Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston is hitting out at New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian over the state's new COVID-19 regulations.
What are the details?
According to " Today," Houston criticized Berejiklian for allowing 40,000 fans to attend rugby's NRL grand final but refusing to open up churches to congregations of more than 100.
In new remarks on the disparity between rugby games and church, Houston said the restrictions are discriminatory at best.
Houston spoke out on Monday after NSW announced further relaxed COVID-19 restrictions — which excluded the church.
According to the Daily Mail, "Weddings can have up to 300 guests from December 1, while up to 40,000 footy fans will attend the NRL grand final between Penrinth Panthers and Melbourne Storm in Sydney on Sunday night."
"Strict limits," however, "remain in place for church services with attendances capped at 100."
The outlet pointed out that some of Sydney's megachurches have the capability of holding upward of 4,000 attendees.
Houston told NSW's "Today" Wednesday that the continued restrictions on church services are unacceptable.
"Of course watching the football and people are cheering and hugging and spitting and high-fiving, community event numbers are growing, but there has been absolutely no change to churches," he complained. "You can have 300 people indoors for a wedding. But you can't have anything like that, 100 people indoors obviously socially distanced, no matter how big the building."
Houston warned that people need church more than ever amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Some people wouldn't feel ready to come back yet, wouldn't feel safe," he said. "Other people are dying to get back here. ... Mental health, as we know, and health generally, well-being, is a big, big thing. Isolation doesn't help that at all. Church, part of what we do, is community and connection. I know a lot of people just longing for that sense of community and connection."
On Monday, Houston also tweeted, "So interesting that the NSW govt are about to allow 300 people to attend an indoor wedding, and things are being relaxed for the hospitality industry, but still no changes for churches."
He continued, "We have a building with space for 4000 people yet can only have 100 in there. Reason given is 'church ppl know each other (are to [sic] friendly). Do you think people are not friendly at weddings? It's getting to the point where it is discrimination."
On Instagram, he shared a screenshot of his Twitter remarks and added, "It's time church leaders unite to take a stand. We are all committed to keeping people safe, but it seems churches are not even being considered for a steady easing of restrictions."
This story has been updated.
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