LOS ANGELES — In spite of widespread controversy, the second season of a reality show spotlighting the lavish lifestyles of six Los Angeles megachurch ministers is scheduled to air later this year.
As previously reported, Preachers of L.A. first aired on the Oxygen Network last fall. The reality show features six megachurch ministers who claim their material wealth—including expensive cars, large mansions, and designer clothing—is a sign of God’s blessing.
“The Bible says that I wish above all things that you would prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers,” Clarence McClendon, one of the show’s ministers, said last year. “I believe that.”
“The Bible says that those of us who sow among us should reap from us, and that’s implying that preachers should be taken care of,” stated Jay Haizlip, a skateboarder who pastors The Sanctuary of Huntington Beach and is also featured on the show.
Although Preachers of L.A. attracted a large viewing audience during the first season’s airing late last year, many Christians have criticized the show’s content and message.
“Any preacher I have ever know lived a humble life,” one commenter wrote on a film review website. “It makes me sick to see men of God flaunt wealth like these do.”
Even a few celebrities have likewise spoken out against Preachers of L.A. Gospel singer Kirk Franklin assured people that he would never appear on the show, telling comedian D.L. Hughley that he was “very disappointed” by the first season. Hughley agreed, saying the show portrays a misrepresentation of Christianity and the gospel.
“I lived in L.A. my whole life, and to me, I thought the purpose of that show was to drag nonbelievers, people who don’t have access to God and don’t have relationship with Him, that it would be so attractive that it would draw them to Him,” Hughley stated, according to the Christian Post. “I think it’s done the opposite.”
In an interview with TV personality Wendy Williams last November, the Preachers of L.A. ministers defended their prosperity teachings and luxurious lifestyles. Ron Gibson, one of the show’s six ministers, suggested that his personal acts of ministry make him deserving of the exuberant wealth.
“You know, [the critics] don’t see the schools I’ve built, the Christian academies, the boys home I have, the 1,200 homes, the work I do in South Africa, in Nairobi, Kenya, the Dominican Republic,” he contended. “The Bible lets us know, ‘The laborer is worthy of his harvest,’ and [critics] just need to be informed before they come in.”
“I’m a Christ-like person,” he later stated.
During the interview Wendy also asked Deitrick Haddon, who will also be featured in the second season, to explain why he got another woman pregnant who was not his wife, and who Haddon likened to his “angel”.
“You filed for separation with the intent on getting a divorce,” Wendy stated. “No, we were divorcing, yeah,” Haddon interrupted. “Oh, you were already divorced?” Wendy asked. “No, divorce process,” Haddon responded. “You were in the process of the divorce? That’s what I mean, you were still married,” Wendy stated as everyone erupted in laughter.
The Oxygen Network announced earlier this year that the second season of Preachers of L.A. is set to air this fall. Rod Aissa, Oxygen Network’s senior vice president of original programming and development, believes TV viewers want to see more of the controversial ministers.
“‘Preachers of L.A.’ touched the heart strings of our Oxygen viewers,” Aissa said in a release. “They were captivated by the triumphs and tribulations of these men of God and the amazing women and families that stood alongside them. We look forward to bringing more of these compelling stories to life both in LA and around the country.”
Despite the upcoming debut of season two, Preachers of L.A. continues to generate criticism from Christians.
“The downside is that people often paint all pastors with a broad brush,” said James Perkins of Greater Baptist Church in Detroit. “After watching this show, they may well begin to associate all pastors with those behaviors. There are many pastors who are out here serving the people and not just serving themselves.”