Hillsong Church still isn’t out of hot water as allegations have emerged that members of staff were “sleeping around” with volunteers and asking them for nude photos in a new sex scandal.
Page Six reported that the volunteer group claims the church was "a breeding ground for unchecked abuse.”
In 2018, the group of former volunteers — one who was still a volunteer at the time — sent a letter to ministry leaders and warned of "verified, widely circulated stories of inappropriate sexual behavior amongst staff/interns."
One employee was asked to step down after the letter disclosed that he had "multiple inappropriate sexual relationships with several female leaders and volunteers and was verbally, emotionally, and according to one woman, physically abusive in his relationships with these women."
Another member of the staff was accused of "not respecting physical and sexual boundaries within dating relationships with female church volunteers," which included having "sex with a 19-20-year-old female team member."
They also alleged that a church member caught the employee who stepped down in the act with a church leader.
The group wrote in the letter that Hillsong is "vague or absent sexual harassment/sexual assault" policies, and the church fosters a "culture of silence and fear."
The volunteers wrote that they feared "harsh words, belittlement, name-calling from certain pastors and staff," and one pastor, in particular, was prone to "losing his temper, bullying, yelling and outright screaming at other volunteers and leaders." They were told, "That’s just how they are — it’s their personality/culture."
This comes after pastor Carl Lentz was fired for "moral failings," which turned out to be an affair. The letter was sent to seven of the top leaders at the U.S. branch, which included Lentz, but how the church responded is still unknown.
This isn’t the first time since Lentz’s departure that serious allegations have been made against Hillsong. Earlier in the month, former members and volunteers told Business Insider about incidents of racism, homophobia and exploitation in the church, which even left some members feeling suicidal.
Noemi Uribe told the outlet that being in the church was traumatizing and was told by a pastor when she came out as bisexual if she were to "start practicing" her sexuality "that’s where there’s a problem."
Uribe also said that when she was in a psychiatric inpatient program for suicidal ideation "none of the pastors ever visited from Hillsong," and if she stayed in the organization, she "would have probably attempted suicide again."
Uribe also faced discrimination for being Mexican-American and her Spanish speaking group was referred to as the "Rosetta Stone group" by one pastor, whom she corrected "several times, saying 'Spanish-speaking connect group!' and he would just laugh."
Former members of Hillsong Boston’s communication team, Jessica Lim and Tiffany Perez, said that volunteers of color were rarely invited to the pastor’s gatherings and only Black women brought him water onstage.
Lim said that she raised the issue several times, but "he engaged in a clumsy form of gaslighting, telling me I didn’t understand what was going on and that he, and Hillsong Church, cared very much about diversity."
The pastor in question responded and said: "Our Hillsong Boston team has taken some intentional steps to improve racial diversity and equity at Hillsong Boston since we launched and we’re committed to make further strides as we continue to listen and learn."