(TODAY) — Brian Houston, the founder of Hillsong Church, is opening up about the scandals — most notably popular pastor Carl Lentz’s affair and subsequent firing — that have recently plagued the global religious organization, whose attendees include celebrities like Justin Bieber, Vanessa Hudgens and Chris Pratt.
“I do think that we did allow a culture to develop where it was one rule for celebrities and a different rule for other people,” Houston told Savannah Guthrie in an exclusive TODAY interview Wednesday morning.
Another controversy for Hillsong has been its alleged treatment of LGBTQ people as a conservative, evangelical church. Some gay members have said they had difficult experiences in the church and felt suicidal.
“I want us to get better a the way we communicate and embrace and work with people who are gay,” Houston said. “I don’t have any personal bias at all against gay or lesbian people. But unfortunately, as a pastor, you don’t represent what you think. You represent what the Bible says. And so at this point, we’re still a conservative one on the subject of active gay relationship, et cetera.
“But it’s a journey,” he said. “Everyone’s welcome. Many, many people who are gay come to Hillsong Church.”