In answer to the recent furore over tax-exempt religious entities being given federal funding for faith-based initiatives, I opined to a colleague that there should be some means of ensuring that the money be distributed equally among all faiths rather than predominantly to Christianity. My colleague suggested that something so equitable would never work in today’s America. However, an all-out American Gladiators kind of winner-take-all slugfest would give unfair advantage to the religions which condone violent action. As such, here is our compromise solution:
(camera showing wide angle on a stage and a side desk, pans around and zooms in on SIMON COWELL.)
SIMON: Good evening and welcome to Religious Idol, America’s new faith-based initiative in which you, the audience, will decide whose faith has the greatest doctrines and dogmas! Your vote will either send a preacher to the next round, or right back to the backwater parish where he or she belongs. You, America, will decide who is a great messenger of the Almighty, and who is just bloody terrible! The winner will receive an automatic sainthood in the faith of his or her choice as well as a five-album contract to record his or her greatest sermons. I am your heavenly host Simon Cowell. With me at the judge’s desk is, as always, the lovely Paula Abdul, who may or may not be sleeping with a contestant who may or may not have taken a vow of celibacy! And acting as our guest judge this evening is His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. We have also negotiated a sizable offer to have the ghost of Jerry Falwell inhabit the studio for this season – keep an eye out for him, since you never know what might happen!
PAULA: And with little further ado, here is our first contestant, His Holiness the Dalai Lama! And no, I’m definitely not sleeping with this one. Probably. But then, America doesn’t know what’s actually in my ever-present water glass. Now let’s hear it for Mr. Lama!
(Peace, love, tolerance, civil disobedience, and an end to suffering and hunger across the world. Rapturous applause ensues.)
SIMON: Jesus Christ! That was bloody awful!
BENEDICT: Zat vas not Jesus Christ.