A new Instagram account called PreachersNSneakers has gained a ton of popularity (and almost 62,000 followers) for posting pictures showing pastors and other church leaders wearing expensive designer shoes. He includes a shot of the person wearing the shoes along with a screenshot showing how much they cost. Obviously, the account has stirred up a lot of controversy.
The account was started by a 29-year-old guy named Tyler who works in the tech industry and who doesn’t want his last name known. He started the account, which combines two of his main interests, Christianity and sneakerhead culture, on a whim one day. He told BuzzFeed News that it’s gotten “pretty intense” and that all the attention was totally unexpected.
“It started out as me being interested in sneakers and being involved with church culture … so those two things made for good comedic content,” he said. “This whole thing spun out of me sitting on my couch one Sunday. I was looking for this one song on YouTube and saw the lead singer in this worship band was wearing Yeezy 750s.”
Tyler was aware that the Yeezy 750 Boost sneakers were both very rare and very expensive, selling for more than $1,800. He started looking at pictures posted by church leaders with large Instagram followers and noticed that a lot of them were wearing tremendously costly apparel.
He made a post showing the shoes of one such church leader along with the price, and his friends liked it so much they convinced him to start a new account focused just on that subject.
Tyler said he intended the account to be “open to interpretation.”
“I’m a Christian and [have] been so for a long time and feel really strongly about the leaders of the church and how high of a calling they have,” he explained. “I started questioning myself, ‘What is OK as far as optics…as far as pastors wearing hype or designer clothing?’ I don’t have an answer.”
Tyler thinks it’s important that American Christians “have a discussion about what is appropriate,” adding, “I’m just saying the people in church should at least be asking the question.”
One of the pastors called out by the PreachersNSneakers account was the lead pastor of Los Angeles’ Zoe Church, Chad Veach. Veach, who has over 250,000 followers on Instagram, noticed and left a comment on the post saying he didn’t pay for the things he was wearing (which included, according to BuzzFeed News, $795 pants and a $2,000Gucci backpack).
“You wanna know what’s crazy? I legit did not pay for one thing i’m wearing,” Veach wrote. He also thanked Tyler for the “shout out” and called him “a blessing.”
Veach deleted his comment and changed his Instagram handle, but not before someone commented, “Wanna know what’s crazy? Feeling the need to defend your outrageously priced outfit while being an ambassador of Christ.”
But Tyler made it clear to BuzzFeed News that he doesn’t want his to be “a bash account.” Of trolls who’ve harassed the Christian leaders, Tyler says, “I still feel bad for making that platform available or contributing.”
“People are talking about heavy stuff, which I don’t necessarily like,” he said, stating that he doesn’t “have a big theological agenda.”
His message to his followers is, “You guys do with this what you guys may.”