In recent years, the Church of the Highlands has garnered significant attention, not only for its rapid growth and influence but also for controversies surrounding its leadership and practices. With over 60,000 members spread across multiple campuses, it’s undeniably one of the largest churches in the United States. However, beneath the surface of its impressive numbers lies a story of controversy and criticism.

  • Founded in 2001 by Pastor Chris Hodges, Church of the Highlands initially started with just 34 members meeting in a rental space. Since then, it has experienced exponential growth, expanding to multiple campuses across Alabama and beyond. Its growth trajectory and emphasis on contemporary worship and community outreach have attracted many, particularly younger audiences.
  • However, as the church’s influence has grown, so too have concerns regarding its practices and leadership. One of the most notable controversies revolves around accusations of racial insensitivity and lack of diversity within the church. Despite being located in a city with a significant African American population, Church of the Highlands has faced criticism for its predominantly white leadership and congregation.
  • In 2019, the church came under fire when it was revealed that Pastor Chris Hodges had liked social media posts by conservative commentator Charlie Kirk, known for his controversial views on race and politics. This incident sparked outrage and led to accusations of the church’s alignment with divisive ideologies.
  • Furthermore, the Church of the Highlands has faced scrutiny for its financial practices. Like many mega-churches, it relies heavily on donations from its members to fund its operations and expansion efforts. Some critics argue that the church’s emphasis on prosperity theology – the belief that financial blessings are a sign of God’s favor – can be manipulative and exploitative, particularly towards vulnerable individuals struggling with financial difficulties.
  • Another area of concern is the church’s handling of internal matters and conflicts. Reports have surfaced of former members feeling marginalized or silenced when expressing dissenting opinions or raising concerns about the church’s direction. Allegations of a lack of transparency and accountability within the church’s leadership structure have further fueled these criticisms.
  • Despite these controversies, Church of the Highlands continues to thrive, with a dedicated following and a strong presence in the communities it serves. Its supporters argue that its impact on individual lives and communities outweighs any criticisms leveled against it. They point to the church’s extensive outreach programs, including addiction recovery ministries and support for local schools, as evidence of its positive contributions.
  • However, as the church continues to grow and expand its influence, it must also confront and address the legitimate concerns raised by its critics. Embracing diversity, fostering transparency, and promoting accountability within its leadership are essential steps towards building a more inclusive and sustainable future.
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FAQs About Church of the Highlands Exposed

Is there any truth to the allegations of financial misconduct against the Church of the Highlands?

The Church of the Highlands has denied any allegations of financial misconduct. While critics have raised concerns about the church’s reliance on donations and its interpretation of prosperity theology, there has been no conclusive evidence of financial wrongdoing. The church maintains that its financial practices are transparent and in line with its mission to support its ministries and community outreach efforts.

How has the controversy affected attendance and membership at the church?

Despite the controversies surrounding the Church of the Highlands, there has been little significant impact on attendance and membership numbers. The church continues to attract thousands of members and visitors to its services and events across its various campuses. While some individuals may have chosen to leave the church due to disagreements or concerns, others remain committed to its mission and vision.

What steps has the Church of the Highlands taken to address the allegations against it?

In response to criticisms and allegations, the Church of the Highlands has emphasized its commitment to diversity and inclusivity. It has implemented initiatives aimed at increasing diversity within its leadership and congregation and has sought to engage in constructive dialogue with critics. Additionally, the church has reiterated its dedication to financial transparency and accountability, regularly publishing financial reports for its members to review.

Are there any ongoing legal actions or investigations involving the church?

As of now, there are no known ongoing legal actions or investigations specifically targeting the Church of the Highlands. While controversies have arisen, particularly regarding issues such as racial sensitivity and financial practices, there have been no formal legal proceedings initiated against the church. However, it remains important for the church to remain vigilant and address any legal matters with transparency and integrity.

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What impact has the controversy had on the broader evangelical community in Alabama?

The controversies surrounding the Church of the Highlands have sparked discussions within the broader evangelical community in Alabama and beyond. It has prompted reflection on issues of race, financial stewardship, and church leadership. While opinions may vary within the evangelical community, the controversies have highlighted the importance of accountability and transparency in religious institutions. Ultimately, it is hoped that these discussions will lead to positive changes and greater unity within the evangelical community.


While the Church of the Highlands may have achieved remarkable success in terms of growth and influence, it is not immune to criticism and controversy. As it navigates its path forward, it must reckon with the issues that have been brought to light and strive to uphold the values of integrity, inclusivity, and compassion that lie at the heart of its mission. Only then can it truly fulfill its potential as a force for positive change in the world.