“Asked how the government could determine the authenticity of someone’s faith, Jeb Bush replied, ‘Well, [if] you’re a Christian, you can prove you’re a Christian.’ A reporter interrupted, ‘How?’ Bush paused, gave a slight shrug, and said, ‘I think you can prove it. If you can’t prove it, then you err on the side of caution.’” – The National Review
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HOST: Welcome, once again, to “Prove You’re a Christian!” Let’s bring out our first contestant, Pathappan! He’d like to bring his whole family over from Damascus, Syria. But you can’t just immigrate to America easy-peasy, Pathappan. First you’ve got to (he leads the audience in chanting) Prove! You’re! A Christian!
PATHAPPAN: Oh, yes, we are! I am! My whole family is!
HOST: Wonderful! Then this should be easy for you. Let’s get started. Say, Pathappan, would you like a bagel? With some cream cheese?
PATHAPPAN: Oh yes, please, I’m very hungry!
(The audience “ooohs.”)
HOST: Great, so how would you order that? If I was behind the counter?
(The sound of a ticking clock. The host leans in.)
PATHAPPAN: Well, uh, I guess I would say, “May I have a bagel, please? With some…cream cheese?”
HOST: Uh-huh. So you wouldn’t say “with a schmear”?
PATHAPPAN: I do not know this “schmear.”
HOST: OF COURSE YOU DON’T! You passed the first test!
(The crowd cheers, but Pathappan grabs the host’s sleeve.)
PATHAPPAN: Please, sir, my family, we’ve traveled for weeks…we are hungry and tired, and we just want to take shelter in your safe country.
HOST: Well, you’re almost there! But first you’ve got to play (again, the audience joins him) Who Would You Rather Have Dinner With? Ready?
PATHAPPAN: I will have dinner with anyone. I am very hungry.
HOST: Pathappan, you can have dinner with Bristol Palin or Salman Rushdie. Who do you choose?
(a buzzer sounds)
HOST: Too late! The correct answer is Bristol Palin. Round two: Franklin Graham or Gram Parsons?
HOST: Would you like to ask an audience member?
PATHAPPAN: Sure, I guess so.
(The host approaches a woman in the front row of the audience.)
HOST: Can you help out Pathappan so that he can live in America, young lady?
WOMAN: Um, well, Franklin Graham is the president’s personal pastor, and the other…gosh, I don’t even know who he is.
PATHAPPAN: I guess…the second guy?
HOST: Oh, too bad, Pathappan. Well, you’re not doing too well here, but there’s one last double-or-nothing question. Hilary Clinton or Charles Manson?
(Pathappan looks desperately at the audience and follows their lead.)
PATHAPPAN: …Charles Manson?
HOST: Yes! Round two passed! OK, time for the talent show portion of Prove You’re Christian: Would you sing “How Great Thou Art” for us?
HOST: Or, sing any song from Amy Grant’s Greatest Hits.
PATHAPPAN: I could perform one of our Eastern Orthodox chants from worship for you.
HOST: Well, that’s a failure, buddy. Not looking good, sorry. A real Christian could pass these tests. Everyone here knows all the words to “Baby, Baby.”
(The audience nods.)
PATHAPPAN: I really am a Christian! I can recite the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer…
HOST: Sure, but anyone knows those! They’re on every courthouse lawn!
(The audience laughs in agreement.)
PATHAPPAN: Seven popes have come from Syria!
HOST: Oh, no, we’re not in the market for that kind of Christian. But I hear you, Pathappan. You seem very sincere.
PATHAPPAN: If you don’t let us in, we’ll return to certain death.
HOST: I want to give you one more chance. Look, let’s do some word association. (The audience claps encouragingly.) Now I know you probably don’t have “games” like this in Syria, Pathappan, but the way this works is that you just say the first word that comes to mind, OK? Here we go. Taliban?
PATHAPPAN: Uh, bad?
HOST: President Bush?
HOST: Oh, ha ha! Nice one!
(The crowd laughs.)
HOST: Joel Osteen?
PATHAPPAN: Bader Ginsburg?
(The audience groans. The host shakes his head sadly.)
HOST: Now, listen, Pathappan, we want to bring your family on over, give you a 2006 Chevy truck and a job at Wal-Mart—
PATHAPPAN: I am a physician.
HOST: Sure, OK. But you gotta get this last word association right, OK? Here we go. Saint Paul.
(The audience goes wild! The host drags Pathappan out of the chamber as confetti and balloons drop.)
HOST: You did it, man! You proved that you’re a real Christian!
PATHAPPAN: Oh, good! I am surprised and confused and slightly disgusted, but also very happy!
HOST: Welcome to America!
PATHAPPAN: Thank you! Where can I get my truck and menial job?
(The audience goes still, staring.)
HOST: Oh, we were just kidding about that. Isn’t just being here enough?
PATHAPPAN: Of course. I apologize.
(The audience is happy again.)
HOST: Now remember, you’ve got to register and check in at your neighborhood church once a week! Thanks so much for playing, Pathappan. Now, let’s get ready to welcome our next contestants: all the way from Aleppo and fresh off their two-year vetting period — it’s the Alnasseri family!