by Robert Earl Houston
Normally, I’m honored when news services pick up “The Wire” or other web sites pick it up as well. I’ve been writing ever since I can remember and I’m always encouraged by those who have been kind through the years – Gospel Today Magazine, the National Baptist Union-Review, the Skanner Newspaper, and the various electronic media outlets. God is too kind.
However, the conversation about my recent article on “The Preachers of L.A.” has actually grieved me. I’ve turned off all of the comments on this article because frankly of the negativity that it spawned. I don’t mind dialogue – but when it starts to rise to the level of personal attack – it is beyond the pale. I’m not a sold-out fan of the show by no stretch of the imagination, but I don’t think I need to facilitate below the belt, personal attacks on the “stars” of the show. At the end of the day, they are still pastors and carriers of the Lord’s gospel.
What tipped me over the edge was a radio program and I was listening to a black minister from Dallas who was disparaging these ministers for the mistakes they had made in their personal lives (which had NOTHING to do with the current program) and I couldn’t stomach the continual attacks made by this “minister” who has made a name in the white evangelical world by tearing down black preachers.
My column was about the show itself and how it flowed. Would I still listen to Noel Jones preach? Absolutely. What about Clarence McClendon? I’ve met him as late as of the Full Gospel meeting in Louisville. Would I buy a Detrick Haddon song? Absolutely (if it was worth it). Do I still watch Ron Gibson from time to time? Yes. But I will not become worst in my criticism than the show. These (and Wayne Chaney and Jay Hazlip) are still leaders (except Haddon) of congregations and Pastors.
Someone wrote me and said that I said that the preachers promoted their wealth. I didn’t say that – what I said was:
I have met or know personally most of the preachers on this show and I don’t know if it’s necessary or helpful to display them in this manner. Throughout the show we saw Bentleys and Rolls Royces and Hummers and other luxury cars – there’s not a thing wrong with it.
I didn’t say they promoted it – I said that the perception, presented by the producers via camera shots placed that emphasis there.
I do believe that the laborer is worthy of his hire. I do know that several of these pastors, as identified on the show, have revenue streams outside of the ministry of their local church. There are mega-pastors out there that do not solely depend on their church for their livelihood. I get that. But I will not beat the drum in a parade that is crying out “crucify them.” I cannot and will not do that.
Some of the statements that I’ve received about the show and the personalities involved were frankly childish, disgusting and immature from the PEOPLE of the body of Christ. I still hold that this show (which was seen by well over 1,000,000 people in its debut) is going to do harm to the body of Christ and stigmatize those who have been blessed financially. God is not against wealth, but he is against it when the wealth overshadows the Christ. In the words of the late Dr. E.K. Bailey – “If you serve the Lord for pay, it won’t pay; But if you serve the Lord, it will pay.”