You cannot make this up. Justin Bieber, not exactly the brightest bulb in any lamp, is a follower of a sketchy Virginia man who calls himself a pastor and runs a church every Sunday at the Manhattan Center on West 34th St. Carl Lentz portrays himself as the Punk Pastor, and says he’s Pentacostal. His latest iteration is called Hillsong NYC church. But what his American, Canadian followers– and Bieber– may not know is Hillsong NYC is a branch of Hillsong Australia. That organization is considered by many in that country to be a cult.
Hillsong’s founder, Frank Houston, had to resign in 2000 after confessing to having molesting a 7 year old boy in 1969. He was never prosecuted, and the case haunts Hillsong and the Houstons, and now Lentz to this day. Even though Frank Houston is now dead. the story isn’t over. A recent hearing in Australia revealed that Frank’s son Brian, who now runs Hillsong. trivialized the incident and let his father continue to preach as part of their church, albeit surreptitiously. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11339319 He is also accused of trying to bribe the victim.
Bieber’s pastor, Carl Lentz, only became involved with Hillsong four years ago. In the video above, he explains how he hooked up with the Houstons– that’s Frank Houston’s grandson Joel with Lentz in the video, looking like Jay from “Silent Bob and Jay.” These two are supposed to be religious leaders; they are Justin Bieber’s spiritual guides. Joel has been running Hillsong NYC with Lentz since 2010.
Before he hooked up with the Houstons, Lentz operated Cal Lentz Ministries out of Washington state. The IRS recently revoked the 501 c 3 status of that outfit after Carl Lentz Ministries failed to file tax returns for three years. Lentz runs Hillsong in New York as a straight ahead business with no tax free standing. He’s registered Hillsong out of his father’s law office in Virginia, but hasn’t filed any paperwork. There is no transparency at all.
The connection between Lentz and the Houstons, and the history of Houston’s father, finally came to a boiling point in October in New York at a Madison Square Garden conference of Hillsong followers. Not only was Frank Houston’s molestation case examined, but also multiple scandals about finances at Hillsong and the cult’s attitude toward homosexuality. Brian Houston’s sidestepping has caused a lot of controversy among the followers.
I spoke to Carl Lentz’s father, Stephen Lentz, an attorney in Virginia Beach. He couldn’t have been nicer. Mr. Lentz explained that churches don’t have to file Form 990s, so nothing is amiss. He said he knew nothing about Hillsong Australia, and very graciously invited me to the Manhattan Center. Entrance to the services, which run all day long every Sunday, he says, is free. You donate what you want. But the Manhattan Center isn’t free. They charge $17,000 a day for the Grand Ballroom where the Hillsong services take place. Someone is paying for that, most likely Hillsong Australia.
Watch this video about Hillsong Australia: