John Safran vs God
John Safran vs God is an 8 part television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

 series by John Safran
John Safran
John Safran is an Australian documentary maker and radio broadcaster, known for combining humour with explorations into religion and other issues...

 which was broadcast on SBS TV
SBS One is a national public television channel in Australia. Launched on 24 October 1980, it is the responsibility of SBS's television division, and is available nationally...

 of Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 in 2004. It has been described in a media release as "John Safran's most audacious project yet". It had a much more serious tone than Safran's previous work Music Jamboree. The show was released by Ghost of Your Ex-Boyfriend Productions
Ghost of Your Ex-Boyfriend Productions
Ghost of Your Ex-Boyfriend Productions is the production team behind the independent Australian television production John Safran vs God. It is an amalgamation of John Safran's Ex-Boyfriend Productions, and Richard Lowenstein's Ghost Productions....

 and SBS Independent
SBS independent
SBS independent is the primary production unit of SBS "home-baked" primetime programming.All productions are commissioned in association with the independent sector of the Australian film and television industry....

, was co-written with Mark O'Toole, directed by Craig Melville
Craig Melville
Craig James Melville is an Australian television comedy director. He is best known for his collaborations with comedians John Safran, Lawrence Leung and The Chaser.- Television :* Lawrence Leung's Unbelievable - Director/Producer...

, and produced by Selin Yaman. The series won the 2005 Australian Film Institute Award
Australian Film Institute Awards
The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award, known as the AACTA Award , is an accolade presented annually by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts . The awards recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry and television industry, including directors,...

 for Best Comedy Series.

The show's opening theme is Hate Priest by the band Mozart on Crack. The opening sequence features John in a black suit breaking out of a patch of black scorched earth with his bare hands during a thunderstorm. The words "when the thousand years are over Satan will be released from his prison" are spoken in a low pseudo-ominous voice.

Episode one

  • In the UK
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

    , Safran meets Sheikh Omar Bakri and Sheikh Abu Hamza and succeeds in getting a fatwa
    A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar. The person who issues a fatwā...

     placed on Rove McManus
    Rove McManus
    John Henry Michael "Rove" McManus is an Australian comedian, television presenter, producer and media personality. He was the host of the self-titled variety show Rove, and is the owner of the production company Roving Enterprises...

     for dropping John's scheduled appearance on Rove Live. The fatwa was later removed from McManus.
  • Safran tries out a religion based on hallucinogenic cactus plant, Peyote
    Lophophora williamsii , better known by its common name Peyote , is a small, spineless cactus with psychoactive alkaloids, particularly mescaline.It is native to southwestern Texas and Mexico...

    ; vomiting and weak hallucination
    A hallucination, in the broadest sense of the word, is a perception in the absence of a stimulus. In a stricter sense, hallucinations are defined as perceptions in a conscious and awake state in the absence of external stimuli which have qualities of real perception, in that they are vivid,...

    s ensue
  • Safran examines Scientology
    Scientology is a body of beliefs and related practices created by science fiction and fantasy author L. Ron Hubbard , starting in 1952, as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics...

     at the expense of Jamie Packer and the Nine Network
    Nine Network
    The Nine Network , is an Australian television network with headquarters based in Willoughby, a suburb located on the North Shore of Sydney. For 50 years since television's inception in Australia, between 1956 and 2006, it was the most watched television network in Australia...

Episode two

  • Safran looks at the duplicity of Australia's "Sorry
    National Sorry Day
    The National Sorry Day is an Australian event, held each year on 26 May since 1998, to express regret over the historical mistreatment of Aboriginal peoples. The day was chosen in commemoration of the Bringing Them Home report being handed to the federal government on 26 May 1997. It is not an...

