Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Secrets of Hillsong, pt. 2

Last night I finished watching the FX Vanity Fair four part documentary on Hulu, The Secrets of Hillsong, a Christian (Pentecostal) megachurch in Australia, which spread to the United States. Much of this story was revealed in 2022 on the Discovery Channel. I was unaware of any of this, mainly because Hillsong first became famous through its music, which so many churches were already using. I don’t attend a service that uses that so there were probably discussions I ignored.

The first episode is primarily about Pastor Carl Lentz, the rock star pastor of the New York City Hillsong church who was so charismatic and charming (think Bill Clinton charisma but younger and better looking) that he became an entertainer-preacher who had celebrity guests like Justin Bieber, Kevin Durant and Vanessa Hudgens at the worship services. Lentz even appeared on the View. The footage shown of the services looked like rock concerts, but with more arm waving and jumping up and down. Even OSU Buckeye football fans don’t get that worked up!

Pastor Lentz falls from grace due to marital infidelity in the first episode after the audience has been introduced to his incredible ability to spin the Gospel and sway with the culture, but if that were the point of this documentary, there would be no story. The underlying theme and purpose in my opinion is to tell the audience that Christianity and Christians are a bunch of fakes and charlatans out of step with LGBTQ, BLM and Feminism, plus they are stealing money from their congregants and molesting children as sidelines.

In episode one we are introduced to the journalists and writers who put this story together (obviously with Pastor Lentz’s input). They dead pan pithy explanations yet do not condemn. That is left to the other on camera speakers, mostly from the NYC church who at one time were “volunteers” in responsible positions. (By the end of the 4th episode, they’ve all left the church, and some have left the faith, but you don’t know that in episode one). In the first episode, these are all women, several black, one possibly Hispanic, and one gay man who had been on a reality show with his boyfriend. In the 3rd or 4th (don’t remember) episodes we meet some men who worked with the Australian church, and like Lentz, were dismissed or “cancelled” by Brian Houston, the Australian founder of Hillsong (originally that was the name of the music arm, and the church took the name).

The final episode focuses on the sins of Brian Houston and his father Frank (d. 2004), who had been charged with child sexual abuse, but the church and particularly son Brian took no action even after a lengthy investigation by secular authorities. The trial is coming up in June, so that is yet to be revealed. Maybe there will be a fifth episode.

As I watched the very moving stories about the child abuse, I couldn’t help but think that this looks like nothing compared to what our current “leaders” from entertainment to school boards to medical clinics to churches are accepting-- the mutilation and sterilization of children who cannot give consent, either to attend drag shows, read assigned books or to have their bodies destroyed. Will they ever come to trial?

https://youtu.be/5_aIauL2xKA Shout to the Lord (Hillsong) The composer is at piano, and the lead singer might be Darlene Zschech.


Keep in mind if you watch this, that from start to finish, the whole point appears to be to condemn all Christians, not a particular church or group of sinners. Why would Vanity Fair care? There are other sources for this story which may not have that slant.

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