“Honk for Jesus”

the Black Church is in crisis


Faith Wallace

“Honk for Jesus” was loosely based on the downfall of megachurch pastor Eddie Long.

Faith Wallace, Style and Culture Writer

“Honk for Jesus” follows Lee-Curtis Childs, a fictional pastor, who wants to return his megachurch back to its former glory after a sexual misconduct scandal. His wife, Trinitie Childs, wants to return to her position as the church’s first lady. The movie uses a satirical mockumentary style to show the Childs’ attempted rise back to success. 

Instead, it reveals the exact opposite as it follows the trainwreck of their marriage and the deception of their message. While the film remains humorous, “Honk for Jesus” showcases both the hidden evil of the prosperity gospel and the layered discrimination of women to its viewers. 

The Prosperity Gospel

“Honk for Jesus’” opening scene shows Lee-Curtis and Trinitie showing off the designer items they have purchased with their churchgoers’ money. Using the justification of the prosperity gospel, the idea that their followers’ prayers and donations will lead them to financial success, the Childs manipulate their churchgoers’ money for their own financial gain. They show the material wealth they have obtained while also telling their followers that they can be just like them.

This isn’t an isolated problem in a movie, the prosperity gospel exists in real life. According to YouGov in a survey of 1000 born-again Christian adults asked whether they believe prayer gives them wealth: 15% of white people said yes, 25% of Hispanic people said yes, and 42% of Black people said yes.

The prosperity gospel tends to target minorities more statistically. African Americans and Hispanics tend to be more economically disadvantaged than white people who also often have more material items passed down through inheritance. 

But this doesn’t mean that money shouldn’t be discussed in the church – it’s a place of community and uplifting. Considering that congregations frequently donate to the church, it can be an avenue for individuals to become more aware of their finances.  

However, the current use of the prosperity gospel makes it seem like poverty is something only God can control.  

Discrimination against Women

The focus of the movie isn’t just the prosperity gospel, it’s also on Trinitie Childs. The driving question of those making the documentary is: how could she stay with him through the scandal?

Trinitie goes to extreme lengths to help Lee-Curtis rebuild the church’s following under the impression that his success or failure will be directly tied to her. 

So, she allows herself to be disrespected, knowing she deserves better, but not stopping it. In one scene, Lee-Curtis decides that in order to gather people coming to their reopening, Trinitie should paint a mime face on herself, humiliating her in front of their community.

Throughout the movie, Lee-Curtis has his wife doing most of the church’s campaigning in ways she feels uncomfortable with. In one scene, he even encourages her to “shake it for the Lord.”  

Trinitie’s only support system is her mother, who reinforces that Trinitie has to stay with Lee-Curtis. If she doesn’t, her mother claims it undermines both her womanhood and her dedication to God, so her best option is to stay and pray. 

It’s hard to get out of a relationship in a culture where marriage is permanent. While Trinitie is no victim in this movie, the plot is all too real in its depiction of women being snared in marriage.

The mockumentary is fictional but the issues presented of discrimination and the prosperity gospel show up in real life. Looking forward the Black Church needs to fix these issues; without the means of entrapment both money and relationship wise.