June 29, 2009

Con! Vert! Atheists!

I haven't talked much about atheist stuff lately so let me remedy that. This is kind of old news but I thought it was funny.

Salvation at the end of a television show
ISTANBUL - Just when one thought TVshows could not get more outrageous, Kanal T comes up with the idea to make an imam, a priest, a rabbi and a Buddhist monk try to convert 10 atheists. While some fear the program could create problems, a sociologist says this just shows the yearning to learn more about religions

A new show set to grace Turkish television screens will see a Muslim imam, a Christian priest, a Jewish rabbi and a Buddhist monk competing to turn 10 unbelievers into devotees of their own faith each week.

The show, "Tövbekarlar Yarışıyor," which can be roughly translated as "Penitents Compete," will appear on Kanal T starting in early September. The imam, priest, rabbi and monk will try to convert at least one person in every show.

Kanal T was launched in January 2008 with mostly female presenters in front of the camera and also has a chairwoman managing the media group.

Seyhan Soylu, a famous transsexual known as "Sisi," is the mastermind behind the new religion-themed program and will be moderated by well-known female newscaster Gülgün Feyman. The show’s producer is model Ayşe Önal.

Kanal T Deputy Director Ahmet Özdemir told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review that the program is the first of its kind in the world.

"The project aims to turn disbelievers into [believers in] God," no matter which religion they choose in the end, Özdemir said, adding that he believes the program will also be useful for those who want to learn more about other religions. "When people heard that we were going to air a program called ’Penitents Compete,’ it was hard for them to see what it was all about, but many people are waiting impatiently [for the show]."

Man, this is all sorts of...everything. Mostly female presenters? The show masterminded by a transsexual (methinks that's supposed to read "transgender" instead but when I googled Soylu...well...I can't read Turkish). The premise alone makes me want to jump off a cliff.

I don't know why, but it seems that conversion is like sport for religious folks, if indeed your religion entails that you go out and convert the masses to your beliefs.

For me, this sums it up:

The yet-to-air program has already drawn reactions from many people, mostly Christians. Hakkı 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.

I feel pretty embarrassed for this show, for everyone involved. For the religious reps that think they can convert atheists, for the atheists themselves, for anyone watching--yes, EVERYONE (I know I'm really acting like I'll have an opportunity to watch this show).

I don't think any atheists are going to be converted thanks to this show unless they really want a free trip (fake it like you mean it!). Chances are if you're an atheist and you somehow see The Light, you probably weren't very atheisty to begin with. Yeah I said atheisty, mark it down and tell your friends.

I'm not against this show because being in America I really don't have any say, but it just strikes me as awful and really ham fisted. It's pretty condescending to both sides. It's implying that atheists are just lost sheep and I don't think the religious reps are going to show the best side of their religion in order to convert the atheists.

On the other hand though, I'm pretty sure everyone involved is a volunteer, and I'm glad it will give atheists in Turkey a chance to voice their thoughts & oppositions against religion so it probably won't be all bad. But again I'm acting like I'm really going to watch this show.

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