Maybe I’m old-school and too much of a traditionalist, but I prefer my pastor preaching from the pulpit about faith and spiritual uplifting, not pimped-out in gold necklaces, tinted goggles, black leather jackets, and pontificating on reality television.

But that’s just me.

I’m referring to a minister named Deitrick Haddon – the pimped-out preacher — who is one of six African American “mega pastors” who will appear on a new television reality show called “The Preachers of LA,” which debuts on Oxygen in October.

Haddon, the son of a bishop and an evangelist, has been preaching since he was 11 years old and started conducting the church choir at 13. At 23, he married the woman he was expected to marry but when he got a divorce, the members of the church shunned him. So he turned to his music for comfort and he now finds himself at a crossroads: Ministry or music?

In the previews for the show, the pastors are shown wearing tailored suits, tattoos, and riding in flashy cars with entourages in tow.

I’m not knocking the six black pastors who have signed on for a new reality show on Oxygen called “Pastors of L.A.” — a detailed look at the lives of men of God in Los Angeles.

But I do question why the pastors chose to participate in the show. Are they truly hoping to use the program to minister to those who need spiritual guidance? Or are they simply using the high-profile media platform to rake in more cash and bask in the spotlight of a national television audience?

“Pastors of L.A.’ will give viewers a candid and revealing look at six boldly different and world-renowned mega-pastors in southern California, who are willing to share diverse aspects of their lives, from their work in the community and with their parishioners to the very large and sometimes provocative lives they lead away from the pulpit,” says a press release from Oxygen.

But is this the way black pastors should be portrayed on national television – and on a reality television show?

“I’m totally against it,” Pastor William J. Smith of Saint Tabernacle Church in L.A. tells the Grio. “When you put the church in the category of all these other shows – though I don’t watch them, I don’t have time for that foolishness. It demeans the church. It brings it down and it takes away the value of why it’s here. That’s why the church is in the condition that it’s in. Because the church has, in a sense, aligned itself with themes of the world.”

I agree with Pastor Smith. Black pastors should aspire to a higher sense of integrity and not allow egos – and money – to encourage them to move away from a message of spirituality to something akin to entertainment.

Are these pastors using the reality tv show to save lives? Change lives? Offer hope to those in need?

It doesn’t sound like it.

Bishop Clarence McClendon is known for ministering to wealthy residents of Bel Air. When challenged about what many have called his “prosperity gospel,” Bishop replies, “there is no other kind of gospel.”

Smith said there’s a thin line between preaching the gospel and using the gospel to get rich.

“When one falls, we all fall or we’re all no good,” he said. “Now, I’m not against prosperity because God wants these people to prosper, but there’s a way off course being flamboyant and boasting about our prosperity. That causes people to look down on us. Our job is to preach the gospel, and to reach people. It’s not to match wits with the world.”

Smith added: “We should represent Jesus here on this Earth today,” he explains. “We have to separate ourselves from the themes and the limelight of what people are doing today as far as commercializing the Bible.”

But the producers at Oxygen say the show has substance.

“This show documents a journey of transparency from one man to the next as they endeavor to lead others to their own truth and self-discovery,” said Holly Carter who holds a doctorate of divinity with an emphasis on marketplace ministry and is the daughter of a pastor and an industry veteran in faith and inspirational development and programming. “It’s a dose of reality and a pound of redemption coming from a creative team reared in the church.”

Here’s Oxygen’s pastoral cast:

Bishop Noel Jones: A Jamaican born into poverty, Jones has made his way to the other extreme, now living on a hilltop with a view of the Pacific Ocean, Malibu at his feet, and across the street from the former home of the late L.A. Lakers owner, Jerry Buss. The pastor of a church full of celebrities and the brother of Grace Jones, Bishop Jones is headed towards retirement and looking for a successor who he can entrust his life’s work. But finding the right man is harder than it sounds.

Deitrick Haddon: The son of a bishop and an evangelist, Haddon was preaching at the age of eleven and conducting the church choir at thirteen. At 23, he married the woman he was expected to marry – the lead soprano of the church choir. However, everything didn’t continue as perfectly as the church had hoped. Haddon and his wife got a divorce and the members of the church shunned him. Aside from the call on his life, the one thing that helped him from hitting rock bottom was his music. A dynamic personality, singer, songwriter, and preacher, Haddon finds himself at an impasse in life. Which road will he choose?

Pastor Wayne Chaney: At the age of 20, Chaney got the call from God and has grown to become a prominent pastor of the church his grandfather built. Fast-forward 10 years later, Antioch is the leading church in its community. With an ability to communicate complex truths in a simple way, Pastor Chaney has remarkably helped grow the church, along with the help of his secret weapon, his wife, gospel artist Myeshia Chaney. While Antioch is poised to become the next mega-church with the ability to reach millions worldwide, there’s an obstacle in the way and it comes from within Pastor Wayne’s own family.

Bishop Ron Gibson: Born in Compton, addicted to drugs before he was a teenager, a leader of the Crips by the time he was 16, a robber and a pimp, Bishop Ron Gibson was the least likely person to end up a preacher. He now changes the lives of 4,500 people each week at the Life Church of God in Christ, which he started with only nine people in the congregation. Through it all, he’s accumulated great wealth, power and purpose. However, there’s one thing he and his wife would give it all away for – a child.

Pastor Jay Haizlip: One of the pioneering greats of competitive skateboarding, Pastor Jay Haizlip, originally from Gadsden, Alabama, collected big trophies, bigger paychecks and high-end sponsors, but fell deep into drugs, and into the crack houses of Huntington Beach and Long Beach, California. Back in the crack houses again, this time he’s not there for drugs – he’s helping rescue souls for the Kingdom. Serving as Senior Pastor of The Sanctuary of Huntington Beach, Pastor Jay Haizlip reaches out to troubled youth, finding them in prisons, skate parks and the same crack houses he once shot dope in.

