BlessU-2, the name of the robot priest in Germany, can give blessings in five languages and beams light from its hands. The bot was created in honor of Martin Luther, the Guardian reported Tuesday. Five hundred years ago, revolutionary printing presses helped spread the word of the Protestant Reformation.

The robot was configured by the Protestant church in Hesse and Nassau in Wittenberg, Germany, half a millennium after Luther nailed his 95 Theses to a church door. Sound odd? That’s the point. The creators wanted to ignite a conversation about how artificial intelligence could possibly be a part of religion’s future.

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“We wanted people to consider if it is possible to be blessed by a machine, or if a human being is needed,” Stephan Krebs, who is from the Protestant church in Hesse and Nassau, told the Guardian.

“The idea is to provoke debate,” Krebs added. “People from the street are curious, amused and interested. They are really taken with it, and are very positive. But inside the church some people think we want to replace human pastors with machines. Those that are church-oriented are more critical.”

Church spokesman Sebastian von Gehren added the to the U.K.’s Daily Mail Monday: “It is an experiment that is supposed to inspire discussion.”

The bot looks like something out of the 1980s. And the decision to make BlessU-2 rudimentary was on purpose. So far, the response to the machine has been varied. “One half thinks it's great” while “the other cannot imagine a blessing from a machine,” Von Gehren said.

Worshipers can be blessed by Bless-U2 in Polish, Spanish, English, French or German. They have the option of a male or female voice. It was a touchscreen chest, two arms and a head with a digital mouth and electronic eyes.

The bot asks the user, “What blessing do you want?”

The robot can printout its blessings. When reciting a biblical verse it raises its arms, flashes lights and says, “God bless and protect you.”

While there is a shortage of priests in Europe, Krebs and his colleagues do not think robots are the solution for human parishioners. A robot “could never substitute for pastoral care”, he told the Guardian. “We don’t want to robotise our church work, but see if we can bring a theological perspective to a machine.”

Instead of a solution, BlessU-2 is supposed to commemorate Luther’s work, which challenged the superiority and power of the Roman Catholic Church.

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It’s unlikely in the future that a robot will be included in every place of worship. “The machine should not replace the blessing of a pastor. In the future there will not be a blessing robot in every church,” Von Gehren said to the Daily Mail.

The robot is not the first to enter religion. An AI monk chanted mantra a Buddhist temple on the edge of Beijing last year.

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