The Instagram account ‘PreachersNSneakers’ began as a sassy takedown of priests with a penchant for expensive kicks. Revelling in the perceived hypocrisy (and the number of Yeezy’s) in American houses of worship, the account quickly racked up hundreds of comments and thousands of followers (including celebrities like John Mayer).
At the beginning of April, Highsnobiety, a streetwear blog, wrote, “Preachersnsneakers has only been active for two weeks but has already gained more than 60,000 followers at the time of writing.”
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Just a few weeks later, it now sits at 151k followers. And despite the founder previously having to (temporarily) de-activate the account due to backlash, things are slowly taking a turn for the better as sneaker-lovers of all denominations unite over a common cause, coming to the high-top flaunting priests’ defence.
In an impressive display of empathy, many Instagram commenters, despite seeing the opening for a snarky, “Pass the collection plate… daddy needs a new pair of shoes,” jab (yes, we’ll admit there were a few of those too), demonstrated compassion for the caught-out Christians.
While some of these comments came from Christians themselves (see: I LOVE Pastor Mike!! He openly admits he has a sneaker addiction too), others came from secular citizens who felt sartorial solidarity with (and admiration for) the publically shamed preachers.
“He rocks them tho.”
Others suggested that it was highly unlikely the sneakers were bought with the Church’s money: “He has personal businesses that he runs outside of also working for the church which is how he affords them.”
“Their money, their business.”
And other’s argued that it’s none of the public’s business what these guys spend their own money on: “You all seem really concerned about the less fortunate. How about you give up all your money and leave these pastors alone.”
“This page exposes nothing but the truth about YOU. I spend thousands of dollars a year on sneakers but spend way more in church.”
“Just want to say Levi’s sermons are some of the best combinations of gospel, storytelling and practicality. Please listen to his stuff before you judge,” another commenter added.
“Why throw shade on successful believers? Just bc they’re pastors they can’t have money?”
“What if they weren’t pastors and just business guys?” yet another asked. “Still throw shade or be HAPPY that we have examples of successful believers? That following Christ isn’t miserable and you can live… life, more abundantly.”
“Virgil Mary strikes again…”
And finally, another commenter concurred with the New York Times, calling for only he who is without Yeezy’s to cast the first stone: “We can’t cast our own convictions on other people, we must run in our own lane.”
The New York Times also posed the question: maybe this kind of branding, if it attracts younger churchgoers, is not as much of a waste of money as it seems.
That said: the ‘optics’ around preachers wearing super-expensive sneakers is undeniably bad, with many salty comments pouring in along the lines of, “Thinking about dropping my MBA program and enrolling in Bible college… it might pay better.”
“I see all of you judging these pastors, but none of you have walked a mile in their shoes…”
As well as others, which threw the preachers’ own words back at them, like, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth,” and, “Just because God is blessing someone else doesn’t mean he has forgotten your situation.”
People also pointed out that even if the luxury shoes were gifts (as some pastors have claimed), wearing them still contradicts the core Christian message.
“So, the whole ‘it was gifted to me’ thing. Why not say, ‘Thank you so much, but I can’t accept this gift. Please give these shoes to the homeless man over there with no shoes. I already have shoes on my feet.’”
As you can see by the harsh nature of PreachersNsneakers’ early posts, this was the view the account creator originally subscribed to. However, as he recently revealed in an Instagram story Q&A, after speaking directly with some of the preachers he posted about, he—like many of his audience—has become more understanding.
When asked, “What is your opinion on sneakers worth above 1k?”, the anonymous account creator said, “I would never actually wear kicks worth 1k, but I can see how if they were a gift, peeps would want to rock.”
Still, “Worth considering the optics though,” he added, explaining that he has had “great convos” with some pastors and “one way” talks with others.
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There are many questions this trend has brought up, but the one constant is this: you don’t have to be irreligious to be a hypebeast. And who knows—optics and squandered money aside—in its own way it has brought sneaker lovers of all denominations together.