When Left Behind Games launched its convert-or-die videogame Left Behind: Eternal Forces on November 7, 2006, its stock traded at a peak price of $7.44 per share. Breathless boosters at RedChip issued a "strong buy" recommendation and predicted that within 18 months, the stock would soar to as much as $18.70 per share. Really?
In fact, Left Behind Games' stock chart looks like a ski slope. Not a gentle bunny hill, but a World Cup grand slalom course, groomed for a world-beating downhill run. Today, you could buy a share of Left Behind Games for a quarter -- with change left over. On March 21, 2007, the stock closed at 18 cents a share.
A recent issue of Christian Retailing
carries an article (22 Jan, p. 10) on the Left Behind: Eternal Forces
videogame. As the piece notes, the game has come under attack from various groups (Christian and secular) for allegedly featuring
...teens...killing nonbelievers, teaching teens that most musicians are "singing the praises of the Antichrist" and portraying non-Christian humanitarian aid workers as part of enemy forces.
Talk to Action, of course, has been at the forefront of making these concerns public, particularly in a series of articles by Jonathan Hutson.
The Christian Retailing piece features input from Jeff Frichner, the president of Left Behind Games (LBG), who responds to the criticisms:
We are honored to welcome essayist and story teller Joe Bageant as a guest front pager. His book, Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War, is due out from Random House in June. This essay was originally published in December 2005 -- long before the Democratic take-over of Congress seemed possible. One friend said after reading it: "Bageant writes in the tradition of Mark Twain's Letters from the Earth." -- FC
What the 'Left Behind' Series Really Means
A Whore That Sitteth on Many Waters
"Jesus merely raised one hand a few inches and a yawning chasm opened in the earth, stretching far and wide enough to swallow all of them. They tumbled in, howling and screeching, but their wailing was soon quashed and all was silent when the earth closed itself again."
-- From Glorious Appearing by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
"The best thing about the Left Behind books is the way the non-Christians get their guts pulled out by God."
-- 15-year old fundamentalist fan of the Left Behind series
That is the sophisticated language and appeal of America's all-time best selling adult novels celebrating the ethnic cleansing of non-Christians at the hands of Christ. If a Muslim were to write an Islamic version of the last book in the Left Behind
series, Glorious Appearing
, and publish it across the Middle East, Americans would go beserk. Yet tens of millions of Christians eagerly await and celebrate an End Time when everyone who disagrees with them will be murdered in ways that make Islamic beheading look like a bridal shower.
On Tuesday the mainstream Muslim civil rights group, Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) denounced
the hate-based video game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces
. This followed an international media firestorm
resulting from a press teleconference by DefCon, Christian Alliance for Progress (CAP) and Talk to Action
. These groups called on WalMart to stop selling the game. DefCon reports that more than 30,000 people have contacted Walmart so far. CAIR also called on WalMart to withdraw the game. Meanwhile, several progressive Christian groups led by Crosswalk America, CAP and the Beatitudes Society had also asked the manufacturer to withdraw the game and consumers not to buy it. The matter has issue has now escalated in both activism and in media coverage.
Jews on First! a progressive web based organization concerned about the religious right, has posted a report and joined with Crosswalk in petitioning the manufacturer to withdraw the game -- and the AntiDefamation League (ADL) has issued a statement, based on an analysis of the game by their staff in consultation with game experts.
"The game and the belief system behind it are dangerous, because they teach that Judaism and other non-Christian faiths are not valid," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Jews, Muslims and other non-Christians are seen as incomplete unless they convert, a concept that is contrary to the American ideal of respect for all religions."
The game is also the subject of major new articles in Rolling Stone
magazine and The Christian Science Monitor
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has joined a growing chorus of groups that have asked WalMart to stop stocking Left Behind: Eternal Forces, a video game that promotes religious warfare to children. The recent press conference held by DefCon, (Committee to Defend the Constitution,) Talk to Action
and Christian Alliance for Progress toannounce the effort to get WalMart to stop stocking the game made news around the world
. [image: detail from a painting depicting the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in which French Catholics slaughtered thousands of French Protestants.
reports on a charity tie-in from the controversial Left Behind: Eternal Forces
Left Behind Games, the company that produces Christian video games based on the books made famous by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, is including an insert in every box that tells purchasers about the Eastern European Outreach (EEO) child sponsorship program.
