*UPDATE* Transcript added 09/02/2017. Source Archived.
2GB had the following interview with Brian Houston,
“I Forgive Him”
Ben Fordham talks to Brian Houston about his paedophile dad.
Source: “I Forgive Him”, 2GB, http://www.2gb.com/article/%E2%80%9Ci-forgive-him%E2%80%9D#.VDfLcfmSySr, Published 10/10/2014. (Accessed 10/10/2014.) [Archived]
Here is the interview transcript:
Ben:“You’ve described your father’s actions as repulsive. Why did you not go to police the moment you knew what he had done?”
Brian:“It was complicated in this sense, you’ve got a survivor, a victim who is so brittle emotionally, who is adamant ah they don’t want any kind of church investigation, they don’t want any kind of police investigation or any other kind of civil investigation. And ahh, obviously though just wanted to be believed, and wanted to see justice done. So there was that side of it, but to be honest Ben, I just genuinely believed that a 36 year old man, ah, if he wants to go to the police, he can go to the police. And a child if their 9, 10 or 12 there’s absolutely no doubt what I would have done. I would have made sure we went straight to the police, as we would today. So I guess I just rightly or wrongly believed that it was his ahh you know, his prerogative to go to the police if he wanted to.”
Ben:“Take us into the room for a moment and that moment that your dad admits to being a paedophile, what happens inside your heart and your head at that moment?”
Brian: “Well for both of us it was the most painful meeting you could ever imagine. I ah remember just putting it to him the complaints that I had heard. He went all dry in the mouth and, ahh, you know, you could see the whites on the sides of his mouth and he just said “yes that happened”. And then we went into some of the detail of what had happened. It was ahh, you’ve got to understand before this time he was my hero so, you know, it was absolutely crushing.”
Ben: “What did you say to him in the moment he admitted it?”
Brian: “Well I can’t remember any exact words. I, I just think ahh, wow yeah, I just can’t remember. I just remember the horrible stiffness in the meeting. He knew I was doing what I had to do. He didn’t fight it. He did go into detail which was relatively graphic, and you know and um, I pit? myself which was just totally traumatised by it. So I know my trauma is nothing compared to the person who was so horribly violated. (2:18) But nevertheless, this and then as time went on, more complaints of paedophilia against my father over the next twelve months or in twelve months time it became obvious it was a much bigger problem, that it was also in New Zealand.”
Ben: “When your father confessed to being a paedophile, he was suspended from his duties. Why wasn’t he fired as per the rules of your organisation?”
2:41 Brian: “Well actually that is the rules of our organisation. The rules of our organisation is when I confronted him, he confessed to paedophilic acts, to child abuse and so in that meeting I suspended him and that gives thirty days for investigation. So that’s what puts the whole train in motion. And from that day, he never ever preached again, anywhere.
So when I looked him in the eye, and it was heartbreaking day for me as well. When I looked him in the eye, realized that this man, my dad, had molested children, I knew this is it. My responsibility is he can’t preach again, he can’t be in ministry, it’s over.”
Ben: “Once you realized what your father was admitting to you, did you tell the congregation, did you share that with everyone so everyone was aware what was going on?”
Brian: “Yes we did, we did. It was um. It was a process and so I’m sure there will be some people who will say why didn’t you just get it out quicker and so on. But there was a lot of time just getting to the real issues, getting to the bottom of things, knowing what we were really dealing with. And then we kind of rolled it out, so initially our pastors, then our staff and then like our leaders and our vision team and sort of rolled it out within the life of the church. We have a big, what we call ‘leadership vision night’, which these days has several thousand people at, at it, which is really the heart and soul, that you know the core of the church. I remember telling them. You can’t turn up to church once and tell everyone once because there are so many services. So there was, you know a roll out of announcements at different times. The one thing that did frustrate me, was that um, amongst someone’s evidence at the Commission, ah they describe me making an announcement calling it ‘a minor indiscretion’. And I took offence to that, because I never, ever called it a minor indiscretion. I did make the mistake at one point of calling it a ‘serious moral failure’ which and even that’s not strong enough words. We should have just called it ‘sexual offences’. But ahh I never trivialized it, you know, I never tried to pretend it was anything else but what it was, to our church. And remarkably, the church, they took it on board, you know. I was shocked myself that it didn’t have a greater fallout on the church. But if you were to ask people in our church today, ‘did you know?’ They would say ‘yeah we knew’.”
Ben: “When all of this comes to light, I mean you’ve got a lot on the line here, a lot of things to protect, you’ve got your reputation, you’ve got your family, your children, your church. Did part of you just want this thing to go away? I mean did part of you want to bury this story as opposed to bringing it to light?”
Brian: “You know I’m a realist. I knew that this was happening and I knew that there was no way to avoid it. That’s why I was the person who confronted my father and suspended him and put the train in action. I was very committed to making sure that justice was done.
Um yet I’ve always kept reminding myself, I was fifteen myself, it’s not my fault. I was a boy. Ahh and even today as I was walking out of the Commission I got attacked by a protester, who was attacking me because somehow it was my fault you know which hurts because literally I was a little kid, the church I pastor, it didn’t exist. Um and so you know there’s a sense that maybe we could have done more here and there, but big picture, I feel like I did the best I could at the time.”
Ben: “One of your father’s victims claims that you said to him, ‘you tempted my father’. Can you swear to God that you did not say that, nor anything remotely like that?”
Brian: “I can. I can absolutely swear to God and I can swear any other way as well. I mean I feel tremendous sadness for this person’s hurt, but there is no way any time in my entire life that I would somehow blame or think it could be the fault of a seven year old that he gets horribly violated by an adult paedophile. I mean it’s a, it’s an insidious thought and I am absolutely convinced that I would have never said anything like that.”
Ben: “That victim was given ten thousand dollars. Was that compensation or was it hush money or was it both?”
Brian: “Well it was from my father and it really was just between my father and him and it was my father’s own money, why ten thousand dollars? I would guess that’s probably all about my father had. And um it was, it really was just an attempt from my father to somehow tell him “I’m sorry”, and um you know it’s feeble in that sense and ahh and that’s about all there is to it. You know that was very much apart from the church. Ahh I was aware that it was happening but I was very careful not to get involved front on. I was aware as the son of Frank Houston. Um and you know after this period it was just becoming too hard to juggle it all, so my brother took on you know, the family’s responsibilities in terms of these things.”
Ben: “In terms to your response to all of this, this very difficult situation, not involving anything you’ve done but something your father did. What would you change in the way that you handled all of this?”
Brian: “Well I think ahh communication definitely. Even communicating with some of the people who were not the victim themselves, but who were aware and them getting feed back on the processes we were taking. I feel I could have done better at letting those people know that. I think we could have been much clearer on um perhaps the nature of the offence. I mean I don’t think we hid from it but we most definitely did not call it a ‘minor indiscretion’ as some have stated. If anything, if the word minors came into it, what it would have been was it involved minors. Um but it’s easy in hindsight. More clarity, maybe. I feel like we acted almost as fast as we could. So maybe not change that.
If there was more that we could have done for the victim, I would definitely have done more for the victim. It’s just that his whole approach was ‘I don’t want to know about this, I just want to move on with my life’, you know, ‘I just want you to know and don’t, and I want you to know how bad it was’. That was the tenor of what he was saying.”
Ben: “Your father finally resigned in the year 2000. He was given a retirement package. On refection was that appropriate, considering what he had admitted to doing and considering the pain that he had placed on others, the impact it had on people’s lives? Your reaction to his confession, was that appropriate to give him a retirement package?”
