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Say What You Will About Turkish Game Shows, But at Least They’re Thought-Provoking

July 3, 2009

Don’t believe in God? Not worried about where your soul will spend eternity after it shuffles out of your mortal shell? The Turks have a show for you.

Turkish television channel Kanal T has unveiled a new game show entitled Penitents Compete, which will focus each episode on a group of ten self-proclaimed atheists as they are persuaded by representatives of four religions — Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity. New converts — those swayed to join a religion of their choice after hearing the arguments — will win a grand prize of a trip to the holy city of their new denomination.

Though Turkey’s High Board of Religious Affairs Chairman Hamza Aktan has publicly derided the game show, claiming that matters of religion should not be the fodder for entertainment programming, the producers maintain that the show will be treated in a respectful fashion. 

Before we Americans go off thinking that Turkey’s newest would-be hit is an invasion into human choice and a mockery of religious infringement against free will, — a la Who Wants to be a Shiite Muslim or Let’s Make a Jew — it does beg an interesting point of discussion. Why shouldn’t there be a forum wherein public discussion of religion can be consumed by the masses? After all, there’s nothing in the program’s doctrine that dictates that the designated atheist must choose a new path of life. And it does give credence to devout faithfuls of differing religions to extol the assets of their thinking. That’s thoughtful programming, at least.

In fact, let’s put Turkey’s new game show in the context of one of America’s upcoming game shows, Fox’s More to Love, which will feature a “plus-sized” bachelor as he searches through several “plus-sized contestants” in an effort to find true love. That’s what we’re bringing to the table, the thoughtful question of “Who would want to date a person who’s overweight?” Yuck! Let’s watch!

The closest we as a nation have come to promoting moral reality as entertainment was Fox’s Moment of Truth, which prompted contestants to spill their more reprehensible moments to their relatives and loved ones for money. Kudos, Fox! Awesome!

So what’s the verdict, friends? Is Turkey’s new game show a genre-bending way of promoting discourse on the differences of religion, or a fly-by-night ratings grab? Say what you will, but you have to applaud the fact that the country is going deeper than I Survived a Japanese Game Show, which is the racist mess we’re currently stuck with. 

Let’s just hope that none of those atheists are fat, right? Gross!

  1. jtan permalink
    July 3, 2009 3:26 pm

    I would totally watch Let’s make a Jew. As long as it involved first person video combined with hidden camera shots.

  2. July 6, 2009 10:05 am

    Oooh. Religion and reality show. It can’t possibly get much better. Maybe lions versus Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and agnostics. Enough hungry lions to eat 4 of the 5 contestants. The one left standing is obviously the ‘chosen’. Unless one of the lions is just a tad hungrier than the producers expected.


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