"What's more damaging are games that show killing and then let the bodies disappear, desensitizing gamers to what's going on," explains Lyndon. "Although seeing hundreds of dead bodies in Left Behind: Eternal Forces at the end of a horrific battle wasn't our original intent, we can't help but stay away from desensitizing gamers. It's our hope that we don't end up with a Mature-rated game...but we might. Ultimately, our argument is that it's more humane to show the reality of death than to desensitize in the name of a lighter rating." - Left Behind Games Company CEO Troy Lyndon
As published on the 1Up Network and reprinted from a story in Computer Gaming World, February 2006, issue #259, entitled "God Mode: Fragging For King, Country, and Creator". The 1Up Network is part of the Ziff-Davis Media Game Group
The CEO of Left Behind Games, who has recently characterized the nature of "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" as potentially wholly nonviolent such that "You can actually play the entire game without firing a shot." ( from a Boston Globe review of the game ) said in February 2006 that play resulted in "hundreds of dead bodies" piling up on the lovingly detailed streets of the virtual New York City in his game and that he thought the game might gain a "mature" audience rating for its depiction of mass killing. But Lyndon expressed a concern that making those piles of corpses magically vanish would desensitize gamers to violence.
Then, Troy Lyndon's game was redesigned prior to commercial release so that those dead bodies Lyndon referred to just disappeared... and it was marketed to a 13 to 34 age range that included teenagers.
The website of "Faithful America
", a ministry of the National Council Of Churches, has picked a December 13 Boston Globe story on the "kill or convert" video game set in the streets of New York City, "Left Behind: Eternal Forces". The engagement of the wider liberal religious community with the hateful religious ideology expressed in the game seems promising. The New York Times has also just picked up the news of the boycott of the game including Talk To Action's role in an article entitled Grand Theft Christianity
Outbreaks of self contradiction and moral relativism, or perhaps moral atrophy, continue at the powerful "family values" organization Focus On The Family
. First came Vice President Tom Minnery's surprising concern - "I fear that we're in a society in which you will be held to the standards which you claim.
" (see full story). Now, a Focus On The Family website has both enthusiastically endorsed
a video game - that lets players command forces to convert to fundamentalist Christianity or kill all the residents of New York - as "the kind of game that Mom and Dad can actually play with Junior"
and highlighted findings
from researchers at the Indiana State School Of Medicine indicating frequent playing of violent video games can cause parts of children's brains to atrophy.
The media is beginning to sit up and take notice of citizen concerns about the first Christian instructional video on religious warfare for children. This morning the San Francisco Chronicle
had a front page story
describing citizen concerns about the video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces
, which is based on Tim LaHaye's Left Behind
series of novels. The story is titled: 'Convert or die' game divides Christians: Some ask Wal-Mart to drop Left Behind
. This was followed today with a well-attended press and blogger teleconference hosted by DefCon, (the Campaign to Defend the Constitution) which featered comments by Clark Stevens of DefCon, Tim Simpson of the Christian Alliance for Progress, and Frederick Clarkson of Talk to Action
. The Associated Press
ran a story
on the controversy and the news conference.
Beginnning with Jonathan Hutson's ground breaking series exposing the hate-based agenda of the game, Talk to Action has done considerable reporting on and in-depth analysis of the game and its underlying ideology. Here is a brief anthology of Talk to Action posts that can serve as a back grounder on the game.
Modern Christian Right Print Culture
by Dr. Brenda E. Brasher and Chip BerletCopyright 2004-2006, All rights reserved, crossposting online of this text is prohibited. Presented at the conference on Religion and the Culture of Print in America,
Center for the History of Print Culture in Modern America, University of Wisconsin-Madison,
September 10-11, 2004
[Read Part One] - [Read Part Three]
A social movement is "a collectivity acting with some degree of organization and continuity outside of institutional channels for the purpose of promoting or resisting change in the group, society, or world order of which it is a part."~25 Social movements interact in a strategic way with political movements, which have an electoral and legislative focus.~26 To be effective, a social movement has to construct an internally coherent ideology, identify grievances, set goals, and instill a sense of purpose, optimism, and collective identity among followers. Movement leaders help accomplish this by skillfully framing their ideas and proposed actions.~27 Stories, whether they are narratives of personal experiences or fictional accounts, help build social movements.~28
as an Apocalyptic Master Frame
At various times throughout history social movements have employed apocalyptic frames and conspiracist narratives, moving them from the margins of the society into the mainstream where they have affected public policy.