When Christianity Meets Strategy on Survivor

[*** There may be spoilers below***]

Brandon (left) and Coach

As you all know, Survivor is still the best show on television. (Don’t judge me.)

But this season has been especially annoying because three of the remaining six contestants are openly (and loudly and boastfully and frustratingly) Christian. Every time something goes right, they’re quick to thank Jesus. Every time something goes wrong, they just say it’s part of God’s will.

Anyway, now that one of the core alliances has made it near the end, they have to start voting each other off of the show since no one else is left.

In case you’re not obsessed with the show like me, here’s what you need to know to make sense of this post: SuperChristian Brandon wants to vote off Sophie and thinks he can trust SuperChristian Coach with his plan. Coach isn’t worried about Sophie and is actually thinking about voting off Brandon.

That dilemma led to this *hilarious* conversation in the most recent episode:

Coach: Who are you guys writing down [to vote off]?

Brandon: Sophie. I just–I honestly believe that this is what God wants us to do.

Coach: [With panic in his voice] No, no, remember now, this is what God wants you to do–

Brandon: –Well, I’ll tell you what–

Coach: — but what I need to do right now is I need to pray. And I promise you this: I will do whatever God tells me to do.

Brandon: [Blank stare. Pause.] I understand you gotta do what God wants you to do, but I know he doesn’t want you to write my name down.

Coach: Alright. I’m gonna pray.

Coach voted out Brandon later that night :)

Brandon’s not technically out of the game yet (long story), but damn, would it be sweet to see him lose for good… if for no other reason than to remove the most annoying character from the show.

Season finale’s tonight. If Brandon finds a way to win the game, you’re in for a couple early morning talk shows’ worth of preaching. Hope it doesn’t happen.

***Edit***: Can’t believe I forgot to mention this… Go Cochran! Hope he gets the Fan Favorite award/cash.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Gordon Duffy

    Maybe they could make a show “Island of the Christians” where everyone was an in your face christian and they had to solve problems to survive and instead all “prayed on it” and failed horribly

    • http://www.facebook.com/DocMonkey Mick Wright

      They tried that once, a few hundred years back. The Christians eventually realised prayer alone wouldn’t help. They started slaughtering the people who already lived in their new home, even going so far as to engage in primitive biological warfare. They stole enough farmland and exterminated enough people to feel justified in calling it their country, and today they’re cheerfully and persistently attempting to shred the only sane laws ever laid down by their descendants.

      Nowadays, there’s nowhere left to put them.

    • Anonymous

      This was entertaining between two Christians, but it would VERY entertaining to watch what happens when ‘God’ sends a few dozen Christians differing messages ;)

      who would they call upon to break that ‘tie’?

  • Maledoro

    They sound almost like some of the GOP candidates.

  • Cindy

    I have caught several episodes this season (my son watches every week). Coach is the biggest Christian hypocrite I’ve ever seen. He thinks he’s upright and honest (as a Christian should be), but will turn on you in a heartbeat if it’s to his advantage and then claims god’s will. I cannot stand him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=732639001 Chenoah Williams

    I love Survivor and agree with everything you’ve said here! Brandon is such a hypocrite. Remember early on, he was having, um, *feelings* whenever he saw a certain female tribe-mate, and that made him, a married man, uncomfortable. She was a “temptation” for him. For that reason alone, he decided she had to go. But instead of telling the truth (as all good Christians should,) he kept putting all kinds of negative thoughts about her in other people’s ears until finally she was voted off.  Man, that made me mad! And then, his dad got to visit him for a while, and his freakin’ dad (Russell Hantz’ brother) goes up to Coach and tells him to make sure to keep Brandon in the game! That was way out-of-line. But the hilarious part, the best part, was when Brandon was telling his dad that he was always going to tell the truth because that was what God wanted, and his dad goes, uh, wait a minute son, this is a game,  a game for a million dollars (Christian family values.) Hahahahaaa! Brandon has got to go or I’m gonna slit my wrists! :)

    Oh, and I hope geeky, non-Christian Cochran wins the fan favorite award tonight!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mujica.alex Alejandro Mujica

    I’m sure the Donner Party was full of Christians, too…

  • April

    What I find funny, is that this is the third time Coach has been on Survivor.  I didn’t catch the 2nd season he was on.  But the first go around was all about Coach and his eastern philosophies, no Christian rhetoric from Coach at all.

