More African-American pastors are speaking out against the new Oxygen docu-series "Preachers of L.A.," saying the reality show misrepresents Black Christian ministers by making them appear as if they were only interested in fame and money.
"I don't think the show represents the best of the Black church tradition," the Rev. James C. Perkins, the pastor of Greater Christ Baptist Church in Detroit, Mich., told BET.com.
"The downside is that people often paint all pastors with a broad brush and, after watching this show, they may well begin to associate all pastors with those behaviors," said Perkins, who is vice president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention. "There are many pastors who are out here serving the people and not just serving themselves."
The Rev. Michael J.T. Fisher, pastor at the Greater Zion Church Family in Compton, Calif., joined Perkins in criticizing the show, which broke records for the Oxygen network with its premiere episode on Oct. 9. "I don't have a problem with them doing a reality show," he was quoted as saying. "I have a problem with the content that's displayed."
Fisher said the ministers in the show have broken "an unwritten code," which requires them to deal with their issues privately "so that we can be strong publicly."
"They are giving the world ammunition to shoot back at the church and not accept the message that it is trying to convey," Fisher added. "They've sold out. It will call for pastors all over the country to have to defend their integrity because these men have decided to chase their dream of being in the public eye."
Earlier, Bishop T.D. Jakes, the senior pastor of The Potter's House megachurch in Dallas, Texas, denounced the show from the pulpit.
"Now, I know you been watching that junk on TV. I want to tell you right now, not one dime of what you're sowing right now will buy my suit," he told his congregation recently, according to the EEW magazine. "I want you to know my car is paid for. I want you to know I got my house on my own. I want you to know I'm not bling-blinging. I am not shake and bake. I had money when I came to Dallas and I plan to have some when I leave… I don't need your offering to pay for this little slimy suit. So I rebuke that spirit in the name of Jesus Christ."
Jakes added, "I'm not from L.A. I'm from Dallas!"
Participants in the Oxygen network show have defended themselves.
Gospel recording artist Deitrick Haddon, who stars in the show with five other Southern California ministers, told The Christian Post earlier that he is "humbled to be able to be a part of such a groundbreaking, history-making product," referring to the series' popularity.
Haddon said God told him to produce a reality show on preachers.
"So I went to my manager Holly Carter at Relevé Entertainment, and told her. I said, 'We got to do a show on preachers.' So I started calling some of my friends that I know that have gone through some things, and they agreed to do it. This will be amazing to share our stories and be forthright about what we've gone through. Time progressed and things happened," Haddon said.
"...Never before have you ever seen the name of Jesus on a reality show like this proclaimed throughout the entire show," he added. "The men on this show, are men of integrity, established men who have been working hard down through the years, and they should have something to show for it. When you work hard, especially working for the kingdom of God, sacrificing your life for the kingdom, He rewards those that are diligent about what they do for Him."
Haddon said it was about winning souls in an unorthodox way.
Pastor Jay Haizlip of The Sanctuary church in Huntington Beach, Calif., a participant in the show, told The Christian Post earlier that he expects millions of people who do not go to church to watch the show.
"They're not going to come listen to a preacher, they're not gonna turn on Christian television," Haizlip said. "This show is not going to be a preaching TV show. It's not going to be us standing on a platform preaching messages, that's not what this show is. This show is a show where millions of people will get to watch us do life, and what it's really like to live in our shoes. I don't believe people really understand what it's like to be a pastor. ..."
Bishop Noel Jones, the senior pastor of the City of Refuge Church in Gardena, Calif., has also explained why he decided to take part in the show. "The reason why I'm doing this show is because I want to deflate the iconoclastic dispositions that we have towards men and women who are in ministry or who are in any position where we want to look up to them," Jones told thejasminebrand.com. "Because at the end of the day, everybody's flawed."
Bishop Clarence McClendon of Full Harvest International Church, Pastor Wayne Chaney of Antioch Church of Long Beach and Bishop Ron M. Gibson of Life Church of God In Christ appear on the show alongside Jones, Haizlip and Haddon.
The show airs Wednesday nights on Oxygen Network at 10 p.m. ET.