On last night’s debut of The Amazing Race, we saw what has become a regular occurrence on reality TV. One of the racing teams, a pair of sisters, was helicoptering over the city of Sao Paolo, Brazil. "We’re closer to the heavens now," one of them said. "Let’s pray. Jesus, just don’t let us come in last."
It seems that you can hardly watch a reality show lately without someone invoking some deity or another, usually in order to seek divine help in winning the jackpot. The recent "family edition" of The Amazing Race featured a Christian family from Florida, who ostentatiously reminded us how religious they were at every turn (and happened to be the most self-centered and obnoxious family in the race). In the past, we’ve seen characters like Vecepia, the Survivor winner who loudly and often praised God when winning challenges, and singers from American Idol to Nashville Star regularly name-check the creator to help get them through. Fittingly, Thursday on Idol last season’s winner, Carrie Underwood, will sing her hit country single, "Jesus Take the Wheel."
Don’t get me wrong. I admire people who are devout and not ashamed to admit it. And I think that, if anything, network TV is too craven about showing the role of religion in ordinary people’s lives. (Partly because, as with NBC’s The Book of Daniel, whenever it does so in any interesting way, it catches flak.) But allow me to suggest that it is not necessarily the best advertisement for your faith to continually hassle God to help you win (and thus, everyone else lose) a million dollars.
People of faith have different ideas of God. But one thing I hope everyone can agree on is that any supreme being, or beings, have better things to worry about than who shows up first at the pit stop to greet Phil Keoghan. Let’s let Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, whomever you pray to in whatever manner, concentrate on things like famine, war and hatred. And let’s leave reality TV, where it properly belongs, to the devil.