Hillsong Church vs a Woman of ‘Impeccable Character’

Tanya Levin – a woman of impeccable character

What kind of bastardry does it take to for a multi-million dollar enterprise (in league with the NSW Police) to pursue a criminal conviction against a single mother for two years over a minor infringement she had no clue she had committed?

What if that single mother’s career – her only source of income – depended on a clean record?

What if the woman’s only crime was standing in a non-ticketed area, on a public concourse, outside a publicly owned convention venue?

Petty? Nasty? A waste of police resources and precious court time? Lacking in common sense? Yes!  All of these things. But, what if it’s far worse than that?

What if the organisation intent on destroying the life, career and financial security, (not only of this woman, but her teenage son), was a church? Hillsong Church.

And what if this church, which put a woman through hell for two years for the crime of walking on a public footpath, was closely linked to the state’s commissioner of police? What if the commissioner of police was so closely allied to this church and its leadership, he actually attended the conference where she was arrested?

That’s the position my friend, writer and social worker, Tanya Levin, found herself in over the past two years.

When Hillsong held their annual convention at Olympic Park in Sydney in 2015, the television show, A Current Affair, asked her for an interview outside the convention venue.

Tanya grew up in Hillsong Church. In 2007, her memoir, People in Glass Houses: An Insider’s Story of a Life In and Out of Hillsong, was published to great acclaim and wide publicity. Tanya wrote the book critically, but with no malice. As she transitioned from teenager to adult, Tanya’s religious and political views changed and she became increasingly uneasy about the church’s values, priorities and wealth. But, her book (which I’ve read twice) was not a hatchet job. At worst, it was a fair and balanced account of her personal views on a very public and very wealthy organisation. As Hillsong sued neither Tanya nor the publisher, one can only assume any negative claims made in the book were truthful and not defamatory. Yet, hyper-sensitive to any kind of questioning or criticism, the church slapped Tanya with a life-time ban in 2005 for daring to disagree publicly with church leader, Bobbi Houston.

In her book, Tanya describes how she tried hard to do the right thing by Hillsong. She wrote twice to church leaders, Brian and Bobbi Houston, asking for an interview to get their side of the story, but she was refused. She genuinely didn’t want to be unfair. Tanya went back to the church to observe a service in case things had changed since she was a member of the congregation: the Houstons had her forcibly removed by security!

Eight years later, the Houstons’ wrath had clearly not cooled. As Tanya stood with the television crew, outside the convention venue, on a public concourse, they were approached by police and told they were ‘trespassing’. The claim was that Hillsong had rented both the stadium and the area surrounding it. Despite the concourse area being open to passing members of the public, as an outspoken critic of the church, ‘banned-for-life’ Tanya Levin was not welcome. Tanya and the ACA team complied and moved to another area. In fact, the police record states Tanya ran to comply with their request!

After the interview, Tanya inadvertently stepped back into a space designated as ‘private’ (although there was no barrier, marking or other indication to delineate it). Now, she was beckoned back well inside the ‘perimeter’ by a police officer. She was astonished to be told, as this was her second infringement, she was under arrest.

As Tanya said to me privately, “I’m South African and terrified of the police. It’s weird. If a policeman tells me to move, I move!”

There is absolutely no way she would have trespassed intentionally. Anyone who knows Tanya knows that. The irony is that two people who know Tanya best – who have known her since childhood – are Hillsong’s leaders, Brian and Bobbi Houston.

The police record also notes, ominously, that Tanya was seen ‘speaking to children’. The truth is, after her interview, a 15 year old approached Tanya to ask why she’d been moved on by police. Natural curiosity. Tanya, politely, asked the young lady  if she enjoyed attending Hillsong. The girl replied “no”: she was forced to attend by her foster family. She said Brian Houston made disparaging remarks about people suffering from mental illness and it made her uncomfortable because she had ‘mental problems’. That was the extent of the conversation – entirely at the instigation of the young lady. God forbid she should grow up to voice any criticism of the Houstons or their church or she may find herself in the same position as Tanya!

