Firestorm in Response to Religious Warfare Kid Vid, Continued
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 entire ADL analysis
is worth a read, but I want to highlight one important point made very well. The game's maufacturer, and apologists
in the gaming community, seek to treat the game as if it is isolated from the ideological context of the Left Behind series on which it is based, and the main market for the game, which is primarily people who are fans of the Left Behind books, or who share a similar theology.
... the inclusion of a "Left Behind" book in the package for "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" creates a direct link between the two. Together they promote the overall message of an exclusivist religious system that considers the proselytization of Jews to be an imperative. This theology portrays itself as the only path to salvation. And Jews, people of any other faith, or those of no faith who do not convert before it's too late, are destined to suffer horrible deaths.
The "Eternal Forces" game pits the "good guys" a Christian religious militia, battling the "bad guys," called the Global Community Peacekeepers - a United Nations-like world army led by the anti-Christ. LaHaye argues that the video game is "designed to be a classic battle between good and evil," adding that since there is no "gratuitous" blood and gore, its tale of the hellish demise of non-believers, will actually "perpetuate positive values."
The game, like the rest of the Left Behind franchise, mirrors another troubling aspect of the Christian Supremacist movement in the United States by portraying Christians who believe in their specific brand of theology as a put-upon minority who are being persecuted by larger and better equipped evil forces.
There is a vast difference between a video game that depicts graphic violence as part of an entertainment product, and one that instructs children and young people in the ideology of religious warfare against their fellow Americans. But few of those who have focused on the issue of video game violence, whether as critics or defenders, have attempted to come to terms with the different set of concerns being raised about Left Behind: Eternal Forces.