The hypocrisy of today’s Christian Leaders

August 10, 2007 at 2:12 am 34 comments

Humble ManI was recently listening to Alanis Morissette’s song “All I Really Want.” The song contained the following lyrics:

And I am fascinated by the spiritual man
I am humbled by his humble nature

I did a quick reflection on my recent history with Christianity and really struggled to think of a Christian leader who I would class as “humble.” In fact, it’s always very interesting to turn on the Television and watch a little Christian Television. The display of ministers with expensive suits and bodyguards with Head Microphones flanking them is abundant. In a previous post, I blogged on the concept of modern day ministers having “armor bearers” to serve their every need. A concept taken from the Biblical account of Moses and Aaron.

This leadership style is even in direct conflict to what Jesus is quoted as saying about leaders:

You know that in this world there are tyrants and officials lord it over the people beneath them. But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant. I came here not to be served but to serve others.

In 1997, the church I attended was having meetings with a well known Tulsa based minister. For the meetings, there was a special parking lot designated for VIPs. The entire front of the church was sectioned off for these special guests. There was special childcare for their children and a welcome room with food and drinks for them. There were those who stood in lines for hours to get into these meetings. However, even if they did, because of the reserved seating, I’m not sure the seating they received was quite worth the wait.

There we were, catering to the every need of these “leaders.” Parking their cars, caring for their children, making sure they had lots to eat and drink, and giving them the best seats of the house while the masses were standing in the cold for hours hoping to get a good seat.

What was also ironic about this event, is that my pastor at the time was one of my heroes because he had classed himself as a true representative of the people. Yet here he was, now a part of the inner circle, and participating in the very things he spoke against for many years. Not much different than the pigs in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”

I would not class these “leaders” as “servants.” I’ve been in conferences with high level CEOs of multi-million dollar companies who did not receive this type of treatment. This is yet another great example of the hypocrisy of a significant portion of modern day American Christianity. They do not even follow their own scriptures.

My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim that you have faith in Jesus if you favor some people more than others? For instance, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in shabby clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”–well, doesn’t this discrimination show that you are guided by wrong motives? – James

– The de-Convert

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34 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mike  |  August 10, 2007 at 3:48 am

    The de-Convert, there is much in your post that i resonate greatly with. I have been to church services where the worship leader had this “air” about him that everyone was there to see him instead of meet with God. I have seen (briefly because then i had to turn it off) the same Christian TV you comment on and been amazed at the lack of humility present in those who would lead. I especially enjoyed the Animal Farm reference.
    However, i resent your broad sweeping claim that “This is yet another great example of the hypocrisy of modern day American Christianity.” I understand how your experience could have colored that comment, and for that i am truly sorry. My experience hasnt been all bad, though. I am a student at Covenant Theological Seminary, and one of my professors has told us that if he ever wants to judge the health of the church we lead, he is going to go ask the janitor how we as the head pastors treat him. That is the attitude of servanthood that this seminary is seeking to instill in the leaders it trains.
    Now as far as scripture goes, while you are certainly correct that we are not to play favorites or esteem some greater than others, dont forget that Jesus himself established Peter as the rock on which the church would be built. Jesus is making a distinction not for the glory of the individual but for the glory of God. Peter carries this attitude forward If you look at Acts 6:1-7.
    The ploblem is that we in a western culture tend to favor those down front, in the public eye, and there is no doubt that many seek those positions for precisely those reasons. However, there are also those whose attitude is always Jesus reminder that the last shall be first and vice versa, that the Savior of our faith washed others’ feet, and that I am to regard others as greater than myself.
    So please dont lump me, or all of Christianity for that matter, in with those that live like you describe until i have earned such a critique. If I ever do in your sight, I would only ask that you call me on it immediately that I might seek your forgiveness.

