New Reality TV Show: Convert the Atheists

I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised to see this in Turkey, the only country that has a lower rate of acceptance of evolution than the United States.

A new reality show called “Penitents Compete” (when translated) will soon premiere on Turkish television.

The premise:

Each week, a different group of atheists will appear in front of the religious leaders [a Muslim imam, a Christian priest, a Jewish rabbi and a Buddhist monk]… if an ex-atheist is “persuaded” to start following one of the religions, he or she will have the chance to travel to that religion’s center, whether Jerusalem for Christians and Jews or Mecca for Muslims or Tibet for Buddhists.

The producers of the show have a team assembled to double check your atheist credentials, too.

Advertisements for the program say that contestants have a chance to win the “biggest prize ever” (i.e. God/Salvation).

I actually think this could be an interesting show if the atheists can voice their opinions and objections well. Let the country hear about the problems with faith. And if one or two people end up converting at the end, so be it. We could take the hit.

I also think there should be bonus prizes for any atheist who can convince the religious leaders to leave their faiths.

Some religious groups are objecting to the show… maybe because they know they’ll end up sounding ridiculous. Making a case that someone was born of a virgin, died, and got resurrected three days later is quite a hard sell to a bunch of logical people.

The yet-to-air program has already drawn reactions from many people, mostly Christians. [Hakki] Devrim, a television commentator and columnist for daily Radikal called the idea absurd and said such a show insults religion.

“Religion is not a science, and it is not open to discussion,” Devrim said, adding that the program offers atheists a chance to voice their own thoughts.

“If I had to describe it with a word, it would be ’unsuitable,’” said the columnist, who advised [TV station] Kanal T not to take the risk of airing such a show in Turkey.

“It’s not worth the risk,” he said.

Yep. How dare atheists get a voice!

And since when is religion “not open to discussion”? What the heck are they afraid of?

Let’s bring this show to America. You know the ratings would be high. You could place bets on whether each contestant will be swayed… Have Rick Warren and Richard Dawkins make guest appearances…

You *know* it’d be better than “The Bachelorette.”

And since “Survivor” hasn’t called me back, this may be my only shot to be a reality TV star.

(via Atheism Examiner)

  • Devysciple

    OMFSM! I so totally would get a telly just to watch this show. And hopefully there would be a world-wide merchandise. Ahh, the rationality… it soothes!

  • Sven

    “Biggest prize ever”? Sounds like a trap. They’ll say he won “salvation”.

  • http://www.slightlysouthofsane.com Tony

    I would most likely agree to “follow” a religion just to get the trip and experience. Can you think of a better way to learn how to effectively argue a theist than to have been to the homeland and experienced the religion first hand?

    Could the US version have guest theists like: Benny Hinn and Tom Cruise?

  • Gordon

    Wait, if I’m “persuaded” I get a free holiday?

    What religions were founded in Canada New Zealand or Japan? I’d love to go to any of those countries!

  • beckster

    Hecky yeah! I’d “convert” to buddhism to go to tibet!

  • Daniel

    Yeah, the “biggest prize ever” is so-called eternal life or salvation.

    It’s sad that 3 out of 5 posts so far say they’d lie about a conversion just to get some prize. Because the way it would be edited and shown on the show would be that it will look like a conversion.

    It’s a pretty ingenious idea for religious propaganda actually. Leverage human greed in order to show an audience that atheists really don’t have any guidelines or principles.

  • David

    I’d only want to do that if it were a live show so it couldn’t be edited.

    But I love this idea.

    Consider:

    Several religions putting their points of view out in a marketplace of ideas, so that the audience can see how illogical their own is through the similarity to the others.

    This would be a brilliant notion for the spread of rational thinking if it were only intended as such, and if the atheists get to talk to several of the religionists at once, the possibilities of a knowledgeable atheist playing the mutually exclusive theologies off against each other would be simply delicious.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Sure, I’d lie about conversion. But I’d go TOTALLY over the top. I’d turn into a self-flagellating, glossololiating, floor-rolling Pentacostal nutbar. I’d go as extreme as I possibly could so that they could literally not tell the difference between “me, crazy” and “me, crazy religious”.

    But of course they’d just edit the crazy out… unless you’re doing in 24/7 :D

    Seriously, though, I love the underlying concept here: Religious conversion as a bribe for someone who wants a vacation.

  • Carlie

    Yeah, what’s the prize if you don’t convert? Seems like a stacked deck, here. Big vacation trip, or…nothing?

  • Richard Wade

    “Reality” shows are contrived, staged bullshit. Almost as genuine as TV wrestling.

    This show will be shot in Turkey? You can bet all the “conversions” will be to Islam. Any atheists left over will be stoned to death on the last episode. The viewership ratings will break the world record.

    I’d expect that not one of the “contestants” will be from Islamic countries, or else they could never go back home. They’ll have to import foreigners stupid and brave enough to identify as atheists while staying in Turkey.

    It sounds like a lot of dry, boring talking. I hope the contestants have to go through appropriate physical contests, such as the rack, hot pokers, drowning, sword fighting with real blades, sitting under freezing waterfalls, a race through Istanbul getting on and off buses with a timed suicide bomb strapped to their chests, things like that, things that define the real meaning of religion.

    The producers of the show have a team assembled to double check your atheist credentials, too.

    How the heck do you do that? A written test on the writings of Russell, Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens? Seeing if you gag on baby flesh? Is your flesh burned when touched by sacred objects?

