A leader from the National Religious Broadcasters association is concerned that an upcoming reality show called "Preachers of L.A." where lavish lifestyles are expected to be showcased will create an IRS backlash and bring unwarranted targeting on legitimate Christian ministries.
Craig Parshall, NRB's director and senior vice president & general counsel, said that his organization's concern is the same as when a member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee launched a "very public and very troubling investigation" into a handful of television preachers several years ago.
"NRB's concern back then was, and continues to be, the surveillance of, and possible interference with, legitimate Christian ministries under the guise of cracking down on a few organizations that supposedly abuse their IRS non-profit status with lavish spending," stated Parshall in a recent NRB article.
"More recently, it turns out that even highly credible, squeaky-clean ministries like those of Franklin Graham and Dr. James Dobson were victims of the targeting of non-profit groups by the IRS. Christian groups are a favorite whipping boy of the secular press, some members of Congress, and a few well-known Washington advocacy groups," he explained.
"Preachers of L.A. will just add more fury to the consistent cry for an anti-clergy crackdown in Washington and more bricks to the infamous 'wall of separation' of Church and State," he said.
The show promises to feature fast cars, lavish mansions in swanky neighborhoods, and the otherwise prosperous lifestyles of six megachurch pastors that are featured in a trailer for the reality show slated for the Oxygen network this fall.
In addition to warning that certain groups will call for churches and Gospel ministries to lose their tax-exempt status because of the misperception about Christian leaders, Parshall is concerned about the lack of true representation of Godly leaders in the entertainment industry.
He said he has two sterling examples in his own life.
"I was led to faith in Christ by a career missionary and director of a local missions school. Bob Kaminisky lived in a tiny barracks-style apartment, drove a used car, and by all accounts lived a life as poor as the proverbial 'church mouse,'" Parshall described. "Yet his life was dedicated to indigenous tribes in South America, fledgling Bible school students and a wild, wayward youth like me."
"Or there was Pastor Bill Peterson, who took me under his wing after my conversion to Christ, led me to read some Christian theological classics, and encouraged me to take a prominent role in his church's Christmas program just a few months after my faith decision," he writes. "He lived in a small house, on a humble salary, but was consumed in service to the Lord. It is people like these who are most representative of Christian clergy and Gospel ministers. One of these days the entertainment moguls might understand that. But even if they don't, there are plenty of us who already do."