Love it or hate it, “Preachers of L.A.” definitely has people talking. The freshman reality series premiered last month on Oxygen to mixed reviews with some people praising it and others like Bishop T.D. Jakes rebuking it. And it’s all good, said Minister Deitrick Haddon, a popular gospel recording artist and preacher who’s one of the six Christian leaders featured on the show.
“People are talking about church in the barber shop and beauty salons as a result of this show. It has got people to want to go back to the Word and study for themselves,” says Haddon, the brainchild behind “Preachers of L.A.”
He’s joined by cast mates Pastor Jay Haizlip, Bishop Ron Gibson, Pastor Wayne Chaney, Bishop Clarence McClendon and Bishop Noel Jones. The show follows these men’s lives inside their ministries and their homes, showing how they interact with their wives and girlfriends and those in the community. With Haddon, the series shows the struggles between him and his then-fiancee, Dominique–who stated she felt like a single mother raising their 19-month-old daughter alone–living a part until they are married. The couple did wed and the reunited family now live in a new home.
Haddon, who’s unsure if he or his cast mates will return for a second season, chatted exclusively with XFINITY TV about prosperity gospel, how churches could help the black community and his views on same-sex marriage. “Preachers of L.A.” airs tonight at 10 p.m. EST on Oxygen.
How has your life changed since the show aired?
My life hasn’t changed significantly. I’ve always been in the spotlight through my music. I’m used to the spotlight as a preacher’s kid and having to be a certain way in front of people. So my life hasn’t significantly changed other than there’s a new demographic of people who are aware of my gift and who I am. I can say there’s another level of awareness of who I am and I can’t go to the gas station without somebody recognizing me or going to the grocery store. I didn’t know that the show was going to be such a hit–well, I knew in my heart, but it’s another thing when you actually see it happening and the results of it. I get all nationalities being aware of me is a little different than the church community being aware of you.
Why did you decide participate?
I had to. I didn’t think anyone else would at first. I was a part of the genesis of this show. Actually, it was my idea and I took it to Holly Carter who took it to Lemuel Plummer and the three of us got it done. It’s something that I really believe in because I’ve been a PK all my life and I really know the flip side. I know what it’s like to be in the home of a preacher and just see the real of ministry and not just the platform, the show of ministry–the speaking in front of everybody– and actually seeing the business of church and seeing preachers in their humanity. As a PK, I know my dad is just my dad. I know what makes him mad, I know his faults. But they never that because preachers aren’t supposed to show that side of ministry, they aren’t supposed to be human. I thought society was mature enough to understand and be able to respect these guys’ humanity. So I signed up to do the show because I knew that it was going to take somebody brave to do this because most preachers are guarded and they don’t share that side of their lives because they need to be pulled back from their parishioners or their church members so they can be honored. They feel if they show people their human side they won’t honor or respect them. Regardless if we like it or not, a lot of preachers in our generation, we’ve seen their humanity, we’ve seen their faults.
You said quite a bit that I want to touch on. What do you think is the most misunderstood thing about preachers or people in those types of positions?
People think that because they are a mouthpiece for God, that they are perfect in some way. Or they’re some type of mini-God like if you have that type of divine connection to God then you have to be perfect. And that’s wrong. God always used imperfect people to perfect people. God uses human beings and when you use human beings you’re always going to deal with imperfections. So the mindset is if my pastor is preaching on behalf of God, then he should be living at a certain standard, which he does, but you can’t take away his humanity. He’s still human. And he still has to govern himself.
Doesn’t everyone have that divine connection to God?
Absolutely. Everybody has a divine connection to God but everybody isn’t called to speak on behalf of God. Everybody isn’t a preacher. Everybody isn’t a prophet. Everybody isn’t a teacher even though you have the capabilities to teach something doesn’t mean that you are a teacher. That is not your calling, that is not your gift and that is not what you are purposed to do. So I think it’s a matter of assignment.
Churches are very common in black communities around the country yet those areas are among the most disparaged. What can churches do to help those living in those areas?
I think the church could get outdoors more and get in the culture and get in the community and make a difference. I don’t want to slight any church across America but I do want to say this: churches have been doing that for years but you still can’t change the heart of an individual. You can do your best to teach the truth, give them an opportunity, share what is right but people are still going to walk away and do what they’re going to do in their communities, do what they’re going to do with their own lives and do what they’re going to do with their families. I cannot sit here and act like churches have not been in the community like my church has for years. I was born pretty much on the pew and our whole ministry was outreach: in the streets, preaching the gospel, fixing up abandoned houses in Detroit. My dad’s church is still going on. I would say churches have to be out here more. The crazier it gets the more aggressive the church has to get. We have to continue to outreach and feed the hungry and homeless and do youth programs for our young people. We have to go hard in the paint. The force of evil is going hard in the paint so we have to go harder.
People will watch a show like “Preachers of L.A.” with ministers who seem to be very wealthy and own several luxury goods and say Jesus wasn’t about that. Why do you think people have a problem with prosperity churches?
