"American Idol" contestant Colton Dixon chose to ignore producers' suggestion to refrain from expressing his Christian beliefs on the show and was eliminated last week. But this weekend, the 20-year-old singer will be a special guest at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner.
"I think it was pretty clear from the beginning where Colton's heart is," Rob Allman, the Christian Broadcasting Network's news director who has invited the former contestant as a special guest, told TODAY.com. "His heart is in Christianity and his strong feeling for God. As soon as he was voted off, I sent an email saying we should try to get Colton to be our guest if he would."
The annual dinner by the White House Correspondents' Association is traditionally held on the evening of the last Saturday in April at the Washington Hilton, and is usually attended by the president and the vice president. Celebrities like Courteney Cox, Donald Trump and Justin Bieber have also attended the dinner.
Media leaders invite non-journalist guests who will catch some attention as well as "send a message about what their organization is about," Allman was quoted as saying.
Dixon is a Christian singer from Murfreesboro, Tenn., and was among the Top 10 contestants on "American Idol." He was told by the show's producers that religious and political messages on social media could alienate some viewers and potentially cost him some votes, but Dixon, who was later voted off, was not willing to hide his faith.
"When we first started the Twitter and Facebook stuff, they said beware of political and religious tweets," Dixon said last month. "Just because it can turn off voters or whatever. But, you know, being a Christian is who I am. It is a part of me musically. It is what I want to do after the show – go into Christian music." He also noted that the producers had a "mutual respect" for his faith.
"I wake up and I do devotional every morning," the contestant added. "It reminds me why I am here, which is to share the love of God. I know there are several other contestants who can say the exact same thing."
During a performance on the show last month, Dixon wore bracelets given to him by Raising Kain Apparel containing a reference to Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you ... plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." He also posted a Bible verse from Proverbs on his Facebook: "[Trust] in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your [own] understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will keep your paths straight."
Allman believes in Dixon's talent. "Based on some of the things that he performed, I think he can write his own ticket," he said. "He can clearly go quite a ways – probably the furthest that any 'American Idol' contestant, as a Christian singer, could go."