  • 2. Scavella  |  August 10, 2007 at 6:11 am

    Christianity’s a whole lot bigger than what we see on TV. I know many humble spiritual men and women. Generally that’s how I judge the religious of any faith. The rest are scribes and pharisees, hypocrites — the straw men of my earlier argument.

  • 3. A Thinking Man  |  August 10, 2007 at 6:58 am

    I understand your unease and disillusionment. I have shared similar feeling for very different reasons. You may be interested in my own account of “Coming Out”.

  • 4. The de-Convert  |  August 10, 2007 at 10:17 am


    True. My comments were sweeping. However, understand that my recent experiences were in the Charismatic/WOF camp. Hence my tainted perspective 🙂 I’ll tone it down.


  • 5. Robert  |  August 10, 2007 at 10:24 am

    I would like to point out that this sort of hypocrisy has been going on for AGES within Christianity; it’s not a recent development. Wealth + power create these sort of aristocracies, and the Christian church has never been immune, despite whatever its founder purportedly said.

  • 6. The de-Convert  |  August 10, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Very true. For those who are familiar with other religions, is this the case also? For example, at least on TV, Buddhist Monks seem to be very humble. Of course, I’ve never personally met a Buddhist Monk so I can’t say if this portrayal is really accurate.

  • 7. joejames  |  August 10, 2007 at 11:12 am

    LOL! That is so true. And I laugh knowing it’s really not all that funny!

    Let the record show… I am a Christian who is not in favor of Christians plastering their message all over TV and the air waves.

    And Let the record show…. I too cannot think of a single humble Christian Leader outside a couple of personal relationships.

    Totally agree… totally, totally, totally!

  • 8. Heather  |  August 10, 2007 at 11:25 am

    However, understand that my recent experiences were in the Charismatic/WOF camp. Hence my tainted perspective

    I think for some people, this type of behavior becomes the norm, and the nice Christians become the exception.

  • 9. Thinking Ape  |  August 10, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    The de-Convert, because buddhism is based on “right practice” rather than “right belief”, hypocrisy is kind of a non-issue. If you practice right, than you are misunderstanding something and you are only harming yourself and delaying your own enlightenment.

    As for Christianity, there is no such thing as someone who is not a hypocrite. It is human nature to want to be one thing, especially better than what you currently are. Christians label other Christians as “hypocrites” more often than non-Christians do. Christians feel the need to be morally superior and so their leaders are usually the last to admit wrong-doing. The garbage on some of these comments about “Christianity isn’t what is on TV” is ludicrous. What exactly do you think is going on in the real world? I would much rather take the painted picture of TV churches over the dirty hypocrisy of moderate Christians and dishonest evangelicals. Everyone has a story, and it is time that people stop expecting others to follow something they themselves don’t follow – and that’s everyone.

  • 10. Mike  |  August 10, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    Couldnt agree more everyone, and i thank you for the qualification The de-Convert.

    I would like to toss out Billy Graham as a possible humble leader in the Christian eye. I have never met him personally, however i have seen him at one of his conferences and read that he got the highest rating for a non-profit Christian run organization, as regards percentage of donations given away, transparency in the structure, job satisfaction for those that work with him, etc. What are everyone’s thoughts on him?

  • 11. Sauls  |  August 10, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    Why does any educated person judge an ideal by what they see on television?
    There are some decent Christian figures on television, but not the majority.

    The Church is not one person, but a worldwide and multi-dimensional collection of followers of Jesus Christ. He is the head, not any individual person on earth. Also Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.

    Please name any organization without hypocrisy at some level.

  • 12. Beth Young  |  August 10, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Amen and very well said, Sauls!

  • 13. The de-Convert  |  August 10, 2007 at 2:08 pm


    That was just an example. It wasn’t meant to say the TV ministers define Christian leaders in totality. Also my post referenced my reflection on “my recent history with Christianity.”

    Also, I’m not sure the everyone else is a hypocrite line is a proper justification for hypocrisy.


