ABC Attacked for Featuring Hillsong Church in Good Friday News Coverage

ABC viewers have complained that the public broadcaster showed footage of Hillsong Easter services rather than focusing on “mainstream churches”.

“Why have ABC News included footage on Hillsong in its segment on Good Friday church services? They are not a mainstream church,” insisted a tweet that was liked and shared thousands of times.

You can hardly blame ABC viewers for being confused about what constitutes mainstream Christianity.

If you get your religious news from the ABC, you would be quite convinced that a mainstream church is one led by a transgendered minister preaching to wooden pews barely populated by a mardi gras of “allies” about how Jesus was actually a socialist revolutionary who, regardless of whether or not He actually existed, serves as a useful example to support whatever woke fad is being pushed from the pulpit this week.

Now if you think I’m exaggerating for comedic effect, you’re wrong. My satire skills are no match for actual ABC news reporting.

The ABC’s The Drum aired a story over the Easter weekend celebrating “the first trans person to be inducted into an Australian mainstream church”.

You might imagine that a mainstream church ceases to be mainstream when it appoints a transgendered minister. But such thoughts do not occur to journalists at our public broadcaster.

The ABC reported that the Uniting Church minister, who came out as trans in 2017, embodied Christianity’s call for “transformation”.

Well indeed. But I’m not sure that the Apostle Paul had gender transitioning in mind when he told the Corinthians,

“If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.”

Last time I checked, Holy Communion did not include puberty blockers.

Nevertheless, the transgendered reverend was shown walking into a church, the front door of which was adorned, not with a cross, but with a sign that said: “Act on Climate!”

Well of course. As the Good Book says: “For God so loved mother earth that He gave carbon credits so that whosoever reduces his emissions might not die from fossil fuels but have everlasting solar power.” 

Can I get an ‘Amen’?

Inside the church, the ABC reporter referenced Biblical teaching that God created humans as male and female. This was dismissed by the transgendered minister as “an incredibly ideological statement that ignores the experience of people like me”.

Now ‘people like me’ are perfectly free to pursue a religion that makes a god of their individual experience. But they are not entitled to call it mainstream Christianity. Actually, don’t even call it Christianity.

The central message of Christianity is that Jesus is God. And if Jesus is God, guess who is not?

That’s why a lot of people reject Christianity. It’s an affront to the human ego. And it’s hard to give up being the god of your own universe when you’ve been playing at it all your life.

Yet the ABC would have viewers believe, right before the holiest day on the Christian calendar, that a mainstream church is one in which we remake god in our own image. That might be a mainstream secular club, but it’s not a Christian church.

A member of the transgendered minister’s church told The Drum’s reporter:

“This church endears me greatly because it is open and receptive to people of all walks of life no matter what.”

Which is a bit like saying ‘I like this church because it’s not a church at all’. And that rather undermines the whole point, doesn’t it?

All of which might explain the inverse relationship between the increasing number of stories the ABC does on woke elements within the Uniting Church and the decreasing number of people actually attending the Uniting Church.

Hillsong, by comparison, is booming. Thousands attended Easter services at their Sydney Norwest location. Tens of thousands more gathered at sites across the rest of the country and still more watched online.

Sure, they’ve had their share of scandals. But that is to be expected in the Christian church, whatever the brand, where the only requirement for entry is to admit that you are not good enough for entry.

But when the ABC dared to show footage from Australia’s largest church in their Easter news package, viewers were angrier than a mob at a crucifixion.

People demanded to know why “mainstream” churches weren’t featured, by which they presumably meant churches where anyone’s “lived experience” overrides anything the Bible says; and where saving the planet is more important than saving souls since people’s souls are perfectly fine the way they are.

You can knock Hillsong for being big and bold and brash if you prefer your religion to be small and apologetic and timid.

And you can criticise Hillsong for bringing in too much money and for having too many large auditoriums if you prefer your church to be penniless and meeting under a tree.

But just because you don’t like their style doesn’t mean they are not mainstream.

In terms of what they believe and teach (which let’s face it, is the essence of Christianity) they are as mainstream as Christianity gets. So mainstream that they turned the Apostle’s creed — the core beliefs of Jesus’ disciples — into one of their most popular songs.

It goes like this:

I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus

I believe in life eternal
I believe in the virgin birth
I believe in the saints’ communion
And in Your holy Church
I believe in the resurrection
When Jesus comes again
For I believe, in the name of Jesus

That’s mainstream Christianity in rhyme.

