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Page last updated at 02:48 GMT, Saturday, 7 March 2009

Dutch leave messages on God phone

Person talking on a mobile phone
The mobile number will be available for six months

An art exhibition opening in the Netherlands will allow people to call a telephone number designated for God - but they will have to leave a message.

Dubbed God's Hotline, it aims to focus attention on changes to the ways Dutch people perceive religion.

Dutch artist Johan van der Dong chose a mobile phone number to show that God was available anywhere and anytime, Radio Netherlands reported.

Critics say the project mocks those with religious beliefs.

Forming part of an art installation in the town of Groningen, the voicemail message says: "This is the voice of God, I am not able to speak to you at the moment, but please leave a message."

Secret messages

Although the hotline is officially launched on Saturday, the phone number has been active for the past week, with 1,000 messages left on the answerphone.

But the messages are to remain confidential and will not form part of the art project.

Van der Dong told Radio Netherlands: "I'm not a pastor, I'm an artist and I won't listen to the messages.

"It's a secret between the Lord and the people who are calling."

Exhibition spokeswoman Susanna Groot said there was no intention to offend anyone.

"In earlier times you would go to a church to say a prayer and now [this is an] opportunity to just make a phone call and say your prayer in a modern way."

Instead, the aim is to provoke debate about the priorities of modern life.

The phone line will remain open for the next six months.



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