Scott Morrison wanted Hillsong pastor Brian Houston at White House dinner: report

Prime Minister Scott Morrison reportedly wanted Hillsong pastor Brian Houston to be part of his delegation to the United States but was rebuffed by the Trump administration.

The Australian government put forward Mr Houston as an attendee for the official state dinner at the White House but gave up after the Americans "vetoed" the invitation during negotiations, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing several unnamed sources.

Hillsong's Brian Houston.Hillsong's Brian Houston.CREDIT: JANIE BARRETT

A spokesman for Mr Morrison told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald the guest list was a matter for the hosts.

“Invitations to the state dinner are entirely at the discretion of the White House as has been the case previously,” he said.

Mr Houston rejected the story on Saturday, saying he "had no invitation to the White House" and had not discussed it with Mr Morrison or anyone else.

Scott Morrison

"Hillsong Church received no enquiry from any party as to my details or availability. As far as I’m concerned this is baseless rumour and totally false news," he said in a statement.

The founder of the multimillion-dollar Hillsong mega-church has a long-standing relationship with Mr Morrison, who is a member of another church in Australia's Pentecostal Christian movement.

In his first speech to Parliament, Mr Morrison said he had been "greatly assisted by the pastoral work of many dedicated church leaders" and specifically thanked Mr Houston.

At a Hillsong event earlier this year, Mr Morrison appeared on stage with the pastor and called for more prayer and worship in Australia.

"I speak about my faith with [wife] Jenny because I want everyone in this place to feel comfortable about talking about their faith in this country. It's not a political agenda, it's just who we are, it's who you are," Mr Morrison said. 

Hillsong and Mr Houston were censured by the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for their response to abuse by his father, Frank Houston.

The commissioners found that the younger Mr Houston and the church's senior leadership had failed a victim by not reporting abuse to the police.

On Saturday, Mr Houston said it was "extremely disappointing" that media coverage had linked the story about the White House invitation to the royal commission.

The state dinner at the White House this weekend was attended by a slew of high-profile American and Australian figures, including golfer Greg Norman, mining magnate Gina Rinehart and News Corp co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch.

Source : https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/scott-morrison-wanted-hillsong-pastor-brian-houston-at-white-house-dinner-report-20190921-p52tk2.html

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