Meanwhile, churches the media would have you believe represent the mainstream may well be inoffensive in style, but are completely freewheeling in doctrine. Resembling nothing like traditional Christianity they are more likely to sing:

I believe in Mother Nature
I believe in Wind and Sun
I believe in the spirit of Gaia

The coal industry is done

I believe in decarbonisation
Mother Earth will rise again
For I believe, environmentalist Jesus

I don’t believe there is life pre-natal
I don’t believe sex is assigned at birth
I don’t believe there are only two genders

I don’t believe you even need the church

I believe in gender transition

Socialism must be tried again

For I believe, in social justice Jesus

Churches traditional in style and freewheeling in doctrine are cancelling themselves. Their old-fashioned style is unengaging; and you can hear the same wokey doctrine in a dozen other progressivist forums without the need to disrupt your Sunday.

The prize for being considered mainstream Christianity by the ABC is to be loved by people who will never darken your doors on a Sunday.

Meanwhile, actual mainstream churches that deliver the timeless Christian message in a timely style are packing them in, even as the Twitter mob shouts “crucify them”.

[Photo by Rachel Coyne on Unsplash]

By |2021-04-07T12:17:39+10:00April 7th, 2021|Australia, Faith|9 Comments

About the Author:

James Macpherson is a sought-after international speaker with a background in journalism at the Courier-Mail and Daily Telegraph. He previously pastored a significant church in Australia and South Africa. He is a regularly contributor to The Spectator. You can subscribe to receive all his articles on faith, culture and politics at Patreon.

9 Comments

  1. Geoff Hinds April 7, 2021 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    right on mr Mac – it has taken me 82 years to grasp what you were on about and to see the Uniting Church as
    bedmate of aggressive atheism

  2. Mart April 7, 2021 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    Hi James, I agree – I am always frustrated when the big networks only ever seem to show high church Catholic or Anglican services and ignore the vast number of churches which feature more modern styles of worship. Hillsong is absolutely mainstream Christianity in Australia as are many other smaller churches like my own which have contemporary worship styles.

    However, I’m concerned about you response to Jo Inkpin, the transgender person in the Uniting Church.

    Do you know whether Jo is one of the 1.7% of the Australian population who is suffering from an Intersex condition (Disorder of Sexual Development – DSD)? For their own privacy, that sort of information would not usually be public knowledge.

    If so Jo may not actually be biologically XX or XY but rather XXY or XXXY or XXXXY and have a body that feminised – growing breasts at puberty etc. Or Jo may have another genetic/physiological condition where they may have both male and female physical characteristics or have internal physiological conditions that cause gender dysphoria etc.

    As such, I am saddened at the assumptions that you jump to in your article where you imply that Inkpin is just confused or needs to “get a grip” and stick with their (assumed) birth gender. Heck, they may have been born with indeterminate sexual organs which doctors then arbitrarily assigned to a specific gender with surgery.

    We just don’t know and shouldn’t make assumptions in cases like this. Don’t you think that would be the more Christian loving response?

  3. Mart April 7, 2021 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    James, I am also very worried about your extreme disregard for the biblical injunction for humankind to be good stewards of Creation.

    How can you be pro-coal with all the terrible health problems associated with coal mining and the burning of that fossil fuel – even if you don’t believe the vast majority of the world’s scientists who say the world is undergoing dangerous climate change?

    Heck, even the economics says that more coal is a bad idea as more and more coal mines and coal power plants close down around the world as cheaper renewables + storage take over?

    There are about 100 verses in the Bible that talk about caring for the environment.

    Care for the Environment does not equal Marxism – it’s being a good Christian following God’s mandate from the Garden of Eden.

  4. Mart April 7, 2021 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    And your comment deriding “social justice Jesus”!

    There are more than 300 on our responsibility to care for the poor and work for justice, more than 250 verses in the Bible on the proper use of wealth, 100 about caring for the environment and 30 about refugees and migration but only seven passages in the Bible that refer directly to homosexual behavior, and none of the last are associated with Jesus.

    Where are your priorities as a Christian? Shouldn’t we be following the priorities as laid out in the Bible and from Jesus’s mouth?

  5. Maree Moller April 7, 2021 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    New world order means new world religion.. revelations.
    For revelations prophecy to be filled we will see one religion worldwide blaspheming God and His most beloved creation.. hu mans .. created male and female…
    Mental and spiritual illness are one and the same.

