We learned two things about "American Idol" fans last week when we ran a story on how this year's show features more Christian-affiliated finalists than ever before: Most of you don't care what religion a singer is as long as they're good, and the rest of you think even pointing out religion on "Idol" is "absolutely outrageous."
Hundreds of comments flooded MTV.com and other sites that re-posted the story, and they ran the gamut from "good job!" to, well, not so good job. (Comments have been edited for grammar, clarity and length.)
"What does their faith have to do with singing?" Selena1 asked on MTV.com. "Christians sing in their churches all the time in America. ... If someone does it every week, sometimes a couple of nights, then imagine the practice they get compared to others who don't. ... So of course you get a lot of singers with Christian backgrounds who are not pros but have no fear to get up and sing in front of groups."
Then there was MTV reader Gchata, who wondered if the implied math of "Christian viewers + Christian contestants = a potential Christian winner" would work for gay contestants or any other group: "Does this really matter? Yeah, a lot of Christians watch 'American Idol.' They also watch '24,' 'Heroes' and, on occasion, MTV. Having Christian people on the show doesn't mean Christians are more inclined to watch because someone with their 'values' or 'morals' might win. I'm a Christian, and I personally don't care if the person who wins is or not. It's a singing competition. Religion is a non-issue."
Over at MJsBigBlog.com, one of the leading "Idol" fan sites, the discussion about the story was fierce, with nearly 150 responses. Commenter Tess said she was "appalled and offended" by the article. Tess had particular scorn for a comment from writer CJ Casciotta, who was quoted in the story as saying he thought some Christian viewers might go with their faith if presented with a top two featuring a pair of equally talented singers in which one was Christian and the other was not.
"If I wasn't a sane, God-loving individual, I would not vote for any of the listed contestants (Danny, Michael, Kris, Scott, Matt and Lil) just out of pure spite," Jess wrote. "I knew the country was going to be divided on this issue, but for the Christian right to pronounce that they support an us-vs.-them philosophy is absolutely outrageous."
Many readers vehemently stated that they thought religion should remain a personal, private matter, not fodder for stories, while others, like Lys, said they don't feel that the singers should have to hide their beliefs "any more than they should hide their hair color. If it's truly a part of who they are and if they want to talk about it, fine."
On a similar note, Terrie felt that the show's "pimping" of performers' religions is not different from their spotlight on the singers' families "or personal challenges or favoring more attractive contestants."
A number of readers were put off by a comment from one of the story's subjects, Christian writer Joanne Brokaw, who suggested that viewers could sense Kris Allen's faith when it was mentioned that he helped other contestants last week.
"Are Christians the only people allowed to help others???" Baxter asked.
The site's founder, MJ Santilli, also sounded off, saying she was offended by "nearly all the quotes" in the article (thank you, I think?) and pointed out that the show has long featured Christian contestants (which the article mentioned).
Speaking to MTV News on Tuesday (March 17), Santilli said she felt the same way many of her readers did about the piece. "I think coming so soon after the presidential election, maybe some people are feeling that 'Idol' themselves might be setting up this kind of divisive ... us-vs.-them mentality," she said of a possible Danny Gokey vs. Adam Lambert showdown. "I think the comments were split between people who can't stand religion and others who were churchgoers who didn't like that idea that, 'I'm a Christian, and just because I am, I won't vote for [a non-Christian].' "
Maybe CFIdolsFan said it best with the comment "I'm a Christian and a worship leader. I've watched 'Idol' since season one, and I vote for whoever I want, whenever I want, however I want. ... Neither Casciotta or Brokaw speak for me, but I am not ashamed to say that I am Christian and am delighted to see Christians on the show."
On JoesPlaceBlog.com, commenter Suebrody said, in some ways, all the comments missed the real point of the reality singing competition, a sentiment that was shared by a number of other posters. "I am a non-Christian and would hope the viewers are open-minded enough to vote for the best singer, not the most religious one."
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