Australian artists have expressed their outrage after footage of people singing and dancing at a Hillsong event emerged online, despite new restrictions banning these activities from happening in NSW.
Some have pointed out that Hillsong’s Wildlife Summer Camp, a three-day “summer camp” held near Newcastle, looks similar to a music festival – where singing and dancing have been prohibited.
Hillsong has been accused of breaching the Public Health Order banning singing and dancing at recreational facilities. Image: @hillsongyouth (Instagram)
Images and videos from the event show teenagers dancing to religious music – with many appearing to be unmasked – sparking outrage from the entertainment industry, which has seen many scheduled events cancelled in wake of the state’s rules.
Music festivals across the country have also been forced to be cancelled or postponed, prompting claims that Hillsong being allowed to hold such an event is a “double standard”.
Seeing all the artists, promoters, staff and vendors in #NSW suffer after having outdoor events cancelled and then seeing THIS happening right now in NSW for #Hillsong is disgusting, a huge gut punch to the already suffering industry. Absolute double standards. #NswPol #nswcovid pic.twitter.com/fi5pyQZnrr
— Leon Sjogren (@Leonsjogren) January 13, 2022
Music producer Leon Sjogren wrote on Twitter: “Seeing all the artists, promoters, staff and vendors in NSW suffer after having outdoor events cancelled and then seeing THIS happening right now in NSW for Hillsong is disgusting, a huge gut punch to the already suffering industry.
“Absolutely double standards.”
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced the new restrictions on singing and dancing last week, telling reporters the activities would be prohibited in indoor venues from January 8 until January 27.
According to the Public Health Order, singing and dancing aren’t allowed at places such as music festivals, nightclubs, major recreation facilities, hospitality venues, and entertainment facilities.
However, weddings, music classes, and churches are exempt.
Although Hillsong defended the event, telling the ABC it was “not similar to a music festival in any way”, NSW Health has requested that the organisation “stop singing and dancing”.
“Our camps involve primarily outdoor recreational activities including sports and games,” Hillsong said in a statement to the national broadcaster.
Despite footage showing unmasked teens singing and dancing, the religious organisation says it was not breaching the Public Health Order banning those activities. Image: @hillsongyouth (Instagram)
The organisation added that they “follow strict Covid procedures” and “adhere to government guidelines”.
But, a statement from NSW Health accused the organisation of breaching the Public Health Order, as “singing and dancing at a major recreation facility” is prohibited.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said: “While the Order does not apply to religious services, it does apply to major recreational facilities and this event is clearly in breach of both the spirit and intent of the Order, which is in place to keep the community safe.”
Other Australian artists have also taken aim at the event, with rapper Illy criticising the banning of singing and dancing at festivals but not in churches.
“You can postpone all our festivals and gigs, you can say no to dancing in clubs for the next 50 years, and you can make singing and shouting in public illegal except in sermons and the cricket for some reason,” he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
I can handle the singing, the dancing, and the no mask wearing at this Hillsong festival last night, even though it’s illegal for the entire arts industry to do the same. But playing“turn down for what” in 2022?! Too far. pic.twitter.com/byOWufUaWa
— Illy (@illyal) January 13, 2022
“FYI I’m for everyone’s religious beliefs. The post is a joke, aimed at the latest horse s*** double standard the music industry is ONCE AGAIN having to face. Not attacking religion at all.”
Others said the rules should apply to everyone, religious or not.
“The double standard applied to this Hillsong event vs other indoor or outdoor music festivals makes NO sense at all,” one critic shared on Twitter.
“You risk a big increase in Covid infections & prolonging this pandemic for all of us. The same rules need to apply to everyone.”
Image: Getty Images / @hillsongyouth (Instagram)
This article first appeared on OverSixty.