Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz draws criticism for refusing to say abortion is sin

(YouTube/Life.Church)Hillsong lead pastor Carl Lentz appears in a screen capture of a video from Life.Church.

Carl Lentz, the influential pastor of Hillsong Church in New York City, has drawn criticism after he refused to give a clear answer on whether or not abortion is a sin during an interview on "The View" last week.

During the discussion about Lentz's ministry, host Joy Behar asked the Hillsong pastor whether he believes abortion is sinful.

Lentz responded by saying he believes people have to live with their own convictions, and added that he did not classify the issue as an "open and shut case."

"To me, I'm trying to teach people who Jesus is first, and find out their story," he said, according to Life News.

Lentz's answer has drawn criticism from some conservatives, including James Silberman, who suggested that to be "on the fence" on the issue of abortion is to be "on the side of child sacrifice."

"'Live to your own convictions' is practically the slogan of the abortion lobby. Lentz might as well have said 'My body, my choice,' or 'Keep your rosaries off my ovaries,'" he wrote in an op-ed published by The Federalist.

On Tuesday, Lentz clarified his position on the issue and admitted on Twitter that he had not been direct in his response about calling abortion sinful during the interview.

"I do believe abortion is sinful. Our prayer is that we can continue to help and love those that deal with the pain of regret from personal choices, rather than cast further shame and guilt on those already carrying so much and create a church that can teach people how to form convictions based on God's Word, that will be the driving force in all their decisions," he wrote.

Lentz also drew controversy earlier this year after he was seen in photographs slamming shots with Justin Bieber at a bar in New Zealand.

The photographs, which were reportedly taken in March, showed Bieber going shirtless while he and Lentz are standing at a bar.

California pastor Joe Schimmel expressed concern that the photographs would show that Lentz was being influenced by the world rather than providing spiritual guidance to Bieber, who is looking up to the pastor as a father figure in faith.

The Hillsong pastor had baptized Bieber after the pop star reached out to him in 2010 and said that he wanted to re-commit to God. The two became close in the following years and the singer even moved in with Lentz for a month in 2014.

Lentz has been credited with making Hillsong church trendy with LA and New York's millennial socialites and celebrities.

Apart from Bieber, other celebrities that have attended the church include, Selena Gomez, Hailey Baldwin, singer Nick Jonas, basketball star Kevin Durant, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, as well as their half-sisters Kendall and Kylie Jenner.

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