'Jeopardy!' says controversial question about Church of the Nativity was included in error

The show said Monday that the question, which prompted outrage after an answer of Palestine was rejected, wasn't intended to be included in the broadcast.
Image: Alex Trebek speaks during a rehearsal
Alex Trebek during a rehearsal before a taping of 'Jeopardy! Power Players Week' at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington on April 21, 2012.Kris Connor / Getty Images file

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By Phil Helsel

"Jeopardy!" said Monday that a question about the location of the Church of the Nativity — which prompted outcry after an answer of Palestine was rejected — was included in Friday's broadcast in error.

"In the process of taping this clue, 'BUILT IN THE 300s A.D., THE CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY' we became aware that the clue was flawed as written and that determining an acceptable response would be problematic,” the show said in a statement. "In accordance with our rules and in the interest of fairness, we voided the clue and threw it out."

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The contestants' scores were restored to what they had been before the clue came up, and the outcome of the game was not affected, the show said.

"Unfortunately, through human error in post-production, the uncorrected version of the game was broadcast. We regret the error, and we will make every effort to ensure this never happens again," the statement on the show's website said.

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Contestant Katie Needle answered the question about the location of the church — which many Christians believe to be the birthplace of Jesus and is in Bethlehem, just south of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank — as "What is Palestine?" Host Alex Trebek's response, a decisive "no," set off a wave of controversy. Another contestant, Jack McGuire, answered "What is Israel?" and the $200 was added to his score.

The West Bank is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian rights and advocacy groups criticized the denial that Palestine was the correct answer, and some demanded an apology.

Israel seized land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the 1967 war with its Arab neighbors.

The Church of the Nativity, the oldest basilica in the Holy Land, is listed as a World Heritage Site. It is a popular destination for Christian pilgrims and tourists from across the globe.