Hillsong is a contemporary evangelical church that believes the bible is the ultimate authority. It has a big celebrity following and has been in the limelight in recent years, with a particular focus on its anti-LGBT views.
This contemporary church is unlike others you may imagine. Millennials and celebrities come together for Hillsong Sunday services surged with pop music and concert lighting.
And instead of wearing robes, here, the pastors are often seen in skinny, ripped jeans and snapbacks.
What is Hillsong Church and which celebrities attend?
Hillsong Church is a Pentecostal congregation founded in Australia by anti-gay marriage pastor Brian Houston.
Hillsong became widely known when Justin Bieber, who’s friends with the New York City pastor Carl Lentz, was famously baptised.
Several celebrities are among its congregants including Selena Gomez, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Vanessa Hudgens, Kourtney Kardashian, and Hailey Bieber, according to US news site Vox.
Hillsong now has locations in more than 20 countries across the world, including the UK and the US.
What are Hillsong’s anti-LGBT views?
The church has faced accusations that it referred LGBT members to undergo gay ‘conversion’ therapy, as reported by The Daily Beast.
One gay teen, Alex, was a member of Hillsong church until he quit in 2008 after the suggestion for conversion therapy.
“Gay people need to know that when they go to Hillsong, they have to go to the back of the bus,” Alex said. “Hillsong is hip and attractive and contemporary, but there’s certainly nothing contemporary about what LGBT people will face if they want to be a leader in the church or offer themselves up for service. That’s something [Hillsong] will have to be upfront with, and they haven’t been so far.”
However, Hillsong has since disavowed the gay ‘conversion’ therapy programmes, joining dozens of prominent medical organisations around the globe who have condemned the harmful and ineffective practice.
Despite this shift around 2011, Hillsong has still faced criticism over its treatment of LGBT people.
According to Metro, Abi, a 25-year-old Christian who joined Hillsong London a year ago, says she is “absolutely not anti-LGBT” but she acknowledges that Hillsong is fundamentally against “a gay lifestyle.”
Brian Houston: ‘Do I Love Gay People?’
The Australian pastor, and founder of the church, Brian Houston, wrote a blog in which he clarifies his personal position on homosexual members of his church.
In a blog titled “Do I Love Gay People?,” Houston attempts to vocalise his views on gay members of his Hillsong Church congregation.
“I do believe God’s word is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
— Brian Houston, senior pastor of Hillsong Church
He starts off by saying: “I love and care about people – from all walks of life; people with various beliefs, ethics, perspectives and lifestyles.”
But Houston also wrote that he holds “to traditional Christian thought on gay lifestyles and gay marriage. I do believe God’s word is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
He continued: “Hillsong Church welcomes ALL people but does not affirm all lifestyles.
“Put clearly, we do not affirm a gay lifestyle and because of this we do not knowingly have actively gay people in positions of leadership, either paid or unpaid.”
Ellen Page criticised Chris Pratt for going to “anti-LGBTQ” church
Zoe Church, which Chris Pratt attends, also has links with Hillsong, according to The New York Times.
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Ellen Page recently called out Chris Pratt for attending the “infamously anti-LGBTQ” church.
The lesbian actress criticised Pratt on Twitter after he spoke on Thursday’s (February 7) episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert about being “inspired” by his Hillsong pastor to perform the 21-day Bible-derived Daniel fast.
Quote-tweeting a Hollywood Reporter article which noted that Pratt had talked “about his spiritual side,” Page wrote: “Oh. K. Um. But his church is infamously anti lgbtq so maybe address that too?”
Hillsong Church on social media
Hillsong Church has a big social media presence with separate accounts according to city locations, such as @HillsongNY and @HillsongLondon.
Their main Hillsong Church accounts have the most followers, with their Instagram account being followed by 1.9 million users.
A look at the hashtag #Hillsong will show you hundreds of thousands of posts including inspirational quotes, videos, and pictures of young churchgoers.