The Purpose Driven Life Takers (Part 1)
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Mon May 29, 2006 at 07:58:55 PM EST
Left Behind: Eternal Forces: Installments of Jonathan Hutson's Talk To Action expose series on the "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" video game have been viewed by over a quarter of a million people and the controversy over the game the series provoked has lately erupted into mass consumer protest. Talk To Action features a dedicated site section featuring our more than 35 original articles covering the controversial "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" video game that has provoked a boycott by a coalition of religious groups and a letter writing campaign urging Walmart to stop selling the game.

Imagine: you are a foot soldier in a paramilitary group whose purpose is to remake America as a Christian theocracy, and establish its worldly vision of the dominion of Christ over all aspects of life. You are issued high-tech military weaponry, and instructed to engage the infidel on the streets of New York City. You are on a mission - both a religious mission and a military mission -- to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state - especially moderate, mainstream Christians. Your mission is "to conduct physical and spiritual warfare"; all who resist must be taken out with extreme prejudice. You have never felt so powerful, so driven by a purpose: you are 13 years old. You are playing a real-time strategy video game whose creators are linked to the empire of mega-church pastor Rick Warren, best selling author of The Purpose Driven Life.

The game, slated for release by October 2006 in advance of the Christmas shopping rush, has been previewed at video game exhibitions, and reviewed by major newspapers and magazines. But until now, no fan or critic has pointed out the controversial game's connection to Mr. Warren or his dominionist agenda.

Time magazine has described Mr. Warren as one of the nation's most influential Evangelical Christian leaders. He describes himself as a "stealth evangelist" and describes his training programs as "a stealth movement, that's flying beneath the radar, that's changing literally hundreds, even thousands of churches around the world." He claims that he has sold tens of millions of copies of The Purpose Driven Life by developing a worldwide network of pastors.

The international director of Mr. Warren's Purpose Driven Church, Mark Carver, is a former investment banker who serves on the Advisory Board of the corporation created in October 2001 to develop and market this game. The creators plan to market their game using the same network marketing techniques that Mr. Warren used to turn The Purpose Driven Life into a commercial success. For example, they plan to distribute their merchandise through pastoral networks, especially mega-churches.

[Update: Mark Carver, a top aide to Mr. Warren, resigned as an adviser to Left Behind Games on June 5, 2006, and asked that the game developer remove the Purpose Driven Ministries name brand from its web site. These abrupt moves came in response to pressure from Talk to Action, as reported in the third essay in this series, "Revelation and Resignation (Part 3)". Here is a screen shot from the Left Behind Games site taken before June 5, showing Mr. Carver's name and invoking the name brand of Purpose Driven Church, which the site describes in some detail. -- JH]

This game immerses children in present-day New York City -- 500 square blocks, stretching from Wall Street to Chinatown, Greenwich Village, the United Nations headquarters, and Harlem. The game rewards children for how effectively they role play the killing of those who resist becoming a born again Christian. The game also offers players the opportunity to switch sides and fight for the army of the AntiChrist, releasing cloven-hoofed demons who feast on conservative Christians and their panicked proselytes (who taste a lot like Christian).

Is this paramilitary mission simulator for children anything other than prejudice and bigotry using religion as an organizing tool to get people in a violent frame of mind? The dialogue includes people saying, "Praise the Lord," as they blow infidels away.

The designers intend this game to become the first dominionist warrior game to break through in the popular culture due to its violent scenarios and realistic graphics, lighting, and sound effects. Its creators expect it to earn a rating of T for Teen. How violent is that? That's the rating shared by Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell - Chaos Theory, a top selling game in which high-tech gadgets and high-powered weapons - frag grenades, shotguns, assault rifles, and submachine guns -- are used to terminate enemies with extreme prejudice. [Nota bene: While some versions of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory have been rated M for Mature, Amazon.com offers a version rated T for Teen, which invites players to "Go into battle with futuristic weapons and high-tech gadgets used by real-life spies," and "Strike without mercy." -- JH]

Could such a violent, dominionist Christian video game really break through to the popular culture? Well, it is based on a series of books that have already set sales records - the blockbuster Left Behind series of 14 novels by writer Jerry B. Jenkins and his visionary collaborator, retired Southern Baptist minister Tim LaHaye. "We hope teenagers like the game," Mr. LaHaye told the Los Angeles Times. "Our real goal is to have no one left behind."

The game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces, is based on scenes from the first four novels in the series. The game was developed by a publicly-traded company called Left Behind Games, according to SEC records. The developers obtained the license from Tyndale House, the Christian publisher of Left Behind.

Tyndale also publishes Bringing Up Boys and The Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide by Focus on the Family founder  James Dobson, PhD. Mr. Dobson has advised parents to monitor the amount of time children spend playing video games and "avoid the violent ones altogether." But he has not yet stated his views on whether there should be an exception for video games that role play gunplay in the name of Christ, or of the AntiChrist.

Tyndale's licensing of the project infuriated one of its authors, Jack Thompson, a conservative Christian attorney and outspoken critic of video game violence, who told the Los Angeles Times that he severed ties with his publisher in a dispute over "Left Behind: Eternal Forces."

"It's absurd," said the video critic. "You can be the Christians blowing away the infidels, and if that doesn't hit your hot button, you can be the Antichrist blowing away all the Christians."

The firm's CEO is relying on network marketing through pastoral networks as a key part of his business plan, according to a report in the March 6, 2006, issue of Newsweek Magazine:

Left Behind Games CEO Troy Lyndon, whose company went public in February, says the game's Christian themes will grab the audience that didn't mind gore in "The Passion of the Christ." "We've thought through how the Christian right and the liberal left will slam us," says Lyndon. "But megachurches are very likely to embrace this game." Though it will be marketed directly to congregations, Forces will also have a secular ad campaign in gaming magazines.
As part of its marketing pitch, Left Behind Games hypes the realism with which it portrays the neighborhoods of New York City. There is, for the most part, a remarkable verisimilitude except for one detail - all of the ambulances have 911 painted on their roofs. In the reality-based world, most ambulances have a red cross on top. Yet the game designers make prominent use of these 911 ambulances to evoke the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The historical context of 911 is invoked as if to say, We are living in the End Times, and Muslims are among the kinds of infidels whom you should fear, whom you should be prepared to kill for your cause.

For game enthusiasts, there is also a multi-player mode, in which you can go online and battle to take territory from other players. If you happen to blow away a neutral party - and collateral damage is inevitable in the End of Days - then you will lose "Spirit Points". But you can power back up with merely a brief timeout for prayer, or by converting one of New York's terror-stricken citizens.

In this way, the game resembles a send-up of Christian-themed video games by "The Simpsons." "Billy Graham's Bible Blaster," is a first-person shooter game in which you fire Bibles at club-carrying heathens to convert them into card-carrying Republicans. (Hint: after you finish reading this blog piece - and eating all your vegetables -- visit the Simpson's official web site and open file drawer F-H, then click on the character of Evangelical Christian kid Rod Flanders to play the game.)

Time has dubbed Mr. Warren "America's minister." But Mr. Warren says that his agenda stretches far beyond America, and far beyond traditional ministry. He sees himself as the CEO of a global marketing enterprise, and as the Commander in Chief of a stealth army of one billion Christian foot soldiers.

On the 25th Anniversary of his Saddleback Church on April 17, 2005, Mr. Warren filled the Angels baseball stadium in Anaheim, California, with tens of thousands of his flock. Mr. Warren signaled his belief that we are now approaching the End of Days by opening with a rock band, which played the Jimi Hendrix drug anthem Purple Haze. As the band jammed, Mr. Warren sang the lyrics:

Purple haze all in my eyes
Don't know if it's day or night
You got me blowin', blowin' my mind
Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?
The Director of the Peace Corps, Gaddi Vasquez, read a message of support from President George W. Bush. Then Mr. Warren called on his flock to support a $40 million capital campaign to expand missionary training facilities at Saddleback's 120-acre campus in Lake Forest, California. He pledged participants to achieve a purpose-driven ministry overseas. His dominionist theology is apparent in this ministry. A key aspect of dominionist thought is a conviction that the Scripture gives the church a mandate to take dominion over this world socially and culturally before the return of Jesus Christ. Mr. Warren's global plan is a strategy to realize a dominionist vision of churches, states, and corporations forming partnerships to bring about a new world order to make way for Christ's return by establishing a literal, physical kingdom of God on earth. In order to build this earthly kingdom, Mr. Warren plans marketplace ministries - business ventures with a veneer of missionary compassion that slip into a country in order to transform it systematically through the governmental, corporate, and social sectors. And that is why Mr. Warren calls himself a "stealth evangelist" - because he wishes to cloak his dominionist agenda, which is the establishment of an earthly kingdom that reflects his skewed vision of Christianity.

According to Mr. Warren, the establishment of this earthly kingdom requires "foot soldiers." As part of his plan, Mr. Warren said he would encourage laypeople to "adopt" needy villages overseas in order to plant churches, expand business opportunities, educate children, influence governments, and overthrow corrupt political leaders, whom he described as "little Saddams." Mr. Warren said his purpose is to enlist "one billion foot soldiers for the Kingdom of God" in the developing world. And the stadium crowd roared its approval.

Celebrants included Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda, a tiny east African country that lost hundreds of thousands of people when it suffered genocide in 1994. Catholic and Protestant clergy have been convicted in connection with that genocide. Yet Mr. Kagame announced that he would allow Mr. Warren to turn his country into the first purpose driven nation. The following month, 16 Rwandan religious leaders arrived in Orange County to begin religious training at Saddleback Church. Mr. Warren has said that his global initiative was developed "underground" and in "stealth". Presumably, this was done with the assistance of Mr. Carver, who directs the Purpose Driven Church in all its activities outside North America.

Yet through an unexpected turn of events in Georgia, the spotlight was turned on Mr. Warren's stealthy strategy in March 2005, when Ashley Smith read a passage from The Purpose Driven Life to the Atlanta courthouse killing suspect, Brian Nichols. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Nichols freed his hostage and surrendered to police. The entire world suddenly wanted to hear from Mr. Warren, who was busy planting the seeds of a Christian theocracy with his "foot soldiers" in Rwanda.

On March 22, 2005, CNN's Larry King interviewed Mr. Warren about the Atlanta courthouse shooting and hostage taking. A caller asked, "Can you explain the sudden thirst or craving that people seem to have for religion?

Mr. Warren replied:

"[T]here are really two stories going on in our culture right now. There is the story of things are getting more worse [sic] in some ways. We're seeing the increase in violence. We're seeing terrorism. We've seen these recent shootings. We're seeing the coarsening of our society, that has disgusted a lot of people. And there is people [sic] -- some people are more materialistic than ever.

But at the same time, there's another story going on in America, that I think is a spiritual awakening that is brewing. And that is a desire and hunger to know God. I don't always think it's always a desire and hunger for church. But there is a desire and hunger to know God.

So according to Mr. Warren, the worst of American culture is reflected in examples of violence, terrorism, shootings, and the coarsening of our society, that turn people away in disgust. And in addition, "some people are more materialistic than ever."

If violence, coarseness, and materialism are serious social problems, then what purpose is served by exploiting a global pastoral network to mass market a game about mass killing, whether in the name of Christ or the AntiChrist?

On the one hand, this video game is anti-American, because it endorses roving death squads engaged in faith-based violence without any regard for Constitutional law.  On the other hand, the video game is anti-Christian, because it argues that the Kingdom of God can be advanced by using the methods and tools of the kingdoms of this world, namely guns and bombs.

The Scriptures say, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6) The Scriptures do not say, "Train up a child in the way he should blow away the people of God as well as infidels: and when he is old enough, he will go out and do some killing."

As Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight that I might not be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here" (Gospel According to John 18:36).  As Paul said, "Though we walk in flesh, we do not make war in accordance with the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly." (2 Corinthians 10:3-4a).

The dominionist Christians pushing this violent video game are modeling neither Christian charity nor patriotism. Both Christians and patriots should oppose them.

UPDATE

Endorsement by Association

What is going on here is an old fashioned business idea of endorsement by association, in which a corporation gains the implied endorsement of a product by being able to invoke the name brand of a prominent person or celebrity. In this case, this is an alliance of business and ministerial interests invoking the name brand of the Mr. Warren's Purpose Driven Church. Mr. Warren does not have to explicitly endorse or be involved in the product in order to be held accountable for allowing his name brand to be used in the selling of this antisocial product.

Some people have commented that the link between Mr. Warren's purpose driven empire and this product is casual. Let's be clear: Mark Carver is Executive Director of the Purpose Driven Church, and therefore works directly for Mr. Warren in one of the most senior roles in his empire. It would seem unlikely that Mr. Warren, who plans an international stealth evangelism campaign that already includes the president of Rwanda, is unaware of this project, the biggest Christian video game in history. Mr. Carver's role on the Advisory Board of Left Behind Games, the corporation created in October 2001 specifically to develop and market this violent video game, is an association clearly more active than a casual. People are involved on this Advisory Board because of their expertise, and their connections to markets -- in this case, Mr. Warren's. On its corporate web site -- part of its merchandising pitch -- Left Behind Games touts its association with Mr. Carver, and makes clear his prominent role in Mr. Warren's Purpose Driven Church.

In other words, Left Behind Games is invoking its association with Mr. Warren's Purpose Driven Church as part of its product marketing strategy. Do we think that Mr. Warren would allow his name brand and reputation to be casually invoked in a major business venture that involves one of the largest publishers in the Christian marketplace, who published the Left Behind novels, one of the best selling fiction series of all time? Does anyone think that Left Behind Games invoked the name brand of Mr. Warren's Purpose Driven Church without his permission? Since this possibility is farfetched, what we are looking at here is a business/marketing alliance between several evangelical business and ministerial entrepreneurs for whom the Great Commission also means great profits.

Left Behind Games plans to market directly to pastoral networks and mega-churches, using the same network marketing strategies that turned Mr. Warren's book The Purpose Driven Life into a best seller . Mr. Carver has a lot of expertise and connections in this area. Will Mr. Warren's mega-church be offering this game for sale to its members? Will Mr. Warren's global pastoral network be used to distribute the game? On the other hand, if Mr. Warren is unaware and uninvolved, do we think he will fire Mr. Carver for marketing a product that helps children practice killing New Yorkers?

The Purpose Driven Life Takers (Part 1)

Violent Video Marketed Through Mega-Churches (Part 2)

Revelation and Resignation (Part 3)

Christian Cadre's Layman: 'A Whopper of Being Wrong' (Part 4)

Apocalypse, Now a Lawsuit (Part 5)

Who's Watching the Boys? (Part 6)

Conservative Christian Culture Warriors Cut and Run (Part 7)

Bible Publisher Tyndale House Faces Boycott Over Anti-Christian Game (Part 8)




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I've said it before and I'll say it again; the Christian right is nothing but a hate group like the KKK. indeed, there's a great deal of overlap between the two. However, unlike other hate groups, the Christian right has been politically successful because they usually manage to disguise their hatred as something else. So successful in fact, that people who aught to know better, often accuse me of being excessive when I refer to the Christian right in this way. Let's be clear about this. This is not a group that wants to stop abortion or gay marriage. It's a group whose goal is nothing less than the conversion or elimination of all non-Christians and all Christians who don't agree with their interpretation of Christianity. They are almost always dishonest about this. This game seems to be a rare example of truthfulness from the Christian right, and they should be commended for it. I'd like to think of it as a positive first step. More likely though, it's a rare slip up. I don't think these folks want to reveal their true intentions until they feel they have sufficient power to start carrying them out.


by Dave on Mon May 29, 2006 at 11:19:03 PM EST
"It's a group whose goal is nothing less than the conversion or elimination of all non-Christians and all Christians who don't agree with their interpretation of Christianity. "

This isn't their goal; I can tell you from extensive personal knowledge of fundamentalists that they don't desire the elimination of non-Christians. This completely inaccurate review you're reading is a rather slanderous chariacture of the game and of fundamentalism, no different than chariactures of Jews as merciless moneylenders, or Muslims as bomb-throwing terrorists, or gays as promiscuous crusaders who want to "destroy marriage".

