Statement from Hillsong Church
Published: September 26, 2019
Over the past few days there has been numerous media reports and comments on social media about our senior pastor Brian Houston and references to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, at which Pastor Brian gave evidence in 2014.
Much of this commentary is factually incorrect and highly defamatory, and we call on the media and others to immediately stop making these spurious claims. We have directed our lawyers to review several articles that have published untrue and defamatory claims that smear Pastor Brian’s reputation as a Christian leader. Furthermore, we remind those who seek to spread rumours and baseless information via social media that these comments may also be subject to a defamation action.
Pastor Brian has made it clear on multiple occasions during and since the Royal Commission that he is incredibly grieved for the victims and the hurt and pain that the criminal actions of his father, Frank has caused them. He has never placed blame on any victim and the actions of his father repulsed him.
This Royal Commission did not directly involve Hillsong Church. The abuse by Frank Houston occurred many years before Hillsong church existed.
It is an indisputable fact that Pastor Brian is not a perpetrator of abuse, has never been accused of abuse, and took immediate action to expose and stop a child abuser. At no stage did the Royal Commission ever imply that Pastor Brian was involved in any sort of “cover up”. Reporting around this is wrong.
Here are the facts that were part of the evidence given at the Commission by both Pastor Brian and the victim of his father:
The evidence stated that there were many others who knew about this abuse well before Pastor Brian was told. In the 15 years prior to the Royal Commission since these revelations came to light – despite Pastor Brian widely sharing this information, even to the entire church – no one had ever advised that this historical complaint coming from a mature 36 year old adult needed to be reported to the police. Evidence was also tabled at the Royal Commission that under s316 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) the ‘reasonable excuse’ provision allows for the non-reporting to the police of situations where historic victims that are now adults have specifically asked this not be done, as was in this case. The media continually chooses to overlook this.
It is easy to look back many years with hindsight, however Pastor Brian took decisive and immediate action against his own father at the time where many others had failed to do so.
Child abuse is abhorrent but attempting to blame Pastor Brian and tarnish his reputation is not going to advance the cause of any victim. Pastor Brian has ensured that Hillsong Church has a zero tolerance policy for abusers and has best-practice child-protection policies and procedures in place.