Fall from grace. Megachurch Hillsong has faced a series of controversies over the years and the new documentary series The Secrets of Hillsong is breaking it all down.
The four-part FX docuseries, which premieres in May 2023, follows the various scandals that have taken place in the controversial church. Most notably, it touches on the organization’s former pastor Carl Lentz’s infamous affair scandal. In the special, both Carl and his wife, Laura Lentz, gave their first public interviews since their exit from the church in November 2020.
“You do not want to be in this chair,” Carl said in the trailer. “I cannot stress it enough.”
At the time, Carl — who wed Laura in 2003 — was fired from the organization by Hillsong Church Global Senior Pastor Brian Houston for “moral failures” and “breaches of trust”’ after news broke that Carl had an affair.
“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,” the religious figure said in a statement via Instagram at the time. “I now begin a journey of rebuilding trust with my wife, Laura and my children and taking real time to work on and heal my own life and seek out the help that I need. I am deeply sorry for breaking the trust of many people who we have loved serving and understand that this news can be very hard and confusing for people to hear and process. I would have liked to say this with my voice, to you, in person because you are owed that. But that opportunity I will not have.”
Carl was well known for his former friendship with Justin Bieber. The Grammy winner once lived with Carl and his family in New Jersey and was even baptized by the pastor. Following the scandal, Bieber revealed in January 2021 that he was no longer affiliated with Hillsong and was a member of Churchome.
According to the documentary, Hillsong leadership were informed that “incriminating text messages” between Carl and a woman named Ranin Karim had been found. Karim, for her part, revealed her identity in an interview with Vanity Fair published weeks after the firing. In May 2021, the Lentz’s former nanny Leona Kimes accused her employer of sexual abuse. (Kimes was also a member of Hillsong while she was employed by the family.)
After Kimes’ allegations came to light, Houston was accused in August 2021 of covering up child sexual abuse done by his late father — who was also a pastor in Australia.
The first two episodes of The Secrets of Hillsong premieres Friday, May 19, on FX and will be available to stream on Hulu the following day. The final episodes will drop on May 26.
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