It's one think to oppose religious fascism and bigotry; it's another thing to start talking like a religious fascist in your opposition to religious fascism. When you start making blanket statements about other groups of people and their conspiracies to rule the world, you have.

by Cynic on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 08:42:56 PM EST
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Perhaps the group you knew didn't, but there ARE groups in dominionism--particularly the "spiritual warfare" flavours of dominionism (of which the "Left Behind" game is likely to be very popular in, in part because it's one of the few video games they're likely allowed to play at all) that very much DO have that as a goal.

In the particular group I am a walkaway from, highly unethical tactics (including blatant deception) are used routinely to recruit people because they believe it is morally acceptable to trick someone into converting--and anyone who is opposed to this is "not in the river" or "working against the Spirit".

People who are critics of both the political and moral directions of the church are in fact called agents of the devil himself.

I also recall, very specifically, multiple services where it is told that "Joel's Army" or the "Army of Elijah" would come across the US and literally have people convert or die; they also in the same services (this was around the time of the Cold War) would talk about how they'd be raptured up, a nuclear war would break out, and they'd have a ringside seat and would laugh as the rest of the planet was nuked.

Don't dare tell me these people are harmless.  Sorry.  I've seen enough, from the inside of one of the groups most heavily into this "spiritual warfare" stuff, to know better.  Still have nightmares about it.  Have spent about $3000 in deductibles for therapy after leaving the group because of PTSD directly caused by being raised in that group.  (Yes, I and thousands of others like me have literal shellshock as a result of having been involved in those groups, and in several cases, having to hide the fact we were walking away from our own families.)

For that matter, some of the same folks promoting "spiritual warfare" are the same folks who are publishing things like the "RIOT Manual" (which I've written on in the Ron Luce section) and even literal biblically mandated beating of children with pipes and wooden rods (this article is a good starting point and links to the many articles I've written on it; part of my PTSD is in fact because of religiously motivated child abuse which was justified by the "spiritual warfare" movement my family's church was involved in).

In groups like the SBC, much of the really scary stuff hasn't filtered in--yet.  In the case of the Assemblies of God, it's largely filtered in over the past fifty years--and turned that entire denomination increasingly abusive as it's been embraced.  (How abusive, might I ask?  Some of the stuff that's taught in "spiritual warfare" circles re demonic possession and "opening doorways for Satan" is identical with the concept of "body thetans" and "clearing" in Scientology; the latter is regarded as one of the things that literally does the most to psychologically break people involved, as you get scared of anything potentially "contaminating" you.)

Children are increasingly isolated (this has been going on a while in the "Brownsville" style groups, and is now spreading to more moderate dominionist groups like the SBC) and quite explicitly indoctrinated via school curriculum that literally teaches they are the chosen and that the US was meant to be a theocracy--and that the rest of the world is in a massive conspiracy against them.

I'm all too familiar with the imagery in the "Left Behind" books in part because it was used as justification for both dominionism and very abusive tactics by the group I left.  Unlike the SBC--where a lot of dominionist theology has been grafted on--the groups we're talking about have it as their core theology and have bases for it going all the way back to the Scofield Reference Bible (including very specific conspiracy theories--like of Russia being the home of the Antichrist).

by dogemperor on Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 11:10:56 AM EST
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...if I'm looking forward to playing the game in Antichrist mode and blowing away fundies? :-)


Abu Ghraib: Hell House of the Religious Right II
by sendtoscott on Tue May 30, 2006 at 10:09:14 AM EST
Oh, I don't see anything wrong with that...hell, part of me might argue it's therapeutic.  (Of course, in all seriousness, I would not recommend buying this game, if only to avoid funding the dominionists.)

by dogemperor on Tue May 30, 2006 at 12:35:31 PM EST
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where - rather than harming these Christian paramiltaries - I can catch them with nets and immobilize them with sticky foam, then subject them to re-runs of "South Park" and "The Simpsons" ?

by Bruce Wilson on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:11:06 PM EST
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I would rather find a way to compel them to have nuanced theological discussions, based on reason.

I appreciate the humor in both the programs you mention, but I don't believe you get through to people like this with the equivalent of a tolerance building therapy based on gradually increasing exposure.

by montpellier on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:45:30 PM EST
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Believe me, Right-Wing Fundamentalists cannot discuss theology with any sense of reason.  They see anyone else's religious symbols or hear about anyone else's religious values, and they go off.

by Heathen1 on Tue May 30, 2006 at 07:29:53 PM EST
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...my own personal introduction to this bunch was in the late '70s - another family who were 'friends' with my family split up - the mother kinda lost it & flaked out.  She was very ripe for in-cult-uration.  Soon, we were invited to accompany her to a few 'tent revivals' and 'faith healings' followed by a few trips to Fishnet.  I was really kinda p-o'd at my own mother for dragging us into it/along, but later, was thankful to have had the opportunity to watch these con-men(and women) up close and personal.  Money-changers indeed, preying on those most easily led.

Anyway, I've never quite gotten over the urge to attempt to reason with them, though I don't usually do so until one of them attempts to evangelize or proselytize me.  

by montpellier on Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 01:51:45 PM EST
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My-dad-the-rev used to get his biggest kicks out of confounding door-to-door fundie evangelists by going along with their flipping-through-the-Bible-and-quoting-Scripture contests and giving way better than he got. He could get them to talk themselves into circles and knots and send them stumbling off with their tails between their 3 remaining legs. (On one occasion I watched him pull out his Greek lexicon, at which point the poor fundie looked like he was about to have a heart attack.)

He never did it to be mean or to get one-up on them - it was always by way of trying to educate them and he was always polite and patient with them - but he scared the bejeebers out of them. Finally the word got around that this guy was dangerous and they started skipping our house when they went around the neighborhood. (In a way I was sorry to see that happen - those encounters were always entertaining, and I learned a lot about the Bible and theology and religious discourse from them.)

This was 40 years ago, well before the dominionists hit their stride publicly, but I would have loved to have seen him take one of those guys on..............


by anomalous4 on Fri Jun 09, 2006 at 11:10:51 AM EST
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I've got a couple of rolls of duct tape lying around that I'm more than willing to contribute to the cause - if I can do the taping! (Sorry, couldn't resist.......... grin)


by anomalous4 on Fri Jun 09, 2006 at 11:18:25 AM EST
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I've found an article in Christianity Today that frankly gives even more reason for concern re Warren:

(regarding the model of church setup)

One is the baseball diamond, used to explain the flow of church ministry in a person's life. Vast crowds attend church, but they reach first base, Membership, only by completing Class 101 and signing a covenant of commitment to Christ and the church. Second base is Maturity, reached through another class (201) featuring a covenant of commitment to a daily quiet time, tithing, and a small group. Third base is Ministry, in which members commit to serving actively in the church. They are interviewed and placed in one of dozens of thriving church ministries. Home base is Mission, in which Christians commit to the cause of evangelism. At the center of the diamond is Magnification, which stands for worship. How can one reach maturity before committing to mission or ministry? Chalk it up to the Baptist penchant for alliteration. Purpose-Driven churches make worship the starting point--it's where unchurched people experience the church and decide to commit. It's also the end, since everything centers on glorifying God.

In other words, you can't know what you're buying into without buying in, and even after you've bought in you have no real idea until you're heavily involved just what you're buying into.

This is the EXACT same method Scientology uses to recruit members and pull them into increasing levels of time and money spent (from OT-I to OT-VII levels)--and increasingly coercive practices.  

This is also a red flag warning of a potential coercive religious group according to most checklists, including Steve Hassan's BITE Model:

II. Information Control
...
3. Compartmentalization of information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines

    a. Information is not freely accessible
    b. Information varies at different levels and missions within pyramid
    c. Leadership decides who "needs to know" what

In fact, a preliminary BITE model analysis shows a lot of disturbing patterns:

I. Behavior Control

1. Regulation of individual's physical reality
    a. Where, how and with whom the member lives and associates with
    b. What clothes, colors, hairstyles the person wears
    c. What food the person eats, drinks, adopts, and rejects
    d. How much sleep the person is able to have
    e. Financial dependence
    f. Little or no time spent on leisure, entertainment, vacations

  1. Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals
  2. Need to ask permission for major decisions
  3. Need to report thoughts, feelings and activities to superiors
  4. Rewards and punishments (behavior modification techniques- positive and negative).
  5. Individualism discouraged; group think prevails
  6. Rigid rules and regulations
  7. Need for obedience and dependency

(Cell groups in general are infamous for behavioural control; the mandatory "covenant" and mandatory "instructional courses", the mandatory (per the "covenant") tithing, and other mandatory things like heavy participation in church affairs would qualify here even if cell churches did not exist at Saddleback.)
II. Information Control

1. Use of deception
    a. Deliberately holding back information
    b. Distorting information to make it acceptable
    c. Outright lying
2. Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged
    a. Books, articles, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio
    b. Critical information
    c. Former members
    d. Keep members so busy they don't have time to think
3. Compartmentalization of information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
    a. Information is not freely accessible
    b. Information varies at different levels and missions within pyramid
    c. Leadership decides who "needs to know" what
4. Spying on other members is encouraged
    a. Pairing up with "buddy" system to monitor and control
    b. Reporting deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership
5. Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda
    a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audio tapes, videotapes, etc.
    b. Misquotations, statements taken out of context from non-cult sources
6. Unethical use of confession
    a. Information about "sins" used to abolish identity boundaries
    b. Past "sins" used to manipulate and control; no forgiveness or absolution


(There are reliable reports people have been disfellowshipped from Saddleback for "unrepented sins" and for "not being active enough" (per the LetUsReason article); "The Purpose Driven Life" has an entire media empire; the "covenant" in and of itself can be used as blackmail; people are required to go through mandatory training courses and sign a mandatory "covenant" before becoming members (and thus "going up the pyramid") and most info on what goes on in Saddleback is largely from walkaways.  Cell churches in general fall under the "buddy system" and spying on members sections.)
III. Thought Control

1. Need to internalize the group's doctrine as "Truth"
    a. Map = Reality
    b. Black and White thinking
    c. Good vs. evil
    d. Us vs. them (inside vs. outside)

  1. Adopt "loaded" language (characterized by "thought-terminating clichés"). Words are the tools we use to think with. These "special" words constrict rather than expand understanding. They function to reduce complexities of experience into trite, platitudinous "buzz words".
  2. Only "good" and "proper" thoughts are encouraged.
  3. Thought-stopping techniques (to shut down "reality testing" by stopping "negative" thoughts and allowing only "good" thoughts); rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism.
    a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
    b. Chanting
    c. Meditating
    d. Praying
    e. Speaking in "tongues"
    f. Singing or humming
  1. No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate
  2. No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful

(THIS is why I specifically mention scripture-twisting (both in context--the verses in chapters that have been historically abused--and the actual scripture-twisting done by Warren himself).  Scripture-twisting, the use of Bible verses taken out of context, is a very common method of "thought terminating cliche" used in coercive dominionist groups (and by a few other spiritually abusive groups as well).  Abuses of Scripture are also very specifically used to stifle any dissent regarding Warren, his doctrine, or his church's policies (this is what the whole "do not gossip" thing is actually about; any criticism of church policies is seen as gossip and even "not submitting to your pastor", and Bible verses are misused to emphasize this).  The entire mandatory "covenant" abuses Scripture widely in this regard, taking verses and occasionally just segments of verses out of historical and Biblical context, and is probably the single most common way in which religious abuse is justified in coercive "Bible-based" groups in general.

(Furthermore, as noted by Warren himself, a mandatory course--of which almost no information is available on his website--is required before one can even sign the covenant and join the church.  Mainstream Christian groups are considerably more open about their theology, and even some notably abusive dominionist groups are more frank about things.)

IV. Emotional Control

  1. Manipulate and narrow the range of a person's feelings.
  2. Make the person feel like if there are ever any problems it is always their fault, never the leader's or the group's.
  3. Excessive use of guilt
    a. Identity guilt
        1. Who you are (not living up to your potential)
        2. Your family
        3. Your past
        4. Your affiliations
        5. Your thoughts, feelings, actions
     b. Social guilt
     c. Historical guilt
4. Excessive use of fear
    a. Fear of thinking independently
    b. Fear of the "outside" world
    c. Fear of enemies
    d. Fear of losing one's "salvation"
    e. Fear of leaving the group or being shunned by group
    f. Fear of disapproval
  1. Extremes of emotional highs and lows.
  2. Ritual and often public confession of "sins".
  3. Phobia indoctrination : programming of irrational fears of ever leaving the group or even questioning the leader's authority. The person under mind control cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group.
    a. No happiness or fulfillment "outside"of the group
    b. Terrible consequences will take place if you leave: "hell"; "demon possession"; "incurable diseases"; "accidents"; "suicide"; "insanity"; "10,000 reincarnations"; etc.
    c. Shunning of leave takers. Fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family.
    d. Never a legitimate reason to leave. From the group's perspective, people who leave are: "weak"; "undisciplined"; "unspiritual"; "worldly"; "brainwashed by family, counselors"; seduced by money, sex, rock and roll.

(As noted, it has been documented that public confession occurs at Warren's services and that "unrepented sin" will cause someone to be disfellowshipped (see (see Christianity Today article); people who leave are decried as "worldly" by Warren (see article in SBC Baptist Press where he literally compares churchmembers refusing to sign mandatory "covenants" as the same as people "walking away from Christ").  Purpose Driven Life seminars tend to emphasize theatrics (and in fact this has been a major source of criticism from some theologians); emotional manipulation is a major purpose of the "Purpose Driven Life" seminars.  Groups especially targeted by Warren include persons in recovery from addiction.)

by dogemperor on Tue May 30, 2006 at 09:24:27 PM EST
The practice of members signing church covenants is nearly 400 years old in Baptist churches.

