Hillsong Sex Abuse Scandal to be Investigated by Australian Officials

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Investigators will look into sexual abuse allegations against Hillsong Pastor Brian Houston’s late father and founder of the Pentecostal movement, Frank Houston, in Australia

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Sometimes I just want to scream and today is one of those days. This morning a reader alerted me to the breaking Hillsong sex abuse inquiry in Australia. The sex abuse allegation is quite old, but the inquiry is new:

Child sex abuse allegations against the man who founded the pentecostal movement which became the Hillsong Church will be examined by a national inquiry. (Source)

 

Hillsong is not just some church in Australia. Do you know Hillsong? My fingers have jammed the ivories playing this song too many times to count:

 

 

 

Oh, and this one. Sometimes when I’m playing this song, it moves me so much the tears flow and I can’t see my chord chart. Thankfully my fingers and ear knows the song will enough to find the keys, but oh, how the music facilitates prayer in a deeply personal way:

 

 

 

I’ve been playing these songs in churches we’ve attended from the East Coast to the West Coast over the last decade or so. They are widely popular and probably are played in some of your churches. Some of these songs have been so powerful to me – – they have helped me transcend the spiritual abuse I have endured, helped me to focus on God, His goodness, His graciousness, His truths.

And so I started digging deeper. Hillsong’s influence is far more than their popular praise and worship music:

In any given week, Hillsong estimates that more than 30,000 people will attend one of its six Australian campuses.

But an even greater number, estimated at more than 50,000, attend Hillsong off-shoots in London, Cape Town, Paris, Kiev, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen and New York. A new campus is slated to open soon in Los Angeles.  (ReligionNews.com)

Since receiving the e-mail this morning, I’ve seen the story spread to the US:

Hillsong Church will be investigated by Australian officials regarding child abuse allegations against Pastor Brian Houston’s late father. The probing is part of the Royal Commission’s larger investigation involving similar abuse among other Australian congregations.

Frank Houston, who helped build Australia’s Pentecostal movement, admitted before his passing in 2004 to sexually abusing a boy in New Zealand in the 1970s. Now, Hillsong Church will be investigated in a public hearing in October regarding the matter. (The Christian Post)

And it really is more than just a sex abuse scandal. It also deals with same-sex attraction. How many times have we heard of church leaders preaching boldly against homosexuality or sexual immorality, and then later we find out they have same-sex attraction and have been covering it up, sexually abusing children, addicted to porn, or get caught in some other sexually immoral behavior?  Ted Haggard, anyone?

In the following article excerpt we read quotes from Peter Laughton who was 23 years old when he was “ministered” to by Houston. This is what kind of “ministry work” Frank Houston did with Peter:

Sexual abuse content below:  Warning!

Responses to Lawsuit Filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries

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“My counselling sessions by the senior minister were nothing more than sexual abuse disguised in the form of the need of a father’s love and discipline,” Laughton says. “Through my naivety, I endured the naked beatings, the eternal bum caresses and masturbating into bottles, among other things.”

Laughton was training to be a pastor. He says the abuse continued for about four years until 1984. “I look at it now and think, ‘God, I was really naive to fall for that.’ ” And believing himself cured, he married.

Laughton’s faith went first. He tells the Herald that before leaving the church in the early 1990s he gave an account to another pastor of the abusive therapy he’d received. But as far as Laughton is aware, no action was taken against the old man until he was forced into retirement by his son Brian after an allegation of pedophilia emerged in about 2000. (Hillsong – the church with no answers)

 

We read of yet another  person losing their faith most likely due to the abuse. Is there not one place in Christianity untouched by abuse and corruption? Lord have mercy on us all.

 

Related articles:

76 comments on “Hillsong Sex Abuse Scandal to be Investigated by Australian Officials

  1. There’s also “Lead Me to the Cross”, a song I’ve played on the ivories many times, and has moved me at least as many times as I’ve played it. Also “The Stand” (not to be confused with the Stephen King novel…).

    How can this happen at a church that has composed such beautiful music?

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  2. It never ends. Abuse is everywhere. Many ministries put out some wonderful music and the occasional great book, but behind the scenes there is pure evil.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It has been said that Christians are the only ones who shoot their wounded. This story provides just such an example.

    The overreaction to this story is appalling. Stop listening to powerful music because a dead pastor’s sin has been revealed? Really? Did the offending Pastor Houston write the songs that many here are now prepared to abandon – or perceive as some form of cruel hypocrisy? This is typical Christian overreach. Why should we not accept and embrace and worship our God when Hillsong words and music draw us into His presence and reflect His grace and love and power and majesty?

    Were the Spirit-filled believers who wrote these songs held somehow held captive in a spell cast by the now-deceased Pastor Houston that renders those songs anathema? Unbelievable. Those songs are no less powerful today than they were yesterday.

    This is a time to come alongside the believers from Hillsong Church, to stand with them, not against them, to pray that God’s grace and power and truth can be seen in the midst of this tragic revelation.

    The church is made up of imperfect beings and yes, there will always be hypocrites in our midst. If you are looking for a church without sin in it, then you might as well give it up right now. Be prepared: your church might just be next. Even so, that will not change who our God or the power of truth set to music to draw us into His presence.

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  4. THE MODEL IS BROKEN. THE MODEL IS BROKEN. How many times do people have to say it? The exalted “pastor” and megachurch are so far from biblical reality it is ridiculous. There is no way to have true accountability in such an organization. When are we going to realize what the priesthood of all believers truly means. Dump the model!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cindy Burrell,

    I don’t see where in the article, or in comments, where anyone said that they were going to stop listening to Hillsong’s music.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I haven’t read of anyone saying they’re going to stop listening or playing Hillsong music because of this. It’s a little late for that since the abuse occurred years later. Anything that a human touches is going to get tainted with sin sometime or another. I pointed out their music because of the far reaching ministry they have.

