Why the Hillsong ‘Dancing Naked Cowboy’ Story Matters
(TRUNEWS) It should be perfect material for the myriad of satire websites that abound online. The story of New York’s Hillsong Church having a performance during a Christian women’s conference of the iconic Times Square Dancing Naked Cowboy draws reactions from “That has to be fake”, or “The rumor mill is running”.
Not only is the story itself absolutely true, but the entire story reveals even more about the state of the Babylonian church in America.
First, yes, it is true that a dancing naked cowboy performed on the platform during a Hillsong Women’s conference in New York. As it turns out, however, it wasn’t THE Dancing Naked Cowboy that is famously spotted parading around in his underoos in the center of New York City. It was actually a youth pastor in Hillsong Church New York. Dr. Michael Brown of Charisma notes:
During an I Love New York celebration at a recent women’s conference hosted by Hillsong in New York City, a Hillsong youth pastor was onstage, dressed up as the Naked Cowboy, meaning that he too was wearing nothing but a cowboy hat, cowboy boots, briefs and a guitar. But hey, after all, what’s wrong with that? We don’t want to get religious now, do we? What’s wrong with a youth pastor standing onstage in his underwear during a women’s conference? (Sarcasm fully intended.)
Yes, you read that right. A Hillsong pastor poses as the ‘Naked Cowboy’, complete with dancing girls, and bearded Lady Liberty.
If what you have read up to this point is not surreal enough in it’s exposure of America’s brand of churchianity, then the following should wake you up to how far in the sewer those who claim to represent the Gospel are willing to crawl.
It appears that Hillsong has not only offended many believers with this outlandish stunt, they may have actually offended The Dancing Naked Cowboy himself, Robert John Burck
better known as the Naked Cowboy, is an American street performer whose pitch is on New York City’s Times Square. He wears only cowboy boots, a hat, and briefs, with a guitar strategically placed to give the illusion of nudity.
In a posting on Church Watch Central, Todd Rubenstein, speaking on behalf of ‘Naked Cowboy’ stated:
I represent Naked Cowboy and own Naked cowboy Enterprises, LLC. I am the sole administrator of the Naked Cowboy® registered trademarks. I am the only person who can provide license of use of anything associated with Naked Cowboy and Hillsong has never requested any right to use our registered trademarks or Naked Cowboy’s likeness.
In addition to it being a clear violation of Mr. Burck’s (AKA Naked Cowboy) right of publicity, it is a direct infringement upon Mr Burck’s registered trademarks.
Mr. Burck is an Ordained Minister & would NEVER attend church in the house of the Lord in his Trade Dress and is EXTREMELY offended by this activity due to his deep Christian beliefs and respect for the process of gathering in the name of Jesus Christ and in the presence of God to worship and praise the Holy Father.
Mr. Burck owns registered trademarks protecting his property rights in both the name “Naked Cowboy” as well as the character’s visual image. Mr. Burck strongly objects to any unauthorized use of his trade name and/or image without proper license and authorization—particularly those instances where, as here, such use is for a plainly commercial purpose and not for the purpose of spreading the Gospel. We are certain that Hillsong and its affiliates are aware of federal trademark law, but they must also be advised that New York’s statutory right of publicity affords Mr. Burck with additional legal protections against unauthorized use of his name and image. In view of these legal restrictions, and in an effort to avoid any further dilution of the value of Mr. Burck’s marks, we will be making a demand to Hillsong—together with any of its affiliates, representatives, agents, employees, and principals— to immediately cease and desist all such unauthorized uses of the Naked Cowboy’s trademarks in addition to taking Federal action in the State of New York to have these violations prosecuted.
So, let’s get this straight:
- Hillsong had a dancing naked cowboy perform at a Christian women’s conference.
- The said cowboy was not the original ‘Naked Cowboy’, but actually a youth pastor from the church.
- The original ‘Naked Cowboy’ is greatly offended that his trademarked illusion of nudity would be used in a church setting.
- The source of the original ‘Naked Cowboy’s offense come from Burck being an ordained minister himself.
If there was ever any doubt that the church has descended into Babylon, those doubts should now be removed.
BAD PRESS AT A BAD TIME – NAKED COWBOY AND THE NEW HILLSONG CHANNEL
The timing of the story could not have been worse for Hillsong, as the organization launches a new 24-hour television channel in partnership with Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). In a press release from PR Newswire:
Global faith-and-family broadcast leader Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and Hillsong Church, one of the most recognized global church and worship ministries, have announced the June 1st launch of the Hillsong Channel, a ground-breaking new 24-hour television network combining dynamic ministry, teaching, and conferences featuring renowned pastors and Christian leaders, with energetic, cutting-edge worship from award-winning singers, songwriters, and musicians.
