A new documentary has revealed that it is not only the founder of the Hillsong Church Brian Houston who was accused of sexual abuse but the church had seen a large number of such claims in past years against their pastors. But it has been involved in covering them up with the help of NDAs. However, this time it has popped in a wider way which could not be covered up.
The documentary titled "Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed" has revealed details about allegations against the church's founder, celebrity pastor Carl Lentz, organization's functioning, dealing with sexual complaints against Pastor and clearly underlined that it completely tried to cover up accusations against the organisation.
Lentz, who had been opposing sex before marriages to his staffers and even forced one of his female staffers to end her relationship with her boyfriend for having sex, himself had a long affair with Ranin Karim, 35, despite being married.
Karimi revealed in the documentary that she had a toxic relationship with Lentz and she was not aware that Lentz was married. When she asked him is there was anything wrong in his relationship? Lentz replied, 'I've never done this before, there's nothing wrong with my relationship. But you have everything I want in a woman.' This was very odd," she said.
When she revealed in 2020 that she had a five months-long affair with Lentz, it led to his ousting from Hillsong the same year.
Motives Behind Ousting of Lentz
Lentz was fired from Hillsong in November 2020, with Founder Brian Houston citing his "moral failures"."The rumor is that Carl and his wife were going to make their exit from Hillsong, and I think that Brian [Houston] knew his profile was too high and that people would follow him. So I think it was just kind of getting rid of him and trying to tarnish his brand," Janice Lagata, a former Hillsong student and volunteer who worked with Hillsong NYC church leadership, speculated in the documentary, according to New York Post.
Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Founder's Father
The documentary has featured the testimony of a person who was sexually abused by founder Brian Houston's father Frank Houston. Brett Sengstock has maintained that Frank sexually abused him in the 1970s when he was 7-8 years old.
Sengstock informed the church about the incident but they made attempts to pay him off with hush money while founder Houston put the blame of the incident on Sengstock saying "it's your fault". "You know, it's your fault all of this happened. You tempted my father." Brian Houston also denied the accusations saying the abuse was Sengstock's fault.
A preacher's daughter has also labeled allegations against a Hillsong staffer of assaulting her.
Anna Crenshaw, who was studying at Hillsong College in 2016, alleged in the documentary that she was assaulted by a Hillsong staffer, who groped her at a house party in front of other people. She informed to the church leadership about the incident in December 2018. But in response, she was being questioned for the incident.
"It fel[t] like an interrogation. They were definitely checking for mix-ups or errors. I just knew, 'OK, they are not on my side," she revealed in the documentary.
Non Disclosure Agreement
Students and volunteers at Hillsong College have revealed in the documentary that cover-ups are a part of the Hillsong culture as they claim they were used for free labor and required to sign Non Disclosure Agreements.
"If you were a church that was open and trusting, why would you get your members to sign an NDA? Unless you're hiding something," said Yolandi Bosch, former Hillsong College student.
Founder Brian Houston, who has not been interviewed in the documentary, has resigned on Wednesday, after an internal misconduct investigation, which found Houston had behaved inappropriately towards two women. In January, he had stepped down as the church's director during a court case accusing Houston of hiding his late father's sexual abuse of children â all of which the church has denied.