This article originally appeared on the LiveNews website and can be viewed here.
The Hillsong Church and Gloria Jean’s Coffee are under fire for failing to provide young women suffering severe illness with adequate medical attention during their time at Mercy Ministries. According to a Sydney Morning Herald investigation, the women signed up to months at the secretive ministry – supported by the Hillsong group and sponsored by Gloria Jean’s Coffee – which offered them no medical or psychiatric care.
The alleged victims say they’ve been forced to undergo years of psychological and psychiatric treatment as a result of their time at the ministry. They are also complaining that the program required them to sign over all their welfare benefits. The Mercy Ministries website claims it “exists to provide opportunities for young women to experience God’s unconditional love, forgiveness and life-transforming power.
“It does, however, promise support from “psychologists, general practitioners, dietitians, social workers, (and) career counsellors”.
But the women say no professional care was offered at all, in favour of Christian counselling and “expelling demons”.
Naomi Johnson, who was 21 and suffering from anorexia when she entered the ministry, told the Herald that the ’treatment’ she received was extremely damaging and subsequent professionals had trouble getting anything out of the group.
“The first psychologist I saw rang and spoke to Mercy. She wrote to them over a period of time, just trying to get answers. They were very evasive; they avoided her calls. Eventually she got some paperwork, some case notes, from them.”