Monday, March 17, 2008

Gloria Jean's, Mercy Ministries and Hillsong in the news again

In November 2007, local Australian coffee chain Gloria Jean's came under fire for its affiliation with an outfit named "Mercy Ministries", supposedly a sort of Christian live-in psychological counselling program. There was concern among the local gay press in particular about how "overcoming homosexuality" was one of the services it offered. As I recall Mercy Ministries said that they were going to stop treating people who had issues with homosexuality. They still continued their services in addressing other issues, though.

Today, Mercy Ministries made the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald. The online coverage is here and here. Far from offering the "professional support from psychologists, dieticians, general practitioners, social workers, career counsellors and daily education from program staff" that is described on their website, Mercy Ministries' actual "treatments" are described by the SMH as consisting merely of prayer readings, Bible study, exorcisms and speaking in tongues.

The SMH reports that Gloria Jean's has not reconsidered its affiliation with Mercy Ministries, and that donation box in Gloria Jean's stores which collects on behalf of Mercy Ministries is apparently going to stay there. Peter Irvine is listed in the SMH coverage as "former managing director, now director of corporate sponsorship" of Mercy Ministries. I think people should know that the original Crikey story from November 2007 linked above also lists him at that time as "executive director of Mercy Ministries" as well as "managing director of Gloria Jean's". Like many of the upper management of Gloria Jean's, he's also a Hillsong member.

I just bought coffee from there this morning, too, since the university's coffee place hadn't opened yet. Goddamn.

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