First, the details. The show will pit teams of contestants against each other and test their knowledge of the Bible. It will also focus on "personal stories of faith and community," and the teams will win money "to help support their faith communities." Executive Producers Michael Davies and Tom Forman are behind the show which claims to "celebrate the central role of The Bible in American society and culture." (All quotes from the official GSN press release.)
And now let's discuss why this is a very bad idea. Michael Davies has been looking at this type of game for a while now - back in 2009 Pat Kiernan hosted a pilot for National Bible Quiz which sounded a lot more inclusive. That show pitted teams based on their religion (or lack thereof) against each other and included members of all faiths or no faith at all. American Bible Challenge is clearly focusing on religion and the role of the Bible in American culture, which limits the target audience and contestant pool. If you don't belong to a "faith community," there's no point in playing.
The only conceivable reason I can come up with for this format is that GSN is getting tired of the backlash from people who think shows like Baggage and even Lingo are too racy for family viewing. This could be their attempt to draw the more conservative viewers back in.
A religion-based game show isn't a new concept - there have been a few in the past, though I can't recall any that really took off. No one (who isn't on the payroll) wants to see GSN take off with great original programming more than I do. Also, I have huge respect for Embassy Row and Michael Davies. But the American Bible Challenge is not the vehicle that is going to make great things happen for them.
Logo courtesy GSN