Lifetime network seems to have established a niche with religion-based reality television. The latest show Preach follows suit but has confused audiences with its message. This show follows the ministry of four charismatic “prophetesses” and their protégés. The first episode aired last Friday but has already garnered enough critics to establish a petition calling for its cancellation.
The show is centered around Belinda Scott (and her husband) of New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Taketa Williams of United Ministries Church in Columbus, Ohio, Linda Roark of World Commissioned Church in Hamilton, Ohio and Kelly Crews who is a proud Member of Victory Temple in Akron, Ohio. The four women each have a protégé who is attempting to “endure the process” so they can one day claim the title prophetess. All of the prophetesses render a window into a not so glorious past, but all have now committed their lives to preaching a message of healing and deliverance.
A prophetess by definition is a woman who speaks for God or a deity, or by divine inspiration; a woman who foretells future events and a woman who is a spokesperson of some doctrine, cause, or movement. Each of these women has a protégé whom they believe has been assigned to their ministry. While the mentee appears excited to be connected to such awesome ministry gifts, the message the relationship has rendered, for many viewers, is perceived as abuse.
One prophetess in particular, Williams, who deems herself the “Beyoncé of Preachers” has a protégé who is a single mother with three children. Ironically, God speaks to the prophetess about everyone except her own protégé, Rebecca Hairston. This protégé has a daughter whom she has not seen in four years and the prophetess had no knowledge – at least on camera – of the woman’s pain. Williams trains Hairston with a strict hand and is quick to tell her to shape up or ship out. This may not be an accurate representation of the relationship, but it surely paints a poor picture God’s mercy.
The show has its fans, however, others are saying Lifetime’s Preach is delivering the wrong message concerning the church. One dissatisfied viewer from San Francisco, Tachina Carter, started a petition on Change.org to have the Reality Show cancelled. She has already garnered nearly 14,000 of the 15,000 needed. Carter believes the message the show delivers is a travesty to the Christian community. After issuing a call for Christians to boycott the network if it refuses to cancel the show, she stated:
This show depicts the operation of the Spirit of God in a tone that is extremely offensive and buffoonish. The depiction of the women on the show are misrepresenting the church as a whole. Where do Christians draw the line? This show is not only a gross injustice to the Christian Community but the American public as a whole.
One of the “prophetesses” mentioned that her calling is to bring people clarity from God concerning their personal struggles. Although, only one episode has aired so far, it seems that all they are bringing is more confusion. From bickering with perspective protégés to audacious claims that are nothing but self-centered, the perception is these women are on a mission to further their own personal empires.
The preachers have expressed the only reason for being on the show is to bring glory to God and share the message of Christ with the world, but others believe Lifetime’s Preach is delivering the wrong message. In the series, the four prophetic women will showcase their own spiritual gifts as they take protégés under their wings to teach them how to hone their own God-given gifts. Whether the show will make the cut or be cancelled as a result of the petition is unclear. One viewer said it will take the work of a real “prophet” to see if the show has future on the Lifetime network. As it stands, Preach can be viewed on Friday evenings at 9. Is Lifetime’s Preach sending the wrong message?
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Slate: Preach Looks Like Just Another Reality-Show Catfight. It Is—but It’s Also So Much More.
Change.org: CANCEL the Reality Show “Preach”
A.V. Club: Lifetime’s gospel reality series Preach is a curse disguised as a blessing
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