- Link to Hillsong’s recent media statement. Read here.
- Access to our popular Royal Commission timeline so readers can come to their own conclusions from research from the Royal Commission’s findings.
- A review exposing two mistruths from Hillsong’s recent media response, the first claiming that Brian would not place “blame on any victim”, ignoring AHAs claim that Brian accused him of tempting his father.
- The second mistruth regarding Hillsong’s name having nothing to do with this scandal, Brian’s own words and Hillsong’s leadership between 1999-2001, exposing Hillsong’s active involvement in keeping Frank Houston employed under, what Brian Houston called “Hillsong Church” since July 2000.
WHAT THE ROYAL COMMISSION FINDINGS REVEALED IN CONTRAST TO HILLSONG’S LEADERSHIP CLAIMS.
This article exists to refute the misleading claims in Hillsong’s recent media statement. We will mainly focus on the points that Hillsong claims are ‘fact’ in their statement. However, it worth quickly addressing two points in the statement that demonstrates the wickedness and self interests of Brian Houston:
Hillsong: “He has never placed blame on any victim and the actions of his father repulsed him.“
For Hillsong to publish such a claim on Brian Houston’s part again makes the general public question the legitimacy of the testimony of the sexually abused victim of Frank Houston. This is was the submitted statement of Frank’s victim:
“About two months after my meeting with Pastor Frank at McDonalds, I telephoned Brian Houston as I had not yet received any money from Pastor Frank. We had a conversation to the following effect:
Me: “What’s happening with the payment I was promised? I agreed to forgive your father.”
Brian: “Yes, ok, I’ll get the money to you. There’s no problem … You know, it’s your fault all of this happened. You tempted my father.”
Me: “Why, did he molest you also?”
Brian got very angry after that. He slammed the phone down after saying words to the effect of: “You’ll be getting money.””
Source: Statement of AHA, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/STAT.0367.001.0001_R.pdf. (ID: STAT.0367.001.0001_R) [Accessed August 07, 2021.)
Hillsong: “This Royal Commission did not directly involve Hillsong Church.”
Evidence suggests something very different.
Brian reported in his statement that,
“Frank founded Sydney CLC and was its Senior Pastor until 10 May 1999 when he stepped down to take on an itinerant preacher role as he transitioned into retirement.”
Brian Houston also stated “there was no connection between Sydney CLC and Hills CLC except both churches were members of ACC“. Contrast that statement to his actions between 1999-2000.
A few months after his father confessed to paedophilia, Brian Houston was in damage control and released his book “You Can Change the Future.” In this book, Brian portrayed his father as a godly, righteous man (read more here). This is what he published in his book on July 2000:
“In 1999, my father Frank Houston decided to step back from day-to-day running of his church, Sydney Christian Life Centre, and passed the baton of leadership on to me. What an honour for Bobbie and me to continue building on the foundations laid by my parents. It was also a tremendous responsibility as we were already pastoring Hills Christian Life Centre in Sydney’s north west. Today Hillsong Church continues what was started in 1977, with our two major worship centres, a city-wide network of cells, and contributing services and ministries all adding to the expansion of future generations.”
Source: Brian Houston, You Can Change the Future, pg. 122.
Here it is in black and white.
Why is Brian Houston using his pedophile father’s name to bolster two ministries, that he is now claiming have no connection with each-other?
Why is Brian Houston using his father’s own ‘spiritual integrity’ to bolster his own spiritual integrity and ministry?
Note, he is not calling his church CLC by this stage. He is calling his ministry Hillsong Church in July, 2000.
It gets worse. The Royal Commission reported:
From  May 1999, for a period of 18 months, Pastor Brian Houston was the Senior Pastor of both churches.85 In 2001, the two churches were renamed Hillsong Church.86 … [b.page 24]
However, the August 2000 CCYP letter for working with children registration, the 2002/11/22 elders meeting and Frank’s retirement letter (Nov 2000), all refer to “Hillsong City Church”. The Hillsong name was used during the transition prior to 2001.
The Royal Commission concluded in their findings (emphasis added):
“On 7 August 2000, the CCYP sent a letter to the Business Manager at Hillsong City Church acknowledging Hillsong City Church’s registration for a Working with Children Check. The letter stated that ‘[I]t is important to remember that any completed relevant disciplinary proceedings must be reported to the [CCYP]’.172
The requirement applied to all disciplinary proceedings, including those completed in the five years before the commencement of the Act in 2000.
