Carl Lentz

Carl Lentz, lead pastor of Hillsong Church in New York City, is clarifying his recent remarks on ABC’s “The View,” when he sidestepped a question about abortion from co-host Joy Behar.

In a statement posted Tuesday, he finally said abortion “is sinful.”

Lentz faced significant backlash from numerous Christians and conservatives on social media for the way in which he answered — or didn’t answer — Behar’s question during his late-October appearance on the daytime talk show:

It wasn’t until after Brian Houston, founder of Hillsong Church, spoke out, clarifying the church’s position as “pro-life and anti-abortion,” that Lentz addressed the matter.

“I was asked directly if abortion was sin. I did not answer the question directly for a number of reasons and that has caused some confusion about our stance as a church on this matter,” Lentz wrote in a statement. “I do believe abortion is sinful.”

The trendy pastor, who is personal friends with singer Justin Bieber, went on to say he wants to “help and love” people, not cast “shame and guilt” on them for their life choices. Hillsong’s goal, Lentz said, is to “form convictions based on God’s word that will be the driving force in all their decisions.”

All the uproar started when Behar asked Lentz directly if he believes abortion is a sin. But rather than actually answer the question, the preacher told the co-host people have to “live with their own convictions,” highlighting the importance of getting to know someone before offering a judgement about them.

“That’s the kind of conversation we would have, finding out your story, where you’re from, what you believe. I mean, God’s the judge. People have to live with their own convictions,” Lentz said. “That’s such a broad question to me. I’m going higher. I want to sit with somebody and say, well, ‘Where do you believe...’”

At that point, Behar interrupted Lentz, asking him again if abortion is an “open-and-shut case.”

“I’m trying to teach people who Jesus is first, find out their story,” he replied. “Before I start picking and choosing what I think is sin in your life, I’d like to know your name.”

Watch the entire interview below.

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