Tanya was removed and interrogated before being allowed to leave. The people at A Current Affair wanted nothing to do with it and gave her no support – certainly, no financial support – to fight the charges.

Tanya was traumatised. And the trauma was dragged out for 2 years as she was forced to find the financial and emotional resources to fight a multi-million dollar organisation and the NSW police in court to prevent being branded a criminal.

At her first hearing, Tanya was found guilty and a criminal conviction was recorded.  It was devastating. The decision severely limited her ability to find a job in her chosen profession – as a social worker – or in any other profession for that matter. She was innocent, but did not have the financial resources to fight it. And yet, her only recourse was to appeal.

Tanya’s friends rallied and helped raise some funds for costs. Through her social network, an experienced solicitor and barrister with a distaste for religious bullies offered to represent her pro bono.

Last week, a magistrate decided, while there was no technical error in her previous conviction, Tanya’s ‘impeccable character’ and previously clean criminal record, together with the fact she could not, reasonably, have known she was committing a crime, warranted the conviction being overturned.

Tanya was deemed to be a person of ‘impeccable character’; it is a great deal more than can be said for the church which pursued Tanya out of fear, spite and raw hatred. Ironically, if Brian Houston had emulated the religious figure he exploits to fund his multi-million dollar empire, he would have stepped in to ask for the charges to be withdrawn. Instead, he did nothing. He certainly never stopped to ask himself, “What would Jesus do?”

And what of the police service which aided Hillsong in this ridiculous, costly and unfair persecution? One can only hope now-retired Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, a close friend of Brian Houston and his church,  was not involved in this tawdry and unjust witch hunt.  And what is the relationship between Hillsong and the NSW Police now Scipione is gone? If there is an  alliance between Hillsong and the NSW Police, it seems a hell of an unholy one, to me.

Chrys Stevenson

 

A note from Tanya

 

72 thoughts on “Hillsong Church vs a Woman of ‘Impeccable Character’

  1. Geoffrey Williams

    Thanks Chrys for your defence of Tanya. Perhaps our new Police Commissioner should be asked whether he thought that Tanya’s offence was worth all the effort?

    Reply
  2. g2-5bba245eb6db01d36e28de6648a6336a

    Evil is hard to quantify, but by any measure of kindness compassion decency or humanity the actions of this so called church would have to be considered pure unadulterated evil

    Reply
  3. Mick J Bright

    Dear (and respected) Chrys,
    Never have I replied to a communication of this nature: I am disgusted, horrified and nearly incredulous about this incident which I had been unaware until now.
    In order to remove the wool from my eyes please:-
    What are the dates of the incident, the 1st court appearance and the 1st news report?
    Regards,
    Mick Bright
    PS
    (About 1000 light years from Hillsong – naturally, as an Atheist.)

    Reply
  4. Cushla Geary

    Hillsong is an American style – possibly run – mega-church whose modus operandi is seems to be based on the very successful Scientology model of ‘sue, sue, sue and pursue’ anyone who dares to leave, and criticise them publicly. Tanya is also a woman – and women within that organisation are deemed second class citizens, expected to sit down, shut up – and breed.

    Reply
    1. Tanya Levin

      As I told Chrys, I gave great thought to whether it mattered in this story that I was a single mother, but Cushla, I agree. This is afterall, a very big boys’ club, I don’t care how many women turn up to the Stepford Wives Conferences they hold..

      Reply
      1. Sarah westaway

        Thank you for speaking out Tanya.
        I read your book years after being damaged by Hillsong. At the time it was all going down i honestly thought that i was in the wrong. Then as time went on i believed i was the only one.
        Your book was incredible to read and affirmed that i was not the only one, not alone and not crazy.