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  7. cindy burrell,
    Well said. The only people that we should be concerned about is those that are guilty of these heinous type of crimes. The music is still beautiful and worshipping God.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks Julie Anne. I had not heard of Hillsong until last fall. The live stream of Strange Fire’s Q&A included video clips of the large gatherings. JMac will get some credit for sounding the alarm for Hillsong before others, just like he did with Driscoll.

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  9. Sounds like the only big surprise is how long it took to launch the investigation. Truly, our God wields the secular authority to to bring justice where those who pretend to come in His name would sow eternal destruction in the lives of others.

    I agree with Cindy Burrell concerning the music, assuming the composers were themselves innocent. It is my personal opinion that music comes from the very depths of our souls, from the place where God’s Spirit speaks to our spirits. I judge theology, in part, on the basis of the character of the theologian. Where the composer is morally corrupt, I would fear that the music issuing from their deep soul would have even greater power to destroy than would false theology.

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  10. “In any given week, Hillsong estimates that more than 30,000 people will attend one of its six Australian campuses.

    “But an even greater number, estimated at more than 50,000, attend Hillsong off-shoots in London, Cape Town, Paris, Kiev, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen and New York. A new campus is slated to open soon in Los Angeles.”

    Anybody else besides me thinking this may have given Mark Driscoll some ideas for the future of Mars Hill before the latest scandals?

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  11. And it really is more than just a sex abuse scandal. It also deals with same-sex attraction. How many times have we heard of church leaders preaching boldly against homosexuality or sexual immorality, and then later we find out they have same-sex attraction and have been covering it up, sexually abusing children, addicted to porn, or get caught in some other sexually immoral behavior? Ted Haggard, anyone?

    I can tell you the dynamic: Self-medicating and self-treating something you don’t dare tell anyone. Like recovering alcoholic Billy Sunday preaching against Demon Rum or Rush Limbaugh fanboying over the War on Drugs while fighting a secret Oxycontin addiction. Because the more you fight it in secret, the more you preach against it in others.

    And it’s bad when it’s a Christianese Public Figure like a CELEBRITY Pastor, CELEBRITY Televangelist, or other Big Dog. Because he doesn’t dare go public or all the other Christians (from Big Dog to pew-warmer) will turn on him like a feral dog pack. (Especially if he’s the type who throws ’em under the bus and brags about it — that leads to a LOT of long knives being sharpened.)

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  12. The only motives I can think of for being a mega church pastor are money, fame and power. It doesn’t seem like real ministry to be so divorced from the congregation that all they see of you is when you appear to speak, surrounded by production values.

    I was never called to the ministry but had I been, I couldn’t imagine not wanting to marry, bury, and baptize members of the congregation, not visiting people in the hospital and nursing homes, not being called by people in times of crisis, not getting to know the youth of the congregation by helping with their activities.

    I think of my former pastor. I attended his church from my teens to middle age when he retired. His daughter and I were friends and I was frequently at his house. Since he had children, the Youth Group often had get togethers at his house, too. He made visits to the sick, disabled, and elderly. He taught Bible classes and preached three times a week. People in the community who did not attend church but had met him would call on him for spiritual counseling. An older woman to whom I had happened to introduce him, an agnostic, called him when she was dying. He was immensely kind.

    My point is that he was the same person in every situation; he couldn’t have secretly been a different sort of person because he interacted with others so much and we could see what a good man he was. As a member of the congregation, you never really know a mega church pastor.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I agree, Marsha. My daughter and I visited a church where they have a live praise and worship band, but the pastor is recorded and so one of 5 area churches gets to see him live, the rest saw saw him on the screen as he preached his sermon. I could have saved the gas money and watched a televangelist on tv.

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  14. Going back to the music, I won’t put words into Julie Anne’s mouth, but I understand why she mentioned the Hillsong music. Hillsong music is widely used by a number of churches as praise and worship music, yet many may not realize that Hillsong is actually a church that the music has come out of. So, the music is only meant to help make a connection to the place. The music as able to make a stand on its own.

    I, too, am surprised that it has taken so long for there to be a formal investigation. I wonder if the problem was reported to the authorities when it was first revealed in 2000.

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  15. I read something about this a few weeks ago, that Brian Houston fired his own father over allegations of molestation. Brian was quoted as saying that he was utterly disgusted by the thought of it. This was included in an article about Hillsong planting a church in CA. The old man has been dead since 2004. How is he going to be interviewed or held accountable now? The issue, I would suppose, is who knew about it, were reporting laws violated, and what was done about it? When it takes years or decades for this information to come out, there is an automatic disconnect because of the length of time that has passed, which has a way of dimming peoples’ memories, making witnesses hard to find and obscuring details that would have been important. One highly publicized case in our area back in the 1990s involved a therapist who was accused of planting “false memories” in the minds of some of his patients, resulting in allegations of abuse that could not be substantiated. He was eventually sued and put out of practice. As a result of this case, child therapists in Arizona have been strongly cautioned about leading children to make statements. I don’t think it’s right to impute the sin of a pastor onto everyone in his church. Many talented songwriters have contributed to the Hillsong music and I think there are many logical fallacies associated with blaming the whole church. We use a fair amount of their music in my church, and I enjoy listening to it outside of church (although I have some doctrinal differences, which are secondary issues). I think that the blogosphere is becoming too much a mechanism for passing along information that may or may not be out of date.

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  16. That’s right, Kathi – – Hillsong is far more than just that church over in Australia – so many of us sing their songs often in our worship services. As a matter of fact, since posting this, I have a window opened up to YouTube right now with Hillsong songs queued up 🙂

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  17. Bystander – I think you’re right – the inquiry is to find out more of those kinds of details – who knew what when and how were the abuse cases handled. I’ve read there is more than Laughton’s case.
    Having the authorities involved is good – it makes churches take a serious look at how they handle sex abuse cases.

