Faith & Religion Lifestyle

Founder of celebrity megachurch Hillsong steps down to fight charge that he hid sexual abuse committed by his pastor father

  • Hillsong founder Brian Houston announced Sunday he is stepping down from his ministry roles.
  • Houston cited the ongoing court case in which he has been charged with covering up sex abuse.
  • Hillsong, based in Australia, has millions of congregants worldwide, including A-listers like Justin Bieber.

Brian Houston, founder of the megachurch Hillsong, which has drawn congregants like Justin Bieber, Kourtney Kardashian, and Selena Gomez, said on Sunday he is stepping down as pastor while he fights accusations he hid sexual abuse committed by his father against a child.

“The court case I am facing is related to circumstances surrounding my father, and I need to be fully committed to preparation and engagement with the case and work closely with my lawyers in defending this charge,” Houston said in a statement, adding: “I intend to fight the charge and welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.”

Houston was charged in August with covering up a child sexual abuse case. Police in New South Wales, Australia, said he “knew information relating to the sexual abuse of a young male in the 1970s and failed to bring that information to the attention of police.”

The charges came after an Australian government commission in 2014 found Houston failed to contact police when his father, pastor Frank Houston, told him he had abused a 7-year-old boy in 1969 and 1970. The commission’s report said Houston learned of his father’s actions in 1999 and told church leadership, but did not inform police of the allegation.

Houston denied the charges in a statement provided to Insider’s Kelly McLaughlin and Michelle Mark in August, adding: “These charges have come as a shock to me given how transparent I’ve always been about this matter.”

Hillsong did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for additional comment on Sunday.

Hillsong is based in Australia but has millions of congregants worldwide. In November 2020, celebrity Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz was fired after admitting he was “unfaithful” to his wife.

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