'Preachers of L.A.' Reality Show Brings Flash, Controversy
This fall's hottest reality show may not be one with any housewives or contestants voting each other off an island but, instead, with a cast you'd least expect to see on reality TV, preachers.
"Preachers of L.A." on the Oxygen network follows six men-of-the-cloth both behind the pulpit and behind the scenes of their lives and their churches.
The show, scheduled for a fall 2013 debut, follows the son of an evangelist who was shunned by his church after a divorce; a pastor whose church is "full of celebrities"; a bishop whose weekly broadcast reaches 250 million homes worldwide; a pastor whose greatest obstacle comes from "within his own family"; a bishop who was a gang member and drug addict before turning to God; and a pastor who was a pioneer of competitive skateboarding, all as described on the show's own website.
"It's all about the truth for me from this point on," says one of the cast members, Deitrick Haddon. "[The] truth about my baby out of wedlock, the truth about my divorce. It happened. There's nothing I can do about that."
The show focuses not just on the religious lives of the six men - Haddon, Bishop Noel Jones, Bishop Clarence McClendon, Pastor Wayne Cheney, Bishop Ron Gibson and Pastor Jay Haizlip - but also on their flashy lifestyles and extravagant wealth.
"The Bible says I wish above all things that you would prosper," McClendon says in one episode. "I believe that."
"P. Diddy and Jay-Z… They're not the only ones who should be driving Ferraris and living in large houses," Gibson says in another episode.
Statements like those from the "Preachers" have led to a chorus of critics claiming the men not displaying real Christianity.
"You cannot avoid the impression that these men are preaching and pastoring for the money," Frank Peretti, a best-selling author of Christian fiction, told ABC News.
Before it has even aired its first episode, the show already has viewers divided, with comments like these posted on the show's YouTube page.
"I'm so ashamed to be Christian right now," wrote one user.
"God doesn't want us to be poor," wrote another.
The stars of "Preachers of L.A." argue the lifestyles they lead are the reward, not the mission.
"The best part of my job is helping hurting people," said Gibson.