The Learning Channel, otherwise known as TLC, has canceled a controversial reality show that features a behind-the-scenes look at the everyday lives of five preachers’ wives from Atlanta, Georgia.
As previously reported, The Sisterhood began airing on the network the first of the year, following five women that are married to preachers in one of the largest cities in the Bible Belt. However, the women’s lifestyles “shock” viewers as they often dress provocatively, giggle about sexual matters with their friends and husbands, and generally live on the edge.
“She’s fit and fabulous and her wardrobe leaves little to the imagination,” reads the bio for Tara Lewis, a certified fitness instructor who recently moved to Atlanta from Los Angeles after her husband took a job at a church in the area.
“Tell the devil he’s a liar!” Lewis announced in the preview of the show, while wearing skin-tight shorts and a t-shirt that she pulled up to expose her midriff.
“Did you get breast implants, too?” asks Christina Murray over dinner with the women, whose husband Anthony leads Oasis Family Life Church.
“Christina often makes it known that she’s a sassy Latina who you don’t want to mess with,” her bio reads. “Christina and Anthony … have to wrangle their two challenging teenage daughters who are just as sassy as their mother.”
Another scene shows Ivy Couch laughing as she opens a gift bag from her husband to find that he had given her handcuffs to use in the bedroom.
“You better watch yo’ self, girl!” her husband jokes.
“People don’t expect a preacher and his wife to have a good sex life,” Couch tells the cameras.
“It’s very difficult to be a ‘first lady.’ Very difficult,” she declares in another scene.
In one episode, Dominique Scott, who ran Good Life International Church with her husband until it recently closed, points to the house where she smoked her first crack pipe as she rides through town with the women.
“Preachers’ wives can run from very conservative to very radical,” states DeLana Rutherford, whose husband Myles leads Worship With Wonder Church in Kennesaw, Georgia. DeLana, a singer, and her husband are quoted as having a “strong mantle of a proceeding and prophetic word.”
“One look at DeLana singing on stage in her leather pants and spiked heels and you’ll definitely think she’s a rock star,” writes Access Atlanta about Rutherford.
However, following announcement of the show, many Christians expressed their disapproval of the broadcast, even launching a petition against The Sisterhood.
“The previews and highlights of the upcoming show is pure garbage and does not portray the reality of being a Christian or the reality of being a preacher’s or pastor’s wife. The airing of this show is not only offensive to the Body of Christ, but it is also degrading to women of color (specifically),” the petition stated. “This show mocks everything that we, as believers, stand for. It is disgusting, disgraceful, inappropriate and an inaccurate display of what we strive to accomplish as Christians.”
“The airing of this show only adds more fuel to the ever-present distasteful stereotype that we, as Christians, fight daily to erase,” it continued. “We must stand together and put an end to TLC’s clear derogatory distortion of the Body of Christ and women of God — specifically, preacher’s and pastor’s wives!”
Now, according to reports, the reality show has been canceled due to poor ratings and will not return for a second season.
“Despite the hoopla surrounding the show, the controversy didn’t create major interest as ‘The Sisterhood’ only averaged a 0.6 rating – that’s 600,000 viewers weekly,” states AlwaysAList.com. “After eight episodes, the finale aired on Feb. 12.”
Pastor Brian Lewis, who was featured with his wife Tara on the show, told reporters that many Christians were deeply offended and grieved by the broadcast.
“There are so many factors that contributed to the cancellation of the show, but ultimately it was the cast members themselves that caused our core viewers, Christians, to be grieved by their conduct and turned-off and disinterested in the show,” he explained. “The premiere episode one was so way off base for those professing to be Christians and the sensationalized sexual content so blatant, the arguments so tense and the doctrinal differences so outlandish that it made people feel so uncomfortable that the show immediately lost 300,000 viewers and it undermined this phenomenal opportunity we had to witness His light in darkness.”
However, Ivy Couch said that she believed the revelation of her flaws was beneficial to the viewing audience.
“I think other Christians act like they don’t have problems anymore once they become Christian. So, it’s really an opportunity for me to be transparent because I think that’s how we help people heal,” she stated. “I think He’s using this reality show. It is going to be groundbreaking and we’re going to upset a lot of people, but I do also think that we’re going to bring a lot of people to know Him personally.”
Lewis advised that he hopes to launch another broadcast in place of The Sisterhood.
“We have developed a pitch for our own reality docuseries featuring Tara and I, as well as, daily talk show pitch. We plan to pitch the docuseries to the production companies and the top reality based networks and are confident that this will not be the last that you see of Brian and Tara Lewis in reality,” he stated. “Tara and I still be in the call on our lives to use television to impact the world for Christ.”