    I think this turn around by Coach, and Survivor contestants just in general, is highly indicative of a trend (a FAD!!!) in society these days to be openly and annoyingly Christian.  Which just goes to show how hypocritical it all really is.  This wasn’t the big fad ten years ago.  What?  None of these people believed in God back then?  

    I think they only started doing it once it became the cool and patriotic thing to do.  Stupid 9/11.

    • Rich Wilson

      I’ve never watched any of it, but I have to ask, do they Tebow yet?

      • Blaine Higgy

        Actually they did. A few epsiodes back, after winning a challenge, Coach ran down to gather up all his tribe members and told them to “take a knee” so they could thank their Deity. 

        So he quickly rounded them up and the whole tribe Tebowed.

    • Michael Appleman

      Think about it, religion gives power to people who don’t deserve it. They are just min-maxing power gamers :p

  • Flux1370

    Apologies, but screw that “judge not” stuff.  Survivor?  Really?  I am shocked and disillusioned!  Shame on you!

    Okay, I’m over it.  All is forgiven.  Carry on.

  • Frazzled

    It should read MentallyChallengedandDoesntKnowBetterChristian Brandon and FakeChristianBecauseItHelpsHimintheGame Coach. I have watched every second of Coach for 3 seasons. He is not a devout Christian. The Christian posters on a television forum I read are furious at the way these idiots are throwing Jesus and God around. It really makes Christians look silly.

    • Newavocation

      The only things I don’t find silly about Christians is when they claim superiority, discriminate, abuse or kill people. Other than that Christians are as silly as an adult believing in the tooth fairy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000669664970 Steven Bloomfield

    Did anyone catch what coach whispered in Brandon’s ear after the vote? Something like “It was God’s will to send you to Redemption.” He’s totally playing with that kid’s head.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1426186806 Jennifer Moore

    I love the show too.  I’ve watched every episode since it started (11 years now?).  I was just talking about this issue with my sister after the last episode.  I have been curious what Christians think of Brandon and Coach.  I was sad to see Cochran go.  He was my favorite. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Sweet/1280927267 James Sweet

    Okay, that’s freakin’ hilarious.  Makes me wish I was watching this season.

    I must link to an old post on my blog about another time Jesus created comedy gold on Survivor.

  • dorothy30

    thanks, Hemant! I have been watching Survivor since the beginning, too, and this has irked me all season. In fact, it seems that in recent seasons there has been a disturbing trend toward more ostentatious displays of Christianity. Remember Matt, out there on exile island praying, one or two seasons ago??? But this season is the worst.
    It bothers me that when Coach and Brandon do their “let’s all hold hands and pray” routine, no one opts out or disagrees. But this is Survivor, where any sign of discord can get you voted off. I am still trying to figure out how many are “true” bible-thumpers and how many are just along for the ride.
    I agree that a lot of it with Coach is that he’s just going with the flow and using it as a strategy. But Brandon…. Brandon is only 19, and although he’s the MOST annoying player ever, I feel sorry for him. Obviously he comes from a dysfunctional fundamentalist family, and he seems to have a lot of religious baggage about sin and guilt (the sort of stuff Seth refers to in his Thinking Atheist blogs and videos). Brandon seems like a really troubled kid who could honestly use an objective counselor ( ie not a pastor) to help him sort his life out. I sure hope he doesn’t win…. I’m hoping for Ozzie.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=566976223 Catherine Carr

      I feel exactly the same way. I love Survivor and watch every season. Last season there was that young blonde bible thumping guy to drive me insane, but this season the god worship is out of control. Coach’s father this and father that is so sickening! Thanks Hemant for reminding me to write to the producers and complain. 

