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 Lionfish

    No, not like the flying spaghetti monster! :-)

    But like the historocity of Jesus of Nazareth! :-)

    1. Avatar von Lionfish

      Christianity is a religion per se, but it is not religion that can save you.

      We are saved by faith – not religion.

      BTW I am (Christian) Lutheran not a Hillsong advocate.

  2. Avatar von dogara

    i stand in a middle but with a known direction to follow.
    God exists and the way to know Him is through Jesus Christ.
    i respect everyone’s opinion on what he/she believes but Just know God exist and because He loves you guys so much He does not allow His anger overwhelm the love He has for you.
    I wish we don’t believe in religion, because religion wont get you anywhere and Christianity is more than religion we think, it is about your life, your reaction to situations and about Jesus and you.
    aight, i’m out.

  3. Avatar von RICHARD TAMAYO

    i am challenging you to study this religion, visit this site or
    this is the true church, you can ask questions anything under the sun and the bible will answer.. pls dont ignore this challenge.

  4. Avatar von KS

    Hi Marc and Olga,

    I would like to provide you with an insight into Contemporary churches like Hillsong which are all over the world. Let us consider the concept of clothing – all of us wear different kind of clothing but the fact that we do it to cover our bodies still remains the same right ? Similarly contemporary churches cater to the modern generations X and Y without watering down the content of the Bible but are still relevant to todays generation. Why should one assume that a Christian only has to sing hymns which were written in the 1800s? All of us listen to music outside which has ‚electric‘ guitars in it – so why not listen to it in church?

    Coming to offering – this is an act of giving which is only between a person and God. I am sure no one in Church forced you to give money while you were there. These days how many of us carry money around since debit and credit cards have been around ? The whole world is going plastic so what is wrong if a church does it too ?

    The difference between Contemporary churches and Jehovah’s Witness (JW) is what they believe in. JW does not believe in hell and the holy trinity which does not agree with the Bible and hence they are called a cult. Contemporary churches have only changed how they preach but do not comprimise what they preach (from the Bible).

    And yes a person who has been to college can believe in Creation and God. I would recomend you to read this book WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT CHRISTIANITY
    by Dinesh D’Souza . Dinesh D’Souza is based in US and has served as a policy advisor in Ronald Reagan’s White House (until 1988). It answers questions such as Is Christianity true? Can an intelligent, college-educated person really believe the Bible? Or do the atheists have it right? Has Christianity been disproven by science, debunked as a force for good, and discredited as a guide to morality?

    Jesus is something one experiences. Just because one does not see the air the breathe does not mean it does not exist right ? :)

    Have a good day.


  5. Avatar von A

    You’re blog suggests that people that believe in Jesus, are narrow-minded. But all I can hear in your blog is narrow-mindedness. Of course Christianity has moved forward, surely you would have realised that having been told you were going to a service in a theatre not a church?

    You went into that service with your eyes and heart closed, because you weren’t willing to accept anything you heard. You knew right, and anything that you were taught at that service wasn’t good enough – so of course you came out with the answers you have. KS has the best point – are Christians meant to live in the dark ages? Hillsong still preaches the same teachings that have been being taught by Christians throughout history. Yep, they do it through song and with electric guitars (but that’s because not all christians sit in a darkened room reading the bible ALL the time, shock horror!) and it makes Church more enjoyable.

    Regardless of what you believe, if we’re not allowed to impress our own views on people at our own service, why should you be able to tell us that what we believe isn’t right? Like I said, you’re being incredibly narrow-minded.
    It’s like people who say the Alpha Course is extremist because at the end they tell you that yes, God does exist. What do they expect from a course that’s run by Christians? Of course they’ll let you make your own mind up – but their teachings on the meaning of life are based on the fact that God exists. So guess what they’re going to tell you?

    Hillsong helps a lot of people, whether someone is lost, depressed or just needs a little bit of faith, maybe you shouldn’t try to take that away from them. Sometimes your scientific answers just aren’t enough, you need to know that there’s some good in the world. Someone is looking out for you.

    I’m not trying to convert anyone, I’m just going to a service because it makes me feel good knowing that some things are possible because God loves me.

    1. Avatar von Missingno.

      Let me add something right there.
      As the frontpage states, Marc is playing Bioshock at the moment. Well, remember the slogan at the entrance of Rapture? „No Gods Or Kings. Only Man.“ Now, take a look at Rapture. A very „open-minded“ madhouse. Are you, Marc, still thinking we would have a better life without religions? And if so, why?

      And I agree with Feylamia.

      In fact, Marc is denying science at his own, saying God doesn’t exist unless he can prove it.

    2. Avatar von Marc

      Ok, now the topic is getting interesting: Videogames, Philosophy and Religion.

      BioShock is based on the book „Atlas Shrugged“ and „The Fountainhead“ by „Ayn Rand“. These books describes Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. I suggest you should read this text about the Objectivism and BioShock.

      What is Objectivism?

      In general however, when people think
      about Objectivism, they are thinking of two key things: 1) it’s focus on ‚rational self-interest‘, and 2) it’s basis in ‚laissez-faire capitalism‘.

      But Rapture, the city in Bioshock where Objectivism was used for the society, lies in ruins and is therefore an example for the fact, that the concept did not work out.

