chooklookOnce again, this week, the chookwatchers [CWs] regurgitated inaccurate and biased secular media when they reproduced, supported and championed ACAs dismal program attacking Hillsong because a film company has produced a movie about their youth music wing.

To their surprise, the CW’s copped quite a large amount of flack for their trouble on their new chookwatch-central site, where they boasted several views of their article.

The increased traffic and seeming interest is understandable, and, for the CWs, deliberate, because they piggy-back popular ministries in their tags and categories sections for each article they produce.

This means the seeming ‘popularity’ of the CWs’ sites is entirely due to the celebrity factor of the movements they seek to defame. That is a huge irony.

Numbers game

Often, in comments, regular CW supporters complain when a Hillsong or C3 person makes mention of the popularity of the movements, but the CWs are only too willing to display their own numbers when there is a surge of interest due to a controversial media beat-up like the sensationalist ACA program.

It is plain to see that the CWs plead holiness, virtue and high Biblical standards as the basis for their continual complaints about ministries they dislike or disapprove of, yet are willing to hand their personal integrity over to secular antichristian media outlets when it suits their purposes.

But how many of those who ‘viewed’ the article actually agreed with it? Viewing is not necessarily a sign of agreement. In fact, when swathes of commenters pointed out to the CWs that the ACA program spread unfounded rumours and was filled with inaccurate reporting, and that their inclusion of the program as an article was unchristian, the CWs, rather than recognising their error of judgment, stubbornly went on the the attack.

They wrote a couple of follow-up articles about the statement issued by Hillsong (pointing out the error of the media beat-up) which were more about saving the CWs’ own faces than seriously taking on Hillsong’s powerful rebuttal of the ACA program with any kind of conviction. The CWs’ blushes lit up the pen, but they went for bravado over the integrity of an apology for their folly.

In love with the secular media

One has to wonder why the CWs are so willing to repeat secular media reports in their posts. This is becoming a common recurrence, and has nothing to do with producing scriptural evidence for anything.

The program is not worth any space on this site due to its lack of journalistic accuracy and negative approach, so it won’t be aired here, but we’ll produce Hillsong’s response, because it very adequately sums up the beat-up.

There was no factual basis whatsoever to the story on A Current Affair about Hillsong Church, and the program made no attempt to contact us to get the facts – or even hear our perspective – before airing this piece of fiction. The movie “Let Hope Rise” is being produced by an outside production company who approached us, and Hillsong Church has not invested one cent into this movie. Furthermore, we operate like any other church financially and support people pastorally across the world. This story was yet again, nothing more than tabloid trash and we believe the vast majority of Australians view it as such. It is disappointing that Senator Nick Xenophon, (who presents himself as a champion of the people) has cooperated with such stories for at least the third time. It is poor behaviour and worth noting by church-going voters and people at large in South Australia, who rightly expect their elected representatives to make comments based on factual information rather than conjecture.

The CWs criticise the use of ‘tabloid trash’ as a descriptor, but it seems rather apt on more than one count.

It was ‘tabloid trash’ reporting by both ACA and the CWs to not make mention that the movie was being produced independently of Hillsong. It was ‘tabloid trash’ reporting by both ACA and the CWs to fail to make mention that Hillsong has made their financial statements available publicly and online. It was ‘tabloid trash’ reporting by both ACA and the CWs to fail to interview a single person from Hillsong to comment on or respond to the allegations being made.

Bible Society defend Hillsong

The following article from the Bible Society says it very well, so we’ll leave it to them to point out what most sensible, honest people think of the program.

Hillsong gets sledged by channel nine

Hillsong appears to have joined the list of topics regularly recycled by Channel Nine’s A Current Affair (ACA). As the ABC’s Mediawatch has pointed out, recycling provides cheap TV which offers the prospect of reusing material from last time. This week’s ACA sledge of Hillsong had a simple formula: a producer of a documentary about Hillsong (built up to look like a Hollywood blockbuster by Nine), footage from Nine’s American affiliate ABC (America), and one constantly recycled critic, Tania Levin.

There was no interview of a Hillsong person, and the church says Nine did not contact them.

“Dear Channel Nine, it is not a long way from your studios at Willoughby to the Hillsong HQ – in fact the state Government has provided a convenient motorway,” is how this writer might begin a letter to ACA.

The main thesis of the ACA segment was to present Hillsong as a money making machine.  

The movie Let Hope Rise which is a music documentary on one of Hillsong’s music groups is being produced by a film company – not Hillsong. Nine made it look like part of a huge entertainment empire. It is not.

The reach of Hillsong – 30million Christians sing their songs worldwide, 140million views of Hillsong Music on youtube, Hillsong.com’s 8m web visitors, number 1 songs on ARIA – is impressive. But it is not monetised to the extent of something like, ahem, Nine Entertainment co.

ACA breathlessly announced they had obtained Hillsong figures from the Government. A few minutes Googling was all it took for Eternity to find Hillsong’s audited account in their 2013annual report. (Hillsong deserves credit for that, not all church accounts are easy to find.) They are also linked from the Hillsong website and there were more recent ones.

The tone of the ACA report was that Hillsong church is a money making machine that takes exorbitant amounts of money from followers.

In the 2013 calendar year Hillsong Church Australia reported total revenue of $85million.

It has an average weekly attendance of 31,400. Taking out the Bible College and conference revenue leaves revenue of $16,348,313. That averages out at an annual giving of $2216 per attender.

Just like every Church, Hillsong does not really attract a tithe. Rather than being a money making machine, Hillsong is almost as poor at gaining offerings as the rest of Christianity.

The main Hillsong campus is close to middle and low income areas. Arguably Hillsong is doing better than some other churches in giving in percentage terms, but it is nowhere near a tithe. While individual followers may give heroically, Hillsong’s accounts do not paint a picture of a church ripping off its followers.

One can understand why Hillsong responded to ACA by saying, “There was no factual basis whatsoever to the story on A Current Affair about Hillsong Church.”

The Hillsong Church story is much more complex and interesting than ACA made out. A recycled story does not do this Aussie export justice.

For example Hillsong makes clear its support of social justice or mercy ministries in its annual report.

The spread of churches to wealthy cities is well known, but this church is spreading to very challenged parts of the world as well.

There is room for a really good journalistic exploration of Hillsong. But the ritualised recycled ACA sledge won’t get anywhere close.

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