The US president, Australian PM Scott Morrison and Hillsong’s notorious Brian Houston recently hit headlines regarding Brian Houston being invited to the White House. The original story was reported in the Wall Street Journal. Church Watch Central, websites and other news groups were quickly reporting on the growing scandal.
One of the controversies surrounding the story centered on Brian Houston’s questionable past in mismanaging his pedophile father’s crimes as President of the AOG/ACC, Senior Pastor of CLC/Hillsong and as a son to the perpetrator. Due to Mr Houston’s crooked managment, milions have a poor view of his integrity, many accusing him of lying, breaking the law, protecting his criminal father or neglecting to support or aid the victim(s).
As a result of the coverage, these old conversations were revived, thus Hillsong having to engage in damage control (again) to defend Brian Houston’s ‘integrity’ over the handling of his father’s confession of sexual abuse.
Statement from Hillsong Church
Over the past few days there has been numerous media reports and comments on social media about our senior pastor Brian Houston and references to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, at which Pastor Brian gave evidence in 2014.
Much of this commentary is factually incorrect and highly defamatory, and we call on the media and others to immediately stop making these spurious claims. We have directed our lawyers to review several articles that have published untrue and defamatory claims that smear Pastor Brian’s reputation as a Christian leader. Furthermore, we remind those who seek to spread rumours and baseless information via social media that these comments may also be subject to a defamation action.
Pastor Brian has made it clear on multiple occasions during and since the Royal Commission that he is incredibly grieved for the victims and the hurt and pain that the criminal actions of his father, Frank has caused them. He has never placed blame on any victim and the actions of his father repulsed him.
This Royal Commission did not directly involve Hillsong Church. The abuse by Frank Houston occurred many years before Hillsong church existed.
It is an indisputable fact that Pastor Brian is not a perpetrator of abuse, has never been accused of abuse, and took immediate action to expose and stop a child abuser. At no stage did the Royal Commission ever imply that Pastor Brian was involved in any sort of “cover up”. Reporting around this is wrong.
Here are the facts that were part of the evidence given at the Commission by both Pastor Brian and the victim of his father:
- 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.
- The victim did not want Pastor Brian or others to go to the police.
- At no time did Pastor Brian attempt to dissuade anyone – including the victim – from going to 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.
- 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.
The evidence stated that there were many others who knew about this abuse well before Pastor Brian was told. In the 15 years prior to the Royal Commission 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 36 year old adult needed to be reported to the police. Evidence was also tabled at the Royal Commission that under s316 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) the ‘reasonable excuse’ provision allows for the non-reporting to the police of situations where historic victims that are now adults have specifically asked this not be done, as was in this case. The media continually chooses to overlook this.
It is easy to look back many years with hindsight, however Pastor Brian took decisive and immediate action against his own father at the time where many others had failed to do so.
Child abuse is abhorrent but attempting to blame Pastor Brian and tarnish his reputation is not going to advance the cause of any victim. Pastor Brian has ensured that Hillsong Church has a zero tolerance policy for abusers and has best-practice child-protection policies and procedures in place.
Source: Hillsong, https://hillsong.com/statement-from-hillsong-church/, Published September 26, 2019. Accessed August 06, 2021. [Archived]
“Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” Galatians 4:16
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