Pop star Justin Bieber is denouncing a report in a British tabloid, repeated in an American newspaper's gossip page, that said he was studying to become a minister at the celebrity-haven megachurch Hillsong.
"I'm not studying to be a minister or anything even close to that. Have no desire for that[.] This is fake news," the 26-year-old Canadian recording artist wrote Monday in graphical text on Instagram Stories, where posts cycle out after 24 hours. In background was a Dec. 21 New York Post Page Six headline reading, "Justin Bieber reportedly studying to be a minister for Hillsong church."
The story was based on a since-deleted article in the U.K. tabloid OK!, an archived copy of which shows the claim was based solely on the word of one anonymous "source."
"And BTW [by the way] Hillsong is not my church," Bieber said in a second post. "For clarity I am a part of Churchome," the Kirkland, Washington-based megachurch that similarly draws celebrities, and whose pastor Judah Smith officiated at the lavish South Carolina wedding of Bieber and model and "Drop the Mic" co-host Hailey Baldwin Bieber, 24, in 2019, a little over year after an unpublicized civil ceremony in Manhattan.
"Church is not a place," Bieber wrote in a third post. "We are the church. We don't need a building to connect to god. God is with us wherever we are."
In 2014, Bieber had lived with Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz and family for a month and a half, and became an active member of the church, including singing in its choir. The two had a falling out when Lentz was removed from the church this past November, following allegations of infidelity that Lentz acknowledged in an Instagram post.
Bieber's final Instagram Stories post, which he repeated on his regular Instagram, reads: "The creator of the oceans and mountains also created you! You are a part of the plan, your life matters, he sees you! He[']s been patient with you as you ran from him awaiting your return! He['s] not mad, he understands." Accompanying that message on the singer's regular Instagram was a caption in all capital letters, advising, "You can never run too far away from God[']s love. He[']s been there the whole time."
The Post has since added a second story with Bieber's denials, although the original, discredited story, based on that which OK! had removed, remained up as of Tuesday afternoon.