There is a certain sect of Christians so uptight I doubt even the hand of God could loosen them up. Whenever any reality show, or excuse me, “docu-series,” related to the faith surfaces, there is uproar. These are the people who launch campaigns to cancel shows like Oxygen’s Preachers of LA or even the TV Land sitcom Soul Man. Needless to say, upon word of Lifetime’s Preach, which chronicles the lives of four “prophetesses” and their mentees, it’s not surprising to see charges that the women are “exploiting the gospel” and “making a mockery” of prophetic ministry and subsequent calls of its axing.
However, if you watch the series premiere, which airs on Friday at 10/9 C, you’ll see that while there may be showmanship (the series features both the “Beyoncé” and the “blue-eyed soul” of ministry), it’s more substance than spectacle. These women believe in their gifts – i.e. to see catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina before they happen or to bring back people from the dead. Whether or not you believe them is another story.
We spoke with the show’s stars – Belinda Scott, Taketa Williams, Linda Roark, Kelly Crews – on sexism in the clergy, motivation to do the show, looming skepticism, and what Preach might do for millennials.
EBONY: Have you been met with sexism as you rose in your career and if so, was there any particular instance that stuck out to you? Like trying to break this “stain glass ceiling” as they refer to it on the show.
Linda: On several occasions, but in one particular was a Baptist man. I was just starting my ministry and I went out asking local churches if there were any extra chairs they would like to get rid of and the Baptist man had ask me what were they for, and as I began to tell him he immediately look at me and said women are not to suppose to preach. I began to tell him scriptures in the Bible, but he wasn’t having. Needless to say I walked away without any chairs. But that didn’t stop me I’m still preaching the gospel.
Dr. Belinda: About 15 years ago I started receiving letters from an unnamed source that was saying things like you shouldn’t be in the pulpit, you shouldn’t be in the pulpit, you shouldn’t be in the pulpit. I pay no attention to the letters at first, but then they became very, very violent and saying that women shouldn’t be doing this and they explained themselves. They didn’t give a real name but they explained themselves as being “a Christian, a man of God,” and this that and the other. I gave the letters over to the local police authorities who then turned them over to the FBI. Come to find out that it was an individual who really, really hated women in ministry and they handled it from there.
EBONY: What was your motivation to do the show?
Dr. Belinda: To be someone they can look up to say, “If Dr. Belinda can do it, then I can do it.” That’s my personal motivation as well as my spiritual motivation. To see women encouraged. I don’t just encourage women; I encourage men as well, men prophets and all of that. But it’s definitely to be an encouragement to people in life to be who they have been called to be, to be where they are supposed to be regardless of their gender.
Dr. Taketa: Initially, I shunned the idea of being a part of the reality show because of the stigmas that are associated with such type of work. However, I remembered a prophecy my husband gave me over 20 years now and he told me that my prophetic voice, not just my voice but my prophetic voice, my voice as a prophet would reach into Hollywood and I would begin to bless people with my gift. He told me that over 20 years ago.
Kelly: It took a while. It was a lot of praying and reading contracts. I just believe that people will be touched and that God will be glorified and that he will be able to portray us being his instruments in Earth.
EBONY: In the same way cast members of Preachers of L.A. were criticized, I imagine some church folks will feel a way about you doing reality TV. What do you say to say to those who might scrutinize your decision to do reality television?
Linda: I would just let them know everybody is entitled to their opinion, but that there opinion does dictate to what I know God is calling me to do and that is to take the gospel outside the four walls of the church.
Kelly: Well, I think that at this point I don’t have to validate their opinion. I feel that God has given me the green light. I am here to please God and I am not here to please people. I was just telling another lady, I said when Nehemiah was doing his job in Earth and he was rebuilding the wall and people kept intimidating and trying to tell him he wasn’t, you know, you are not supposed to do that or whatever. He looked at them and said why should I respond to the likes of you? That wasn’t an arrogant answer. It was just that I am confident in who God has created me to be. I am choosing to live outside of the opinions of people and be who God has created me to be in the Earth.
EBONY: Do you have any specific advice to women who want to be ordained?