Fun_People Archive
12 Mar
"Inspiration, Please!"

Date: Tue, 12 Mar 96 12:54:45 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: "Inspiration, Please!"

From: (Peter Dobkin Hall)

Today's WALL STREET JOURNAL (3/12/96) continues its remarkable coverage of
contemporary American religion with a feature story titled "Religious Quiz
Show Gets Its Inspiration from Divine Sources." The story covers a program
which describes itself as "the first religious quiz show in TV history,"
emceed by Robert G. Lee, a religious stand-up comic whose wife describes
him as "the funny bone in the body of Christ."

According to the article, "no religion is off limits and the questions...
aren't always related to the Bible." At a recent audition, a Long Island,
NY auto parts salesman, stumped by a tricky question on Sikhism, responded,
"Hey, what did you expect? I'm Methodist."

The show, which is available on the Faith & Values cable network, will be
a daily feature by fall. (The auspices of Faith & Values may, in itself,
arouse the suspicions of the religious right: it was started in 1987 by the
National Interfaith Cable Coalition, a consortium of 64 religious groups).

The show has attracted criticism from some fundamentalists who charge that
it is proof that Faith & Values has sold out to Mammon and Hollywood.
(There may be something to this charge, since the show is taped in a studio
located in Wall Street's Trinity Church!). Nonetheless, "Inspiration,
Please" attempts to respect the moral concerns of conservative Christians:
contestants can't gamble points or covet cash prizes; cameras and luggage
are doled out to first-round winners -- who go on to compete for the grand
prize, an expenses-paid trip to the Holy Land.

I guess those of us who worry about the media's role in nurturing a culture
of unbelief (as well as the shrinking scholarly job market) can take heart.
If all else fails, we can get jobs a script writers for -- or contestants
on -- "Inspiration, Please!"

Peter Dobkin Hall
Program on Non-Profit Organizations
Yale University

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