      2. Rashmi Dixit

        I’m so sorry you faced this, Tanya. As a Christian I’m horrified that you weren’t treated with grace and kindness. I think HS do many great things but this is far, far from one of them

      3. subjectsclosed

        Tanya we exchanged some communication about a year ago. I am so relieved for you but sincerely hope you can get your life and employment back after this . I have now been banned from 2 mega churches, one of which I belonged to for 20 years. I owned up and faced my mistake which did result in a criminal conviction. I was transparent upon release yet told I could not attend. Exactly .. what would Jesus do?

    2. Steve Martin

      dislike big religious organisations as much as the next average Joe. But to be fair, you can leave anytime you want, as long as you don’t kick up a serious fuss about it. I’m guessing if you start making noises about elders & deacons & pastors, that’s another story altogether.

      Reply
      1. Lord_Boofhead

        Rubish. You can leave anytime you like so long as you don’t mind shunning and social ostracization. The bravery of Tanyia and other ‘apostates’ from such cluts should be celebrated and the fact that they risk this sort of persecution for warning others lest they be sucked in is admirable..

      2. Steve Martin

        Rubish. You can leave anytime you like so long as you don’t mind shunning and social ostracization. The bravery of Tanyia and other ‘apostates’ from such cluts should be celebrated and the fact that they risk this sort of persecution for warning others lest they be sucked in is admirable..
        You’re talking to someone who’s been there & left & who’s got the scars to prove it. Fact is, you CAN leave anytime you want & being shunned & ignored is a given. Most people who make up their minds to leave either know that’s going to happen or realise it soon enough. I believe that true Christianity is nothing even remotely like anything fundamentalist or evangelical that you might find at a big megachurch. I also did NOT say that Tania shouldn’t be lauded for her bravery. I also did NOT say it wasn’t an admirable thing!
        Often times, if you can find the courage to persevere when you’re being shunned & ignored it’s yields are good. A person makes a whole new set of friends & finds out exactly who their friends are! Believe me, I know this to be true.

    3. LA

      As an American, we don’t credit for Hillsong’s “style”, thanks! Extremely discouraging behavior from a church!

      Reply
    4. adventuresofanaussieragdoll

      Hillsong is an Australian creation. It was original Christian Life Church, but then changed its name to Hillsong because its first location was in Baulkham Hills. The Houstons have been behind this monstrocity from the start. Brian’s father was involved in the early days, and Brian kept his father’s sexual misconduct against young parishoners quiet for many years. They have spread their poison into other countries, and this style of ‘worship’ kills congregations where it takes hold. Their serbices are great entertainment. Lots of lights & music. But there is no real spiritual substance behind it. They also are ignorant of the scriptures in that they practice the unscriptural ‘Speaking in Tongues’, whilst not having a translator. This ‘gift’ is not supposed to be for yourself. It is supposed to be for all and people who are speaking in tongue are specifically instructed to keep silent if there is no one to translate what they are saying. 1 Corinthians 14:28. If they can’t even get this right… the rest of their ‘doctrine’ and practice must be equally suspect.

      Reply
  5. Tanya Levin

    Chrys, thank you for writing this. I have been unable to get my head around the magnitude of what has taken place. Minor charges, sure, but major forces at work.
    I’m happy to discuss this, of course, but it hasn’t been the easiest, and so I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the support that you have always given, especially during this process. I should be writing this up, but I’m tired. This is a magnificent piece and I commend your passion. Thank you.
    There may be people who will be interested in the transcripts from the two and a half days it took to get through the hearing. I have them, but seriously, given the surveillance, I just haven’t known when is the right time to say anything or where or how. You’ve made a great start and i don’t feel so scared of the abovementioned forces with publicity on our side. 🙂

    Reply
    1. livingliminal

      Tanya, having faced legal action myself at the hands of “church leaders”, I can only say how sickened and saddened I am to hear your story. It’s an awful thing to be put through, and reflects extremely poorly on those who claim to represent Jesus 😦

      Reply
    2. martha

      Hi Tania,
      Sorry to hear about what you went through.
      I just wrote a reply to Mark.
      A message came back to me that my message – shorter here than many others- awaits moderation.
      Here was my message to him:

      I agree, but churches like Hillsong should not use their members’ power to take control of the two biggest power positions in the country in effort to gain control.

