Politics

Why is Scott Morrison protecting Hillsong Pastor Brian Houston?

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison (right) and his mentor, Pentecostal Hillsong Church Leader Brian Houston (Screenshots via YouTube)

The PM remains mute as his mentor, Pentecostal Pastor Brian Houston, is investigated for covering up child sexual abuse but demands Muslim leaders take responsibility for their communities' criminal behaviour, writes Dr Jennifer Wilson.

IN HIS MAIDEN SPEECH, current Prime Minister Scott Morrison referred to evangelical Christian and Hillsong Church leader, Brian Houston, as his “mentor”.

The Prime Minister thanked Houston for his support and encouragement.

While Morrison no longer attends Hillsong, he does attend Horizon — another Pentecostal church that along with Hillsong is affiliated with Australian Christian Churches, the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God.

In 2015, Brian Houston was censured by the Child Abuse Royal Commission for failing to report his father, Frank Houston, to police for the alleged sexual abuse of children in his church.

On Monday, three years after this censure, NSW Police confirmed that Brian Houston is being investigated by them after complaints that he failed to report his father’s crimes, instead, concealing them and urging church officials to refrain from publicly revealing the allegations in the interests of the institution’s reputation.

In May 2018, Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson was found guilty in a NSW court of concealing child sexual abuse.

Abuse survivor Peter Gogarty said after the verdict:

"I think this will now open the doors for other jurisdictions to start looking at trying to prosecute people who deliberately looked after their institution and, literally, threw children to the wolves."

It appears that Prime Ministerial mentor Brian Houston and the Hillsong Church may have “deliberately looked after their institution” and “thrown children to the wolves”. The current police inquiry will pursue this possibility.

'Morrison went so far as to claim that in his own religious community, his Pastor would know if members were behaving offensively and criminally.'

There has been no comment on this situation from Scott Morrison.

Morrison’s lack of comment would not be as significant were it not for the fact that immediately after the most recent attack on citizens going about their daily business in Bourke Street, Melbourne, the Prime Minister called on the Muslim community, in particular, spiritual leaders. He called on them to take responsibility for their community members and identify those among them likely to behave in ways that threaten others. Morrison went so far as to claim that in his own religious community, his Pastor would know if members were behaving offensively and criminally.

This claim is astoundingly false. Morrison and his Pastor must have been aware for some time of Frank Houston’s alleged crimes against children and Brian Houston’s efforts to conceal those crimes. The longevity, number and extent of crimes against children in Christian communities far exceed crimes perpetrated by offenders from Muslim communities against citizens in public spaces. Yet Morrison makes no such demands for responsibility and accountability from his faith group.

In holding Muslim imams more responsible than he holds Christian pastors and priests, Morrison is engaging in a profoundly dishonest and deliberately misleading act that crudely privileges Christianity over Islam. The truly horrific failings of his own faith leaders are ignored, in favour of the political advantages he believes are to be gained from demonising the Muslim community.

Further, not only is Morrison silent on the more general failure of Christian communities to confront child sexual abuse, it is his mentor that he is protecting. That kind of protection is very close to home — far too close to home for a prime minister.

We have seen, repeatedly, the failure of Christian communities of all persuasions to act on the horrific abuse of thousands upon thousands of children in their care. I have never heard Prime Minister Scott Morrison call for Christian leaders to monitor the behaviour of any members or employees in an effort to prevent the molestation and rape of children. If there was ever a topic on which a prime minister should voice an opinion, it is the horrific epidemic of child sexual abuse perpetrated by Christian churches, including his own. And yet, nothing.

Questions must now be asked of the Prime Minister:

  • Why are you protecting your mentor, Brian Houston?
  • Why are you demanding a level of accountability from the Muslim community that you blatantly do not require from your own faith group?
  • Why have you gone on the public record declaring Pentecostal pastors would recognise and act upon dangerous behaviours within your community, when your own religious mentor stands accused of concealing the sexual abuse of children?

It is alarming that in a secular state, the Prime Minister holds his religion up to the community as a false and misleading example of excellence, and as a tool of condemnation of other religions. Scott Morrison’s faith has no place in the affairs of our state. He has no mandate to provoke religious unrest.

Nobody likes a liar but a religious liar is, quite rightly, more despised than most.

Why, Prime Minister, are you protecting Brian Houston?  

You can follow Dr Jennifer Wilson on her blog No Place for Sheep or on Twitter @NoPlaceForSheep.

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