It was cool to have a secret identity, for a bit. Then it got exhausting. At least that’s how Ben Kirby felt as he was anonymously running the PreachersNSneakers Instagram account, where he posts pictures of famous pastors and preachers alongside the market value of their designer clothes. The account started in 2019 and went viral among the megachurch crowd as it resurrected the age-old discussion: “It’s kind of weird when a representative of Jesus wears expensive stuff, right?”
Kirby was anonymous at first for a few reasons. The megachurch culture he’s critiquing is a small but loud and passionate faction of American Christianity at large. There’s also the small detail that his wife works at a megachurch in Dallas. But as the project expanded – to a podcast and now to a new book called PreachersNSneakers: Authenticity in an Age of For-Profit Faith and (Wannabe) Celebrities – Kirby found the anonymity stifling. “I just didn’t see myself effectively able to continue to be in the conversation without being fully out in public,” he said in an interview. So he went public with his identity in The Washington Post last month, no longer just a guy talking trash anonymously online.