Justin Bieber’s former pastor Carl Lentz had multiple affairs before his Hillsong firing, according to a man reported to be the church’s founder in an alleged audio leak obtained by Page Six. In the audio clip, Hillsong’s Global Pastor and founder, Brian Houston, also claims that the ousted pastor was “narcissistic” and a “difficult man” to work with.
In early November, Lentz, 42, was fired from Hillsong, where he served as the New York City chapter lead pastor for over a decade. Founder Houston announced the pastor’s termination via PEOPLE, claiming at the time that Lentz had displayed “breaches of trust” and “moral failures,” among which was the pastor’s infidelity. Lentz confessed that he had been unfaithful to his wife of 17 years, Laura, with whom he shares three children, on November 5. A month following his admission, Page Six released details from a leaked audio recording of a meeting with Hillsong church executives claiming that the pastor’s infidelity wasn’t an isolated incident.
“A staff member found a very compromising chain of text messages on Carl’s laptop,” Houston said, according to the outlet, “[we] drove right across town to talk to Carl and confront him and that was the beginning of the process we are at now.” Page Six reports the audio file as having been recorded sometime around November 19.
Houston continued, “When we talk about an affair. These issues were more than one affair, they were significant. And at least some bad moral behavior had gone back historically, but not necessarily those affairs.”
The Hillsong founder reportedly went on to suggest that Lentz’s firing was “the only way to go,” as the nature of his issue was “significant” and his relationship with the church and its founder had grown too tense to be fixed. “He was a difficult man to have any kind of direct conversation with because it was always defensive, it would always be put back on the other person, as though they were the ones with the problem,” Houston explained.
“They were not easy meetings and I already at the point at the end of summer that I felt like Carl and Laura’s time in New York was coming to an end,” the founder added, citing “general narcissistic behavior, manipulating, mistreating people,” along with the NYC pastor’s habit of “constantly lying.”
Lentz admitted to his “moral failures” following his termination via an Instagram post in November. “I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that,” the ousted pastor wrote in a lengthy caption at the time. “This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions. 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.”
He continued, “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. So to those people, I pray you can forgive me and that over time I can live a life where trust is earned again.”