views on God, The Bible &
How He Became A Believer
By Billy Hallowell - The Blaze.com
Atlanta Comedian Jeff Foxworthy has been a
successful fixture in the entertainment industry for years.
While he's become well-known for roles in shows like "Are You
Smarter Than a 5th Grader?," "Blue Collar TV" and "The
Jeff Foxworthy Show," it is his project - "The American
Bible Challenge" - that is putting him in the headlines of
late. We interviewed the host earlier this week to discuss the
show's monumental success, to speak about his views on the Bible
and to explore his personal faith background.
GSN (formerly Game
Show Network) took a risk, in the eyes of some, when the network
decided to launch a game show based exclusively upon the Bible.
After all, no one had ever tried it before. And while there's
certainly a massive Christian market in America, uncharted
waters can be difficult to navigate - and costly, especially if
they fail to bring in ratings. Drafting Foxworthy, a noted
Christian, as host, GSN paved the way for blockbuster success.
Taking the Gig
In many ways, Foxworthy was the
perfect candidate to be the public face of the project. In an
exclusive interview with TheBlaze, though, he said that
answering the call to take the job wasn't a slam-dunk decision.
Instead, it was something he thought carefully about before
The actor and funny guy said that he was approached by the
network after his show, "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?"
didn't get renewed. While the faith-based project was instantly
attractive, Foxworthy said he didn't want to exploit the Bible.
"My first thought was, 'I don't want to be standing in line
in hell going, 'It was the game show,'" he quipped. "My faith is
a huge part of my life and, at the same time, you don't want to
As he took the time to ponder the project, he realized that
the show differed from other television competitions in a
profound way. Rather than offering contestants personal fortune,
those competing were playing for charity. After Foxworthy
realized that contestants would be "playing to love on somebody
else," he decided to take the hosting gig. And the rest - well -
The power of the show, Foxworthy contends, goes above and
beyond testing Biblical knowledge. The comedian claims that the
real appeal is the power that the program has to reach
"If somebody didn't have faith and they were watching -
they're not going to be converted because someone knows the
answer to a question," he said, going on to claim that the
charities being represented - food pantries and other human
service groups - will, instead, touch viewers.
And it has been a good decision for Jeff and the network
with the show becoming the highest rated original program in the
history of GSN. It debuted in August of 2012. Gospel music
legend Kirk Franklin joined it as co-host and announcer
in the second season. In 2014, The American Bible Challenge
received two Daytime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Game
Show and Foxworthy for Outstanding Game Show Host. The show
crowned its winner for the third season in July of 2014.
Jeff has been a Christian for decades.
In fact, he told The Blaze that he remembers accepting Jesus
Christ when he was just seven years old. He recounted being at
church with his mother and telling her that he was ready to go
down to the sanctuary to accept the Lord. His mother, assuming
he was still too young, told him to wait until he had a firmer
understanding. However, this did little to dissuade the young
"I argued all the way home and the preacher came to the house
and he said 'he knows what he's doing,'" Foxworthy said. "We
went back that night [to the church]."
Growing up in the old Southern Baptist tradition, Foxworthy
said he had a difficult time complying with the often-times
strict rules and regulations. He remembers thinking, "I love
God, but I can't act and dress like that."
Initially, he didn't know what to do, but that by the time he
turned 30, the pieces started to come together; he realized that
God didn't need him to follow rigid rules and regulations
surrounding clothing and outward expression in order to be a
Like many Christians who would consider themselves
non-denominational, Foxworthy said that he's "not real big on
religion" (typically, believers of this stripe place their
primary focus on faith and the Bible and not on more hardline
tradition and religious structure). Rather than being "scared to
death to have a sense of humor," he encourages Christians to
experience God's "joyousness" and not to get "caught up in
As for his own faith journey, the comedian prefers to be hands
has been a Christian for decades. In fact, he told The Blaze that
he remembers accepting Jesus Christ when he was just seven years
old. He recounted being at church with his mother and telling
her that he was ready to go down to the sanctuary to accept the
Lord. His mother, assuming he was still too young, told him to
wait until he had a firmer understanding. However, this did
little to dissuade the young man.
blessings ministering to
"Here's what I feel
like. Rather than going and sitting in a service for an hour every
Sunday and that being extent of my faith, it's more important that I
live it out," Foxworthy said. "I lead a Bible study with homeless
guys (for the Atlanta Mission) on Tuesday mornings...I have
done it for years."
