Former pastor Carl Lentz talks Hillsong, allegations in new docuseries

'The Secrets Of Hillsong' reveals explosive information about the once beloved megachurch

ByGina Sirico OTRC logo
Friday, May 19, 2023
Carl Lentz talks about Hillsong, allegations in new docuseries
Carl Lentz finally speaks out in 'The Secrets of Hillsong,' a docuseries that reveals multiple scandals of the megachurch.

LOS ANGELES -- Hillsong was described as the church of the future. The church where celebrities went to worship, the church the younger generation flocked to. It made Christianity cool. And the coolest of the cool was its pastor Carl Lentz, whose charm and charisma made him a congregant favorite.

Then it all came crashing down when Lentz was fired in 2020 for what the church said were "moral failures."

In "The Secrets of Hillsong," Lentz gave his first interview since his fall from grace. On The Red Carpet spoke to executive producers Joel Chiodi, David Collins and director/producer Stacey Lee.

"It's not only the first time Carl Lentz is speaking on camera about what happened, we have his wife, we have his in-laws, we have all their home videos and archives that no one has seen before," Joel Chiodi said. "And those in-laws, they grew the church with the Houston family so they were right in the nucleus of what was happening."

Getting Lentz to agree to talk after essentially going into hiding for three years wasn't easy, David Collins said.

Lentz, according to Collins, "was going through a lot of things. Recovery. His marriage. His children. All of those were parts that he was focused on when we met. So when I asked him, I said 'hey, are you ready to tell your story, to share your story?' It wasn't an immediate 'yes' by any means."

Collins, a former Hillsong congregant, told Lentz about his own fallout with the church. Lentz and his family got to know director and producer Stacey Lee, who made them feel safe on camera. And because of that, Lentz opened up.

He admitted to cheating on his wife, Laura, multiple times. One of those women, Laura told filmmakers, was the family nanny.

"I'd sometimes get these little feelings," Laura said. "And then one night I found them in a compromising position."

The nanny alleged that Lentz sexually abused her, an allegation Lentz told the filmmakers is "categorically false."

What Lentz did admit to was failure on what he called a mass scale. "I let down, genuinely, a lot of good people and I can only apologize and change," Lentz said.

"My story is now one of recovery. And it hasn't been without failure. It's a humbling road to be on every day."

"He's a very complicated person who's obviously gotten himself into a lot of trouble, but the church has a real history of denying everything," Chiodi said. "And then you start to see all the crazy things that are being hidden."

Hillsong founder Brian Houston left the church after his own inappropriate behavior toward women was revealed. He's on trial right now in Australia for failing to report child sexual abuse by his father, Frank Houston, who was also a preacher. Hillsong has been accused of discrimination and homophobia and of some questionable business practices, including fraud and tax evasion. And that's just part of what's unveiled by the dozens of whistleblowers and former congregants who spoke to the docuseries producers.

"The entire endeavor with this documentary is the discovery of truth," Lee said. "Hillsong is incredible at PR. They're incredible at controlling the narrative. And it wasn't until Carl's downfall in 2020 that it was the first time there was any kind of dissenting narrative."

"This is a story of our time."

The first two episodes of "The Secrets of Hillsong" air on FX Friday, and stream the next day on Hulu. The second two episodes air next Friday, May 26.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of FX, Hulu and this ABC station.