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  18. The related articles seem to indicate that some of those accused were punished, and that the church welcomes the inquiries, and that none of this is new news. I would hope that churches have learned enough by now to have procedures in place to protect children from abuse, and to quickly respond to allegations in accordance with the law. I wish I knew why people can’t keep their hands off children, especially professing Christians. To me, it seems as simple as refraining from stabbing people.

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  19. Please be aware that this Royal Commission is not a forensic or criminal investigation. In America I guess you don’t have any such things as Royal Commissions, so I don’t know what you have the might be somewhat similar.

    The Royal Commission has been set up by the Australian Government. The Commission conducts public and private hearings and they also allow people to share their story in writing if they do not wish to appear in person.

    On this page
    http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/public-hearings it says:
    “The Royal Commission holds formal public hearings to hear evidence about child sexual abuse within institutions. The hearings do not focus on individual cases, but instead focus on case studies of how institutions have responded to allegations and proven instances of child sexual abuse. . . . It’s important to remember that the Royal Commission is not a court of law and cannot make decisions about criminal matters. Rather, the Commissioners will deliver recommendations based on what they discover during a public hearing.”

    So calling it ‘an investigation’ is correct, but it is NOT a criminal investigation.

    Why ‘Royal’? Australia is still part of the British Commonwealth and in a sense under the monarch of Great Britain, hence the term ‘Royal Commission’. But in practice, only Australian Governments (state or federal) can instigate Royal Commissions, using the delegated royal authority of our (national) Governor General or (state) Governors.

    It is a way for our governments (federal or state) to shine a searchlight on a certain problem and let all citizens contribute their submissions so that the Commission can make recommendations to the Government about how that problem can be best addressed and avoided in the future. And because it allows all citizens to make submissions to the Commission, it gives us all a say. It costs a lot of money, but is a very good thing when done rightly.

    Many survivors of child sexual abuse from institutions have been telling their stories to the Commission, and the overall effect is that victims are now being taken more seriously, and institutions (including churches) are being rightly questioned about their past (mis)conduct and urged to make changes (if they have not already done so) so that such things do not occur in the future.

    The spin-off of this Royal Commission is very good for all survivors of abuse — whether they be sexual abuse, child abuse, domestic abuse, spiritual abuse. From what I’ve observed, it has made survivors more confident to disclose and has made the community more likely to believe them and to understand the ongoing trauma they may be suffering.

    The Royal Commission has just been given an extension of time in which to complete its report and recommendations. This has been deemed necessary because so many survivors still keep coming forward wanting to tell their stories. The snowball has gathered momentum and size as it’s been rolling down the slope. . .

    BTW, the precipitating thing which led to the setting up of this Royal Commission was the appalling way the Roman Catholic Church in particular had responded to allegations that some priests had committed child sexual abuse.

    You can learn more about how this Royal Commission came to be, by watching this TV special:
    http://www.abc.net.au/austory/specials/beforethestorm/default.htm
    It’s an inspiring story — the story of Joanne McCarthy who was indefatigably pursued her role as a journalist in a provincial town in Australia. Her work shed so much light on the Catholic Church’s wicked coverups that it eventually led the then Prime Minister (Julia Gillard) to set up this Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse in Institutions.

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  20. Bravo to Peter Laughton for sharing his story. I hope the man gets the love and support he deserves. What a horrible abuse of power by Houston.

    Anyway, there’s no point in thinking that we can identify evil pastors early in their career. Some people just go wrong later in life. We see this in the Bible all the time. The great warrior David murders one of his most loyal friends. Gideon ends up worshiping idols. Moses’ God-chosen co-leaders Aaron and Miriam go the wrong way. Paul’s trusted co-workers abandon him. We all have the capacity to do wrong, a lot of wrong, especially when we are under stress.

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  21. “We all have the capacity to do wrong, a lot of wrong, especially when we are under stress.”

    Actually, a feeling of entitlement is more likely than stress.

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  22. ” If you are looking for a church without sin in it, then you might as well give it up right now”

    I never really understand this thinking. Are our choices sinless perfect or evil? If the fact that sin exists in a church a good reason not to expose it? Or is Cindy saying that sin is expected and no big deal? (That sort of thinking just spits on the Cross if you ask me as Jesus Christ loves justice, truth, transparency)

    ” Be prepared: your church might just be next. Even so, that will not change who our God or the power of truth set to music to draw us into His presence.”

    I would hazard a guess that many here would be the first ones to expose such heinous sin after what they have seen and experienced. Because they care about the victim(s) and so does Jesus Christ. Do you really think Jesus Christ wants evil done “In His Name” swept under the rug?

    Your comment reminds of the thinking that went into having Jewish Orchestra players at the death camps.

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  23. Why is the western church so consumed by and with the “leadership” in churches these days? Why does the life of the church revolve around the pastor/pastors, church board, elders, deacons and deaconesses and why are these people placed upon the golden calf of being heralded as the “important people” in the church.

    Many within the Nicolaitan church, and this is what we have in these times, for we serve these special people in offices rather than serving our LORD Jesus Christ, who commanded us to be servants of the least of these. I have discovered that the hearts of those we choose to allow to lord over us do not possess pure hearts as I once thought. Most in leadership seek to have followers unto themselves and rarely, if ever, even mention the LORDSHIP of Jesus Christ in their lives.

    And the chaos these so called “leaders” purposely inflict on those they deem “unworthy” is legion. Shame on leaders who abuse their hierarchal position for they will have to give an answer to King Jesus one day unless they repent. Lord have mercy upon those hurt and abused by such ministers of satan.

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  24. “read something about this a few weeks ago, that Brian Houston fired his own father over allegations of molestation. Brian was quoted as saying that he was utterly disgusted by the thought of it. This was included in an article about Hillsong planting a church in CA. The old man has been dead since 2004. How is he going to be interviewed or held accountable now? ”

    His son knew and fired him but it was not reported to the authorities? Do the “Houston’s” own the church? Is it sort of their family empire?

