Christian Favorite Cut from 'American Idol' Top 9

NEW YORK - One of the remaining Christian artists from the ten finalists of American Idol was booted Wednesday night, disappointing the residents of Greenville, S.C., and church-goers around the nation who were rooting for him.

Chris Sligh, who performs as part of the Seacoast Church praise band in Greenville, was eliminated from the singing contest after he received the fewest amount of votes among the other ten vocalists during this week's poll results show. Among the nine remaining contestants, three Christian artists recognized by the Gospel Music Association (GMA) - Jordin Sparks, Melinda Doolittle, and Phil Stacey - are still keeping the faith alive.

Sligh, 28, was cut from the contest following his performance on Tuesday in which he sang "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by the Police, in accordance with this week's pop theme.

The South Carolina native had many Christian ties that made him a favorite among church-goers as well as the GMA - the largest network of artists and industry leaders that promote every kind of gospel music.

Sligh was a past participant in the 2003 GMA Music in the Rockies – a showcase event for aspiring, often unsigned, songwriters and artists in the Christian music industry – where he placed first in the Pop-Adult Contemporary/Inspirational Song category for writing "Only You Remain."

He also belted out one of Christian's greatest hits when he sang dcTalk's "We Just Wanna Be Loved" during the early stages in competition.

Sligh was criticized during the season when he began to sing more mainstream music, and people began to question his faith. His hometown of Greenville has supported and defended him, however, throwing weekly American Idol parties at his local church.

Among the other bottom vote-getters this week were Haley Scarnato and other Christian favorite Phil Stacey.

This is the second time that Stacey, 29, has been among the lowest vote tallies, which will make it more difficult as the contest moves forward. He did, however, receive positive praise from judge Simon Cowell, who had previously criticized his singing, with his performance of "Every Breath You Take."

"This may surprise you, Phil, but I actually thought that was very good," encouraged Cowell on Tuesday's performance show.

Other Christian contenders Jordin Sparks, 17, and Melinda Doolittle, 29, continue to be listed as some of this year's strongest competitors. They again were applauded by the three judges for their performances.

This week's show featured guest appearances from Gwen Stefani and Akon and will invite Tony Bennett to help next week.

American Idol continues to dominate the television ratings, bringing in around 26-37 million viewers per telecast.