Carl Lentz, the disgraced “rock-star pastor” who famously baptised Justin Bieber, is taking strain.
A close source says the former Hillsong pastor will be seeking treatment at an outpatient facility that specialises in depression, anxiety and “pastoral burnout”.
Carl (42) was ousted from Hillsong last month after 10 years and later admitted to being unfaithful to his wife, Laura.
"He wants to be better for his family and is dedicated to doing the work," the source says. "His family is supporting him and hopes their privacy will be respected on this journey.
"He has no ill will towards the church and recognises that they needed to take some course of action to address his missteps.”
Hillsong founder Brian Houston publicly cited “moral failures” when Carl got the boot. A day later Carl took to Instagram to reveal the “moral failures” included cheating on Australian-born pastor Laura (42), with whom he shares kids Ava (16), Charlie (14) and Roman (11).
Though he’s yet to identify the person with whom he had an affair, a 34-year-old woman named Ranin Karim came forward two weeks later to allege they had a months-long relationship that ended in October.
Ranin, an Egyptian and Palestinian designer, says she never intended to speak publicly about her affair but was blindsided by the statement he put on Instagram the next day, confessing to being “unfaithful in my marriage”.
I was hurt, yeah,” Ranin said. “I wanted to speak my part.”
Ranin (34) says the relationship began after a chance meeting in New York's Domino Park, where he told her he "managed celebrities" for a living, adding, “you don’t have to google me”.
She says their romance blossomed against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and they found comfort in each other during the strange time.
“He would come to my apartment three times a week with tequila in his backpack so people wouldn't see him with it in the street,” Ranin told The Daily Telegraph.
“He said the sex we had was the best he's ever had in his life and he couldn't stop being with me.”
She also claims he sent messages saying such things as, “You are spectacular. Your visible beauty is not really close to how special, how beautiful your soul is . . .” In another text, he allegedly called her a “unicorn alien woman, whom I’m forever glad I met!”.
Ranin says when she found out Carl was married, she wanted out immediately.
“I told him repeatedly, 'Go back to your wife, go back to your family', but he kept turning up in the lobby of my apartment block with bottles of Clase Azul tequila. “He said he felt bad for what he was doing to his wife, that she was an amazing, good woman, that he had never done it before, but his marriage wasn't perfect.”
Then on October 26 he told her his wife had discovered their relationship.
Carl had synced his iPhone messages to his iCloud account and Laura had found the damning messages on his work computer while in the Hillsong offices, surrounded by co-workers.
“My life is over,” Ranin recalls him saying. “I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Five days later, he sent her a text message after midnight: “I have stepped down/been fired from the Church I gave my whole life to and it’s agonising but I have to own that. I have and will only have nothing but love for you.”
Ranin believes Carl was “very conflicted” in his own work and after he’d been fired it seemed like a weight had been lifted.
“I think he is a victim of his own church. He gave his life to this church, and that’s how they played him.”
Hillsong also sacked Laura, who worked alongside her husband as a leader of the church’s New York chapter, and has launched an investigation into its own culture.
In light of Carl’s exit, the Aussie superchurch is being accused of knowing about the sexual misconduct of many of its leaders.
According to one insider, in July 2017 a Hillsong member wrote an email to one of the church’s directors alleging that some leaders were texting nude photos to female volunteers. Carl had also been accused of making one volunteer “extremely uncomfortable” after he “acted inappropriately”, was “extremely flirtatious”.
Hillsong representatives have confirmed the church has appointed a legal firm to investigate the operation.
Founded in 1983, the Australian-based megachurch has nearly 1 100 locations over the world but began gaining more traction after Carl’s involvement with celebrity attendees such as Chris Pratt, Hailee Steinfeld, Kendall Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian and Vanessa Hudgens.
Carl has also been a trusted advisor to Justin Bieber, having baptised the Intentions singer in the bathtub at basketball player Tyson Chandler’s home in 2014. In fact, the two are so tight the Biebs even moved in with Carl and his family in 2014 for an “informal detox” and spent several weeks “refocusing on his religious faith”.
After news of Carl's affair emerged, Hailey unfollowed both Carl and Laura on Instagram, and Justin soon followed suit. However, one loyal pal has not only offered Carl a shoulder to cry on but also dug deep in his pockets.
Hollywood hotshot Tyler Perry – who offered his home to Meghan and Harry when they moved to Los Angeles – dropped nearly $100 000 in rent money on a luxury LA mansion for the pastor and his family.
The 51-year-old filmmaker covered six months’ rent upfront on a five-bedroom home and the Lentzes moved in after vacating their New Jersey house. Sources also say the Madea actor has been a source of comfort for Carl, who’s been leaning on Tyler since things went pear-shaped.
“Tyler has been friends with Carl and Laura for years and is sticking by them and their kids during this difficult time,” a source said. Despite the scandal, Carl and his wife have remained a united front, with a source insisting the couple are "working very hard" to make their marriage work. “She has stood by throughout the turmoil.”
Sources: vanityfair.com, dailytelegraph.com.au, pagesix.com, dailymail.co.uk, people.com, nypost.com