“I think so many pastors put themselves on this pedestal,” said the 27-year-old Christian. “[It’s] basically, church can be surrounded around the man, the pastor, the guy, and it’s like, ‘This guy has this ultimate relationship with God that we all want but we can’t get because we’re not this guy.’
“That’s not the reality, though," he added. "The reality is, every human being has the same access to God.”
The cryptic quote didn't mention any church leader by name, but fans were quick to assume he was making a direct reference to Carl Lentz, the disgraced former Hillsong megachurch pastor, whom the "Yummy" singer once counted among his best friends and was in attendance at his 2019 wedding with wife Hailey.
In November 2019, Bieber's ex-pastor and former mentor was let go from the Hillsong Church due to infidelity in his marriage. The church's formal announcement said that it was because of "leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures."
- Ex-Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz Celebrates 20th Anniversary With Wife Laura 3 Years After Cheating Scandal
- Hillsong Church Scandals And Former Pastor Carl Lentz's Downfall To Be Explored In Upcoming 'Breaking Hillsong' Docuseries
- Ex-Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz's Wife Breaks Silence Following Cheating Scandal, Says She Does Not Want To Be 'Judged'
Hillsong church also faced allegations of homophobia and racism.
Just this week, the Texas outpost of the Australia-based religious institution shuttered its doors amid reports of its pastors exploiting congregants for free labor and using the money to fund their luxury lifestyles.
“He put our relationship first,” Bieber said of the 42-year-old, and admired the leader's close ties with his family. “It was something I always dreamed of because my family was broken. My whole life, I had a broken family. And so I was just attracted to a family that eats dinners together, laughs together, talks together.”