      1.Prime minister of Australia is their member and guided by them.
      That position was then used to force a stay on by 2. Commissioner Scipione after he had done his good time as Commissioner of Police NSW.
      Position 1. was then used to secure/manipulate position 2. to stay on after some 6 declines.
      Why?
      Because they were both members of that church which later came clean to identify themselves as a cult. To have both those positions backed by a church is ok.
      I’m Christian too. It’s good of course.
      BUT what if their spiritual contracts are not in light and they are working the other end?
      Then the country is in trouble.
      Changing society for the better is a matter of opinion.
      It depends on which side you are supporting, light side or dark side.

      In this particular case it has not helped society if we understand what methods of ‘pulsing’ have been used her unseen by the untrained mind and eye for sake of power.
      In this case where I am in a position to know, it has not served society to take Christianity into politics through their member.
      They play dirty.
      If their contracts were in light it would be ok but they are not.

      Reply
  6. Kevin McDonald

    Religion deludes, divides, controls and damages people. As Hitchens said: “religion poisons everything”. Yet people continue to be indoctrinated by religious zealots. Religious beliefs cripple the intellect. When will humanity finally wake up to all this gullibility that seems to grip people? I simply can’t understand why people flock to the Hillsong “church”. It’s obviously all about power over the gullible. And money!

    Reply
    1. Mark

      It is not religion that deludes, divides etc. It is politics. Certain types of people know how to exploit normal healthy human impulses to want to change society for the better in some way.

      You don’t have a handle on the impact of christianity on a country until you are able to compare it with what it would be like without christianity.

      Reply
      1. Martha Papamichael

        I agree, but churches like Hillsong should not use their member power to take control of the two biggest power positions in the country in order to gain control.

        1.Prime minister of Australia is their member and guided by them.
        That position was then used to force a stay on by 2. Commissioner Skipione after he had done his good time as Commissioner of Police NSW.
        Position 1 was used to secure/manipulate position 2. to stay on after some 6 declines.
        Why?
        Because they were both members of that church which later came clean to identify themselves as a cult.
        To have both those positions backed by a church is ok.
        I’m Christian too. Its good of course.
        But what if their spiritual contracts are not in light and they are working the other end?
        Then the country is in trouble.
        Changing society for the better is a matter of opinion.
        It depends on which side you are supporting , light side or dark side.

        In this particular case it has not helped society if we understand what methods of ‘pulsing’ have been used unseen by the untrained mind or eye for sake of power.

        In this case where I am in a position to know it has not served society to take Christianity into politics through their members.
        They play dirty.
        If their contracts were in light it would have been fine but its simply a better world without their people in Government.
        The faster vthey are out the better with no offence.

    2. Eddie Hammond

      Nothing you said there is true for most, except for your last sentence. Hillsong is a poor example if Christianity, but ignorant people will forever hold them up as a symbol of Christianity.
      It’s actually easy to understand why people flock there. Their entertainment style, and refusal to teach true Christian doctrine make it appealing to those who want to feel good about themselves without hearing of their true condition.

      Reply
      1. thatsmyphilosophy Post author

        Eddie, I’ve published this comment reluctantly. If you’re going to call me a liar, please tell me exactly what you think is untrue and provide evidence for your assertion. People who scream, “Lies, lies, lies” but provide no other information strike me as supremely lazy. I usually don’t publish such comments.

        Everything I’ve said here is backed up by the actual court papers and the decision bears it out.

        Tanya’s book’s been out 10 years and there has been no defamation case or legal action, so we can assume the claims made in it are true.

        This blog is my personal space. If you are going to wander in uninvited and call me a liar, the onus is on you to prove it or retract.