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  25. “Many within the Nicolaitan church, and this is what we have in these times, for we serve these special people in offices rather than serving our LORD Jesus Christ, who commanded us to be servants of the least of these. I have discovered that the hearts of those we choose to allow to lord over us do not possess pure hearts as I once thought. Most in leadership seek to have followers unto themselves and rarely, if ever, even mention the LORDSHIP of Jesus Christ in their lives.”

    Katy, That is EXACTLY what they are: Nicolaitans. “Conqueror of the people” And God says He HATES it. Twice in Revelation.

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  26. “Do the “Houston’s” own the church? Is it sort of their family empire?”

    Actually, in many Pentecostal churches (I’m hesitant to say all. I’m sure there are more balanced ones.) that is exactly how it’s viewed. Nepotism runs rampant. Churches are often referred to as “Brother so-and-so’s” church.

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  27. So, Brian Houston could very well be one of those “ministers” that I’ve seen on TV at 3:00am on Sunday morning saying, “I can feel the Lord telling me $300, just send $300 and he will set you up with wealth like he has given to me.” The guy has already talked about his multiple properties, mansions and 7 ponds. All bought and paid for on everyone elses $300.

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  28. Brenda’s comment led me on a search of Hillsong and tithing. I did find an article where Houston believes VERY fervently in tithing. (Sounds very Pentecostal to me.)
    But even more interesting, especially since Julie Anne talks about Hillsong’s influence on the Christian music scene, was this:
    http://hillsongchurchwatch.com/tag/tithing/

    “GEOFF BULLOCK KNOWS ALL about Hillsong’s brand power and merchandising. He helped build it, even coming up with the name Hillsong more than 17 years ago. He launched the church on the international Christian music scene when he wrote most of the original songs, such as Power of Your Love, Refresh My Heart and Have Faith in God. For the church’s first decade he was Brian Houston’s best friend. For eight years, until a messy split in 1995, he ran the music department, nerve centre of “the brand”. Although his songs are now rarely played at Hillsong, they are popular on the international Christian music scene and Bullock lives off composition royalties paid through APRA (the Australasian Performing Rights Association).”

    The whole article discusses many people who had bad experiences with Hillsong. It’s not terribly surprising. Where you find the cover-up of sexual abuse you often find other abuses as well.

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  29. Here is another interesting comment regarding Hillsong’s music.

    http://hillsongchurchwatch.com/2014/09/19/i-was-a-christless-creedless-and-clueless-christian-in-hillsong-a-testimony-of-gods-grace/

    “What makes me angry is how, in the past, Hillsong had always portrayed a bias against churches that are traditional. It was infused into my thinking that I was involved in something that was Spirit-filled and divinely relevant. I was told to think of traditional churches, like the Anglican or Baptist churches, as religious, spiritually dead, white-washed tombs, dull, boring, lifeless, full of religious spirits and so on.

    I’m now seeing how Hillsong has changed tactics. They are introducing their false theology and influence into those same ‘traditional’ churches (those same apparently ‘dead, white-washed tombs’ etc) through their music. They’re trying to impact on all denominations by pushing their all-inclusive ‘Jesus’, that same ‘Jesus’ who lacks any form of biblical integrity, with Hillsong leadership showing a total absence of sound doctrine pointing to Him.”

    What I’m taking away from this is that the intent of Hillsong’s music was for manipulation of some sort. Not that there’s anything wrong with the songs. (We used to sing the first song JA posted in church choir.) It’s just that the beauty of the songs is no reflection of Hillsong’s integrity.

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  30. On the subject of music in church, author/composer integrity, etc. –

    I was listening to the streaming of Wade Burleson’s service at Enid Emmanuel today. At the beginning, while announcements were on the screen, the background music playing was Pharrell Williams, “Happy”.

    That’s a really fun song, but caught me by surprise while waiting for the service to begin. Besides probably being a copyright violation to have that song on a youtube feed that plays over and over, I was surprised to hear it. It’s one of those catchy tunes that stays in the mind for a very long time.

    Pharrell seems like a very nice young man, extremely talented and generous, but after being “Up all night to get Lucky”, and his colorful language, I’m not sure that would be my go to choice for pre-service background music.

    Too picky?

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  31. BTDT.
    Where you find the cover-up of sexual abuse you often find other abuses as well.

    Amen. The church I attend wants growth or the pastor does anyways. What I am trying without success to point out is the bigger you get the more opportunities there are for abusers to be a part of an otherwise good church. Pastors are spread too thin and won’t even know who most of the people in the church are. I don’t see any of this as a good thing.

    I have also been attempting to point out that books written by Calvinist patriarchs, or any other type of patriach, who don’t renounce domestic abuse should have no part in our library or in our Bible studies. How can you say that you can get some biblical principles that we can learn from what is written.

    I have been told that David sinned in a huge way and we can learn from him. I see a huge difference between David and the celebrity pastors of today. Repentance. David repented and suffered the consequences of his actions. Today’s celebs move on and create their own churches and/or their sins are covered up, often by others in control. I pointed out that burying our heads in the sand will not make it go away, but not purchasing their materials and lining their pockets could.

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  32. Julie Anne wrote: ” oops – maybe that’s up all night to get lucky and pray :)”

    haha – maybe

    I’m have a hard time with the Ministry Announcements and Pharrel Williams combo – must be the “Blurred Lines” getting in my way.

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  33. No, I hear you. If it were a pastor other than Wade Burleson, I might wonder if the music was to set the scene for a series on marital sex – I’m thinking of some pastor and his wife in a bed on the church roof for a promotion thing – do you remember that? Or there have been church series discussing couples having sex daily. They must have gone to the school of Driscoll or something.

    Wade’s not of that camp whatsoever. And from what I know of Wade, he is not an authoritarian-type pastor at all. Likely someone in charge of music did this on their own.

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  34. Thanks Julie Anne. I do remember bed on the roof. Crazy stuff.

    I agree. I’ve been pleased with Wade’s teaching from what I’ve read and heard so far.

