It sounds like the beginning of a joke: what do you get when you put
a Muslim imam, a Greek Orthodox priest, a rabbi, a Buddhist monk and 10
atheists in the same room?
Viewers of Turkish television will
soon get the punchline when a new game show begins that offers a prize
arguably greater than that offered by Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
will ponder whether to believe or not to believe when they pit their
godless convictions against the possibilities of a new relationship
with the almighty on Penitents Compete (Tovbekarlar Yarisiyor
in Turkish), to be broadcast by the Kanal T station. Four spiritual
guides from the different religions will seek to convert at least one
of the 10 atheists in each programme to their faith.
persuaded will be rewarded with a pilgrimage to the spiritual home of
their newly chosen creed – Mecca for Muslims, Jerusalem for Christians
and Jews, and Tibet for Buddhists.
The real prize, of course, is the conversion itself. But if you are faking it just to win the trip, I believe Islam is at a disadvantage. By the way, they do "verify" that you are an atheist in the first place, using a panel of eight theologians (are they so hard to fool?), plus they monitor your behavior afterwards to see you truly have become a believer.