Game show looks to convert atheists

By | July 6, 2009

http://xenophilia.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/KLJfountainpunchbee2004-2.jpgWhat happens when you put a Muslim imam, a Christian priest, a rabbi and a Buddhist monk in a room with 10 atheists?

Turkish television station Kanal T hopes the answer is a ratings success as it prepares to launch a gameshow where spiritual guides from the four faiths will seek to convert a group of non-believers.

The prize for converts will be a pilgrimage to a holy site of their chosen religion — Mecca for Muslims, the Vatican for Christians, Jerusalem for Jews and Tibet for Buddhists.

But religious authorities in Muslim but secular Turkey are not amused by the twist on the popular reality game show format and the Religious Affairs Directorate is refusing to provide an imam for the show.

“Doing something like this for the sake of ratings is disrespectful to all religions. Religion should not be a subject for entertainment programs,” High Board of Religious Affairs Chairman Hamza Aktan told state news agency Anatolian after news of the planned program emerged.

The makers of “Penitents Compete” are unrepentant and reject claims that the show, scheduled to begin broadcasting in September, will cheapen religion.

“We are giving the biggest prize in the world, the gift of belief in God,” Kanal T chief executive Seyhan Soylu told Reuters.

“We don’t approve of anyone being an atheist. God is great and it doesn’t matter which religion you believe in. The important thing is to believe,” Soylu said. …

Some 200 people have so far applied to take part in the show and the 10 contestants will be chosen next month.

A team of theologians will ensure that the atheists are truly non-believers and are not just seeking fame or a free holiday.

via Game show looks to convert atheists | Oddly Enough | Reuters.

The image is my friend Keith Lowell Jensen who bills himself as an atheist comedian. I think if he knew about this game show he may write a skit that turns the tables and gives away vacations for people who give up a belief in God. What kind of panel of experts could tell, however, if someone was a real believer, or just faking it? I ask because every believer I have ever known has had periods of non-belief or at least serious doubt.

Perhaps this is a valid test:

Photo Would you pledge your soul as loan collateral?

Ready to give your soul for a loan in these difficult economic times? In Latvia, where the crisis has raged more than in the rest of the European Union, you can.Such a deal is being offered by the Kontora loan company, whose public face is Viktor Mirosiichenko, 34.

Clients have to sign a contract, with the words “Agreement” in bold letters at the top. The client agrees to the collateral, “that is, my immortal soul.”

Mirosiichenko said his company would not employ debt collectors to get its money back if people refused to repay, and promised no physical violence. Signatories only have to give their first name and do not show any documents.

“If they don’t give it back, what can you do? They won’t have a soul, that’s all,” he told Reuters in a basement office, with one desk, a computer and three chairs.

Wearing sunglasses, a black suit and a white shirt with the words “Kontora” (office) emblazoned on it, he reaches into his pocket and lays out a sheaf of notes on the table to show that the business is serious and not a joke.

Latvia has been the EU nation worst hit by economic crisis. …

Mirosiichenko said his company was basically trusting people to repay the small amounts they borrowed, which has so far been up to 250 lats ($500) for between 1 and 90 days at a hefty interest rate.

He said about 200 people had taken out loans over the two months the business was in operation.

via – Reuters

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