First, I have to say that I can’t imagine choosing to sit around listening to “worship songs” on a Sunday morning. It’s like deciding to jump into a bush full of chiggers, as far as I’m concerned, and then, when that wasn’t sufficiently excruciating, stuffing fire ants in my ears. But this guy, Ben Kirby, was willingly inflicting televangelist noise on himself.
From his couch in Dallas, Ben Kirby began asking questions about the lifestyles of the rich and famous pastors when he was watching some worship songs on YouTube on a Sunday morning in 2019. While listening to a song by Elevation Worship, a megachurch based in Charlotte, the evangelical churchgoer noticed the lead singer’s Yeezy sneakers were worth nearly the amount of his first rent check.
Kirby posted to his 400 followers on Instagram, “Hey Elevation Worship, how much you paying your musicians that they can afford $800 kicks? Let me get on the payroll!”
Plus, Kirby wondered, how could the church’s pastor, Steven Furtick, one of the most popular preachers in the country, afford a new designer outfit nearly every week?
Now he’s happily filling up his Instagram account with photos of the exorbitant styles of preachers. Hey, I fill up my instagram with photos of spiders, and even I think that is creepy. I haven’t subscribed to his account because I really don’t need frequent reminders to know that televangelists are selfish, lying scum.
On his feed, Kirby has showcased Seattle pastor Judah Smith’s $3,600 Gucci jacket, Dallas pastor T.D. Jakes’s $1,250 Louboutin fanny pack and Miami pastor Guillermo Maldonado’s $2,541 Ricci crocodile belt. And he considers Paula White, former president Donald Trump’s most trusted pastoral adviser who is often photographed in designer items, a PreachersNSneakers “content goldmine,” posting a photo of her wearing $785 Stella McCartney sneakers.
I really don’t need to know the details.
In his book, Kirby writes that these pastors who have enormous social media followings aren’t just simply pastors anymore, he writes. Often they are motivational speakers, corporate coaches and leadership consultants. Kirby said he has heard of churches where a volunteer was designated solely for the purpose of carrying the pastor’s Bible. Often, he writes, these pastors have private entrances, reserved parking spaces, security details and a gaggle of personal assistants or handlers. And, often, they promise blessings from God to their followers if their followers bless the church.
Oh, stop it. I’m feeling sick.
Kirby notes how the fancy-sneaker-wearing preacher trend has taken off while the resale market for sneakers has also boomed. In 2019, Kirby posted a picture of Pastor John Gray wearing the coveted Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red Octobers, selling at the time on the resale market for more than $5,600. If a pastor buys or receives a new pair of shoes as a gift with a lucrative resale value and chooses to wear them, it can demonstrate to followers that he can afford to not resell them.
We don’t even tax these assholes.
Across the United States, the biggest-name pastors and worship leaders produce best-selling books and albums, often earning huge salaries and housing allowances from their churches. And many of the biggest churches, which do not have to disclose their revenue publicly, often generate opulent untaxed revenue.
Ben Kirby still considers himself an evangelical Christian. I wouldn’t be able to stomach the hypocrisy.