My husband and I were watching American Idol last night, one of my guilty pleasures, and a worship pastor, married with three kids, came to audition. Avaril Lavegne was the guest-judge, complete in a little devil-hooded hoodie. The pastor performed his audition piece, an original song he had written in honor of his wife. He had a wonderful voice and presence--deep, scratchy, rock vocals. He seemed to be everything American Idol looks for in a contestant. I thought he was a shoe-in for Hollywood, until Avaril started to speak. "It's really hard to be a pop star and have a family and kids. You're gone all the time. You never see them." (paraphrasing a bit here) She then went on to tell him that with being a pastor and having children that she didn't think he could do it all, and that she was not going to vote him through. The other judges murmured their agreement and the final vote was up to Kara, who seemed to be leaning in Avaril's direction.
WHAT?! An Idol judge is suddenly concerned about someone's family and career? Are you kidding me? They're supposed to be judging the quality of the voice not the life. Of course, anyone who watches T.V. knows it's really all about the story. You have to sell the person, not the singer. And who would appeal to middle-class Americans more than a lovable working father grasping for his dream? Don't give me this "it's too hard on your family" crap. How many single parents have been on Idol over the years? Does anyone remember Fantasia? And what's this junk about not being able to have a career and be on the show? Do you think it was easy for an oil rigger to go on Idol week after week? Or how about a Marine? Or a teacher? Or a single mom working two jobs to support her disabled child? No, the judges did not balk at this contestant because he was a working father, they balked because he was a (whisper) Christian.
If there's one thing network T.V. doesn't want, it's an openly Christian, Christian. It's fine for reality show contestants to talk about their faith. It makes them likable. They seem more wholesome, "good". They can even go so far as to use the word God and sweetly speak of their younger years spent singing in front of their home congregations. But please, don't mention Jesus. It's too overtly Christian to openly follow Christ, and a worship pastor most certainly openly follows Christ. And let's not use the word "pastor". It's a bit off-putting. Too staunchy and strict. No fun. We could sell a youth leader or song leader, but a pastor is just a bit too much. Don't you agree?
It blows my mind that a show which could produce Adam Lambert would be uncomfortable with a pastor. But, maybe I shouldn't be. I mean, Adam Lambert is everything American's love, right? Outspoken, flamboyent, overtly sexual, pushing the boundaries of what is "acceptable", shocking, but not Marilyn Manson-like. A male counterpart to Lady Gaga, perhaps.
I don't mean to come across as self-righteous. That's a distinctly Christian trait I can't stand. It's just that I get tired of this perception that Christians are unacceptable. Most of us are just trying to show God's love to a world in need. We want to reach out, to bring hope, to care for the world and those who dwell within. And I don't like double-standards. If the judges don't want an open Christian on their show, fine. But say that. Don't be hypocritical about it. Isn't that what Christians are supposed to do? :-)
Blessings and Peace,