Wow. It’s amazingly disturbing… one of our most questionable American exports–televangelism and its excesses–has finally reached a crescendo in Australia. Millions of tax-free dollars flow through this mega-corporation (one could hardly call it a church at this point) and precious little appears to actually filter down to those in desperate need. Notice how these Aussie reporters don’t pull any punches.
9 thoughts on “Hillsong Australia Church Exposé”
Frankly I don’t see this as quite the same thing as what Benny Hinn or the Copelands do. I don’t see fake healings, and i don’t see any hard health/wealth doctrine. While I’m not much of a fan of mega churches, and I am certainly against the idea that you have to buy some worship music CD to “Experience God’s Power,” I’d still expect a place like that to have some serious overhead and expenses to fill. I didn’t see any real evidence for the churches leaders so called “lavish lifestyle.” The piece just said they travel internationally and recieve “love donations”. I hear words tossed out like “pyramid scheme” and “suitcases of money.” But the most evidence of corruption here is if the church is giving enough to actual direct charity work. And that seems ambiguous…and seems like not real fact based reporting.
Having said that – from the perspective of a believer, I’d like to think Hillsong could take a wake up call and a look in the mirror. Just what message are they sending to the world. And if this piece accurately reflects the church’s growing focus on money, why? It is concerning the direction this group seems to be heading for not traditionally being in the camp of even softer health/wealth teaching. This is troubling.
This piece is good but incomplete. It seems like there is a desire to “find dirt” on Hillsong and their pastors. The woman who was interviewed comes across as having an axe to grind as well as some of the others. While the Houstons are being accused of greed, it seems like some of the others interviewed are just as guilty as lusting after their money. The following is recorded in Luke 12:13-15:
13 And someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbiter over you?” 15 And He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
I am not so much concerned about the Houstons avoiding paying taxes. The real complaint here should be against the Australian government but watch out what you hope for, because I think that any government would love to rescind all tax-exempt entities, and that would include all the charities that are barely making ends meet.
Having said all that, the lack of financial transparency of Hillsong and the apparent luxurious lifestyle of the Houstons is not what Christ as taught. I agree with Nathan in the previous post that the Houstons should use this as a wake-up call from the Lord to examine themselves and seek to live as truly obedient to Scripture as possible. It is so easy to forget in the midst of even spiritual success that Christianity is based on self-sacrifice and voluntary suffering of God Himself.
A church like this one, and all the other ones around the world, exposes the hearts of the people who attend. Lovers of self, lovers of money(1Timothy 6:3-10). People who have a hope in this world, not the one to come. Give your money to your poor neighbor, buy groceries for a single parent, take your elderly neighbor to the doctor, cook a meal for the child of addicted parents. This is Yashuwa ! This is true Christianity. High standards of love and compassion we all need to strive for, including me. Father God does not want your money, he wants your life!
Hillsong will never lose it’s tax free status. There’s not a Government in Australia with the courage to change the law.
That may be true. So it is up to the people. Stop attending their services. Stop tithing. Stop buying their music and stop attending their conferences/courses. Find another church – one that is small, sincere and most of all transparent. They sell the Feel Good mentality and nothing more. Same issue is going down at The Full Gospel Church in South Korea. But there the chief pastor and his sons are being charged and are facing the law. The same should happen here!
The rank & file of Hillsong are nothing more than warm bodies there to put money in the collection buckets and stroke the egos of the pastors and band! Hillsong is nothing more than old time snake oil hard sell hypocritical hucksterism with an Australian accent!
I think that any money from churches that is not being spent on charity should be taxed. The spendings should be published and accounted for as people are putting their hard earned money into their churches believing it is going to help others. God is the head of the church and he is fair and just and would require senior leaders and pastors to be responsible, wise and accountable. The greater the responsibility God gives you, the more he expects from you and he expects leaders to do right by the people. The last thing God wants is to be discredited and shamed and everytime a christian is corrupt or does wrong, non christians begin to see a God that is cruel and unfair. It is hard to show the glory and mercy of God, his love and his miracles, when corrupt christians are tainting his name. God said so many churches would end up corrupt. God is not at fault for what corrupt people do. We have free will and unfortunately, church is where all the wolves come to prey….the church is an easy target. Lastly, church leaders who are living a very lavish lifestyle are not doing well by God. While I see nothing wrong with having a nice home and things, church leaders who are having multiple homes, cars, jet setting, etc., while poor church members are giving all they are earning, it is hugely unfair and unlawful. As a pastor myself, I could never live well above the members of the church.
I don’t think I need to live poorly, but not so lavish that it becomes shocking. Those who love their life will lose it and those willing to lose their life, will keep it.
Endemic to Pentecostalism is a profoundly anti-intellectual ethos. Sitting very comfortably alongside that ethos for many of Hillsong’s devotees is a distinct aversion to asking questions and facing the truth. After all – to question authority is to question the authority of the so-called “word”, right? Nowhere is this retrograde line of thinking more apparent than amongst the enthusiastic revellers I’ve met at Hillsong colour-and-movement festivals in Sydney’s bible-belt of the North-West.
The prior (and decidedly more secular) Federal Government in Australia made some significant moves towards enforcing greater accountability and more transparent processes around the church end of the charitable sector. A sector regulatory body was established. Tax laws began the painful path towards investigation and reform. And scrutiny of (and justice for) the committing of abhorrent past crimes of paedophilia placed the entire institution of religion under the microscope via a depthful and ongoing Royal Commission. I know, because I’ve occupied three senior positions across three of the more reputable and responsible charities, and I welcome the opportunity to expose scoundrels, charlatans and criminals – like the Houston empire – who have operated with almost complete impunity in our midst.
But will it actually happen? Probably not.
Unfortunately a new Federal Government has emerged, and its ranks are swollen with those whom represent the privileged and protected end of the faith spectrum. The charity commission is beginning to wobble, beset with internal and external white-anting. Same can be said of the proposed changes to taxation laws – the howls of protest from those influential within the religious sector finally have an ear inside parliament. And the Houstons of course, God Bless their medically-enhanced and oh-so-innocent toothy grins, continue to skip through with their image largely unmolested (if you will pardon the reference to the aforementioned) and their accumulating personal wealth largely uncontested.
Such is the enduring mystique of the “Cult of Personality”. Such is the simplicity of marketing religion when you dispense with any theological depth and turn it into a McDonald’s cheeseburger. Such is the disturbing power of contemporary Pentecostalism and empires such as Hillsong. .
Don’t ask questions. Don’t think for yourself. Just believe.
…I should add too that the reporter Tracey Grimshaw and “A Current Affair” is the kind of shock-jock TV journalism that is completely lampooned by anyone with half a brain.
But in a strange irony, it’s the audience of shows like ACA that mirror the supporter typology of Hillsong folks. There’s not a lot of thinking evident, they are happy to run with the mob’s mentality, there’s no need for fact-checking, they are happy to be a lynch-mob in the court of general public opinion.
Could this be the Achilles heel for Hillsong and their ilk? The very anti-intellectualism that their creed espouses could also contribute to their undoing?
Now that would be a rapture worth hanging around for. Hallelujah!