Is Religious Reality TV Really Bad Or Are People Too Caught Up In What Gospel Artists Should Be?

April 21, 2013  |  

Does gospel get a bad rap?

If you grew up in a “praying house,” as some call it, chances are you were required to go to church all the time – probably three times during the week and all day on Sunday. At home, the Bible may have been centrally located and the gospel music playing was a constant. Your parents and grandparents played all the goodies like Shirley Caesar, Mississippi Mass Choir, Mahalia Jackson (if you really want to take it back) and James Cleveland – they were the real music stars. So it was church and gospel music. That’s all there was back in the day. That’s it.

But that was then.

Today, gospel is a booming business that goes way beyond praising God in song. Many artists are doing reality shows, making songs that sound really close to secular music and other becoming involved in other business ventures that some may consider attempts to be more mainstream. It’s almost become a gift and a curse.

When it was first revealed that Mary Mary would be getting their own reality show early last year, I admit to being one of the people staunchly opposed to the entire idea. Like, of course, Mary Mary are really just two women who lead very regular lives outside of music but as they are gospel artists, I was nervous about how much they would show of their lives. I, like many others, were worried they’d be “ungodly” in their personal lives and it would turn me off.  Sure, I was prejudging them and as judgment is a part of life (despite what many of us might say), I don’t really apologize for it.  As it turns out, the show isn’t that bad (aside from the occasional very “angry” moment from one of the sisters) and I enjoy watching. They’ll be on season three soon so I guess so does everyone else.

The music is becoming a little more “interesting” as well. While many of us who know and sometimes enjoy gospel music may recall it being traditional – mostly slow and literally almost just like church – in its sound, a lot of today’s music is quite…hip. Kirk Franklin led that wave in the late 90s with “Stomp.” Artists like Mary Mary, Tye Tribbett and others are continuing the trend. While these artists are continuing to deliver “the word” in song, some feel they’ve gotten too secular (if you recall, “God In Me sounded a lot like “Blame It On The Alcohol”).   New artist Lecrae (who actually won a Grammy earlier this year) is a young gospel rapper – and a great one, at that – who grew up with hip-hop music did not initially “know God.” He surrounded himself with a party lifestyle full of drugs, alcohol and women. He finally had an epiphany of sorts and decided to turn his life over to God.  But he raps; should he not be allowed to perform his praise in the way he knows how?

The question becomes: Is today’s Gospel just getting bad rap? Are people too uptight and caught up in what gospel artists “should” be? If you think about it, a lot of these artists grew up in not only a hip hop era, but also a media based one. They’re gospel singers, not blind singers who don’t know what’s happening outside of their genre. Shouldn’t they have a right to express themselves in a way they see fit without being disrespectful to their message? It seems like many people who are familiar with gospel would like to see it stay in this “box” that’s full of choir robes and hymns. Admittedly, I’m a person who likes gospel music in spurts and am fairly conservative in what I like. But as I recently watched an episode of “The Sheards” while wondering why they would even bother with reality television, I thought, “They have a right to show their lives too. Stop being so critical.” It may not stop me in full from being critical but I’ll watch with more openness.

Gospel artists seemingly will never catch a break unless they stick to this mold of only singing and speaking about God, heaven and the like. Perhaps that’s too much responsibility and as we know, you can’t please everyone.

What do you think? Are people too hard on the gospel artists or should some gospel artists be more mindful of the product their releasing?

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  • nicknick

    i went in watching hoping not to have a problem with them but – baby girls attitude is stink at times, how is she reaching others to christ? their clothing isn’t holy – too much jewelery and form fitting clothing – baby boy’s drum set is PERCHED TOO HIGH ABOVE the crowd .. that’s a sign of wanting to be worshiped so he doesn’t appeal to me – dad looks like a slick pastor, i’m keeping my eyes on him – mom seems to be the only one trying too bad their all using her fame and notoriety to make it

  • Akiko

    Religion needs to be done away with. There is no ‘god’ anyway.

