Hillsong's Pastors' Lavish Lifestyles Exposed as Church is Accused of Financial Fraud

Brian Houston

Australian megachurch Hillsong church has been accused of financial fraud by Australian Independent MP Andrew Wilkie after allegedly failing to publicly declare millions of dollars in church funds. Wilkie said the Church had $80 million in undeclared income after he spent months checking financial statements.

Wilkie claimed Hillsong's former senior pastor Brian Houston, who stepped down from the church's leadership in 2022, used "private jets like Ubers", alleging the church founder undertook trips costing $55,000, $52,000, $30,000, $22,000 and $20,000 in one three-month period.

In a three-month period Houston used church money for trips costing $179,000, Mr Wilkie said, and the documents showed four Houston family members and friends spent $150,000 of church money on a luxury retreat in Cancun, Mexico in 2021. 

Among the lavish spending detailed by Wilkie are a $6,500 Cartier watch for Brian Houston's wife, Bobbie, $2,500 in Louis Vuitton luggage, a $2,500 watch for Phil Dooley, two watches worth $15,000 for Joel and Julia A'Bell, shopping sprees for designer clothes at Saks Fifth Avenue and $16,000 for custom skateboards. 

"For instance, $15,000 for Darren Kitto's 50th birthday, $36,000 for Gary Clarke's 30th anniversary and $4,300 for his 60th birthday, plus up to $30,000 to board members, some of whom allegedly helped cover up the sexual abuse carried out by Frank Houston, Brian Houston's father," Wilkie said.

"The criminality isn't limited to Australia, as evidenced by these further documents, which show how honorariums are used to disguise income and avoid tax. For example, U.S. pastor Joyce Meyer enjoyed honorariums of $160,000, $133,000, $100,000 and $32,000, and U.S. pastor T.D. Jakes received $71,000 and $120,000, with a staggering $77,000 worth of airfares to and from Australia thrown in," Wilkie said. 

Current Hillsong's senior pastor Phil Dooley is not exempt from such a lavish lifestyle. "The new head of Hillsong, Phil Dooley, has told church followers he only flies economy, but these documents show him clocking up $58,000 in business-class flights for him and his daughter to Guatemala, $42,000 in business-class flights to Mexico and $32,000 in business-class flights from Cape Town to Sydney via the US," Wilkie said. "Hillsong followers believe that the money they put in the poor box goes to the poor, but these documents show how that money is actually used to do the kind of shopping that would embarrass a Kardashian." 

Hillsong has disputed the Tasmanian MP's allegations, saying his remarks were out of context and based on "untested allegations".

"We are a different church than what we were 12 months ago and we are under a new pastoral board leadership," the church said in a statement. "The claims that were made in federal parliament by Mr Andrew Wilkie are out of context and untested allegations made by an employee in a legal case."




Tags : hillsong church Brian Houston Hillsong financial fraud Lavish Lifestyle

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