Big Media Round-Up on Religious Warfare Kid Vid
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 12:47:33 AM EST
This past week, the controversy over Left Behind: Eternal Forces, a video game based on the Left Behind series of novels, has been propelled into the national, and international news.  The catalyst was a press briefing organized by DefCon, (Campaign to Defend the Constitution), that featured Clark Stevens of DefCon, Tim Simpson of the Christian Alliance for Progress, and me, representing Talk to Action. (I am also a member of the DefCon advisory board.)  

There were wire service accounts by the Associated Press, Religion News Service, Reuters and Interpress News Service, appearing in thousands of media outlets worldwide. as well as generating considerable discussion on talk radio and in the blogosphere. There were also major newspaper stories in the Boston Globe, USA Today and the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as an article on the BBC News web site, and a report on the controversy on The New York Times blog.  

All of these were good articles that covered the gist of the press conference, while often emphasizing one or another of the main points. (If you are going to pick a few, I would try the Globe, the BBC News and the New York Times blog).  But there were some other, quite remarkable articles that cast the story in a somewhat different light.

Ethics Daily's Bob Allen reported the controversy, including the action campaigns called by progressive Christian groups and DefCon. Allen also mentioned Talk to Action's six months of reporting and analysis that has informed the major critiques of the game.

On Sunday Bruce Prescott of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists interviewed on his weekly "Religious Talk"  radio program Jonathan Hutson, who profiled the game in a series of eight blogs on Talk2Action.org between Memorial Day and August.

Hutson said the game "teaches mass killing in the name of Christ" and "indoctrinates children in religiously based violence."

"For me the big point of objection is not that the game is violent," he said in a live Sunday interview also available as a podcast. "I'm certainly not calling for censorship of the game. But I have called in my series for Talk To Action for Christians to boycott the game. If people don't buy this product that teaches mass killing in the name of Christ, then the market for it will disappear."...  Promotional screen shots show armed forces firing at point blank range at civilians and bodies littering the streets. The manufacturer's official description states that in the game there can be no neutral noncombatants.

Hutson, who described himself as a mainstream Christian, said the game teaches that anyone who is not a conservative evangelical Christian is going to be left behind, with a choice to either convert or die.
"The game is teaching these people deserve to die, it's your Christian duty to kill them, and God will be pleased when you do," he said.

A columnist for the the English newspaper, The Inquirer had a distinctly British take, noting that the game is generating an "unholy row" and is "coming in for a bit of stick across the pond."

The main issue is that the game is getting mainstream distribution and is on sale in Walmart stores but opponents say it encourages religious intolerance. It also teaches kids to think that the secretary-general of the United Nations is the anti-Christ. Other bad guys include rock stars and people with Muslim-sounding names.

Much of the opposition to the game comes from some liberal Christian groups who feel that mowing people down with guns is a not good way to get on the right side of God. One church has plans to picket Wal-Mart for flogging the game.

However, it may take a spot of divine intervention to get any kid, Christian or otherwise to want to buy it. The game is reportedly full of bugs and reviews have averaged about three out of ten. The Maker of the game probably thinks the media is owned by the anti-Christ rather than conclude the game is pants.

A spokesman for Left Behind Games said that the company's ultimate goal in offering the game was to bring parents and kids together to talk about the Bible. Odd really, last time we looked the New Testament was a bit short on turning guns on unbelievers. But, then again, it has been a while.

The head line on Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass' take on the game read:

Kill. Repent. Repeat. Happy holidays

Naturally, if you're playing this apocalyptic computer game, you'd want a Dr Pepper with loads of caffeine, so you can stay up until dawn, when the demons are asleep and it's safe to close your eyes.

This way, they won't rip your face off when you're done hitting the "prayer" button for the millionth time.

"The idea that you could pray and the deleterious effects of one's foul deeds would simply be wiped away is a horrible thing to be teaching Christian young people at Christmas time," Rev. Tim Simpson, a Florida pastor, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

"The message is ... there will be religious warfare, and you will target your fellow Americans, people from other faiths, people who you consider to be sinners," said author Frederick Clarkson, a liberal critic of religious conservative groups.

I'm stepping back to let the religious left and right fight this one out, bitterly denouncing each other while forgiving their trespasses. What bothers me is the game itself, which I refuse to play.

For one thing, there's no real bloodshed. And the "good" people have magical powers and glow when they're converting heathens from a distance or, as they call it, "recruiting." And, if you play as the sexy antichrist, you just can't win.

It's rigged.

"As the antichrist, you can win battles," said Frichner, "but you can't win the war. That's the way it is."

What fun is that?

The Monterey (CA) Herald featured a story about Todd Hurlburt, who decided to protest the game singlehandedly and stood with a sign outside a WalMart.

Hurlburt, a documentary filmmaker, said he was unaware of the game until he read a newspaper article this week that called the game "good family fun."

"I had to read it three times," he said. "I couldn't believe it."

Hurlburt, a Catholic, contends the game manipulates fears and divisiveness to make a buck.
"There is already a lot of division in the country," he said. "I'd hate to see someone use this game as an excuse to hurt a Muslim."

Hurlburt wasn't necessarily hoping the retail giant would stop carrying the game. In fact, he learned the store wasn't selling the game at its Marina location, but at select spots around the country. He said he hasn't played the game.

Still, he said, he wanted to discuss what he had heard. The people who listened included the hosts of several AM radio shows, television and print reporters, customers and even Wal-Mart employees, two of whom gaped at him during a smoking break.

"For real?" one of the employees said after Hurlburt explained the premise of the game to him. "Dang. I'm a Christian, too."




Display:
Jonathan Hutson, Bruce Wilson, Chip Berlet and I have been writing about this since May. Our efforts, individually and collectively have informed and framed the current international discussion of the controversy.  This is a case example of what Talk to Action is capable of accomplishing in other arenas as well.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 12:58:08 AM EST
It was high time that someone questioned the assumptions behind this game, and the whole "Left Behind" industry for that matter.

by nogodsnomasters on Sun Dec 17, 2006 at 02:19:29 PM EST
Parent



WWW Talk To Action


Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (3 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (4 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (5 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (0 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (4 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (6 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (7 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (21 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- http://www.talk2action.org/story/2016/7/21/04356/9417 I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (4 comments)
Fear
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (6 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (6 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (8 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (5 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (3 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (4 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (3 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (2 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (13 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (5 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (7 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (2 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (2 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.