Brian: “It was appropriate in this sense. It was he and my mother who were in ministry together. And ahh she too had led the church alongside my father for her whole life and she was yet again another victim. So the thinking in them receiving a retirement package was a lot to do with my mum, probably much more to do with my mum than it was to do with my father.”
Ben: “Did you forgive him”.
Brian: “You know [pause] I did forgive him. I did forgive him on one level.
Aahhh [pause] see the dad I know, see this is the conflict in it, was an awesome man. And so this evil side of my father was not the father that I knew. I mean, he certainly didn’t molest me or my brother. He was a generous, kind, nice, genuine sort of person. And then of course this was a part of his character, an evil part of his character that was disassociated with the father I know. So, I found a way over the five years he was still alive to keep loving him, but despise what he did.”
Ben: “Looking back do you see any moments where any hints of his behaviour, any things you now look back on and think hang on a moment that might have been a bit of a hint?”
Brian: “You know I never saw anything like that of a sexual nature at all. Never anything at all. And um my sister had actually heard an accusation once, years before in New Zealand that my father hung around homosexual um you know whatever massage bars or whatever. But there was no substantiation, it was like someone in the street just told her this you know. So I guess that was always in the back of my mind. But in terms of paedophilia, no one in my family had heard anything like that. And I mean, to me it’s a miracle I was 45 years of age, how this didn’t come out before that age I just can’t understand myself.”
Ben: “You’ve got a loyal and large flock at Hillsong and this has been a difficult time for them as well. What message do you have for everyone?”
Brian: “Our church is incredibly resilient and we’ve been through a lot over the years you know. One way or another, obviously when this first came out it was a huge trial for our church. Um and some of the other things that have happened along the way that are part of life, you know the season’s of life. And they have always proven themselves to be incredibly resilient.
The one thing I know about our church is they trust Bobbie and I. They watch out lives, and they’ve watch our lives consistently. And ahh, we’ve had remarkable loyalty for people. And someone asked me the other day, ‘how do you think the church will go with this?’ And to be honest I feel like ahh, the church will be fine. Yeah it hurts you know, and there’s a little bit of a shaking, but the church will be fine.”
Ben: “This is a difficult question to ask and I’m sure it’s a difficult question for you to answer, but do you think your dad is in heaven or hell?”
Brian: “Ahh man that is a big one isn’t it? It’s a big one. I would like to think he’s in heaven, I would like to think he is [long pause].”
Brian: “I would like to think he’s in heaven. God, in my mind – God is all gracious than any of us, God is more forgiving than any of us. I feel like um, ahh you know, he definitely did everything he could, I believe to make things right, make his peace with God after these things.
He died a depressed man, he wasn’t happy with himself, he was just so full of regret, so full of, you know maybe self pity, but also I think he did have genuine remorse. He knew he totally destroyed the lives of people. And I feel like God is a forgiving God and if my dad did go to God and ask for forgiveness, ahh I feel like God would forgive him.”
Source: 2GB, http://www.2gb.com/article/%E2%80%9Ci-forgive-him%E2%80%9D#.VDfLcfmSySr, Published 10/10/2014. (Accessed 10/10/2014.) [Archive]
Even in this interview there is still deceit !!!
As teenagers we all knew what Frank Houston was like. The ‘rumours’ his sister speaks of were true. Brian knew them to be true as well as did all of us then.
Brian Houston still is living in denial…………..sad.
The Commission did not dig deep enough in some areas, there is still a lot more to come.Brian is sure the ‘church’ will survive, that’s because it is not a church but a cult and he will run the appropriate spins in order for the cult to continue.
KiwiPirate – in light of Brian’s ‘blow-out’, do you think he should step away from ministry and leadership for a while (though in reality he’s not qualified to preach at all in light of his false gospel)
Yes, I would hope that his pastoral care team or his overseeing elders would counsel him to take time out and seek some professional help.
That won’t happen though because the whole Hillsong franchise is a ponzi scheme much like a multi-level marketing company and if the head honcho is not around for the next “rah rah’ meeting then he risks loosing some of his down line.
