Posted by: hellonhairylegs | July 26, 2008

Hillsong and the Shine Program

Hillsong has been going to schools, teaching Australia’s daughters. In fact they’ve been to my school and taught my friends. I always got a bad vibe from the Shine program, which was pushed relentlessly at assemblies and year meetings until enough people joined up. It’s not nice to know that I was right.

They’ve taken a leaf from fun feminism, preaching about gaining self-esteem through the application of makeup. There must be something besides carcinogens in that crap, because I would have to get high to sit through two hours of etiquette and deportment lessons.

“Through skin care, natural make-up, hair care, nail care girls discover their value and created uniqueness,” the material says.

The term has been omitted from more recent material but the beauty classes remain, as do etiquette and deportment lessons. 

 I know this is the point where I’m supposed to ask what century we’re living in. I’m not, because this is the 21st century and patriarchy is clearly alive and well.

We last heard about Hillsong when one of their other programs set up to help young women involved performing exorcisms. And some people think America has a lock on the crazy Christians.



  1. (came here via Not A Whisper.)

    Yet another attempt by Hillsong (and its affiliates) to inculcate patriarchal self-abuse in people!? Why am I not surprised, but still feel increasingly outraged and offended? After that report on exorcism you highlighted in your OP, another one was written about the on-goings in the ex-gay programme that Hillsong’s affiliate, Mercy Ministries, is running. The brilliance that is the programme is clearly summed up by an unnamed “former resident”:

    “Girls were asked on the application form, as well as in a telephone interview, if they have ever had lesbian or bisexual relationships. They asked if I had been involved in drug abuse, witchcraft, or lesbianism. They bunched them in together like that.”

    Way to stay in the dark ages, Hillsong. Colour me impressed.

  2. As if we needed anymore proof that Hillsong sucks. Ugh.

  3. Ugh!
    As someone who occasionally finds herself in the “fun feminist” camp, I do not endorse this either.

  4. Ewww… I was hoping it was just my own fucked-up home country that did stuff like that. Lesbianism, drug use and witchcraft? Damn. …Actually, that sounds like a fun Saturday night for me.

  5. I meant, BTW, that I thought it was just the US that lumps those things in together (and criminalizes them all), and has those creepy “teh lord will make you straight!!1!” brainwashing programs.

  6. Good to know Dijiril.

    Don’t worry Lemur, I knew what you meant. Yeah, those brain washing programs are freaky, especially when they are advertised as charity.

  7. HI,

    I’m a journalist From an Inner Sydney Newspaper called Central magazine.

    I’m seeking people who have experienced Shine, either first hand or have been to schools/community centers etc were it was run.

    All comments can be kept confidential if that is desired.

    \If you can help please email at outside business hours and at during business hours.

    Kind regards

  8. I don’t think I can help, but I’ll pass your contact information along to some of the people I know.

  9. I don’t know that they’ve taken a leaf from fun-feminism; that sounds straight out of the finishing-school/deportment playbook to me. Ten to one all of the makeup and hair tips are about looking “natural”, “discreet”, and “classy”, and that the etiquette lessons are all about submissive upper-class white femininity.

    There were optional deportment lessons at the Anglican girls’ school I went to. I didn’t go to them. I did do ballroom dancing, because we got to socialise with Real Boys.

    Speaking of lumping: the insurance policy I took out years ago had a lower level of policy available, that excluded “drug addiction, suicide, self-harm, and chronic fatigue syndrome”.

  10. I can’t believe that they put chronic fatigue syndrome together with suicide. Apparently America doesn’t have a lock on crappy insurance companies either.

    Whenever I hear uniqueness/ self esteem through makeup it just puts me the mind of fun feminism. Though I guess you’re right about Hillsong, their version of makeup would be all about looking pretty without looking like you want to be pretty. Because wanting to attractive is sluttish and not wanting to be attractive means you’re a dyke (and apparently a drug-using witch.)

    I remember doing ballroom dancing in PE. I was terrible, I would drag whatever unlucky sod was my partner through the steps as fast as I could and then flee. Because there were more boys in the class they had to be in pairs and alternate the girl role. Five straight weeks of gay jokes.

