Tuesday, July 21, 2009

'Penitents Compete' for the Ultimate Prize

A Turkish TV gameshow is pitting a rabbi, an imam, a priest and a Buddhist monk against one another, to see which has the most success in converting atheists. The prize for any convert will be a pilgrimage to Mecca, Jerusalem or Tibet (depending on what they convert to!!)

'Penitents Compete', sounds like a cross between The Monastery and Big Brother (Channel 4 must be kicking themselves for not coming up with the idea) but it claims to have loftier goals:

The programme's makers say they want to promote religious belief while educating Turkey's overwhelmingly Muslim population about other faiths.

"The project aims to turn disbelievers on to God," the station's deputy director, Ahmet Ozdemir, told the Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review.

That mission is attested to in the programme's advertising slogans, which include "We give you the biggest prize ever: we represent the belief in God" and "You will find serenity in this competition".

Only true non-believers need apply. An eight-strong commission of theologians will assess the atheist credentials of would-be contestants before deciding who should take part.

Converts will be monitored to ensure their religious transformation is genuine and not simply a ruse to gain a free foreign trip. "They can't see this trip as a getaway, but as a religious experience," Ozdemir said.

Ht Start the Week. Is this using all means to save some, or the ultimate trivialisation of the gospel? Discuss....

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