The anti-LGBTQI Hillsong Church was rocked by fresh scandal this week after Brian Houston, founder of the global megachurch, resigned following an internal investigation that found he had behaved inappropriately towards two women in the past decade. 

Trigger Warning: This story has details of child sexual abuse, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

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This comes months after Brian announced in January that he was stepping down as director of all Hillsong boards to defend himself in a criminal trial in Australia, where he is charged with allegedly concealing his father’s sexual abuse of a young male child. 

Concealing Father’s Child Sexual Abuse Offences

The NSW police had alleged that Brian had not reported the child sexual abuse by his father Frank Houston. 

The allegations against Frank, related to sexual abuse of young boys when he was a pastor in New Zealand and Australia in the 1960s and 1970s. One of the nine boys had come forward to lodge a complaint that Frank had sexually abused him between the ages of seven and 12.

Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston and his father Frank Houston.

In 1999, the victim’s mother reported Frank to the Assemblies of God denomination led by Brian, who was legally required to inform the police. Frank died in 2004. 

Following a two year investigation, the NSW Police announced in August 2021 that they were charging Brian “for knowingly concealing information relating to child sexual offence”. 

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Brian at the time denied the allegations and said he would defend himself against the charges. 

Behaving Inappropriately With Women

The new allegations against Brian relate to complaints that were filed by two women. The first complaint was about “inappropriate text messages” that Brian had allegedly sent to a female staffer in 2013.

The church claimed that Brian had sent the messages under the influence of sleeping tablets and he had immediately apologised to the woman. 

The second incident dates back to 2019, during a Hillsong annual conference at the Sydney Olympic Park that was opened by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. 

Brian is alleged to have knocked on the hotel door of a woman who was not part of the church and spent 40 minutes inside the room. The church claimed that while there was “no sexual activity”, the woman had filed a complaint. 

The board said that Brian had breached the “Hillsong Pastor’s Code of Conduct”. Pastor Phil Dooley, who was appointed as the acting head of the church, said that the board had accepted Brian’s resignation as senior Pastor and “change is needed”. 

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“We ask that you continue to pray for them and the entire Houston family during this challenging time,” Dooley said in a statement. 

Hillsong Church Opposed To Gay Marriages

Brian founded the megachurch in 1983 in Baulkham Hills, NSW, Australia, and counted Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kylie and Kendall Jenner and Kourtney Kardashian among the church’s followers. Allegations of homophobia and racism have followed the church for years.

In his blog ‘Do I love gay people?, Brian said that while the church welcomes everyone it remains opposed to gay marriages.

He outlined the Church’s position that it affirms “traditional Christian thought on gay lifestyles and gay marriage. I do believe God’s word is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

“Hillsong Church welcomes ALL people but does not affirm all lifestyles… Put clearly, we do not affirm a gay lifestyle and because of this we do not knowingly have actively gay people in positions of leadership, either paid or unpaid,” Brian had said.

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

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