Hillsong Church has now apologised for a youth summer camp that seemed verrrrrry similar to a festival, after initially doubling down and defending the event.
In case you somehow missed it, Hillsong has been copping loads of flack over the last day after they posted vids of maskless crowds singing and dancing to live music at a three day camp held in NSW.
Honestly, such a wild move to post Instagram stories of an event where hundreds of people can be seen getting sweaty and dance-y while the state is in the grips of a very, very big COVID wave. Someone DM Hillsong’s social media manager.
The fact that the event was able to go ahead after loads of music festivals were cancelled or postponed due to COVID restrictions was, understandably, widely criticised by those in the healthcare and music industries.
While Hillsong initially said the event wasn’t “at all” similar to a music festival, the church has now apologised after it was criticised by NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet.
“We regret giving any perception that we were not playing our part to keep NSW safe and we sincerely apologise to the community at large,” Hillsong said in a statement, as per the ABC.
“Perception” is doing a lot of heavy lifting in that sentence, I’ll be honest.
However, it maintained its stance that the event wasn’t equivalent to a music festival, despite the live music, moshing, singing and dancing.
“These are high school-aged events that include sporting activities and games.
“They are alcohol-free events, held outdoors, and the number of students attending each camp is just over 200.”
Cool that it’s outdoors and alcohol-free, you still broke the restrictions though!
According to Dominic Perrottet, NSW’s Health Minister Brad Hazzard had been advised by his legal team that the Hillsong event broke the state’s COVID rules, despite it being a religious service.
NSW’s COVID restrictions technically allow singing and dancing in places of worship but, as Hazzard said yesterday, the Hillsong event broke the “spirit and intent” of the public order.
In an interesting twist, while NSW Police has said Hillsong won’t be fined (classic), Perrottet is calling for it to be punished.
NSW Police said that instead of fining the church, they would “liaise with organisers” to help “ensure future compliance with Public Health Orders”.
Hillsong copping a stern talking-to instead of a $55,000 fine? Definitely didn’t see that one coming.
However, Perrottet has said that he would expect the church to be be fined.
“If the legal teams believe that it was in breach of the public health order, then my expectation would be that a fine would be issued,” Perrottet said.
“I echoed the frustration and anger other people right across the state felt. Even if technically it was within the rules, it certainly wasn’t in the spirit of the rules.
“If we have to tighten loopholes, we will.”
Ah yes, a Catholic premier calling out a pentecostal church. Every 500 years we inadvertently recreate The Reformation.
The absolute most iconic response to the Hillsong situation, though, has come from a load of Aussie bands, who united to form a supergroup called ‘Thrillsong’ in response to the situation.
“We firmly support measures to protect our fans and communities and to safeguard our health care workers, we simply ask that if rules are made, they apply to everyone equally,” the group said.
“We need to be in this together.”
That includes you, evangelical megachurch.