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Pastors Square Off Against Imams -- in a Friendly Way

It's hardly a "Clash of Civilizations" but much will be at stake when the Christians take on the Muslims on Saturday.

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Which side will win?

Before an international panic arises over some organized dust up between two the world's main religions, it should be mentioned that nothing overtly aggressive is planned, just a simple case of 22 men kicking lumps out of each other for the love of the beautiful game. Oh, and the small matter of increasing the peace.

As part of an initiative aimed at increasing understanding among religions, Christian ministers will tackle Muslim imams in a pre-World Cup soccer friendly in Berlin. In an attempt to keep things clean and well represented, the match will be officiated by a Jewish referee. Reports of Buddhist waterboys and Hindu physiotherapists were unconfirmed at the time of publication.

The eight-a-side match is being organized by the German Protestant Church and will take place just over a month before the big World Cup kick-off on June 9.

The friendly match is part of a wider initiative associated with a conference organized by the British Embassy in Berlin on integration, racism and soccer and will be the first such match in Germany, according to the Church of Berlin and Brandenburg.

Churches of different Christian denominations are also organizing a series of events including festivals and concerts under the banner "kickoff2006 - Kick-off Faith," using soccer's global appeal to promote tolerance and unity.

At Geithain in the east of Germany, the Protestant church is also trying to organize a mini-World Cup among 32 churches to mirror the actual event.

Unlike the FIFA-organized World Cup, though, there are no plans for a cartoon mascot.

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