My immediate response was: "That's ridiculous! That's New Age-y! What about the contestants that have serious religions or who don't want any religion? Why don't they just have psychological counselors? Why 'spiritual'? Ugh! 'Spiritual'! That grotesque gray area between real religion and no religion! A great example of the seemingly middle moderate position being the most offensive place of all." (Or something to that effect.)
Here's an article in USA Today about these advisers. They're Billy Mauldin, president and CEO of the Motor Racing Outreach ministry, and wife Julie, who have been plying their trade since 1999 in the NASCAR milieu.
"The expectations here are the same for what we do for NASCAR: To be there for the people, be present, help with the spiritual side of life and some of the struggles they may deal with as they're going through the competition," Mauldin told USA TODAY Sports.So maybe this does make some sense. You have the contestants plucked from a hometown religious context and tarted up in sexy clothes, singing songs about love affairs instead of Jesus, and receiving adoration (and condemnation) instead of giving adoration (and receiving absolution).
The idea was the brainchild of David Hill, the former Fox Sports chairman who was tapped to oversee an Idol overhaul this year in the face of a ratings decline. Hill had been watching tapes of past seasons when it struck him how many contestants grew up in a faith-based environment and began singing in church.
"I thought to myself, 'Wow, it must be really tough to go to this intense competition – and this show does change lives – and if you're used to being in a church-based organization, that would be a huge adjustment," Hill told USA TODAY Sports. "Especially for kids who are 16, 17, 18 years old and away from home for the first time."
"I couldn't think of anyone better to advise these kids than Billy," Hill said. "In my mind, NASCAR is the most intense athletic competition in the country because if you make a mistake, you're risking serious injury and death."Interesting to analogize the soul-crushing of the entertainment industry to death in a fiery car wreck.