Viral TikTok of Texas megachurch's Christmas show sparks controversy – Chron

A TikTok of the megachurch’s Christmas setup drew backlash over churches’ tax exempt status. 
A Texas megachurch is facing backlash online after a TikTok showing its extravagant setup for an upcoming Christmas performance went viral. 
Posted by user Tony Daussat, the footage appears to show performers at Prestonwood Baptist Church rehearsing the church’s annual Christmas show inside its 7,000-person capacity facility in Plano, Texas.
In the video, several men dressed in black are suspended by cables dozens of feet off the ground, near the ceiling of the church’s cavernous “worship facility.” The men glide through the air as they play a snare drum cadence in unison, while suspension cables move up and down tracks attached to the ceiling. An enormous screen positioned behind the church’s stage displays the word “Jesus” in all capital white letters while blue and purple lights flash in the background. 
The TikTok has pulled in 98,000-plus likes, more than 8,500 comments and nearly 20,000 shares since it was posted on Sunday. Many of the commenters zeroed in on the church’s tax-exempt status and questioned how its leaders are spending their congregation’s money. 
A TikTok of the megachurch’s Christmas setup drew backlash over churches’ tax exempt status. 
“Yeah we’re gonna have to start taxing some of that lol,” one TikToker commented, drawing nearly 22,000 likes and 329 replies. “Lmao ok I wasn’t the only one thinking this,” one user replied. 
“TAX THIS,” another TikToker commented, drawing over 1,000 likes and several responses.  
Debates between users over the merits of taxing religious organizations’ money ensued below both comments. Some defended churches as legitimate charitable organizations that are therefore worthy of tax exemption while others argued that buying expensive equipment for flying Christmas drummers may fall outside the category of charitable spending.   
According to a Prestonwood Baptist Church spokesperson, the church’s annual Christmas performance runs for 14 nights before the holiday. Each performance is ticketed, with tickets starting at $19 and running up to $59, which includes “premium seating and parking.” The 14-night run draws about 75,000 people in total, the Prestonwood spokesperson said.
This is not the first time Prestonwood Baptist Church has faced controversy this year. 
The church is one of the largest megachurches in the U.S. and is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention, which continues to face fallout after a bombshell investigation published in May found that SBC leaders routinely protect known sexual abusers within their clergy’s ranks. Dr. Jack Graham, Prestonwood’s longtime lead Pastor, was identified in the investigation as one of the prominent SBC leaders who helped protect an alleged abuser from criminal charges and internal accountability. 
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