It sounds like the lead of a hundred bad jokes: A Muslim imam, a Catholic priest, and a Buddhist monk walk into a television studio . . . However, this is the setup for a new show “Penitents Compete” on Turkish television station Kanal T where the clerics are put into a room with 10 atheists to convert them. It is the ultimate Survival: Salvation show.
The prize for conversion is a trip to the holy city of your choice religion: Mecca for Muslims, the Vatican for Christians, Jerusalem for Jews and Tibet for Buddhists.
It appears that remaining an atheist gets you bupkus.
The Turkish High Board of Religious Affairs is not amused. Chairman Hamza Aktan said the program is disrespectful.
Yet, Kanal T chief executive Seyhan Soylu insists that they “are giving the biggest prize in the world, the gift of belief in God.” I suppose that is better than a Dodge Neon but I must confess that a trip to Italy would push me more into the arms of the Almighty than a trip to Saudi Arabia from purely a tourism standpoint.
It appears that there are a lot of atheists looking for either a salvation or a vacation: 200 people have so far applied for the 10 positions each month.
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