or the support he would have hoped from Brian Houston, Hillsong (formerly CLC) or the Australian Christian Churches (formerly Assemblies of God Australia). He said “I would have expected some Godly assistance, some help, maybe some counselling. It’s just like it’s been brushed under the carpet.”

60 Minutes reported that “the matter was quietly dealt with. . There was no apology and ultimately, no justice.

Brett has had a 2.5 year unsuccessful legal battle for compensation, but was not able to prove the AOGA was responsible for Frank when the abuse occurred, back in 1969-74.

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge told parliament in October, 2018, that there was “compelling evidence” to prosecute Brian Houston after matters raised at the child abuse royal commission.

Shoebridge:The royal commission found that Mr Houston’s response repeatedly failed the victim. He failed to report the matter to police, and he failed to deal with his own conflict of interest while leading the church. The Findings provide a strong basis for prosecution under section 316 of the crimes Act, for the failure to disclose.

AOGA minister, Ps Bob Cotton pointed to the correspondence sent to him and all other AOG minisers in Dec 2001, by the AOG national executive, 2 years after Frank confessed and the matter determined. It was misleading – and it wasn’t until the 2014 RC that Cotton realised Frank was a pedophile. He used to have Frank speak at his church.

Bob Cotton concludes: “If I knew then, what I know now, I would have taken Frank Houston to the police myself.”

60 Minutes asks about the obligation of the institution to report the offence, even if the victim doesn’t want to. Shoebridge: “… the obligation about going to the police is to ensure that perpetrators are held to account and they don’t offend others.’

Brian’s key points of deception that ‘Eternity News’ helps propagate:

A. Myth: AHA (Sengstock) did not want the a police or church investigation.

  • Eternity News: “Sengstock had not only requested there be no police investigation but also that no church investigation should take place.”
  • So how does Sandeman of ‘Eternity News’ explain Brian Houston’s testimony at the Royal Commission?

Royal Commission, 2014
Q: So you knew by 28 November 1999 that [AHA] was considering taking the matter to court?

Brian Houston: “Yes” Source: (Trans88/Page 9330)

1999/11/29 Taylor informed AHA that Frank confessed. She then wrote to Brian 19991129-ACC.0006.001Taylorthat AHA was relieved and that AHA asked if Brian knew AHA was considering possible court proceedings.
She also provides the reason: he was in shock that Frank had not denied it. Previous dodging of the issue had caused AHA angst.

Also read: Misleading the Royal Commission: Brian Houston Hiding Behind His ‘Straw man victim’” which asks “Did Brian use the victim to help cover up his father’s crimes?” and looks at the following:

1. Taylor’s meeting with Brian on 28 November, 1999 was a game changer – Frank had confessed and AHA was considering the courts
– AHA’s reaction to the news that Frank had confessed
2. AHA had already engaged with AOG “church authorities”
3. Was AHA that brittle?
4. How Brian influenced the AOGA executive meeting
5. Brian continues his spin with the media.
6. Brian tries to hide his dominant role in the AHA matter
7. What did AHA think about the treatment he got?
8. The effect of Frank’s abuse on AHA
– Why did Frank stay with AHA’s family?
9. A nice outcome from the Royal Commission
– (Ps Taylor provides some relief for AHA)

Review of Eternity News Opinion Piece by John Sandeman

Below is the original text from the article by the Bible Society’s ‘Eternity News’ – it is in shown in blue italics.

Comments about the tactics used by Eternity are added by CW – shown in red:

– – – – –

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.

  • [Eternity says Brian Houston was attacked by 60 Minutes. This is the typical cult-like narrative heard in organisations like Hillsong to convey the idea that the world or the devil is attacking their leader, indicating that their leader is doing something right to receive such hostility. There is no concept of valid or credible reporting – only ‘attacks’.]

Schadenfreude is the delight in others’ misfortune. And misfortune is an apt description of 60 Minutes’ attempted takedown of Hillsong’s global pastor.

  • [Eternity suggest this attack would appeal to those who delight in others’ misfortune, hence the slur of “schadenfreude”. Readers would not like to think of themselves like this – so they are being primed to listen to ‘Eternity News’ which is relying on people to forget the 60 Minute story where it was made clear it was about the victim finally stepping out of anonymity so he can get justice. Instead, Eternity News is perverting the narrative to make Hillsong the victim of the victim and the 60 Minutes story as an ‘attack’.]

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.

  • [Eternity derides 60 Minutes’ integrity and motivation – they’re only looking for a scoop and taking advantage of a survivor of 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.

  • [Translation: While 60 mins stoop to scoop, we at Eternity News show we have the moral high ground – just look at our virtue signalling.]

Sengstock (AHA) had not only requested there be no police investigation but also that no church investigation should take place.