At the time the letter was sent, Pastor Brian Houston was the Senior Pastor of both Sydney Christian Life Centre and Hills Christian Life Centre. Although Mr Frank Houston had resigned from his role as Senior Pastor of Sydney Christian Life Centre, he was still employed by Sydney Christian Life Centre with ‘the idea that he was going to be an itinerant’.173
Counsel for Hillsong Church stated that neither Hillsong Church nor its predecessors (Sydney Christian Life Centre or Hills Christian Life Centre) reported any disciplinary proceedings against Mr Frank Houston to the CCYP. 174“
It is clear that when Brian could cover up Frank’s crimes he would connect the name Hillsong to his father’s ‘wonderful’ legacy and to his own spiritual integrity and ministry to build his reputation, (as you can plainly read in his book “You Can Change the Future”). When he could not cover it up anymore, evidence suggests that Brian was keen to distance himself from his father for good.
How can Brian allow his Hillsong eldership to claim “This Royal Commission did not directly involve Hillsong Church” when Brian himself was using Frank’s name and Hillsong’s name in July 2000, to bolster the credibility and spiritual integrity of his Hillsong brand in his own published material?
And how can they all claim “This Royal Commission did not directly involve Hillsong Church” when evidence at the Royal Commission concluded that even though Frank ‘resigned’ from his role as Senior Pastor of CLC, even after August 2000, he “was still employed by Sydney Christian Life Centre with ‘the idea that he was going to be an itinerant“?
If Hillsong leadership are prepared to stand by their media statement, then grab the popcorn. They are yet to reconcile the many glaring issues with Brian Houston and their own statements, especially when evidence like this emerge on the internet:
“Confessed paedophile – serial child sex offender supposedly never preached again after being stepped down in 2000. Hear him preaching in 2004, only 7 weeks before his death and chatting up all the little boys in the congregation. Skip to 1:25, 18:11, 18:20, 25:10, 35:00, 36:51, 37:09, 47:48, 48:09, 54:30. This is not a nice old man being kind to kids, this is a creepy old pervert grooming kids right up until the end of his life.”
Source: 23rdSpam, FRANK HOUSTON – HILLSONG – PREACHING SEPT 2004, YouTube, https://youtu.be/Y8nm5TVtYIA, Published on Sep 30, 2017. (Accessed 30/09/2017.)
The following was reported in the Newcastle Herald, a report that throws many more questions on the integrity of Brian Houston and Hillsong’s overall narrative they continue to spin:
Frank Houston tells Hunter congregation his wife ‘went to the Lord’ at a McDonald’s restaurant
PAEDOPHILE Christian evangelist Frank Houston described how his wife had “the honour of being the first person in all of Australia” to die in a McDonald’s restaurant, during a Maitland sermon weeks before his death that raises new questions about his son Brian’s Hillsong Church.
The recorded sermon challenges Brian Houston’s evidence to the child abuse royal commission in 2014 that Frank Houston was “stood down instantly” after admitting child sex offences, and “never, ever preached again anywhere after I confronted him in my office in mid to late November, 1999”.
Maitland Christian Church Pastor Bob Cotton, who can be heard on the recording answering Frank Houston’s questions, said it was more evidence backing his concerns about Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s very public support of Brian Houston, despite an ongoing police investigation into how Mr Houston and the Assemblies of God responded to the Frank Houston allegations.
On Thursday Mr Cotton said Mr Morrison had to come clean about whether he wanted Brian Houston at a White House State dinner in September because “Australians deserve to know the truth”.
Horrified: Maitland Christian Church Pastor Bob Cotton said a recording of paedophile Frank Houston at his church in 2004 challenges a Hillsong and Australian Christian Churches narrative about how it responded to child sex allegations about Houston. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.
They would show Mr Cotton and a Central Coast Christian leader were left in the dark about the real reason why Frank Houston suddenly stopped public ministry in November, 1999, and that church leaders failed to tell them Frank Houston was a sex offender of children as young as seven, Mr Cotton said.
In the recording Frank Houston talks directly to young boys in the church, including “This curly-headed young man… what a fetching young fellow he is. Curly hair, sort of. Good looking. It’s not your fault you’re good looking. Thank God you are. Who wants to be ugly when you can be good looking?”
He also spoke about how he had seen a “significant number of young people who were slain in the Holy Spirit” during “great revivals”, where the people “that very often get smitten by the Holy Spirit are young people”.
He referred to a 14-year-old boy who had a “revival in his heart” in New Zealand that also revived numbers at Frank Houston’s then church.
