This article will focus on a few outstanding issues in relation to the recent ’60 Minutes’ program reporting on Hillsong scandals.
- 60 Minutes Australia have released another detailed report revealing more scandals in Hillsong church.
- Hillsong’s reaction leading up to the exposé echo the way they handled past scandals, mainly Frank Houston – making the victim feel they are the one with a problem.
- Hillsong publishing another media statement in response to 60 minutes article.
As usual, Hillsong gave their usual response, that they are a ‘loving and caring’ church, when in fact they make the situation all about themselves rather than their victims. Their recent response has very similar undertones in how they handled pedophile Frank Houston and his victims’ cases. Similar to other scandals Hillsong faces, they are once again playing “he who hasn’t sinned cast the first stone” and “nobody’s perfect” card. Who did not see that coming?
You can watch the ’60 Minutes’ report below (not currently available to Australia):
Source: Hillsong Hell: Disturbing accusations expose the celebrity-favoured church | 60 Minutes Australia, YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uHd7auGw64, Published September 19, 2021. (Accessed September 20, 2021.)
Anna Crenshaw’s story first came to light in the Christian Post. The article titled ‘How she fought back after assault by Hillsong Church administrator‘, reported that “she initially struggled with the decision to report what happened, partly because she was asked to keep quiet.” The Christian Post observed that, “If she didn’t have a strong support network, Crenshaw believes she wouldn’t have been able to get Mays to plead guilty to “assault with an act of indecency” in 2019.”
What was observed in the CP article highlights how deep the systematic rot has set into the leadership of the Hillsong church/denomination. Echoes of how they handled Frank Houston and his victims resonate in similar format to Crenshaw’s experience:
“I’m not interested to support an organization that’s willing to treat abuse the way I’ve seen them treat abuse. What happened with my relationship with Hillsong is once I did report to church, that’s when things started going downhill. … That’s when I saw how they dealt with abuse, and it’s something I’m not willing to overlook in my relationship with the church,” the 23-year-old told CP via Zoom on March 19 in response to a Hillsong Church statement to CP about her case. She called the church’s statement “dishonest.”
Crenshaw’s astute observation needs to be placarded to all Hillsong members:
HILLSONG DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOU. HILLSONG ONLY CARES ABOUT HILLSONG.
DOES CRENSHAW’S CONCLUSION SOUND FAMILIAR?
This is similar to what Barbara Taylor and Frank Houston’s victims experienced back in 1999-2001. While they honestly believed Hillsong and their leadership will manage the situation ‘in house’, the evidence at the Royal Commission suggested that the leadership only cared about saving the name and reputation of Frank Houston, Brian Houston and the Hillsong name (which is why Hillsong are now adamant in their media statements that in spite of Frank Houston remaining on CLC/Hillsong staff after being ‘removed”, had nothing to do with Hillsong).
Evidence and transcripts from the Royal Commission highlighted how AHA and Barbara Taylor were feeling the church (in general), were not dealing with the matter of Frank’s paedophilia properly. They both felt very upset and felt the burden of the crime was being put on them.
In fact, Barbara Taylor concluded at the Royal Commission that after her experience in dealing with Hillsong, “if anyone came to me today with a report of sexual abuse, I would follow the directive given by Pastor Ian Woods to send them straight to the police.” (Case 18, Transcript 87, Pg 9215.)
The only problem now is that Hillsong made themselves a denomination thus no longer accountable to the AOG/ACC.
And now it looks as though history is simply repeating itself.
In spite of the darkness being exposed, there is almost a divine sick humour involved in these emerging Hillsong scandals. Hillsong are very quick to parry phrases to suggest to their members and audiences that “no church is perfect.”
In the same breath, Brian does not like having “pompous finger pointing” Christians calling out the problems of his cult-like empire. Even defenders of Hillsong are quick to condemn even Christian news groups and sites of being ‘fruit checkers’.
People that go to Hillsong will often say, “chew on the meat, spit out the bones” or “don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater”. This is an admission.
They KNOW Hillsong is evil while justifying the unjustifiable. They repeatedly admit that there is bad fruit – but they think bad fruit grows on good trees.
They think that bad water can come flow from a clean spring.
They think the occasional salt water emerges from a fresh water spring.
Nevertheless, the growing Hillsong media press release archive refutes Hillsong defenders. If Hillsong members looked at Hillsong as a tree, they would have to face a tree with a plethora of media statements attached to each piece of fruit hanging from its branches.
You don’t need ‘fruitcheckers’ to tell Hillsong members the tree is producing bad fruit. The Hillsong tree applies warning labels to it’s own fruit! How many evil scandals and immoral leadership decisions and must take place before people consumers start questioning what they are eating?
