The Hillsong Church Cult

Hillsong Service in London

While paying a friend a visit in London, I came along the so-called „Hillsong Church“ to one of their regular services at the Dominion Theatre. Though I don’t believe in the supernatural, I thought it to be a good idea to please the person who invited me. However, I was not ready for what awaited me beyond the door of the big musical theatre, as it closed behind me and behind hundreds of others. To make a long story short: I think this „church“ is more like a cult and may be extremely dangerous for simple-minded people.

Service, Concert or Brainwashing deluxe? - source: wikipedia
Service, Concert or Brainwashing deluxe? – source: wikipedia

Attending the hillsong church service in London 2009

The hall was pitch black when suddenly the lights and a projector with lyrics went on and 12 people came on stage and sang for about 20 minutes. They sang songs like „Arms Open Wide“, with lyric passages like: „My whole life is Yours, I give it all, surrendered to Your name and forever I will pray. „It was more like a concert than aservice, and everybody stood up and cheered. You get the idea if you have a look at the image above. Until this point I was shocked because of the whole topic and the message which the lyrics transported but it was OK. The real shock awaited me after that.

The Hillsong Church Cult has its own Steve Jobs

Some guy who looked a bit like a plump version of Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs entered the stage and told the thrilled audience of his visions and that everything positive that happened in their lives was the will of God. It was rhetorically impressive because he used the word „imagine“ at the beginning of every sentence he spoke and a piano and an electric guitar were playing silently in the background to give his speech even more power. „Imagine we could fill the O2 arena next year. Imagine every one of us (Hillsong members) could get five more people into Hillsong. Imagine we would visit the schools and talk to the children“ At that moment I really became angry. They want to go to the schools and to teach their opinions to helpless children? I hope this is not permitted by the law and hopefully I will have the chance to send my children to a school where they only have education in ethics and philosophy rather than religion.

It was a hard time for me up this point because every time the audience was urged to stand up and pray, I sat down. This sounds easier than it actually is because if hundreds of people are standing and you are the only one in the crowd who doesn’t follow the rest of the group, it is an unpleasant feeling to say the least. Then after a prayer the collection bags were handed out. I even saw some people who gave away their credit card number and the permission for a certain amount of money to be withdrawn from the bank.

A regular weekly Hillsong Church service in Sydney - source:
A regular weekly Hillsong Church service in Sydney – source:

The Hillsong Church Cult is not charity

After that, I started to take pictures and a video in order to have proof of what I had seen and experienced. After the „service“, many people asked me what I thought about the event. At first I tried to avoid unpleasant questions with answers like „It was interesting but I don’t believe in things like that.“ Later we went to a pub where we were met up with some guys from the Hillsong Church and some people who only were visitors like myself.

After a few glasses of Guinness I had to ask: „Where is the difference between Hillsong, Jehovas Witnesses and Scientology and Christianity in general? Haven’t you watched movies about indoctrination? “ The answer was that „Hillsong does help the poor in the third world and that the money is used to make services like the one I saw possible and to get more and more people even closer to the love of Jesus and God“. In my opinion this is also true for the Jehovas Witnesses. They claim to support the third world with their money and everyone knows that they collect money from their members to make their church bigger and even more powerful in order to „save“ people. In fact, there is no real difference when it comes to the concept of a sect or cult.

This Hillsong Church is a huge empire with over 21.000 members worldwide and is criticized from many different directions including the media and politicians. Their methods are similar and other groups like TEN SING are even more popular here in Germany and may be considered equally dangerous. As far as I know at least they do not try to collect money.

I chose Science over Beliefs

I am an atheist and believe in nothing but the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge which is, in my opinion, the task of science. For me, religion is the cessation of thinking. I wrote a quite complete article in german language called Forschen VS Glauben (engl. research vs. faith) and made the „steep thesis“ (ger. steile These ;-) ) that everyone who visited a university should be clever enough to not believe in mystic tales like the creation myth or the concept of god. Before I went to the Hillsong service, I thought that things like that exist only in music videos like Genesis – Jesus he knows me.

