To clarify I do not want to see Mormons, Muslims, or practitioners of any other faith doing the same on reality television. Yet I do not see a lot of new shows about other faiths on reality TV. Either I have not been looking for them, or people simply are not talking about them. You have your Sister Wives, among other shows, but they do not seem to be as exploitative as Christian reality shows are.
Christian reality shows attempt to pull back the curtain and show us how well Christians do under pressure when they go through their own personal trails and tribulations. But I am not entirely sure if that is the message that viewers walk away from when they watch these shows. The hypocrisy and arrogance of rich, bourgeois, Christians that do not have to deal with the financial difficulties most of us are going through seems to be the selling point of these shows.
It is a sad day indeed for the faith. If you aren’t a Christian, you might not want to be one after watching these shows. If you are, surely, there is disappointment as people get to see us “in our flesh,” with the curtain pulled back, and the dress rehearsal of our faith is put on as entertainment for everyone to enjoy. We aren’t perfect, but everyone would like to think that we are. Plus one has to question the motives behind profiting from the faith when one is already rich and is not in any particular need for money. It is not as though the pastors profiled on shows like “Preachers of LA” are in need of anything. Interestingly enough, TDJakes has come out and told his congregation that he already had money when he came to Dallas and plans to have some when he leaves. Deitrick Haddon responds to TD Jakes criticism of the reality show, talking about Megafest and the fact that he has had Oprah as part of Megafest, and the controversy off camera, off of the show, is just as interesting as the controversy on camera.
As Christians we have been through this before. When Jim Bakker fell from grace over 20 years ago it was none other than Jerry Falwell who, according to “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” a documentary on her life with Jim Bakker, and her attempts to reinvent herself after their divorce, threw him under the bus with the help of the media. But regardless of whether Jim Bakker was set up or not, Jerry Falwell did not force him to do anything with Jessica Hahn. At the end of the day it would appear as though everyone had their own part to play in the dismantling of PTL, and no one had clean hands. We are all human and we are all vulnerable, and we are all sinners saved by grace.
That message is obscured when our sin is served up as entertainment through reality television. Do we want to work together to win over souls for Christ, or do we want the spotlight for ourselves as media personalities and entertainers that exploit Christianity for our own profit? I am not so sure that I know the answer anymore …