Is Hillsong Church rife with abuse? Hear former members speak out
Throughout the years, Hillsong Church has certainly built a strong reputation for themselves. Currently, they dominate the contemporary Christian charts with Hillsong United’s Christian pop hits, not to mention their songs are performed by worship bands every Sunday in churches around the world.
Hillsong also welcomes prominent celebrities into their church family, including Justin Bieber, Chris Pratt, Selena Gomez, Kourtney Kardashian, and plenty more.
However, it seems their holy, god-fearing reputation has come tumbling down. Last month, celebrity pastor Carl Lentz was fired after being outed for having multiple affairs despite being married. In a turn for the worse, members have also claimed the church was rife with inappropriate sexual behavior & toxic situations.
As if the Hillsong Church couldn’t look any worse right about now, Page Six reported a group of former volunteers sent a letter to seven of the ministry’s top leaders from the U.S. branch in 2018 describing “verified, widely circulated stories of inappropriate sexual behavior amongst staff/interns”.
The letter emphasized: “This environment is dangerous and a breeding ground for unchecked abuse.” The group further alleged the policies emplaced in the church surrounding sexual harrassment/sexual assault are “vague or absent” and the ministry fosters a “culture of silence and fear”.
The group also accused a male staffer of “not respecting physical and sexual boundaries within dating relationships with female church volunteers,” in the letter, including alleging he had “sex with a 19-20-year-old female team member.”
Page Six revealed a church employee was later asked to step down after the letter accused him of “multiple inappropriate sexual relationships with several female leaders and volunteers and was verbally, emotionally, and according to one woman, physically abusive in his relationships with these women.” The group also said that same member was caught having sex with a church leader.
A group of volunteers also claimed the Hillsong staffers were “sleeping around” with other volunteers and asking them for nude photos, according to Page Six, and that the place was “a breeding ground for unchecked abuse”.
In the same letter, the volunteers wrote that there was rampant verbal abuse and “harsh words, belittlement, name-calling from certain pastors and staff.” They further reported one pastor was constantly “losing his temper, bullying, yelling and outright screaming at other volunteers and leaders”, but when they spoke their concerns to the staff, they were told “that’s just how they are — it’s their personality/culture”.
Other controversial accusations
When Carl Lentz, who has three kids with his wife, was outed for his numerous affairs and later fired, an alleged former church member with the Twitter handle @aurora_divva tweeted “While Carl Lentz messed up, I have no issues with him and I’m praying for him and his family. It’s the pastors that handled the whole incident that need to be fired for real. Cos all this could’ve stopped or handled back then”.
The former member also emphasized “What Carl Lentz got fired over has been happening for years”, referring to a scandal where a church member had already accused Lentz for inappropriate sexual behavior in 2017.
The church has also been known for being homophobic despite promoting themselves as “an inclusive Christian church that loves, values, and welcomes all people, regardless of their background, ethnicity, beliefs, values, or personal identity” in a 2019 press release.
When church member Noemi Uribe came out to the then head pastor Carl Lentz as bisexual, Lentz made it clear that there would be problems with the church. Uribe attempted suicide and checked herself into a four-day psychiatric inpatient treatment afterwards, telling Business Insider: “If I would’ve stayed, I would have probably attempted suicide again”.
In 2017, Hillsong Church urged churchgoers to vote against legalizing gay marriage in Australia and two years before, the ministry’s NYC location asked a same-sex couple to step down from their leadership roles due to their sexuality.
While Hillsong Church have often expressed their gripes against the LGBTQ+ community, it’s clear the ministry needs to worry about themselves first. Are you surprised with these allegations or not? Let us know in the comments.