Is American Idol biased to Christian singers?

Faith News Note: American Idol has turned out a series of popular Christian finalist. Is it a conspiracy? How does one explain that 50% of last season’s finalists were Christians who lead worship in their church. The LA Times points to a talent scout who helps American Idol contestants. Others claim that a church is one of the few places young people can get early and consistent musical training and constant exposure to large crowds.

The LA Times writes…

“…With many contestants having honed their vocal skills at black churches and suburban megachurches, “Idol” has been embraced by Christian communities across the nation. Congregations have launched enthusiastic viewing parties and vote drives for favorites. Perhaps more important, the contestants’ church training has deeply influenced the songs and musical styles viewers hear on “Idol” and helped launch the careers of faith-based singers, such as George Huff and Mandisa, as well as secular pop artists. The show has projected to an audience of tens of millions an image of heartland youth driven by faith and strong family values. That’s an important source of appeal for a nation that according to a 2007 Pew Research Center survey identifies itself as 78% Christian.”

Indeed, all of the winners from the previous eight seasons have hailed from Bible Belt states, except for Arizona native Jordin Sparks, who went to the top during Season 6. And perhaps not surprisingly, “Idol” ratings are highest in such Southern cities as Atlanta; Birmingham, Ala.; and Winston-Salem, N.C., according to the Nielsen Co. Birmingham alone has produced two “Idol” winners: Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks. (The trend may not hold up this year: Two much-talked-about finalists, Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze, are both Midwesterners.)   Continue reading.

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