  11. I spent too much time as a teenager in (pre)Hillsong type churches, and now they scare the pants of me. The Mercy Ministry is particularly disturbing as they are preying on society’s most vulnerable women. The ‘Shine’ program sounds like a training ground for ensuring that teen girls keep themselves acceptable in order to be good christian wives when the time comes. (Maybe I am just being cynical) but methinks that the program’s intent to boost girls self esteem would rather render them dependent on positive feedback of a certain kind and keep them pliant in certain patriarchal prescriptions. (ie, don’t question authority, believe these teachings, femininity is soft, compliant and complementary to masculine authority, certain work is women’s work (why is it always the supporting roles?) etc, etc..)

  12. You can be cynical and right. How the hell did Hillsong convince schools to let them in? Vampires and invitations?

  13. Deportment is great idea – but only for those young women who want it, and not disguised as anything other than appearances and propriety.

    This is disturbing news about Hillsong. I attended a Church here that was affiliated with them and had Australian pastors — no such weirdness or discrimination went on.

  14. “Through skin care, natural make-up, hair care, nail care girls discover their value and created uniqueness”

    Okay, 1) Girls will only be able to discover their true value if they plop down money and slather themselves in carcinogenic goop? 2) “created uniqueness”? Why do you need to create uniqueness when it’s already innately there? It’s kind of silly to be touting individuality as you teach young girls to dress the same, apply makeup the same way, etc.

  15. Meredith, they mean “created” as opposed to “evolved.” They mean they will help the girls discover the femininity God ordained for them. They are unique insofar as they are girls, not boys, and should retain the girl role as dictated by the church. And yes, their true value does lie in commerce and in the use of carcinogenic goop, according to this program.

  16. Ouch profacero, you hit the nail on the head.

    5th Dimension, I think a lot of the time we only see one side of people, especially if they are performers like many pastors/ priests etc.

    Meredith, I agree with you, the hypocrisy involved in many religious groups is astonishing.

  17. I fear for australian daughters if hillsong is involved.

  18. I currently facilitate a Shine program at my local highschool. So far I Havent heard from the speakers “Be a good christian girl, get married and submit”. I have heard however…stand up for yourself, dream big, love life, live to the fullest oh and heres some tips for looking great. Excuse me, but who in schools (other than the shine program) is telling girls in particular (at this age) to do those things mentioned above? Who is telling them that they are WORTH something more than a one night stand and a life totally devoid of hope to rise above their circumstances? Before you get all riled up about hillsong because of your preconceived notions and judgements on the church itself…why dont you look at the fruit of the shine program itself? Girls who are confident cause they arnt getting judged for how they look, young women who are rising to meet their dreams and potentials. Critisize the program when you actually have an alternative to back you up…dont just shit on someone elses idea…

  19. Wow, because the Virgin/ Whore dichotomy is so empowerful.

    These girls wouldn’t need tips for looking great if it wasn’t for gender roles and crappy beauty ideals. Looking great would mean looking healthy/ happy, not someone who combines a painted face with certain body types.

    I don’t have to have an alternative to point out something is crap. Recognising the problem is the first step towards changing or destroying it. As it happens, in this case I do have an alternative, teach feminism in high schools. Teach students not only are they worth more than a one night stand, they’re worth more than a life of slavery, teach them that a one night stand doesn’t define who they are, and that sex is nothing to be ashamed of.

    If you’ve actually read the comments thread then you know what Hillsong’s track record is. I think any program sponsored by them deserves hearty scepticism. Maybe you should look inside before the Trojan Horse before letting it into the gates. But what would I know, being a student? You clearly know what’s best for me without listening to me. I guess it’s my job to be indoctrinated.

    As to people telling girls to stand up for themselves, well that is your job. Regardless of whether you get a program with shiny participation certificates or whether you just teach it to them in classes. It is your job to make sure the curriculum includes acknowledgements of possibilities beyond PIV sex and that boyfriends don’t need to own their girlfriends. Teach girls to support each other in those big dreams. Listen to them and address their concerns and feelings. Yeah, maybe try that instead of a makeover.

  20. teach them that a one night stand doesn’t define who they are

    Repeated for emphasis.

    A one night stand doesn’t set a woman’s human worth, it is an action. It is no more connected with her worth than is eating a doughnut or watching Doctor Who or going bungee-jumping.