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24 thoughts on “ANALYSIS: Black Pastors Reality TV: Pious or Pimped Out?

  1. Black preachers are the deceivers that their masters taught them to be.They have fooled their own selves into believing that the christian message is real and nothing could be farther from the real truth. The message of today’s church is TOXIC to a free thinking mind.All religions were created by MEN to control the masses.

  2. Interesting saying God wants you to be rich. Then tell me why the son of God was extremely poor. Joseph was a carpenter and that is what Jesus was trained in back then carpenters were the lowest of the low. Jesus also said it is easier for a camel to go thru the eye of a needle then a rich man to come into the Kingdom of God. Not all people who say they are of God will make into his Kingdom. These pastors are flaunting their wealth and maybe they are Christians but christians should be humble place others first and be like Jesus as much as a person can be NONE of these pastors appear to emulate the person they say they are serving. Bunch of selving self righteous men and women. Better hope their heart and soul is in the right place cause if they lead any of the congregation to hell and not heaven they will have to answer to God himself and man I sure would not want to have to explain cause of my actions people are now in hell…

  3. truevoiceofreason on said:

    I think that possibly passing judgment on an entire season based on simply the first episode is a bit premature. And, just because these men are pastors, they are still just men. No more, no less. Men are fallible, men make mistakes, men are not perfect. If that is but the one lesson someone gets, then so be it. So many people put pastors on these pedestals and treat them as if they are a god. Only Jesus is perfect. Although one gets to see the cars, etc., and if we do not get distracted by the bling that those in the editing room at Oxygen is utilizing to perpetuate the stereotype of “prosperity gospel,” we may all be able to learn something from this show, in particular who are these men REALLY that stand behind various pulpits. My interest was peaked but I choose to look beneath the surface, because more often than not, that is where the truth is. Hidden. And, if some of those that attend various churches and see similarities among their pastor and any of these pastors, I guess some decisions need to be made, huh?

  4. Isn’t one of the six preachers white? The way to end this show and all Reality T.V. shows it to not watch them. Period. Too bad most folks complain but watch it as it is a train-wreck they can’t turn away from watching. Turn that crap off.

  5. Joy, your bitterness is so vivid! Wow! Sad. You can fool everyone on this thread but you can’t fool yourself. Your struggling inside. I don’t support or condone all of these preachers/pulpit pimps, but it’s not about them. It’s about you and whatever you choose to be your “spiritual center”. What has God done to you, or has NOT done for you? Your fooling yourself if you think it’s all about one acquires.

    • Sorry but your comment was partly true because anyone on television or who have a public platform influences culture at large and shape the mindset of gullible folks which affects us all.

  6. mr soul on said:

    This world is going to hell fast you can see it all around the pimping ass pastor will be out front with with gas underwear and their wives because she knows what he is doing is wrong ,Pimping of poor black people that has nothing be hope. Listen to art Madison in this world we live in that’s the type of church i remember going to.

  7. Black pastors have been pimps for years and this show will give them more opportunity to draw brainless blacks that go to church, make them rich, and still live in poverty. Stupid is as Stupid does..

    • Robert: True that!!! Some of the poorest Black people in the world are always the first ones to say “Praise the Lord” “God is Good” “Wait on the Lord.” Yeah Right!! A lot of religious folks are broke as a church mouse, don’t have a job, don’t have a husband/wife, and don’t have a pot to “P” in. But they are “keeping the faith.” Go figure!

      • Don’t blame Jesus because some church folks say praise the Lord but are broke and single. Just because someone sits on a pew and says praise the Lord does not mean they are practicing Christianity in it purest sense. It could be they are not following the teaches of Christ at all such as don’t have babies out of wedlock, use the wisdom and commonsense God gave you and make the most of your god-given time and talent and not just sit on a church pew saying praise the Lord.

        I know quite a few religious folks and being religious does not mean you know Jesus or his teaching all that much. Some folks go to church to escape their problems that they keep creating. Others go and find real peace and grace.

    • First off you say black preachers as if you know them all. Also there are preachers of all races who teach prosperity sow a seed to me and God will bless you. You must not have ever heard of Mike Murdock and Kenneth Copeland!!!???

  8. Nikki Harbor on said:

    We the people of GOD are to judgmental, the WORD says GOD will use the foolish things to conform the wise. Pray and ask GOD to move in ways that only HE can. Somewhere along the way we stop praying, believing, and having faith too gossiping, demeaning, and having malice. we the pwople of GOD need to (PUSH) Pray Until Something Happen.

  9. There is also a white preacher included on this show…is this analysis the same for him? Perhaps getting another perspective of how a preacher lives and what he goes through as a man of God will give his congregants the understanding that they need to be in a relationship with God and not put man up so high on a pedestal. At the end of the day, he’s still just a man.

    I believe it would be interesting to see what kind of outreach these preachers have in their communities and what type of impact they have through their ministry. If they begin to indulge in things that are shallow, then I’d turn it off. As a believer, I can only pray that God will allow this show to be used to bring people to Christ.

  10. I guess I’m also like the writer of this article, old school. I think this show will be a train wreck and will give the traditional preachers a bad name. This will make a mockery of the church and will NOT cast the preachers in a positive light. Just like that first ladies of the church show. I will NOT watch this and I urge others to do the same. The quicker this mess can be removed the air, the better!!

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