Posted

September 22, 2019 13:28:49

Scott Morrison has dismissed, yet not denied, what he called “gossip” about Hillsong pastor Brian Houston.

Key points:

  • The Wall Street Journal reported Mr Morison had wanted Mr Houston to be with him at some events
  • Mr Houston said he was never contacted by Mr Morrison and called the story “baseless rumours”
  • The PM’s office said all invitations to the state dinner at the White House were issued at the discretion of the hosts

The Wall Street Journal first reported the Prime Minister had wanted Mr Houston to be with him at some events during his current state visit to the United States, but the request was rejected by White House officials during the planning process.

When asked questions about whether the report was true, Mr Morrison did not dispute the facts of the story.

“I don’t comment on gossip, honestly,” he said.

“It’s all gossip.”

When repeatedly asked to clarify what he meant by “gossip”, he added:

“I think I’ve answered the question.”

The Prime Minister’s office had earlier said all invitations to Friday night’s state dinner in the White House rose garden were issued at the discretion of the hosts.

However, for this sort of large, carefully stage-managed formal event it is standard for guest lists to be discussed by officials on both sides ahead of time.

Mr Houston, the founder of the Hillsong Church, was censured by the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

It found Mr Houston had failed a victim by not reporting allegations against his father, Frank, to police. Frank Houston, who died in 2004, confessed to sexually abusing a boy in New Zealand.

The younger Mr Houston has had a long relationship with the Prime Minister.

Mr Morrison addressed the opening of the evangelical church’s annual conference weeks after his election win earlier this year.

He and his wife, Jenny, have often attended the event. They are members of a different Pentecostal Christian church.

On Twitter and in a statement, Mr Houston rejected the story about his apparent White House snub and said he never had any plans to be in Washington.

“The PM never contacted me about this and I know nothing about it,” he wrote.

“As far as I’m concerned this is a baseless rumour and totally false news.

“Attempts to link this untrue story to the royal commission are unconscionable.”

Several senior members of the Trump administration describe themselves as conservative Christians and the US cabinet even has a White House bible study group.

Vice-President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reportedly are members.

They also occasionally speak about their religious faith in public.

For example, during an interview with a Christian broadcaster in March, Mr Pompeo said it was “possible” that President Trump was sent by God to save Israel from Iran.

Topics:

scott-morrison,

federal-government,

world-politics,

christianity,

united-states,

australia

Fonte: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-22/scott-morrison-hillsong-pastor-brian-houston-white-house/11536792

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