Is the Christian Reality Show Fad Harmful to the Faith?
Ed Young is a mega-church pastor, “New York Times” bestselling author, and Internet fashionista. But according to “Dallas Morning News”, Young is hoping to add “reality television star” to his resume. According to an article published online, “Dear God: Is Dallas society ready for Fellowship Church’s sex-loving, million-dollar minister?”, the pastor and his family are in talks to star in their own reality show. An L.A. producer reportedly pitched the project to A&E last month and has meetings scheduled with other networks as well.
The article portrays the Youngs as a faithful family living a lavish lifestyle—complete with Botox-injections, personal assistants, and a Kevlar-coated, bullet-proof Mercedes Benz G-wagon. A photograph of Ed and his wife, Lisa, posing in front of their $1.5 million home in Bluffview Estates rests atop the article, which described the Young's show as “a Christianized version” of the Kardashians.
If the program is acquired, it will be the latest in a long line of Christian-flavored reality shows to hit the airwaves. To wit:
- “Snake Salvation” on National Geographic Channel follows two snake-handling Pentecostal pastors in a “struggle to keep an over-100-year-old tradition alive.”
- “Preachers of LA” on Oxygen is a brash, bling-filled show that follows six California pastors and attempts to “explore the human side of these ambitious and very powerful men of faith.”
- “Mary Mary” on WE follows the fascinating lives of the Grammy-winning gospel duo by the same name.
- “Thicker than Water” on Bravo showcases the Tankard family who blend faith with fortune and believe “God wants us all to be millionaires.”
- “Preachers Daughters” on Lifetime centers on three religious families for “a behind-the-altar look at what happens at home after the sermon concludes.”
- “Duck Dynasty” on A&E is slightly subtler in showcasing religious elements, but it’s hard to miss the prayers and spiritual inferences the bearded stars incorporate into nearly every show.
- “The Sisterhood” on TLC was recently cancelled but documented the lives of five preacher’s wives as they battled parenting issues, marital problems, and financial troubles.
- “Divas for Jesus” on WE is a forthcoming show that “features the lives of upscale Southern women that live naughty during the week and act nice on Sunday.”
- HGTV and Christian author-blogger Jen Hatmaker have announced a forthcoming reality show following the Hatmaker family as they renovate their home.
But what are we to make of this trend in religious reality programming? Is this fad good for the Christian message or a blight on our already flailing public perception?