A ‘silly’ tweet from the founder of Hillsong has been knocked down by a sexual assault survivor who was abused by a worship leader at the Australia-based mega-church.
American-born Anna Crenshaw, 23, shared her painful story earlier this week in an article criticizing the evangelist organization’s response to her ordeal.
Soon after, Brian Houston, 67, the multimillionaire church leader took to social media calling the story “ factually wrong ” and revealing that she was also sexually assaulted as a child in her father’s congregation.
American-born Anna Crenshaw, 23, (pictured) shared her painful story earlier this week in an article criticizing the Hillsong Church’s response to her ordeal
“Some of the things in the article are factually incorrect, but abuse is NEVER OK,” he said.
“I understand that Anna was originally abused in her father’s church in Pennsylvania. That makes it sadder. Whether abuse is taking place in Pennsylvania or Australia, it is tragic. ‘
Ms. Crenshaw said Mr. Houston tried to use her past trauma in an effort to deflect accountability from his own church.
Hillsong has been plagued with controversy in recent months and was forced to close their Dallas, US operations after a financial scandal.
“This is an incredibly victim and heartbreaking response to receive from someone I have loved as my dear pastor for so many years,” Mrs. Crenshaw said.
Faced with public reactions from social media users who accused Mr. Houston of accusing victims, he quickly deleted the tweet and apologized.
In a response to this article yesterday, I foolishly included information that was wrong for me to share. To (rightly) have more respect for privacy, I have removed my comment.
‘My apologies for the pain I caused. I know better and will do better, ”he wrote.
Brian Houston (pictured with wife Bobbie) took to social media calling the story ‘factually incorrect’ before apologizing
Mrs. Crenshaw told me Christian Post that Jason Mays, a married Hillsong staff manager, assaulted her sometime before 2018 while she was studying at Hillsong College in Sydney.
Mays, the son of John Mays, the Church’s head of human resources, pleaded guilty in 2019 to “ assault with an act of indecency. ”
In a statement made to Margaret Aghajanian, the head of oversight of pastoral care at Hillsong Church, Ms. Crenshaw said a friend of Mays had encouraged her not to report the alleged incident.
Jason grabbed me, put his hand between my legs and his head on my stomach, and began to kiss my stomach. I felt his arms and hands wrapped around my legs and made contact with my inner thigh, butt and crotch, ” she wrote in the 2018 statement.
“ I felt like I couldn’t say anything about the Jason incident because his friend had said he wouldn’t, and insisted he was a good guy and this wasn’t normal behavior for him. ”
Ms. Crenshaw told the outlet that the treatment she received from Hillsong after coming forward with her allegations of abuse had ruined her relationship with the church.
In a statement that Ms. Crenshaw (pictured) made to Margaret Aghajanian, the head of pastoral care oversight at Hillsong Church, she said a friend of Mays encouraged her not to report the alleged incident.
Mays was sentenced by the courts to two years of probation and mandatory counseling.
The church knocked him out of a 12-month suspension from ministry, but in early 2020 he was welcomed back with an administrative role, even appearing onstage at gospel events as a volunteer singer.
“I’m not interested in supporting an organization that is willing to treat abuse as I’ve seen them treated. What happened to my relationship with Hillsong is that once I registered with the church, it started to go downhill, ”she said.
“Then I saw how they dealt with abuse, and I don’t want to overlook that in my relationship with the Church.”
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Mr. Houston and Hillsong Church for comment.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard speaks Thursday 9 August 2007 at the Hillsong Church Make It Count 2007 in Sydney