      I think this is too easy. I never said that I don’t want no government or morality at all. But I don’t want to believe in fairy tales like god, jesus for people who don’t want to think for them self. Believe in yourself and not in something supernatural. We live in the year 2009. And I hope we will someday be smart enough to get finally rid of all this kind of stuff.

    3. Avatar von chrismue

      While science is based on fixed rules, there is that awesome thing called randomness wich kinda holds everything together. The whole evolution is grounded on it. There wasn’t a supernatural thing about it, nor was it all cause and effect. Things fall apart sometimes, without any reason. They just do.

      Those who ignore religion aren’t any better than the fanatic zealots that root everyhing back to god. The world is more complex than our mind can grasp, that’s why humans try to reason things that actually just can’t be reasoned. Religion and science are a state of mind. Neither is 100% true or false. What works for you is the right choice, just don’t close your eyes for the alternative or worse, devalue it.

      Religion as the concept we know today, was invented when people needed an explanation for experiences they could not explain yet. You either start to believe or live in misery trying to solve an unsovable puzzle. Science as we got it today makes it easy for many minds to explain a lot more but there still areas even science can not conquer. There’s also the theory that life as we know it, will never be able to fully understand the rules of what surrounds them, it’s a safety mechanism to always secure evolution. For every question answered, two more come up. So i guess there’ll always be room for religion to step in.

      Let me state, that i’m not an religious person at all – period – but that i try to understand why it is accepted by many others. The more important question for me is, wether science of religion did and does more damage to our species.

    4. Avatar von Missingno.

      Neither is 100% true or false.

      Even better:

      Malaclypse the Younger: Everything is true.
      Greater Poop: Even false things?
      Mal2: Even false things are true.
      Greater Poop: How can that be?
      Mal2: I don’t know, man, I didn’t do it.

    5. Avatar von Marc

      Sentences like this „Those who ignore religion aren’t any better than the fanatic zealots that root everyhing back to god.“ are usually the normal reaction of people when I talk about topics like this. I don’t get the point. I am tired of talking about the fact that something like god does not exist. I talked about this at school, I talked about it at the church, I talked about it at the university. I am through with it and am satisfied that there are many intelligent people who don’t believe in god or have any other relation to supernatural things.

      Please read my article „Forschen VS Glauben“ (german) for more details of my opinion about Religion in general.

  6. Avatar von Marc

    Ist das erfüllte Leben eines Menschen, der an irgendetwas glaubt, weniger wert/erfüllt/wasauchimmer?

    In meinen Augen ja denn Glauben ist Stillstand während die Suche nach der Wahrheit Fortschritt ist. Das fast der Artikel „Glauben VS Wissenschaft“ aber sehr schön zusammen denke ich. Das ist nämlich der Unterschied bei der ganzen Sache und solche blöden Sätze wie „Aber die bösen Atheisten glauben ja auch an irgendwas“ oder „Ihr seid ja genau so extrem wie die Gläubigen mit eurer Meinungsmache“ sind dann immer der Punkt wo ich keinen Bock mehr habe.

  7. Avatar von Missingno.

    Ihr seid ja genau so extrem wie die Gläubigen mit eurer Meinungsmache.

    Nicht „Ihr“, „Du“. Da musst du dir selbst an die Nase fassen. Jedenfalls kenne ich genügend Atheisten, die nicht ihren (Nicht-)Glauben als das einzig Wahre verkaufen wollen und (Anders-)Gläubige respektieren. Natürlich gibt es genügend Missionare, die das tun, was man bemängeln kann: andere von ihrem Glauben als die einzige Wahrheit zu überzeugen. Aber wie gesagt, die gibt es auf beiden Seiten.

  8. Avatar von Marc

    Normalerweise gehe ich damit auch nicht auf die Straße und schwenke meine „Gott ist tot“-Plakate aber wenn es eben um Sekten wie die Hillsong Church geht, die versucht hipp und cool die Leute einzufangen. DAS geht einfach nicht. Und bei solchen Dingen schreibe ich dann auch schon mal einen Blogeintrag. Ich meine, so blöd kann man doch nicht sein, oder? Wenn man doch nur einmal in seinem Leben Southpark gesehen hat, dann darf man sich doch durch solche Dinge einfangen lassen, oder? Wenn Leute ihrem stillen Kämmerlein noch nicht über das Konzept von Religion hinausgewachsen sind ist mir das ziemlich egal.

  9. Avatar von Missingno.

    Normalerweise wirst du auch sicherlich nicht als Ketzer durch die Straßen gejagt.

    Ich meine, so blöd kann man doch nicht sein, oder? Wenn man doch nur einmal in seinem Leben Southpark gesehen hat, dann darf man sich doch durch solche Dinge einfangen lassen, oder?

    Nun… welcher Mensch lässt sich wohl eher „einfangen“: einer mit einem gefestigten Glauben oder einer auf der Suche nach Antworten, die ihm die Wissenschaft nicht geben kann?

  10. Avatar von Marc

    Der Weg ist das Ziel. Die Suche nach Antworten ist das wichtige. Die Kirche gibt Antworten, welche die Wissenschaft nicht geben will bzw. sie diese so lange gibt, bis man eine genauere Antwort gefunden hat. Deswegen: Wissen schaffen oder sich mit Glauben zufrieden geben.

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