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When things go south, deny everything.
That appears to be the current strategy of Hillsong megachurch’s senior pastor and founder, Brian Houston. He has taken to Twitter and reportedly internal email groups to dismiss the existence of a $20 million lawsuit against the church, as well as The Post’s reporting on alleged misuse of tithing money by pastors at the Australia-based institution’s American branches.
“If anyone out there is even interested. Hillsong is NOT being sued for 20 million dollars. This story is completely untrue,” Houston, 66, tweeted Tuesday, offering no evidence to prove the New South Wales Supreme Court suit filed by Rosebery, Australia, homeowners against a Hillsong developer does not exist.
Houston has also apparently taken up a denial-based public relations campaign via email, reportedly messaging congregants on Monday to say that former members’ accounts of pastors’ spending habits were lies.
“We are particularly grieved that, in many cases, inaccurate accounts in these stories have been reported as if they are true,” Houston allegedly wrote in the email blast, which was obtained by The Post, rehashing that the scandal-ridden megachurch knows “many of the stories circulating are not true.” The email then launches into a bulleted list of various ways the church upholds its “biblical responsibility” to be financially ethical, including such vague statements as “careless spending is not permitted” and “team salaries are moderate.”
The email ends with a reminder that Vision Sunday — a large, annual event when many congregants make donation commitments for the year (“Salvation is flowing,” a promotional trailer declares) — is “just around the corner.”
Director Michael John Warren, Hillsong senior pastor Brian Houston, Grace Hill Media founder Jonathan Bock and Pure Flix managing partner Michael Scott at the Westwood, California, premiere of “Hillsong: Let Hope Rise” in 2016.