It is not commonly practiced in most churches today, but when it is, it is not commonly a commitment to "mind control."  Generally it is simply a symbol of a spiritual commitment.

by Mainstream Baptist on Wed May 31, 2006 at 01:43:37 AM EST
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Church covenants in and of themselves may not be harmful necessarily.  The concern I have (and keep in mind, I'm speaking from the perspective of a survivor of a highly spiritually abusive group) is more with a combination of trends:

a) a mandatory "membership covenant" which has obligations, is required to be signed, and specifically states as obligations other things which have been used as tools of control (most churches that do have covenants tend to have them as voluntary tools and as symbols of commitment, and you're not going to be thrown out because you didn't give the ten percent the membership covenant says you have to)

b) An increasing trend for "Statements of Faith" and similar documents (including mandatory membership covenants) to literally weed out dissent and persons criticising the direction in which a church is going (to give an example, if--say--a church with a mandatory covenant is taken over by a dominionist preacher, there is no way one can legitimately fight an IRD-style hijacking without being potentially disfellowshipped)

c) Statements to the effect that mandatory tithing (which is not terribly common outside the "name it and claim it" sector) and mandatory introduction courses are required--of which almost no info exists re the content of the latter, and the former was not available on Saddleback's website but through an SBC magazine where Warren was promoting the use of mandatory covenants in SBC churches.  (If more info existed on those mandatory courses I'd probably be less antsy on this.)

d) Documented use of "cell churches" in Warren's group as well as "shepherding"--these have been used to not only specifically hijack churches but to exert coercive control over church members.

e) Known links between Warren and some truly scary folks (in particular David Yonggi Cho nee Paul Yonggi Cho, who is a major force in spread of dominionism and spiritually abusive tactics throughout the Assemblies of God; in fact, the very church I walked away from (and tell horror stories in regards to here) is in fact the first church in North America that Cho extensively "prophesied" Brownsville-style revivals about and promoted some of his most abusive methods at--trust me when I state that anything Cho is deeply involved in is probably best avoided).

f) Statements by Warren noting he is promoting stealth evangelism.

With the exception of e) and f), one or two of these might make one think "Wow, that's strict" but it wouldn't be so much a thing of major concern.  The combination of a)-f) is what makes the "wow, that's strict" cross over to legitimate worry.

As it is, my real worry regarding mandatory (as opposed to voluntary) "covenants" and the like is that these can be used to essentially expel any critics or persons fighting a dominionist hijacking.  Much like the Southern Baptist Seminary used a revised statement of faith (that all members were required to sign) to expel all staff members critical of the dominionist hijack of that university, a church with a mandatory statement of faith or mandatory "covenant" statement can use the signed covenant to expel members critical of the direction in which the church is going (and there is some evidence to suggest that such a thing has happened at Saddleback).

by dogemperor on Wed May 31, 2006 at 09:38:28 AM EST
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Rick Warren - by now - most certainly is aware of this story. Mr. Warren has not come out to repudiate Mr. Hutson's piece. Are you asserting he lacks legal means ?

Beyond that, I'm curious - my wife is an Askhenazi Jew and has inherited a small cardboard box of jumbled photographs representing her family lineage. Who are they ? No one seems to know. Her family lineage stops at that point, terminated by the Holocaust.

Given that, how do you think the American public should feel about the linkage between Mr. Warren's financial enterprise and a video game which depicts a Christian paramilitary assault and crusade against the largest Jewish population on Earth ?

Are you personally unaware of the Holocaust  - or of the symbolism that commonly would be perceived inherent in the depiction of such an attack ?

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 12:22:18 AM EST


This is really chilling. I recently wrote a book about America as a Christian nation and a surveillance society where people take it as God's mission to spy on, report on, and murder neighbors who don't have the "right faith." But seeing something like this, I wonder if my book is more prophecy than fiction. I don't know if I'm allowed to post a link to my book, but here's the link, www.sheshere.net.
--Wilda

by WildaHughes on Sat Nov 04, 2006 at 09:07:37 AM EST

Mark Carver, sits on the Advisory Board of Left Behind Games -- the corporation founded in October 2001 specifically to develop and market this violent video game. Carver oversees the international ministry -- the global pastoral networks -- of which Rick Warren is the head. Carver is also a member of the Orange County, California, mega-church called Saddleback Christian. So Mr. Warren is Mr. Carver's pastor as well as his boss.

The marketing plan for the video game is to use the same network marketing techniques that made Mr. Warren's book The Purpose Driven Life a best seller -- namely, to market through global pastoral networks and megachurches.

by jhutson on Tue May 30, 2006 at 07:50:46 AM EST


you are a foot soldier in a paramilitary group whose purpose is to remake America as a Christian theocracy, and establish its worldly vision of the dominion of Christ over all aspects of life. You are issued high-tech military weaponry, and instructed to engage the infidel on the streets of New York City. You are on a mission - both a religious mission and a military mission -- to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state - especially moderate, mainstream Christians. Your mission is "to conduct physical and spiritual warfare"; all who resist must be taken out with extreme prejudice. You have never felt so powerful, so driven by a purpose: you are 13 years old. You are playing a real-time strategy video game whose creators are linked to the empire of mega-church pastor Rick Warren, best selling author of The Purpose Driven Life. The game, slated for release by October 2006 in advance of the Christmas shopping rush, has been previewed at video game exhibitions, and reviewed by major newspapers and magazines. But until now, no fan or critic has pointed out the controversial game's connection to Mr. Warren or his dominionist agenda. ------------ william IT consultant mcat

by william on Tue Apr 05, 2011 at 12:50:12 AM EST

informative post Jonathan. It is disappointing to see Rick Warren connected to this video game project. Even though Warren does share and seems to share some of the goals of the Christian Right, I think it is also fair to say he is not involved with the Christian Right in the same dominionist way as Kennedy, DeMar, Barton, and Parsley are. He also does not seem to be as directly political as Dobson, Perkins and Wildmon.

See this post for more insight into Rick Warren.

by Carlos on Mon May 29, 2006 at 09:08:48 PM EST

An important distinction, Carlos. He is probably not a dominionist in the sense of the above mentioned (although he may very well be influenced by them) -- but a dominionist in the Tim LaHaye sense; a position that Chip Berlet has sought to clarify, since being premillenial by definition was a non-dominionist position not all that long ago.

Times, theologies and tactics have changed. They can be hard to keep up with!

by Frederick Clarkson on Mon May 29, 2006 at 11:35:42 PM EST
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Actually, Rick Warren has a lot of connections with the "premillenial dispensationalist dominionist" aka "pente dominion theology" crowd--among them, connections with the "Third Wave" neopentes (like the Brownsville and Toronto "revival" movements, Paul Yonggi Cho's Yoido Full Gospel Church, and the like).

Being an escapee of those groups, they might not be Christian Reconstructionists, but they're still dominionists.  (In fact, I'd put the "dominion theology" ala "Joel's Army" ala "Third Wavers" as being possibly more dangerous, because one of the things they really focus on is infiltrating and hijacking other churches.  They actively invented the tactics that the IRD is using now, and it's been through Southern Baptists with close links with neopentes (like Rick Warren) that the SBC was in large part hijacked.)

I do agree it's different "flavours" of dominionism, though.  There is considerable overlap, but the base theology does differ to some extent.

by dogemperor on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:25:19 PM EST
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Believe me, Right-Wing Fundamentalists cannot discuss theology with any sense of reason.  They see anyone else's religious symbols or hear about anyone else's religious values, and they go off.

by ukana on Mon Sep 04, 2006 at 05:33:01 PM EST
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Did I misread this article?  Where is the connection between Rick Warren and the video game?  So, the international director of Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Church, Mark  Carver, serves on the Advisory Board of the corporation created to develop and market the video game?!?

That is some-kinda cheap guilt-by-association!  

During the Fundamentalist Takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention, the fundamentalist leaders frequently used this same type of guilt-by-association tactic.  After the Takeover, the fundamentalists continued in their efforts to discredit Mainstream/Moderate Baptists involved in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship by alleging that the CBF was pro-abortion and advocated homosexuality with (yet again) cheap guilt-by-assocation tactics.  Fundamentalists accused Mainstream/Moderate Baptists of supporting child pornography due to our funding of the Baptist Joint Committee whose former General Counsel co-authored a 1994 book with Barry Lynn WHO while working for the ACLU agreed with their position that there is a constitutional right to produce or view child pornography!  How absolutely ridiculous of a connection!  Guilt-by-association is dangerous.  Has Rick Warren ever commented publicly on the video game?

Throughout your entire article - you seem to be connecting all evangelism, missions, and church-planting to theocracy and dominionist theology?  Rick Warren has been accused by some within the SBC of undermining the "essentials" and "inerrancy."  Just last summer Warren broke ranks with SBC leadership by accepting an invitation to speak at the 100th anniversary of the Baptist World Alliance in England.  You might be hard-pressed to find many scholars who would lump Rick Warren with dominionists like Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, etc..


by Big Daddy Weave on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:34:58 AM EST

You have in your hands a high-caliber Christian shoot-'em up strategy game made by Left Behind Games, the corporation formed in October 2001 for no purpose other than to make Left Behind: Eternal Forces.

As we point out in our marketing materials, we are trading on our association with Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Church. That's why we appointed Mark Carver, Executive Director of Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Church, to our Advisory Board. We're proud of this connection; that is why we tout our association in our merchanidising materials.

Sure, we'd like to have Mr. Carver's pastor and boss, Rick Warren, come down the chimney and personally hand you a copy with a hearty endorsement statement. But he's a busy man, what with building a Christian theocracy in Rwanda.

But as Pastor Warren says in his best seller, The Purpose Driven Life, we must change people's thoughts before we can change their actions. So first, we have to role play Christian Evangelical militias before we can recruit "one billion foot soldiers for the Kingdom of God," as Pastor Warren promises.

If this game is not entirely violent enough to your satisfaction, you may return it to the mega-church or global pastoral network from which it was purchased. Thank you, Merry Christmas, and God bless us every one!

by jhutson on Tue May 30, 2006 at 10:52:06 AM EST
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Rick Warren needs to speak for himself about this video game.

I would not want to be judged by whatever business practices and schemes in which my church members engaged.  Members of churches that I have pastored have engaged in a lot of schemes of which I totally disapproved.

As controversial as this video game appears to be, I suspect Warren will have to express an opinion on it himself.  I'd wait to criticize him until he speaks about it.

Meanwhile, the game itself sounds like a scheme of the anti-Christ to me.  There's nothing Christian about it.

by Mainstream Baptist on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:13:03 PM EST
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Jonathan has prepared a detailed response to the accusations of too casual a link between Warren and the video. But it seems to me that the involvement is deeper than Big Daddy Weave and Mainstream Baptist suggest, and that a closer reading of the piece as written will show. But basically, although the subject matter is rather explosive, what we are looking at is a very standard business association -- one for which Warren can and should, as the head of his enterprise,  reasonably be held accountable.

What Jonathan has reported is a strategic series of alliances between several business and religious entitites.  These businesses are highly unlikey to have invoked Warren's brand The Purpose Driven Church as part of its marketing campaign without permission. And indeed, the executive director of Warren's "Purpose Driven Church" is a named advisor to the project.  This is not a casual association or an accident. Rather it is the result of strategic business and church growth decisions that were made to form this particular alliance. If in the unlikely event that Warren is unaware that the video company is invoking his brand and that one of his senior executives is directly involved in the biggest such venture in history of the Christian marketplace, then let him say so. Quite aside from the disreputable aspects of the product in question, it might be reasonable to assume that he would take appropriate action against unauthorized use of his brand name to promote this product.

Most companies go to great lengths to protect their brand image and do not allow it to be used by others lightly.  For example, Disney recently withdrew permission for McDonalds to use their cartoon characters in marketing its products because of the well publicized link between McDonalds food and childhood obesity. Previously, the company had clearly seen the relationship as positive.  

Rick Warren is a clever businessman, and his senior executives are experienced in the field. I have every confidence that they know exactly what they are doing.

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue May 30, 2006 at 03:55:11 PM EST
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until all the evidence is available, I prefer to withhold judgment.

If what Jonathan and dogemporer is saying is true, it will be an indication that a harder form of Dominionism is more broadly prevalent in the SBC than even I realized.

We need to be cautious about lumping all evanglicalism into the Dominionist camp.  The evangelical response to the biblical call to evangelize the whole world pre-dates Dominionist theology.  We need to distinguish Dominionism from the basic missionary thrust of the Christian faith itself.

It is possible that Warren, or those associated with him, are merely careless about using biblical metaphors that have taken on new theological meanings.

It is also possible that the militance and violent imagery of the Left Behind novels has so permeated 21st Century evangelicalism that it no longer bears any resemblance to the missionary pietism of previous generations.  Evangelism by force of arms rather than by the persuasion of preaching is the anti-thesis of what earlier generations of Baptists advocated.

 

by Mainstream Baptist on Tue May 30, 2006 at 04:17:14 PM EST
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that we should use care in not lumping all evangelicals into the dominionist camp. So it's a good thing that Jonathan did not do that.

As much as I think we all wish that Warren had lived up to his PR, what Jonathan has uncovered should remind us to look carefully before we believe.

I heartily agree that it is possible to confuse evangelism with dominionism and that this is an unfortunate occupational hazard. It is particularly unfortunate when the occupation in question is that of evangelist.

I agree that it will be interesting to see what, if anything, Warren has to say for himself.

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue May 30, 2006 at 05:04:54 PM EST
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Fred, and with all apologies to Mainstreet Baptist, whom I have come to respect very much, but I don't see the parallel between Rick Warren's anme on this product and your own fear that you would be associated with the actions or business practices of a member of your church. It appears that the business in question here was set up precisely as a marketing tool for Warren's grander schemes, and he could not possibly have let this game go to production without constant scrutiny and approval. We may only be able to infer such approval at this point, but the lines seem to be pretty well connected.
Shalom, Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer "Time makes ancient good uncouth; we must onward still and upward who would keep abreast of truth." from Lowell, "The Present Crisis"
by John Dorhauer on Tue May 30, 2006 at 04:25:38 PM EST
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I've heard this "guilt by association" comment many times before. It was used by the Senior Pastor of my former church whenever issues regarding the purpose driven drivel he wanted to impose upon the church came up. It's a tactic used by people who just dont want to face uncomfortable truths. I hope you are right & that it is proven that R.W. isn't involved in this project. However, his connections with other dubious "ministers" should cause us to be wary.

by Brother Detox on Sun Jul 30, 2006 at 01:29:12 AM EST
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The scary and sad thing is, I'm not entirely shocked at the fact that we now have "Spiritual Warfare GTA" being used as a recruitment tool for future dominionists.

This in itself is an interesting parallel with racist groups (yet again) as racist skinhead and Klan groups have been increasingly using first-person shooters as recruitment tools; it was probably only a matter of time before the "spiritual warfare" crowd did, too.

As an aside, I've posted an monster anthology in regards to this subject if people are interested (in regards to dominionist recruitment of youth and "stealth evangelism").

I also would not put Rick Warren in as being harmless.  Warren has been involved in "spiritual warfare" circles for some time, including blatant promotion of "bait and switch" evangelism.  The website Deception In The Church has been in particular been active in documenting links between Rick Warren and "third wave" neopente movements (including, frighteningly,links between Warren and David Yonggi Cho nee Paul Yonggi Cho, the very inventor of the "Brownsville Madness" at Yoido Full Gospel fully fifty years ago) in which "spiritual warfare" imagery is not only present but the very core of their theology.  In the same article, Warren is also linked to a plethora of dominionist groups with close ties to "spiritual warfare" movements.  A separate article at Let Us Reason also documents the extensive links between Warren and "dominion theology" neopentes in particular.

