‘American Idol’ features worship but censors Jesus

By WND Staff

“American Idol” finalists sing “Shout to the Lord”

The prospect that America’s most-watched television program would feature a popular Christian worship song to close its fundraising special last night generated a buzz on the Internet, but some now are crying foul after the lyrics were altered to eliminate the word “Jesus.”

In the grand finale of “American Idol Gives Back,” eight “Idol” finalists performed “Shout to the Lord,” the song by Darlene Zschech of Australia’s Hillsong Church that has been sung in thousands of congregations around the world.

Zschech’s lyrics open with “My Jesus, My Savior, Lord there is none like You, All of my days, I want to praise, The wonders of Your mighty love.”

Instead of “My Jesus,” however, viewers last night heard the “American Idol” stars begin the song with “My shepherd,” as seen in a clip posted on YouTube.

The performance was taped Sunday at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

Molly Heinz, who handles publicity for “American Idol” with the Fox television network, has not responded to WND’s request for comment. However, the next night’s show, the regular weekly “results” show, featured the same song, and this time “Jesus” was not edited.

Hillsong’s music is distributed in the U.S. by Alabama-based Integrity Music. Spokeswoman Shannon Walker did not reply to WND, but Integrity’s website posted an item before last night’s show noting “bloggers and TV writers are buzzing about the grand finale performance … which predicts to be one of the most watched television programs of the year.”

Blogger John Rothra, who noted the lyric change, said his “heart leaped” when “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest announced the final song would be “Shout to the Lord.”

“However, when the song began,” he writes, “I realized that while ‘Idol’ may be giving back, Idol producers also took away.”

Rothra said, “On the one hand it doesn’t surprise me that the producers would remove Jesus from the song. On the other hand, it shocks and saddens me they would stoop so low.”

Rothra argued Maria Shriver, the former NBC reporter and wife of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, quoted Gandhi by name, “but ‘American Idol’ was unwilling to let ‘Jesus’ be said on national television.”

“I suppose they were afraid to offend non-Christians or that they simply don’t agree with Christianity,” he writes. “Welcome to the culture of tolerance, where every religion is accepted except Christianity; welcome to the pluralistic relativistic society that welcomes all faiths except Scriptural Christianity.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune reviewer Jon Bream called the two-and-a-half hour show “an ohmygod, star-studded extravaganza.”

The program, he said, which raised funds for children’s charities worldwide, featured in the first hour alone “Miley Cyrus, Carrie Underwood, Fergie, Peyton and Eli Manning, heroes from NASCAR, WWE and ‘Desperate Housewives,’ George Lopez, Snoop Dogg, Adam Sandler, Paula Abdul and, of course, Bono (you can’t have a music charity telethon without him).”

Last year, the special raised $76 million, but this year British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, alone, pledged $200 million from the UK.


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