  • [At this point, Eternity News are not relying on the findings of the Royal Commission, they are relying solely on Brian Houston’s fabrication of events. They have started the spin to defend Brian for not reporting Frank to the police – by saying the victim did not want a police or church investigation.]

– – –

What Eternity does NOT say:

a) Brian testified he knew, at the time, that Sengstock was interested in going to police, after Sengstock was informed by Ps Taylor (28/11/1999) that Frank had confessed.

Below is testimony of Brian Houston saying he knew AHA was considering court proceedings (Ps Barbara Taylor had informed Brian at a meeting and in writing). See:

Ps Taylor’s notes from meeting here,
Ps Taylor’s letter to Brian after she informed AHA here ):

Q. So you knew by 28 November 1999 that [AHA] was considering taking the matter to court?
Brian Houston- A. Yes.
Q. And that could include criminal proceedings?
BH-A. Yes.
Q. And it could include civil proceedings?
BH-A. Yes.
Q. Clearly, if there were criminal or civil proceedings in public, that would, first of all, cause some humiliation to your father?
BH-A. Yes.
Source: Excerpt from Royal Commission Transcript88/Pg.9330

b) Brian failed to follow AOG procedure and did not appoint an independent contact and investigators for the complaint. Brian was the only investigator for both victim and accused. Brian failed to ask the victim about details of the complaint. There are no witness to the confession. The process was not documented.

c) Brian failed to understand that it was traumatic for the victim to deal with the son of the perpetrator and that it undermined trust that the AOGA would deal with AHA fairly, properly and compassionately.

d) Brian took the AHA matter from Ps McMartin and Ps Taylor. AHA’s support pastor, Barbara Taylor, had helped AHA try for nearly a year to get the complaint dealt with by the AOGA. Her sidelining meant AHA lost care and support, as Brian did not appoint an independent contact or provide for an independent investigation, nor did he keep Taylor in the loop.

e. Brian allowed the perpetrator direct access to the victim. There was no protection or support for AHA, but there was for Frank. (See “Did Brian Houston Lie to Ps Barbara Taylor“)

f) The Special AOGA National Executive meeting (22/12/1999) abandoned their own procedure to allow Brian Houston to be the sole investigator and determined the AHA matter base purely on what Brian told them.

See Brian checked granddad hadn’t touched own kids over “one-off incident”
See Did Brian Houston Lie to Ps Barbara Taylor

g) Eternity News mentions Case Study 18 transcript however, it is not a transcript, but rather the Findings from the RC hearings.

If Eternity News had actually read it they would see:

“…When allegations about Mr Frank Houston’s abuse of AHA emerged in 1999, Pastor Brian Houston was the National President of the Assemblies of God in Australia. He confronted his father, who confessed to the abuse. Pastor Brian Houston then called a Special Executive Meeting of the National Executive, which Pastor Brian Houston attended. Although Pastor Brian Houston relinquished the position of Chair at the meeting, he remained present while the National Executive discussed the allegations and decided on disciplinary action for Mr Frank Houston.

In handling AHA’s allegations of child sexual abuse against Mr Frank Houston and Mr Frank Houston’s admission, the New South Wales State Executive (and, separately, the National Executive) did not follow its Complaints Procedure set out in the Administration Manual. The New South Wales Executive failed to:

• appoint a contact person for the complainant
• interview the complainant to determine the precise nature of the allegations
• have the State Executive or National Executive interview the alleged perpetrator
• record any of the steps it took.

In 2000, neither Hillsong Church nor its predecessors, Sydney Christian Life Centre and Hills Christian Life Centre, reported the suspension and subsequent withdrawal of Mr Frank Houston’s credential as a minister to the New South Wales Commission for Children and Young People, as required by section 39(1) of the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998 (NSW).

In 1999 and 2000, Pastor Brian Houston and the National Executive of the Assemblies of God in Australia did not refer the allegations of child sexual abuse against Mr Frank Houston to the police.

In 1999 and 2000, Pastor Brian Houston had a conflict of interest in assuming responsibility for dealing with AHA’s allegations because he was both the National President of the Assemblies of God in Australia and the son of Mr Frank Houston, the alleged perpetrator.

In 1999, members of the National Executive who attended the Special Executive Meeting of the Assemblies of God in Australia did not follow the National Executive’s policy for handling allegations of child sexual abuse against pastors and failed to recognise and respond to Pastor Brian Houston’s
conflict of interest. …”

Source: Report of Case Study 18 (Findings), Oct 2014.

Eternity News article continues:

“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.

  • [Note: Frank visited many AOG churches and AOG events when touring Australia.]

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.

  • [Eternity News suggests there’s nothing new here, it was all dealt with at the Royal Commission, so don’t bother yourself! (Even though Eternity News knows not many watched the livestream.)
  • Eternity News accuses 60 Minutes of poor journalism – suggesting they did not provide relevant information, then gives a pointless example.
  • Eternity News now steps in with the spin, under the pretense of being more forthcoming than 60 Minutes. Eternity does not reveal that Brian actually knew the victim was considering court proceedings and that Brian interfered, taking over the AHA matter (see above).]