I think there’s a place for prosperity in all of our lives whether you’re a preacher or a parishioner. I don’t think anybody wants to stay broke or stay poor. If there’s a ministry that’s available to teach how to attain wealth biblically then I think that’s an awesome ministry. I think people really have a problem when the pastor seems like he’s growing financially and the church is crumbling or there’s nothing in place to help people. That’s when people have a problem with that. But if a pastor is a visionary and his heart’s right, he’s going to make sure that those things are in place where the church is helping people. But I don’t think anybody should be judged by where they live or what they drive or what they wear. I think anybody that’s doing that is wrong. You can’t take it out on the preachers on this show because I know these guys. Their ministries are established; they’ve been feeding the homeless and helping people for years like Bishop Noel Jones and Bishop Ron Gibson. These guys are established, very solid men of God who’ve been helping their community and doing it for years. But I do understand that there are people out there who have been victims where their pastors did take the money, their pastors did drive a Bentley while the church has a leak in the wall.
A few weeks ago Bishop T.D. Jakes denounced your show after the first episode aired and talked about how he didn’t use his church’s money to attain his wealthy lifestyle.
He’s entitled to that. I say this: your opinion does not change facts. I personally don’t think anyone sat Bishop Jakes down and he actually watched the show. The first show only aired by the time he spoke on it. Some of his people should have sat him down because I feel he spoke prematurely. Because the proof is in the pudding. People’s lives are being changed, people are connecting to it.
Do you feel it is fair to hold preachers on a higher standard than others?
I absolutely do think it is fair to hold preachers to a higher standard because he is called to lead. Any leader should lead by example. And so I think that’s the only standard we should hold preachers to. Don’t ask me to do something that you’re aren’t willing to do. Now, I don’t think it’s fair to hold that preacher to perfection because none of us is perfect. We are all human. If you face reality with maturity then you realize that the leader that I look up to is flesh and blood just like I am. He’s going to be faced with trials and tribulations just like I am. He has dysfunctional family issues just like I do but that doesn’t change the fact that he can’t lead me. I think the only standard people should hold preachers to is if you tell me something you should do it too. Lead by example.
Same-sex marriage became legal in your home-state California this year and Illinois’ governor is expected to sign same-sex marriage into law Wednesday. What are your thoughts on same-sex marriage?
I have my personal convictions and my personal convictions. Part of my personal convictions I’m going to share, part I’m going to keep to myself. The part that I want to share is that God gave man free will for him to choose his own destiny. We all can do whatever we want to do. And that’s my stance on same-sex marriage. People have the choice to do what they want to do. Does that make it right? Not at all. Somebody has the choice to go out here and murder somebody. Does that make it right? Not at all. Somebody has the choice to go out and rape somebody or get on drugs or sell drugs or choose a certain church or choose a certain thing or watch my show or not–everybody has choice whether it’s right or wrong. God has given man free will. If somebody wants to make that choice of being married to the same sex that’s their choice. Will I love that person the same? Yes. Does God love that person the same? Yes. God loves all people for God so loved the world–world, not just a particular group of people who does everything right. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. God loves everybody no matter what decision they make, who they decide to marry. God loves everybody and I don’t have the authority nor does anybody, period, have the power or the authority to judge anybody. It’s our responsibility as Christians to love people where they are in life and let God do the judging. And that’s where people get it all twisted. People say, “well, how are you going to support [President Barack] Obama who supports same-sex marriages when you’re supposed to be a Christian?” Obama is doing the right thing: giving people free will. God gives free will.
Why do you think people prefer to judge instead of love as you say Christians should do?
It’s easier to love. That’s going to be a life-long quest to figure that out. I think a lot of people are searching for some connection to God and when they feel they have found a piece of that through their faith, they tend to look down on others. They tend to judge other people because they haven’t found what they found. That’s not what Jesus taught us. That’s not the Christian way. Jesus taught us to love people wherever they were. All of [Jesus'] boys had issues and he loved them until they grew spiritually. He never judged them. He walked with them until they grew and learned. So for the life of me I still can’t understand why people can’t just love people. So my stance is, I say people have the choice to do whatever they want, love who they want, marry who they want, they have the choice to do that. Does it make it right? No. But it’s their choice.
Who on the show are you closest to as far as your cast members?
I’m not super close with any of the guys even though I have a relationship with all of them. So I’m not bosom buddies with any of the guys. I’m not a bosom buddies person that just isn’t in my nature. But I do respect all of the guys. I trust all of the guys. I have a love for all of the guys and I have a relationship with all of the guys. Me and McClendon had a big fight on the show and we’ve become closer as a result of that. We’ve gone out to eat by ourselves, sat down and laughed and joked about everything. We have a lot in common.
What else can we expect on the show?
It’s going to be a big surprise at the very end of the show. There’s only two shows left and there will be a big to-do.