Thinking Out Loud

August 24, 2008

Make Me A Christian

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm

In the words of humorist Dave Barry, “I am not making this up.”

Everything you’re about to read is from a Christianity Today (CT) story, but trust me, you’re going to want to link to the story anyway, because this is so completely bizarre you’ll need to read it twice to make sure you’re not dreaming.

This is the Rev. George Hargreaves, a featured panelist of the newest British reality show, Make Me A Christian. Yes, you’ve just understood the show’s premise. It’s the sequel to another reality series they did called Make Me A Muslim. Both shows are obviously a total caricature of anything remotely religious. CT reports:

A lap dancer, a lesbian, and a lapsed Christian with a pregnant girlfriend are among the participants on the U.K.’s newest reality show, Make Me a Christian, where Christian leaders attempt to bring a group of unlikely candidates to the faith. The show’s premise is to find out if Christianity can help repair the moral fabric of British society…

“I was pleased at first to hear that the producers were trying to make Christianity accessible to people who might not usually watch religious programming,” said Charis Gibson, senior press officer for the Evangelical Alliance. After watching the first two episodes, however, she said, “I’m starting to think I would prefer spending my Sunday nights being bashed repeatedly in the face with a large, leather-bound King James Version.”

“The program says little about relationship and a great deal about regulation,” said Melvyn Cooke, minister of Gillingham Methodist Church. “While there is a slim chance it may promote conversation, by and large my view is that it is damaging to the gospel.”

…Joanna Jepson, chaplain at the London College of Fashion and one of the mentors on the show, agrees. Describing the show as “sensational,” “irresponsible,” and “contrived,” she took legal action to compel the producers to remove her scenes from the last episode. Those efforts were rebuffed.

Jepson said the show’s producers were only interested in fostering conflict and presenting Christians as people obsessed with sex and imposing Christian standards on everyone else, according to The Daily Telegraph.

“We were encouraged to take part on the understanding that we were dealing with a group of people who genuinely wanted to embrace Christianity,” she told the newspaper. “But that was clearly not the case.”

Charlie Brooker, TV critic for The Guardian calls the show,

“…a spiritual makeover show in which four hardcore Goddites attempt to convert a rag-tag band of sinners into full-blown Jesus freaks in just three weeks.In true oversimplified TV-conflict tradition, it’s a clash of absurd extremities.”

David Wallace concludes the following on Jesus Site:

“While Christian instruction is great, transforming these people’s lives is going to take an encounter with the living God. From the series web site, it seems as if the team of mentors is using “Christian instructions and moral teachings” in an attempt to change behavior. However, what they should be doing is to introduce these people to Jesus Christ so that their lives change from the inside out.”

Fortunately, only three episodes were produced. But this story is still significant, because the UK has been the launching pad for most of the world’s most popular reality shows.


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