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Did Justin Bieber Just Call Out Former Hillsong Church Leader Carl Lentz? Pop Star Slams Pastors Who 'Put Themselves On' A 'Pedestal'

Apr. 15 2021, Updated 2:52 p.m. ET

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Justin Bieber may be a devout church-goer, but the pop star isn't about buying into the notion that pastors are above patrons. In an interview with GQ, the superstar opened up his feelings towards some high-profile church leaders and their subsequent egos. 

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“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.”

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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.

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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."

Hillsong church also faced allegations of homophobia and racism

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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.  

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While Bieber may be fed up with some church leaders, in his GQ interview he did praise pastor Judah Smith, who runs the celebrity-beloved Churchome, frequented by Kourtney Kardashian, Chris Pratt, Katherine Schwarzenegger, Ashley Benson and more.

“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.”

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