Warren's theology has led to forcible splits in churches, and experts in apologetics have noted Warren is essentially preaching a "warm and fuzzy" version of dominion theology.  This is in part because of adoption of practices in his own church, including public confession of sins; at least one review of "The Purpose Driven Life" has noted that hundreds of members of Saddleback Church have been disfellowshipped for "secret sins" or not being "active enough" in church affairs.  

Reportedly, Saddleback members also must sign a contract (called a "membership covenant"), are required to take indoctrination courses (in addition to regular church meetings),  and are required to join "cell churches". (These are all major warning signs of an abusive church group; cell churches in particular are almost infamous for going coercive.)

by dogemperor on Tue May 30, 2006 at 01:32:59 PM EST


The "membership covenant" (a copy of which is given in this article which interviews Warren and noted on Saddleback's own website) is particularly revealing:
The Saddleback Membership Covenant

Having received Christ as my Lord and Savior and been baptized, and being in agreement with Saddleback's statements, strategy, and structure, I now feel led by the Holy Spirit to unite with the Saddleback church family. In doing so, I commit myself to God and to the other members to do the following:

1. I WILL PROTECT THE UNITY OF MY CHURCH

...By acting in love toward other members

...By refusing to gossip

...By following the leaders

"So let us concentrate on the things which make for harmony, and on the growth of our fellowship together." Rom. 15:19 (Ph)

"Have a sincere love for your fellow believers, love one another earnestly with all your hearts." 1 Peter 1:22 (TEV)

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs..." Eph. 4:29

"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be no advantage to you." Heb. 13:17


All of these verses have been used for scripture-twisting to stifle dissent in churches.  Hebrews 13:17 has also been misused specifically to prevent criticism of church leaders and even "cell group" heads.

Interestingly, Romans 15:19 may be misquoted and Romans 15 is in general context of Christians supporting each other in the church; 1 Peter 1:22 is in general context of Christians leading a holy life in general and is part of an exhortation to "walk the good road"; Hebrews 13:17 is part of a much longer context exhorting people to keep the faith and including the basis of vows of charity in some Christian groups.

2. I WILL SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF MY CHURCH

...By praying for its growth

...By inviting the unchurched to attend

...By warmly welcoming those who visit

"To the church ... we always thank God for you and pray for you constantly." 1 Thess. 1:2

"The Master said to the servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes, and urge the people there to come so my house will be full.'" Luke 14:23 (NCV)

"So, warmly welcome each other into the church, just as Christ has warmly welcomed you; then God will be glorified." Rom. 15:7 (LB)


1 Thessalonians 1:2 is, in a distressingly common pattern, a scripture-twisting of a portion of a verse, and (ironically) of the opening that Paul gives in practically all of his letters to churches (the full greeting being: "1: Paul, Silva'nus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalo'nians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.  2:We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3: remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.").

Luke 14:23 is part of a monologue wherein Jesus  is in debate with the Pharisees and initially promotes the concept of humility (noting that it's better to do a good deed without expecting payback) and--in the specific section quoted--is stating this in context of a parable refusing admittance to people who made excuses in regards to attendance of a banquet (in this case, explicitly seen to be the kingdom of God).  (As an aside, Luke 14:25 is very commonly abused by "Bible-based" coercive religious groups and "spiritual warfare" groups.  This is in context to Jesus' conclusion that walking the "good road" is not an easy path.)

Romans 15:7 is again taken out of context, similarly to the previous verse in Romans 15.

All of these are heavily misused to promote the idea of getting more bodies into a church (including using deceptive means, if necessary).

3. I WILL SERVE THE MINISTRY OF MY CHURCH

...By discovering my gifts and talents

...By being equipped to serve by my pastors

...By developing a servant's heart

"Serve one another with the particular gifts God has given each of you..." 1 Peter 4:10(Ph)

"God gave...some to be pastors and teachers to prepare God's people for works of ministry, so that the body of Christ may be built up..." Eph. 4:11-12

"Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ...who took on the very nature of a servant..." Phil. 2:3-4,7


More scripture-twisting of specific sections:

1 Peter 4:10 is part of a general exhortation to remain sober, to use one's talents to support each other, and a reminder that "suffering is transitory", so to speak.  The following verse, 1 Peter 4:11, is commonly abused in scripture-twisting in "name it and claim it" groups.

Ephesians 4:11-12 is part of a longer monologue stating that all persons have a role in the church, and is in turn part of a longer discussion again imploring people to live a good life and to not fall to temptations.  (Again, we have a chapter where another series of verses are frequently misused; Ephesians 4:8-10 has been used to justify the "dominion theology" version of the "Harrowing of Hell"--the idea that Jesus spent three days in hell either being tortured or fighting Satan after being crucified.  This is especially popular in the "name it and claim it" circles.)

Phillipians 2:3-4, 7 is an interesting use of scripture-twisting by selective quoting.  The entire chapter is a lesson in humility; the excised portions (Phillipians 2:5-6) specifically state Jesus incarinated as a man-servant because humans cannot conceive of Jesus being equivalent to God.  Phillipians 2:14 has been used to stifle dissent in coercive churches.

Of particular note, all of these verses have been misused to push members towards increasing involvement in dominionist causes.  "High demand" coercive religious groups in particular misuse these verses and to push for "mandatory missionary" activity.

4. I WILL SUPPORT THE TESTIMONY OF MY CHURCH

...By attending faithfully

...By living a godly life

...By giving regularly

"Let us not give up the habit of meeting together...but let us encourage one another." Heb. 10:25

"But whatever happens, make sure that your everyday life is worthy of the gospel of Christ." Phil. 1:27 (Ph)

"Each one of you, on the first day of each week, should set aside a specific sum of money in proportion to what you have earned and use it for the offering." 1 Cor. 16:2

"A tenth of all your produce is the Lord's, and it is holy." Lev. 27:30


Note the mandatory tithing (more on that in a sec).

Hebrews 10:25 is part of a chapter that has been heavily scripture-twisted, and (in its appropriate context) is in regards to Paul speaking to the Jewish converts on how Jesus is the atonement for sins (rather than the sacrifices of old) and is in fact a lecture on salvation by grace.  (To show how often this is misused, it is twisted in almost identical fashion in a "stealth evangelism" manual promoted by Ron Luce.)  Hebrews 10:29-31 has been used to stifle dissent as "blaspheming the Holy Ghost" in some churches.

Phillipians 1:27 is in interesting regard of Paul noting that he is essentially a prisoner of conscience (and by being a prisoner of conscience advancing Christianity, as it was becoming acknowledged among the Praetorian Guard he was held due to his beliefs) and is in full context of telling the church to keep the faith whether or not he was released from prison.

1 Corithians 16:2 and Leviticus 27:30 have both been used to push for mandatory tithing in churches.  The actual context of both is rather different.

1 Corinthians 16:2 was in regards to collections for housing and care for when Paul was visiting and was in full context of Paul announcing he was going to be visiting the Corinthian church and possibly staying the winter.  (In other words, he was telling the church to set up a nest egg for his care so they wouldn't have to do special collections on his arrival!)

Leviticus 27:30 is in similar context.  At the time of Leviticus' writing, the priesthood was effectively the government of Israel; reading all of Leviticus 27 in context, it's obvious that the "tenth" is part of a system of formalised taxation specifically for the upkeep of the priesthood.  (In fact, modern Judaism promotes giving the ten percent formerly reserved for the priesthood's upkeep to tzedakah--offerings to charities for the poor.)  Several sources have also noted that early Christian churches did not tithe regularly, either.

by dogemperor on Tue May 30, 2006 at 02:20:41 PM EST

My former Significant Other (with whom I lived for 15 years) is a Reform Jew who has been part of the professional choir of a fairly large Conservative synagogue for the last 20 years. The way his shul works is that membership dues are assessed based on household income - I seem to remember it's somewhere around 2% - and "tzedakah" is over and above that. (At this point my impertinent side asks if buying State of Israel bonds counts or not - they sure push that, especially on the High Holidays - but my down-to-earth side knows that's ot the case. Back to our story.)

He himself has an interesting story: While his parents were never observant beyond not eating pork (with the one exception that his dad loved bacon and indulged in it fairly regularly, and his mom just shook her head put up with it) and keeping up some cultural aspects (such as lighting Yahrzeit candles on the anniversary of a loved one's death), they decided to send him to a weekend Hebrew-school program when he was in grade school. He did very well in everything, except that he flunked Tzedakah. His parents got so disgusted they pulled him out of  the program and that was that for his Jewish education.

Mind you, this is one of the most generous, compassionate, giving people I've ever known (as his parents made a point of raising him to be). But he didn't do Tzedakah "the right way" so they flunked him. Go figure!


by anomalous4 on Fri Jun 09, 2006 at 10:43:17 AM EST
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I have to admit that I was not certain that FDNY ambulances didn't have "911" on their roofs, and that the author of this piece might not have been reading something into the appearance of those freighted digits that wasn't there... I Googled for images of the tops of FDNY ambulances and came across this:

http://www.lowcountrynow.com/images/042102/full_firefighter.jpg

Which shows such an ambulance featuring the customary six-armed paramedic star on the roof. Again, I don't necessarily buy the author's assertion that the game's makers put 911 on the game's ambulances specifically to call up the memory of 9/11 -- nor do I deny its possibility. They made a decision to put the emergency phone number on the roof, which just so happens to be that infamous date.

by land on Tue May 30, 2006 at 05:28:40 PM EST


The date that this video game scheme was hatched may provide some clue to the thinking of its organizers.

I don't think it much of a stretch to see this as a dispensational pre-millenialist response to 9-11.

Jerry Falwell's well publicized comments on Pat Robertson's 700 Club about who was at fault are being graphically reinforced in a video game.  

It would be interesting to see if Warren parrotted Falwell's comments blaming 9-11 on "abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America."


by Mainstream Baptist on Tue May 30, 2006 at 06:17:26 PM EST


I've always considered video games to be mind-numbing "entertainment" overall.  In particular, first-person-shooter games tend to de-sensitize users to the violent acts that are virtually committed on the small screen.  
One would think that any religious household (of whatever faith those people may be) would simply not purchase items that endorse senseless acts of hate and criminal violence.  
The easiest way to defeat a company or an industry that markets goods of questionable or poor taste is by hitting that industry in the pocketbook, after all-- NOT by competing with it.

The Dominionists, unfortunately, do not see what kind of fire they are playing with when they decide to make and market games that encourage kids to commit murderous acts.  

by Heathen1 on Tue May 30, 2006 at 07:21:12 PM EST


According to reports, this article has been featured on BoingBoing (which probably accounts for the tons of traffic we are getting right now)--I won't be shocked if Fark also picks it up, either.

Anyways, to those of you joining us from BoingBoing, welcome, and hopefully you'll find a lot of stuff here to educate you as to the threat from dominionism and inspire you to take action to take back your country.

by dogemperor on Wed May 31, 2006 at 01:57:29 PM EST


You are on a mission - both a religious mission and a military mission -- to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state - especially moderate, mainstream Christians.

Where is this info from?  This is pretty inflamatory stuff to say that.  Are there any references to different groups listed above in the game?  Can't find them on the company's website.

by Waldo on Wed May 31, 2006 at 02:53:28 PM EST

The source for the game in question is no less than Tim LaHaye's "Left Behind" series of books, which are a fictionalisation of "dominion theology" premillenial dispensationalism (as promoted by the Assemblies of God and neopente churches) and in particular the dominion-theology mythology surrounding the "Tribulation" (a seven-year period in which the Antichrist is supposed to have sway on the earth between the time of the Rapture and the end of the world proper).

The book starts out by dominionists (and only dominionists) being raptured up and the series features the stories of a few "post-rapture" convertees to dominionism--notably, again, only dominionists and "messianic Jews" are promoted as being truly Christian.

In the last book, "Glorious Appearing", Jesus literally comes down from Heaven to whoop ass, including literally cleaving non-dominionists in twain--this at the literal Armageddon, where the ragtag band of "remnants" literally fights off everyone else.

This particular game is based off the "Left Behind" books and follows the plotline (both of the books, and of "dominion theology" premillenial dispensationalism) closely--and, yes, in the books, people of other faiths DO get it in the end.

LaHaye himself is a hardline dominionist and has been promoting the particular flavour of dominionism popular in the Assemblies and other pente groups since the early 70's; in fact, LaHaye  has been a member of multiple dominionist groups, is one of the co-founding members of the Coalition on Revival, and his wife (Beverly LaHaye) runs Concerned Women for America.  Their vociferousness towards non-dominionists need only be read in their literature.

This article in Pharyngula has written on the subject, and DefCon America and Theocracy Watch have good backgrounder on this particular movement in dominionist thought.  Yurica Report has done a number of good articles as well, including a recent history of hard dominionism that notes its roots in the Scofield Reference Bible--the same source that premillenial dispensationalism and "young earth" creationism were popularised in.  (Seeing as entire sects--notably, the Assemblies and other neopente groups promoting dominion theology--essentially based much of their core theology off the Scofield Reference Bible, it's not an exaggeration to say that the ultimate roots of dominion theology may lie there.)  Katherine Yurica has also done an excellent expose of LaHaye himself.  Ther e is a second expose out by a conservative (non-dominionist) Christian that goes deep into LaHaye's history of promotion of dominionism.

In regards to the source material (the "Left Behind" books), Joe Bageant has written an excellent exposure of the actual meaning of those books; Nicholas Kristof also details the "all save dominionists are damned" imagery (up to and including quotes from "Glorious Appearing").  As far back as 2000, the now-defunct Institute for First Amendment Studies was reporting on the "to hell with all non-dominionist" imagery in the novels.

Isebrand.com has a good article on how books like "Left Behind" are directly influencing US policy in many ways.

Slactivist has an excellent running review and criticism of the entire Left Behind series (it's very extensive, so be prepared for a lot of reading!)

There is actually a small entertainment industry around the "Left Behind" books, including two movies generally regarded as abysmal.

For more info on the particular flavour of dominionism that LaHaye et al promote, I've written an intro guide.  (I myself am an escapee of a group that promoted the sorts of things fictionalised in the "Left Behind" books before they made best-seller books about it.)

by dogemperor on Wed May 31, 2006 at 04:37:40 PM EST
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While the above categories of people are not named in the video, they are certainly a representative sample of those are who will inevitably be "left behind" after the rapture and living in New York City, where the action video is set.

If you are not a Christian of the correct sort, and not otherwise up to snuff, you are not raptured. The physcial battle is among those who don't make the rapture: The sinners and unbelievers, and members of the wrong Christian sects.

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed May 31, 2006 at 04:48:37 PM EST
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I read this article, then I went out to actually research the game, something that no one else here seems to have bothered to do.  Despite what numerous posts are saying, the game is not an FPS (First-person Shooter), it is an RTS (Real-Time Strategy) game. The two genres are very different in presentation, method and the way they're played.  There is no running around and slaughtering people of different ethnicities, religions, or sexual alignments.  

"This game immerses children in present-day New York City -- 500 square blocks, stretching from Wall Street to Chinatown, Greenwich Village, the United Nations headquarters, and Harlem. The game rewards children for how effectively they role play the killing of those who resist becoming a born again Christian. The game also offers players the opportunity to switch sides and fight for the army of the AntiChrist, releasing cloven-hoofed demons who feast on conservative Christians and their panicked proselytes (who taste a lot like Christian)"

Contrary to what the above article states, killing is not encouraged or even the point of the game.  