  • 14. Paul  |  August 10, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Just not lest ye be judged.

    As right as you may be, it is not our place to judge these people and their deeds. Every person will receive judgment in the eyes of the lord. “He who is without sin shall cast the first stone.” I’m sure that you are not without your own sin. We should all be focused on our lives in Christ and not with drawing judgment on others.

  • 15. The de-Convert  |  August 10, 2007 at 2:32 pm


    Actually I welcome judgment. I hope that I am held accountable for my actions. It keeps me honest and striving to be an ethical individual. If I thought I could just “confess it” away, I have no incentive to do what’s right.

    On your comment on sin, it really depends on how you define sin. If you define it as me cutting my hair or having jealousy, anger, and other very human traits… then yeah, we’re all full of sin. If you define it as being evil (violating the right to life, liberty & property of another) then I’d say I’m pretty good on those lines.


  • 16. Heather  |  August 10, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Please name any organization without hypocrisy at some level.

    I think the point of this in pointing out the hypocrisy is that Christianity is something where its adherents claim to follow an absolute moral standard, their God alone determines the moral code and what is good, and yet there are those in the religion who do not behave as such.

    The de-Convert,

    I’m not sure the everyone else is a hypocrite line is a proper justification for hypocrisy.

    Agreed. It’s too close to mothers who ask their children if they’d jump off a bridge because everyone else is.

  • 17. laelaps  |  August 10, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    The de-Convert,

    Great post. The behavior (and overall setup of all too many churches) is what began to turn me away from Christianity, actually. The churches I attended in no way resembled what was being taught, especially as one of them tried to make the move to be a modern mega-church. No one’s perfect, but overall I felt like the Christians I was in contact with were more like Pharisees or members of an elite club than people who were following the ideals of loving God and loving others. Even though it may be “judgmental” of me saying what I’ve said, to the best of my knowledge we’ve all just got this one life to do good, and I feel that all too often Christians don’t rightfully criticize (rebuke?) people who share their faith that are doing wrong, agreeing with Paul that they will eventually be judged by God. This seems a little bit too relativist for me, and while we’re not saying anything churches are becoming further removed from what they were intended to be. At least that’s what I think, anyway.

  • 18. truthsurvives  |  August 10, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    Very very true, gotta tell you this, it is not a phenomenon limited to Christianity. This is a plague and all faiths are its victims.

    This differentiation in attitude, as you sighted in your last para is what is we experience on a day to day basis. If you do otherwise your peers will criticize you for being weird.

    People talk big about being righteous and a lot of other crap. The problem is that they talk but don’t act.

    Good write up The de-Convert

  • 19. Hipple, Rev. Paul T.  |  August 10, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Rooster, you write very interesting ways.

    I will put you on my Prayer Roll and pray that your words do not make hateful scars on the face of Jesus.

    I believe I am a Humble man of God and maybe that is why I support the candidacy of the Rep. Tom Tacredo for President of the United States of America Under God.

    His mission is to return Our Republic to the kind of place where God’s work is recognized by everyone. If that happens, I think Our Country will become more Christian and more Humble Christian, too.

  • 20. lizadilly  |  August 10, 2007 at 5:00 pm


    I don’t think that the “judge not lest ye be judged” line is an excuse for not being a critical thinker. When someone assumes a role of leadership and influence, they are asking for your trust. We have to be able to call a spade a spade, and that does involve judgment. In fact if we can’t judge right from wrong about our spiritual leaders, how are we accountable for any choices we make? Sin becomes undefined, integrity becomes undefined, and why? Because we all have to look the other way in the name of Christ?

  • 21. Thinking Ape  |  August 10, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    Rev. Paul, if God’s work is to obliterate people of other faiths and to demote hispanics and african-americans to second-class citizenship, then you definitely have an interesting view of “god.” I can’t believe there such people like you that support such a racist and intolerant candidate.