  • Feuille

    It’s amazing how God’s will is the same as people’s own personal opinions…

    This season’s bad for religion, but at least they are generally being portrayed as a bunch of lunatics this time, it isn’t exactly an advertisment for Christianity, it is more of a mockery.  I was more unhappy last time when Matt was on Redemption Island getting a really positive edit about all of his praying and having stupid strategy to fulfill God’s will.  I hate the characters more this time, but I’m not mad at the show this time.  (Or at least not for that reason, I still hate RI and bringing back two returning players)

    And I am cheering for Sophie, the only person who didn’t pretend to like Jack and Jill.

  • http://onefuriousllama.com/ onefuriousllama

    Ah shit I love it so much. That God, he’s quite a character, playing games with those people like that. I mean, wouldn’t you, if YOU were god give each of them a different message. That would be HILARIOUS!

    It’s not like anything could go wrong when the almighty tells each of his ready-to-murder-their-children-if-he-says-so followers a different message and then insists they enforce THAT version on everybody else.

    God! Such a funny guy!

  • Biddiesbird

    I love how they are all using their religion and gods will to justify screwing each other! But it’s the perfect strategy for coach because now Brandon will even vote for him in the end because after all, he was just doing what god told him to do, nothing personal! Nothing to do with that million dollar carrot at the end. I hope Ozzy steals it from all of their asses!!

  • Jess

    Soooo, lemme see if I have this straight now.

    Woman is beaten, raped, and murdered. God’s Will.
    Child is sexually molested by an uncle for years. God’s Will.
    Who to vote off the island to win a million dollars. God’s Will.

    Good to know his priorities are in order.

  • Seniorskeptik

    Where are the lions when you really, really need them to choose?

  • Dempsey Karen

    Cochran is a sleezeball and I hope he gets diarrhea. Wouldn’t give him a nickle. What a self serving loathsome creature he is. As for the delusional xtians… What can I say? They are the voice of many millions of delusional people that are scary as all get out. Natch I’m voting for ozzy who, as the resident monkey, deserves the million so he can live in the wilderness for the rest of his life.

  • Amelia

    The overt, smug Christianity has gotten SO much worse in the last few seasons – you didn’t see this sort of ridiculousness in, like, Australia.  I love the hypocrisy of Coach deciding that “God” told him to vote the way he already wanted to vote.  So convenient for him!

    I hope Cochran gets fan favorite.

  • Amelia

    Oh, and I HATED Brandon’s textbook “the woman who is tempting me by existing is the problem and evil and manipulative” reaction to Mikayla earlier in the season.  Completely pathetic.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been a fan since the first season, but haven’t caught every season (not sure why some seasons I just don’t get into it).  This season was great, though.  

    I thought it was a poster for how hypocritical christians can be.  Coach’s “honor” BS…was a house of cards.  Brandon, is just scary.  The way he started the game hating the hot chick because he’s 19 and apparently can’t control an erection, to putting everything into his god’s hand…it just made it that much better that Coach and Alfred sent him to lose to Ozzy.  Coach’s line about God telling him to vote out the kid = classic.

    That whole honor, family stuff…it was just laughable, but in the end, it made for a very entertaining season.

    I always picture myself in the game, playing with the different teams/alliances and wonder how I’d fear.  I’m sure Coach’s family would have voted me out pretty quick.  I’d have to be really cognizant of how to excuse myself as politely as possible from the group prayers (without pointing and laughing).

  • Dan W

    I’m a fan of Survivor as well- actually got to see all of this season, which is rare for me these days. The annoying displays of Christianity were really ramped up this season, and it really showed how hypocritical some Christians can be (Coach especially). And how religious dogma warps your thinking (Brandon’s bizarre ideas about Mikayla “tempting” him when she was just helping around camp).

    I’d love to see some Survivor contestants who are more openly non-religious, but with this sort of show, that might not reflect well on the non-religious. What with all the manipulation and backstabbing that people tend to do on Survivor.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Survivor: one of the most idiotic and brain-numbing shows on TV, a show I would watch only if the survivor was the last person left uneaten by alligators. Sure, by all means, give them a million dollars at the end, but there has to be real drama, real danger, real possibility of mayhem and stampeding wildebeests. As it is, it’s just a bitchfest between the undeserving and the incompetent.


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