  • courtney_hi

    I think that reality tv just isnt the place for people of the ministry… you are an example to others trying to live a righteous life for christ and when you do questionable activities (kiki tattoo , sons bad language ) it shows others that you are the same way they are in sin and that you are not portraying the life of christ

  • Guest

    This is what the bible says about platforms, “3 My brothers and sisters, do not encourage a large number of you to become teachers because teachers will be held to a higher standard. 2 We all stumble along the way. If a person never speaks hurtful words or shouts in anger or profanity, then he has achieved perfection. The one who can control his tongue can also control the rest of his body.”Jas 3 The Voice

  • Ladybug94

    Point is, these artist and still human and are not perfect so I wouldn’t be worshipping them in the first place. I do feel some of the music has strayed from “the gospel”. SN: Tina in Mary Mary needs to ALWAYS wear a support bra. It’s very tacky to see her on stage with breast flopping around like yardbirds.

  • Just Sayin’

    This sort of thing is why I’ve become agnostic. We see these so-called Christians motivated by the same things that so-called sinners are. It’s hypocritical to me. The only difference between gospel music today and r&b and hip hop is that gospel songs throw in the word Jesus here and there. I know gospel artists are trying to reach out to the non-church going people. But if church music sounds just like club music and if the gospel artists are just as fame hungry as secular artists, what’s the point in being a Christian? I grew up in the church yet too many christians’ lives show no positive fruit from giving it up to Christ.

    • Agreed

      I agree. When I decided to give my life to Christ, it was because I wanted a completely new life filled with holiness and joy. But this new message that some gospel artists are delivering is not about a change. If your mission is to save souls then your songs shoulbe telling people to confess with their mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe, because that is how a soul is saved.

    • Thisis me

      What are you taking about? What does seeing other people be hypocrites (just like you are) have to do with YOUR relationship with GOD and choosing to be an agnostic? You are responsible for your relationship with Christ. Yes many gospel artists are staring to act secular but that does mean don’t be a chrisitan.No one else is suppose to make you look good. we’re all responsible for our own life and image.

      • Ladybug94

        I agree. I’m not giving up Jesus for nobody. Nobody.

      • agreed

        When she says “whats the point of being a Christian” I don’t think she is referring to herself, she is referring to the secular gospel artists. Re-read the comment. These false leaders need to be called out, Jesus also called them out in the bible. Don’t look for reasons to attack your fellow Christians, what she said is true and Im glad she is bold enough to call them out on it and speak the truth, unlike some people who instead bury their heads in the sand and say “oh just ignore them”. Jesus didn’t ignore them, he called them out on it so that other people will be aware of the lie.

    • Ladybug94

      Soooooo, you let THAT turn you from Christ? That is very unfortunate.

    • Lovely Livvy

      Please believe that Jesus is real. Everything that you see is true. Apostasy is popular in the church buildings and the gospel industry. There is a remnant of people who recognize that – come out and be separate; do not be unequally yoked- were not suggestions. They were guidelines for living a godly life. Even in the OT the Israelites constantly fell into troubles and idolatry when they mixed with those who did not know or fear God. He gave them instructions to not participate in rituals, customs and the culture of the nations around them. Somehow people miss that message and are not looking for holiness anymore. Just know that He is not pleased and not everyone who says Lord Lord has a relationship with Him. Many have religion, not relationship. They do want to look, talk and walk like the world. Keep your eyes on Christ not people who call themselves “Christians”. If they are then you will know by their fruit.

  • Summergirl

    I don’t think “Christian” celebs should be rich. If they’re rich, then it shows that they’re not really Christian. After all, Jesus said, in Matthew 19:24: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man
    to enter into the kingdom of God.”

    • Guest

      Easier and impossible are not the same.