    " attitude to Indigenous Rights
  • Safran tries out zen Buddhism in Japan
    Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

    , the segment includes two incidents of Safran being beaten with a stick as punishment for mistakes made with meditation and philosophical questions
  • Safran examines the link between Satanism
    Satanism is a group of religions that is composed of a diverse number of ideological and philosophical beliefs and social phenomena. Their shared feature include symbolic association with, admiration for the character of, and even veneration of Satan or similar rebellious, promethean, and...

     and Freemasonry

Episode three

  • Despite being Jewish
    Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

    , Safran attempts to join a branch of the Ku Klux Klan
    Ku Klux Klan
    Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically...

     in California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

  • Safran tries out Catholic
    The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

    ism under the guidance of Father Bob Maguire
  • Safran holds a competition in which Australian-Palestinians vie for his Israel
    The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

    i citizenship by recreating segments from Music Jamboree

Episode four

  • Safran examines Mormon cinema
    LDS cinema
    LDS or Mormon cinema typically refers to films with themes relevant to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, though the terminology has also been used to refer to films that do not necessarily reflect Mormon themes but have been made by Mormon filmmakers...

     in Salt Lake City, proposing his "Extreme Mormons" film
  • Safran tries out Vodou in Haiti
    Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

    , participating in the "Day of the Dead
    Day of the Dead
    Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in many cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it attains the quality...

    " ceremony
  • John visits a Jewish gun advocate
    Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership
    Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership is a group dedicated to the preservation of gun rights in the United States and "to encourage Americans to understand and defend all of the Bill of Rights for everyone". The group was founded by former firearms dealer Aaron S. Zelman in 1986...

     and rabbi
    In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

     in Los Angeles
    Los Ángeles
    Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

    , in a bid to show that American gun rights activists consist of more than fundamental Christians

The Vodou segment was rather graphic, featuring the TV crew being attacked, spiritual possession
Spiritual possession
Spirit possession is a paranormal or supernatural event in which it is said that spirits, gods, demons, animas, extraterrestrials, or other disincarnate or extraterrestrial entities take control of a human body, resulting in noticeable changes in health and behaviour...

, and a goat
The domestic goat is a subspecies of goat domesticated from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the Bovidae family and is closely related to the sheep as both are in the goat-antelope subfamily Caprinae. There are over three hundred distinct breeds of...

 having its testicles bitten off and its throat slit.

Episode five

  • John travels to Sicily
    Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

     to confess to a priest
    A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

     that he stole some batteries and masturbated
    Masturbation refers to sexual stimulation of a person's own genitals, usually to the point of orgasm. The stimulation can be performed manually, by use of objects or tools, or by some combination of these methods. Masturbation is a common form of autoeroticism...

     in a bed owned by the priest during Race Around the World
    Race Around the World
    Race Around the World was an Australian documentary series produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in 1997 and 1998 . It was based on a Canadian television series....

  • Again in Salt Lake City, Safran tries some atheistic
    Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...

     door knocking to harass local Mormons
  • In India
    India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

    , Safran tries out the spiritual teachings of several Hindu
    Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

    A guru is one who is regarded as having great knowledge, wisdom, and authority in a certain area, and who uses it to guide others . Other forms of manifestation of this principle can include parents, school teachers, non-human objects and even one's own intellectual discipline, if the...


Episode six

  • John audition
    An audition is a sample performance by an actor, singer, musician, dancer or other performing artist.Audition may also refer to:* The sense of hearing* Adobe Audition, audio editing software...

    s for the Harlem Gospel Choir
    Harlem Gospel Choir
    The Harlem Gospel Choir is an American gospel choir based in Harlem, New York. It is one of the United States's most prominent gospel choirs....

     with a tuneless rendition of Amazing Grace
    Amazing Grace
    "Amazing Grace" is a Christian hymn with words written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton , published in 1779. With a message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of the sins people commit and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God,...

  • John tries out Ásatrú
    is a form of Germanic neopaganism which developed in the United States from the 1970s....

     ("the Viking
    The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

    Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

    ") taking part in a remembrance ceremony in the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

  • Big Brother series one contestant Sara-Marie Fedele
    Sara-Marie Fedele
    Sara-Marie Fedele gained fame as one of the loudest and most flamboyant Housemates on Big Brother Australia 2001...

     helps Safran attempt to broker peace
    Peace is a state of harmony characterized by the lack of violent conflict. Commonly understood as the absence of hostility, peace also suggests the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationships, prosperity in matters of social or economic welfare, the...

     between Australian representatives of both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
    Israeli-Palestinian conflict
    The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between Jewish and Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman or...

  • Inspired by rumours in Malawi
    The Republic of Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi. Its size...

