Christians look bad on Survivor… again

Survivor is obviously not reality. Of course the producers choose contestants who fit stereotypical character types. But it does come closer than most “reality shows” to showing real patterns in behavior. And once again this season, Christianity looks bad.

This season’s poster child for Christianity was Roxy Morris, self-described seminary student from Brooklyn.

First, we see her praying to God for the rain to stop, then praising God and lapsing into speaking in tongues when it does. Then she spends the next few days sporting a big silver cross around her neck, spreading dissent, name-calling and gossiping behind people’s backs, all to turn the target on another member of the tribe, her enemy. Her enemy happens to be the only other young woman on the tribe and the subject of a lot of her slander against Angie? That’s she’s inappropriately sexy. (I’m not saying that Angie wasn’t using her sexiness to manipulate a male contestant, but how unsurprising is it that Roxy focused on that?) And when the seminary student votes against her enemy Angie at tribal council, she closes with the words, “God bless you and shalom.” If you ask me, that is taking the Lord’s name in vain.

In her online bio, Roxy answered the question of why she would be the sole survivor with this:

Because the game isn’t very different from real life. As a Christian, everyday you are faced with the choice between God’s principles and your personal, selfish preferences.

She’s right up to a point that these same factors are at play in the game and in real life. Unfortunately, her response to finding herself under fire was to go against those principles and pursue character assassination of the weakest player besides herself, all the while thinking she was being righteous by pointing out someone else’s failings.

Gossip, slander, lying, judging others, all while thinking she’s better than those she’s attacking: a common criticism of Christians in real reality all too often as well. Just to be clear, I don’t know Roxy personally. I realize the producers craft what is shown to us to tell a story. I am responding to the character I’m seeing onscreen.

But Roxy fulfilled another stereotype in an interview after her ouster — not controlled by Survivor’s producers — explaining that psychologist Denise’s vote went against her because of her faith:

I think that it’s just clearly obvious that she just doesn’t like me. She never called herself an atheist, but from the things that she said, she doesn’t pray to God for anything or ask God for anything — she doesn’t believe there’s a God… I’m a Jesus lover. It’s obvious. And if you ain’t gonna like Jesus, or even be open to having someone express that in an environment, you’re not gonna like me.

Perhaps she didn’t like you, Roxy, because you were a self-righteous judgmental gossip who had decided she didn’t deserve your friendship. FTR, I don’t think Roxy’s faith had anything to do with Denise’s decision. And neither did her misbehavior. Most likely, it was purely strategic. She stuck with her alliance. And just to be clear, just because someone doesn’t think it’s appropriate to pray to God asking for things doesn’t mean they don’t believe there’s a God.

There are quiet faithful contestants on Survivor too, of course, but as in real life, it’s the loud ones that give us a bad name.

About Phil Fox Rose

Phil Fox Rose is a writer, editor and content lead based in New York. He is coordinator of Contemplative Outreach of New York, helping promote centering prayer, which has been his contemplative practice for nearly 20 years. Raised atheist by ex-Mormons, Phil has journeyed through Quakerism, deep ecology, Buddhism and Catholicism. Now he's a congregant, worship leader, cook and chair of the leadership team at St. Lydia's, an awesome dinner church in Brooklyn, NY, and spends as much time in nature as possible. Phil has been a political party leader, videographer, tech journalist, punk roadie, software designer, sheepherder, stockbroker and downtempo radio DJ. A common thread is the process of learning about stuff, figuring it out and then sharing that understanding with others. Follow Phil by RSS feed, email, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


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