Tanya Levin has clearly been one of the strongest voices to have called out the dangerous cult of Hillsong. Since the launch of her controversial book “People in Glass Houses: An Insider’s Story of a Life In and Out of Hillsong” back in 2006 and shocking interview with Andrew Denton on Enough Rope, Tanya has continually been an ‘activist’ voice calling out the abuse of victims within the Hillsong culture.
Thanks to her own experience, and ongoing research into Hillsong, many people have become more empowered to come forward and speak out about their own experiences of abuse, with abusers – and to stand with its victims. Sadly this has not been the ‘activist’ voice of the visible church – with Hillsong having infected so many denominations with their teaching (and music). There have been hardly any voices from the mainstream Baptist, Anglican, Lutheran, Uniting or Methodist denominations here in Australia speaking out against the theology and cultish behaviour of Hillsong.
Tanya has been put in the spotlight once again after her recent involvement with the Discovery+ docuseries ‘Hillsong Exposed’. The timeliness of her podcasts ‘Leaving Hillsong’ and ‘Reading Hillsong’ with the docuseries, being launched coincidently at the same time of Hillsong’s leadership implosion, making even more people aware of her existence and her work, with many now asking her about the demise of Brian Houston and Hillsong. Her observations are worth noting:
“I wish with everything that I could have been wrong.”
This is not the voice of someone who delights in the downfall of those attending Hillsong. Tanya’s voice is a voice of reason and concern, addressing the bigger issues that have destroyed so many people in the wake of Hillsong’s ongoing scandals:
“These megachurches operate as family run organised crime networks…”
The nepotism runs deep in these mega-cult-like movements, with the common connection being their collective involvement in the global New Apostolic Reformation cult, a movement that also allows networked ‘apostles’ to defend their ‘apostolic’ friends and families in other movements. We saw this with Brian Houston, A.R. Bernard and Phil Pringle defending the now convicted criminal Kong Hee for mishandling his own church’s funds. Likewise with Phil Pringle and Kong Hee defending Yonggi Cho for his criminal conduct. Now these same ‘apostles’ are defending Brian Houston and his family.
“… the cult leaders are still preaching their evil mantra of forgiveness first to keep eroding those boundaries and keep readying for the next assault.”
Her astute observations on leaders misusing grace and forgiveness to keep abusing people is astounding. Currently ‘Eternity News’, the leadership from Alpha Crucis College and other popular Hillsong leadership supporters are all ‘cheering on’ the Houstons while misusing the typical scripture verses to silence and censor discerning Christians, – ‘judge not’, ‘he who hasn’t sinned’, ‘all have fallen short’, ‘no church is perfect’, etc. Christ Himself warns of this apostasy and lawlessness – the criminally-minded ones who claim to do everything in Jesus’ name but have not the love for His Word in their hearts.
The abuse of the ‘crime network’ is real. We are witnessing the unbiblical legacy of the Houston family unfold where the ‘new vultures’ have indeed emerged:
“The Houston defence army is enormous and they’re as cruel and cold as the Houstons.”
Again, Tanya has accurately captured the hordes of Hillsong/Houston supporters who have emerged en masse in the general public, not to show care and concern about how their very own toxic culture has abused and destroyed so many, but rather to defend the apostasy within.
Conclusion: Hillsong has no ‘faith’
It’s taken great courage for Tanya Levin to stand alone and speak out against the corruption of Hillsong, despite ‘detoxing’ from her own battle with its unbiblical ‘Christianity’. Tanya inherited a false form of ‘faith’ that Hillsong armed her with. A false faith that taught her ‘you can slay your giants’. A false faith that says, ‘you can speak things into existence’. A false faith that taught women they need to be a Proverbs 31 woman and an ‘Esther’. And this is the irony – Tanya Levin has demonstrated more faith than any Hillsong attendee. She took on ‘Goliath’ (Hillsong) by herself, with the Word of God in her hand and conquered these ‘Hillistines’!
Even more ironic, the one who was truly in the streets, helping the broken and the abused as a true ‘Proverbs 31’ woman, the one who has weathered the politics to rescue the lives of Christians from a modern-day ‘Haman’, Brian Houston, as a true ‘Esther’ – that woman is Tanya Levin.
Tanya Levin writes:
“No, I do not feel vindicated. It didn’t take the exposing of Houston as a drinker who acts outside the code of conduct to prove anything. Anyone who’s seen his 2 am nasty attacks on Twitter could work that out.
These megachurches operate as family run organised crime networks that use churches to by pass tax law. So the history written about another sleazy pastor is really disappointing. But hotel rooms and women are click bait. Broken down marriages, lost homes and bankruptcies, devastated families, churches and communities, staff and volunteers with PTSD that cripples them, well, that’s just not exciting.
And do you want to be right about this? When I was yelling all that time, “The kids aren’t safe at Hillsong!” do you think it feels vindicating to hear from a child protection officer that Hillsong is the most difficult to work with – they don’t cooperate, they don’t want to hand over files.. ? I wish with everything that I could have been wrong.
