Such a Deal! Find God, Win a Trip

A Visit To Jerusalem? A new religious reality TV show, ‘Penitents Compete,’ offers the winner a trip to a holy site.
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A Visit To Jerusalem? A new religious reality TV show, ‘Penitents Compete,’ offers the winner a trip to a holy site.

By Alex Suskind

Published July 08, 2009, issue of July 17, 2009.
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‘A Muslim, a Christian, a Buddhist and a Jew walk into a house with 10 atheists…”

What sounds like the start of a bad joke actually will be brought to life on Turkish television this fall. If you don’t believe in God, perhaps a stint on reality TV will help change your mind. At least that is what the creators of “Penitents Compete” are hoping for.

The new reality show is set to premiere in September on the Turkish television station Kanal T, The Jerusalem Post reported July 6. The program places 10 atheists with four religious leaders who each represent a different religion. Throughout the course of the show, they will try their best to convert the contestants into God-fearing believers. Up for grabs is a trip to the converter’s religious holy site — Mecca for converted Muslims, the Vatican for converted Christians, Tibet for converted Buddhists and Jerusalem for converted Jews.

Not everyone, however, is happy with the show’s concept. In the same Jerusalem Post article, Rabbi David Rosen, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Department for Interreligious Affairs, noted that it is against the religious law of Jews to attempt to recruit someone into the Jewish faith.

Regardless of your opinion of the show, “Penitents Compete” demonstrates that America is not the only country with crazy ideas for reality television.


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