  • 22. karen  |  August 10, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    Interesting post, The de-Convert. I think it is likely that the leaders in the charismatic movement are particularly egregious examples of hypocrisy here. At least that’s my impression from my limited involvement in that camp.

    I would have to say I had humble as well as egotistical leadership in the conservative evangelical churches I attended.

    I found it was very, very difficult for a senior pastor to truly be as a servant. There is too much importance focused on them, they’re in the spotlight constantly, they are almost worshiped in many churches (though you won’t get people to admit that!). Of course this results in pastors with big egos – it’s almost a requirement of the job!

    And human nature is human nature – pastor or not. It’s only natural they’d get big heads – I don’t see any evidence that the holy spirit is guiding Christians to better lives than any of the rest of us folks. For instance, one reason there is so much sexual scandal involving senior pastors is this whole ego and power thing. They get treated like they are beyond reproach and they start to believe it and do whatever they want to, thinking they’ll never get caught.

    Other people in powerful positions (CEOs, judges, cops) do the same, of course.

    That said, I did work alongside and get mentored by some wonderful, sincere and very humble staff pastors and junior pastors whose leadership I admired. But in general, it was the lay leadership, particularly the elderly and poor people who worked tirelessly for years and years in churches that impressed me with their humility and work ethics.

  • 23. Mike  |  August 10, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    Rev. Paul, I’m gonna go with Thinking Ape on this one every time. In fact it is precisely the type of arrogance, hypocrisy, and pride that The de-Convert is talking about that has lead Christians over the centuries to think that it has been part of God’s plan to establish a Christian nation. It worked out pretty poorly for the South Africans when Dutch Christians felt it was their mission to “Christianize” the people there, leading to Apartheid. It worked out pretty poorly for all of Europe when the Church began to tell people to be European meant being Christian and vice versa, leading to the alienation of our African and Asian brothers, as well as leading to the Crusades. If we dont learn from our history, we will be doomed to repeat it.

    The whole point of God establishing Israel as a nation for His name was that all roads in the ancient world passed through Israel. All travelers could pass through that land and hear the name of the living God. It was intended to be in-gathering. Now, there is no physical temple for us to congregate at because Christians believe that God lives in us as a result of our relationship with Christ. This means that the new mission is to go out to the nations in truth and love, living in their culture, meeting people on their terms. Paul himself did this in Athens in Acts 17.

    True, this digressed a bit from The de-Convert’s original intention, however it is a peripheral issue and one worth talking about. Ultimately, the Christian working behind the scenes is going to do more for the kingdom than the guy down front leading others to himself.

  • 24. thefaithportrait  |  August 11, 2007 at 12:20 am

    It is time for authenticity in this day and age. the people to demand change are the masses that follow. and that time is now

  • 25. thefaithportrait  |  August 11, 2007 at 12:23 am

    If we don’t demand a change who will?

  • 26. StaCeY  |  August 11, 2007 at 4:00 am

    “It is time for authenticity in this day and age. the people to demand change are the masses that follow and that time to do that is now.
    If we don’t demand a change who will?”
    I would say that “the faith portal” is within.

    There is no one on this earth that I can change but myself.

    The masses listen to their “leaders”.
    Their mistake.

    This must change…
    one individual at a time…
    if there is ever to be any hope of authenticity…
    in anyone.

    On the “eve” of corruption …
    the double forked tongue…
    spun a seductive tail…

    and the first half of humanity
    took the bait/bite.

    the other half of humanity
    then followed the first half
    blindly and brainlessly.

    oh you’ve got an “apple” pod?
    I- I- I- I- I want one too!

    and thus has been the story ever since.

    Whose but the voice of God…
    in the inner garden…
    would you then follow?

    this whole freikin power structure of a world
    does nothing but “demand” we conform
    from day one. it sucks.

