Friday, 13 April 2007

Tanya Levin's People in Glass Houses has been picked up by Melbourne publisher Black Inc. after Allen & Unwin dropped it, reports Susan Wyndham on the Undercover blog.

A&U's publishing director Patrick Gallagher "decided on legal advice to drop the book as a defamation risk", she reports.

The Bulletin reported A&U's move in February. Gallagher declined to comment for the article. Journalist Jennifer Sexton says that A&U's lawyers "gave her manuscript the tick of approval before Christmas".

"Then she had been advised to target the church as a whole, rather than individuals, because corporations can't sue."

"Further legal advice has revealed a not-for-profit organisation can sue," writes Sexton, adding that the church "has annual revenues of about $50m". The article attracted almost 60 responses from readers.

For the record, Hillsong spokeswoman Maria Ieroianni said the church didn't lobby the publishers. Hillsong's general manager George Aghajanian did, however, write to Levin saying she was to refrain from attending any church events or entering the grounds.

"Though small, Black Inc. has muscle because it is owned by the Melbourne property developer Morrie Schwartz," writes Wyndham.

On the Hillsong Web site, dated 13 March, Bobby Houston says:

It's sad that their (Hillsong members') stories or experiences of the church have rarely rated a mention in the media's coverage of Hillsong Church. I have often wondered why that is? I certainly never imagined that I'd pastor a church that attracted such media fascination, but putting it plainly, I'd much rather be a church builder, than a church critic.

Which is really just sliding round the point. Clearly, Houston is getting ready for some sort of attack. I'll certainly be buying Levin's book when it comes out.

A long account of Levin's time with the church was published by The Bulletin in March.


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Bob Mendelsohn said...

I would really like to know how to reach Tanya, if anyone knows. Although churches can make or not make a lot of money doing what they do, it's not a crime. Mishandling what they get in, that's what may be bad.

I have no trouble with churches or the Salvos or anyone bringing in crust. What may be bad is not caring for the poor or the ones who are designated as the recipients of the income.

Matthew da Silva said...

Hi Bob,

Hillsong has a media problem, there's no question.

I also don't have a problem with them making money. But when you get the prime minister to open your new church, you are setting yourself up for scrutiny.

A healthy media is a sign of a strong democracy. Hillsong should try to be more open with the media, I think. Otherwise they'll simply alienate the broader community. You can see this happening with the Muslim community in Australia right now. They need better representatives.

I don't know how to reach Tanya Levin. Possibly the best way would be to contact Black Inc. They are an extremely high-class operation, and Levin's association with them will raise the profile of her book.