Culture At Large

American Idol and Christianity


It's American Idol Night - 4 Left in the contest...

I have admitted before that I am an American Idol fan. There is just something about people pursuing a dream with everything they have and watching them grow as an artist that is intriguing to me.

One thing I have noticed about American Idol is that it has brought a lot of Christians out of their churches and into the spotlight. People like Chris Daughtry, Carrie Underwood, Clay Akain, Mandisa, and others have done well on the show.

In fact, Russ Breimeier wrote a commentary about American Idol back in March that I found on In the article he talks about how Christians continue to shine on American Idol and what christian alternatives are beginning to show up on the scene. Breimeier writes:

When you get down to it, both types of shows—Idol and the Christian alternatives—can glorify God. Either one is capable of being used by the Lord.

A show like Gifted may glorify God because it's more intentional in its display of praise, even if it's ultimately a talent contest with a niche audience. It may not been seen by the millions who watch Idol, but I don't think the Christian alternatives are necessarily about reaching the masses. They're
primarily shows by Christians, about Christians, and for Christians—and there's value in "preaching to the choir."

It could be that the point is to work on a smaller level—filling a need rather than becoming a phenomenon. Such programs are not too unlike the local church when they put on a talent show or
fellowship event.

On the other hand, it would be a mistake to assume that the Christian alternatives have a "monopoly" on God, because God can certainly work through American Idol—with the bonus of reaching a much larger audience. God uses his people—and his people are taking the Idol stage in greater numbers than ever. They might be asked to limit their expressions during the broadcasts, but they may find more opportunities to express their faith the further they progress—especially since it's live television watched by millions. Who's to stop the winner from publicly glorifying God before an audience of that magnitude—and risk turning off the legions who voted for him or her?

Three questions come to mind when I think of American Idol and Christianity:

1. What do you think of the Christian Alternatives and Breimeier's comments about them?
2. Can Idol be an effective platform for worship/evangelism?
3. Why do Christians seem to do so well on the Idol Stage?

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