Mr Houston told the Maitland church he felt “quite nostalgic” but “memory can be a very good thing. It can stir something in you and create desire, which is a step into something God will fulfil in your life”.
Mr Cotton said he was horrified to listen to the recording and hear the many direct communications between Frank Houston and boys in the church.
“Betrayal? That’s an understatement. I felt, and still feel, gutted like a fish,” Mr Cotton said.
Challenge: Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston speaks in New York in 2013, before he and his church were challenged during a royal commission hearing in 2014 about how they responded to child sex allegations against his father, Frank Houston.
An “extremely confidential” December 24, 2001 statement from Assemblies of God vice president John Lewis to all ordained and probationary ministers noted a “serious accusation” and investigation of a “serious moral failure” claim against Frank Houston, but made no reference to children.
The statement also notes: “We cannot see any reason for this to be announced to your church or further afield”.
Mr Cotton said he supported Frank Houston until his death and allowed him to deliver sermons because he believed the “serious moral failure” related to a sexual relationship by Frank Houston, a married man. He said he was “blindsided” when the royal commission in 2014 revealed the extent of church executive knowledge about Frank Houston’s child sex offences, and the failure to report allegations to authorities including police.
The royal commission produced documents showing Erina’s Coastlife Church senior minister Ian Zema wrote to Assemblies of God national secretary Keith Ainge in January, 2004, seeking clarification of Frank Houston’s “discipline and restoration period” after one year of Frank and Hazel Houston attending his church.
“Frank has no desire to preach or for public ministry in any way. However, if he was called upon to pray for someone at the altar or to deliver a prophetic word he is not sure if that is appropriate or approvable by the national executive,” Mr Zema wrote.
In late April Mr Ainge said he had spoken to Brian Houston who referred it to the national executive. Mr Ainge advised Mr Zema that Frank Houston was “found to have been involved in serious sexual misconduct and his credential removed with the understanding that it would not be reissued”.
Despite evidence to the royal commission from Brian Houston and a number of Hillsong and Australian Christian Churches (formerly Assemblies of God) executives about “comprehensive written child protection policies” in place from the 1990s, there was no reference to them in the letter to Mr Zema.
In his evidence to the royal commission Brian Houston said that by 1999, when Brett Sengstock’s allegation that Frank Houston had sexually abused him from the age of seven was raised with him, he was aware that “Frank was in the early stages of dementia”.
“I am also aware that his memory deteriorated very quickly because of dementia after 2000,” Brian Houston said in his statement to the royal commission.
In his book Live, Love, Lead, released in June, 2015 before the royal commission delivered its findings into Australian Christian Churches and Hillsong four months later, Brian Houston said his father “never ministered again” after November, 1999.
“He descended quickly into old age as the shame and torment of his dark past overtook him,” Mr Houston wrote.
“Five years later, suffering dementia, he had an apparent stroke in the shower. He fell backwards, hit his head and died,” Mr Houston wrote.
“I believe with all my heart that I handled an impossible situation with transparency and honesty.”
The royal commission in October, 2015 found Mr Houston had a conflict of interest in his handling of allegations against his father.
Mr Cotton said the one-hour sermon only weeks before Frank Houston’s death, aged 82, showed an elderly man who repeated his comments about his wife’s death at times, but who also spoke strongly about his faith and responded quickly and firmly to his audience.
“I spent a lot of time with Frank in his final years. I don’t agree with the assessment of his mental state that was presented by some to the royal commission,” Mr Cotton said.
“Anyone who listens to that sermon would struggle with the idea he was a man suffering from dementia to the extent that he couldn’t still deliver a sermon.”
During his final sermon Frank Houston thanked the staff and manager of the Central Coast McDonald’s where his wife died because they were “so wonderful”.
“I found out from the manager that they could not find a McDonald’s anywhere where anybody had died. So that’s just like Hazel. She had to have the honour of being the first person to go to heaven in a McDonald’s restaurant,” Mr Houston said.
The McDonald’s manager attended the funeral, he told the Maitland church.
Hillsong and the office of Scott Morrison have not responded to requests for comment.
Source: By Joanne McCarthy, Frank Houston tells Hunter congregation his wife ‘went to the Lord’ at a McDonald’s restaurant, Newcastle Herald, https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/6444987/frank-houston-recording-challenges-hillsong-narrative-about-responses-to-child-sex-allegations/, Published October 18 2019 – 9:00PM. (Accessed August 07, 2021.) [Archive]
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