It does seem like I was watching this movie in the dark with a few other people and now the lights went on and there’s a room full. But to my horror, new vultures have emerged.
The line of Ex-AoG who want to help, or do they?
So many now swooping in to show they care. They understand. They have a journalist friend who cares, who’s happy to talk to you. And also a lawyer mate if you want his number. He’s a really good guy, they know him personally.
Feel free to share your trauma in their DMs or on their page, usually anonymous. And I can give you about ten examples. It’s everywhere. What’s their endgame? Dunno, but they’re here for you. And they love the numbers.
Never have I seen such unbridled ego and narcissism with people using all kinds of tactics to feather their own nest, to gain some kind of glory out of this crisis. And it is a crisis.
The realisation for so many that they’ve been lied to and exploited with no regard, that everything they believed to be true is false is ripping people up. There is incredible grief and loss out there and the cult leaders are still preaching their evil mantra of forgiveness first to keep eroding those boundaries and keep readying for the next assault.
It has been the most startling time and I’m so surprised that I’m surprised. The Houston defence army is enormous and they’re as cruel and cold as the Houstons.
And all I’ve learned is that the enemy of my enemy isn’t always my friend. That you don’t owe anyone any part of your story or your grief because they urge you to support their own mission.
The work is really just beginning. I have SO MANY things I want to do and very limited resources but I’m learning crazy amounts every day about trauma responses and personality types. And choices.
And it’s urgent that we support people to be empowered and not to look to the next celebrity to get out of this mess, another angel of light to masquerade as saviour, the way I ran to feminism, and social work and Bruce Springsteen and smooth criminals expecting final answers and wondering why I came up empty.
If you’ve recently left a church or thinking about leaving, I’m here to tell you that you are the answer to your questions. It’s your conscience and your essence and your wisdom that told you something’s wrong. And as scary as it is, these things will carry you through. They grow and grow and you will learn to trust yourself more and more each time you try. And yeah I’m making mistakes every day.
Probably shouldn’t be writing this post. Gonna upset the wrong people. But I’m going to stop hiding behind self-blame and calling it burning bridges. I can’t accuse a big organisation of exploiting people for personal gain and then not name it when I see it in people outside. People who have learned all the techniques of pentecostal grooming, skills we know so well, and are using them now to bolster their ego. At least in the church they had structure. Out here, there’s no one watching.
Last night I got an email from a Christian psychologist who has expertise in trauma and religious abuse. She tells me she’s available for clients. A month ago I would have been thrilled, but now it’s so much harder. Maybe she is wonderful. But how would I know and who can I vouch for? I can’t.
We’ve levelled up now about ten levels and it’s all got real suddenly. There’s going to be a lot more support needed but how to separate out the genuine article from the recycled Hillsong members still looking for their place in the sun?
Well, that’s going to take autonomy, self-reliance, risk taking and confrontation.
Ask the questions of people who ask things of you.
Don’t be afraid to disagree and if it’s starting to smell like it did last time, that’s because it is what it was last time.
If anyone frowns or makes you feel bad for not championing their cause at your cost, RUN. Like you did last time, or you’re going too do soon…
Ego is an issue for all of us of course. Someone wrote a line to me that I hadn’t had and it was “I love your content” and it tasted like a new ice cream flavour that was satisfying and right. So I get it. I really do. But we need to be oh so careful.
Sorry I can’t give you a happier update. Watching this new exploitation has been a trainwreck for me and there’s no use complaining to ex Hillsong people. Especially the men. Doesn’t take much surface scratching to find out how they feel about women when challenged.
Oh yeah, that would be my second tip. If I hear one more time “this pastor” or “that person” is the real deal or genuine, Im gonna flip pulpits. Every single pastor benefitted from that system, I don’t care what might speech they give on the way out.
And every body’s good at genuine. It’s easy to say “I love you” when things are going well. It’s when it costs that you’ll see what’s real. So keep challenging, keep asking, keep testing and don’t accept the deflection and avoidance.
The predators haven’t gone anywhere at all. They’re multiplying and they’re all on your side. Sound familiar?
It’s been fascinating watching people show themselves. All of the Houston enablers and supporters, and so many women making cute and loving remarks of strong love for these abusers on social media.
The abusers would be nowhere without these handmaidens. The pastors are standover thugs. But their wives and friends sew the tapestry of destruction together and keep it strong.
Keep watching, keep testing, keep questioning and keep believing in yourself.
There’s a lot of grief and shock to overcome but there are ways of doing it… and the future making the decisions YOU want because YOU decided and YOU feel ok with them can risk some loneliness but the freedom is unbeatable and so exciting.
You are literally your own hero. Every single day. That’s the only vindication that’s worth it. The freedom of being you. No matter what. No matter who. Now that’s something I wanna be right about xo”
Source: Tanya Levin, Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ilikelevin/posts/5324179267644634, Published April 08, 2022. (Accessed April 08, 2022.)
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“Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” Galatians 4:16