     John confronts Australian politicians in Canberra
    Canberra is the capital city of Australia. With a population of over 345,000, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory , south-west of Sydney, and north-east of Melbourne...

     to try and discover if any are vampire
    Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person...


The only politician who was found to be a so-called "vampire" was Kevin Rudd
Kevin Rudd
Kevin Michael Rudd is an Australian politician who was the 26th Prime Minister of Australia from 2007 to 2010. He has been Minister for Foreign Affairs since 2010...

 who would later become Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Australia
The Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia is the highest minister of the Crown, leader of the Cabinet and Head of Her Majesty's Australian Government, holding office on commission from the Governor-General of Australia. The office of Prime Minister is, in practice, the most powerful...


Episode seven

  • John travels to Mozambique
    Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

     to lift a curse from the Socceroos at the behest of football legend Johnny Warren
    Johnny Warren
    John Norman Warren, MBE, OAM was an Australian football player, coach, administrator, writer and broadcaster. He was known as Captain Socceroo for his passionate work to promote the game in Australia...

  • Again in Salt Lake City, Safran finds out what is so special about "Mormon underwear"
  • With the help of Canberra
    Canberra is the capital city of Australia. With a population of over 345,000, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory , south-west of Sydney, and north-east of Melbourne...

    A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

     Brendan McKay
    Brendan McKay
    Brendan Damien McKay is a Professor in the Research School of Computer Science at the Australian National University . He has published extensively in combinatorics....

    , John uncovers the link between The Bible Code, September 11, 2001 and rapper
    Rapping refers to "spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics". The art form can be broken down into different components, as in the book How to Rap where it is separated into “content”, “flow” , and “delivery”...

     Vanilla Ice
    Vanilla Ice
    Robert Matthew Van Winkle , best known by his stage name Vanilla Ice, is an American rapper, extreme athlete and home improvement television personality...

  • John examines the realistic goals of religious boycott
    A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for political reasons...


Episode eight

The eighth episode was the most controversial. Instead of its usual format of various segments, the show featured a single story: the exorcism
Exorcism is the religious practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person or place which they are believed to have possessed...

 of John's demon
call - 1347 531 7769 for more infoIn Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an "unclean spirit" which may cause demonic possession, to be addressed with an act of exorcism...

s by Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 exorcist and fundamentalist preacher
Preacher is a term for someone who preaches sermons or gives homilies. A preacher is distinct from a theologian by focusing on the communication rather than the development of doctrine. Others see preaching and theology as being intertwined...

 Bob Larson
Bob Larson
Bob Larson is an American radio and television evangelist, currently based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Larson has authored numerous books on the subjects of rock music and Satanism, written from a Christian perspective.-Life and career:...

. There was none of the humour that characterised the preceding episodes. The exorcism was dramatic and realistic and no explanation was given at the end of the episode as to John's behaviour. On the Yahoo!
Yahoo! Inc. is an American multinational internet corporation headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, United States. The company is perhaps best known for its web portal, search engine , Yahoo! Directory, Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Groups, Yahoo! Answers, advertising, online mapping ,...

 "Cult of Safran" web group a stormy discussion started on whether John was actually faking - Safran's lisp is absent while allegedly possessed. Safran appeared in several radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 and television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 plug spots for the show post-production/pre-screening and only briefly commented on the exorcism episode as a very intense segment to film. After the screening of the episode Safran appeared in an interview on ABC
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, commonly referred to as "the ABC" , is Australia's national public broadcaster...

 radio and said he didn't remember a lot of the experience. The sales pitch for the recently released DVD is "you've seen the exorcism, now buy the DVD".

External links

  • John Safran vs The Spirit of Things — 12 September 2004 interview with Rachael Kohn
    Rachael Kohn
    Rachael Kohn is an Australian author and broadcaster who since 1992 has presented and produced programs on Religion and Spirituality for ABC Radio National, beginning with Religion Report, Religion Today, and since 1997, The Spirit of Things...

     on Radio National
    Radio National
    ABC Radio National is an Australia-wide non-commercial radio network run by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.Radio National broadcasts national programming in areas that include news and current affairs, the arts, social issues, science, drama and comedy...

    's The Spirit of Things program
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