  7. AG

    I think the SMH article raises the question of whether user-pays policing is effectively a security service for the user. Would a normal local command patrol actually have someone charged in such tenuous circumstances? To be convicted of such a tedious offence (given the public location) is a joke when compared to some of the serious offences people manage to get away with.

    Reply
  8. John Fitton

    I have heard that the current government is crawling up to Hillsong because of the support the government needs on the election front.The current government would sell its grandmothers and wives into prostitution……and it sounds like the Church is tarred with the same stains.Atrocious behaviour from the church elders their behaviour is far from kind …..and atrocious behaviour from the former Police Commissioner…….who apparently has
    a lot to answer for as well
    .

    Reply
    1. Max Gross

      Don’t forget the federal Treasurer Scott Morrison (aka the Junkyard Dog) is a Hellsong devotee… and we all know what a caring, loving humanitarian he is!!!

      Reply
      1. rogerramjet

        i once knew Scott very well at one point in my life…. he was a narcissistic attention seeking SOB then as he is now. Watch your step with him. I can assure you that the Christians that knew him then where not impressed by his behaviors. They saw him for what he was, a big mouth, with a big smile and full of s@#t / hot air. To me he is the typical politician possessing all of the necessary characteristics that all politicians innately have i.e attention seeking, narcissism, self importance, grandiosity. In fact i’d go so far as to say that he was either unawares or impervious to the comments people would make about him…within his very own church, and even after he left a church service. People were very concerned about him. It surprises me not, that he has aligned himself with powerful people in the bible belt, for political gain, no doubt. His wife is quite lovely however, a real delight

      2. Steve Martin

        Mate, looking back on my church experience, it was full of narcissists. People clawing their way to the top of whatever they were doing or either trying to do. Loud mouths who’d easily & quickly pick a fight & husbands who’d treat their wives poorly. The crook thing is that nobody much seemed switched on to what was happening. I’m no longer a church goer .Christianity to me, these days, is something totally different to what it once was – thankfully!

      3. thatsmyphilosophy Post author

        To be fair, there are people like that in all walks of life – religious and secular. There is, of course, a higher level of hypocrisy in those who claim the high moral ground.

      4. Steve Martin

        We are talking about the church, not about all other fields of life though! The subject I replied to was someone’s comment on Scott Morrison.

      5. thatsmyphilosophy Post author

        Indeed. I’m not discounting your comment. However, I am always at pains to point out that people are people – in or out of the church. Within any group of people there are truly awful human beings. They’re not confined to fundamentalist churches.

        Hillsong and it’s leadership certainly deserve strong criticism. But bastardry abounds in all fields of human endeavour, sadly.

  9. Tracey

    Religion, the source of all evil.
    I honestly don’t understand how people are lured to a congregation of any religious following.
    To feel supported in such an environment, & to place all faith & belief in a mythical character, is indicative of how tragic their lives must be in the first place. Followers would also lack the ability for decision making paving the way for congregation leaders to effectively disempower groups. This further disables self-determination & self-governance.
    I’m guessing these are the same people who place their lives in the hands of doctors & take whatever poison is handed out.
    Adulting can be tough sometimes but being a puppet is soul destroying.

    Reply
    1. thatsmyphilosophy Post author

      Tracey, your analogy is entirely false. Doctors are guided by scientific evidence. I have allowed your comment but I do not allow fearmongering on this blog. No human endeavour is flawless. But to warn people against placing their lives in the hands of doctors and to label life saving drugs is irresponsible and unnecessary.

      Reply
      1. Ian Wood

        Yes, doctors are guided by the evidence as it is provided to them. But perhaps Tracey has been reading “Big Pharma” by Dr Ben Goldacre? Dr Goldacre details the manipulation, rigging and in some cases downright fraud perpetrated by many of the major drug manufacturers in their drug trials that result in this evidence. So the analogy is possibly that the Mega Churches and mega drug manufacturers operate in similar ways to ‘sell’ their product?

