Shiny Bentleys, L.A. boutiques, Rolex watches and gorgeous Woodland Hill mansions. Luxe-dripped images like these are commonly pushed at you on an MTV Cribs reality show or a Keeping Up with the Kardashians. But, on Oxygen Network’s new Preacher of L.A. reality TV show, these luxury lines, products and brands are anything but uncommon.
While many view preachers as poor, humble and unversed in the opulence of the material world, the show’s 26-year-old producer Lemuel Plummer does all he can to shatter that old-world stereotype.
The show follows the lives of Bishop Noel Jones, Bishop Clarence McClendon, Minister Deitrick Haddon, Bishop Ron Gibson, Pastor Jay Haizlip and Pastor Wayne Charney. And these pastors are shown living off the “fat of the land” in one of the United States’ least “Bible-minded” cities, according to a 2012 Barna study.
Even though two of the six preachers featured (Jones and McClendon) reach millions through large multimedia broadcasts each week, Los Angeles ranks # 68 out of 98 cities in terms of Bible-minded residents. This means only 24 percent of its residents read the Bible in a typical week and strongly assert the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches.
According to the Barna study, most of the major California cities are also in the bottom third of the Bible-minded rankings.
This study may very well be accurate as we examine some of the goings-on within the lives of the show’s preachers.
- Minister and gospel artist Deitrick Haddon wages a fierce debate with Bishop Ron Gibson about shacking up. He claims that “he’s tired of bishops preaching stuff that’s not in the Bible.” Both Bishop Ron and his wife Lavette confronted both Haddon and his fiancé Dominique about it because it is common knowledge that they are raising a child that they conceived while out of wedlock. Haddon’s overly defensive attitude during what was intended to be a counseling session between the Gibsons and himself led many to question, “Does he truly know what the Bible says on the matter?”
Additionally, Dominique challenges her mom about it saying that if two people love each other and have plans to get married, “then, why can’t they live together?” and then challenges Lavette at a first lady tea party saying that “technically, Deitrick and I are already married because the Bible says when a man enters a woman, that’s marriage.” Lavette responds and says, “No, that’s fornication.”
FYI: Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
- In the preacher’s man cave (a place for the preachers to dish about ministry life), Bishop Clarence McClendon shows up with an entourage of assistants and claims that if a church wants him to come and speak, then they want what he brings (a team of assistants to help him). Haddon lashes out in a most vehement way saying, “When God called you, you didn’t have entourage.” McClendon does his best to explain his reasoning for it, but the debate gets out of hand.
FYI: The story of prophet Elijah and his apprentice/armor bearer is told in 2 Kings 2:1-6 “Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the LORD has sent me to Jericho.”
And he replied, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho. The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?” “Yes, I know,” he replied, “but do not speak of it.” Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” And he replied, “As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on.”
- Bishop Noel Jones is in a 16-year friendship with restaurateur and business partner Loretta. The question of marriage comes up several times but Jones, a long-time divorcee seems not to want to commit to her, protesting, “I’m about to be retired. Why would I get married to take on another job?” He also engages in a conversation with Gibson, which Gibson recounts in a wonderfully-mimicked Jones accent: “Bishop, do you really think that God intended for man to be monagymous?”
FYI: 1 Timothy 3:2 says “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach.”
- Pastor Jay Haizlip has to deal with a congregant who has undergone a sex change from a girl to a guy. He and his wife speak about the matter and he then chooses to confront the individual. This very tough issue was handled with such grace. Now a guy name David, he informs Haizlip that he wants to be treated as a boy from this point forward in his life. He is attending a new church across town for fear of the ridicule he would receive if he stayed at Haizlip’s church.
FYI: Paul wrote to the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthinans 6:9-11 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
The fact is Preachers of L.A. has prompted critical debates around these controversial issues and some believe these “preachers” are trampling upon Biblical truths.
Still, the beautiful part of the show is when preachers come up from air enough to do real ministry work like former gangster Bishop Ron Gibson spends time with Blood and Crip gangsters and leads them to the Lord and former drug addict Pastor Jay Haizlip and his wife praying for an emaciated, obviously drug-addicted woman in a local park.
Preachers of L.A. airs on the Oxygen Network on Wednesday nights at 10/9 Central.