Christians regularly lament their lack of representation in mainstream entertainment, but this season, the most popular show on television features a cast of vocal Christians.

Surprised? While Christians are certainly not strangers to the American Idol stage, six of this season's top 10 - Kris Allen (shown right), Matt Giraud, Danny Gokey, Scott MacIntyre, Michael Sarver, and Lil Rounds - profess Christian faith, and many of them lead worship at their home churches.

Two weeks ago ran an article highlighting the pronounced role of faith in this eighth season of the show. The story implicitly suggested that Christians watch the show and vote for these performers because of their faith, which elicited strong reactions both for and against the idea. Critics insisted that American Idol is a singing contest, and votes should go to the best singer, regardless of personal convictions. But many Christians support like-minded contestants because of what they represent: they are lights in the darkness, hope that Christians can eschew the perceived excesses of the music business and still succeed. "Christian music has always had this cheesy label attached to it," said Joanne Brokaw, who blogs about American Idol for Beliefnet's Gospel Soundcheck. "This shows that a Christian singer can have artistic integrity and they are people who can really sing." For a show notoriously fueled by personality at least as much as by music, is this really so terrible? If the objective is to produce a successful recording artist, we need look no further than the numbers.

The Christian music industry has been good to former Idol contestants. Mandisa, who finished ninth in season five, released a gospel album that debuted at #1 on the Top Christian ...

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