Hillsong Church has rescinded an invitation for Mark Driscoll to speak at its conferences in Australia and the United Kingdom after a public outcry. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Driscoll had originally been asked to participate in a 30-minute interview during the conference, but Hillsong senior pastor Brian Houston cancelled the appearance after critics created an online petition arguing that the controversial pastor should not speak at the event.
Houston cancelled the interview with Driscoll, explaining that the controversial pastor’s appearance at the conference had become a distraction to those planning to attend the conferences.
"I do not want unnecessary distractions during our conference, particularly as this 30 minute interview was only a small part of this five day event," Houston said in a statement.
"It was clear to me that Mark's attendance had the potential to divert attention from the real purpose of Hillsong Conference, which is to see people leave encouraged in their own spiritual journey."
Driscoll formerly served as lead pastor of Mars Hill Church, a megachurch complex that dissolved after the pastor was accused of plagiarism, misuse of church funds and intimidation leadership tactics. The pastor was also found to have written sexist and demeaning content on the internet under a pseudonym.
Houston said that he has not lost faith in Driscoll, despite the decision to cancel the interview
"The teachings of Christ are based on love and forgiveness, and I will not write off Mark as a person simply because of the things that people have said about him, a small minority of people signing a petition or statements he has made many years ago for which he has since repeatedly apologized," Houston said.
Publication date: June 8, 2015