Hillsong Megachurch Founder Brian Houston Resigns

Hillsong, a global megachurch, revealed on Wednesday that co-founder Brian Houston had resigned following allegations of wrongdoing leveled against him by two women.

The first allegation stemmed from “inappropriate text messages” Houston made to a church employee, prompting her resignation, according to the church’s board of directors.

Houston was “under the effects of sleeping drugs, on which he had established a reliance,” according to church leaders at the time.

The second incident occurred in 2019, when a “disoriented” Houston entered a woman’s hotel room while under the influence of “anti-anxiety medicine over the prescribed dose, coupled with alcohol” during the megachurch’s annual conference.

The church’s board said Wednesday that “irrespective of the circumstances around” Houston’s resignation, both he and his wife — Hillsong’s co-founder Bobbie Houston — “have served God faithfully over many decades”.

Founded by Brian and Bobbie in Sydney in the 1980s, Hillsong has grown from its Australian roots into a global megachurch, which claims an average weekly attendance of 150,000 people.

The church is known for its rock concert-style services that feature pop music and high-profile special guests, including Justin Bieber and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Houston’s resignation from Hillsong comes as he readies to face trial over the charge that he covered up his father’s alleged child sexual abuse.

Houston was charged last year with concealing information from police about child abuse by his father, Frank, who was also a pastor and died in 2004.

Frank Houston had been accused of sexually abusing a young boy while a preacher in the 1970s.

A royal commission in 2015 found the younger Houston was told about the allegations in 1999 but failed to report them to authorities, which sparked a police investigation into him.

Houston has pleaded not guilty and said it is his “intention to vigorously defend” himself against the charges.

The trial is set to begin later this year.


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