Would a major network such as A&E really consider a reality series featuring a millionaire evangelical family?
No, I’m not talking about THAT family.
Before “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson became the subject of a gazillion tweets, Facebook posts and news stories this week, The Dallas Morning News ran a 5,000-word feature on a Texas megachurch’s “sex-loving, million-dollar minister.”
The piece has been in my guilt file — those stories we at GetReligion want to cover but for whatever reason haven’t — for a few weeks now. The feature, which appeared in FD Luxe, the Dallas newspaper’s monthly luxury lifestyle magazine, teases readers up high:
Fellowship Church’s effusive Ed Young and his wife are loving the Lord, having more sex than you and staking their claim in the best neighborhoods in town. Can a reality show about this million-dollar minister and his gleaming family be far away? (No.)
The story itself is one of those long, winding magazine pieces in which the writer sprinkles his own perspectives and point of view throughout (with an annoying number of parenthesis). It starts with a “reporter visits the zoo” lede:
A man approaches me in the parking lot of Highland Park Village, wearing a T-shirt that reads: “Walking Dead.” He extends a friendly hand. “Are you here for church?” Yes. “Is this your first time?” Yes. (Maybe it shows?)
It is early Sunday morning. The swanky boutiques that keep Sunday hours here — the likes of Dior, Diane von Furstenberg and Jimmy Choo — won’t open till noon and 1, but the movie theater at Dallas’ most elite shopping center is buzzing with activity, and none of it film-related. The job of the man in the T-shirt is to lead newcomers to the greeters standing beneath the theater marquee. “Good morning!” says a stylish young woman at the door.
Those newcomers are ushered inside and wrangled by volunteers, who introduce themselves in rapid-fire succession. An oversize foamcore signin the lobby depicts a desolate cityscape with bold white letters proclaiming: “Walking Dead: Life Is Too Good Not to Live. A new series by Ed Young.”
A sermon hooked to a popular cable-TV zombie show? Edwin Barry Young knows how to titillate and provoke. The charismatic, controversial founder and senior pastor of the sprawling Grapevine-based Fellowship Church burst onto the national scene in 2008, when he challenged the church’s married couples to have seven days of sex for greater emotional intimacy.
If you’re familiar with Young (I am, having written about him a few times during my Associated Press days) or megachurches, you may find yourself wondering if the story’s ever going to get to the point or tell you something you didn’t already know. Then again, maybe I just have a bias against this kind of journalism, preferring a more traditional newspaper approach.
A few million — er, thousand — words into the piece, we hear more about the possible reality series: