Survivor – Helping Christians or Not
Survivor has been one of the biggest and most watched Reality Shows. Over the years there have many demonstrations of Christian behavior mixed in with the usual game activities that everyone expects to see. It is not uncommon to see tribes praying during meals and contestants praying privately to God. A question arises though, in a game where one must being willing to lie and manipulate, how can a Christian maintain their beliefs and live a Christian life.
Recently, Brandon Hantz a born again Christian participated on Survivor while everyone watch as he struggled with balancing the dynamics of the game with his Christian beliefs. His struggles were enhanced by the fact that his Uncle, Russell Hantz, had played the game more than once and had openly embraced the role of being deceptive and one of the most hated contestants. Brandon was on the same tribe as Benjamin “Coach” Wade an also professed Christian. The difference though was that “Coach” on his third season of Survivor was playing a game of manipulation and lying. There were even times that “Coach” appeared to be tempting Brandon to abandon his Christian beliefs for those of the game. As a Christian watching the season play out, I wondered if the dynamic between Brandon and “Coach” was hindering the viewpoint of Christians to non-Christians watching the show.
It seems as though Christian contestants have to be willing to abandon their beliefs in order to win or do well on the show. Is this ok since it is part of the game or can Christians play the game with integrity based on their beliefs and win.
The other question is how much editing is done by the makers of Survivor and misconstrue what Christian contestants say in order to achieve ratings but at the same time placing the contestant as a hypocrite in the viewer’s eyes. I read an article where Survivor contestant Vecepia Towery-Robinson addressed this issue, (Full Article on ChristianityToday.com)
“There were also times when my words were misconstrued. It is unfortunate, but we sign up that they can use our voice, our image, and anything they want during the show. There was one on-show interview where I was asked, “How do you feel as a Christian having to lie and backstab? Do you feel you can ask for forgiveness afterwards?”
I answered, “As a Christian we have that liberty to go to our Lord and Savior after we have wronged our brother or sister and ask forgiveness. In this game, though, I cannot do that. I can’t lie and backstab and then turn around and say, ‘Oh Lord, please forgive me.’ Nor can I say, ‘Lord, I am about to lie to this person, please forgive me after the fact.'”
When it aired on television, my words were flipped around. The minute I heard it I said, “Oh my, that is not what I meant.” I got a lot of flak for it. I had preachers e-mail me saying I was not a good role model for Christianity.”
I am curious what you think about how Christians have played Survivor and if it is possible to play the game without compromising one’s Christian beliefs.