Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

I think I agree with the Muslims on this one: Part II

Posted by sanityinjection on July 8, 2009

Twice in less than a year’s time  that I find myself on common ground with Muslim religious values! And of course it took the ultimate evil to do it: “reality” television.

I have to admit, at least this time the idea was creative.  A Turkish TV station came up with the idea of a competition between a Muslim imam, a Christian priest, a Jewish rabbi and a Buddhist monk to try to convert 10 atheists to their respective faiths. The show is supposed to air this fall.

However, the Muslim authorities in Turkey are not amused and are refusing to allow any of their imams to participate: “Doing something like this for the sake of ratings is disrespectful to all religions.” And I have to say I agree. Faith should not be a popularity contest, and religious truth should not be judged by who has the most followers – or offers the most tempting blandishments to converts.

The TV network’s response was disturbing: “We don’t approve of anyone being an atheist. God is great and it doesn’t matter which religion you believe in. The important thing is to believe.”  In other words, freedom of religion in Turkey, but not for atheists. Of course those who go on the show would be willing participants, but if I were an atheist I would worry about how I might be treated based on how my fellow nonbelievers are portrayed on the show. If it were handled by a typical American reality show production company, which deliberately instigates conflicts and uses creative editing to portray people as negatively as possible in order to boost ratings, one might imagine the “contestants” being portrayed as speaking or acting disrespectfully toward one faith or another, which could lead to unpleasant consequences. I personally find atheism distasteful, but I think the right to refuse to believe is just as important as the right to choose what to believe.

I’m also puzzled by the inclusion of Judaism, because it is fundamentally not a proselytizing religion. In fact, rabbis are known to try to talk people out of converting to Judaism. While I could see a rabbi being willing to do the show as a way of spreading understanding of the Jewish faith in a predominantly Muslim country, I can’t imagine that rabbi having much success in actually converting anyone to Judaism.

Then again, we are told that the Lord works in mysterious ways…

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One Response to “I think I agree with the Muslims on this one: Part II”

  1. i-love-things-that-sparkle said

    The only reality in “reality shows” is that they help people destroy their lives! (Even those with huge weight losses ultimately come out, I believe, with major mental distress!) What a good idea NOT to pit faiths against each other. Thank God for your insight and conscious perception! I don’t like atheism either BUT I think atheists have a right not to believe, just as you said. Great article!

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