There is also a massive ego to try and put aside. Taking time out, in Houston’s eyes, would look like a weakness and he can’t cope with that.
There is also the fear that if he was away for a season then one of his underlings could rise to power and start to attract a following. I have seen this happen here in NZ on two occasions now and the usurpers were shunted off to Australia where they could not pose a local take over bid!!
That is the problem with deception, it has to be followed up by further deceptions to keep the original deception alive but hidden…….. just say’n
Tanya Levin said:
Hi here Kiwi Pirate, just to let you know we all believe you and are here to support you. There’s heaps out there so good for you for coming forward. Contact me if I can be of any help! Tanya
If this is the Tanya who stood up in Hill$ong , I want to personally congratulate you for your brave stance in bringing to light some major issues.
Evil triumphs when good people do nothing and you certainly are inspirational to many people for doing what had to be done.
The Lord bless you good !
I would like to hear your comment on the Royal commission re: ” Team Houston ” and the AoG handling of this matter.
Leaders know they must be accountable , why was not Frank directed by the AoG or Brian to confess to the Police himself ?
Christians are supposed to obey the laws of the land.
Agreed Ziggy – as one observer at the Royal Commission stated “I noticed Houston used one line at least from the Catholic hierarchy “No, I didn’t think it appropriate to shop my serial paedophile priest father/employee to the police because that would usurp the victims. Duty of care to the rest of his congregation, anyone? Justice? Is he under the misapprehension that our legal system operates on the US basis of the victim needing to prefer charges? Because given that it doesn’t, his argument has no merit at all.”
If Frank pleaded guilty to abusing children to the Police , there was no need for a protracted court case .
Frank would tell all and he would plead guilty as charged.
Surely someone out of the many victims would have provided their name and had Frank put away.
Again Hillsong is built on a lie because ” Team Houston ” as a brand was seriously flawed with criminality.
If the foundations are destroyed what will the righteous do ?
Tanya Levin said:
Hey Ziggy and everyone.
Thanks for your kind words, Z.
My take on it is too long to write here, but let’s just say i was absolutely flabbergasted by the arrogance, ignorance and contradictions, ie lies, ie perjury undertaken by the men of Hillsong this week.
Is that a good start?
It is a good start and I feel sure many people would be interested to hear more from you given the insights you have formulated over a long time.
I remember from your initial stance at Hillsong that you were concerned about the well being of the victims of the abuse.
Where and when could we hear your detailed response ?
I hope the TV media gets to telecast your response.
You waited along time to see Brian ducking for cover when he was put on the spot and was not controlling the situation like he is used to.
I was in the AoG for years and spiritually starved to death with the trash that was coming from the stage because some of them ain’t churches.
I like to think of them as Ponzi scheme churches where we get the ” VISION ‘ from the Pastor and he gets the $$$$$$ in his wallet !
Please don’t start me up ……….!!!
Wow! I was content to give Brian the benefit of the doubt on a few issues until I heard this interview. This was an example of shameless innuendo and side stepping that included a very backhanded personal attack on the victim!
However, the whole purpose of the interview seems to be for Brian to remove himself as far as possible from his father’s sin and create a strange reality in which a fiendish pedophile can just as easily be a loving father and a spiritual “hero”. In Brian’s rendition of the story his father’s concealed corruption was compartmentalized into a part of his life that didn’t spill over into his family life or ministry. This space isn’t large enough to include all the scriptures that prove this notion to be impossible.
What is of greater importance however, is the implication that this brings to Frank’s increasing number of victims. According to Brian, his Dad was a model father and a upstanding minister, but for some unknown reason, to certain people he showed his “evil side”. Victims of abuse, and those that counsel them, know full well the subtle but devastating implication behind these assertions. If Frank is only evil in the presence of specific individuals, and good at all other times, then it must be the individual’s that trigger the evil, hence they are made to feel culpable for their own abuse. Is it any wonder that only now are victims coming forward? I had accepted Brian’s assertion that he did not tell AHA that he tempted his father, until I listened to this interview and heard him say it myself.