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  35. One of Wade’s sermons was pivotal for me spiritually – one of those aha moments. Wade was making the point that it was Sarah who owned her own faith, not Abraham. Powerful stuff for someone who was in the Patriarchy movement.

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  36. Julie Anne–

    Anybody paying attention has known for a good long while that Hillsong is part of the Word-Faith Movement (the Prosperity Gospel). Most churches ignore the solidity of the theologies of celebrities and their followings. They know it’s popular, and that’s all that matters.

    It has been estimated that perhaps even 90% of Charismatics are Word-Faith. Maybe you should go on the rampage against all Pentecostal theology, as well as Reformed dogmatics.

    Or maybe, just maybe, abuse has far more to do with personalities and power. Mega-churches, by and large, are a bad idea…even if they espouse Julie Anne’s favorite theology of the moment, whatever that might be.

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  37. Hans, I can see that you cannot resist throwing in snark whenever you can. You are being disruptive and not following along with the purpose of this blog. Into the dog house you go for moderation. Feel free to continue posting. I will decide if your comment is beneficial to the group or not.

    doghouse

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  38. Agreed that for the most part, it’s an error to assume that something good cannot come out of some pretty ugly places. I see that every time I look at my bookshelves and see volumes I’ve been blessed by by some authors whose theology I vehemently reject. And I’ve got to agree that you will see abusers in a variety of contexts; Ted Haggard, Jack Schaap, Bob Gray, the priests, etc.. Nobody has a monopoly on this.

    That said, if we agree that theology matters–and it must if it is to be important–we probably need to at least ask what prosperity theology means to this, what Hillsong’s brand of charismatic theology means to this, and what Hillsong’s very emotive music means to this. We might guess wrong, but we need to ask it the same way we’d ask whether Bob Gray’s KJVO theology might be linked, or how many here wonder whether certain forms of patriarchy theology are related to abuse. No?

    I would personally wonder, along these lines, whether prosperity theologians are more likely to accept pleasures of the flesh than average. Certainly Joel Osteen’s ten million dollar mansion and T.D. Jakes’ Rolls do little to dissuade me from this view!

    I also wonder whether a man who can cheerfully sing along to Hillsong lyrics is a bit “different” from the rest of us. To draw the picture, look at the Psalms, and compare the doctrinal content vs. emotiveness of both. To draw another, take some Hillsong lyrics and change “God” or “Lord” to the name of your spouse. Now try it with the Psalms.

    It’s not a perfect fit, but Hillsong works pretty well with this; the Psalms, not at all. In my experience, most men sense this and don’t sing “to their boyfriend.” Were Hillsong pastors confessing something inadvertently here?

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  39. “Agreed that for the most part, it’s an error to assume that something good cannot come out of some pretty ugly places. I see that every time I look at my bookshelves and see volumes I’ve been blessed by by some authors whose theology I vehemently reject. And I’ve got to agree that you will see abusers in a variety of contexts; Ted Haggard, Jack Schaap, Bob Gray, the priests, etc.. Nobody has a monopoly on this.”

    I guess I could never wrap my head around this thinking. Why would anyone think something “good” can come out of abuse? Why do we elevate abuse to “piety” status? Are we not to be wise and do all we can to prevent it? Are we not to try and protect people and as adults are we not to have wisdom to discern situations?

    Did you know that often “something good” does not come out of abuse UNLESS you call climbing your way out of a pit that others dug for you…. over the course of your life: a good thing.

    Do you know how many people have told me Mark Driscoll has “blessed their lives”? As if that erases all the evil done in the name of Jesus.

    it reminds me of the old adage of putting just a drop of poison in some water. In this case, abuse done using the name of Jesus is like putting pure water in a ton of poison. Yet, many will claim that drop of water “blessed them”. I don’t get it. Never will.

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  40. Lydia, it’s not that something good comes out of abuse besides climbing out of the pit dug for us (good analogy, BTW). It’s rather that people who are grievously sinful in many ways can yet produce something useful for the rest of us. For example, slaveowners wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.”

    In the same way, many of the best work in classical Hebrew and Greek is done by a group of German professors who give little indication of any faith in God. See what I’m getting at here? We can acknowledge the achievements of Thomas Jefferson, the Founders, Jonathan Edwards, and the Kittels while simultaneously acknowledging their failings.

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  41. Bubba & Lydia,
    You both make some good points. God can make good out of anything, even abuse. I lived in its clutches for well over 50 years. He is now using that knowledge to tell others who have had similar experiences and advocate against all forms of abuse and pedophilia. That being said if I know that a managawd is writing books and preaching with unrepentant sin that half the world knows about, I am not buying his book and condoning what he is doing no matter how good the book may or may not be. He/she wouldn’t even have to be speaking on the subject of that sin, I’m not going to help them out. Other members of their churches that are innocent bystanders who come out with some great Godly music or books–different story. They are blameless, unless if they are covering up for others.

    I have been told what a great preacher and writer many of these guys are, Mark Driscoll, John Piper and RC Spouls Jr included. I make sure that the rest of the story gets told right away. Some listen, some don’t. some just really don’t care. I have come to investigate the source before getting into anything that would connect me with something or someone that I want no part of. Because of Hitler and his evil, we now have medical procedures that were before unheard of. It doesn’t mean that I would sign on to be a Nazi.

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  42. Here is how I look at this. Lydia is right that nothing proceeds from evil but evil.

    Brenda is also right that that victims and survivors can decide to work with God to use their experiences for good. Nothing makes the crimes against them anything but evil. It is their own choice to do good and is not connected to their abusers.

    Can someone who has done evil do something good? Of course they can, but God doesn’t have a balance scale. I think of serial killer John Wayne Gacey who liked to point out that even though he raped and killed 33 teens and young men, he DID spend a lot of time entertaining sick children with his clown act.

    A lot depends on the connection between someone’s accomplishment and their crime. If someone develops a drug to treat a disease, that is a good thing and then if that person later commits murder, we won’t stop using the medicine.

