Carl Lentz, the tattooed pastor of the New York branch of the global Pentecostal Hillsong megachurch, has refused to condemn gays and lesbians in an interview with CNN in a sign of growing acceptance of LGBTI people among Pentecostal Christians.
The Australian founded megachurch was connected to ‘ex-gay’ groups less than a decade ago but in August of 2013 church founder Pastor Brian Houston sent a message to all Hillsong church campuses saying that they should welcome openly gay and lesbian people into their congregation.
Lentz has now made one of the strongest statements to date welcoming LGBTI people into his church telling CNN, ‘Jesus was in the thick of an era where homosexuality, just like it is today, was widely prevalent.’
‘And I'm still waiting for someone to show me the quote where Jesus addressed it on the record in front of people. You won't find it because he never did.’
Lentz said he was glad to count openly gay and lesbian people among his congregation, saying, ‘We have a lot of gay men and women in our church and I pray we always do.’
Lentz’ Australian born wife Laura Lentz backed him up in that sentiment, saying, ‘It's not our place to tell anyone how they should live … that's their journey.’
Carl Lentz refused to be drawn on his political affiliations but said that it annoyed him when people said that true Christians could not belong to one political party or another.
'My thing is that Jesus transcends politics,' he said.
'Some Christians say you can't even be a Democrat and follow Jesus. That really bugs me.'
The Hillsong church boasts 75,000 members across twelve countries.