A charismatic pastor helped build a megachurch favored by star athletes and entertainers — until some temptations became too much to resist.
Ruth Graham | NYT
In the summer of 2017, the singer Justin Bieber abruptly canceled the remainder of a concert tour that had taken him across six continents in 16 months. Mr. Bieber cited fatigue; his fans fretted. But on the tabloid website TMZ, a more hopeful narrative quickly emerged. The 23-year-old singer left the tour because he “rededicated his life to Christ” thanks to a pastor named Carl Lentz, leader of the New York City branch of the global megachurch Hillsong. The pastor and the pop star were inseparable, the gossip site reported. Two days later, the site reported that Mr. Bieber saw Mr. Lentz “as a 2nd father.”
That year Hillsong and Mr. Lentz became a fixture on TMZ, always in flattering items citing unnamed sources. One article reported that at Hillsong, “Justin worships in total peace, and at least feels he’s treated like a regular person.” In another, TMZ said it “got our hands on some video” of Mr. Lentz dunking a basketball in what appeared to be a near-empty gym. “If that doesn’t get you to church nothing will,” the site concluded.
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