Faith in machine age as Pray-o-mat booth opens at university

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A multi-faith praying booth has been installed at a university.

The specially converted photo booth of the Pray-o-mat offers more than 300 pre-recorded prayers and incantations in 65 different languages, which are available to worshippers via a touch screen.

The free-to-use machine at the University of Manchester is designed for people on the go in their daily lives, though its creators admit the device is “tongue in cheek”.

Choices include Our Father in German and English, Buddhist and Islamic benedictions; Aborigine devotional songs and even the solemn chanting of an orthodox Jewish congregation.

Many of the prayers were collected by the machine’s creator, German artist Oliver Sturm, with some taken from radio archives.

A three-year research project on multi-faith spaces is being conducted at the university.

A team has so far visited almost 250 multi-faith spaces in the UK and abroad.

Charting the emergence and scope of the spaces has been difficult because many are concealed from public view, according to the university. But it is estimated that more than 1,500 exist in the UK.

Project leader Dr Ralf Brand said: “Though the Pray-o-mat is a bit tongue-in-cheek, there is a serious message to what we’re doing.

“Successful multi-faith spaces do not need to be flashy or expensive. In many places a small, clean and largely unadorned space can serve adequately.”