    How will I ever be authentic if I am so busy being led..
    “by this doctrine… by that propaganda…
    by all the “brand” names”…
    by my neighbor… my “enemy” … my “wife”…
    that I never come to know the TRUE POSSIBILITIES
    of my own unique existance in God?

    What do we forfiet by handing over the authority of our lives
    to other human beings? other men… and serpents alike?

    Senior Pastors and Presidents
    would all fall away
    if there were a true awakening of the masses.
    (perhaps this is not what they really want?)
    (just ask Jesus what happened to him.)
    (shall we include martin Luther King and kennedy as well?)

    If WE don’t change… who will?

  • 27. StaCeY  |  August 11, 2007 at 5:15 am

    LOL! It’s really funny what I just wrote…

    “How will I ever be authentic if I am so busy being led..
    “by this doctrine… by that propaganda…
    by all the “brand” names”…
    by my neighbor… my “enemy” … my “wife”…
    that I never come to know the TRUE POSSIBILITIES
    of my own unique existance in God?”

    I wrote “my wife” …
    because in my own mind I was thinking back to eve…
    of whom I wrote earlier in my post.

    However… I certainly SHOULD have included …
    “my husband”… ESPECIALLY in light of recent convos.
    here and at other related blogs.

    Just wanted to clarify that I WAS NOT…
    being sexist.

  • 28. societyvs  |  August 12, 2007 at 1:01 am

    The de-Convert, I love the point your making – it’s about damn time anyone involved in any Christian denomination started to believe what the teachings they read actually say! The de-Convert called it like it is and I ain’t gonna make an excuse for this attitude at all – this is based on someone’s experience and I won’t easily discount it – I have seen this also – and no one says ‘jack’. Actually if you call it out you will likely be the one swallowed whole by the machine and then spit out. I am still a Christian – but I will never excuse this attitude of superiority!

  • 29. joshm  |  August 12, 2007 at 1:51 am

    The de-Convert-
    I have often struggled with this same issue. However, we must not, as Mike has pointe4d out, fall into a hasty generalization fallacy. If we only look at “Christian” leaders on T.V., or only in megachurchs we run an even greater risk of committing this fallacy because people in these positions are likely to develop pride issues. Furthermore, the position of televangelist would likely attract the egotistical.

  • 30. SlowMovingDreams  |  August 13, 2007 at 12:41 am

    I realize that this type of “celebrity” approach to treating Christian “leaders” is nothing new, but this is one of the main reasons that I’ve rejected most of what goes on at a Promise Keepers meeting. In the name of honoring their “men of God,” they, perhaps inadvertently, promote the worship of these men.

    To be sure, many pastors labor in very difficult situations with little or no recognition. But most of these men (and women) realize their reward comes from somewhere else than the recognition of people.

    This doctrine of “celebrity” is pure evil because it corrupts what can be pure.

  • 31. marie  |  August 14, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    the two head pastors of my parents’ church were fired in the last month for
    1. stealing funds and charging gambling/porn to church money
    2. stealing musical equipment

    this is not the exception it seems
    power corrupts and religion is power

  • 32. PalMD  |  August 15, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    It is certainly our place to judge. In fact we have a whole legal system based on that idea. If we were to follow “the word” too closely, we would do away with courts and judges.

  • 33. joshm  |  August 16, 2007 at 12:20 am


    I’m sorry to hear about the action of those two pastors, though I am not surprised. I am glad to hear they were fired, as they should have been.

    A pastor should not be given the great amounts of power that some congregations give them. Pastors need to be held accountable for what they do just like the rest of us.

  • 34. Tim  |  June 18, 2015 at 12:47 am

    Christians are called to be followers of Christ not men. It is a real awakening to see the men you trust whom you have looked to as examples shatter a believers image. It is a rediscovering of truth. A bit like hitting the ground after being at sea for a long period. We stand or fall not by peers, church leadership, or church members but by what you truly believe and what you are willing to sacrifice/do for those beliefs. What are we in it for?

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.



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