      1. Elaine Newby

        Love of money is hte root of much evil..
        again it is the human use of it, abuse o it … its use is a manifestation of our desires – to help others have healthier more productive satisying lives or to satisfy our own desires and aggrandise self?

  10. elliemail

    This is a story I will do all I can to SHARE. It’s the story of much that is wrong in our society nowadays, greedy, bullying Churches, complicit Law enforcement with total disregard for the wasting of Taxpayer dollars, not to mention the outright bullying of someone such as the lass in this story in a fight that is unfair, unchristian and unethical. Tells us a great deal about Hillsong and reinforces my concerns about this church and similar churches.

    Reply
  11. Bruce Rogers

    Thank you for this powerful eye opening story. Are there not quite a lot of the current government ministers part of this church group ? Now that is scary ! I also believe it is time for all churches to be taxed like any other money making business !

    Reply
    1. thatsmyphilosophy Post author

      Indeed! The panic about Muslims is a clever distraction from the fact our government and public institutions are being infiltrated by fundamentalist, extremist Christians as part of a deliberate and strategic take-over to install ‘Godly government’ worldwide.

      Whether that is achievable is not the issue. What is at issue is the damage they cause in the attempt.

      And no one notices, because these theocrats look just like us.

      Look up the Seven Mountains movement.

      Reply
  12. richiejs

    Great brave comment. Although i would dare to link the NSW Police Services with complicity in this situation the rest of the article is great Chrys.

    Reply
  13. Moving On

    Gosh, I am astounded to read of the pettiness of this. I have had to apply for a protection order against a former church goer who was harassing in dangerous ways. It took alot to get to that but it was the only option for my safety. Were they happy? No! Was I slandered everywhere they had a voice? Absolutely! What would Jesus do? Well I would like to think that he would speak to them about it and an encounter with the living God would help them stop dangerous behavior. However, this person has absolutely no regard for anyone else and their opinions it would have been unsafe to speak to them. This is an extreme situation but at times necessary. Your situation however, is appalling and I am so sorry for all you’ve been through!

    Reply
    1. Helen Dyjak

      I am alarmed that Australian-State government’s commissioner of Police was there!!!how alarming!!!!how unsafe!!!such an indoctrination!!how scary for us Australian’s who pay council’s rates and taxes and they R exempt as a community religious educational institution!!!

      Reply
    2. livingliminal

      A couple of ‘church leaders’ tried to take out a protection order against me a while back. Unlike what you describe, I was in no way dangerous, and had never done anything to even potentially threaten their safety. I think they were just trying to silence me like they’d done in the church. But although lying about someone might work in that setting, it doesn’t cut in a court of law. They were required to provide actual proof that I was dangerous – and obviously there was none – so in the end they had to drop their case against me. An immoral waste of time and money IMO.

      Reply
  14. NY

    It’s stories like this that reconfirm my belief in God. Good won in the end, a church that is about money is not following the gospel teachings at all. They are the money changes in the temple.
    I am Anglo-Catholic and glad we have a parish that uses all it’s money to fund the services of our people and those less fortunate.
    All religions can work together for the greater good.

    Reply
    1. Helen Dyjak

      NY-this woman is being persecuted by church 4 standing on the common footpath, as she pays for the footpath with her taxes and local council rates. That church does NOT pay tax or rates!!! they drag here through courts to destroy her 4 NOTHING!!!just 4 their FUN!!!Good LORD how sad!!!

      Reply
  15. Steve Maxwell.

    Congratulation Tanya,
    It’s gratifying to hear that justice has prevailed. You and your lawyer’s persistence need thanking . Thank a rational world!

    Reply
  16. Mark

    Before you can give an accurate comment here I’d suggest hearing both sides of the argument. Hillsong church must have an opinion for their actions. Not defending them but would like to have a balanced view before making assumptions.

    Reply
    1. thatsmyphilosophy Post author

      Hillsong have plenty of avenues to comment and a lot more power and influence than me. It’s not my job to give them a pulpit. The judge ruled that Tanya was of impeccable character, could not have known she was trespassing and was not a criminal. That’s compelling evidence she should never have been charged.

      If Hillsong have a different take on it, they can give it on their own website. But if I was their PR adviser I’d be telling them “Shut up! You’ve already made a huge cock up of this and you’re only going to look worse if you try to pretend you were right.”

      Reply
      1. livingliminal

        Well said Chrys! You are simply redressing a huge power imbalance here. Sadly, Tanya’s experience is more common than you might think. In recent years, I have heard so many stories of abuse and victimisation in the church that it makes me heartsick. And pretty much every one of those survivors felt alone and afraid – thought that there must be something wrong with them – until other brave souls spoke up and openly shared their stories.

        That’s why people who are used to controlling the narrative hate the fact that their victims are finally being given a voice. (Thank you, social media!) Far too many people have been scorned, lied about, and falsely accused simply because they refused to bow the knee to the religious leaders and submit to their “authority”. But I guess that shouldn’t surprise anyone. The religious leaders of Jesus’s day did exactly the same thing…

      2. Helen Dyjak

        thatsmyphilosophy-I agree with U here all the way!!!the church is in a wrong!!!footpath is a CROWN land and anyone can stand on it!!

    2. AG

      They have plenty of fora to comment in …………….. lets hear from them! My bet is they’re trying to avoid it!

      Reply
  17. Angela

    While it’s horrifying to hear of someone being treated this way, I unfortunately can relate to it in a small way. I was part of a small church in Wollongong similar in values than Hillsong and when I pointed out things to everyone it all changed and the pastor did not want me or any one else having a different opinion. He became very arrogant and I realized how little they really cared instead of preserving their egos. Tanya I look forward to reading your book I’m sure I will find some parallels with my own experiences. I feel very sad for the lovely people I knew who have a beautiful heart to do what Jesus did and they are misguided by these power and money hungry people. Thanks Tanya I will look up your book

    Reply
  18. M Yates

    religion is the false personal relationship with God is the real religions Gods are money and control

    Reply
    1. A Dude

      Seriously M Yates I hope the cosmos gives you the power to find grammar. I ran out of breath just reading your comment.
      On another note, the most violent book ever written is the Bible. Keeps me well away from the likes of the worldly vision of Hellsong.
      Well written Chrys and thanks.

