‘Preachers of L.A.’ Only the Latest Display of Hypocrisy Within the Christian Church

We already know churches are businesses and those who run them are sometimes in the business of helping themselves as much as they say they’re helping others.

So the fact that Oxygen is set to air a TV show called “Preachers of L.A.” featuring prosperity gospel preachers driving fancy cars and living in mansions should come as no surprise to anyone:

P. Diddy. Jay-Z. They’re not the only ones who should be driving Ferraris and living in large houses,” argues [Bishop Ron] Gibson, pastor at 4,500-member Life Church of God in Christ.

Already, a group called “Christians against Preachers of LA” is calling on Oxygen to take the show off the air:

Biblical prosperity is not about wealth building. This is a poor representation of the Kingdom of God. These preachers lifestyles are NOT promoting Christ ethos but rather their cars, homes, relationships, and their justification on why they want viewers to see them as having fleshly desires as everyone else does. You are human…WE GET IT! We as Christians face daily ridicule and this show will only tear down our churches and keep non-believers away as opposed to bringing them to Christ.

First of all, if the petitioners are against wealth-building, then they should be going after any number of preachers who have TV shows. As one commenter on Charisma‘s site noted:

Why all the fuss? There’s been a program on the air like this for years. It’s called TBN!

And I hate to break it to them, but this show isn’t the reason non-believers aren’t joining churches. The “good Christian churches” have just as many problems when it comes to telling the truth, thinking critically, welcoming doubt, and accepting all people without judgment.

This show won’t mark the first time we see hypocrisy within the church and it certainly won’t be the last.

“The best part of my job is helping hurting people,” said Gibson.

Touché. These men are definitely hurting others.

Now let the mockery of the show begin…

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Chris Wallace

    Sometimes I wish I could just go into a coma and wake up when this whole reality television fetish has run its course and disappeared.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      There is reality TV and then we have this sort of junk. There are some reality TV shows I do enjoy such as Survivor, The Amazing Race, Big Brother and Hell’s Kitchen but anything that ends in Wives or Boo Boo I am not watching.

      • Edmond

        I have a grudging respect for workplace reality shows where they actually CREATE things, like fish tanks, treehouses, or tattoos.

        • Richie Tipsy Kariuki

          and Dirty Jobs!

    • kaydenpat

      You’d be in a permanent coma then.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    While I rarely watch TV myself, I am **thrilled** that thousands of parishioners all across the country will see this show and some of them will start to see clergy for the con-men that so many of them are.

    • Daniel Rutter

      I wonder if it’ll make any headway with people who aren’t already opposed to the so-very-obviously-Anti-Christian prosperity gospel.

      The whole deal of the prosperity gospel is rationalising driving a Lexus to church, and the rationalisations work as well on other people as they do on you. So unless these preachers are shown getting gay blumpkins while shooting at puppies it’s probably not going to harm their reputation much. And even if it does, there are a zillion other prosperity preachers for people to choose from, a la the good old “OK, sure, Ms A. was a fake psychic, but surely Mr. B is genuine…” routine.

      This shit is quite immensely popular, too. There could easily be ten or twenty million adult prosperity-people in the States alone (hard to say exactly, religion membership numbers are always dodgy…), and it’s huge in some other markets too, like South Korea. (“Yoido Full Gospel Church” is in SK. Biggest megachurch in the world; seats 26,000. Prosperity gospel.)

    • SeekerLancer

      How many parishioners is this going to negatively effect, really? I’ve seen some discussions about this show where people believe it will actually do the opposite and win converts.

      These prosperity-driven mega church parishioners already know their pastors are filthy rich. They rationalize it in their head as God rewarding wealth to his most loyal followers, not as “so that’s what my money is being used on.”

      It’s why stuff like the “plant your seed” investment schemes work. They think throwing away their money and praying will cause them to stumble into more money. It worked for the pastor after all! If this insanely obvious con isn’t obvious to you from the start then you’re not likely to figure out it’s a con.

      The rich pastors serve as a confirmation to their “love Jesus and he’ll make you rich and successful” delusions. They go to those churches specifically because the pastors are so wealthy even if this does go against everything Jesus demanded of his followers. At the end of the day it’s not about helping the poor and being like Jesus, it’s about wishful thinking that God will provide you with riches if you bow down to whatever the rich pastor tells you to do.

      The worst part isn’t even the “get rich quick with God” people, but the sick and injured who are willing to pay these shams for a miracle that will never happen.

      My dad is still a Catholic but not super-religious. Upon watching the commercial for this show he said, “if the God they claim to believe in exists, they’re all going to Hell.”