  6. Laureen April 7, 2021 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    Perfect view of the direction many spiritually minded are heading in relation to the new age style, one world religion that is looming at pace these days.The bible believing Christian is getting the rough end of the pineapple on a regular basis.. In fact they are being persecuted as much as in the days of Jesus. Mainstream media & especially the ABC, do not give them a mention when news reports mass slaughter or incarceration .All this social gospel push is a sign of the times.The bible explains it clearly so we should not be surprised. Keep doing what you are doing. Thankyou.

  7. Vicki Graham April 7, 2021 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    Spot on Article! For once a journalist can see the difference between true Christianity and fake Christianity!
    Thanj you for standing up for truth!!

  8. Kym April 7, 2021 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Thanks James !! On the subject of Social Justice.

    Social Justice vs True (legal) Justice in the light of so called progressive identity politics a.k.a. Political correctness etc.

    I do NOT believe in ‘social justice’, rather I do believe in justice (unqualified justice); Martin Luther King also did not believe in social justice !

    * Quote: ‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.’

    To have justice based on a person’s social grouping (i.e. the group identities) (race, religion, etc.) rather than their individual character is a travesty of justice. Hence BLM etc. end up being evil.
    Martin Luther King Jr nailed it in his dream speech in the quote above in his phrase ‘content of their character’ which is the only basis a person should be valued.

    The whole concept of social justice is based on a false foundation of a notion of group membership defining who you are and your values, rather than the God given individual character, conscience, spirit and soul that we are.

    I do not care which social groups you belong to, but I value you based on your individual words and actions.

    You cannot judge a person based on their skin colour, religion, or even which football team they follow 🙂
    In a court of law the social groups you belong to are not an excuse for behaviour.
    People should be judged on their own actions and nothing else.

    ‘Social justice’ is a lie, founded deeply in communist ideology now manifesting as social justice and other such terms, that is really unjust and leads to blaming others for our own behaviour. Social justice creates oppressed groups that make it difficult for people to stand and overcome. So called social justice is a major moral problem in our society.

    Christians are often championing social justice issues from a non-biblical world view due to unbalanced mercy and justice gifting. This leads to Christians supporting things like gay rights etc. whilst ignoring the truth of the word of God. This happens when the mercy gift is given without being in the context of holiness and righteousness. I will love lost people, but won’t compromise the clear call to repentance from sin and faith of Jesus leading to salvation. We have not been good at doing this and the result is when we do speak the truth we care called racist, homophobic, bigots etc.

    There are, and have been, and continue to be groups discriminated against. Martin Luther King championed equal treatment under the law and this is completely correct and mostly true in western society. I am not saying that discrimination based on social grouping is in any way ok, but that justice ultimately comes down to the character of persons and not groups. This is where the lie of social justice goes beyond true justice because it takes away individual responsibility.

    Godly justice leads us to having compassion for those in need, seeing sin for what it is, seeing God’s redemption work available to any who repent and believe. In Christ we become one.

    • Mart April 7, 2021 at 10:45 pm - Reply

      Hi Kim, I think perhaps that you and James have too narrow a view of what “social justice” means.

      The Oxford dictionary defines Social Justice as:
      “The objective of creating a fair and equal society in which each individual matters, their rights are recognized and protected, and decisions are made in ways that are fair and honest.”

      That sounds eminently Christian to me. Doesn’t it to you?

      After all the Bible says “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

      Why do you feel the need to drag Marxism into this discussion? This is Christianity – all men and women are created equal.

      In Martin Luther King’s case, he certainly saw the vast inequality in the USA where a whole group of people were being treated unfairly with great injustices heaped on them daily with segregation and racism. In this case it absolutely was right for him to work towards improving the lot of an entire group of people in society.

      In a similar way, as Christians we are called to look after the marginalised and downtrodden in our society as well and where a whole group of people are being treated unfairly to work to improve their circumstances and give them justice.

      Jesus certainly did that – it was the prostitutes and tax collectors, the lepers, the blind, the outcasts of society who he helped and ate and drank with. As he said, he came for the sick – those who needed a doctor.

      As I said above, there are more than 300 verses in the Bible on our responsibility to care for the poor and work for justice (social justice!), more than 250 on the proper use of wealth, 100 about caring for the environment and 30 about refugees and migration but only seven passages in the Bible that refer directly to homosexual behavior, and none of the last are associated with Jesus.

      Why are so many Christians fixated on same-sex and gender issues? That is not what Jesus was concerned with.

Leave A Comment