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Celeb Favorite Hillsong Church Faces Allegations of Assault, Homophobia & Racial Disparity

Celeb Favorite Hillsong Church Faces Allegations of Assault, Homophobia & Racial Disparity

Hillsong Church is coming under fire.

The celeb-favorite church was called out for sexual assault, homophobia and racial disparity in a bombshell report from Vanity Fair on Thursday (February 11).

Through interviews with numerous Hillsong volunteers and former congregants, the church faces stories of exploitation, bullying and alienation.

According to the report, Anna Crenshaw reported in 2018 that Jason Mays, a Hillsong staff administrator and the son of the church’s head of human resources, sexually assaulted her when she attended Hillsong College, a farm system for the church’s global network of pastors.

She alleged that he grabbed her, kissed her and groped her, wouldn’t let go, and was asked not to tell anyone what happened. Nobody in attendance acknowledged the assault and she kept quiet for two years before reporting it to Hillsong’s head of pastoral care oversight.

“Reporting what happened was the issue, not what happened to me,” she said, adding that the church took three months to notify him of the report, and took no action for two months after. (He was eventually placed on paid leave.) Last year, he pled guilty to indecent assault and received two years probation and mandatory counseling.

A Hillsong rep said he served a 12-month ban from any ministry, but was reinstated in his administration role, and occasionally volunteers as a singer.

“There have been no additional concerns,” the church said in a statement.

Former attendee Omar Abreu, who identifies as queer and non-binary, said that while attending Hillsong College in Australia, a professor stopped class to say: “We need to pray for Omar’s future wife.”

“How do we get people to come to the church and make them feel safe and still remind them that they suck and are headed to hell?” Omar said of the situation.

Ashley Jones, a former volunteer, says when she, the only Black woman leader on the worship team, was excluded from planning meetings for a Black History Month-themed tribute. When she showed up uninvited, she learned there was a plan for a “blue-eyed, blond-haired woman who has a reputation for singing ‘Black’ to perform the song ‘Amazing Grace’ backed up by Black singers in the shadows.”

She says leadership responded with: “We don’t call the qualified; we qualify the called.” (They eventually scrapped the plan.)

“If you complain, you’ll keep cleaning toilets. If you don’t complain, you can climb the ladder,” said a staffer of the culture at the church.

Former Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz recently entered a treatment center after admitting to infidelity.

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Photos: Getty Images
Posted to: Hillsong Church

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