EXCLUSIVE: Hillsong, the church that has had celebrity worshippers including Justin Bieber, Kevin Durant, and Selena Gomez, has been mired in scandal after its New York pastor Carl Lentz admitted an extramarital affair last year.
It comes hot on the heels of an expose, published in Vanity Fair this morning, that includes new reporting on allegations of sexual assault, bullying, and the double standards to which congregants of color and those who identify as queer were at times held.
The investigation – American Pastoral – by Vanity Fair contributing editor Alex French and staff writer Dan Adler looks into the circumstances around Lentz’s firing and a culture at the church that had in many ways enabled him.
It looks at how the Australia-based megachurch, which averages more than 150,000 weekly congregants across 30 countries, fired the heavily tattooed Lentz, whose sermons resembled rock concerts, after it emerged that he’d had a “tequila-drenched love affair” with a Ranin Karim, a 34-year-old jewelry designer and actor.
This, however, seems to only be the tip of the iceberg.
The series will be produced by Queer Eye producer Scout Productions, which worked with Errol Morris on the Academy Award- winning documentary The Fog of War and produced HBO’s Equal about the story of the early LGBTQ fight.
Exec producers include Michael Williams, David Collins, Rob Eric and Joel Chiodi, while Vanity Fair Editor in Chief Radhika Jones, Agnes Chu and Geneva Wasserman will executive produce for Vanity Fair Studios and Conde Nast Entertainment.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Scout to tell the definitive story of Hillsong,” said Jones. “It’s a classic Vanity Fair tale of aspiration and betrayal, powered by courageous voices speaking out, and Alex and Dan’s reporting has brought new depth to it. We’re looking forward to continuing this investigation.”
“Vanity Fair is an esteemed leader in investigative journalism. Once again, they have broken a unique and intriguing story that has captured the attention of millions and Scout is proud to work with both Condé Nast and their journalists to bring this story to a wide platform,” added David Collins, executive producer and co-founder of Scout Productions.
Scout Productions and Vanity Fair Studios are represented by WME.
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