IS there killing? Yes.

But...

In the game that is a secondary action, a byproduct of war as opposed to a purpose.  If anyone here knows anything about RTS games, the whole point of them is to manage certain resources in order to build up your own forces.  In this particular RTS, one of those resources is 'Spirit,' a resource that actually decreases as killings happen.  And, as spirit decreases, your troops will actually defect to the other side.  The objective is converting neutrals (and the enemy) to Christianity, not killing them.  

While that may seem wrong to some, it is kind of the point of the whole 'Great Commision' thing.

Regarding the whole switching sides thing, yes, it is possible (in multiplayer only!) to play the side of the Antichrist.  Do you summon demons to slay your enemies? No.  They show up when the Spirit resource gets too low.  They attack the enemy, and then they turn on you.  

The game does not reward evil behaviour.

Further, each and every character in the game has a name and backstory.  This is not like all the other RTS games where one soldier is the same as all the others.  This games gives you an indepth and ongoing life story for every character, making every death a personal one, a tragic one.  

Is the game good and healthy? Possibly not.
Is it as bad as it has been presented here? No. Not even remotely.

Read some of the game previews, or, even better, all of them:

http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/928956.asp

Regarding the whole Rick Warren thing.  Come on!! The Left Behind series, as overwritten and unimpressive as it is, sold more than 50 million copies.  Do you honestly think that this game needs Rick Warren at all?


by truth999 on Wed May 31, 2006 at 06:11:18 PM EST

I can't address all of the particulars of this except to say that you are wrapped up in the details and have lost perspective.

The threat to convert or die is exactly the pointof this post.  There is no substantive difference between this and the Spanish Inquisition -- when the Jews were forced to convert or die -- or flee the country if they were lucky.

Sorry "truth," this game is more than a game. It is an indocrtination scheme for religious warfare. All Americans should be rightfully concerned.

by Frederick Clarkson on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 01:59:57 AM EST
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The point is this: the game is not about a 'convert or die' mentality.

Comparing a video game...  A VIDEO GAME... to the treatment of Jews during the Spanish Inquistion is ridiculous.  

If it was an indoctrination scheme, if it was truly blatant in its religious imagery, then it would receive far more judgemental previews from the largely anti-Christian gaming press.

One of the key points in every article I read was that the game does not "beat you over the head with its message."  

Condemn it as a violent video game. Fine.  But condemning it as "an indoctrination scheme for religious warfare" is both premature and reactionary.

by truth999 on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 02:24:54 AM EST
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You acknowedged in your first comment that that is exactly what it is. Convert them and failing that, kill them. I'll stick by my analogy.

Tim LaHaye, Rick Warren and the gang absolutely have a religious as well as a business agenda. If the reviewers who have examined this so far don't know enough about the subject to see that, that does not mean that it is not true.

The Left Behind series is about post rapture religious war in the end times, and so is the video.

by Frederick Clarkson on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 04:33:57 AM EST
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My first post acknowledged that there was, in fact, killing in this game.  That is part of an entire genre of video games based around strategically manipulating your forces to defeat the enemy. In this particular game there are two sides.  This is a fairly standard military arrangement.  

The player converts neutrals.  Killing the neutrals that remain neutral is akin to shooting oneself in the foot, as the player would be cutting off one's troop resource.  Yes, the player fights, and may end up killing, those who go to the enemy's side, but this is the same as any military situation wherein a former bystander has made the choice to join the enemy camp and is now coming at you with a gun.  Yes, it's militant.  But it's militant in a fantasy quasi-postapocalyptic setting.

The enemy that is fought is on the side of the Antichrist, but there are actually specific units on the Christian side designed for the conversion of those enemies.  As I stated earlier, the killing will actually decrease the player's  troops' abilities.  It is an inherently negative thing.  It is not the point of the game.

The idea of killing as bad in an RTS is foreign, which makes this game stand out.  The concept of recruiting troops from the general populace, making the player actually care when characters die is, again, something new and novel for the genre.

If you are condemning the concept of Christians attempting to convert people to their viewpoint, you are condemning a core aspect of Christian belief.

And of course they have a religious agenda! And it comes before their business agenda, or it should if they're as Christian as they claim.  That doesn't mean that a video game will result in masses of dominionist paramilitary converts, or any, for that matter.

Yes, that is what the Left Behind series is about.  I have, however, yet to hear any of those people being condemned make claims that the rapture has happened, making the scenario presented in either the books, videos, or this game nothing remotely close to a real situation.

If this game came out from Cavedog Entertainment without the words "Left Behind" in the title, and with no direct connection to prominent religious figures there wouldn't be a mention of it on this site.

Finally, I think you underestimate the sensitivity of the largely agnostic and/or atheistic gaming press (writing for a largely agnostic and/or atheistic gaming public) to underlying Christian messages in the game.  Your assertion would make it seem obvious that you remain largely out of touch with this segment of the population.

by truth999 on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 12:47:47 PM EST
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"Your assertion would make it seem obvious that you remain largely out of touch with this segment of the population." - well, there are many specialized subcultures out there. It must be quite a job staying in touch with them. Gamers might not be exactly our target constituency, but we certainly do not want to alienate them. Perhaps Talk To Action needs a full time paid liason for that task.

"If you are condemning the concept of Christians attempting to convert people to their viewpoint, you are condemning a core aspect of Christian belief." - Is conversion now done at gunpoint ?  I can't keep track of all these newfangled trends. There's only so much time in a day.

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 03:56:02 PM EST
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Quite frankly, I don't care about the game very much.  I'm not overly concerned about it. I have no personal stake in it and will, I suspect, neither play it nor speak to anyone that does.  I will, however, make a specific point of following the news and reviews as they arise.

I had hoped to present a voice of something resembling reason and, at the least, neutrality, in a forum thread that seemed painfully biased, woefully underresearched, and sensationalist.  

Apparently, that is precisely what is desired by the inhabitants of these forums, as none of the points I raised were addressed in anything but the most condescending and simplistic manner.

Is it any wonder that I have only ever lurked in forums for the duration of my time online?

The sad thing is this: I dislike Rick Warren immensely in large part due to his research and quotation methods.  Perhaps he has no choice, as his opponents are no better in that regard.

by truth999 on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 05:05:42 PM EST
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The sad thing is this: I dislike Rick Warren immensely in large part due to his research and quotation methods.  Perhaps he has no choice, as his opponents are no better in that regard.

It's a pretty big Bible... Warren could probably find appropriate quotes, or, if there isn't one that fits just right, decline to include one instead of doing the "..." dodge.

You always have a choice to do the right thing -- some folks choose not to when it gets in the way of their agenda.  Which is why we have to keep our eyes open.

by mwsmedia on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 07:09:30 PM EST
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I find the concept of this game disturbing enough without exaggeration.  If someone can find evidence that the game actually promotes slaughtering of people of different ethnicities, religions and sexual alignments, please post this.  But the above posting (not the one I'm responding to) drawing out all such offensive material in the book series does not mean that the game is necessarily the same way.  I have looked at a fair number of sites, and I can't seem to find any evidence that this is the case.  Mr. Hutson writes a very dramatic opening that is sure to grab attention, but it is unfortunately irresponsible in its unsubstantiatable (is that a word?) claims.

As an evangelical Christian myself (but not fundamentalist and not dominionist as the word seems to be used on this site) I find the game--to the degree that it has been revealed, anyway--very very disturbing for other reasons.  A few of the many points: it is an exceptionally problematic move to quantify "spirituality" (whatever that means); to think of conversion as a forced, mechanical process is repulsive and not at all in line with the core teachings of the faith; to use this approach to conversion as a justification for violent warfare is exceptionally dangerous.  

All of these critiques are based on what we verifiably know about the game.  I don't see why we need to add speculation about the content to be alarmed.  If you want to critique such a thing and not give the objects of your critique room to get off the hook, you had best stick with what can actually be proven.  As it now stands, the people who need to hear critical thoughts--the game makers and the churches who will be part of the marketing machine (also very disturbing to me)--will be able to blow this off as another exaggerated and misinformed attack.  Of course, if the critique is well-formed, it may still get blown off, but the better constructed it is, the more likely you are to reach someone.

by A Person on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 02:01:30 PM EST
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Beyond that question, you are setting a standard of proof here which currently is probably impossible to meet :

" If someone can find evidence that the game actually promotes slaughtering of people of different ethnicities, religions and sexual alignments, please post this."

To meet your criteria for "proof" we would need - to start with - an actual case of mass killing that ensued after the game hit the market, and then the ability to somehow separate out a nearly infinite number of other cultural factors from the mix.....

Oh, then we'd need control groups - in a mirror, parallel reality or dimension, perhaps,  so that we could observe the impact of the lack of this game.

So - as you can see - such a standard can never be met.

But if you stick to your position you'll also have to acknowledge that you'd be arguing in theory that "Holocaust" reenactment video games, where players might, for example  assume the roles of guards at Auschwitz or Treblinka would be quite harmless - Or, for that matter, that video games reenacting the Rwandan Genocide, where one could endless hack up people with a machete, were perfectly innocuous.

But, I don't think you really want to say that.

by Bruce Wilson on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 07:50:02 PM EST
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I take the idea of "evidence" far more loosely than you seem to think.  I apologize if I gave the sense that I was looking for some kind of empirical scientific proof.

What I'm saying is: has anyone on this site actually played the game?  If you haven't (and I haven't), then how can you say with certainty that something's there?  If there's no press release to that effect, if the game-maker hasn't said anything about it, if... etc., then how do we know?  It might be there, it might not.  We'll know soon enough--the game's coming out in the next 6-9 months.

The issue is not one of protecting the producers of the game (I hope that's clear from my above posting).  It's just an issue of not founding a whole series of critiques on something that might not be there.  I would hope this is obvious.

But to belabor the point, this is exactly the criticism that is often leveled at various types of moral alarmists.  A big hue and cry goes out about some kind of filth in a movie or comic book or game or whatever, and one of the first questions that defenders of the work ask is "well, have you seen it?"  And often--shamefully--the answer is "no."  I kind of think the same standard should apply here.  And like I said, there's plenty to dislike already!  There's plenty to motivate whatever kind of action against it that the author may wish to motivate without making stuff up.

by A Person on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 11:08:58 PM EST
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True, Jonathan has not yet seen the game. But his sources are the company's own promotional materials and credible, usually friendly reviews of the product. And there are links in this story to the key sources.

So rather than Jonathan, it seems to me that you are the one who is a bit challenged in the evidence department.

You accuse the author of "making stuff up" and make a false analogy to unnamed moralists who denounce things without having read or seen them.  

What is your evidence that the author has made anything up? And exactly in what way is this piece, which is copiously sourced, like unfounded, unsourced screeds by moralist censors?

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 11:20:03 PM EST
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Did you click through on his sources?  I did.  I looked at all the ones I could find that had anything to do with people shooting gays, Jews and Catholics, and none of the articles said anything like that.  None of the game previews I've seen have said anything like this.  The website does not say this in its feature list.  The trailer does not say this.  In fact, everything I've read seems to say that this is not the case.

Again, maybe there is proof--it's not outside the realm of possibility.  That's why I asked in my original posting whether anyone had any.

by A Person on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 11:32:32 PM EST
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in this thread and in part II.

To summarize.  After all the good Christians have been raptured out of NYC (and the world), who is "left behind"?  

It is the sinners and the unbelievers, of course. These include, but are not limited to Catholics, Jews, Moslems, atheists, gays and lesbians of course, and the insufficiently correct Protestants.  

The game does not put these identities on the unsaved New Yorkers. But as the sources clearly state, the characters are given the choice to convert or be killed.  And when they are killed, the characters say "praise the lord!"

This is not much of a leap to say in the context of the premillenial dispensationalist culture (or "market"), the meaning is clear and will be read right in by the users. In fact, I think it is head-in-the-sandism to pretend that those left behind do not have different religious and sexual identities than bear the stamp of approval by Tim LaHaye. We are talking here about the marketing of an entire line of "products" based on the novels, which though fiction, are presented as true and fair depictions of how it will be in the end times. And this view is widely supported among serious premillenial dispensationalists.

This product is based on a specific set of beliefs, that have been turned into a product line. One can take the product out of that context and pretend that the context doesn't exist or is irrelevant. But then we have a problem of not seeing the forest for the trees.

You can study the tree all you want and opt not to notice that there is a forest. And that forest and all of the trees in it are living in real time.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 12:12:36 AM EST
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If someone can find evidence that the game actually promotes slaughtering of people of different ethnicities, religions and sexual alignments, please post this.  But the above posting (not the one I'm responding to) drawing out all such offensive material in the book series does not mean that the game is necessarily the same way.

It is actually quite simple.  If all of the good Christians in New York City (and worldwide) are raptured, and those "Left Behind" in NYC are left to fight it out, who do you suppose they are?  Those deemed sinners and unbelievers  including, but not limited to Catholics, Jews, Moslems, atheists, gays and lesbians and the incorrectly Protestant.  

The "evidence" you seek is self-evident. The faceless have faces -- even if the video game would leave them without identities. The video carries the name brand of the Left Behind series. To argue that it has nothing to do with the book is disingenuous.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 08:11:16 PM EST
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I think you're possibly right, but again, this argument still amounts to a guess that could be proved wrong.

The reason I say this is the feeling I get from the game previews (I think I read three or four) and the game trailer and the website is that they don't specifically identify the unsaved in the game.  I think there's just three camps: the saved, the undecided, and the evil.  I don't think the evil (or undecided) are specifically marked.

Now, you can argue "well, who else?  especially based on the book?"  Fine.  But if the game doesn't actually specifically target various minorities and favorite conservative target-groups, then it's hard to accuse it of that.  Basically, it becomes a much more open page--it can be read in many different ways.  It could be read that way, and almost certainly will be by many.  But it may be read in many different ways.

Of course, you may find the whole concept of dividing humans into 3 camps to be problematic, and it's something (especially in this context) that I find a little distressing, to be honest.  Again, I'm not defending the game.  I'm just saying don't brew a firestorm on the basis of something you're going to have to retract.

by A Person on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 11:17:22 PM EST
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I read your posting more carefully again.  I just think that saying "it's got the Left Behind brand, so it must have all the same implications" is a dangerous argument.  It's not that you're entirely wrong.  Clearly the game will carry the baggage of the books in some sense.

But I do believe that all texts have interpretive flexibility, and the more open-ended it is written, the more room it leaves for multiple interpretations.  I think to say otherwise disrespects media users.

I also think that using this argument in a non-friendly forum will get chopped very quickly.  "Is it there?" they will say.  And you'll say "It's obvious that because of the books..." And they'll say "Is it there?" And you'll have to admit "No" and the point is severely weakened.  So, make the connection, but don't state boldly, like Mr. Hutson did, that material is in the game when it is not.  It's a valid connection to make--it just shouldn't be asserted in a way that's not correct.