    But the ministry is different. If someone is secretly involved in serious sin, it is a sure bet that sin has also corrupted his message, maybe in subtle ways and maybe in overt ones, but it is there.

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  43. “But the ministry is different. If someone is secretly involved in serious sin, it is a sure bet that sin has also corrupted his message, maybe in subtle ways and maybe in overt ones, but it is there.”

    What Marsha said.

    Bubba what threw me off was this:

    “Agreed that for the most part, it’s an error to assume that something good cannot come out of some pretty ugly places. I see that every time I look at my bookshelves and see volumes I’ve been blessed by by some authors whose theology I vehemently reject. And I’ve got to agree that you will see abusers in a variety of contexts; Ted Haggard, Jack Schaap, Bob Gray, the priests, etc.. Nobody has a monopoly on this.”

    Your examples here are different. they made a LIVING telling people who Jesus is/was and how to be like Him. Their message is corrupted because it is not really who they are. This is the dualism of Pagan Greek Philosophy I cannot stand. That so many teach a Jesus whom we do not know personally.

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  44. Julie Anne–

    I really hadn’t intended on coming across as “snarky.” I was just noticing your absence of snark when it came to Pentecostals.

    Maybe if you had ever so much as feigned admiration for beautiful Calvinistic music (Amazing Grace, Rock of Ages, In Christ Alone, or anything by Michael Card), I would begin to see you as something more than an anti-Calvinist.

    Being in your “dog house,” by the way, is a place of extreme honor. I would almost start to question my integrity if I were not in it.

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  45. I am unclear on the meaning of your remark about Pentecostals. Are you suggesting they are worthy of snark?

    By the way, Amazing Grace is a very popular hymn in the Assemblies of God churches.

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  46. Marsha–

    “Amazing Grace” is probably the most popular hymn of all time. Everybody but everybody sings it. But John Newton, a good-for-nothing Calvinist, wrote it.

    “Rock of Ages” is even found in Catholic hymnals despite the fact that they mostly despise its rather clear Reformed teaching.

    I am not a critic of the Assemblies of God, which I have found, by and large, to be a solidly Evangelical denomination. I am NOT anti-Pentecostal.

    I do think, however, that unlike Calvinism, there is a good deal of abuse inherent in Word-Faith theology. It thrives on manipulation. It makes gobs and gobs of money for its gurus. It leads people astray spiritually. Why is no one here railing against it?

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  47. Well, Brenda, unfortunately we live in an era where people buy into things which, for the most part, cannot help them but which hold out hope for a better life (e.g., the lottery). They may actually sacrifice hard-earned savings and feel good about it.

    Word-Faith is extremely popular in Africa and Latin America among the poor, who are taken in by its promise of prosperity for those who give expectantly. Some of its biggest fans are those most taken in by its manipulation. One can be sorely abused and exploited without ever knowing it’s happening.

    Conversely, in this day and age when people complain about the least little thing, one can “believe” one is being exploited when it is not actually true. I’m not saying anyone here is in this camp. But one must be aware of its existence. Many leaders in politics, in corporate life, and in the church have, over the years, been accused of abuse by disgruntled constituents, employees, and parishioners when, in fact, these leaders have done nothing deserving of condemnation.

    Just something to keep in mind.

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  48. Marsha–

    I was wrong to throw out the 90% figure without corroboration. I apologize.

    I don’t remember where I heard it, but evidently, it comes from John MacArthur. I’m not comfortable with his level of accuracy on things.

    That being said, a Time Magazine poll found that 17% of U.S. Christians subscribed to distinct Word-Faith beliefs. Approximately 27% of the population is Charismatic. Most Prosperity Gospel adherents ARE Charismatic, but perhaps not all. If it were all, the ratio (17 out of 27) would be 63%. Of course, there are plenty of others who subscribe to aspects of Word-Faith without identifying with it. In fact, the poll found that 61% of the population, in general, did so.

    A Pew Research Center survey, conducted in Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya, found that fully 9 out of 10 CHRISTIANS identified with the Word-Faith Movement in those locations.

    Both the Assemblies of God (and Calvary Chapel!) have come out strenuously AGAINST the Prosperity Gospel.

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  49. Hans, Finney was a “Calvinist”, too, if you want to get “technical”. However, a large part of the Calvinist movement often use him as the whipping boy for what went wrong in evangelicalism (Personally I will take his stance on slavery and involvement with Oberlin any day over the Calvinist slave owners)

    The problem is history is just not that cut and dried/black or white. Calvinism goes through resurgences in history and usually dies out or changes to become more social justice, etc. It is not that obvious but something one has to really dig into.

    The Puritans are one example we can trot out that died out and their descendents for the most part when Unitarian. Some went Congregationalist keeping various forms of the determinism but not much. (John Adams’ dad was a congregationalist elder). There would have been NO enlightenment influenced founding of America if the Puritan government had worked.

    Something similar happened after the Civil War when the determinist god did not allow the them to win the war. (Many SBC Calvinist trot out Lottie Moon as a Calvinist) If you follow the trajectory of such luminaries as Broaddus and Boyce and read their views on slavery it is embarassing and despicable. (Broaddus’ bio of Boyce is a wake up call about how horrible the thinking was)

    But thinking started to change over time about the determinist god and there are some interesting articles written by old pastors/scholars in some of the old journals that show this changing.

    So it is sometimes not wise to throw out names as bonafide sold out “Calvinists”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those who dared question the status quo did it in ways that might not be so obvious. One was Harriet Beecher Stowe who wrote a novel called the Ministers Wooing which is really all about her questioning her Calvinist roots. In a nice way, of course.

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  50. Hans, I did not publish the Calvinist comment. You can take it to the Calvinist debate thread if you like. This thread is not a doctrinal debate thread. You seem to be missing the point of this article.

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  51. Hans,
    I am fully aware of the types of abuse going on and how people can get into it without even knowing it is happening. If you want to start a debate on actual facts that affect you, I won’t stop you. I don’t believe I will be participating.

