Similar to Crenshaw’s testimony, Catherine told Steinfort that she was made to feel like she was the problem and was told to focus on “repairing relationships.” After Hillsong refused to listen to her story, she decided to leave the church in 2019.
“[Hillsong doesn’t] care at all about the fact that I was assaulted. They just care about who I’m gonna tell or what I’m gonna do about and how that will affect them,” Catherine said, noting that Hillsong reached out to her years later when she started telling others her story.
60 Minutes reported that three years after Catherine initially reported her rape to a Hillsong youth pastor, the church finally reported it to police.
“I want my abuser to never, ever have the chance to be able to that to another person again,” Catherine said. “I also want Hillsong and the pastor that I told to be held accountable for not doing anything about my abuse after being told that I was being abused. I want to make sure that they can never, ever hide anyone else’s abuse.”
When Catherine was asked how she felt about Hillsong today, she responded, “I hate Hillsong Church. It is not a safe place. I would discourage anyone and everyone from going there because it’s not safe.”
Boz Tchividjian Criticizes Hillsong
Tchividjian told 60 Minutes that Hillsong is more concerned about protecting its “brand” than the vulnerable, wounded person.
Steinfort asked Tchividjian if he would feel comfortable sending his children to study with Hillsong in Australia. Tchividjian said emphatically, “No! Absolutely not,” adding that Hillsong didn’t protect Crenshaw and nor did they care for her.
Referring to the recent scandals that have plagued Hillsong over the past year, Tchividjian told Steinfort, “Somebody once told me: ‘The higher you go up in church leadership, the less likely you are to encounter Jesus.’ I have to tell you with great sadness that’s been my experience in the work I’ve done over the past 30 years. Something has to change.”
“If you love Jesus, then my goodness start acting like Him in the most most important moments of life. And that is when you are approached by the hurting and wounded. Stop everything you’re doing and reach out and expend yourself for them. Isn’t that what Jesus did over and over again? That’s what the church should look like, and unfortunately that’s hard to find these days.”
Hillsong Church Responds
Less than 24 hours after “Hillsong Hell” aired, the church released a statement calling the 60 Minutes episode “factually wrong, sensationalized, unbalanced and highly unethical journalism.”
While saying it isn’t a “perfect church,” Hillsong said its leaders do their “very best” to address issues that arise. It added that the safety of everyone who attends Hillsong is an “extremely high emphasis.” The church condemned any type of assault, saying it is never acceptable in any setting, in private or at church.
Hillsong also stated that it takes issues of abuse seriously, adding, “Thankfully, these types of issues are very rare, but when they arise we act decisively with compassion, love and grace, and we fulfill all legal obligations.”
The church called 60 Minutes producers liars, blasting its claims that Hillsong declined to be interviewed. The church said the news program had no intention putting together a balanced story. “60 Minutes has clearly been working on this story for some time, yet only contacted us by email with vague questions four days before the story was scheduled to air, and after promotions for the story were already running across the Nine Network.” Hillsong said the network offered the church the opportunity to respond at the last possible moment before the show was complete, knowing it would be next to impossible for the church to adequately do so.