What do three nuns, three tattoo artists, three wrestlers and three rabbis have in common? If you answered the number “three,” you’d only be partially right.
In actuality, all of the above, plus 14 other teams of three, are participants in the second season of the Game Show Network’s (GSN) hit show “The American Bible Challenge,” hosted by comedian, author and game show host, Jeff Foxworthy.
Foxworthy’s previous game show, “Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader,” has appeared either on network television or in syndication since 2007. “The American Bible Challenge,” which begins its second season Thursday, March 21 at 8 p.m. CST, pits an eclectic group of contestants against one another, demonstrating their knowledge of the Bible in hopes of winning money for their various causes.
This season, three nuns from the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, from Ann Arbor, Mich., put their biblical expertise on the line as they try to prove the other teams “Aren’t Smarter Than Three Nuns.” Any monetary winnings are earmarked for the future of their fellow sisters in their Order as their elders approach retirement.
According to Sr. Maria Suso, a professed sister of the Order, she, along with novice Srs. Peter Joseph and Evangeline, came to their television debut obediently, if not a bit reluctantly.
“Mother asked the community if anyone had a lot of knowledge about the Bible. I did, but I didn’t really want to go on television. But we’re taught to be obedient and support God’s will,” Sr. Maria said, adding that she put it in God’s hand. She also viewed the program as a good opportunity to bring their new evangelism to people who don’t know about God.
Eventually, the three were chosen and each of them started studying and preparing for the task.
“Sr. Evangeline and I really enjoy the Old Testament,” Sr. Maria said. “Sr. Peter Joseph is actually a convert and has a great love and knowledge of the New Testament.”
In addition to reading the Scripture, the three nuns also watched last year’s episodes of the show online.
With their team complete, they went out to Hollywood last January and taped the show. And while Sr. Maria said they were nervous when preparing for the program, when the actual taping took place another emotion took over: fun. “God wanted us there and we knew we were part of God’s plan so we decided ‘Let’s just have fun,’” she said.
Sr. Maria called the Hollywood production very clever, if not a bit confusing.
“It was extremely cleverly written,” she said. “We didn’t always get the pop culture references in the clues, but it was delightful to see how a secular show could coexist with the Scriptures. It was kind of like playing Trivial Pursuit at home, but with more bells and whistles!”
The groups of people participating came from all religions and backgrounds and Sr. Maria said that further illustrated God’s all encompassing love. “It shows how everyone belongs to God,” she said.
And while Sr. Maria cannot divulge the outcome of the show, she said one of the biggest benefits came from their preparatory studies.
“The more we studied the Scriptures, the more we were infused with a great appreciation for the writings. Our love for Scripture deepened.”
Sr. Maria called the competition “beautiful. Everyone wants to win, but everyone has a great appreciation for each other’s wonderful causes,” she said.
On their down time from the show, the Sisters explored Hollywood Boulevard.
“People didn’t expect to see three nuns walking down the street,” Sr. Maria said.
What was one of their biggest highlights when exploring Hollywood? “We had our picture taken by Kermit the Frog’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,” Sr. Maria said.
Sr. Maria and her fellow sister competitors don’t plan on leaving the snowy climate of Ann Arbor for the sunny palm trees of Hollywood anytime soon. But if the calling comes for another American Bible Challenge appearance occurs, “If Mother asks me, I’d do it again!”