How a Hip Megachurch Became Entangled in Scandal

How a Hip Megachurch Became Entangled in Scandal

The international megachurch Hillsong was recognized for its hipster trappings, superstar congregants and wildly widespread worship music within the 2010s, however lately it has been extra carefully tied to a collection of scandals, together with the firing of its charismatic superstar pastor, Carl Lentz, for “ethical failures.”

A four-part documentary collection, “The Secrets of Hillsong,” premieres on FX on Friday and delves into the turmoil. The collection, which relies on a 2021 article in Vanity Fair journal, options the primary interview with Mr. Lentz since he was fired in 2020.

Here’s how the difficulty unfolded.

Brian Houston and his spouse, Bobbie, based Hillsong in Australia in 1983 and opened its first United States department in New York in 2010. The church was a member of the Australian department of the Pentecostal denomination, the Assemblies of God, earlier than it fashioned its personal denomination in 2018.

Hillsong’s growth into the United States constructed on its enormous success in presenting worship music. Its providers drew in young people in big cities, the place providers had been held in live performance venues, equivalent to Irving Plaza and the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. The congregants had been trendy and included celebrities equivalent to Justin Bieber, Kevin Durant and Vanessa Hudgens.

Mr. Lentz, the lead pastor of Hillsong’s New York department, also became a celebrity.

This hip veneer advised that Hillsong supported a extra progressive type of Evangelicalism, however the church was criticized for its place on L.G.B.T.Q. rights. In an August 2015 blog post, the church’s founder, Mr. Houston, mentioned that homosexual folks had been welcome at Hillsong, however that it did “not affirm a homosexual way of life.”

Mr. Lentz mingled with celebrities together with Mr. Bieber, whom he baptized in the bathtub of an N.B.A. participant’s dwelling. In 2017, GQ journal known as Mr. Lentz a “hypepriest” to mirror his fashionable wardrobe, which included aviator glasses, skinny denims and designer sneakers. He spoke incessantly about racial inequality and in 2016 declared his help for the Black Lives Matter motion.

It all got here to a halt when he was fired from Hillsong in November 2020. The church mentioned that his termination had adopted discussions about “management points and breaches of belief, plus a latest revelation of ethical failures.” Mr. Lentz mentioned on Instagram shortly afterward that he had been “untrue in my marriage, crucial relationship in my life.” His spouse, Laura Lentz, was additionally a Hillsong pastor.

Since then, he has stayed out of the highlight. Last week, he mentioned in an Instagram post that his spouse and youngsters had been his “solely precedence” for the previous three years.

“Part of the therapeutic from that heartache led us to the choice to be part of a documentary that we don’t management, that we don’t have any say in and that we haven’t even seen but,” he mentioned.

More turmoil. Hillsong’s founder, Mr. Houston, resigned in March 2022 after the church mentioned that an inner investigation had discovered that he behaved inappropriately towards two girls, breaching the church’s code of conduct.

He had already stepped away from his ministry duties in January 2022 to fight a criminal charge accusing him of concealing baby sexual abuse by his late father, Frank Houston. Brian Houston has denied the allegations. The case remains to be within the courts, The Australian Associated Press reported.

In March, Mr. Houston mentioned he had been charged with drunken driving within the United States in February 2022. Mr. Houston mentioned that on the time “it appeared like all hell had damaged unfastened inside Hillsong church.”

Mr. Houston didn’t reply to a request for remark. In a video posted on his social media accounts in November, he criticized Hillsong’s management for the way it had dealt with the allegations of misconduct made towards him.

“I didn’t resign due to my errors,” he mentioned. “I resigned due to the bulletins and statements that had been made.”

In March 2022, 9 of the 16 Hillsong church buildings within the United States minimize ties with the group, abruptly shrinking the church’s American presence. Hillsong’s website says it has seven church buildings within the United States, in addition to areas in additional than two dozen different international locations.

The website additionally says that about 150,000 folks worldwide attend its providers weekly, however that’s an estimate the church has been utilizing since earlier than the pandemic. Hillsong didn’t reply to questions on present attendance figures.

The documentary premiering on Friday contains interviews with congregants and appears on the historical past of the church’s relationship with cash, intercourse and God.



Express your views here

Disqus Shortname not set. Please check settings

Opening Bell: April 17, 2023

Opening Bell: April 17, 2023

San Francisco: Spend a Weekend Away– within the City by the Bay

San Francisco: Spend a Weekend Away– within the City by the Bay