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.

  • [Below is another piece of Royal Commission evidence that shows Brian had not made a public statement to his church or to the denomination, 18 months after Frank had confessed to pedophilia (in Nov 1999). Brian, nor the AOGA were allowed to make a statement without letting AOGNZ know, so they too would make a public statement at the same time.]
  • 20010509BrianNoAnnctToAOGNZ

    In Brian’s handwriting:

    “Thanks for letter. Apologize [sic] for later reply. I had a good talk with Denis Humphreys and Ken Harrison when I was in Auckland in April. At this point we are not planning to make any announcement over here.

    Thankyou to the NZ executive for your wisdom in handling such a difficult and sensitive matter. BH “


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.

  • [This is an approx date, around the AOGA executive meeting of 22/12/2016. Brian said he did not talk to AHA before the meeting but this note indicates he may have. Ps Barbara Taylor writes not so favourably about how she sees Brian and the AOG handling the AHA matter. She also notes those who know about the matter at this stage, from her view.]


“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.

  • [It should have been explained to Sengstock he could have had professional counselling, and it could have been from outside the church. But communication and pastoral care was assigned to Brian at the AOGA Executive meeting, because the AOGA had been convinced that Brian had Brett’s best interests at heart, and only Brian knew his identity. See paragraph 8 from the AOGA Exec meeting minutes.]

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.”

  • [Brian Houston was informed that Sengstock wanted him to know, that Sengstock was considering going to court. At this point, it is pretty obvious that without the cooperation of Frank Houston, Sengstock thought he would not be believed. Hence, after Taylor told Sengstock Frank had confessed to Brian, it seemed a game changer.
  • Note: Brian Houston did not tell Sengstock Frank had confessed. Also note, Sengstock’s reaction to Brian contacting him, after 29/11/1999.]

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.

[The commission said that it did not accept Brian Houston’s claim that he did not think he had a conflict of interest because he never attempted to defend his father from the allegations and “acted swiftly to suspend his credential.”

“We do not accept the views expressed by Pastor Brian Houston,” the commission said. “We do not accept the views expressed by Pastor Brian Houston.”

Source: Royal Commission: 23 Nov, 2015]

“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.

  • [There may have been others who would have come forward if there was a public announcement and public repentance. Frank could have been an active pedophile. He lied to Brian, had deceived Ps Taylor and gone behind her back and was placed in a new church that was told to ‘to treat him well’, with no idea that Frank was a pedophile. Frank had shown himself not to be trusted. (See)]

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.

  • [Brian Houston was not tasked with punishing his father. He needed to step aside from the investigation and process due to his conflict of interest.
  • Brian actively interfered in this matter which resulted in the victim being denied a hearing, counselling, support and information about the process, an apology and a conviction.
  • Where was the justice? There is no way the victim felt he would be believed by authorities if he did not have the support of the Frank and the church. Sengstock was correct.]

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.

  • Sandeman is right. The AOG should have made a public announcement as other denominations do when a minister is removed. But that may be due to the AHA scandal being covered up and Frank not being removed. Frank remained employed and his credentials were not permanently removed which would have happened if AOGA procedure was followed.
  • There is no evidence that any church congregation was told in 1999 (or 2000) of Frank’s discipline for child sexual abuse, let alone the movement.
  • There is evidence that the AOGA had decided that there would be no announcement when the matter was determined. Frank’s failure was criminal, so the AOG could open themselves up to legal action if they were truthful with the announcement, especially since Frank had not been charged.
  • There is evidence that Brian Houston was complicit in eventually announcing his father’s crimes as a ‘moral failure’ to his church when placed under pressure.
  • There is evidence that Brian Houston lied to his church saying all the sexual abuse happened in New Zealand.

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.

  • This is Brian Houston’s age-old argument, suggesting Hillsong is not like the Catholic Church. Who is actually writing this piece? Brian Houston or Sandeman? If it is Sandeman, why do his protests and arguments sound so similar to Brian Houston’s?
  • Maybe Sandeman would like to do an expose on the AOG leaders who had moral failures in Australia and in New Zealand and their support networks and cronyism?

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.)

  • The entire ‘schadenfreude’ argument is no different to Brian Houston’s ‘tall poppy syndrome’ attack on critics or journalists who report on his church. This type of mentality is even seen
  • None of the above is relevant to Brett Sengster’s case. This is a red herring.
  • Furthermore, Eternity Magazine is assuming there is only Sengstock and Frank’s victims that had issues with the AOG and Brian Houston.

Source: John Sandeman, Why Brian Houston is an odd target for 60 Minutes, Eternity News,, Published November 23, 2018. (Accessed November 24, 2018.)

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