      Reply
  19. Ambivalent

    Very sad for what Tanya Levin has been through due to courageously revealing her personal experience, raising valid concerns & challenging aspects of Hillsong church. (I’ve read the book & have attended 2 Hillsong churches for about 4 years). Apart from how she & some others have been treated, my main concern is the usually subtle financial pressure. (Mainly through the heretical concept of “tithing” , shameless, teaching “backed up” by carefully selected, mainly old testament Bible verses / passages, to manipulate a false message designed to financially & generously give. Something like “you don’t have to tithe / give your first fruits, but you won’t be blessed & your money will be cursed if you don’t”. (So much for Jesus being our first fruit, His free gift of grace & Paul’s teaching re being a cheerful giver, not under compulsion & living a life of freedom!). Sometimes HS invites external preachers such as Joseph Prince to do the financial teaching. (BH admitted at the 2015 Hillsong Conf that you can make the Bible say just about anything by taking versus out of context). Other times he / she has questioned the heart / motives of those who challenge the financial pressure, implying they are the ones with the problem. (I have recordings to back up what I am saying)… Sorry Tanya you could not find comfort and support from other Christians (except one. Ive certainly maintained friendships with some who have chosen to leave). Also that her experience led her to give up on Jesus (who’d strongly advocated for the poor / vulnerable / exploited (& those who obviously haven’t read all of the New Testament for themselves). Jesus strongly admonished oppressive, hypocritical religious & political leaders / practices. Jesus said you “cannot worship God & money” & “it is the love of money which is the root of all evil”… What keeps me at Hillsong? Mainly some of the lovely, genuine caring Christians including some leaders there / good friends. Some inspiring encouraging Bible based messages re Jesus love & grace (demonstrated in his life & sacrifice for all, no one & I mean no-one is exempt if they turn to him). Multiple weekly commitments to Jesus: aiming to help keep especially new followers balanced / strong / not feel condemned for not giving much or at all. (A few of us have boycotted giving until the financial message is honest, sometimes give to poor churches / pastors / causes / individuals instead). Being a Christian can be challenging so its encouraging & uplifting to go to a church which is joyful, positive & practical. (Read Lee Strobel’s books & see movie out this week at Events Cinemas “The Case for Christ” re an evidence based approach re Jesus & authenticity of the Bible,etc. Its the evidence re Jesus & His Spirit & word, not the church which leads most us to commit & remain in Christ regardless of which church or home group we meet with). Most attractive is the awesome, moving & usually bible based music / lyrics (without the music, I doubt HS would have gone far). Financially supporting great causes & making a diffetence eg with local & overseas disasters, helping women & children escape abuse / slavery / prostitution, community food banks / out reach, etc. (Hillsong has “big bills” but that doesn’t justify perpetuating financial false teaching). Hope this provides additional insight & balance.

    Reply
  20. Ambivalent

    Having just re-read my above rushed phone response / rave, realise it has a few typos & too many irrelevant asides sorry!

    Again would like to express my sadness at what Tanys Levin’s been through, praying she will be further vindicated & somehow rewarded.

    Re “protecting a paedophile”: my understanding is that BH’s father committed his crimes about 3 decades ago in NZ (not at Hillsong church) & BH only found out about a decade ago (he & all were mortified). BH took some actions against his father a decade ago (only realised the conflict of interest implications later).

    Police won’t intervene if abused adults won’t initiate / co-operate. Perhaps BH could have offered substantial compensation as a good will gesture to his father’s victims (& to Tanya), but it is my opinion that it is unfair to blame BH for his father’s crimes.

    Reply
  21. thatsmyphilosophy Post author

    Neither Tanya nor I have ever blamed Brian Houston for his father’s crimes. What we have pointed out is that, having found out about them, his concerns have been firmly focused on the harm and distress caused to the Houston’s and their church with scant regard for the victim. This is what horrified Tanya. That, in announcing the scandal to the church, Houston asked for the congregation to pray for him and his family – not the victim. Houston is not just the son of a paedophile. He is at the head of a multi-million dollar organisation which takes substantial funds (in grants and tax concessions) from the Australian taxpayer. He had both a social and managerial responsibility to deal with his father, not as a relative, but as an employee of the church. Instead, as ever, the strategy was to protect the church – the Houston’s ‘cash cow’ – at all costs. That comes above protecting and caring for the victim/s of his father and it certainly comes before any compassion for Tanya who the Houston’s have all but hunted down in their zeal to destroy her. It is despicable.

    Reply
  22. Katharine

    There were many victims (14)? of Frank Houston but the crimes were committed many decades ago and when he had his minister credentials from another country . Some of the abuse did take place in Australia and also New Zealand . Some victims have only just come forward in the past year . The issue was whether the correct and legal procedures were followed to ensure that justice was done . The Australian Christian churches were unclear of their own procedures and didn’t follow them correctly. So the failure was not only of Brian Houston who had a clear conflict of interest but the Australian Christian Churches . Yes he was removed from his position but he should have been reported to the police .

    Reply
  23. Ambivalent

    I agree that’s how it seems / perhaps was 😔.

    I’m glad Tanya has been vindicated in her situation. (Hope fully compromising church leaders learn Jesus is on the side of the abused / manipulated, vulnerable & exploited so will reap what they sow, not just financially).

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s