Justin Bieber is in the middle of a big media blitz for his new album Justice, which continues his slick pop trajectory of the last decade or so with his more recent laser focus on lyrics dedicated to his two great loves: Jesus and his wife, Hailey Baldwin Bieber. But in a lengthy profile with GQ, Bieber was slightly more frank about some of his thoughts about the church, and his distaste for celebrity pastors.
“I think so many pastors put themselves on this pedestal,” he told GQ. “And 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. The reality is, every human being has the same access to God.”
Bieber does not mention Carl Lentz by name or otherwise in the interview, but it’s hard to not draw the connection. Lentz was the former pastor of Hillsong NYC who was removed from leadership for “moral failings” that included at least one extramarital affair. At one point, Bieber and Lentz used to be close friends (Lentz even baptized Bieber) but though the two reportedly had some sort of falling out several years before Lentz’s Hillsong scandal.
In the GQ interview, Bieber speaks of Churchome pastor Judah Smith with great admiration, crediting him with his renewed relationship with his faith following several bleak years of pop star excess. “[Smith] put our relationship first,” Bieber told GQ, and that intentionality helped Bieber buy into Smith’s faith as well, getting him to the point where he decided that “if God forgives me and He loves me and He set these things in motion, if He put these desires in my heart, then I’m going to trust Him.”
Bieber opens up about a lot more of his faith journey in the full profile, which you can read here.
Here’s Bieber’s first single from his newest album “Holy,” which features an assist from Chance the Rapper.