60 Minutes Australia aired a 28-minute episode about Hillsong Church on Sunday titled “Hillsong Hell: Disturbing Accusations Expose the Celebrity-Favored Church,” reported by Tom Steinfort.
The episode comes on the heels of Brian Houston, Hillsong’s global senior pastor, announcing last week that he was stepping down from the church’s boards. Houston was charged in August by New South Wales Police Force for allegedly concealing his father’s child sex offenses.
“I don’t care how you dress. I don’t care what type of music you play. I don’t even care as much about the messages you preach,” Billy Graham’s grandson Basyle ‘Boz’ Tchividjian told 60 Minutes in the episode. “If the least of those in your congregation and in your community are not protected and not advocated for when they get hurt, then don’t call yourself a church because Jesus was all about that.”
‘Hillsong Hell’ Details Two Accounts of Sexual Assault
The episode featured testimonies from American Anna Crenshaw who attended Hillsong College in Sydney, Australia, in 2016 and an Australian youth leader who served at Hillsong’s Melbourne East campus in 2018. For privacy, the second accuser went by the name Catherine.
Crenshaw is the daughter of senior pastor Ed Crenshaw of Victory Church in Audubon, Pennsylvania. The pastor’s daughter said she was attracted to Hillsong’s “vibrant energy,” describing the beginning of her college experience as “awesome,” “fun,” “a lot of energy,” and said she had enjoyed meeting new friends from all over the world.
Catherine likewise described her time as a youth leader as “a lot of fun” and place where she was able to make “some great friends” while having the “time of her life.”
Anna Crenshaw’s Story
*Warning: Details below contains accounts of sexual abuse.
At a 2016 gathering with church members, Crenshaw said the married Hillsong administrator Jason Mays introduced himself by putting his hand on her thigh. Taken aback, Crenshaw rose to leave, but Mays groped her by putting his hands around her waist and between her legs. Crenshaw testified that Mays touched her crotch and bottom and lifted up her shirt, proceeding to kiss her stomach while pleading for her not to leave.
Escaping Mays’ hands, Crenshaw said she left with friends, only to be followed by a stumbling Mays (alluding to his alleged intoxication) who was attempting to go with them. Steinfort asked, “Do you have any doubt about what he was trying to do?” Crenshaw said, “No. I think it’s evident where he was heading and what he was thinking.”
In 2018, Crenshaw reported the incident to Hillsong’s leadership where Mays’ father is the head of human resources, but said she didn’t feel supported by the church and felt like they did nothing with the sexual assault information. Instead, they appointed May’s wife as Crenshaw’s new church leader.
“I felt like I was the one who was in trouble, not him,” Crenshaw said. “I felt like I was doing the right thing by coming forward, but they made it into an issue that I was bringing up for no reason, in their opinion.”