On Sunday night, during an episode of Ecuador’s Got Talent (similar to the U.S. version), 16-year-old Carolina Peña hoped her singing abilities would propel her to the next round of competition.
Instead of getting critiqued on her performance, though, the young atheist received multiple lectures on how she needed to believe in God.
The video below is in Spanish (a very rough translation is below), but the look on her face says it all:
Judge Maria Fernanda Rios: Do you believe in God?
Carolina Peña: No.
Judge Wendy Vera: Well, you should, honey, so he grants you the miracle [of winning the contest]!
Judge Rios: Without God, we don’t get anywhere. You think being a self-taught singer will make you reach the top, but it won’t. You know why? Because there are things that can’t be seen. That’s where God’s love enters. You can feel God. God can help you. God helps you be better.
Judge Paola Farías: I only want to know why you don’t believe in God. It’s my own curiosity. I’m not judging you.
Peña: It’s because God has not given me a reason to believe.
Judge Farías: So what do you believe? Where did we come from?
Peña: I believe we die and we go back to where we were before we were born.
Judge Farías: And where were we before we were born?
Peña: Before we were born, we were nothing.
Judge Vera: I think that you’re still 16 years old. I believe that you have had a pretty good life so far. But there will come a time when you will suffer and the only thing that will help you get through it is the amazing love of God. It’s something you acquire when you are in a very difficult situation.
The final judge, Fernando Villarroel, told Carolina that he wouldn’t lecture her about faith since, with respect to his colleagues, “religion is one thing and artistic talent is another.” (You can see the full segment here.)
Despite the faith-based backlash, Carolina obtained the three votes needed to move on to the next round.
The Agnosticos-Ateos-Antireligiosos del Ecuador (Atheist Association of Ecuador) isn’t happy with the way the show handled that exchange. The group’s President, Gustavo La Mota, is demanding that Ecuavisa (the station producing the show) release the unedited version of the episode (which they’re required to do if asked) before deciding how to proceed. It could be used in court if the atheists want to claim religious discrimination.
Legally speaking, I’m not sure if that would get anywhere. But if Carolina doesn’t make it through after the next round, I guess it could be argued it had something to do with her non-belief and not her abilities.
(Thanks to Martha and Leticia for their help with translation and ZahndRa for the link)