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    On the pessimistic side… Remember that they choose who gets to participate. If you pick ‘em right, you can find atheists who want to convert, as silly as that sounds.

  • Miko

    Turkey, the only country that has a lower rate of acceptance of evolution than the United States.

    Not the only country. Just the only country on a list of 34 countries, which is not all that many countries on the grand scale.

  • Miko

    Remember that they choose who gets to participate. If you pick ‘em right, you can find atheists who want to convert, as silly as that sounds.

    Yeah, just like Jerry Springer could pick people who were sane if he wanted to.

  • Thane

    I agree with that last comment, there are plenty of people who are looking to have their pain rationalized and/or have their self pity recognized and validated. If you get a good psychologist, you can pick those people out pretty easily. So I also agree its a set-up, and they will play to their base.

  • littlejohn

    Buddhism isn’t even a religion, but sure, I’d “convert” for the free trip to Tibet. Surely it has occurred to the producers that such nice prizes might generate some fakes.

  • Erp

    I should point out that officially Turkey is secular (women for instance are forbidden to wear head scarves in many public building and at university IIRC). Changing one’s religion is not a crime in Turkey.

    Turning this slightly what could be the atheist equivalent to Jerusalem or Mecca? Athens springs to mind. Others?

  • Luther

    Biggest Prize Ever? I’d like to win the Creation Museum or Bob Jones University. There would be a few changes.

    I suspect they might mean a trip to Heaven. That would be OK with me as long as I had a return ticket which could be used whenever I chose.

    Actually I’d really like the deed to Hell, with a map (I understand the road is already paved) – I could solve our energy and global warming problems pronto!

  • chinaman

    hell i would become a scientologist if i could get a paid holiday.

  • Eliza

    From the OP:

    “It’s not worth the risk,” [Devrim] said.

    What does this reality-show-naysayer mean by this?

    I’m assuming he means the risk to religion…what other risk could he mean? (The risk to the atheist??) And if he means the risk to religion, does he mean the risk of religion ending up looking silly? Or, perhaps the risk of people who are already followers of his religion converting to another religion, or losing their faith?

    Carlie asked, above:

    Yeah, what’s the prize if you don’t convert? Seems like a stacked deck, here. Big vacation trip, or…nothing?

    How about if they offered something comparable (in worth/cost) to those who didn’t convert…the cash value of the trip? A comparable trip to a hotbed of atheism? (where would that be? A visit w/ Dawkins in the UK? TAM 7 in Las Vegas?) Or, perhaps they could offer 72 virgins (male, female, or both, depending on the “loser’s” preference)…!

  • trixr4kids

    As Erp points out, Turkey is a secular nation. If anything, they err on the side of repressing religion:

    “The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, the Government imposes some restrictions on Muslim and other religious groups and on Muslim religious expression in government offices and state-run institutions, including universities, usually for the stated reason of preserving the secular state….The Constitution establishes the country as a secular state and provides for freedom of belief, freedom of worship, and the private dissemination of religious ideas. However, other constitutional provisions regarding the integrity and existence of the secular state restrict these rights…. While most…secular countries have religious schools and educational system[s], one in Turkey can only have religious teachings after a state decided age…The establishment of private religious schools and universities (regardless of what religion) is forbidden.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Turkey

    I bet the show will not have a pro-religion bias. It’s actually a great idea.

  • http://joreth.livejournal.com Joreth

    “Religion is not a science, and it is not open to discussion,” Devrim said,

    Quick! Someone archive that line! Since the Argument From Authority is a valid debate tactic in religion, we need to save this as proof the next time someone tries to insert religion into science classes!

  • Cafeeine

    I agree that the lynch pin here is whether the atheists can get some screen time to express why they are atheists, rather then just be treated like religious ‘bachelors’, who obviously were waiting for the right religion to sweep them off their feet.

    Turning this slightly what could be the atheist equivalent to Jerusalem or Mecca? Athens springs to mind. Others?

    I’d be pretty pissed if that were the case. All the trouble, just to send me home to Athens again? It’s enough to make me disbelieve in god all over again.

  • Jeff Flowers

    I always laugh at the virgin birth claims, especially since science has actually made it possible for it to happen.

  • Heidi

    Turning this slightly what could be the atheist equivalent to Jerusalem or Mecca? Athens springs to mind. Others?

    Athens sounds good to me. Who would want a free trip to the Middle East? Yikes!

  • gribblethemunchkin

    On a related note (i.e. interesting religion exploring TV) anyone with access to the BBC, check out the new mini series revelations. It looks at various aspects of religion in society.

    First episode screened last night in the UK, it was about the Alpha course, an evangelical course designed to convert people. Was very interesting. It followed a bunch of agnostics (some from christian backgrounds) through the course. Speaking in tongues freaked a few of them out, one guy got lovebombed and wants to do another course. You could see that many of them wanted to believe but couldn’t suspend disbelief.

    Next week the show goes to a British Muslim girls school. I’m looking forward to this as faith schools are one of much huge problems with our current educational system.

  • http://atheistyogi.wordpress.com Mikel

    What if people start converting, taking the vacation, and then de-converting when they get back? :-p Not saying that I would do this…

    Ah, should read the other comments before posting. lol

  • Chal

    I just really like the notion of the different religions each having to try to convince the atheist that their religion is the right one.

  • Evinfuilt

    I hope its like The Dating Game…

    Atheist: Religion number three, lets say I go out for a night of hard drinking and partying, then find myself in the morning with a hangover and a new sex partner. What would you do to save me and cover up the evidence so my husband doesn’t find out.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X