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Powerhouse Pastor T.D. Jakes On Charleston, Same-Sex Marriage And Movie Ambitions

Krystina Martinez
T.D. Jakes is the bishop of Potter's House. He'll be debuting a new talk show on Aug. 17 on WFAA-TV.

T.D. Jakes has built an empire in North Texas. He runs The Potter’s House, a megachurch with 30,000 members. He headlines a super-charged annual revival MegaFest. And he's produced Hollywood films like "Heaven Is for Real."

But as a pastor, he’s had to address some big national issues with his congregation. Jakes sat down to talk about his reaction to the Charleston shooting, his thoughts on same-sex marriage and his movie ambitions.

Interview Highlights: T.D. Jakes…

…On witnessing the violent incidences in Ferguson, Baltimore, McKinney and Charleston:

”It is disturbing, particularly for people my age who have lived this realistically and up close. My father’s from Mississippi, my father’s from Alabama and my grandfather, who I’m named after, was murdered by white racists in Mississippi. He was murdered when he was 26 years old and that really resonates with me. Yet I’m hopeful.

I don’t really see it as a black problem, or a black church problem. I see it as an American problem. I think as long as we color-code issues, we segregate the things that we really need to eradicate in our community.

..I’m not sure that it is about race alone as it is also about class, economic empowerment, education and things like that.”

…On why the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage didn’t surprise him:

“That has been coming down the pipe for a long, long time, and to finally get upset in the last weekend says, you know, ‘do you read the paper?’

Personally, I was disappointed by their decision but I wasn’t disturbed by it because I understood they’re not looking at scriptures when they make a decision. I don’t think Christians or clergy understand that the Supreme Court does not debate scripture; they debate the Constitution. They’re dealing with the constitutionality of something, which is what they’re supposed to do.

As long as we have separation between church and state and we protect religious freedoms in this country, I don’t think the church has to be alarmed to find out the world moves often in a different direction from religious entities.”  

…On balancing running a megachurch and movie production company:

“I consider it differently than the movies being part of our ministry. I certainly think we can use movies to communicate; our culture has greatly been influenced by the arts.

To be sure, my company that produces films is a business and I have a business side to my life that I’ve always had. The fact that you’re a minister is not a period, it’s a comma. You’re also able to explore other interests and film is one of mine.” 

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.