Why did Hillsong apostolic founder threaten pastor and journalist Philip Powell?

According to Jesus both the founder of Hillsong Frank Houston, and his son Brian Houston are ‘murderers’?

You have heard that it was said to the ancients, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ will be subject to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be subject to the fire of hell.” Matthew 5:21-22

“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15

Many are aware that Brian Houston uses this form of ‘murderous hatred’ against people who try to hold him accountable. A horrible example of this hatred was his treatment of Tanya Levin. As a result Tanya published a book outlining her personal experiences at Brian Houston’s Christian Life Center/Hillsong church.


It’s interesting to note a pattern regarding Brian Houston’s seeming intent to destroy anyone who questions his leadership and integrity. These megalomaniac and authoritative tendencies have been observed by Hillsong’s own academia. Elizabeth Miller summarizes Shane Clifton’s observation in his work “Analysis of the Developing Ecclesiology of the Assemblies of God in Australia” (pg 22):

“As Shane Clifton argues, Brian Houston inherited from his father Frank not only the leadership of a church, but a belief in the importance of strong pastoral leadership without formal congregational membership or government as part of his belief in apostolic authority as outlined in the New Testament.” (Emphasis added.) [Link]

It’s not surprising to see the way that Brian Houston has maliciously treated people like Tanya Levin, given that his father Frank Houston was the ‘apostolic’ example for him to emulate. In this case, Philip Powell was investigating allegations of Frank Houston’s paedophilia in New Zealand. You will notice in Philip Powell’s discourse that Frank had no problem flexing his ‘apostolic muscles’ to threaten Powell with death if Powell insisted on uncovering Frank’s sexual abuse. Although Brian Houston has not threatened anyone in such a way, evidence of his legal intimidations, and his intent to destroy the reputations of people like Geoff Bullock and Tanya Levin, need to be acknowledged by our media, government and local authorities.

There is much evidence to suggest that Brian Houston will intimidate victims. For example:

  • Brian accusing abused victim Kerry Ferguson of being a ‘hurt and bitter woman’ and lying to her when asking for help [Source]
  • Victim Brett Sengstock alleged at the Royal Commission that Brian accused of sexually tempting his father, Frank Houston. [Source]
  • Brian attacking sexually abused victim at the Royal Commission when asking about why he and Frank gave Brett Sengstock a ‘measly $10,000’ and lied about the incident to the media. (Guards had to refrain him.) [Source]

In 2002 Philip Powell wrote an article titled ‘Part 2: AoG – Australasia in the Spot Light’. Below is an excerpt from this work that has Powell recall Hillsong’s founder and serial peodphile Frank Houston, ‘threatening him with death for ‘muck-raking’.

This is the same Philip Powell that actually helped defend and one of Frank Houston’s victims. In fact, if it was not for Philip Powell, it’s been  suggested that Hillsong would never have been involved with a Royal Commission. This means that Brettt Sengstock would never have had a chance to share his story due to Brian Houston and the AOG covering his case up.

At the Royal Commission hearing, it is worth noting how Brian Houston maligned the integrity of Philip Powell who got justice for one of Frank’s victims (AHG). This is the same Brian Houston that is attempting to lead everyone to believe that he is in favour of supporting his father’s sexually abused victims:

” [AHG], [Philip Powell], and the people who were supporting him were very, very aggressive… I’m talking about a well-known mischief-maker, if you like, when it comes to the Assemblies of God overall, who put his weight behind this guy, and that made it very difficult. He never, that I can recall, made any personal contact with me, any personal contact with Hillsong Church, any personal contact with the Australian Assemblies of God.” [Brian Houston, Transcript 88, 2014, pg. 9368-9.]

The exact opposite is true, Powell reported back in the day that Brian Houston blocked all correspondence with Philip Powell and made it impossible for Powell to contact him. Powell was in continual contact with Brian Houston, Frank Houston, Hillsong Church and the AOG until they chose to ignore him. Considering Brian ignored Powell in the early years it is interesting to note that Brian’s assessment of Powell as ‘aggressive’ and that he is a ‘mischief maker’. How would he know? This type of assessment suggests that Brian Houston was fully aware of Powell’s online presence and his dealings with AHG.

