MAN OF THE CLOTH: Pastor Chaddick, center, has found that not looking the part of a fire-and-brimstone minister can be an asset among Hollywood's beautiful people.
Chaddick's speech is so casual and contemporary that it's easy to forget how radically conservative his message is. He believes in the literal Genesis account of creation. He says abortion is a sin, even in cases of rape and incest ("a person's value is not determined by the circumstances surrounding their conception"), and that those who do not accept Jesus will go to hell. In short, Chaddick is a fire-and-brimstone Christian—albeit a fashionably styled one—and he's not alone.
Of the thousands who worship at weekly services, a core group of about 250 devotees organize Reality's 25 or so weekly Bible studies (which they call community groups) and help out on Sundays by either serving refreshments or praying with newcomers after services. Though there's no matchmaking, the social groups frequently beget more intimate pairings. Tom Nearing, a 29-year-old transplant from the South who recently dated 27-year-old Rebecca Redig, a Reality LA staff member, for six months, says that Reality churchgoers tend to couple up with each other. While he acknowledges that "everyone treats these things differently," he and Redig prayed for months before deciding to embark on a romantic relationship, and they adhered to strict guidelines—for instance, their sexual activity was limited to kissing. "We had a couple of serious make-out sessions in the beginning, and they felt weird to me," Nearing confesses.
Sexuality tends not to be singled out in Chaddick's traditionalist doctrines, but it's not exempt from scrutiny either. "If you believe in Jesus, I have a hard time understanding how you can advocate that homosexuality isn't a sin," says 20-year-old Henry Slavens, who says he once identified as gay but no longer does (despite still having homosexual urges) and has been a member of Reality LA since April 2009. "What really impressed me about Reality is that Tim makes it clear that homosexuality is no bigger a sin than any other."Gay members of Reality who were interviewed say they are celibate and have no problem with that. "If you want to call me gay or ex-gay, you can—it's a title, and we're all so caught up in titles," says David Read, a 27-year-old Virginian whose cousin first brought him to Reality. "I'm sure plenty of psychiatrists would say I'm lying to myself, but I find my identity through Jesus—not through my sexuality."
What seems to help this growing swath of L.A.'s most gorgeous keep their sexual desires at bay is that Chaddick acknowledges that such yearnings are inevitable. Sinning is a part of everyday life, and the best anyone can do is to turn away from temptation and toward Christ. "Jesus is the only one who's truly innocent in this matter," Chaddick says while sitting in a sandwich shop on Melrose Avenue. "Our résumé sucks and his is perfect, so he can copy and paste his into your document the same way you would on a Mac by pressing Apple and V. We're idiots, we're uncool—but we love Jesus."
Just then a twentysomething guy in a black beret and Wayfarer sunglasses approaches. "I'm so sorry to bother you," he says to Chaddick, then points to Chaddick's left shoulder, where the tattoo of a sailing ship surrounded by sparrows spills down his arm. "Would you mind telling me where you got your work done?"Read More:
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