Carolina Pena, a 16-year-old singing contestant, was lectured by three judges on "Ecuador’s Got Talent" TV show about why she should believe in God on Sept. 20 (video below).
Pena was good-natured and polite during the awkward segment, some in the audience appeared uncomfortable and the judges seemed very confident in their claims.
The broadcast was in Spanish, but the Friendly Atheist posted a rough translation of the exchange between the judges and the teen atheist.
"Well, you should [believe in God], honey, so He grants you the miracle [of winning Ecuador’s Got Talent]," Judge Wendy Vera told Pena.
"Without God, we don’t get anywhere," Judge Maria Fernanda Rios added. "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."
However, there have been many successful singers who didn't believe in God.
Judge Paola Farias asked Pena why she did not believe in God, and then demanded to know where Pena believed people were before they were born.
Pena told Farias, "Before we were born, we were nothing."
Farias lectured Pena that she was only 16 years old and would turn to God when she endures suffering, and claimed that belief in God is "something you acquire when you are in a very difficult situation."
However, Judge Fernando Villarroel told Pena he wouldn't lecture her about religion, which he saw as separate from faith.
Pena did advance to the next round, but Gustavo La Mota, the president of the Atheist Association of Ecuador, called on the Ecuavisa TV network on Sept. 22 to publicly release a "complete copy" of the broadcast within three days because there may have been discrimination based on religious faith (via Google Translate).
While the judges were deeply concerned about Pena's personal beliefs, the government of Ecuador, under President Rafael Correa, has a history of cracking down on free speech, journalists and political demonstrators, according to Human Rights Watch.
Sources: Friendly Atheist, Atheist Ecuadorian Association via Silhouette X Association, Google Translate, Human Rights Watch, Wikipedia / Photo Credit: YouTube Screenshot