Megachurch Hillsong founder accused of covering up Child Sexual Abuse cases
The Megachurch Hillsong is surrounded by controversy all over again. This time, the founder of Hillsong, 67-year-old Brian Houston, has been charged with covering up his late father’s child sexual abuse case. New South Wales police in Australia served Brian on Thursday, for the crime of covering up serious indictable offenses. These charges came after an investigation, that began in 2019 and uncovered a lot of horrible details.
The investigation found that the Hillsong founder covered up his father, Frank Houston’s child sexual abuse. The late pastor was accused of allegedly sexually abusing children according to the police. The statement from the police read:
Police will allege in court the man knew information relating to the sexual abuse of a young male in the 1970s and failed to bring that information to the attention of police.
However, in response, the pastor has denied these allegations. Brian Houston of Hillsong told Buzzfeed in a statement:
These charges have come as a shock to me given how transparent I’ve always been about this matter. I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.
Hillsong church refutes the allegations, while distancing themself from Frank Houston, Brian Houston’s father
This sexual abuse scandal has engulfed the name of the Hillsong church since 2014. Ever since then, the Australian media has reported this case extensively. Moreover, the church also defended Brian Houston in their statements ever since the scandal emerged. They did so by repudiating any claims made by any victims, but interestingly they also distanced themselves from Frank Houston, who died in 2004. One of the victims who came out against the late pastor was merely 7 years old when the abuse happened. The church said:
The abuse by Frank Houston occurred many years before Hillsong church existed. It is an indisputable fact that Pastor Brian is not a perpetrator of abuse, has never been accused of abuse, and took immediate action to expose and stop a child abuser.
According to Brian, after he found out about the scandal, he immediately confronted his father, saying he made sure he never “preached or served in any ministry capacity again”. When Brian later founded the Hillsong church with his wife, Bobbie, in 1983 in Sydney, they went on to absorb Frank Houston’s Sydney Christian Life Centre. Since then, the church has expanded across 30 countries, with 10 churches in the United States alone. And so, Frank Houston was never a part of Hillsong’s staff. Hillsong also further released a statement on the scandal, saying:
Upon being told of his father’s actions, Brian Houston confronted his father, reported the matter to the National Executive Assemblies of God in Australia, relayed the matter to the governing board of Sydney Christian Life Centre, and subsequently made a public announcement to the church. Brian sought to honor the victim’s multiple requests not to inform the police.
Past scandals involving the church
That said, this is not the only sexual abuse scandal that the Hillsong Church has found itself in. They faced a similar scandal in New York when the lead pastor of its New York City branch, Carl Lentz, was having an affair outside of his marriage. As a result, many prominent celebrities disassociated themselves from the church, which included Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. The church also has many other high-profile followers, including the Kardashians.