I understand where you're coming from, and if you don't think my points are valid, then we'll just have to agree to disagree.

by A Person on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 11:28:04 PM EST
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I invite you to challenge a single fact instead of making hypothetical arguments.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 11:58:28 PM EST
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in Part 4 of this series, Christian Cadre's Layman: 'A Whopper of Being Wrong'

by jhutson on Wed Jun 14, 2006 at 10:41:55 AM EST
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hey guy's i've got news for ya. Catholics are Christians too.

by BIGK49 on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 03:01:18 PM EST
Are Catholics Christians. Depends. See...http://www.carm.org/catholic/saved.htm

by Brother Detox on Sun Jul 30, 2006 at 02:28:31 AM EST
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Aside from the connection to Rick Warren being extremely tenuous, this article misrepresents what the game involves. Read this neutral review from PC Gamespy:

http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/left-behind-eternal-forces/700684p2.html

Players aren't competing to kill the enemy army -- rather, they're trying to save them, and each person killed represents a failure rather than a success. "We found that adhering closely to Biblical philosophies made the game more interesting rather than less," Lyndon said. "One of the key elements of that is to make sure that the player sees that every life is important and precious."

I mean, I object to treating people as objects for salvation, but trying to convert people is a long, long way from "mass killing" and "blowing away the infidels".

by Cynic on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 08:22:59 PM EST

You need to listen to voices other than your favorite gamer magazine to get a clearer view of the world around you.  

Jonathan Hutson has consulted far more sources than you have, and has arrived at a carefully considered conclusion that all Americans would be doing themselves a favor to hear and to understand instead of reflexively putting their hands over their ears and saying "nah, nah, nah, I can't hear you."

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 09:03:24 PM EST
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If Mr. Hutson has, as you say, "consulted far more sources than you have," why is there exactly one linked source in this article that is actually about the game itself from a third party perspective: the LA Times preview. The only other source used is the company site.  

You chide Cynic for only referencing one third party source, but that is exactly the same number that Mr. Hutson mentions.

if Mr. Hutson has more sources that provide more information, I would love for him to produce them.

Otherwise, you are the ones "putting their hands over their ears and saying "nah, nah, nah, I can't hear you.""

by truth999 on Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 11:24:20 AM EST
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As the site owner, I must ask if you support the purposes of this site?

As for Mr. Hutson and his sources, I am familiar with his research and I know for a fact that he has consulted a great many sources on this. He is under no obligation to link to every source he uses.  His work has stood up very well and not a single fact or the substance of his analysis has been successfully challenged. I think that it likely continue to be the case. When he returns he can decide to repond further if he chooses. I suggest that you read part II in the meantime.

And please answer my question.

 

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 01:22:45 PM EST
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Well, if this is the purpose of this site:

"Talk to Action is a platform for reporting on, learning about, and analyzing and discussing the religious right -- and what to do about it."

then yeah, I'm down with that.  I feel that it is every citizen's job to comment on those who are skewing views one way or the other.  I am a huge fan of honest analysis and discussion regarding any large movement, be it the religious right, the liberal left, or the apathetic middle.  

Where things are being misrepresented or are just plain wrong, I feel that those issues need to be addressed, though usually I leave that to others.  

In this article's case, I feel that Cynic, A Person, and myself have all presented valid indictments of the original article, indictments that have repeatedly been ignored, seemingly because they diminish the validity of the article.  There are enough negative things about this game that the article could have been honestly and accurately presented (also called journalistic integrity), and still resulted in an outcry against it.  

In academia, it is generally required that one provide one's sources.  In journalism it is not; though, from what I've studied, unless you've sworn to keep a source secret, there should be no problem with the author revealing the other sources he has used.

by truth999 on Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 05:13:48 PM EST
Parent

It seems to me that rather than yours and others challenges going unanwered, you happen to disagree with Hutson's presentation and analysis and don't like the answers you have recieved.  And that is fine.

But come on, don't hide behind sourcing. Someone above read a few reviews that view the matter differently. Woo Hoo.  

The reason I ask whether you actually support the site's purpose is because the way you are aproaching strikes me as trollish and unconstructive.

You say:  

Where things are being misrepresented or are just plain wrong, I feel that those issues need to be addressed...

These are not "issues." These are accusations.  

Name something that has, in fact been "misrepresented" and make your case.

Name something that is in fact "wrong"  and substantiate it.

Since you are now snidely challenging the integrity of the author, seems to me it is put up or shut up time for you.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 06:36:31 PM EST
Parent

I just spent the last two and a half hours (as of 12:30pm EST) writing a response for you, then hit something (I think it was tab) and lost everything!!

Crap.

Alright, here we go again.

To begin, the concept of me as a troll. Just to clear the air on that.

Wikipedia describes a troll like this (see the first sentence and the section entitled "Vicious Circles"):

A troll is someone who comes into an established community such as an online discussion forum, and posts inflammatory, rude or offensive messages designed intentionally to annoy and antagonize the existing members or disrupt the flow of discussion.

In forums where most users are similar to each other, outsiders may be perceived as trolls simply because they do not fit into the social norms of that group. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between a user who merely has different values, views, or ideas, and a user who is intentionally trolling. This can lead to genuinely hostile behavior, including flame wars.

I came to this site via a link sent to me by a friend.  I assume he thought that I would find it amusing.

My first instinct was to look and see if either the article or its source was put up on April 1st, April Fool's Day, as numerous game sites put up amusing fake games on that day.

My second instinct was to look and see if the site was a genuine satire site, in the tradition of the legendary Landover Baptist.

Apparently not.

So, I was curious to see if the game was as bad as the author made it sound.  Starting at the site I linked to in my first post, I attempted to learn everything I could about the game.  As I went along, I grew increasingly amazed at the claims made by Mr. Hutson.  Coming back to the site and browsing these comment boards, I noted that additional errors were being made, with no one bothering to correct them.  As a critic and editor at heart, I saw fit to join your forum in the hope that I could add a realistic and moderate voice.  

I was careful to read your site's purpose statement before agreeing to it, and found that yes, the Religious Right does need a reasonable alternative voice to its common ramblings.

I made my first post with the intent of correcting a few misleading statements in the article (detailed point by point below). I attempted to be polite and respectful, with, I think, only my comment on Rick Warren classifying as anything remotely trollish.  

What response did I receive? I was ignored and, later, the recipient of mocking condescension.  Had mwsmedia not posted a reasonable reply, I would have likely not posted again.

And then, joy! Someone else who held the moderate view... and that person was shot down.  Then another... and that person was shot down.

I grew increasingly cranky and somewhat rude, and here we are.


"Put up, or shut up," as you say.

I choose put up.

Yes, I "happen to disagree with Hutson's presentation and analysis," in large part because of blatant misrepresentations in his article, which I will deal with, point by point.  

I am dealing with the game alone, as that is where my research has been done, and obviously I can only work with the information that I have.  I will label each point dealt with as either a) speculation, b) half-truths, or c) blatant misrepresentation.

Imagine: you are a foot soldier in a paramilitary group whose purpose is to remake America as a Christian theocracy, and establish its worldly vision of the dominion of Christ over all aspects of life.

Misrepresentation:

The game is, as I mentioned before, an RTS, not an FPS (if the game let the player play from an FPS perspective as a single foot soldier, this would be in the features list. It is not.).  The player does not take on the role of any single foot soldier.  The game is played from a top-down perspective and the player controls all his or her troops in the game, from soldiers to doctors to saints.  

Further, the game is set in a time after the Antichrist has come to power and established his "Global Community."  In this new establishment, America is merely a puppet nation under this new leader's control.  The player, rather than attempting to "remake" anything, is attempting to save lives and souls while defending his or her own troops against the forces of the Antichrist.

You are issued high-tech military weaponry, and instructed to engage the infidel on the streets of New York City

Misrepresentation/Half-truth

Technically, the player is the one building and handing out the guns.  Further, engagement is not at the military level, except in self-defense. More on this is a moment.

You are on a mission - both a religious mission and a military mission -- to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state - especially moderate, mainstream Christians.

Speculation

Of all the sites searched, none specifically mention the exact nature of the neutrals' race, religion, or sexual orientation.  While the Left Behind series of books likely maintains that members of each of these groups is 'Left Behind,' the exact nature of this group in the game remains unstated, execpt insofar as they were not practicing Christians at the time of the rapture, and they have not yet joined the "Global Community."

Misrepresentation

One may note that both Catholics and moderate Christians find their way on to Mr. Hutson's list.  One may note however, that the figures given for the rapture are at about 1/3 of the Earth's population, or about 2 billion people. The game site, in mentioning the stories mentions billions as having disappeared (second paragraph, first sentence).  This lines up with the Current figures of how many Christians are in the world, approximately half of which are Catholic.

Misrepresentation

The mention of "anyone who advocates the separation of church and state" is mere pandering to this site's visitors, as it is unjustified by the Left Behind story, and pre-millenial tribulation views in general.  In the book series, Nicolai Carpathia claims that he is god, and sets up a single world religion alongside his single world government.  Technically, the Antichrist becomes the ultimate symbol of the unification of church and state, while the "Tribulation Forces" are opposing this.

All who resist must be taken out with extreme prejudice

Misrepresentation

The game does not encourage killing.  While killing happens in the game, the player loses points, and possibly troops, whenever he or she kills anyone, be it by accident, in cold blood, or in self-defense.  The neutrals will, I suspect, resist to some extent the conversion attempts by the player (this just seems logical in order to add a challenge factor to the game). Regardless, if the player kills these people, he or she will a) lose potential troops he or she already has, b) lose potential troops he or she may gain later (by converting neutrals) and c) possibly end up sending some people to the enemy's side.

Killing is always punished in the game.

This game immerses children in present-day New York City -- 500 square blocks, stretching from Wall Street to Chinatown, Greenwich Village, the United Nations headquarters, and Harlem.

Half-truth:

The game is set in near-future New York, not present day.  While the game aims for a realistic portrayal of the city, it is not set in the here and now. Further, this is New York under the domination of the Antichrist, thus, no UN, as it has been replaced by his "Global Community."

The game rewards children for how effectively they role play the killing of those who resist becoming a born again Christian.

Misrepresentation

First, the game has no role-playing elements (at least, none revealed to the press. As with the FPS element mentioned above, this would be a selling point, and as a result would be in the promotional material).  
Second, as mentioned above, the player is punished, not rewarded, for killing anyone, even in self-defense.

The game also offers players the opportunity to switch sides and fight for the army of the AntiChrist, releasing cloven-hoofed demons who feast on conservative Christians and their panicked proselytes (who taste a lot like Christian).

Half-truth

It is only possible to play on the side of the Antichrist during multiplayer.  The single-player campaign (aka. in gaming circles as "storymode") is exclusively available as the "Tribulation Forces."

Demons show up whenever the spirit level gets too low.  This happens if the player is on the 'good' or 'evil' side.  If the 'good' player kills too many people, demons show up.  Further, the demons will kill anyone close to them, be they good, evil, or neutral.  Demons are uncontrollable

______________

There are a couple of other repetitions of the whole killing everything and everyone ouevre, but you get the point.  

Regarding that whole "hiding behind sources" thing, I have been completely open with my source material.  If Mr. Hutson has sources regarding this game that substantiate some of the assertions that I have found misleading, I would gladly examine them.  
That's not "hiding behind sources." It's called journalistic integrity, or academic honesty. Take your pick.

_______________

Now, as to supporting the purpose of the site, I think the key thing to consider here is this: "What will do the religious right the most harm?" or "What will have the most effect on what the right-wing makers of this game are attempting?"

The article, as it stands now, will draw attention. Unfortunately, that attention can easily be redirected into anger at your misrepresentations by smart right-wingers.  They will say that you've played up the negative elements and create this sort of list, and they'll probably defend Rick Warren somehow.  The sheep, aka, the moderate right-wingers, the people the game is really aimed at, will calm down and say "Oh, well, that's alright then.  It was just leftist hysteria." And, instead of drawing them to your end, you've, sadly, pushed them away.  

Meanwhile, this game has a whole list of features that are, or should be, inherently unsettling to its target audience.  If emphasis were placed on these things, then you would undermine the right to the point that they have nowhere to go.  

First, the game does have violence.  You don't need to exaggerate this fact to make it abhorrent to Mr. or Mrs. Casual Christian, the target audience. This works particularly well against those Christians that adhere to total pacifism.  What you need to do is emphasize that it takes place. Emphasize, as Mr. Hutson did in his second article, that the bodies don't quickly fade away.  You have to be careful with this one, or they'll point out that the bodies thing only plays up the horrors of war and makes it more realistic, in a negative way.

Second, as 'A Person' above mentioned: quantifying spirituality? What's that about? How do you purport to do that? Any attempt at this is insulting to anyone of faith.  Again, something that can be played up as an issue in dealing with the moderates.

Third, you can play as the Antichrist's forces.  Even if only in multiplayer this is a disturbing prospect.  Strike at this obvious pandering to the mainstream market.

Fourth, angels come down and trade scrolls for money.  Read it again and then tell me your average Christian won't get apoplectic about it.

Fifth, New York? You briefly mention the 9/11 thing, but this is, potentially, one of your strongest arguments.  In the game, war is happening over several hundred realistically portrayed blocks of New York.  Buildings are destroyed, including recognized landmarks.  How insensitve can the makers be?

The key to all of these is that they must be presented subtly and quietly.  

Remember: those who ignore yelling strain to hear whispers.

There.  A bit of reporting, a bit of analysis & discussion and even a bit of what do to do about the right, at least where this game is concerned.

by truth999 on Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 02:27:40 PM EST
Parent

I don't have the time at the moment to field all your objections - I think I'll leave that one to Jonathan Hutson.

But, it is the stated hope of the game's maker to win a "six and above" rating.

As far as your later objections, I've got a lengthy bit addressing those on Hutson's other post which I may add here too, but I'd like to quickly address one of your later points here :

New York? You briefly mention the 9/11 thing, but this is, potentially, one of your strongest arguments.  In the game, war is happening over several hundred realistically portrayed blocks of New York.  Buildings are destroyed, including recognized landmarks.  How insensitve can the makers be?

Well, the game's makers can be insensitive enough - apparently - to conclude their promotional trailer for the video game with a vista ( the one shown by Hutson ) that appears extremely similar to NYC the evening following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

I would not call that a shining example of senstivity. Quite the opposite - it's grotesque.

by Bruce Wilson on Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 04:27:52 PM EST
Parent

That question regarding sensitivity was rhetorical.  Had you read the entire post, or even that entire section, it should have been obvious from the context.  I was simply pointing out how little attention that potentially huge negative aspect of the game actually received.

by truth999 on Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 08:21:35 PM EST
Parent

I would also like to know where - in any of my posts - I have said that this game is appropriate for children?

Or, for that matter, where have I posted that the game is in fact good? Please provide me with a quote, and its context.  

by truth999 on Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 08:27:44 PM EST
Parent

First, on the question of whether the game should be marketed to 6 year old children, well.... are you saying it should be marketed to 6 year olds ?  You seem to have acquainted yourself with the relevant details, so I assumed you were aware the game's makers hope for a "ages six and up" rating.

So, do you approve of the game ?  If not, you're spending a great deal of time defending something you don't support.

Imagine: you are a foot soldier in a paramilitary group whose purpose is to remake America as a Christian theocracy, and establish its worldly vision of the dominion of Christ over all aspects of life.

Misrepresentation:

The game is, as I mentioned before, an RTS, not an FPS (if the game let the player play from an FPS perspective as a single foot soldier, this would be in the features list. It is not.).  The player does not take on the role of any single foot soldier.  The game is played from a top-down perspective and the player controls all his or her troops in the game, from soldiers to doctors to saints.

