Simon Capes and Bentley Browning, who are both comics, are spending January trying to understand what it is like to live with beliefs they do not share. The experiment will be featured on Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable? programme on Premier Christian Radio in January.
Browning, a Christian comic and singer who teaches a course in stand-up comedy, won’t be going to church for the month and will be avoiding prayer. He says that the experiment will not mean turning to a life of sin. ‘I haven’t got any great desire to go off the rails,’ he says, ‘and I’m swapping lives with a very moral, rational person, not Keith Richards.’
Capes, an atheist comedian, writer and actor, says that the experiment will likely be harder for his Christian friend. ‘I’ve got nothing to lose,’ he says. ‘Bentley’s taking a bigger leap than me because he’s negating something, but we’ve both got a lot to gain.’ Capes says that he will be going through what he calls the rituals of Christianity, including praying and going to church, and is keen to go with an open mind, rather than in any combative spirit. ‘It may completely change my life,’ he says.
Browning says he will admit on his blog if he cannot hold back and finds himself praying. ‘I might come out of it a stronger Christian, who knows?’ he says.
Capes hopes the experience will challenge both their preconceptions and make them aware that both Christianity and atheism are ‘more complicated and less black and white’ than outsiders might assume. ‘I hope I will come out a more informed, more tolerant human being,’ he says. ‘And I hope Bentley sees that not having belief doesn’t mean you’re anti goodness.’
You can follow the experiment at facebook.com/faithswap