PRIME Minister Scott Morrison has to come clean about whether he wanted Hillsong's Brian Houston at a White House State dinner in September because "Australians deserve to know the truth", said a Hunter Christian pastor "embarrassed" by Mr Morrison's continued public support for the church leader.
"After giving such powerful support for survivors in the national apology on October 22 last year, when he promised Australia would do things differently to the way they were done before, he stands with Brian Houston while a police investigation is ongoing," Maitland pastor Bob Cotton said.
"It appears he has accepted what he has been told by this church. If that's the case he's failed every Australian in this, and he's certainly failed every survivor."
Mr Cotton strongly criticised Mr Morrison for dismissing questions about the issue as "gossip".
The prime minister's actions suggested he had not read royal commission findings, documents and transcripts about Mr Houston's, and Hillsong's, handling of child sex allegations against Mr Houston's father, Frank, Mr Cotton said.
"It's embarrassing to see our prime minister appearing to follow what he's been told, which is half truths and deceptions about Frank Houston and how the church leadership, including Brian Houston, responded," Mr Cotton said.
"And if he did read the royal commission findings and church documents showing how it covered-up for Frank, then what is the prime minister doing? Mr Morrison needs to understand this is not going away."
Mr Cotton was a close friend of Frank Houston in the final years of his life after serious allegations were raised against him in Australia and New Zealand in 1999 and 2000, and Mr Houston was allowed to retire to the Central Coast on a church pension.
He last spoke at Mr Cotton's Maitland church only weeks before he died in November, 2004. The royal commission found Brian Houston and his church failed to report allegations about Frank Houston to police or the Commission for Children and Young People.
Mr Cotton said he was "blindsided" by a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse public hearing into Australian Christian Churches and Hillsong in October, 2014, where the extent of Frank Houston's offending, and knowledge of allegations by church executives including Brian Houston, was revealed.
Hillsong statements over the years were contradicted by church documents tendered to the royal commission, Mr Cotton said.
Hillsong and Mr Morrison's office were contacted for comment.