The Secrets of Hillsong: (all 4 episodes)
May 30, 2023 5:46 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Hulu/FX documentary of the rise and mostly fall of the infamous Hillsong megachurch, which used to be international and huge until (a) a few pastors were caught cheating, (b) the founder's pastor dad turned out to be a pedophile, (c) these people spent so much money the Kardashians would be ashamed. Also, shockingly, they are not super gay friendly or PoC friendly either.

Previous mention of Hillsong on Metafilter in 2008 here. NYT article on the documentary here.

The infamous celebrity pastor Carl Lentz (fired for cheating) is the major Hillsong pastor featured in this, being fairly regretful about the experience. The founding Houston family, on the other hand, well... staying quiet for legal reasons.

After I finished watching this, I thought, "Why is it always the same things with megachurches and church scandals?" Every single time it's any or all of the following:

(a) big shot pastor cheats on his wife.
(b) big shot pastor is a pedophile.
(c) whopping financial chicanery that reminds me of PreachersnSneakers. (Which is now also a book!) It icks me the hell out when churches pursue fame, pretend to be "rock stars," and make/spend shit tons of money like they're Jim and Tammy Faye in the 80's.

I note that my mom had a brief megachurch phase after my dad died (they had their own Starbucks franchise) and the one service she dragged me to, I remember the pastor bragging about all their money and being "CEO and pastor." At least she got over it relatively quickly...

I feel sorry for the poor kids who went to Hillsong University (which I did not know existed, but of course it did) and say they didn't learn much (other than "don't be gay," I guess).

Anyway, happy to see this place is hitting the skids. Also seriously wondering why it seems like all the big churches have the same three scandals all the time.
posted by jenfullmoon (4 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Just the thing to watch while waiting for the third season of The Righteous Gemstones--thanks for the suggestion.
posted by box at 10:14 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

Pretty decent. Maybe could have condensed the telling of the story a bit. The experts/talking heads didn’t add a whole lot.

I sympathized with Lentz, despite myself, and I didn’t expect to do that. I think he is sincerely contrite and doing a lot of work on himself. (Oof, the stress is physically evident.) I still wouldn’t let him sell me anything.

Carl’s sad, little desk at the Florida ad agency was just a brutal sight. The film makers were really cruel with that whole scene. (Yes, I laughed.)
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 2:08 PM on June 4

I felt like the filmmakers wanted me to sympathize with Lentz, but I found his contrition as hollow, calculated, and performative as everything else about him.

A streaming documentary seems like a stop on Lentz's image rehabilitation tour before he (checks notes) takes a job at another megachurch.
posted by box at 3:14 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]

Yeah, possibly.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 4:20 PM on June 4

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