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Spiritual ‘Survivor’: The Reality Show Gets Religion

posted by Ellen Leventry

I haven’t watched “Survivor” since the Boston Rob season (Marquesas, for those of you who keep track of such things) and that’s saying something for the girl who made a rat-shaped meatloaf for the season one finale. But nothing drew me back to the televised Tribal Council; not even last season’s race vs. race gimmick. However, when I saw ads for the latest season featuring a Christian radio host, my curiosity was piqued. The contest was taking place not on some tropical island, but in Mainland China, a first for any American television show. Perhaps Bejing is practicing prior to the Olympics, or simply working on building some good will.
When I tuned in last week for the premiere of “Survivor: China,” I was excited to see that they had cast not only radio show host Leslie, but “Gay Mormon Flight Attendant” Todd.
Wow! What wonderful conversations (read: screaming matches) would we be privy to this season, I thought. But it was about to get even better.


Taking full advantage of the local culture, the producers decided to start the show at a local Buddhist temple having the contestants take part in a traditional “welcoming” ceremony. Host Jeff Probst assured the group that they were not partaking in a worship service before they joined the monks in bowing, kneeling and burning incense. While lunch lady Denise found the experience very spiritually significant, the waitress from New York City, Courtney, thought it was a waste of time.
Leslie exited the proceedings, early explaining to Jeff that if she’s going putting her face on the floor for anyone, it will be for Jesus Christ. Welcoming ceremony, my patootie! Sure, it may very well be traditional, but the producers had to have known that Leslie (a conservative Christian) would most likely object, thus providing our first bit of drama for the season.
Buddhism also offered up the second bit of drama. After the ceremony, Jeff explained that one of the important tenets of Buddhism is the giving up of worldly goods. It was a very simplified version of one of the four Noble Truths of Buddhism, but this is “Survivor” after all. Therefore, he continued, following this teaching, the contestants must leave everything they have brought with them at the temple and go forth only with the clothes on their backs. When one girl complained that she wasn’t even wearing a bra, Probst joked that that may be a bad thing for her, but a good thing for everyone else. Oh Jeff, you rascal!
While the contestants were not allowed to bring any of their belongings, each tribe was given a copy of Sun Tzu’s classic “The Art of War” to help them during the game. How terribly cliché, yet so delightful. Perhaps professional wrestler Ashley consulted the book for tonight’s episode, as the previews show her tackling Leslie in a most artful way.
Needless to say, there’s lots of potential for spiritual sparring during this season of “Survivor.” I’m looking forward to it.
“Survivor: China” airs tonight on CBS at 8:00 p.m.



  • itsme

    Hollywood and Gomorrah just doing its thing.

  • Hdbabe49

    I was raised & bapiize a Morman. And your so right if your really into your religious beliefs, You follow the rules of that religion.
    Like not drinking coffee let alone be gay. DUH! I am now living spiritual, not follow one specific religion with rules. I don’t advertise my beliefs or push them on other people. Just trying to live in peace & belief this life on Earth is Hell & there is a much better place after death. I wish religion wasn’t brought up about a person. Unless that is what that person wants. Just don’t be a hypercrite. It’s that simple. And reality shows are all about back stabbing trying to win the prize no matter what the cost of your character. And people for some reason get a kick out of that. How sad!

  • Vanessa

    This young man, the entire staff at Survival and the person that wrote this article needs Jesus. What a sad world we live in when we use gay-Mormon to describe a person. He’s either gay or mormon. I am sorry I have to be the one to tell you all, but, he cannot be both.

  • Donny

    ” I wish religion wasn’t brought up about a person.”
    Yeah? And how about what sex acts literally define them? Why do we need to know if someone is “Gay” (male homosexuality), “Lesbian” (female homosexuality), “Bi-sexual” (any-sex promiscuous) and “Trans-sexual” (whatEVerrrr).
    It sure would be nice if “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was something that not only the military embraced but society as a whole. It used to be “how” you boffed was nobodies business but the two adults (how old fashion and bigoted I know) engaged in it.
    But alas, the “Gay Agenda” grinds along with no slowing in its indoctrination promotion techniques. Hollywood of course doing its most effective selling. But seriously, a Gay Mormon “Flight Attendant?” A bit cliche is it not? And are we forgetting the grueling history of who it was in the Gay Community that spread AIDS at the beginning of the pandemic from one country to the other? A “gay flight attendant” was it not?
    How’s it go, the age old adage about those that forget history? Sodom and Gomorrah are not a myth.

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