    • HIghly Favoured

      Money is not from the devil, riches are not from the devil. God wants His children to lack for nothing, to be prosperous in every way. Yes, that means have financial abundance as well. The difference is that as Christian we should understand that money is not the most important thing. After all, God gave it to us, He can take it away if we worship it and not Him, Plus, we are blessed to bless, how are people going to be blessings in people’slives if they lack. God is a God of much much more. The scripture you quoted, Jesus was saying that a rich godless person doesn’t have any chance of making it into heaven. If as a person, Christian or not, place all your hope and faith in your money, don’t considr anything or anyone, lacks any of the fruits of the spirit you will not make it to heaven.

  • Honesty

    I never looked that deep into it. If you are praising God and trying to spread His greatness then why does it matter.

  • Sandbrn

    People are too caught up in what gospel artists should be, instead of what they are—Flawed human beings that are striving to be more christ like. Some think that becoming a christian instantly makes you pious and holy, well news flash it doesn’t. We struggle on a daily basis to reflect Gods word and action and if that means that sometimes we fall down or fall short of that but we get back up and continue to strive toward the ultimate goal, then in my book you are doing exactly what is required to walk with the Lord.

  • CriticXtreme

    Most people who call themselves religious are undercover devils. How about a fake reality show that’s actually real? How about you depict a black college student working his/her arse off to get a college degree, making straight A’s while their stomach growls and the only thing that tastes like food is the salva in their mouth? And I’m not talking about showing them quitting college but actually graduating from a real college. This would hopefully motivate the black community instead of some more fake, scripted crap that only confusing and self-righteous.

    • BLESS

      Who have you been hanging around , You can not depend on people to motivate you. You think people pat you on the back when you get a degree, The word is Christian and if you see that there are undercover devils . BECOME A CHRISTIAN AND PRAY TO GOD ABOUT, YOU WANT THE BLACK COMMUNITY TO CHANGE PRAY. YOU STAND UP MAKE A CHANGE .START A FOUNDATION .

  • Mimsy

    I don’t care for gospel never appealed to me. I watched the Sheards and think they’re a dsyfunctional family. Keke is grown living at home and mom talks to her and treats her like a baby. The son is living with his grandma, trying to find his own way. It’s obvious that he wants to leave gospel music behind, but the guilt trips are too much! And the baby mama, that can’t take the hint..Lawd Have Mercy!

  • sabrina

    However you can reach the masses and spread the gospel, I’m down for it. I don’t understand why some people don’t even like Christian rap. I think it’s great, and there’s a lot of talented Christian rappers (Lecrae, KB, Trip Lee). They can reach demographics (i.e. young males) that would possibly never think twice about listening to a gospel song. Folks that try to go mainstream can potential reach mainstream listeners and spread some gospel that way. As long as the intent is pure, it doesn’t matter the form.

  • The Sheards show is a hot mess as is bet itself these gospel artists of today have no class as the performers of the past

  • I thought being a christian meant being like christ. When did christ have time to put out an album or star in tv shows. In the bible he said he didn’t have a place to lay down his head, but you have time to make a name for yourself and become a tv star? smh

    • sabrina

      Yes, being a Christian does mean being more like Christ. But that incorporates so many things — including spreading the gospel. God uses people’s talents to help spread the gospel, and some of these people’s talents lie in music. There’s a lot of people in the public eye who God raised up to appeal to and reach the masses, including some gospel artists. There are some that totally have a pure heart and do it just to spread the Word, not to become a star or famous.

      But when some of these folks start doing the reality shows and all that extra-ness, I can see where the skepticism comes from.

  • pickneychile

    I think people are too hard on them, but at the same time they are on a platform and need to be mindful of how they are portraying themselves. People’s aversion to certain types of Christian music goes too far sometimes…just because you may not LIKE Christian rap (or rap in general) doesn’t make it wrong and guaranteed its meeting somebody somewhere in their walk. Everything is not for everybody but as long as the message is pure who the heck cares about how the beat or music sounds. Now in terms of gospel artists flooding reality tv, that’s their prerogative. I enjoy Mary Mary’s show but I probably wouldn’t be signing onto a show if I were them. That doesn’t mean its wrong, it just means we have different personalities/opinions.