University of Southern California

Center for Religion & Civic Culture

New Oxygen reality show "Preachers of LA" sparks controversy

Image of New Oxygen reality show

A new reality TV show featuring pastors "living the God life" in Los Angeles has sparked a wave of controversy.

Will Oxygen's "Preachers of LA," encourage exhibitionism and open the church to ridicule or create new understanding of the faith journeys of six "mega pastors"? A recent article in theGrio discusses the range of opinions.

“I’m totally against it,” Pastor William J. Smith of Saint Tabernacle Church in L.A. told theGrio. “When you put the church in the category of all these other shows— though I don’t watch them, I don’t have time for that foolishness— it demeans the church. It brings it down and it takes away the value of why it’s here."

Rev. Mark Whitlock, executive director of the USC Cecil Murray Center for Community Engagement and senior pastor of Christ Our Redeemer AME Church in Irvine, offers a more nuanced view of the new show.

“The church is a reflection of the community,” Whitlock said. “The community has been displayed on every television program there is. I’m hoping that this reality television program offers reality that there is a higher power with sovereign authority over the community where we live, work and worship.”

Whitlock says that reality TV has a tendency to misconstrue narratives into overly dramatized scenes in order to appeal to audiences. He hopes that "TV executives won't exploit the congregations slated to be featured on the show."

Read the rest of the article.

Photo credit: Oxygen Network promotional photo.