It was stunning to hear Brian use words to describe his father such as “generous, kind” and “genuine” when talking about a man who hid the worst sin imaginable and destroyed the lives of an unknown number of innocent children. Nothing is said of the fact that this supposedly remorseful man never confessed his crimes and only admitted them to a select few under pressure. Remorse is not the same thing as the “repentance that leads to life” (2 Cor. 7:10) and it is irresponsible to suggest, as Brian does, that Frank should be forgiven because he was remorseful.
Brian contradictions don’t end there. His attempts to convince us that he was “traumatised” and in massive conflict, but totally able to act professionally and ethically leave one scratching their head. I don’t question that he was traumatized and conflicted, only that these admissions contradict his assertion that only he had the “guts” and “courage” to act as judge and jury for a crime that was committed not only against individual victims, but our whole society.
Also, no-one, but no-one is going to buy the sloppy justification for why Frank was honoured with a retirement speech, gift and pension, when his victims continue to live with the horrific memories of his abuse. Brian not only insults Frank’s victims as he uplifts Frank’s virtues, he insults the thousands of victims of sexual abuse, their families and the communities that work to bring them to a place of healing. Arguing that he was motivated to also protect his mother, a victim like himself, falls a long way short of explaining a celebration that was essentially a cover-up of his crimes.
Brian acknowledges that his pain is not as great as those of his father’s victim, yet relentlessly discusses his own shock, pain and trauma. This shameless attempt to draw sympathy and compassion away from the victims and towards himself and his own family, is the precise opposite of what true Christian leaders should do, and have done throughout history. True shepherds are too busy looking after sheep, both lost and found, to care about themselves and their own pain. A true shepherd’s focus is not their own defense, but the healing of the wounded and the suffering. How do I know? Because that’s what Jesus did.
We must ask the question, how were the sheep in Brian’s flock able to discern Frank’s evil nature when their shepherd was oblivious to it? We’re not talking about sneaky behaviour here, cheating on your taxes, telling a few lies, we’re talking about a deeply established moral rot. Brian asserts his ignorance more times than is necessary occasions, but never considers it necessary to explain how a 45 year old pastor could be spiritually oblivious to what hundreds of people in his care knew with certainty.
In all this, I know that there are some great people doing amazing things in Hillsong churches, not because of Frank and Brian Houston, but despite them. My hope is that those people rise up and realize that there is something very very wrong when your church leaders don’t consider the safety of children to be reason enough to report a crime.
I will say it again. Houston knew what his father was like as a teenager as did his sister. How do I know? I was there !!!
KiwiP , you could probably report that to the commission.
Thats solid evidence the commission needs to hear.
Can you elaborate?
Tanya Levin said:
KiwiPirate, You do have a responsibility to relay this information to someone. the royal commission has an agency knowmore.org.au that can work with you to discuss your information. given the highly sensitive nature of the matter, they can work in extreme confidentiality.
But I suspect this is bothering you. You are also free to contact me at
firstname.lastname@example.org as is anyone else who wishes to discuss private matters relating.
Well said , Amanda !
What has not been said is this.
If it came out that Frank was a Pedophile in the earlier days would Hill$ong have become the mega church it is today or would Brian have been tainted and his name spoiled.
Brian gained considerable favour on the basis that his father was popular for many years.
Team Houston was a big name brand.
IMO that Hill$ong is built on a lie , great deception and serious sexual sin.
I think Brian should step down.
I should also mention that we’re clearly instructed by Jesus, never to swear by either Heaven or earth (ie. God or man), but to make our Yes, YES and our No, NO. When Brian says that he “swear by God” that he didn’t tell AHA that he tempted his father, it not only smacks of trying to hard but it is also against clear scriptural instructions. Not a great look for a pastor of any church to not know something as straight forward as this.