So notice again the pattern of behaviour coming from a pedophile and the pedophile’s son – both expressing deep contempt and disdain to a man who tried to hold them accountable for the crimes committed against the sexually abused. Brian Houston’s close apostolic friend Phil Pringle engaged in these same threats and bully tactics towards those that question Pringle and his C3 movement, Pringle using the same language as self-appointed Apostle Frank Houston. So it is worth noting that the tactics of Frank Houston are no different to how we see Brian Houston and Phil Pringle operate their empires today.

philip powell quote

The Australian government has the right to investigate such institutions that engage in ‘death’ threats and other forms of abuse. This is not a breach of religious freedoms.

Powell writes,

HOUSTON — The Bully

[…] “During our sojourn in New Zealand, shortly after I had resigned as General Secretary of AoG in Australia (1992), I received a telephone call from Frank Houston who had been one of my former colleagues on the AoG National Executive. … Frank told me that God was going to cut me off. He claimed that he had some revelation from the Lord and that when he received these “words” he was never wrong and that whatever being cut off by God signified it was going to happen very soon, if not immediately. I let him talk for quite some time then I interrupted, “Frank I want you to know that my Bible tells me not to fear you and I don’t fear you or what you have to say for I have proved you to be a false prophet. You may cut me off, BUT I don’t think God will cut me off.” He was obviously taken aback by my direct response and went on to accuse me of muckraking whatever that meant. I certainly was not engaged in anything that could equate to what he accused me of but there shouldn’t be any muck to rake in any event.” In the light of recent occurrences it is quite clear what Houston was up to when he telephoned me. He was trying to bully me into silence and non-action. I guess that’s the natural extension of the activity of opportunists who try to create a mystique about them. It’s the sort of disposition that resorts to the “don’t touch the Lord’s anointed” line, when they are challenged or come under scrutiny. Beware the bully, but don’t fear him. He really is a coward at heart. Interestingly, as my co-editor Dr Siam Bhayro, whose expertise relates to the ancient languages of the Middle East has pointed out,” The Biblical phrase “cut off” is used of someone who has transgressed the Mosaic Law and, as such, is to be cut off from the children of Israel. This is interpreted by most scholars as meaning death!”

Was Mr Houston implying that I had broken one of God’s laws and would suffer the consequences? Or was he, in the light of recent disclosures, engaging in some bizarre self-judgement regarding his own hidden past?

I waited for quite some time after this bullying effort by FH then wrote him a letter in which I presented him with a scenario of hidden immoral conduct by a church leader whom I did not name. I stated that he, Frank Houston, would know who the unnamed person was. I suggested that he had the capacity and authority to deal with the situation and that he would be wise to do so. There was no response so I waited and observed that there was no change over a reasonable period of time. I then called Frank’s church and asked the receptionist for a private fax number where only Frank would see a private and confidential facsimile letter. I was provided with a number with the assurance that no one would receive the communication other than Frank.

In my confidential letter I referred to my earlier letter regarding the unnamed person and then said, “Frank you are the man.” I received an early response signed by Houston, denying what he called “all accusations” and threatening me with legal action. He intimated that any further correspondence from me would not be answered. I wrote back immediately inviting FH to go ahead with his threat. I suggested that his lawyer would probably explain to him the difference between an accusation and an allegation. That was during the mid and later 1990s. If required or considered helpful CWM will publish letters that passed between FH and Philip Powell over the years on our web site. We have nothing to hide.

In 1999 someone must have made a serious accusation against FH, which, according to the official AoG letters written in December 2001, became the basis for a two-stage private discipline. These letters beg the two questions: Why was the discipline private in 1999 and 2000? Why was there a more public disclosure in December 2001?

Source: Philip Powell, Part 2: AoG – Australasia in the Spot Light, Vanguard, Published 2002. Accessed 25/3/2105. (Emphasis ours.)

Disclaimer: While Brian Houston is not a paedophile like his father, both men lack any form of compassion against their victims as seen in the findings of the Royal Commission. They make their ministries not about Jesus – but about themselves. 

Email all comments and questions to c3churchwatch@hotmail.com

Categories: Australian Christian Churches (ACC), Hillsong

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