Australia: continent on fire

As I’m sure you know, we’ve got quite a a fire problem right now. It’s raging from Queensland right down the NSW coast and into Victoria and it’s horrendous. Homes and lives have been lost. An estimated half a billion animals have perished. During the most dangerous times, people have been forced to wade into the ocean and wait it out. Communities have been devastated and left without power or communications lines. As expected, just about everyone not directly effected is looking for a way to help.

You can give to WIRES or adopt a koala, give to the Red Cross, donate to the Rural Fire Service or the Country Fire Authority or even support fundraising initiatives like this one, to help fire-impacted First Nations communities. You can craft items to help injured wildlife. Some people are organising care packages for fire fighters. There’s always the helpers, right? And apparently, you can donate to the Hillsong Bushfire Appeal.

Hillsong Bushfire Appeal: “Because we can”

Yep, the Hillsong mega church is collecting donations. “Because we can” is their tag line for their global collective actions.

Hillsong is PM Scott Morrison’s former church; apparently he now attends Horizon aka Shirelive, which is the one our government apparently donated $110K to recently– it was money earmarked to help protect children from racial or religious prejudice, but instead will be going on a new alarm system for the church 😒.

I thought they were the same entity, hence my initial question to Hillsong asking why they don’t just give that $110k directly to the bushfire appeals themselves, but turns out I was incorrect there. They’re both wealthy Pentecostal churches  and they are affiliated- both being with Australian Christian Churches, the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God, but not the same actual church.
(And our PM named Hillsong’s pastor, Brian Houston, as his mentor in his maiden speech to parliament and has been remarkably silent about the whole child sexual abuse cover-up. But, I digress.)

Hillsong aren’t asking for donations to the Red Cross or Foodbank or any of the other organisations directly involved in helping the victims of the fires. 

The Hillsong Bushfire appeal asks donors to give money to the church itself.

Why don’t they just donate directly to the charities and groups directly supporting victims?

I thought, jeez, this is odd. Why add an extra step in getting vital funds to those in need? I remembered reading that Hillsong is worth about a $100mil, too. And I thought, why are they asking others for money but not talking about making a donation themselves?

Why aren’t Hillsong just using their platform by sharing links directly to those groups and orgs supporting victims?

Why do they want funds to go to them first?

So, I made a comment. For all I knew, they might have replied with a very reasonable explanation. Perhaps they had a plan to match donation amounts or were working out which organisation needed the most help? Maybe I was being overly cynical and suspicious? Let’s face it, it wouldn’t be the first time!

Delete, delete, block

But instead of answering, they just deleted my comment. Now, I know that no one is obliged to discuss their intentions with me, of course. I’m no one special and hold no authority over the Hillsong Bushfire Appeal or anything else. But I was also not the only cynic asking questions. They had plenty of opportunities to clarify why they want people to give them money instead of encouraging donations directly. Deleting comments just removes the opportunity for them to explain.

So, I commented again. Got a few likes, too, so it seems others had the same questions. Then came another delete but his time they blocked me as well, so I can’t ask and be ignored for a third time. Blocked a few friends without a reply, too.

Not a good look

Now, I’m not saying this huge, wealthy mega church is going to do anything untoward or dodgy with the donations they collect. I’m just saying that the old “delete, delete, block” manoeuvre is a bad look if you have nothing to hide in instances like this. Makes me go all side-eye on their motives, that’s for sure. I totally get blocking abuse, threats or harmful comments. But deleting comments saying “hey, donate direct to these organisations who are supporting victims directly”?

Hillsong bushfire appeal, woman looks perplexed

Why not just answer or expand on the original post, explaining what the rationale behind this is?
Why delete comments suggesting donating directly to organisations supporting victims?

One friend actually posted links to enable people to easily donate to these organisations and they were deleted and blocked as well. That doesn’t seem very charitable, does it? Isn’t the idea here to get much needed funds to the people who need it ASAP?

In the interests of transparency…

Hillsong are a church, even if they’re super wealthy and associated with various scandals. I mean, that’s the same for a lot of churches, right? But even so, surely there’s some good intent in there somewhere?

A lot of their followers seem to be donating, so clearly they mean well and want to help people. I can’t imagine why they’d be offended or upset by the church clarifying their actions. What’s wrong with a little transparency? Even comments and questions far more politely worded than mine remain unanswered.

Man asking why - Hillsong bushfire appeal

Maybe take a leaf out of your own book, guys.

I’m an atheist, so I’m certainly no expert on the Christian bible or belief system. I haven’t picked up the Christian bible in at least 20 years. I do, however, have some very awesome Christian friends. They assure me that their Jesus taught generosity and honesty as well as love and kindness.

I even looked it up myself. I think they’re right. Jesus, whether you count him as an historical, spiritual or fictional character, was essentially all about giving away what you had to others in need. He was into radical honesty and didn’t shy away from telling it like it was.

Whoever does Hillsong social media could maybe learn something from that guy, I’m just sayin’.

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