Justin Bieber is denying that he is connected to Hillsong church, after its pastor Carl Lentz was fired in November for "moral failures." Lentz later confessed to cheating on his wife.
On Monday, Jan. 4, Bieber made it clear that he is no longer affiliated with the Australia-based celebrity church. On his Instagram Story, the "Holy" singer shared what he called a "fake news" article from Page Six that claimed in December he was studying to be a minister at Hillsong.
Bieber wrote, "IM NOT STUDYING TO BE A MINISTER OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE TO THAT. HAVE NO DESIRE FOR THAT."
He went a step further and explained, "BTW HILLSONG IS NOT MY CHURCH," adding, "FOR CLARITY I AM A PART OF CHURCHOME." The Beverly Hills organization has also reportedly been attended by singers Selena Gomez and Ciara.
Bieber elaborated on his philosophy about church and religion by posting, "Church is not a place. We are the church. We don't need a building to connect with god. God is with us wherever we are."
On his Insta feed, the 26 year old likewise shared a message about his faith and captioned it, "YOU CAN NEVER RUN TOO FAR AWAY FROM GODS LOVE. HES BEEN THERE THE WHOLE TIME."
In 2017, a source told E! News that Bieber had been very dedicated to Hillsong Church during his Purpose era. We learned that Hillsong helped him through some stressful experiences, as well as taught him about self-love and finding balance in life. At the time, Bieber grew close with Patrick Schwarzenegger, who was also involved with Hillsong, as they would hang out and do sober activities together.
Hillsong's scandal began in November 2020, when the church's Global Senior Pastor Brian Houston announced that Lentz had been fired due to "breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures."
The next day, the 41-year-old pastor admitted to infidelity in his marriage. Lentz wrote on Instagram, "I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that... This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions."
Later that month, designer Ranin Karim came forward and alleged that she had an affair with the pastor. In an interview with Vanity Fair, she described how their romance lasted from May to October 2020 during the pandemic. "I really wish I never met him," Karim said. "I told him that many times because it was just, just like, what's the point?"
In December, things escalated when Houston was allegedly recorded telling church leaders and donors that Lentz had "more than one" affair. The alleged, leaked audio file was obtained and published by Page Six, which also reported that the disgraced religious leader was in talks to receive a severance package.
According to multiple outlets, Lentz later entered a treatment facility that specializes in helping patients with depression, anxiety and "pastoral burnout." E! News reached out to Lentz's representative for comment at the time and did not hear back.
As for Bieber, he has remained close with his pastor Judah Smith for more than seven years. Smith officiated his wedding ceremony to Hailey Bieber in 2019 and recently appeared in the musician's Next Chapter documentary in October 2020.
In the clip, he offered wisdom to the newlywed couple, saying, "You guys fight fair and you fight well... It's that dance and the music changes without knowing. And the only goal is to keep dancing."
Smith also praised them for being so open on camera, adding, "This is absolutely who you guys are... This is not something you have to put on. I just want to celebrate that in the two of you." Bieber responded, "I just can't stand fake stuff."
As far back as 2013, Smith has publicly spoken about his spiritual relationship with the "Intentions" artist. "Justin and I share Scriptures on a regular basis and communicate," Smith told E! News at the time. "And I think you find a lot of comfort and clarity in the Scriptures."
E! News has previously reached out to Hillsong about Lentz and has not heard back.