Is Hillsong Church the next NXIVM? Look inside the abuse allegations
Hillsong church has already had quite a rocky past few years surrounding their public image. If you need a little refresher, this Christian organization famously known for its celebrity members such as Justin Bieber, Kevin Durant, Chris Pratt, Kendall & Kylie Jenner, and plenty more have been accused of being anti-LGBTQ thanks to their association with this church.
Although Hillsong claims to welcome everyone through its doors, it has come under fire in the past for dismissing church leaders after they came out as queer. Now, new allegations are coming to light. After celebrity pastor Carl Lentz was recently fired for infidelity with multiple women, former members spoke out, claiming Hillsong itself was rife with sexual assault & abuse.
This scandal sounds all too familiar for those who followed the NXIVM case. The self-proclaimed “multi-level marketing company” founded by Keith Raniere was later exposed to be a cult-like organization putting female members into sex slavery.
While the church’s accusations have thankfully been nowhere near that horrible, we can’t help but find similar comparisons with NXIVM as the allegations against Hillsong continue to pile up.
Recently, Hillsong Church has come under even more fire when The New York Post reached out to representatives & former members from the church who admitted such claims were true. One representative admitted: “In February of 2018, Hillsong Church received a letter with serious allegations regarding specific members of the Hillsong NYC volunteer and staff teams.”
“We were very concerned to learn that any church member, volunteer or staff member would feel unsafe. Immediately, we launched a comprehensive three-month inquiry into the claims made in the letter,” the representative added. This came in response to a recent exposé released from former members which claimed the church was a “cult” and had them perform unpaid “slave labor”.
Secretive non-disclosure agreements
Yolandi Bosch told The New York Post that Hillsong College, the school affiliated with the church, persuaded her to relocate from South Africa to Australia to give up her film career and be a part of the organization. Bosch revealed they gave her a non-disclosure agreement once she got there, prohibiting her from speaking to anyone else about her experience, but she refused.
Bosch further explained to The Post how, eerily similar to NXIVM, Hillsong allegedly tried to manipulate her in other ways, asserting: “They convinced me to drop anything I was interested in becoming.” She added: “You had to ask a pastor’s permission to date. They had to choose the person you dated as well. If they don’t think your relationship is what they like, they’ll tell you it’s not permissible.”
One time, a student snitched on Bosch for sleeping over at a platonic male friend’s house. Although she slept on the couch, the two were told not to ever talk to one another again. She then was transferred into a female dorm where she claimed the organization encouraged others who lived there to regularly bully & stalk her.
She also claimed that she worked unpaid manual labor at her time in the school’s Refresh program, and that other students she met in the program became suicidal because of it. Bosch’s visa was often threatened as a way to keep her in check.
Bosch also reported that the administration wanted her to dye her hair blonde and wear more “girly” clothing. “They hated my black hair. I was told it looked demonic. They were obsessed with trying to change me – they tried to break me down.” She believed it was all a test to see “who can be onstage and who they can misuse for volunteering”. Bosch declared: “It felt like a reality show – it’s really a cult.”
An unnamed woman who worked as a babysitter for many of the members’ kids claimed “I would be working 10, 11 hour days. I would get paid and then I would go in my car and count my money and nine times out of 10 the amount wasn’t correct. It was never my rate. Even when I did say, ‘Hey, you shorted me 50, 60 bucks,’ it was brushed under the table. They just expected people to work for nothing.”
“It was the most toxic work environment I’ve ever been a part of,” the source elaborated to The New York Post. “You get up there on a Sunday and talk about tithing and giving and you literally don’t do that to your workers.”
Nicole Herman, who helped find Hillsong LA in 2013 also stepped forward and admitted to the ongoing scandals of the church, saying the church had a problem of the “abuse of volunteers and real, amazing people” who were forced to fulfill the organization’s “petty needs”. Herman was a former pastor herself and claimed: “I was beneath [the senior pastors] but I did everything.”
In a recent post on Herman’s Instagram page, she wrote on her story “I’m here to help anyone with a broken heart as well as a million other amazing people who left this cult”. Since then, Yolandi Bosch and other former staff members, volunteers, and students are searching for representation so they can form an official complaint of “industrial slave labor”.
A representative from Hillsong Church states the “team took immediate action” to “maintain a safe environment” by creating a mandatory code of conduct, and also created an email for those to share their stories. Hillsong stated they “have ensured that any emails sent to this address are kept confidential. If any allegation of misconduct is substantiated, it is immediately submitted for review by our Team Relations Oversight.”
Affairs, sexual assault, unpaid manual labor, and abuse . . . These all truly do sound like the traits of a horrible cult. What do you think? Are the Hillsong Church allegations bearing an all too similar comparison to those from the NXIVM scandal ? Let us know in the comments.