Hillsong Church has been hit with a barrage of criticism after an employee “accidently” used the official Hillsong Twitter account to ridicule Donald Trump’s performance in the first Presidential debate of the 2020 US election.
According to the Herald Sun an ‘unnamed staffer allegedly logged into the official Hillsong Twitter account, rather than their own personal one.’ The Tweet read: ‘Can’t someone just mute Trump’s microphone!! He is coming across as such a bully. No respect for him sorry.’
The “gaffe” was quickly deleted, with Hillsong posting an apology soon after, saying, “Earlier today a staff member accidentally posted on this account personal comments about the US presidential debate, that were meant for a personal account. Hillsong does not comment on partisan politics & apologizes. These comments do not represent the views of Hillsong Church.”
ChristianPost listed a series of criticisms for the original post, starting with Greg Locke, Pastor at Global Vision Bible Church in Tennessee. Who said, ‘Dear @Hillsong, that was deleted very quickly. Careful. I sat beside @brianhoustontv at the RNC acceptance speech at the White House. Your boss secretly likes Trump.’
The Post also highlighted how problematic the “gaffe” could be for Hillsong. Brian Houston has visited the White House, applauded Trump’s initiatives regarding the preservation of religious freedom, and is part of a group of Christian leaders active in lending Donald Trump prayer support.
Criticisms of the “gaffe” was met with a similar amount of fiery criticism for the apology. Candace Cameron Bure (Hallmark/Full House/Fuller House) simply remarked, “Oooof”. While a list of other Twitter users took the apology as an opportunity to throw more anti-Christian abuse Hillsong’s way.
The loudest condemnation came from those attempting to conflate Houston with Hillsong. They labelled the apology hypocritical. Pointing out that Houston’s support for Scott Morrison, and Donald Trump negated the Churches’ claim to distance itself from political dichotomies by “not commenting on partisan politics.”
This is despite the “gaffe, mistake, accident” – whatever – suggesting that Houston’s personal views don’t necessarily represent the views of Hillsong as a whole. The false equivalence seems to have blocked the obvious irony.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that the high visibility of the Church, sins of some of its leaders, and the massive success of its music arm in recent years has brought Hillsong under a microscope.
The consequence of such close quarters’ scrutiny is that any unintentional faux pas by, or connected to the “mega-Church”, are rapidly churned out for maximum attention in order to either undermine, discredit or cancel them. And not just Hillsong, but Christianity in general.
It’s Hillsong. Just like Trump. They’re influential, but not exactly THE authority when it comes to Christian theological truths, or the conduit by which all Christians make their decisions.
It’s also almost guaranteed that most of the people acting all dismayed at the recent US election Presidential debate were just as equally entertained by it. Such is our spectator culture.
Perhaps the problem with leaders is a problem closer to home?
In this sense the debate and reactions to it are a mirror. What we condemn in others, we must first address within ourselves. For instance, eye-to-eye respect will always trump plankeye, and eye-for-an-eye relationships.
As atheist, author and ex-Muslim, Ayaan Hirsi Ali quipped: “Everyone is talking about and asking about last night’s debate. I don’t want to make light of this because it is not funny. But where in the world do people in their seventies behave like stick-your-tongue-out preschoolers on national TV while vying for the highest office?”
Trump doesn’t need the Presidency, Biden does. Trump’s income doesn’t ride on him being President, Biden’s does. Which of these is more likely to be the public servant Americans need? All the evidence shows that it isn’t Joe Biden.
If anything positive can be drawn from the debate moderator’s obvious favoritism, it’s that Trump was inadvertently painted as the underdog.
If the plan was to save Biden midway through, or gang up on Trump, and bait him for soundbites, it’s backfired spectacularly.
First published on Caldron Pool, 1st October 2020
©Rod Lampard, 2020