Quite right Amanda and also Brian headed the National Executive of the Assemblies of God Australia !
He was well paid to do a job.
To much is given much is expected !
In the interview with Ben Fordham on 2GB on Thursday, Brian Houston said that in New Zealand back then that his sister had told him there was a story going around that Frank Houston was a homosexual, but Brian said that he hadn’t heard anything about alleged pedophilia.
Similar information also came up in the hearing about this. You would think Brian Houston would wonder why stories like that would be circulating about his dads ministry.
As I said earlier, as teenagers here in NZ we ALL knew what Frank Houston was like and avoided him like the plague. Yes his sister knew AND SO DID BRIAN.
Brian is definitely in denial and is now fostering a selective memory. Perhaps some of the teenage scaps and arguments we all got into as teenagers might jog his selective memory…
@KiwiPirate, I find it very interesting that you say that Brian had prior knowledge of what his father was like in New Zealand. I would also encourage you to contact the Royal Commission.
I picked up on something Brian said in the transcripts of the Royal Commission. Brian maintains he had no prior knowledge of his father’s actions; however he ‘knew deep down that there was truth’ to the allegations, which seemed like an odd statement until I read your comment, it all makes sense now.
It also seemed odd for someone to automatically know that there was truth to the allegations especially when it was their father and hero… anyone faced with such allegations of their own parent would not believe them unless it was first proven or they had prior knowledge. Brian’s gut feeling did not require evidence or even a confession to not doubt the truth of the allegations!
Mr Beckett Q. “I take it, then, that you wanted to know at that stage whether the allegations were true or not, didn’t you?”
Brian Houston A. “I knew deep down in my stomach. Somehow deep down in my stomach, I knew. I can’t say why, but I feel like I didn’t doubt the truth of them.”
Mr Beckett Q. “There was some truth to it; is that what you thought?”
Brian Houston A. “I felt – I felt that this is not a good situation, that, you know, it’s not going to have a good ending.”
Mr Beckett Q. “But something had led you to not be entirely surprised by the allegation that was provided to you by Mr Aghajanian?”
Brian Houston A. “Yes, I can’t say I wasn’t entirely surprised – I was totally shocked and traumatised. It’s just that somehow, call it instinct, I had a feeling that this is not just a malicious – you know.”
Mr Beckett Q. “Yes.”
Brian Houston A. “So, in that sense, yes, I had yet to find out just what was right and what was not right. I just, also, as I mentioned, deep down in my gut felt that there was something more to this.”
I agree 100% that the Royal commission has not dug deep enough.
They need to dig further into the ‘restoration process’ that Frank was put in. Brian Houston states in the transcript “He [Frank] had already been told to go to Ian Woods’ – the supervising state executive’s – services during the course of 2000.”
Ian Woods was leading the ‘restoration process’. The Royal Commission fail to realise that while Frank attended Ian Wood’s services (Hawkesbury Christian Church) it was not made general knowledge to the congregation that they were welcoming a paedophile into their lives!
Some damming quotes by people who attended Hawkesbury Christian Church at the time (These quotes are from a facebook thread I’ve been following.)
“The instructions was given to treat him [Frank] like royalty and there was certainly no warning that we were harbouring a paedophile”
“Frank was invited into our congregation, he was treated like royalty. As the father of three young kinds, I was not told that there was any allegation against him, I happily let him sit and chat with my son after services (Something he did quite frequently)”
“Questions like what did Ian know when he placed Frank in a seat of honour (lord of the visitors lounge) and welcomed him into out congregation from the pulpit and by name… the more I read of the transcript, the more it seems likely that Ian was aware”
According to the transcripts both Brian and Ian were well aware of what was going on but did not let the congregation know. Says a lot doesn’t it!
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