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Amid the Carl Lentz Scandal, Hillsong’s Tithing Makes Its Own Headlines

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For the past few weeks, Hillsong Church has been caught up in its Carl Lentz scandal, with the celebrity pastor being fired after it emerged that he’d been cheating on his wife. In the aftermath of that revelation, the megachurch’s cofounder Brian Houston said an independent investigation of Hillsong’s New York City branch would be…
Amid the Carl Lentz Scandal, Hillsong’s Tithing Makes Its Own Headlines

For the past few weeks, Hillsong Church has been caught up in its Carl Lentz scandal, with the celebrity pastor being fired after it emerged that he’d been cheating on his wife. In the aftermath of that revelation, the megachurch’s cofounder Brian Houston said an independent investigation of Hillsong’s New York City branch would be conducted. Hillsong’s well-established reputation for controversy has meant that its ability to reform itself has already been questioned by former parishioners. All the while, as the Daily Mail noted on Monday, Houston is continuing to solicit donations to the church.According to the tabloid, in a livestreamed service from Sydney on Sunday, Houston said, “It’s a powerful thing when people know how to tithe, they know how to give, Amen.” The service reportedly included exhortations for attendees to donate a tenth of their income, as well as a video tutorial about how to donate. As the Daily Mail pointed out, Hillsong’s revenue in 2019, according to its report for the year, was almost $96 million, with 76% of it coming from “tithes and offerings.”While the donation practices are not new, the story is indicative of the fresh wave of tabloid attention that Lentz and Hillsong have generated. Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, People got the details of the ex-pastor’s holiday celebration. “They will be staying close to home for the holiday,” one of Lentz and his wife Laura’s friends told the magazine, adding, “The family as a whole is always together. They love reading, nature, and game nights.” The two are reportedly in therapy together, despite another People story that speculated about Laura not wearing her wedding ring when she recently went to a tanning salon with Lentz.And the Daily Mail has not only been covering Houston’s livestreams. Last week the tabloid’s website obtained photographs of Lentz taking out the trash at his family’s new home in Manhattan Beach, following the news that they’d sold their Montclair, New Jersey, home for $1.5 million just before Lentz’s affair sent him and Hillsong on their current course.More Great Stories From Vanity Fair— Why Princess Diana’s Controversial 1995 Interview Still Stings— Inside Britney Spears’s Fight for Legal Control Over Her Life— Prince Charles Will Wear the Same Royal Wedding Suit As Long As It Fits— Internet It Girl Poppy Is Burning Down 2020 and Starting Again— Curious Duchess Camilla Will Watch Herself on The Crown— Can Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and Shaman Durek Live Happily Ever After?— Prince William’s COVID Diagnosis Was “No Secret” Among the Royals— From the Archive: Tina Brown on Princess Diana, the Mouse That Roared— Not a subscriber? Join Vanity Fair to receive full access to VF.com and the complete online archive now.Read More

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