Image Credits: Hillsong (edited)
Hillsong announce new animatronic New York pastor
NEW YORK, NY – Megachurch Hillsong New York has announced the installment of a world-first animatronic pastor to provide ‘stable Christian leadership for the 21st century’.
The installment of the animatronic pastor, known affectionately as the ‘Robot Reverend‘, is viewed as a direct response by Hillsong to the recent issues around former head pastor, Carl Lentz.
Lentz was dismissed from his pastorship late last year after allegations of moral failings, adultery, and a breach of leadership trust.
Global Hillsong leader, Brian Houston, expressed his excitement at the new appointment.
“Hillsong has always sought to be at the forefront of culture and technology in communicating the gospel and serving its people.”
“Our research unit has for some time been trying to figure out how we can deliver leadership with perfect sermons, polished appearances, and avoid all issues around infidelity.”
“Robot Reverend may seem like a controversial move, but people will soon see the incredible stability and benefits of non-autonomous, programmable pastors.”
The animatronic pastor is designed to reflect the ideal church leader – a human male, aged 29, of unclear ethnic background, who is always smartly dressed with a perfectly toned body and hair.
Hillsong have also reported other benefits including its calming and robotic voice, a lack of inappropriate comments or touching that could be perceived as harassment, and a running cost far below that of any other megachurch pastor.
Feedback has been mixed however regarding the appointment.
“I love that he is always smiling and his incredibly tight sermons that always finish on time, but I do find it a bit unnerving when he stares at me with those cold, unblinking eyes,” said congregation member Mr. B. A. Shawperr.
“I confess I do miss the warm hugs and insightful conversations I would receive from the former Pastor, but I do understand the need to minimise risk. I guess the new Pastor is a bit more controllable,” indicated worship coordinator, Hope B. Dashed.
There has been some concern within the first few weeks with reports of potentially inappropriate interactions between Robot Reverend and the churches PowerPoint projector. Hillsong lawyers however have assured the executive that there is no actual legal liability for such artificial relationships.
Story credit to contributor Scott Norris. For a great discussion around artificial intelligence and the impact on Christian communities, see this paper by the Jubilee Centre.