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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Turkish Game Show Seeks to Save Souls from Eternal Damnation, Draw Laughs

Stop me if you've heard this one: a Christian priest, a Muslim imam, a rabbi, and a Buddhist monk enter a room full of 10 atheists... It's not a joke, it's Penitents Compete, a new game show out of Istanbul in which the men of the cloth try to convert atheists into believers. Winners get to take a pilgrimage to a location based on their newfound faith (the Vatican for Christians, Tibet for Buddhists, etc.).

Of course, some religious leaders/spokespeople have a bit of a problem with this light-hearted chucklefest. While some say it cheapens religion, faith, and belief in God, producers argue otherwise.

We are giving the biggest prize in the world: the gift of belief in God. God is great and it doesn't matter which religion you believe in. The important thing is to believe,

Before the atheist can enter the program, he must be evaluated by a panel of theologians who will attempt to ferret-out the real non-believers from those just looking for a free trip. The show highlights recent socio-political matters in the area, as religion has taken a more prominent role in politics there with detractors of the ruling party insisting it has "a hidden Islamist [sic?] agenda." The ruling party denies this.

Penitents Compete starts lighting-up the charts this September. Meanwhile, future fans are encouraged to play the game at home, stones and glass houses not provided.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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