Brian Houston scandal, C3 church scandal, chc scandal, city harvest church scandal, cover up, cult, cults, Hillsong, hillsong scandal, kong hee scandal, Lyall, Lyall Mercer, Mark Driscoll, Mark Driscoll scandal, Mars Hill scandal, Mercer, pedophile, phil pringle scandal, Religious News Service, RNS, Royal Commission, scandal, victim, victims, Yoido Full Gospel Church scandal, Yonggi Cho scandal
The Religious News Service article below was the piece that Chris Rosebrough recently read out on his Fighting for the Faith program in his attempt to notify his readers about the Hillsong scandal.
However, Boz Tchividjian’s article was recently pulled due to “Pending investigation by editors.” It appears that Lyall Mercer has complained to the Religion News Service about the article.
You will see these Editor’s notes in Boz Tchividjian’s piece on Hillsong:
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been amended to further clarify media accounts of Brian Houston’s handling of abuse allegations against his father, Frank Houston. In addition, statements of personal opinion that are disputed by Hillsong and could not be immediately verified have been modified by the editors.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Lyall Mercer, a Hillsong spokesman, claims that "the church" referred to by The Guardian was not Hillsong, and that Brian Houston had neither the knowledge of nor the ability to report the cases to authorities in New Zealand.]
Source: Boz Tchividjian, Hillsong Church: Abuse unreported, perpetrator rewarded, Religion News Service, http://boz.religionnews.com/2014/10/17/hillsong-church-abuse-unreported-perpetrator-rewarded/#sthash.1LrYL04j.dpuf. (Accessed 20/10/2014.)
It’s interesting to observe that Lyall Mercer of Mercer PR firm also defended Mark Driscoll back in March in a paid press release. Coincidence?
Oddly, the similarities between these two pastors’ conduct are striking. Given that we have expressed great sympathy for the impact his father’s sin had on Brian Houston personally – in light of his own grief, why aren’t we seeing Brian Houston (and Mark Driscoll) behaving more like Christ’s shepherds towards the abused in their churches? Why are we seeing them act more like CEO’s displaying themselves as victims before their loyal fan base? It’s that same fan base who are not calling these pastors to repentance but DEFENDING their conduct before Christians and the secular community.
It demonstrates how little these pastors demonstrate their knowledge of:
1. the biblical pastoral office
2. how they are meant to behave biblically as pastors/shepherds
3. how to care for the lost and hurting (and are they responsible for that hurt?)
Furthermore, it also demonstrates how lacking in accountability these men are. Instead they throw around words like “relevant” and “evangelism” thereby increasing their own popularity.
It’s just not Mark Driscoll and Brian Houston either. The way that even Kong Hee from City Harvest “Church”, Phil Pringle of Christian City “Church” and David Yonggi Cho from Yoido Full Gospel “Church” have conducted themselves in the scandals they have been caught up in, echo similar behavioural issues and systemic problems within their institutional governance.
These questions need to be asked and answered. Why does it appear that these systems are always protecting the perpetrators and not the victims? And why is it that these Christian leaders can get away with their responses and not be held accountable by their members, and the other leaders of churches they so often speak at?
As a victim of C3 and Hillsong said to us,
“These men don’t care if they are right or wrong. All they care about is remaining popular.”
… Something to think about.
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Here is the original article about Hillsong which was made available on this blog. We have highlighted what was changed or taken out in the updated article. It’s our opinion there were some valid, and peculiar edits.
How Is Hillsong’s Child Abuse Cover-up Different from LCMS-ELS-WELS? Why Were Hochmuth and Others Never Reported?
Disturbing news surfaced last week that the founder and senior pastor of one of the largest churches in Australia, and a church well known in this country for its worship music, failed to report his father for sexually abusing children. Brian Houston of Hillsong Church, told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse that in October of 1999, he learned that an adult had reported being sexually abused as a child by leading Pentecostal pastor, Frank Houston. The elder Houston was permanently suspended from preaching and given a “retirement package”. The victim was sent $10,000.00. The church eventually uncovered up to eight more cases of child sexual abuse by Frank Houston before he passed away in 2004. None of these cases were ever reported to law enforcement.