    So, OmiNomiNomes, if you’re so proud of your femininity curriculum, how about sharing the details here, including the relative time dedicated to each of those goals? And what would your approach be with a girl in a buzz-cut and Chucks who is pissed off about people hollering “FUCKING DYKE! SUCK MY COCK!” at her in the street?

  21. HHL Note: This is a troll (and not a very coherent one) so you might want to skip him on general principle

    Hey I just like to say two things in the defence and ultimatley the truth of this whole topic.
    Im from the UK, South of birmingham and like alot of young people in the UK grew up surrounded by chaos. Yeh I came from a good home but I was around gangs, drugs, and alcoholism from friends. 12-14 years is a normal age to see drug addiction and violence. My life at the age of 19 years old was crazy football hooliganism, drugs and alcoholism infested my life. This had nothing to do with my parents not loving me or any of that rubbish, like I said welcome to the real UK. I had to escape so when I was 20 I ran away to AU. I ended up in Sydeny, Kingscross and the story goes on, less the violence as AU is such a safe country comparing to where I grew up. Basically I decided one day this was enuff, I can’t live like this any longer. I found out about Hillsong church. PRAISE THE LORD!!!!! I had never felt such love and acceptanced as I did that day I stepped foot In this amazing church. I felt the overwhelming love of JESUS CHRIST thru the people of Hillsong church. I was prayed for after the sevice and instantly was delivered from drug and alcohol addiction. over a matter of weeks people from the church made me a priority and thanks to that church, after a few months i moved in with some guys from church, they got me a job, i met my now wife at hillsong, my whole life, my history and my future has been changed. this is over 4 years ago!!!!!
    The second thing I would say is I would endorse anything that Hillsong church does, they are incredible they have done more things in Sydeny than most of the organisations put together I can promise YOU that!!! Ive been involved with things they have done myself! Yeh ofcourse they cant please everyone, there will always be someone who has to have a little cry about any little thing that someone says! but trust me there will be more amazing young women that will be impacted by Hillsong than are unimpacted, this program will change their lives!!! I want to get hold of the material for the youth in the UK, boys and girls, girls here are having babies at the age of 13 years old, there has been 2 murders of teens the hand of other teens every week including girls against girl, we don’t have the priveldge of Hillsong speaking life into girls and boys lives in the UK. Take this privledge away one day you will be facing the destruction we are facing our nation! How about you get off your fat asses ALL you who critize and do something about building yound girls esteem instead of bitching and slagging off the good that others are doing!
    Just because you are ALL bitter and twisted, I hate men doesnt mean you have put your self worth problems on to others and put the positive work of others down to your low level unhappiness.
    I pray for ALL of YOU, will find the happiness that only comes from GOD, then you will stop trying to harm others!

  22. Ok living proof, against my better judgement I’ll reply to you, but only if you promise to proof-read your next post.

    You may have gotten love and acceptance from Hillsong (if your story is even genuine) but as a lesbian I am permanently considered an aberration. This doesn’t do much for my happiness.

    Why does everyone always think I’m bitter and twisted? I’m not bitter about Hillsong being crappy, I’m angry. As for the twisted part, you don’t have to be very twisted to see that what Hillsong does is wrong (reread the comments thread mate.)

    I doubt Australia will be destroyed if Hillsong crumbles. Asserting that Hillsong is necessary for the nation is called hyperbole and in this case is extremely ineffective, given that you have no proof or logical reasoning behind it.

    The most important thing you have to realise lp, is that it isn’t all about you (it’s my blog, so it’s all about me 😛 ). Maybe Hillsong had a good effect on your life, but it has fucked over other people and you don’t understand that at all. Quit the ranting, start the thinking.

  23. […] This next post took me back for a (disturbing) minute to my own school days. When I was 11 (in grade 6) we too had a “special class” on make-up, which was of course only attended by the girls, and was given by some woman who turned up from goodness knows where to tell us all about how to make ourselves look “beautiful.” That was in 1993. And since then, it appears, things have only gotten worse, as Hell On Hairy Legs describes make-up courses currently being run for girls in Australian schools by Hillsong, an extreme right-wing Christian group, in her post Hillsong and the Shine Program: […]

  24. Hillsong Church should not be allowed into the Public School system. No religious or church group should be allowed. There should be an total separation of church and state, want “religion” go to church.

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