Recently, Hillsong Church was criticized because during their women's conference in New York, Hillsong NYC's youth pastor appeared on the stage as New York's "Naked Cowboy." Dressed only in his underwear, partly covered by a flag and a guitar, the "Naked Cowboy" received many criticisms. Many have deemed that it was inappropriate to have a man dressed only in his briefs at a Christian women's conference.
The footage shows members of the church performing to the song "New York, New York," with people dressed in costumes like the Statue to Liberty, firemen, and Broadway dancers. One was apparently portraying New York's well-known street performer, the "Naked Cowboy." "The Naked Cowboy" has been identified as Hillsong NYC youth leader and former model Diego Simila.
Hillsong Church's senior pastor Brian Houston has responded to this controversy. On his blog Friday, June 3, Houston detailed the controversial youth pastor's costume as "proper shorts, not underwear, and he had a flag draped over him - bare-chested" and described it as "perhaps inappropriate, certainly unexpected and unauthorized," and concluded it was not naked.
The senior pastor also clarified that his wife Bobbie, although convenor of the conference, was not aware of the Naked Cowboy act nor were other pastors Carl and Laura Lentz "part of the decision."
Houston reflected, "I can only guess at this point, that someone thought it would be funny and sent him out there without thinking about the ramifications. Some well-meaning person just made a silly decision."
"It won't happen again," the church leader added.