I've often wondered how people can attend the trials of people who committed crimes against their loved ones. The partners and families appear on our TV night after night, month after month and I wonder how they get out of bed, much less put on clothes and sit in court listening to details of horror.
To some extent, with all due respect, I get it now. I got a keyhole look into how you would go, and why. I still have no idea how these brave people do it for so long, but my respect for such families has only tripled since I attended the Royal Commission.
There are things that those of us who do not Instagram from the bathroom won’t speak about. There are things that Hillsong did to the people I love the most that I don’t share because they’re not for me to do so. They didn't kill anyone, but they robbed things from us that live in a place where I do not often go. These things are not scandalous, they’re just personal. And yeah, they still hurt. When you see people you love hurt, it hurts.
So the whole Royal Commission thing was super confronting, but I needed to sit in a Federal government-controlled courtroom and see the men of God explain their way out of covering up child sexual assault allegations that were levelled against their founder. And there were also thousands of people hurting too, that didn’t mind a little representing.
But it still meant getting close to the men of the AoG and for whatever reasons, it can still be pretty intimidating. And compelling. And macabre.
It’s been about 9 years since I was anywhere near Pastor Brian. The last time was outside Hillsong in Castle Hill where the local paper wanted to take some photos. By bizarre coincidence Brian was filming for the Australian Story episode that morning. He was dressed in full bike leathers, and from his Harley he gave me a look that I had never seen before. It took me a couple of days to work out what it was. He had looked straight through me as if he wondered why I still existed.
They arrived every day, five or six of them in fine suits, with the same hair and the same suits and the same look on their faces. The hearings took place on level 17 so we shared the same floor, me and the men of the AoG. I did my best to keep out of their way. There is plenty of seating in and outside the court room and witnesses get to hang out in their own special room.
There were a couple of encounters however. Only once did Brian Houston stop near me on his way through the area. We had been in proximity before but this time he looked at right at me for a few seconds, and then turned away, as you would had you seen a stranger who did not register at all.
The Bible says that greater is He that is in the Christians than He that is in the World. I’m no magician. I’m not the pastor of an international church that Warner Bros is making a movie about. I’m just a single mother with a big mouth. Yet only one pastor in 4 days approached me. The others seemed pleased with themselves that having come face to face with the Woman at the Well, they had restrained their contempt well.
But on day 3, during a coffee ordering round from the garden area behind the courtroom downstairs, in full view of others, one pastor approached me. He held out his hand to shake mine, smiled and introduced himself.
His name is Chrishan and I’ve needed to post about this, because credit has to given where credit is due. We literally had nothing to say after that, since it was pretty clear we were on opposite sides of the Colosseum. But he gave me more than Senior Pastor Brian Houston ever has: personal acknowledgement and something approaching the Christianity they seem so fond of claiming.
Not that it would have worked, but if I'd been Hillsong and some single mother with a big mouth wanted to write about me, I’d have sent me flowers and casseroles every week and love bomb my cat until I was won over by their goodness and spitting image of Christ. But we’ve had none of that so far. Just a letter saying don't come here anymore. And they took me off their Christmas card list.
Maybe they know that once you go Reason/Logic/Critical Thinking/Science and Ethics, you never go back.
I hope Chrishan didn’t get flogged when he got back to base. It wouldn’t be surprising given the irony that goes along with everything they do. But he should be noted for being one in a million. And that’s a sad, sad tale for the folk of Hillsong.