Sects but not hugs


The Age reports…

“A Melbourne Pentecostal megachurch teaching Year 7 girls that too much sex could put them at risk of becoming like overused sticky tape has apologised for the material.

In a statement released late Friday afternoon, CityLife Church executive minister Peter Leigh said: “In response to recent media coverage relating to CityLife Church … we apologise and agree that this material should not have been handed out to students.”

“We accept responsibility and a full review of the program and material is underway.”

The Education Department has launched an investigation into why Fairhills High School in Knoxfield in Melbourne’s outer east, has offered a program teaching a class of young girls that a chemical released in females’ brains called ‘oxytocin’ made them more needy than boys.

A booklet given to the students said that “girls are needier than guys in a relationship and always want to be close” under a subtitle ‘Science & Facts’.

“If a woman becomes physically close and hugs a guy for 20 seconds it will trigger the bonding process, creating a greater desire to be near him. Then if the guy wants to take the relationship further it will become harder for her to say no,” the booklet said.

Girls were warned having too many relationships could break “this special chemical bond” and harm a woman’s capacity to form future relationships, “almost like tape that loses its stickiness after being applied and removed multiple times”.

And girls dressing immodestly, the booklet stated, would not be respected by men. 

“The image we put out to boys is the kind of boys we attract! If YOU don’t show self-respect to your body by dressing appropriately how can you expect another guy to?”

The booklet was handed out as part of a weekly youth program run by Epic Youth during school hours in June.

The school did not seek parental consent for the program.

Professor and director of the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University, Jayne Lucke, said parents should be informed about what their kids were being taught about sex and gender, and it was a problem that no consent was given at the school.

“It becomes a very serious issue where parents discover after the fact that their children are learning about sex from a program they fundamentally disagree with.”

Renee Imbesi, who is a program officer of mental wellbeing at VicHealth, and also leads an anti-violence against women program, said teaching girls that men were more powerful in relationships than women, could breed tolerance for violence against women.

 “The message that a girl couldn’t refuse a relationship if a guy wants to take it further, implies he is in control sexually, and that reinforces attitudes that men are always the ones who are in control in relationships,” she said.

“We should be promoting gender equality and teaching that sex is consensual in a relationship.”

Fairhills High School acting principal Russell Poulier said the school had cancelled the program and would co-operate with the department’s investigation. 

An Education Department spokesman said “the content is totally out of step with department approaches to sexuality and relationships education.”


Kong Hee selling up – updated*



The Straits Times reports…

“City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee strongly denies he is “living the high life”, in an explanation of how he and his family came to be living in a luxury Sentosa Cove home.

In a Facebook post, Kong, 50, said he and his family moved into the Oceanfront penthouse – which has been on the market for $10 million – after he sold other properties to pay legal fees. As of yesterday, an online ad for the unit had been removed.

The pastor posted the message on Thursday in response to The Straits Times report “Kong Hee puts Sentosa Cove home on sale for $10m”, published the same day.

Kong said: “The property that my family and I have been living in is co-owned with another family. We have been living at this property with the co-owner’s kind permission after we had to sell our properties in order to pay the legal expenses for the ongoing trial.”

Kong faces three charges of criminal breach of trust. He and five others are alleged to have misused $50 million of church funds and then falsified church accounts to cover it up. They are accused of funnelling millions from the church’s building fund to help boost the music career of Kong’s wife Ho Yeow Sun.

The penthouse is co-owned with Indonesian tycoon Wahju Hanafi, and was purchased for $9.33 million in 2007. The Straits Times understands Kong and his family moved into the 5,242 sq ft duplex unit on the 11th storey about three years ago.

The Straits Times learnt that the co-owners are asking $10 million for the unit, that comes with a rooftop infinity pool and overlooks the One Degree 15 Marina Club.

Kong said he was “surprised and saddened by the contents of the article” and disputed an investor’s description of the furnishings in his duplex penthouse, after visiting it, as “lavish and opulent”.

The investor said Kong’s home “is decorated with quality furniture and topof-the-range equipment. It gives me the impression that the owner sure knows how to enjoy the high life”.

Kong’s agent tried to sweeten the deal with a chance to sail on the owner’s yacht, the investor said.

Kong said he does not own a yacht and was very surprised by the description of his property.

“Suffice to say that those who know and are around me, my family and friends, know perfectly well what we have gone through over the past five years, and what we continue to go through today can hardly be called ‘the high life’,” he wrote.

When contacted, he said he had no further comment.”


Another Hill$ong arrest


The Hills Shire Times reports…

“A 48-year-old woman was arrested at Hillsong Church, Baulkham Hills at 5.50pm on Sunday after she breached bail conditions which ban her from the premises on Solent Circuit. The Glenwood woman is due before Parramatta Court on July 15.”


Panic! At The Disco



“Can I have your attention for a moment before anyone moves.

Firstly, that was a great, great session. And practical. And we love pastor Rick. Uh-

Second thing is, obviously young people are about to go off to ‘Young & Free’. Now [crowd applauses] just a word for the young people. And I want you to listen to me. Out in the forecult- court right now is an Australian program called A Current Affair. They are a malicious program. They have a constant agenda against Hillsong. They lie. They’re underhanded. And they’re asking young people questions. And I want to encourage every young person here not to answer them. Not to talk to them. [Crowd applauses] And certainly don’t talk about things – haha – certainly don’t talk about things that you know nothing about. Alright?”