Oh, I think you underestimate the imaginative power of children.  

Further, the game is set in a time after the Antichrist has come to power and established his "Global Community."  In this new establishment, America is merely a puppet nation under this new leader's control.  The player, rather than attempting to "remake" anything, is attempting to save lives and souls while defending his or her own troops against the forces of the Antichrist.

Mmmm.... "saving lives and souls". Oddly - or regretably - there are an awful lot of bodies lying around in the streets after everyone in the city has been either converted to Christianity or killed. Shame about that.

You are issued high-tech military weaponry, and instructed to engage the infidel on the streets of New York City

Misrepresentation/Half-truth

Technically, the player is the one building and handing out the guns.  Further, engagement is not at the military level, except in self-defense. More on this is a moment.

Here's the description of that aspect of the game, from the LA Times :

""Left Behind: Eternal Forces," which debuts today at the expo,
features plenty of biblical smiting, albeit with high-tech weaponry....
In the game, Tribulation squads unleash the usual arsenal against the
Antichrist: guns, tanks, helicopters."

OK, moving right along...

You are on a mission - both a religious mission and a military mission -- to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state - especially moderate, mainstream Christians.

Speculation

Of all the sites searched, none specifically mention the exact nature of the neutrals' race, religion, or sexual orientation.  While the Left Behind series of books likely maintains that members of each of these groups is 'Left Behind,' the exact nature of this group in the game remains unstated, execpt insofar as they were not practicing Christians at the time of the rapture, and they have not yet joined the "Global Community."

New York City happens to be one of the more ethnically and religiously diverse cities in the world. The game is set in NYC.

As far as the separation of church and state goes..... well let me put it ths way : I don't think religious crusades, with forced conversions of entire populations on pain of death, are especially effective in establishing secular government.

Misrepresentation

One may note that both Catholics and moderate Christians find their way on to Mr. Hutson's list.  One may note however, that the figures given for the rapture are at about 1/3 of the Earth's population, or about 2 billion people. The game site, in mentioning the stories mentions billions as having disappeared (second paragraph, first sentence).  This lines up with the Current figures of how many Christians are in the world, approximately half of which are Catholic.

Well, what about Unitarians and UCC members - do they get "raptured" too ? Or lapsed Catholics ?  And what about members of the Unification Church ?

While you're at it, why don't you just throw out a truly inclusive "big tent" and extend "rapture" rights to everyone so that violent, hateful games like this are unecessary because no one is excluded ?

If you're saying that ALL Christians are supposed to get "raptured", well then the "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" videogame depicts a violent crusade against Jews, Muslims, Buddhist, atheists.....

OK, have it your way.

Misrepresentation

The mention of "anyone who advocates the separation of church and state" is mere pandering to this site's visitors, as it is unjustified by the Left Behind story, and pre-millenial tribulation views in general.  In the book series, Nicolai Carpathia claims that he is god, and sets up a single world religion alongside his single world government.  Technically, the Antichrist becomes the ultimate symbol of the unification of church and state, while the "Tribulation Forces" are opposing this.

Generally, people who support the separation of church and state aren't much interested in being forcible converted at gunpoint which - as far as I can tell - is what happens to them in the world depicted in "Left Behind". Or, they're blown away.

All who resist must be taken out with extreme prejudice

Misrepresentation

The game does not encourage killing.  While killing happens in the game, the player loses points, and possibly troops, whenever he or she kills anyone, be it by accident, in cold blood, or in self-defense.....

Killing is always punished in the game.

Well, leaving aside the "prejudicial" qualities of tanks and military helicopters... are you saying that people in the game get blown away with "loving kindness" ?

So, you're saying this is a masochistic video game, terribly unpleasant to play really because it involves tremendous amount of killing, and that the killing is just a sad accident which happens along the road to the conversion of everyone in the city to a particular brand of Christianity ?

Or, would this be some sort of Christian sadomasochistic video game [suitable for 6 year olds] that makes the players suffer - because of all the inherent regrettable killing  - as they play generals commanding paramilitary troops that exclaim "praise God!" while blowing people away, or watching and suffering as demons "feast on the faithful" ?

Gotta wonder about those demons - there must be some special touches there, in the "feasting on the faithful" - maybe some suggestive smacking noises by the demons or shrieking on the part of the devoured - that haven't been mentioned in reviews. But, then, I suppose the demonic feasting has been rendered in an age-appropriate way suitable for young children.

But, if the game "does not encourage killing", well then..... the promotional stills released by the game's makers have sent a very, very deceptive message to the American people, with all those bodies piling up in the streets, and they should be ashamed about their deceptive advertising practices.

While we are on the subject, why do you think the Christian paramilitaries exclaim "praise God!" when they kill opponents ? I'm not saying it's bad to praise one's God but it seems a little odd to me, praising God from behind  the smoking barrel of a gun, over a twitching  corpse.

Silly me, I must be hypersensitive.

This game immerses children in present-day New York City -- 500 square blocks, stretching from Wall Street to Chinatown, Greenwich Village, the United Nations headquarters, and Harlem.

Half-truth:

The game is set in near-future New York, not present day.  While the game aims for a realistic portrayal of the city, it is not set in the here and now. Further, this is New York under the domination of the Antichrist, thus, no UN, as it has been replaced by his "Global Community."

The makers of the game filmed the current NYC for the backdrop. It's not set in the "here and now" ?  -- Ummmm... it just happens to be set in a future which looks exactly like the here and now !

Coincidentally.

The game rewards children for how effectively they role play the killing of those who resist becoming a born again Christian.

Misrepresentation

First, the game has no role-playing elements (at least, none revealed to the press. As with the FPS element mentioned above, this would be a selling point, and as a result would be in the promotional material).  
Second, as mentioned above, the player is punished, not rewarded, for killing anyone, even in self-defense.

So, its not an FPS game - well then, might the players be sort of like Serbian generals directing a sort of ideological or religious "cleansing"  against the residents of New York City ? Oh yes, I'm forgetting ! -- all those bodies depicted in the streets are sad collateral damage, quite regrettable, and this is a gentle and moralistic game depicting the religious "cleansing" of NYC.

Yes, that's it.

The game also offers players the opportunity to switch sides and fight for the army of the AntiChrist, releasing cloven-hoofed demons who feast on conservative Christians and their panicked proselytes (who taste a lot like Christian).

Half-truth

It is only possible to play on the side of the Antichrist during multiplayer.  The single-player campaign (aka. in gaming circles as "storymode") is exclusively available as the "Tribulation Forces."

Demons show up whenever the spirit level gets too low.  This happens if the player is on the 'good' or 'evil' side.  If the 'good' player kills too many people, demons show up.  Further, the demons will kill anyone close to them, be they good, evil, or neutral.  Demons are uncontrollable.

Well, OK - bring a friend. Although I assume creative kids would just play both sides. Children are clever that way.

So, one has to be careful to 'pray' a lot between killing lest one deplete one's "spiritual armor" and thus be devoured be demons ? Doesn't that make prayer-recharge sort of like reloading one's gun ? - "kill kill kill ! ......pray pray pray..... kill kill kill !....pray pray pray...." and so on ?

"Demons are uncontrollable." - well, yes - that's supposed to be in the nature of demons, I've heard, and - in a manner of speaking - I think this sort of videogame might release a few demons but not of the virtual kind.

There are a couple of other repetitions of the whole killing everything and everyone ouevre, but you get the point.  

Regarding that whole "hiding behind sources" thing, I have been completely open with my source material.  If Mr. Hutson has sources regarding this game that substantiate some of the assertions that I have found misleading, I would gladly examine them. That's not "hiding behind sources." It's called journalistic integrity, or academic honesty. Take your pick.

I was actually wondering about your mention of "scrolls for money" - do you have a link to that ? I haven't encountered it anywhere, and it  sounds interesting.  

by Bruce Wilson on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 11:54:03 AM EST
Parent

Finally, I receive a thorough response.

My comment that seem to defend the game are simply with relation to the way the game is presented in the article compared to the facts known about it, as presented in the many previews that I have read.

Nothing I read gives me the "convert to my side or I'll kill you" impression.  I get the "convert to my side or you'll end up on the enemy's side, and then I'd hate to have to kill you" impression.  A subtle, yet significant difference.

What difference you ask?

Well, since we're so fond of overblown analogies: soldiers in Israel, ideally, are not randomly shooting Palestinians that are not specifically in favor of the Israeli presence.  The soldiers will, however, shoot those same people if the Palestinians come running, with guns, at the soldiers.

If you don't see the distinction, that's your worldview.

Should the game receive an ESRB rating of 'E'? Certainly not.  The game should be a 'T' rating, possibly even an 'M,' not that that means a whole lot, since most parents are too busy to be parents and don't pay attention anyways... but that's a whole different rant

But then, you really don't want this game to receive an 'M' rating.  Why, you ask? Well, 'M' is more marketable to mainstream teens, as it has the forbidden levels of violence factor working in its favor.  'T' can slip under the radar as too mild for most teens, while being too harsh for many of those the game is marketed at.  It would be win-win from the perspective of those that want the game to fail.

Regarding this:

So, one has to be careful to 'pray' a lot between killing lest one deplete one's "spiritual armor" and thus be devoured be demons ? Doesn't that make prayer-recharge sort of like reloading one's gun ? - "kill kill kill ! ......pray pray pray..... kill kill kill !....pray pray pray...." and so on ?

I assume that the game probably has 'kill-limits' on a per level basis, or, at the least, makes even single kills require a Hell of a lot of praying to make up for the depleted spirit caused by the killing, thus rendering your suggested scenario moot. Even more fascinating would be having levels on which the player is expressly forbidden from killing.  

That's all speculation, however, based on what one computer gamer would consider essential to making this game interesting and challenging.  Otherwise it's a boring generic RTS, but worse because of its religious messages.

And the angel thing, quoted here,

In my demonstration, I watched an angel descend and take the scroll's figurative Biblical quote (1 Corinthians 15:37 "When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.") and translate that into a gift of money -- which, all things considered, made him the coolest angel ever.

is from the Gamespy article, pg 3.

Regarding the "Praise the Lord" thing.  I only recall seeing that quote in the LA Times article that Mr. Hutson used.  The exact context is not given, so it may be a simple case of hearing the phrase after completing a level, or as one converts someone, as opposed to it happening as one actually kills.  The media has been known to take things out of context for more effective quotes, once or twice.  Again, speculation on my part, hence the reason I didn't mention it in my previous post. I like the post above that suggested the troops should say "Lord, forgive me," or somesuch, when killing happens.

by truth999 on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 03:19:40 PM EST
Parent

Some of the debate about the accuracy of Hutson's work is missing the point (on both sides).  Still, there is agreement and that would be a good thing to focus on.

Criticize his reporting techniques because he points out broad implications that are not explicitly cited from the game.  Perhaps, but you should realize that this is not a simple report, it is an opinion article with a clear point of view that is not bound to reporting the plain facts.

Rebut the critics for not embracing what seem like logical conclusions to many on this site.  Sure, but you miss the really big point then (which Truth999 already alluded to):
This discussion has caught on to a larger audience for which inaccuracies, even if only apparent, will translate to lost credibility.

This game story is the sort of thing I certainly want to make people aware of.  I am an atheist (formerly x-ian right) with some far religious right family members and co-workers.  I'm very glad I didn't just echo Hutson's account to my friends, family and co-workers without learning more or I may have been embarrassed.  

There will be people that read his article only and just parrot what he said without knowing the nuances of what is or isn't explicit in the game.  As Truth999 points out, their arguments will easily be diminished and they will be seen as reactionary exaggerators as the debate devolves to the semantics debated above (and they won't be as good at rebuttals as some on this site are).

This game is abhorrent when taken at face value.  Why?  Because it necessitates bigotry to win and all non-Christian characters in the game will be killed...  This may be seen as justifiable to people who believe that this game foreshadows reality.  For the rest of us, this is amazingly honest evidence of the Christian Rights' radical nature.  

What other religious group could get away with a game on this scale that depicts their religion converting or destroying all others?!?  Make the game about Muslims passionately trying to convert people or having (reluctantly of course) to kill them and I  would bet on a fire storm of protest throughout the West resulting in the game being banned in many places.  And I would have made that bet pre-9/11 too.

For me this game will be an illustrative tool with which I can demonstrate the bigotry of right-wing Christianity to my moderate friends.  Unfortunately, nothing will phase the Christian-right people in my life, but I think they will balk at the game and have to struggle, just for a short while, to reconcile their objection to the game with their belief that it depicts a real future.

(As for Mr. Warren, I am interested in his role and hope more evidence surfaces, but as an atheist, my credibility is far too fragile to risk on the current arguments about his ties to the game.)


by aarrrggghh on Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 10:00:08 PM EST
Parent


"Nothing I read gives me the "convert to my side or I'll kill you" impression.  I get the "convert to my side or you'll end up on the enemy's side, and then I'd hate to have to kill you" impression.  A subtle, yet significant difference."

truth999, I don't find that to be a signficant distinction. Here's why:

"Left Behind: Eternal Forces" depicts a totalistic, manichean struggle in which it is not an option to be a neutral party. That is built into the logical fabric, that all the civilians either are converted to Christianity or are killed.

There are "nicer" ways to say "convert or I'll kill you" - the argument against that phrasing would be that it ascribes muderous intent to the person saying it.

The game narrative presents the Christian paramilitaries as having no choice : they must fight. And - of course - being Christian they don't want to kill anyone - they want to help people. Regrettably if the Christian forces prevail, everyone who does not convert will wind up dead.

So one way of putting this - within the game's own narrative structure - might be "please convert, or eventually we'll find each other on opposing sides and I'll be forced to kill you."

OK, that's the theory

Reviewer Greg Bauman of the WarCry Network writes, about the game:

"One thing many gamers will likely find disturbing about Left Behind, though, is the black-and-white polarization of good and evil portrayed. The faithful are good, and the undecided are (decidedly) bad or evil.The only way to accomplish anything positive in the game is to 'convert' nonbelievers into faithful believers, and the only alternative to this is outright killing them." - Bauman agrees : the (Christian) faithful are good, everyone else is bad or downright evil. Period.

Now, turn off the rationalizing - look only at images from the game.

Look at those pictures I've posted :

Those images were promotional and seem to show armed forces firing directly on unarmed civilians. And, the bodies littering the streets - How did they die ? Caught in crossfire ? It's hard to tell.

Then, the Christian forces shout praise to God when they kill someone. That seems a bit on the nasty side. What's that all about ?

Then, another reviewer:

"As my peacekeeping Hummer and some of my followers rolled down Sixth Avenue, the Christians outflanked me and started firing, immediately taking out several of my nurses."

What sort of message would the average 6 year old kid playing this game get from that ? - Well, I'd say they'll learn that it's OK, in principle , to kill medical personnel in war. So much for the international rules of engagement and the Geneva Convetion.

So, what's woven into the ideological, narrative fabric of the game ? -Well journalist Craig Unger, who has travelled as an undercover journalist with Tim LaHaye, to the Middle East, writes:

"As befits the manifesto of a counterculture, the Left Behind series is a revenge fantasy, in which right-wing Christians win out over the rational, scientific, modern, post-Enlightenment world. The books represent the apotheosis of a culture that is waging war against liberals, gays, Muslims, Arabs, the UN, and "militant secularists" of all stripes -- whom it accuses of destroying Christian America, murdering millions of unborn children, assaulting the Christian family by promoting promiscuity and homosexuality, and driving Christ out of the public square."