  • closetatheist

    translation: “WE ARE BEING PERSECUTED! Plus, this will plainly reveal to viewers the self-serving and manipulative nature of our religion, thus, opening us up to the criticism we deserve. This will make it harder for us to force jeebus down everyone’s throats when they see us for the vultures we really are.

    Oh, and also, these people are not REAL Christians anyway.”

  • Art_Vandelay

    At the risk of getting slammed…does anyone else think there’s something a little Uncle Tommish about black people promoting “biblical” or “Christian” values?

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      You’re not the only one, but I think it’s more Stockholm Syndrome than Uncle Tom…

    • Gus Snarp

      It’s a long and complicated relationship. In some ways black Christianity as a whole is an entirely different thing from white Christianity.

  • Edmond

    I can’t watch the video on the computer I’m on. Is it Preachers of Los Angeles, or Louisiana?

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Los Angeles, my home town, third generation. (Closes eyes, shakes head, softly pinches flesh between eyebrows.)

  • Andrew L

    I should feel ashamed but I don’t. I can’t wait to watch this trainwreck.

  • Great Hit

    I find it funny that those christians say this isn’t christs ethos. Well unfortunately christ wanted his followers to be absolutely poor, so even those christians fail to follow his teaching. He said to sell their possessions and give what they got from selling to the poor, then follow him for treasures in heaven. Everyone knows this will make them hobos… That’s why they blindly turn away from that part of scripture. Oh and Art Vandelay, there is something “uncle tom-ish”. Christians were the cause of slavery in America. 200-ish years ago, they would have told slaves that they didn’t even have a soul, but now they blindly defend the faith that plundered and pillaged a whole entire race.

    • Etafe

      I’m a Christain and I read that part of Scripture. So let me correct you would not have made the wealthy young ruler of that town poor, because he would still had some money from the sale. He was testing his heart because he put all his stock on his weath and possesion. Jesus was calling that man in to his direct desipleship that would have fufilled his life more than his wealth did. I’m sorry if you think having walking with the flesh and blood Jesus in ancient Palistine ment being a hobo. You just need to understand the contesct and time in wich the event took place. Even Peter still fish with Jesus and payed his taxes. Use common sense they had jobs, they were just hummbled and content in the day to day rural life style. It was not NY. And being born in Africa myself with dual citizian ship, my mother’s Afriicain American and father’s Black Africain, slavery was not caused by Christians, but by Arabic slave traders and pagan Africains. Auctualy a lot of Africains were Christians and Jews before the Europeans colonies the contenant. And if it wasn’t for White abolitionist there be still black slaves in Europe and the Americas.

  • DougI

    Corporations sometimes do charity work as a part of their PR campaigns yet we call them for-profit companies. When churches do it we call them charities although, like corporations, their main focus is acquiring revenue. So next time you go to Starbucks and buy a latte, or go to the theater to watch a movie, just think, you’re giving to charity, just as if you were to buy a church sermon.

    One major difference, of course, those businesses have to pay taxes in order to subsidize tax cheating churches.

    • smrnda

      As bad as they are, corporations are at least likely to give to charities that focus on things like giving people food, not Bibles.

  • Baby_Raptor

    They’ll condemn anyone for anything as long as it means that they don’t have to change themselves.

  • Robyman4

    Selfish whackjobs? Nice. On a more serious note, my mom (a lifelong fundie) grew up very poor and so in the last few years she has really focused on the prosperity gospel. But since she’s married to my father, she’s not poor at all – hasn’t been for about 40 years now. I wish I could find a way to tell her it’s no good calling herself a Christian if she thinks she’s entitled to very large sums of money and material goods while not doing much to ease the suffering of the impoverished, homeless, starving and diseased around the world – or even in her own country, or city.

  • Brian

    “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Yeah…seems like when these “Preachers” get all of that money, they conveniently forget this passage.

    • Great Hit

      Just about every christian forgets this bit… 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” I guess they know they would be homeless and have no possessions. They can’t have that, as it doesn’t work in the real world.

    • Gus Snarp

      Funny how they can find all sorts of verses to twist around as if it supports their lifestyle, but can’t read the straightforward ones.

  • Robster

    The people complaining about this show are obviously rather insecure about their beliefs and have admitted that their beliefs, as silly as they are, make christians the subject of mockery and general humor. Seems kind of obvious that believing it’s good top munch on tasty jesus crackers and drink his blood in church on Sunday or other chosen sabbath is far to the left of wierd and deserves even more derision than plain old mockery. Get used to it deluded believers I say, your nonsense deserves nothing more!

  • Rain

    “P. Diddy”

    I remember when P. Diddy got hip with the times and did a youtube video and said he “bought” a youtube channel. Even though they’re completely free. Yeah, really “hip”, man. Totally not phony at all, lol. (I think in reality it probably was a promotion for Burger King or something like that.)

  • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

    I don’t have to watch any of that video to know my ears will start bleeding seconds into it.

  • Greg G.

    Christian activists target churches not in the fight” is another article about Christian-on-Christian persecution. These guys picket conservative churches that aren’t political enough.

    • kaydenpat

      Following in WBC’s footsteps — except targeting fellow conservative Christians. Interesting.

  • ShellyD99

    These preachers quote the Bible to rationalize their lavish lifestyles. Other people (including commenters here) just as easily point to verses that say the opposite. Anybody can make the Bible say whatever they want it to say. I think you see what you want to see in it.

  • Gus Snarp

    So we have a battle between Christians who think that god wants them to get rich and Christians who think that a general audience television networks ought to only show their version of Christians? I’m not sure which set of Christians I despise more, one is trying to tell people who have nothing to do with their religion what to do, while the other is fleecing its own deluded followers.

    I do wonder what on earth makes these petitioners think that the network that lists these current original programs: Bad Girls All-Star Battle, Best Ink, I’m Having Their Baby, and Snapped: Killer Couples, owes them anything or is in the least interested in pleasing their Christian sensibilities? I mean seriously, they put up a reality show about preachers with a different philosophy and that’s what they’re complaining about given the line up of this network? I guess it’s good that they’re attacking other Christians instead of going after Ellen, which is apparently also on the network. Is this an indication that in the wake of their abject defeat on gay rights they’re going to start devouring their own and the whole Christian right is going to implode?

    • Etafe

      Do you hate all Christians around the world. And if so I apologize for all the cruelty we have shown you through your life. Not all of us are like that. And were not all political either. And again I’m sorry for all the pain we cause you and those you love. We just want to spread the true Gospel message of Jesus passion for the world. We know not every one will except it and we’re okay with that. We want to have a chance to speak our peace and live according to what God called us personally to do and requirers of us.

  • John Gills

    I know it’s been mentioned before, but I highly recommend the 1972 documentary “Marjoe” in which former child evangelist Marjoe Gortner reveals all about the evangelical community. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marjoe_Gortner

  • tasteless chap

    The bible is a 2000+ year-old Rorschach test. It can say pretty much whatever you want it to say, and can be/is used to justify whatever evil you want to perpetrate.

  • SeniorSkeptik

    What really irks me is the preachers play a shell game when they ask their faithful to give their money to god when in reality the green is going into their pockets.

  • Ryan Hite

    There are some reality shows that are interesting. This one at least shows the hypocrisy of religion but it is a bad concept to begin with. We also need to stop glorifying the celebrities we know about with no real talent. The ones who are really good are the ones that never get a real shot.

  • Cody Smith

    “We as Christians face daily ridicule.”

    Yeah, sure…

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Maury_and_Baty/ RLBaty

    It will be interesting to see if the show covers or provokes a public discussion as to the continuing utility of having a tax law that allows ONLY “ministers” to have their opulent housing benefits tax free.

    That issue is currently being litigated in federal district court by the FFRF.

  • Hal Watts

    The way that people flock to these mega-churches makes me often wonder if born-again Christians are suffering from some yet-undiagnosed form of mental illness.

  • Don Boughton

    I Peter 2:3

  • denisethor

    The tragedy here is, most people who join and stay in churches that promote worldly prosperity will be thrilled by this TV show and a boatload of others like it. You don’t have to be a Christian to see them at none of this “showboating” has anything to do with God or with how true Christians behave and live, Additionally, mega, means nothing when connected to the word church, but it does indicate how many people are lost.

    I don’t understand why so-called Christians want the show taken off air. I’m a Christian and I want to know what’s going on in churches, good and Knowledge is power. The more we know the better equipped we’ll be to call out false prophets. While calling them out won’t stamp out religious predators, it will open the eyes of some who read and understand scripture, which will provoke them to take a stand and do the right thing.

    What breaks my heart is how many religious leaders find time to make movies or be in TV shows, when prisons are busting at the seems and the people they house long for something worth living for, which is spiritual guidance and salvation. Visiting prisoners, the sick, poor and spiritually deficient brothers and sister’s is what the Doctor ordered, not suggested. The task is monumental.

    To witness religious leaders showering themselves in riches, while their congregations live from paycheck to paycheck is baffoonery, both on the part of church members who promote and finance this charade and on religious leaders who engage in idol worship. And while this twist from acknowledging and obeying God’s Word started long before church based programming hit the air waves, today it’s out of control. How do these members go back to these churches after watching their leader’s defile God’s Word by exhibiting such blatant hypocrisy. It’s sickening!