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  52. Hans,

    I believe I now have 4 posts of yours in moderation that will not be approved. You don’t get to moderate me. I decide what is appropriate for my own blog. This blog is about spiritual abuse and sometimes there is discussion about doctrines, but you seem to want to use my blog to solely debate doctrines. I’m not going to allow that to happen. If you want to debate Calvin, go to the Calvin thread where doctrinal debates are allowed. Stop questioning me and my motives. If you don’t like what’s happening here, feel free to start your own blog.

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  53. The purpose of this thread is to show how another country handled the issue of the covering up of sexual abuse in a church. Even though the main perpetrator has been dead for a decade, they want to learn how these crimes could have gone on so long without being exposed and prosecuted. They want lessons for the future. And I think that that is what we do here as well.

    This blog is about spiritual abuse and is influenced by the personal experiences of those who write to Julie Anne and who post here. I agree with Brenda, I don’t think this type of spiritual abuse has been a factor in the lives of many of the posters. We have certainly called out some megachurch pastors who have told poor members of their congregation to go on food stamps so they can tithe more though.

    There are some kinds of spiritual abuse that take a lot of processing to understand, ie how Scripture was twisted, why victims were blamed, why leaders had no accountability, etc. It may be that victims of the prosperity gospel are clearer about what happened (ie, we gave the church money we couldn’t afford and the only one who got prosperous was the pastor) and (hmmmm, the Apostles sacrificed everything for God and neither sought not received material prosperity) and don’t need to hash it out here.

    Liked by 1 person

  54. Marsha–

    It so happens that many congregants of Prosperity Gospel churches are more than happy that the pastor gets wealthy at their expense. It gives them hope that someone, anyone from their disadvantaged group can become prosperous. The system isn’t completely rigged against them, after all.

    I hope you are able to find the reasons the Assemblies of God in Australia swept much of this story on Frank Houston under the rug. More power to you.

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  55. I am no longer a member of an AG Church, but my experience in the past was that elders are elected, the by-laws are available, that financial information is available to the members, and that when there is a problem pastor and the elders (rarely) fail to act, the regional staff will. What happened at Hillsong is very disturbing to me. It may be the same problem we had here in the U.S. with Swaggart and the Bakkers, that people are excited by success and don’t want to see problems until they become public knowledge and can’t be ignored.

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  56. “I’ve been pleased with Wade’s teaching from what I’ve read and heard so far.”

    Well, his teaching (that says Jesus orchestrates and designs every detail of the brutalization of innocent children) put me through agonizing HELL!!! and nearly destroyed my relationship with Jesus. Just throwing this out here as a warning for any unsuspecting victims of such dark nonsense, since the kind of despair this teaching causes some can lead all the way to suicide, and is actually a HUGE deal.

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  57. “Well, his teaching (that says Jesus orchestrates and designs every detail of the brutalization of innocent children) put me through agonizing HELL!!! and nearly destroyed my relationship with Jesus. Just throwing this out here as a warning for any unsuspecting victims of such dark nonsense, since the kind of despair this teaching causes some can lead all the way to suicide, and is actually a HUGE deal.”

    Oasis,

    I am thankful that you said this. If what Wade said was true, IMO God is the most horrific abuser is the universe. I swallowed the same kind of indoctrination for so many years, and all that teaching did was confuse me, tie me up in knots.

    Once I started questioning & struggling, I became furious with God, (for a season) which was somewhat healthy, because I was taught that I could never strive with my maker, and that I needed to give thanks for every evil, despicable, act perpetrated on my little defenseless soul. ‘Abuse casts a long shadow over a lifetime.”

    This teaching threw me in a dark night of the soul that lasted for years, and it is only by the grace of God that I didn’t commit suicide. I wanted to die, but I loved my children and wouldn’t hurt them by offing myself. But, I was in emotional hell, because of this type of teaching.

    I ask one thing if anyone responds, please don’t assume that I don’t believe that Jesus can comfort other victims through the things I have suffered. There is a huge difference between being a “wounded healer” and one who is taught that they have to thank God for being molested. I didn’t misunderstand the pastor who said this to me.
    I will never again accept the idea that God orchestrated the evil that violated me when I a little girl.

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  58. Gail, your story breaks my heart and fires me up even more!!! I am so very sorry you were thrown into that dark night of the soul, and for so long. I know how torturous that horrible place is! We really can relate to each other so much.

    Yes, that teaching promotes an abusive relationship between a person and another Jesus. He becomes our abusive heavenly father, and well, I could go on and on. So thankful you started questioning the indoctrination, and lived to overcome the cruel lies you were taught. Now you are free to celebrate the one who is pure light. In him there is no darkness at all! 🙂 Love ya.

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  59. Oasis,

    It is affirming to be heard. I always feel a little awkward when I share. That is my baggage from the past, and not any indictment on SSB & the kinder folks who chime in here. Your validation just made my night. I am coming out of darkness & it is breath taking. Love that you shared that verses: Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights, in whose character there is no change at all. And this: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. Thanks! Love you too.

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  60. Lydia speaks my truth with this:

    “Agreed that for the most part, it’s an error to assume that something good cannot come out of some pretty ugly places. I see that every time I look at my bookshelves and see volumes I’ve been blessed by by some authors whose theology I vehemently reject. And I’ve got to agree that you will see abusers in a variety of contexts; Ted Haggard, Jack Schaap, Bob Gray, the priests, etc.. Nobody has a monopoly on this.”

    I guess I could never wrap my head around this thinking. Why would anyone think something “good” can come out of abuse? Why do we elevate abuse to “piety” status? Are we not to be wise and do all we can to prevent it? Are we not to try and protect people and as adults are we not to have wisdom to discern situations?

    Did you know that often “something good” does not come out of abuse UNLESS you call climbing your way out of a pit that others dug for you…. over the course of your life: a good thing.”

    Thank You Lydia for your words. It is one hell of a pit.

