Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wheel of Conversion

Turkey is a secular nation in name only. A huge majority of the population is Muslim, and Islamic clergy play a large role in government. But according to the producers of the new Turkish game show Penitents Compete, Turks don't care what religion you belong to just as long as you believe in something. Which is why the object of their show is to pit a Muslim imam, a Catholic priest, a rabbi, and a Buddhist monk against a throng of atheists. If successfully converted, the "winning" atheist will receive an all expenses paid trip to the pilgrimage site of his or her choice. Critics charge that this show will cheapen all religions by turning them into crass reality television. But the show's creator says that Penitents Compete will be giving away the greatest gift of all: belief. I guess it's a good thing there's a sense of religious inclusion in the basic premise of the show, but I'm not sure the producers have really followed through with their idea. Converting someone from an atheist to, say, a cannibalistic sun worshiper probably isn't a good idea, no matter how much serenity and comfort that person gains from killing and eating human flesh. But I guess it takes all kinds. Well, except for atheists. More details here.