Hillsong on Wednesday admitted it knew about ‘serious allegations’ against the church in 2018 and ‘found some were true’ after ex members claimed it is a ‘cult’.
In a statement to The New York Post a spokesperson for the church said: ‘In February of 2018, Hillsong Church received a letter with serious allegations regarding specific members of the Hillsong NYC volunteer and staff teams.’
Former Hillsong members continue to come forward with allegations against it, with some comparing it to a ‘cult’ where volunteers are allegedly used to perform manual labor and fulfill the personal needs of its leadership.
The spokesperson added Wednesday: ‘We were very concerned to learn that any church member, volunteer or staff member would feel unsafe. Immediately, we launched a comprehensive three-month inquiry into the claims made in the letter.
‘Sadly, we learned that some of the allegations were true.’ They say they took ‘immediate action’. Even claims deemed ‘inaccurate required care and concern as well’, they said. DailyMail.com has contacted Hillsong for comment.
The non-denominational Christian church, which was recently rocked by revelations that former celebrity pastor Carl Lentz cheated on his wife of 17 years, demanded ‘industrial slave labor’ from its volunteers, ex-members have claimed.
Hillsong Church was founded in Sydney, Australia in 1983 and has since expanded into a global chain with locations across the US, UK, and other countries.
But former members say the church’s alleged ‘toxic’ work culture appears evident across the board with some sharing horror stories from their experiences as parishioners in Sydney, New Jersey and LA.
Former Hillsong members have spoken out against the megachurch (pictured) which some have compared to a ‘cult’
Carl Lentz (right) the celebrity magnet of a pastor who brought the global megachurch Hillsong from Australia to the United States was fired last month after cheating on his wife. The leader of HillsongNYC once ministered to Justin Bieber and a bevy of other celebrities
Former staffer Nicole Herman (left) said working for the church was more like working for a ‘major company.’ A former student at Hillsong College in Sydney, Yolandi Bosch (right) claimed the church prioritizes fame over worship
Nicole Herman, who served as a service pastor for seven years after helping found Hillsong Los Angeles in 2013, said working for the church was more like working for a ‘major company.’
‘I was beneath [the senior pastors] but I did everything,’ Herman told the New York Post this week.
During her time there, Herman claimed she witnessed ‘volunteers and real, amazing people’ be taken advantage of and used to fulfill the ‘petty needs’ of church leaders.
Herman made the decision to publicly speak out against Hillsong in an Instagram post on Saturday, offering support to any former members ‘with a broken heart as well as a million other amazing people who left this cult.’
Over on the east coast, one woman who attended Hillsong in Montclair, New Jersey, claimed she spent five years babysitting for various pastors for which she was sometimes underpaid.
‘It was the most toxic work environment I’ve ever been a part of,’ the woman, who wished to stay anonymous, told the Post.
General views of the Belasco theatre in the downtown area of Los Angeles where the Hillsong church hold regular services
‘You get up there on a Sunday and talk about tithing and giving and you literally don’t do that to your workers,’ she added.
The woman said she became involved with the church branch in 2013 and after one year, she was introduced to Josh and Leona Kimes, now lead pastors at Hillsong Boston, to babysit their children.
Once she began taking babysitting jobs with the couple, she was then passed down ‘the line of pastors,’ she claimed.
Although the babysitting gig was paid work, the woman claimed she was rarely paid the $15 an hour she was promised and was instead given a lower rate of $8 or $10 an hour each shift.
In addition, she says she was often paid weeks late or sometimes not even at all.
‘I would be working 10, 11 hour days. I would get paid and then I would go in my car and count my money and nine times out of 10 the amount wasn’t correct,’ she added.
The former member also described the bizarre culture within the church, where she claims high-ranking staff members are viewed as celebrities.
Lentz’s Instagram post where he confessed to cheating on his wife of 17 years Laura
Hillsong is led by global pastor Brian Houston (pictured) who is based in Sydney, Australia
She alleged people would ‘flock’ to her when she took the children to church services because members were ‘obsessed’ with those who had some kind of connection with anyone on staff.
Eventually, other babysitters who were not associated with church stopped taking jobs and criticized Hillsong for operating like a ‘cult’, the Post reported.
The woman however said she defended the pastors, but now in retrospect admits: ‘When you’re in that deep, you can’t see the red flags or warning signs.’
The former staffer said she ultimately stopped taking babysitting jobs last year after hearing similar stories of abuse among other sitters.
A former student at Hillsong College, the Sydney-based school where members go to become pastors and church leaders, said she believes Hillsong is only a place of worship in name and prioritizes fame instead.
‘A church is supposed to stand for honor, grace and love, to help the widow and the orphan. If you read the Bible it’s clear what you need to do, but that’s not the way they operate — they’re all about the fame and how things look for them,’ Yolandi Bosch told the paper.
Bosch said she and former staffers plan to file a legal complaint against Hillsong in Australia over its alleged culture of ‘slave labor’, and are currently looking for representation.
She said she was made to work 20 consecutive hours at one stage.
A spokesperson for Hillsong said: ‘Like all students and volunteers on the Refresh team, when Ms. [Bosch] was a student in 2012, she would have helped maintain the building during special events and conferences.
‘Our guidelines would have prohibited any student or volunteer from performing a single task for 20 consecutive hours as part of this program.’