Does any of this pass the “smell good” test? An adult comes forward to disclose being sexually victimized as a child by an influential minister who happens to be the father of another well-known minister. The son’s immediate response to hearing about this crime is not to contact the police, but to confront his father who immediately confesses. Even after the confession, Brian Houston doesn’t call the police, but instead attends a meeting with his father, an attorney, and the church CEO, where it is decided to offer the victim $10,000 as “final payment”. (Undoubtedly, a condition to receive this money would have been that the victim agree not to seek legal action against Houston or the church.) When he was recently asked why he didn’t report this crime, Brian Houston remarked, “This is one of the things that made it complicated. He was adamant he didn’t want any kind of police investigation or even a church investigation, he just wanted it dealt with and he just wanted to know that justice was going to happen.” The fact that a victim is an adult when they disclose being sexually assaulted as a child does not relieve those in leadership of the moral duty to report the crimes. Think about it, what if an adult had stepped forward to report that as a child they witnessed a pastor commit murder? What if there was evidence that this same pastor had actually murdered 8 other people? Would there be any hesitation by church leaders to report these crimes to the authorities? Even if the witness had requested them not to report? Interestingly, Brian Houston never provides a reason for not reporting the other 8 cases of abuse perpetrated by his father.
Reporting this admitted abuse 14 years ago not only would have helped to identify more victims of Frank Houston, but it would have also provided the opportunity to provide the survivors much needed support and professional assistance.
Brian Houston recently said,
What he fails to acknowledge is that his calculated decision not to report these crimes is why we will never know the full extent of abuse and harm perpetrated by his father. What he fails to acknowledge is that his calculated decision not to report these crimes fourteen years ago left untold numbers of abuse victims stranded and alone. What he fails to acknowledge is that his calculated decision not to report these crimes ignored the lives of untold numbers of victims who lived through the dark and painful horrors of childhood abuse and are now drowning without hope as adults.
Brian Houston recently told the media that he had “never hidden it [abuse] from the church.” That statement is hard to reconcile with the fact that in 2001, the Assemblies of God sent a letter notifying pastors that Frank Houston had been suspended because of committing a “serious moral failure”. At no time was this “serious moral failure” ever identified as the rape of a child. Even more concerning, the letter went on to say, “We cannot see any reason for this to be announced to your church or further afield.” Isn’t the intentional use of vague words to mask a dark truth consistent with hiding abuse? Isn’t a directive to keep silent consistent with hiding abuse? One can only wonder why Brian Houston and other church leaders believed they had the authority to withhold such child endangering information from the very people who needed to know about it – parents and children.
The failure to report this crime to the authorities, offering money to the victim, giving the perpetrator a retirement package, and the hiding all of this from church members, was a seemingly very convenient way to make the whole matter go away. Fortunately, survivors don’t go away. God carries their cries to bring light and truth into the dark places – especially in the Church.
One of the lesser-known horrors of this nightmare is that Brian Houston comes from a “Christian” culture that seemingly prefers to remain silent when learning about children being sexually abused by a pastor. The Daily Telegraph reports that the Assemblies of God in New Zealand “revealed that 50 of its pastors had known of Frank’s sex abuse. None of them went to the police or did anything about it.” Should we be surprised that Brian Houston reacted any differently when he found out? Yes. I think we should always be surprised when one who professes to follow Jesus turns his back on the vulnerable who have been exploited and abused. The Jesus I know actually runs towards the vulnerable and gave His life for them.
Brian Houston recently commented that he was “very pleased” with the way he handled the disclosure of his father’s abuse. Pleased? Really? In a well-known scripture passage, Jesus tells us, “…whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” [Matthew 18:6] Instead, Frank Houston is given a retirement package, a victim is thrown $10,000 to keep quiet, a church is not told the truth, and perhaps hundreds of other victims are left unknown. Pleased? Really?
In his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning writes,
When we fail to report the heinous crimes against children, we fail to choose Jesus. It’s time for churches to stop making the wrong choice.
Source: Posted by Gregory Jackson, How Is Hillsong’s Child Abuse Cover-up Different from LCMS-ELS-WELS? Why Were Hochmuth and Others Never Reported?, http://ichabodthegloryhasdeparted.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/how-is-hillsongs-child-abuse-cover-up.html, Originally from http://boz.religionnews.com/2014/10/17/hillsong-church-abuse-unreported-perpetrator-rewarded/#sthash.keD6D3A0.dpuf, Published 17/10/2014 at 1:17 PM. (Accessed 19/10/2014.)
Read the edited Religious News Service report below.
RNS: Hillsong Church: Abuse unreported, perpetrator rewarded
- Boz Tchividjian, Published 17/10/2014. (Accessed 25/10/2014.)