(See Jeff talk about the
Atlanta Mission in this video...Click
entertainer then went into detail about this unique public service
activity, describing the small group as having started with only 15
male participants. Over the years, the Bible study has grown to more
than 100 homeless men who are attempting to better their lives.
"If they agree
to go through treatment and do well, [the organization running the
study] puts them up for a year, takes them through counseling and
helps them reunite with their families," Foxworthy explained.
believes wholeheartedly in getting involved in service projects, he
also goes to church regularly and relies upon the Bible for guidance
in his everyday life. Foxworthy enthusiastically described the
importance of the holy book.
"It's kind of
the anchor of the whole thing. It's kind of what guides me in how to
deal with my career, my money," he explained. "Nothing in life
prepared me to have money...I didn't come from it. Nothing in life
prepared me to be quasi-famous."
view is that the income that he has been fortunate enough to earn
isn't really his. Since "it belongs to God," the comedian said that
he finds it important to ask the Lord what to do with it. Part of
the process, of course, is prayer and consideration of how best to
spend it. Thus, Foxworthy finds himself "finding the time to be
still enough to listen."
"For it to be
a relationship, you can't do all the talking. That's not a
relationship," he explained. "You've got to listen. God doesn't
scream. God whispers."
In addition to
his comments about listening to God and having a solid relationship
with the Almighty, Foxworthy shared his own struggles with trying to
figure God out - a feat that he believes to be, on its face,
"If you could
figure out God and what He's doing then He's not worthy of worship.
I think that's the way comedians are wired - questioning," he said.
"That was a struggle for me for a long time. Now, I'm comfortable
saying, 'I have no idea.'"
on to illustrate this statement through an experience that unfolded
at the Bible study he runs. He explained that it's important to
allow the homeless to experience the benefits of giving back. Since
they're often on the receiving end of charity, those in need
sometimes miss out on the blessings that can come from being
gave each guy in the group $50 and told them that, if they donated
the money to school supplies and hats, gloves and supplies for
people living on the streets, he and the other leaders would match
whatever was given.
"All 150 guys got up and put their $50 bills in the
basket," he said, while conveying that he was clearly moved by
the experience. "Every person in
there gave every single penny they had on them. I sat against
the wall and sobbed for 10 minutes."
Foxworthy admitted that
he thought he had God figured out. While he assumed the men would
pocket the money, they did the exact opposite. Not only did they
donate the $50 he gave them, but they also emptied what few pennies
they had on them into the offering plate.
No Longer "One and Done"
Considering all of these elements,
it's no surprise that Foxworthy is down-to-earth and grounded when
it comes to addressing his career. Unlike many others in the
entertainment industry, he claims that his
professional experiences don't define him.
"I love doing stuff like
Grader" or "Bible
Challenge," he said.
"[But] it's not what defines me in life. I'm a husband and
I'm a dad and I'm a part of this community..."
As for his most recent success, he
joked, noting that he's had "two hits in a row," considering the
widespread success of "The
American Bible Challenge" and
me and TV, it's one and done," he quipped. "I've now become the
authority on religion and politics - the two things that get people
Bible Challenge" ended up being the most
successful program in the network's history. In the first two
seasons, teams of Bible enthusiasts from all across the country
competed in a variety of challenges putting their knowledge of the
Good Book to the test in humorous, inspiring and educational ways.
Encore performances are currently airing on GSNTV