Hillsong megachurch corporation has been plagued with sex scandal after sex scandal over the last several years. In 2020, the pastor of Hillsong’s NYC branch, Carl Lentz, was fired by CEO Brian Houston after it was revealed that he had been involved in multiple affairs with a Muslim woman. After that scandal, Houston expressed remorse for not dealing with that situation in a timely manner and doing something about it sooner.
In an email to church members obtained by Reformation Charlotte, Houston echos our sentiments in the leadership failure of the organization as a whole. The issue wasn’t just that Lentz, a biblically unqualified pastor, had committed moral treason against his church. The problem was much greater than that and Lentz should have never been elevated to that kind of position to begin with.
The email reads in part below:
I’m sorry to say that we found significant ways that Hillsong East Coast culture has failed to reflect Hillsong global culture in the past. Every Hillsong location must honor our commitment to creating a caring and healthy environment for our team, volunteers and members.
Under the previous lead pastor, this was not always the case. Serious concerns and incidents must never be ignored. When problems arise, proper and effective reporting mechanisms must be in place. And proper guidelines should be enforced. And when failings occur, especially among senior leaders, they must be addressed.
Although I wasn’t aware of the moral failures until late last year, I regret that I did not deal with the leadership issue much earlier. I chose to trust at times when I should have taken more decisive action. I gave the benefit of the doubt when I shouldn’t have. Our global team is determined to reflect carefully on what we’ve learned and make any changes necessary, even difficult ones, to guarantee that all our leaders are held to the highest standard.
At the time, Lentz, who was fired last year amid “moral failures” — which were not mentioned in the original letter sent by Brian Houston, founder and CEO of Hillsong, to Hillsong NYC staff — admitted to being unfaithful in his marriage, but did not go into detail.
Later in 2021, another Hillsong pastor, Darnell Barrett of New Jersey, also resigned amid his own sex scandal.
Houston, who is also caught up in a child abuse cover-up scandal involving his late father, Frank Houston, who helped him found Hillsong, appears to be very good and running at business but very bad at being a Christian leader. Now, Houston himself is caught up in his own sex scandal.
ABC Australia now reports that the current serving leader of Hillsong Church, Phil Dooley, who took over the leadership role as Houston stepped away to deal with his legal issues, held an 800-member leadership meeting and sent out a letter to Hillsong staff and leadership around the globe detailing the gruesome revelations about Houston.
Dooley stated, according to ABC, that “we have sadly been dealing with two complaints made against Pastor Brian over the last 10 years,” and that “we apologize unreservedly to the people affected by Pastor Brian’s actions and commit to being available for any further assistance we can provide.”
According to ABC, the first incident involved Houston sending inappropriate text messages to a female staff member who later stated that she was “upset and felt awkward” and made a complaint to Hillsong’s general manager, George Aghajanian. The nature of the text messages, according to ABC, were sexual; one reading ‘If I was with you, I’d like to kiss and cuddle you,’ words of that nature”.
Houston blamed his sin on “sleeping tablets,” apologizing to the woman, according to the report.
The second incident, which purportedly happened in 2019, involved a woman that Houston met who was not a part of Hillsong Church. ABC reports:
Pastor Dooley said Mr Houston met a woman, who was not a member of the church, in the foyer of the Pullman Hotel.
“It was after one of the conference nights and he was drinking with a group,” Pastor Dooley said.
“Later that evening, Pastor Brian attempted to get into his room but didn’t have his room key and ended up knocking on the door to the woman’s room.
“She opened the door and he went into her room.
“The truth is we don’t know what happened next. The woman has not said there was any sexual activity. Brian has said there was no sexual activity but he was in the room for 40 minutes.”
Which begs the question: what exactly were you doing in the room for 40 minutes?
Once again, the incident was blamed on medication. Still, an investigation by the board found that Houston had “breached” the “code of conduct” and placed this woman in a situation by Houston that she should not have been in. Houston, who had apparently become dependent on alcohol, was then asked by Hillsong to take some time off.
“Unfortunately, he didn’t abide by that. He did conduct some ministry, I believe on three separate occasions… and he also did, as he would say, consume some alcohol.”
Whether it be their sleazy rendition of Silent Night during Christmas, their posing of a nearly naked man on stage at a women’s conference, its cover-ups of pedophile pastors, having openly homosexual worship leaders, defending abortion, complaining about the death penalty, or the fact that celebrities love them because they “don’t teach that book with Moses and stuff,” one thing is for sure, Hillsong has been an outright dangerous threat to churches around the world. And now, Houston now has to answer for his own sex scandals after disciplining others in his organization for the same thing.