I'm sure Unger would second me here - I would call "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" a graphical expression, somewhat sanitized but still essentially violent, of the "revenge fantasy" Unger describes.

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 11:34:26 AM EST
Parent

Notice that most of the civilians in the game don't seem to have faces.

Some of the dead ones do. Most - and few of any of the women seem to have faces.

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 11:36:41 AM EST
Parent



truth999

Thankyou for your thorough research of the game, and generating the responses you have.  It's been very informative, about a lot more than the game.

To the others of you who have responded to truth999:

I was pointed in the direction of talk2action by a member of a UK discussion forum.  I had said I thought a UK documentary showing harsh bigoted right-wing Christians unfairly demonised evangelical US Christians. I imagine he thought reading your articles would convince me otherwise, but I fear he will be disappointed.

You criticise Dominationism for failing to engage in nuanced intelligent debate, but aren't you guilty of exactly the same thing here. If truth999 is correct that there are serious factual errors in this article, isn't that important?

If you don't care about the accuracy of this article, how can I, or anyone else, take any of the articles in this site seriously?

The game may be nasty, manipulative, violent, but that isn't the point.  I've never played it, never read the Left Behind series, and probably never will, so I doubt I'll ever find out.

The point is, if truth999 is accurate, and I've yet to hear any of you catch him in a factual inaccuracy, you should correct the article, and issue an apology.  If not to show integrity and fairness to the makers of this game, then to protect the reputation of this site.

by tawek on Fri Jun 09, 2006 at 02:04:12 AM EST
Parent

My criticism is not meant to be destructive, as I hope is clear from my posts in http://www.talk2action.org/story/2006/5/26/83129/0021

by tawek on Sat Jun 10, 2006 at 12:44:32 AM EST
Parent

and these critiques are rebutted in Part 4 of this series, Christian Cadre's Layman: 'A Whopper of Being Wrong'

by jhutson on Wed Jun 14, 2006 at 10:45:09 AM EST
Parent

tawek, you seem not to have read my point by point rebuttal to truth999's objections. truth999 thanked me for meeting those objections head on and yet you claim they weren't addressed.

This demonstrates, I think, the dangers of leaping into a discussion without first learning the context.

by Bruce Wilson on Wed Jun 14, 2006 at 01:59:59 PM EST
Parent













why do the players say "Praise the Lord" after killing an opponent? Why not "Lord forgive me"?

and most of all why go back to the bad old days like in the middle ages where those who refused conversion to the version of Christianity liked by the powers that be were killed? this is what horrifying about this game. It was not that long ago that there were Christian extremists perpatrating great atrocities in the name of God. It greatly concerns me when any group leans in this direction. History has a nasty way of repeating itself after all. Humanity today is just as capable of great evil in the name of good today as that of decades and centaries ago. the only difference is today the possible vastness of horror based on the techonlogies of our time if even one person decides to act out a game like this.

by chiaroscuro on Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 02:21:17 AM EST
Parent

"I'm sorry I had to shoot you. It was, regrettably, unavoidable."

or...

"Jesus weeps when we kill unbelievers."

by Bruce Wilson on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 12:00:06 PM EST
Parent




Let's change the focus here for a moment. The people behind this game seem to be the same sort of people who wail and gnash their teeth at games like Grand Theft Auto, et al, for all the violence and supposed anti-social behavior. So, their answer is to create a violent, anti-social video game of their own?! And they wonder why the world is in such a state!

by seawind0721 on Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 06:12:50 PM EST
That's the beauty of the topic - because of the bipartisan campaignl by both the US left and right, to banish excessive violence, depictions of nudity or sex, and profanity from music and network TV, the makers of "Left Behind : Eternal Forces" really can't wiggle out out the territory.

There it is, in the promotional stills they themselves released to promote the game - corpses piling up in the streets.

The hypocrisy is especially rank given their stated hopes of earning a "suitable for ages 6 and above" rating for the game.

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 12:06:00 PM EST
Parent

Everybody seems to be yelling about "sex/nudity and violence," but it's obvious which one is the real target............ What, killing people for entertainment is OK but seeing something as ordinary as someone taking their clothes off as a matter of course - never mind making love with (by me it's not "to" - sex is not something you do "to" someone, it's mutual, but that's a whole 'nother subject) them - is bad?

Admittedly sex should not be a spectator sport, but gratuitous murder and mayhem shouldn't be either!

I call it "Poltergeist Syndrome." In that movie, a guy watches in horror as his face in the mirror seems to disintegrate in a most gruesome manner, but later on when mom goes to take a bath, things are oh-so-discreet - you just see clothes dropping to the floor.

What's wrong with this picture (and I'm not just referring to the movie), that people can take their skin off but not their clothes? Is it OK to dismember people, but not if they're naked? Remind me to go around naked so no one will tear me limb from limb...............


by anomalous4 on Fri Jun 09, 2006 at 12:37:38 PM EST
Parent




Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, and Purpose Driven Ministries have no connection whatsoever to the "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" video game. They have not endorsed it, have no intention to promote it, and in fact have never even seen the game. Also everyone familiar with Rick Warren's writing and teaching knows that he completely rejects and even opposes "dominion theology."  Please make this correction.

My personal involvement with the game was from a request by some friends who asked for my advice as a businessman. Whatever one thinks of Rick Warren, neither he, nor his network have anything to do with that game.

Mark Carver


by mcarver on Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 01:51:00 PM EST

As noted before, don't spam.  Spamming = same thing lots and lots of times.  Spamming = bad.  Spamming = highly likely to get you kicked off Talk2Action despite possible benefit of debate.

Anyways, a few questions that I've not addressed in previous posts:

a) How do you reconcile your activity with Left Behind Games as a marketing consultant (who has been reported in multiple reliable sources--including  a report in Newsweek Magazine dated March 6, 2006--as explicitly planning to promote the game in megachurches including Saddleback Church) with your membership as organisational director for Saddleback?

(This is a concern mainly because of 1) potential conflict of interest and 2) the potential that this is damage control.  The relevant quote from the article for your records:

Left Behind Games CEO Troy Lyndon, whose company went public in February, says the game's Christian themes will grab the audience that didn't mind gore in "The Passion of the Christ." "We've thought through how the Christian right and the liberal left will slam us," says Lyndon. "But megachurches are very likely to embrace this game." Though it will be marketed directly to congregations, Forces will also have a secular ad campaign in gaming magazines.

(emphasis mine)

b) There have been a number of persons--only posting in the threads regarding Rick Warren--whose solitary purpose has been to denigrate the posters, claim the article is completely inaccurate (though sourced from multiple mainstream media sources), and in general posting for the sole purpose of attacking the article and the writers without offering any definitive proof otherwise that is verifiable by a third party.  (Several of those persons have already been removed for violations of the site guidelines.)

I will ask the same thing here--do you have verifiable proof (as in verifiable by a third party) that Saddleback Church is in fact not affiliated with this game and will not be involved in the marketing thereof?  

c) Per the marketing pages for Left Behind Games, your name and in particular your association with Saddleback Church is being used to market the game:

Mark Carver, Advisor

Mark Carver is the Executive Director for Purpose Driven, the leadership/church growth training arm of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, one of the largest churches in America with a weekly congregation in excess of 10,000. Prior to joining Purpose Driven, Mr. Carver was a partner in Elliot Capital, an investment banking firm. Mr. Carver holds a B.A. in Philosophy and an MBA from the University of La Verne.


In fact, you are apparently one of only two persons explicitly linked with religious organisations listed as advisors (the other being the executive director of Bright Media, a group that is a branch of Campus Crusade for Christ).  Why has Saddleback Church not given an official request to Left Behind Games to stop using their name if they are so against "spiritual warfare" theology?

d) One note that has been specifically mentioned in the article--and is verifiable in an interview with Rick Warren by David Kuo for BeliefNet on page 4 of the transcript--is that Rick Warren has promoted "stealth evangelism" as a legitimate method of recruitment of converts.

"Stealth evangelism" has a history of use by primarily highly abusive groups, is explicitly promoted by groups involved in "spiritual warfare" and dominion theology, and is regarded by most cult experts and even apologetics experts as highly deceptive and a potential sign of a spiritually abusive group.  

I recently reviewed a manual produced in 1995 by Ron Luce's "Teen Mania Ministries" (you may be familiar with them as the group holding the "Battle Cry" rallies in several major US cities) that detailed extensively the use of deceptive and abusive methods that not only would place teens using them in danger but were likely to drive people away from Christ.

My questions are:
i) are the tactics used by Rick Warren in "stealth evangelism" the same as used in the "RIOT Manual" as published by Ron Luce?

ii) Seeing as Ron Luce's Teen Mania Ministries is explicitly a "spiritual warfare" organisation and in fact is explicitly dominionist, if the answer to i) is "yes", how do you reconcile this with the claim that Rick Warren does not promote dominion theology?

(As backgrounder, "spiritual warfare" theology is in fact based on basic tenets stemming from dominion theology, a concern that has been raised by many persons who have seen the rise of "spiritual warfare" theology in such groups as the Brownsville Revival.)

iii) If the "stealth evangelism" promoted is not the same as described in Ron Luce's "RIOT Manual", please explain how the term is used in theory and in practice in Saddleback.

For your reference, here is the relevant quote:

So for the last two years, underground, stealth, we have been working on this PEACE Plan. We've been developing a prototype of it in 47 countries. We won't let anybody do the PEACE plan by themselves. You have to do it in a team, in community.

There is an additional quote from an article by Dennis Costella in Foundation Magazine that also gives similar concern after having attended a conference at Saddleback Church in January of 1998:
As Warren indicated in a closing prayer, the impact of the Saddleback experience is extensive, to say the least: "Thank you that there is a movement, a stealth movement, that's flying beneath the radar, that's changing literally hundreds, even thousands of churches around the world."


by dogemperor on Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 03:46:08 PM EST
Parent
Would this be "Purpose Driven Stealth" ?

"Stealth Driven Purpose?"

by Bruce Wilson on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 12:01:54 PM EST
Parent

One does seriously wonder, LOL :3

In all seriousness, though, there is a reason I ask and push on the "stealth evangelism" stuff--seeing as that was a tactic that was developed in the very same "spiritual warfare" circles who likely WOULD be having six-year-old kids playing the "Left Behind" games as a sort of training.

I'm honestly going to be surprised if I do receive an answer to my queries, but we'll see at any rate. :3

by dogemperor on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 09:21:52 PM EST
Parent

To operate in "stealth mode" - by definition - implies that one has sometime one hopes to conceal from the general public.

by Bruce Wilson on Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 01:48:58 PM EST
Parent
That should be "something" rather than "sometime"

by Bruce Wilson on Wed Jun 07, 2006 at 01:49:51 PM EST
Parent






As a young person new to all these crazy passions people apparently get in into, I find it hard to believe that this much stink has been made over a video game.

I'm a Christian (don't eat me :P), and I don't find much wrong with the game (besides bad graphics, slow gameplay, and suffering from some extreme cheesyness). I've only spent an hour or so with the demo, but game characters' answers to thier situation seems pretty natural to me. Especially assuming that the Christian's beliefs are correct and the rest of the world is literally going to hell unless they do something about it.

In a world where they are clearly the underdogs (have you read the books?), are oppressed, and not permitted to even voice thier views, the Christians have to go against the law because the law is hurting people (sending them to hell). When the government comes after them, they have 4 choices, convert the government agents, kill them, join them, or be wiped out completly. This is a step up in my opinion from the classic video game standard of "kill or be killed", they introduced the option of talking to your enemy. The order of preference this choices are in from a gameplay perspective are: Convert, Kill, Die, Join. Not sure if the gameplay mechanics allow it, but if Dieing would/could allow multiple Conversions via some stiffly mechanical marter sysem (it is a video game after all), it would be preferable to killing (and it still might be, if you think that the bad guys can be reasoned with later on). Killing somebody who's not trying to convert or kill you is a stupid idea gameplay wise, and you'll easily lose the game if you do that.

I think killing somebody who is trying to convert you is an absolutely horrible idea in real life, but unfortunatly it does makes sense gameplay wise. This is because in the game the characters don't actually have choices. This is unrealistic in that it makes conversion (to either side) a literal, rapid, and complete brainwashing, sci-fi style (btw, the Christians, don't know about the GC, sound an aweful lot like the Borg, from Star Trek if you have a 3+ of them selected. Made me laugh and made me sad at the same time, but anyways...). If your little character is standing around listening to an opposing message, they will convert, no if ands or buts. Running is only a temporary solution, there's really nowhere to go. Faced with killing somebody, or being forceably brainwashed (no chance of resistance) into believing whatever they told you, what would you do?

In short, I think most of the game characters' actions are understandable, particularly due to the unrealistic compulsion they have to believe anything anybody talks about for a period of 30 seconds or longer. Of course, it only makes sense if the either one of the beliefs of the characters, Christian or GC (God is God vs. The Antichrist is God) are true. If not then of course both positions are senseless, and happen to include violence, therefore making a lot of senseless violence.

by Peregrinati on Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 05:33:39 PM EST


Submitted by bright:    Its creators expect it to earn a rating of T for Teen. How violent is that? That's the rating shared by Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell - Chaos Theory, a top selling game in which high-tech gadgets and high-powered weapons - frag grenades, shotguns, assault rifles, and submachine guns -- are used to terminate enemies with extreme prejudice.

Could such a violent video game really break through to the popular culture? Well, it is based on a series of books that have already set sales records - the blockbuster Left Behind series of 14 novels by writer Jerry B. Jenkins and his visionary collaborator, retired Southern Baptist minister Tim LaHaye.


by bright on Sat Oct 21, 2006 at 09:02:08 AM EST


McChurch, the drive-through, fast-food temple of the Christian Right, scores another win in pop-Christian marketing...

Gone are the inconvenient doctrines of the Sovereignty of God, the authority of Scripture, the presence of the Kingdom of God and the Lordship of Christ...In their place is a transgender America, the last, best hope for the world, dressed in the white rainment of the confessing church...

Of all the possible scenarios that have run through my mind regarding the prostitution of the evangelical church, I must confess that I never dreamed it would become the "spirit of antichrist."

Stan Moody, Christian Policy Institute, author of "McChurched: 300 Million Served and Still Hungry."

by Stan Moody on Mon Feb 12, 2007 at 08:35:14 AM EST


I don't play these types of games nor recommend them to anyone. The best, least expensive Google keyword tool and backlink finder can be found at Google Keyword Tool

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by BuenokSA on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 08:50:50 PM EST

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by xcoolx on Sat Oct 22, 2011 at 05:10:01 AM EST


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When John Hagee opens his mouth, you expect to hear lunacy.  An appearance earlier this month on TBN was no different.  On Friday, People for the American Way stumbled on a special prophecy-focused edition......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Doug Phillips Resigns From Vision Forum over "Inappropriate Relationship"
Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum earlier this week, citing an "inappropriate relationship."   Phillips posted an announcement on the Vision Forum website, stating, There has been serious sin in my life......
Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)

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