HOME > NEWSROOM > ARTICLES > The MIA Church on Unreality TV

The MIA Church on Unreality TV

There will be a controversial new reality TV program this fall about church pastors. It will likely add further fuel to the smoldering cultural fires about the lifestyles of some Christian clergy. The Oxygen channel's promotion of its new show, Preachers of L.A., touts a "candid" program about six "mega-pastors" and their "sometimes provocative lives." Viewers can undoubtedly expect lavish houses, expensive cars, and outrageous situations. All of it promises to be a sad misrepresentation of what Gospel-preaching ministries are really about.

Several years ago, a member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee launched a very public and very troubling investigation into a handful of television preachers (none of them NRB members). NRB's concern back then was, and continues to be, the surveillance of, and possible interference with, legitimate Christian ministries under the guise of cracking down on a few organizations that supposedly abuse their IRS non-profit status with lavish spending. More recently, it turns out that even highly credible, squeaky-clean ministries like those of Franklin Graham and Dr. James Dobson were victims of the targeting of non-profit groups by the IRS. Christian groups are a favorite whipping boy of the secular press, some members of Congress, and a few well-known Washington advocacy groups. Preachers of L.A. will just add more fury to the consistent cry for an anti-clergy crackdown in Washington and more bricks to the infamous "wall of separation" of Church and State.

One example is the debate over a bipartisan bill proposed in the Senate called the "Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act of 2013," introduced by U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). When FEMA balked at affording the same federal relief to church buildings hit hard by Hurricane Sandy that was being provided to homes and shops in the same towns devastated in that disaster, those Senators stepped in with their proposed bill; the goal is to end the anti-religious discrimination against faith non-profit groups that, after all, provide a myriad of free services to their communities. But immediately groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the ACLU, and the Secular Coalition for America cried foul. Wait until Preachers of L.A. airs in a month or two. I can envision calls for all churches and Gospel ministries to be stripped of their tax exempt status.

Which brings me to my most important point: namely, the true-to-life, representative ministries that the entertainment industry consistently ignores. I can think of two sterling examples in my own life. I was led to faith in Christ by a career missionary and director of a local missions school. Bob Kaminisky lived in a tiny barracks-style apartment, drove a used car, and by all accounts lived a life as poor as the proverbial "church mouse." Yet his life was dedicated to indigenous tribes in South America, fledgling Bible school students and a wild, wayward youth like me. Or there was Pastor Bill Peterson, who took me under his wing after my conversion to Christ, led me to read some Christian theological classics, and encouraged me to take a prominent role in his church's Christmas program just a few months after my faith decision. He lived in a small house, on a humble salary, but was consumed in service to the Lord. It is people like these who are most representative of Christian clergy and Gospel ministers. One of these days the entertainment moguls might understand that. But even if they don't, there are plenty of us who already do.

By Craig Parshall
Senior Vice President & General Counsel, National Religious Broadcasters
Director, John Milton Project for Free Speech

Click here to read more articles written by Craig Parshall.

Published: July 25, 2013

Latest News

Senator Roy Blunt Receives NRB Faith & Freedom Award

At its annual Capitol Hill Media Summit this week, NRB presented the 2015 Faith & Freedom Award to Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO).

Commissioner Pai Addresses NRB President’s Council

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai addressed the NRB President’s Council at its annual Capitol Hill Media Summit this week.

Leading Senator Pushes Against FCC Exclusivity Plan

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who may well become the Senate Democrat Leader in the next Congress, sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler last week urging him to reverse course on a move to eliminate network non­duplication and syndication exclusivity rules.

Focus on the Family’s 'Plugged In' Switches to Daily Format

Focus on the Family’s Plugged In feature, anchored by veteran culture analyst Bob Waliszewski, has switched to a daily minute-long format, expanding from two days to every weekday.

'The Book' Launches on 300+ Radio Outlets Nationwide

The Book, a new feature program from Museum of the Bible, launched this week on a record number of stations, reaching a million listeners in 42 states, plus the District of Columbia and Guam.

Invest in the Future of Christian Media and Your Organization! Sponsor iNRB!

For those who want to invest in and gain exposure in front of the next generation of Christian media professionals, there are unique opportunities available through the intercollegiate arm of NRB.

Millions Unite for The Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem

Millions of Christians united globally for The Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem (DPPJ) this past Sunday, including the hundreds gathered in the historic Christ Church in the Old City of Jerusalem

Newton Media Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Founded in 1995 by Steve Newton, who desired to provide better media service for clients in both the faith-based and DRTV space, Newton Media has grown significantly over the years with offices now in Chesapeake, VA; Dallas, TX; and Cave Creek, AZ.

Constitutionality of Internet Authority Transfer Questioned

Four key Members of Congress are asking questions about the constitutionality of the Obama Administration’s plan to transition Internet oversight authority to a private stakeholder group.

Librarian of Congress Exits

Late last week, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington made a surprise announcement that he intended to resign his post effective September 30 rather than at the end of the year, as he had declared in June.

More News