Preachers of L.A.

The vast majority of religious institutions receive non-profit status and pay no taxes. That goes for many preachers’ personal income as well, but the preachers of LA may soon have issues. Because of the extravagant lifestyle portrayed by pastors on the Real Preachers of LA,  the IRS is examining the nature and income of  churches across the country. A lawsuit was filed in November 2013 by the Freedom from Religion Foundation versus the IRS, claiming that clergy receive preferential and unfair treatment in using untaxed income to pay for homes, cars and other personal items that the average citizen must pay. United States District Court Judge Barbara Crabb agreed and issued two rulings in the FFRF vs. Werfel (IRS). The first ruling agreed that pastors’ untaxed income does give an unfair privilege and the second allowed another lawsuit to proceed that would make preachers report all income received or be charged with tax evasion. The purpose of these lawsuits is to redefine and test the limits of how separation of church and state is viewed as well as religious freedoms.

The very nature of the Real Preachers of LA shows the often extreme and lavish life styles of these pastors. A giant walk-in closet of custom made suits, mansions, Bentleys and private jets automatically put the pastor under scrutiny. The days of Eddie Long standing at the altar as congregants bring up stacks of cash may soon face greater scrutiny. For many black parishioners of various churches, it is a welcome examination of the black megachurch.The lawsuits are not solely directed at black preachers but all clergy. It just so happens that the Real Preachers of LA present a season of evidence against the continued privileges of black megachurch pastors.

Mo Barnes

"Mo Betta" Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician.