The founder of celebrity megachurch Hillsong admits there was a 'culture' where A-listers were treated better than other congregants

  • Hillsong founder Brian Houston spoke to the “Today” show about his church on Wednesday. 
  • He admitted the church had a “culture” that gave celebrities preferential treatment. 
  • Hillsong has been accused of exploitation and discrimination in other instances. 
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Celebrity megachurch founder Brian Houston says a “culture” developed in the organization that gave celebrities preferential treatment to other congregants.

Founder Brian Houston made the comment while speaking with the “TODAY” show about the church and disgraced former pastor Carl Lentz.

“I do think that we did allow a culture to develop where it was one rule for celebrities and a different rule for other people,” he told “TODAY” host Savannah Guthrie about his church, which has been attended by A-listers including Justin Bieber, Kourtney Kardashian, Kevin Durant, and Selena Gomez. 

Lentz, one of the church’s most well-known pastors, was fired from the evangelical church last year after his extramarital affair was revealed.

“Carl was Carl. He’s a unique character,” Houston said. “There’s a lot of things I miss about Carl. But having said that, there were leadership issues that I believe included lying, included what I would call narcissistic behavior.”

After news of Lentz/ firing broke, an Insider investigation found the church had been accused of exploitation and discrimination in other instances. 

Houston told Guthrie that there were things about Lentz that he “should’ve known earlier.”

“I think there’s a lot of things I should’ve known earlier, and hopefully, moving forward, we’ll make sure we have far better systems in place and better accountability,” he said. 



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