The story of Pastor Jeremiah Steepek, a new pastor at some mega-church with a 10,000 member congregation, is making the rounds this week. According to the tale flying around social media, the socially conscious preacher decided to pose as a homeless bum and sit in the back of the church to see how he was treated.
To make a long story short, the good preacher has the look and feel of a real homeless dude, and he gets the treatment that real homeless dudes usually do. Then he stands up, unveils himself as the new pastor, and pretty much shames the congregation with his guilt-trippin’ sermon.
There’s even a black-and-white picture of a very homeless-looking man indeed who is alleged to be Pastor Steepek himself. You can see it down below.
So that makes the story for realz, right?
Wrong. Multiple media sources have looked into the story, and there’s no there there. Snopes, Hoax-Slayer, and all the rest of the usual suspects haven’t been able to run down any Pastor Steepek, and I doubt I’m going to out-do that crowd. If they can’t find the man, he probably doesn’t exist.
A 10,000 member mega-congregation is going to have a name. It’s going to be in a city that’s in a state that’s in a country. Heck, it might even have a denomination.
Social News Daily pointed out that the alleged Jeremiah Steepek photo had been grabbed from Tumblr. The photographer is Brad Gerrard, and the subject is some random real homeless dude.
Not a preacher who plays a homeless bum on TV.
But people are still sharing the story, claiming that it’s somehow inspirational even though it’s a hoax.
Say again? Yes, Jesus told parables. But I don’t think he especially advocated telling out-and-out lies.
And, stupid me, but I thought he liked to send more of a message of love than of guilt.
As blogger David Hayward noted, even if the Pastor Jeremiah Steepak story was true, it’s a pretty cr*p thing to do. Well, he’s too nice to say cr*p, but I’m not. Here’s a small excerpt of Hayward’s thoughts:
“The church’s number one tool to get what it wants is shame. I have been the victim of shaming so many times I can’t even count…
“This poor congregation was embarrassed just for a good sermon. Warning: this pastor will do it again. He is going to use shame, fear, embarrassment and guilt to motivate his people to fall in line with his wishes.”
I am just so not in the mood to be lectured because I don’t want to sit next to the homeless dude. If I’m going to hell, so be it.
Please feel free to send me any evidence that there’s a real Pastor Jeremiah Steepek. Right now, I’m putting this fable in the same circular file where I dumped the Casey Anthony’s pregnant hoax.