Docuseries launch: “Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed”
See trailer HERE.
Discovery Plus has unveiled the trailer for its three-part docuseries “Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed,” an investigation into the church made famous by its celebrity congregation, such as Justin Bieber, various Kardashians and other stars. All three episodes will drop on the streamer on March 24.
The series explores the rise of Hillsong, which was founded in Australia by Brian Houston as an offshoot of his father Frank’s Sydney-based Pentecostal church. Hillsong stood out by putting an emphasis on music as a part of worship. Later, Houston decided to export Hillsong internationally, and recruited pastor Carl Lentz to lead its New York City chapter. Lentz became famous in his own right — and was often photographed alongside Bieber and other celebrity congregants — until Houston fired him in November 2020 for “moral failures,” among other issues.
Ranin Karim, a woman with whom Lentz had an affair, which contributed to his downfall, is one of the interviewees in “Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed.” Other talking heads in the docuseries include Hannah Frishberg, a New York Post reporter who’s chronicled Hillsong’s scandals; Ben Kirby, an expert on megachurches who also started the PreachersNSneakers Instagram account; and Jaclyn Hayes and Janice Lagata, both of whom worked under Lentz in volunteer capacities, and discuss various allegations of malfeasance and cult-like control he attempted to exert.
Here’s the logline for the Discovery Plus project: “With more than 150,000 global members, Hillsong has recently been entangled in scandal. ‘Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed’ will profile numerous ex-members of the church who have come forward to share harrowing allegations of the trauma, abuse, financial and labor exploitation that created a culture of chaos within the church. The series will also examine how Hillsong was able to grow into a global brand, while uncovering the truth behind the headlines of recent scandals and shining a light on the fine line between culture, corporation and cult.”
Indeed, the church continues to be mired in controversy, with Houston recently stepping down for the rest of the year so he can fight criminal charges in Australia that he covered up decades-old child sexual abuse perpetrated by his father.
“The history of Hillsong is an incredibly compelling story we wanted to explore,” said Howard Lee, the president of TLC streaming and network originals, in a statement. “’Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed’ will take viewers on an eye-opening journey that will provide new insights into a controversy that continues to be examined.”
“Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed” is produced by Breaklight Pictures, part of The Content Group (TCG), in association with New York Post Entertainment for Discovery Plus.