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  61. Gail, I always feel awkward when I speak out, too. Embarrassed, ashamed, unlovable all over again. And like a b####. Just could not help myself this time.

    Anyway, thrilled that you feel validated, and I LOVE what you shared from James. The words from both James and John mean so much to me. I cling to these wonderful, healing truths for dear life!

    Lydia unknowingly spoke for me in that comment of hers, as well. 🙂

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  62. Lydia, in the passage that set you off, I am afraid I mixed three messages. My apologies; let me try to separate them. The first is that I’ve got a lot of resources with whom I disagree, many of which would lead me to object if they were invited to teach at my church. But some of them are still a blessing on my bookshelves. To draw a Biblical picture, David was an adulterer, polygamist, and murderer, but Psalms remains in my Bible. In the same way, Moses and Paul were also murderers, but the books they wrote remain in my Bible.

    So, at least until we determine that Hillsong’s music is objectionable–a case I’m pretty much willing to make for what it’s worth–we can understand that it is created by sinners, just like everything I do, and just like everything you do. No?

    The second reality is that I cannot point at one church tradition and say that they monopolize the abuse of children–or hey, of any nasty crime. That was the reference to Schaap, Hyles, Gray, and the like. And to be fair, I am at a loss to think of contributions by Hyles, Schaap, Gray, Haggard, and the like that I would welcome on my bookshelves. But that said, they gave me plenty of reasons to mistrust their theology prior to the sexual sins they committed.

    And that brings up the third point, which is that we really ought to consider–within the commonness of this horrible sin–the possibility that certain aspects of Hillsong may be involved in the abuse. If you believe God’s purpose is to make you comfortable, are you more, or less, likely to take advantage of what you think to be a “comfort” than someone who believes differently? (set aside for a moment that no sane adult thinks that sex with a child is a comfort; the perpetrator does here)

    In the same way, if indeed Hillsong music tends to borrow more from “Air Supply” than it does the Psalms, and men generally don’t want to sing along, we might also infer that there is something “different” there that might manifest itself in various ways. Not that it’s entirely responsible, but it could well be a factor–and if indeed I’m right that most men just can’t bring themselves to sing it, that along ought to influence music leaders, no?

    And a final note; in any church of 30,000 people like Hillsong (or even “tiny” churches of a mere thousand or so), you are going to find political authority structures which may take advantage of people. You then need to balance that authority with an adequate accountability structure.

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  63. Julie Anne:
    Go to reports: 1-3 or more on Frank Huston; note my comments about the sin being over everyone comes out in the music and Brian’s part. Books to get over church abuse or pastoral is covered comments: how IHOP made me hate God and Carp the hell out of the Diem. Don’t Call Me Brother by Austin Miles depicts cover up of Aog’s really well and unfortunately how all denominations operate. Been at it for years confronting corruption and exposing.

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  64. Marsha: “Don’t Call Me Brother” by Austin Miles exposes AG’s for being really corrupt and for many years. In the Bakker scandal we NEVER heard about homosexual liaison in the book or news and why is that? Then you have 10 Lies the Church Tells Women and 10 Lies Men Believe by J. Lee Grady based on AG’s. Having grown up in the movement never heard about there history, who founded and when one of their elderly pastors that prays ordered there brochures NOTHING about apostolic/prophetic gifts, he called home office up and confronted and they said “they don’t believe in that doctrine”; Gary responded, “well Jesus does”.

    Consider AG’s highly homosexual, child molesting regime and habitual liars of where the money goes and who they help. Total used car salesman selling their dead religion; you could have been born; died in the movement they NEVER would have gone through the Bible completely once (someone said, not even in 20 yrs. of sitting in regime). There message is always money, laying guilt, condemnation, criticism; keeping people sick in bondage and coming back for more. Contact Trinity Foundation, Dallas TX or L.A. Times for Paul Crouch Sr. Homosexual affair and Jackie Alnor’s interview of granddaughter regarding scandal of money and other things plus 9/19& 20/2004 (6 pages of corruption in TBN) by William Lobdell/L.A. Times writer and his “Onward Christian Soldier” article. Consider them same as Mormonism type mentality. Been trying to expose them for OVER 30 years, as well as other denominations for same dogma.

    Famous Christian College in So. California and one it’s founders was Mormon, we don’t think to do the research on our churches; who founded=there backgrounds and or our pastor’s. Meaning, looking at their early years, lives and how they became to be like my former AG pastor had hitler/Napoleon complex, very evil man with his agenda and very narcissistic. A lot of molestation swept under carpet; one of young ladies: “was banged more than a screen door slams in a whorehouse”, told to me by a young man in church. That could have been your daughter, niece, sister etc. former pastor had pornography problem and sin is over everyone whether realize it or not, people are dealing with perversion, it’s in head and over people=umbrella (same as in music). REALLY SAD, took Hillsong molestation public OVER decade ago and was anything done and why not?
    William Lobdell wrote a book: Losing My Religion and also watch 63 minute u-tube video of his experiences as a religion writer and a darn good one.

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  65. Marsha
    By the way, regarding 501c 3 report (non-profit status). Having worked for a non-profit organization, there is the report that they give church members, public etc. that DOES NOT have all the information disclosed like finances, what own, salaries, businesses owned, real estate holdings, donations etc. (sorry to say, it’s a dummy and fudged report, not the truth). You would have to order the full report they send to the IRS and or Secretary of State (public record) that has to have all the information.

    Flat out, ask your pastor and the Board if he’s lied on the reports and for years. Somewhere back East there’s been an Evangelical oversight group that has wanted ministries accountable; especially big names like Crouches/TBN, Benny Hinn, Copelands, Joyce Meyer, Pat Robertson, Billy Graham and many more etc. Trinity Foundation in Dallas, Tx would know of entities attn: Pete. This group has been wanting accountability for years, their endeavors (they have magazine and website and have made Dateline, news). Checked them out, they ‘re great at what they do.

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