In announcing the partnership of TBN and Hillsong in the innovative new network, TBN Chairman Matthew Crouch noted the phenomenal influence that Hillsong worship has had across the earth. “Every Sunday at least fifty million Christians sing Hillsong worship songs in churches across the earth,” he said, adding that every day TBN’s thirty-plus inspirational networks are carried around the world on over eighty satellite channels. “Beginning June 1st, nearly a dozen of those satellite channels will be devoted to the newest member of the TBN family — Hillsong Channel,” he said. “That’s how important we feel it is to get the life-changing ministry and worship of Hillsong to every corner of the earth.”
Viewers of Hillsong Channel will have 24-7 front-row access to all the best from Hillsong’s popular international conferences, along with dynamic worship from gifted groups, singers, and songwriters such as Hillsong Worship, Hillsong United, Young & Free, Reuben Morgan, Joel Houston, Taya Smith, and many others. There will also be plenty of life-changing teaching from Christian leaders like Hillsong Senior Pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston, including Bobbie’s “Sisterhood” outreach, which is inspiring and equipping a generation of women to walk in their God-ordained destiny.
Since its beginnings over thirty years ago as one small congregation in Sydney, Australia, Hillsong Church has added vibrant congregations in such key cities as London, Paris, Stockholm, Cape Town, Buenos Aires, New York, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and more — making the ministry of Hillsong truly international in flavor and perspective.
“We are excited about this dynamic new partnership with TBN that will take the message of God’s glory to the nations,” said Hillsong Pastor Brian Houston. “Whether through Hillsong worship and conferences or through other programs and teaching airing on Hillsong Chanel, the whole goal is to bring the Gospel in a real and relevant way to as many people as possible.”
Following its June 1st launch Hillsong Channel will be available to over 77 million U.S. households via:
– TBN’s full-power stations in 37 major markets, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta, and Miami — to name just a few.
– Major U.S. satellite and cable providers, including DirecTV, Dish Network, Glorystar, AT&T U-verse, Verizon Fios, Comcast, Charter Communications, and Time Warner, along with scores of regional and local cable systems.
Additionally, Hillsong Channel will reach over 100 million television households around the world through Sky and other satellites, as well as via countless in-country cable providers and broadcast channels.
“With its emphasis on award-winning contemporary worship, relevant teaching, and ministry, Hillsong Channel is set to impact millions more individuals and families with the message of hope and grace that has been TBN’s hallmark for the past forty-three years,” said Matthew Crouch. “In fact, we believe that this exciting new partnership between TBN and Hillsong is destined to broaden the scope and outreach of faith television worldwide.”
The Glory Has Departed: The Modern Church as Ichabod
The term Ichabod is found in two places in the Bible,1 Samuel 4:21 and 14:3. Ichabod was the son ofPhinehas and the grandson of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh. The sad story of Eli and his two wayward sons, Phinehas and Hophni, is found in 1 Samuel, chapters 2 and 4. Hophni and Phinehas died in battle with the Philistines who captured the Ark of the Covenant and took it away from Israel. Upon hearing this terrible news, Eli fell backward off his chair and broke his neck and died. Phinehas’s pregnant wife went into labor and bore a son.
“And she named the child Ichabod, saying, ‘The glory has departed from Israel!’ because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. And she said, ‘The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured’” (1 Samuel 4:21–22). The word Ichabod means literally “inglorious” or “there is no glory,” and in her pain and despair, the woman (who is unnamed in Scripture) lamented over the loss of the glory of God from Israel.
The glory of God is used to describe God’s favor and blessings toward His people. In the Old Testament, God’s glory is seen as a pillar of fire and cloud that followed the Israelites during the exodus from Egypt, guiding and guarding them (Exodus 13:21). Once the Ark of the Covenant was built and placed in the tabernacle in the wilderness, and later in the temple in Jerusalem, God’s glory resided there as a symbol of His presence among His people. When the Ark was captured by the Philistines, the glory departed from the Israelites—Ichabod became a reality.
Jesus later refers to the concept of the glory of God leaving Israel. In His last message to the populace of Israel, His final word to the religious leaders was “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:37–38). That was His final statement of judgment on Israel for the rejection of their Messiah. He has indicted their leaders and, by indicting the leaders, indicted all the people who followed the leaders. And now He says their house is left desolate—Ichabod, the glory is departing.
Notice that He says your house is desolate. Not My house, not My Father’s house, as He used to call it. Now it’s your house because God has left—Ichabod! God is no longer there, it’s not the Father’s house; it’s not My house; it’s your house. The Greek word translated “desolate,” means “abandoned to ruin.” This place is in abandonment. God has left. It’s cursed, devoted to ruination. And they won’t see Jesus again till He comes in full Messianic glory (Matthew 23:39).
It is a terrible thing to experience the loss of the glory of God. And while Israel’s ruin was temporary “until the fullness of the Gentiles” would be brought into the kingdom of God on earth (Romans 11:25), one wonders how many churches today have lost the glory of the Lord, whether willingly or unknowingly. The same things that caused Ichabod in Israel—sin, disobedience, idolatry—are present in many of today’s churches. Christians must never take the glory of God in our midst for granted, lest we wake up one day and find that Ichabod has become a reality among us.
Additional material provided by GotQuestions.org