What bothers me the most is that I had not founded a cult by myself. I mean, it should be easy to get some followers and to make people believe in something like the Flying Spaghetti Monster with simple answers to the complex questions of life. Everything good that is happing to my church members would be because of healthly living and everything bad comes from the Spaghetti Monster. Piece of cake. But to be honest I would be satisfied if busses like this would be driving around more often.

Last but not least I would like to thank Liron. She was so kind to help me out with grammar and spell checking!

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72 Antworten zu „The Hillsong Church Cult“

  1. Avatar von ben_

    So what’s the point? There are people out there believing in supernatural stuff, and trying to convince other of their Ideas and Values? This has been the modus operandi for most of the people for most of the time in the history of mankind, especially for Europeans. Humanism, Atheism and the Age of Enlightenment are only Sparks in the darkness of times, „like a running blaze on a plain, like a flash of lightning in the clouds. We live in the flicker – may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling! But darkness was here yesterday.“

    1. Avatar von Marc

      I did not wrte this article for people like you. I wrote it for the people who are not aware of the existence of such phenomenons. But I talked to people who claim to believe in the the creation myth rather than the big bang. This is ridiculous. Not every one is equally clever on this planet.

    2. Avatar von science

      I recommend getting some information about the way modern christians believe in the creation myth. They accept every logical physical explanation of the creation of the universe like the big bang theory for example. What the learn of the biblical creation myth are not parascientifical facts about the physical phenomena but an answer on questions like who they are, where they are from an where they will go.
      Theology at universities teaches since several hundred years that the creation myths in the bible are myths and need to be interpreted instead of using them as a simple (and false) alternative to the physical and scientifical approach of the current research.

    3. Avatar von kels_:)

      dont u have something better to do?? O.o its people like you who tear other people apart… ur sick mein… ur not even a christian and ur judging people…. wen u become God and you see everything tell me this then i will believe you… but for now get a life and stop the fool! Gosh! -___________________-

  2. Avatar von Podblack Blog
    Podblack Blog

    The difference, ben_ sagt, is when it’s people who are at the cross-roads and seeking help and guidance – and fall for these sorts of cults without realizing what will likely happen to them. Some people may not be particularly religious – as in the case of the Mercy Ministries, which masquerade as a ‚refuge‘ and only later people learn what they got into.
    Just because someone is seeking help and may have a tendency to accept the religious message – doesn’t mean that we can’t help them out.
    Thanks for linking to my blog, by the way, you have a great site! :)

    1. Avatar von ben_

      Of course. Every good humanist will and should help someone out of such cults. If you succeed: Great! But if you fail, don’t worry too much about it! Reason, Atheism and Humanism are not „normal“, not given. They are exceptional states of being for humans. Be lucky for those, who found them, and hold up the flames high! But do not assume, they are are the end of history or superior and will survive by their own power. They are threaded every moment, and if the will not succeed, it won’t be a suprise.

  3. Avatar von Olga

    It was a difficult situation for me with u in there, because there were really some people in of which I care and at first I had problems to stand the conflict though I never told u to keep ur mouth shut.

    U know that I enjoyed the show anyway, I love the music – it was like a concert for me.

    I don’t take serious what they preach in there and don’t care about the songtexts. On the other hand there is a friend that I care about (and which took me there the sunday before) very into the Hillsong community. I’m interested, if there’s the possibility to stay friends with her even though I’m not going there anymore. Think it’s going to be difficult or even impossible. That’s sad and opened me the eyes how strange this community really is.

    I try not to jugde them or say they are the less clever ones. I didn’t see it as a danger but was aware that they are to much into it (don’t reflect on it from a neutral position anymore). Otherwise I have no intention to convince them of my opinion, if they’re not interested in. I think I have a more sensitive way handling communication, if I realise someone has a different opinion – even though I think it’s wrong.

    Alltogehter I’m glad we went there together – I reflected the whole thing much more since! And learned lots of handling these kind of situations and to stand my point of view (which I still have to develop in many cases).

    I’m interested in how and if the friendship to a Hillsong member is going to work out, without taking part in their community…

    Well, I’m going to tell u!