And as for who is here and who isn’t there, it’s not for you to tell.”

Source: Brian Houston, Hillsong Conference 2015 , 01/07/2015″


Tanya Levin arrested at Hill$ong Conference

Pic:Daily Mail/Nine Network



The Sydney Morning Herald reports…

“An outspoken critic and former church member was arrested for trespassing at Hillsong’s national conference in Sydney Olympic Park on Tuesday.

Tanya Levin, 43, was banned by church management in 2005 from attending any Hillsong events or setting foot on Hillsong premises. 

But she assumed she was on safe ground when a reporter from Channel Nine’s A Current Affair invited her to be interviewed outside the Allphones Arena at Sydney Olympic Park while the megachurch’s conference took place inside.

During the interview Ms Levin was approached by two police officers who told her she was trespassing and would be fined if she did not move on.

“I had thought Sydney Olympic Park was public property and that’s why I agreed to go,” Ms Levin said.

“I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. I have complied with Hillsong’s request to stay away for the last ten years,” she said.

Ms Levin moved to about 200 metres from the arena to an area she believed the officers had indicated and had a brief conversation with a young conferencegoer.

About 15 minutes later she was arrested for trespassing.

Ms Levin was escorted into the arena where she was interviewed by police and served with a banning notice for Sydney Olympic Park before being allowed to leave through the car park. 

“They said I crossed the perimeter, but there was no fence or barrier or anything,” she said. 

The officers were not attached to any specific local area command, but were user-pay officers contracted to patrol the conference site. 

Ms Levin wrote An Insider’s Story Of A Life In & Out Of Hillsong after becoming disillusioned with the multinational pentecostal church in 2001 and began asking questions about the church’s leadership and its ministry. 

But Hillsong said Ms Levin’s actions were “a cheap publicity stunt”.

In a statement to Fairfax Media, Hillsong alleged A Current Affair and Ms Levin were “harassing minors in an unethical manner” outside the conference. 

“The behaviour of A Current Affair is reprehensible and this pending story will be no more than a continuation of their anti-Christian agenda and hate,” the statement read.

Ms Levin denied her presence was a stunt.

“I don’t have a criminal record. I didn’t want to get arrested, and have to go to court,” she said.

“It’s very stressful when I know that the people I speak to who have been very badly treated by Hillsong are very distressed that a critic of the church would be arrested,” she said.

Hillsong banned Ms Levin in 2005 for causing “significant disruption” to its Colour Your World Women’s conference, according to a letter sent to Ms Levin by the church’s general manager George Aghajanian.

But Ms Levin said the only disruption she caused was to express her disgust at a fundraising tactic used by the church to a handful of delegates including a relative of Hillsong’s leadership.”



Lucrative Love Offering Circuit on A Current Affair reports…

“It’s the mega-glitzy gospel church with an annual conference that attracts a massive following and a new pin-up boy in pop superstar Justin Bieber.

But, according to a scathing report, the mega-wealthy Hillsong church — which is currently holding its annual conference at Sydney’s Allphones Arenea — is a cynical marketing machine raking in millions.

Devoted Hillsong volunteers, A Current Affair claims, are being exploited by the gospel church’s wealthy pastors who force them to work thousands of hours while they rake in millions.

The unpaid volunteers are even told they will fail their Bible college studies unless they give up their free time and devote hours of free labour to the mega church, A Current Affair reported.

A former volunteer told ACA some of the volunteers were forced to work so hard and were under so much pressure that they fell sick.

Then there’s the practice of “love offerings” — donations given to the mega-wealthy international pastors who in Sydney to speak at the conference.

Parishioners are encouraged to dig deep, with some of the international pastors earning $30,000 to $40,000 speaking at two or three different services a day during the annual conference, investigative reporter Adam Shand told ACA.

“There are bags of cash, literally bags of cash within this love offering circuit,” Shand said.

“They walk out of this country with cash in their bags and it’s not declared. How much they take out we have no idea because they don’t tell us.”

The damning investigation also claimed that Hillsong is similar to the Church of Scientology and was more “like a cult than a proper religion”.

Hillsong’s leader, Pastor Brian Houston — described by ACA as a one-man publishing empire — is living a life of luxury with his family, raking in millions tax-free while his parishioners fork out their hard-earned cash, the report said.

One parishioner at the week-long annual conference in Sydney told ACA she had “given thousands”.

Another man told Channel Nine he was prepared to hand over his hard-earned cash, saying “I haven’t given to Hillsong, I’ve given to God.”

One mother-of-eight on Centrelink benefits said she donated part of her welfare payments on a fortnightly basis.

“I usually tithe every fortnight on my Centrelink benefit — that’s my income. Yeah, so I’ve always tithed,” she said.

Former Hillsong member Tanya Levin’s book People in Glass Houses: An Insider’s Story of a Life in and out of Hillsong — an expose of life inside the church — has recently been re-released.

She told ACA Justin Bieber’s new role as Hillsong pin-up boy — the star is currently in Sydney for the conference — would be “a dream come true” for Pastor Brian Houston.

“Hillsong Church has never really claimed to be much about the poor,” she said. “They’ve really only ever claimed spreading their gospel, to be about their version of the gospel, to do that they need a lot of money.”