Here is Hillsong’s recent ‘fruit warning’ label:
Response to 60 Minutes
Our leadership team felt it was important to comment on last night’s 60 Minutes story about Hillsong Church, whether you watched it or not. The story aired allegations of assault from two young women with their claims of our response.
We don’t pretend to be a perfect church but we do our very best to deal with any issues that arise and we place an extremely high emphasis on the safety of all who attend Hillsong. It is never acceptable for anyone, whether at church or in a private setting, to be assaulted or abused. That is why we take anything brought to our attention of this nature seriously and deal with it appropriately. Thankfully these types of issues are very rare but when they arise we act decisively with compassion, love and grace, and we fulfil all legal obligations.
The 60 Minutes story was factually wrong, sensationalised, unbalanced and highly unethical journalism. Their claim that we declined a request to appear on camera was a blatant lie. 60 Minutes has clearly been working on this story for some time yet only contacted us by email with vague questions four days before the story was scheduled to air, and after promotions for the story were already running across the Nine Network. After we responded with the facts (which were ignored) they belatedly offered us the opportunity to reply on air on Friday – the last working day before the program. Clearly there was no way we could do this and they knew it. It was never their intention to do a balanced piece because they didn’t want to hear the truth. How sad that journalism in this country has stooped to this level.
Here is what we sent to 60 Minutes:
Hillsong Church takes any allegation of sexual assault extremely seriously and our policy is to report the allegation to police. We have a Safe Church and a legal department that handle allegations in accordance with all legal requirements and best practice, and are vigilant in their operations. Any insinuation to the contrary is false and defamatory.
In relation to Ms Anna Crenshaw, when she brought the initial allegation to our attention, we immediately began an investigation. Care was extended to Ms. Crenshaw throughout the process. At no time was she discouraged from filing a formal complaint or participating in legal proceedings, and it was Hillsong that reported the matter to police.
There are several reasons why Jason Mays was given another opportunity to remain on staff including the comments of the magistrate who chose not to record a conviction, asserted the “low level objective seriousness of the offence” and acknowledged that it occurred in the presence of several other people who did not fully corroborate her version of the events. Jason was placed on a two-year good behaviour bond for ‘assault with act of indecency’ (not sexual assault), including stringent requirements that he has followed diligently. Additionally, the Magistrate spoke to the significant punishment already received through his employer (Hillsong) with suspension relating to paid work and volunteering activities. Jason works in an administrative role and is not, and never has been, in a leadership position. One of the cornerstones of our Biblical beliefs as Christians is forgiveness and redemption. It is important Jason is allowed this as well.
Regarding the October 2018 matter in Melbourne, we were not made aware of any allegation of rape until April of this year when we followed up a social media post from this person. We immediately reached out to her and asked for a meeting. During the meeting the person concerned was not forthcoming with all of the information. She made several allegations but refused to provide details of a date or name of the alleged perpetrator. She advised she had reported the matter to police however Hillsong also made a report to police as per our procedures. She made it very clear that for personal reasons she was not willing to take the matter further with police. We have made every effort to assist this individual and we continue to stand ready to assist. However, we cannot force someone to cooperate with us or police.
The above are the facts, not speculation or allegations. These are the facts 60 Minutes clearly is not interested in. This is gutter journalism at its finest. Let us reiterate – Hillsong Church takes any claim of assault extremely seriously and we allocate significant resources so that all can attend our services and events in a safe environment.
– End of statement –
Furthermore, the program aired comments from Anna Crenshaw’s father, which baffled us as they did not align with the truth. Pastor Crenshaw’s claim that he forced Hillsong to report the matter to the police is not correct. At the time Hillsong decided to report the matter to the police after seeking further external legal advice, and we ensured the Crenshaws were involved prior to the report being lodged to minimise trauma for Anna when inevitably being followed up by police. In email correspondence to us at the time, Pastor Crenshaw outlined that he was surprised that the matter was reportable to police. He also said, “Thank you for your ongoing care for Anna. It’s good that she’s not alone and can have a sense that her church is for her.”
In regard to the other person interviewed last night (her real name was not used), it has been difficult to verify the allegations she has made due to her lack of cooperation with us and the police.
Thank you for your understanding. The past year has been a challenging season for our church but with God’s help and power we will keep working to see Him glorified. “Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer” – Rom 12;12
Source: Response to 60 Minutes, Hillsong, https://hillsong.com/newsroom/blog/2021/09/response-to-60-minutes/, Published September 20, 2021. (Accessed September 21, 2021.)
Email all comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
“Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” Galatians 4:16