The show released a preview clip for the episode before the Jan. 4 premiere of ‘The Bachelor,’ featuring star Matt James leading the contestants in a Christian prayer.
When James addresses the women as a group for the first time, the prayer takes place.
James then states that in stressful circumstances, he uses prayer to relax himself, which is certainly understandable when you’re about to date hundreds of women for the first time on national television. However, Reddit users were swift to criticize the moment, posing the question: How would viewers cope with this moment if a Muslim, Jewish or Hindu person led the contestants in their faith in a moment of prayer?
Matt is taking his own way to set off the first TOMORROW cocktail party! What Reddit users said was #TheBachelor pic.twitter.com/0FZWhbfPBR- The Bachelor (@BachelorABC) January 3, 2021
The problem is not that Matt wanted to prove how important Christianity is to him, but that he either believed that everyone present was a Christian or did not think about it at all, many users in the Reddit thread said.
A Reddit user said, “He should have worded it more broadly,” “It came across as centered on his belief system, and in a diverse group like this where he knows virtually none of them, it could be seen as a little insensitive or even arrogant.”
Another person commented that she felt awkward watching the scene on her screen, “I’m Jewish. If I had been in that group, I would not have felt comfortable. I actually muted the TV.”
The show is “really trying to drive home that Matt James is just like the very white, very conservative, very religious audience they peddle every year.” one Reddit commentator said.
What other fans were thinking at the time
I fully understand that the faith of Matt is vital to him, and it is true that faith is an obstacle when you enter into a relationship—BUT getting people you don’t know yet (and whose faith you don’t know either) to engage with you in a Christian prayer just feels…. Too far too soon! “#TheBachelor- Brett S. Vergara (@BrettSVergara) January 5, 2021To condemn the situation, Superfan Brett Vergara, host of the “Baby Got Bach” podcast, also took to Twitter. “Don’t make people pray with you,”Don’t make people pray with you. “There are people who are not Christian! There are people who are not religious!”
Also on social media, former “The Bachelor,” “Bachelor Pad” and “Bachelor in Paradise” contestant Jaclyn Schwartz spoke out. “Ok, but … Are any of these women in the group Jewish?” she wrote. “Because that would make me a little uncomfortable. A prayer where you don’t have a choice if you participate?”
I’m not really religious,” Schwartz continued, “I think Matt had some conditions for his wife to join in his faith.
But I’ve got questions!’
A candidate who isn’t Christian could have been there.
“Take a look at “The Bachelorette” last season – Ivan Hall, one of the rivals of Christian leading lady Tayshia Adam, allegedly spoke about becoming agnostic in the Fantasy Suite on their date (he spoke about it after the show on Kaitlyn Bristowe’s “Off the Vine” podcast).
“Maybe he should have put it in more…’I’m a devout person and I believe in praying about every situation I’m in.’ I know that may not be important to you, but it is to me. If you’re uncomfortable, I understand, but you may not be the right person for me’ and let her off.”Maybe he should have put it in more…’ I’m a devout person and I believe in praying about every situation I’m in.’ I know that may not be important to you, but it’s important to me. I understand if you’re uncomfortable, but you may not be the right person for me and let her go.
“Another fan argued that, “He is the Bachelor, and faith is vital to him, the matter was blown out of proportion. He didn’t “force” anybody to do something.
The Christianity of James may be central to his story as ‘The Bachelor’
Since this is James’ first time on a reality TV show, there is no question that producers and editors are trying to explain to viewers what the character of James is all about. Although their plots and narratives had their previous leads anchored in previous seasons, viewers really just get to know James via this episode.
And from the first episode, it’s obvious that his Christianity is a huge part of what makes The Bachelor who he is.
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