  4. Avatar von Sean the Blogonaut
    Sean the Blogonaut

    Let me apologize for Australia inflicting this particular cult on you. This cult has particularly strong connections with present and past federal governments. They are run my media and money savvy businessmen. They are also tied in with the coffee chain Gloria Jeans which is headed by church elders.

    1. Avatar von Marc

      They are also tied in with the coffee chain Gloria Jeans which is headed by church elders

      You are kidding me, right?

    2. Avatar von Ex-christian

      I spent 2 years in their college in 2001 and 2002. I was there when one of their most popular pastors were sacked for cheating on his wife, and when Frank Huston was kicked out for what later was revealed to be paedophilia. There is a lot to this church beyond its love for your money.

      Hillsong has been fundamental in curing me from the disease called Christianity which I inherited from my parents.

  5. Avatar von Mo

    Zur Sache noch einmal der Hinweis auf den Atheistbus, Bild 1: „There’s probably no god. Now enjoy your life.“ Satzende, Diktatende.

    1. Avatar von Olga

      wären wir jetzt bei facebook würde ich den Daumen hoch mit ‚gefällt mir‘ anklicken! ;)

    2. Avatar von Marc

      Eine Integration der Google/Twitter/Facebook API als Kommentarsystem ist generell eine Idee, die ich schon länger hatte. Es wäre viel einfacher wenn die Kommentartoren sich sich mit ihren Social Services einlogen könnten und dann auch diese Features nutzen könnten.

      back to topic:

      In my opinion it is not a good idea to ignore cults like this. or religion in general. Because of attitudes like this towards spiritual groups like hillsong they can spread their power. Ignorance is no solution.

    3. Avatar von JTR

      Marc du weisst schon das diese Leute die Mehrheit der Weltbevölkerung ausmachen? In der USA, Australien und so manchen Land sind sie tonangebend! Du kommst als Politiker dort nicht an den Freievangelisten vorbei, es sei denn du willst eine Wahl verlieren.

  6. Avatar von Ulrich Parzany
    Ulrich Parzany

    Wer denkt in Deutschland gäbe es nicht ähnliches, irrt sich.

    1. Avatar von Marc

      So was wie die ProChrist etwa? =)

    2. Avatar von JTR

      Freievangelisten gibts überall auf der Welt, wir reden von dutzenden von Millionen Leuten, grad in der USA machen sie geschätzte 40 bis 60 Millionen aus! Ich war in meiner Kindheit auch in solcher Kirche. Events gibt es in ganz Europa. In der USA sind solche Gottesdienste ganz normal!

    3. Avatar von JTR

      Ach ja und heute bin ich Atheist!

  7. Avatar von Marc

    To make something clear:

    The person who was with me did not know, that this will be a service but a dance event of some of her friends. She is not relatet to hillsong in anyway.

    1. Avatar von Olga

      To make something else clear (that is – as I guess – already clear to everybody):

      The ‚person‘ was me… What a surprise, unbelievable news!

  8. Avatar von Fabian

    I can really recommend the works of Richard Dawkins – he essentially argues that religion is dangerous, as it stops people from critically asking. Also, his theory of the Meme is really interesting.

    If you’re more into everyday-practice than into theory, and probably materialist, this might spark your interest for atheism:

  9. Avatar von Feylamia

    everyone who visited a university should be clever enough to not believe in mystic tales like the creation myth or the concept of god“

    On the contrary: I’m clever enough to know that just because I can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there. :)

    1. Avatar von Marc

      I think this a little bit to easy =) So you do believe in Santa Claus as well?

    2. Avatar von Jim

      The Wisdom of God vs Human ‚Cleverness‘
      18 The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.19 As the Scriptures say,
      „I will destroy the wisdom of the wise
      and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.“*
      20 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish.21 Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.22 It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom.23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. 24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles,* Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. 26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy* when God called you.27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.28 God chose things despised by the world,* things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

  10. Avatar von Lionfish

    Feymalis did not say that she believes in Santa Claus. :-)

    She said „just because I can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there“.

    1. Avatar von Marc

      You mean like the the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

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