There is a growing outcry from Black ministers who are heaping negative reviews on the new reality television show, The Preachers of LA.
The show, which airs on the Oxygen Network, follows the lives of six men of the cloth in the pulpit and at home. It quickly generated strong reaction from preachers throughout the country who contend that the show presents ministers as being driven by fame and fortune.
Bishop T.D. Jakes, one of the nation’s most prominent African-American pastors, spoke to his Dallas congregation recently and referred to the show as “junk.”
“Now, I know you been watching that junk on TV,” Jakes said. “I want to tell you right now, not one dime of what you’re sowing right now will buy my suit. I want you to know my car is paid for.”
Jakes added: ”I want you to know I got my house on my own. I want you to know I’m not bling-blinging. I am not shake and bake. I had money when I came to Dallas and I plan to have some when I leave.” He further explained to his congregation: “I’m not from L.A. I’m from Dallas.”
Similarly, the Rev. James C. Perkins, the pastor of Greater Christ Baptist Church in Detroit and vice president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, said that the depiction of the ministers on the show was likely to cause people to believe that clergy are primarily interested in celebrity.
“I don’t think the show represents the best of the Black church tradition,” said Perkins, in an interview with BET.com.
“The downside is that people often paint all pastors with a broad brush and, after watching this show, they may well begin to associate all pastors with those behaviors,” he said. “There are many pastors who are out here serving the people and not just serving themselves.”
Another critic is a minister from Los Angeles, who said that the show does harm to the church.
“I don’t have a problem with them doing a reality show,” said the Rev. Michael J.T. Fisher, the pastor of the Greater Zion Church Family of Compton, California. “I have a problem with the content that’s displayed.”
Rev. Fisher said that the ministers in the show had broken an unwritten rule among preachers by displaying some of their personal issues and frailties in front of a national audience. “There is an unwritten code that we deal with our issues privately so that we can be strong publicly,” he said, in an interview with BET.com.
“They are giving the world ammunition to shoot back at the church and not accept the message that it is trying to convey,” he said. “They’ve sold out. It will call for pastors all over the country to have to defend their integrity because these men have decided to chase their dream of being in the public eye.”
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