Violent Video Game Marketed Through Mega-Churches (Part 2)
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Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 04:49:57 PM EST
A top aide to mega-church pastor Rick Warren is advising the makers of a children's video game in which characters kill New Yorkers while shouting "Praise the Lord." When children tire of converting or killing New Yorkers, they can switch sides and command the demonic armies of the AntiChrist, and kill the conservative Christians. The real-time strategy game, slated for release in October 2006, is based on the best selling series of Left Behind novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. The web site of Left Behind Games states the involvement of Mark Carver on its Advisory Board. This web-based marketing tool also highlights his role as Executive Director of Mr. Warren's Purpose Driven Church. What appears to be going on here is an old-fashioned business practice called "endorsement by association."

This is the story that Talk to Action broke on Memorial Day, and it has drawn significant interest from the blogosphere. Dozens of sites have linked to the original story, including Pandagon, The Agonist, The Center for American Progress, Air America, and two "Daily Dish" items by Time magazine's Andrew Sullivan.

Links from Crooks and Liars and BoingBoing drove so much traffic our way - we've seen 40,000 visitors in one day alone - that our site server temporarily crashed, twice. But the good news is that we were born again and are now coming back for a second story. There's more tasty outrageousness to bite into, with a surprise in the middle: a marshmallow center of mega-church merchandising.

Strap on your seat belts and hold onto your dashboard Jesus, because the story of how this violent, theocratic video game is being network marketed through pastors and churches only gets deeper and stranger from here. But bear with us as we wade into the corporate mindset of mega-church marketing; the long, strange trip will be worth it.

Along the way, we'll point out four remarkable, man-made features like giant, painted, concrete cowboys along Route 66 - wondrous to behold, and worth a closer look.

First, we'll meet the designers of Left Behind: Eternal Forces and learn what kinds of "Christian stuff" and "cool stuff" this game features - like rotting bodies of New Yorkers piled high on city streets. Seriously: it's a game feature. You cannot make this stuff up.

Second, we'll meet the spiritual warfare practitioner and celebrated management consultant who shaped Mr. Warren's life over the course of more than 20 years. Yes, although Mr. Warren is hailed as "America's minister," he's actually a businessman and a disciple of the most famous management guru of the 20th Century.

Third, we'll meet the man who directed the marketing plan that drove Mr. Warren's book The Purpose Driven Life to the top of best seller lists. And we'll hear the surprising story of why Mr. Warren tried to censor this man's how-to book on network marketing, which treats churchgoers as customers, and converts customers into evangelists for corporate products.

Fourth, we'll find out what Mr. Warren means when he compares his corporate management and marketing practices to an Intel operating chip. Holy Motherboard of God!

All the Christian Stuff, and All the Cool Stuff

Left Behind Games executives Troy A. Lindon and Jeffrey S. Frichner told the Los Angeles Times of their plans to build buzz for Left Behind: Eternal Forces by distributing 1 million sample discs directly through churches nationwide. This is a sign that their approach follows the same marketing strategy that Mr. Warren used to ramp up early sales numbers for his international best seller The Purpose Driven Life. The L.A. Times reports:

" 'Left Behind' has the Antichrist, the end of the world, the apocalypse," said co-creator Jeffrey S. Frichner. "It's got all the Christian stuff, and it's still got all the cool stuff."

That's why industry watchers predict that titles like "Eternal Forces" will find a broader audience in the same way Christian houses of worship like Pastor Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in Lake Forest have attracted followers -- in part by not being overly doctrinaire.

"The reason that I think this game has a chance is that it's not particularly preachy," said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities. "I will say some of the dialogue is pretty lame -- people saying, 'Praise the Lord' after they blow away the bad guys."

Okay, so we've got Christian paramilitary forces loose on the streets of New York, fighting to turn the United States into a theocracy, and shouting "Praise the Lord!" as they blow away those who refuse to convert. In the virtual world of Left Behind only the conservative Evangelical Christians were "raptured" - spirited into heaven for the big Super Bowl party and skybox seats to the ultimate battle between absolute theocracy and the absolutely AntiChrist. So who's "left behind" to blow away? Catholics, mainstream moderate Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, suspiciously well-groomed men, lesbians, and conservative Evangelicals who are closet gays. (As Congressman Barney Franks (D-Massively Funny) has said, "Throw the gays out of church? Who do you think has been playing the damn organ all these years?") Blowing away these good folk ("Praise the Lord!") - is that supposed to be the "Christian stuff" or the "cool stuff"?

How about this nifty game feature: the bodies of slain New Yorkers don't disappear after a battle, and no one gives them a decent burial. Instead, the festering corpses just keep piling up: left behind. Is that "Christian" or "cool"? Or how about this: The game portrays the United Nations - hello again, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Catholics, and Jews - as the headquarters of the demonic forces of the AntiChrist, who is spawned by DNA from two gay lovers (hello, Greenwich Village!). So nice to see you all, my errant, resisting brothers and sisters. BLAM! BLAM! "Praise the Lord!"

Mr. Lynch explains in an interview with the video game industry site GameDailyBiz how parents can spend quality time with their children by sharing the joys of infidel cleansing, paramilitary style. He also avers that violence and Christian entertainment naturally - and profitably -- go hand in hand.

"Left Behind Games was established on the belief that given the choice, people will voluntarily choose games with positive moral elements. We just need to make sure the Christian games are as fun to play as other games. Only one of the top twenty grossing movies of all time was rated R, and that movie was The Passion of the Christ.

"It is my opinion that Christian games can only make a positive difference in our culture if they portray the Jesus of the Bible; a caring loving person who didn't come to condemn, but to save. This message will reach our youth...and the best way we can show the youth we care, is by spelling love as TIME. As parents, we need to be connected with our kids and video games provide a great opportunity for us to do this on a regular basis."

Oh, "positive moral elements," is it? "Caring and loving" quality time? Then how does he explain that his game allows children to switch perspectives and command the  demonic soldiers of the AntiChrist, who (I'm not making this up) feast on the Christians. How is that caring and loving? What kind of quality time is that? What deity are the Dads and lads supposed to praise as the demonic forces at their command drink the blood of Christian theocratic militia members?

Just how crass is it for a children's "physical and spiritual warfare" game to be set in New York City, where billows of smoke roil from downtown skyscrapers, and ambulances all have "911" painted on their roofs? In real life, these ambulances would have a red cross or a paramedic star on top, not a "911". But Left Behind Games was created in October 2001 -- the month following the tragedy of September 11, 2001. So maybe the game designers had that on their minds when they created a game that has New Yorkers being killed by paramilitary fighters shouting, "Praise the Lord!" That's not a far step removed from the terrorists who slammed planes into the World Trade Center, shouting, "God is great!" And speaking of the World Trade Center, with its billows of smoke and people holding hands as they leaped to their deaths... This is actually hard to write. I went to New York University School of Law; I have close friends who saw the flames, the smoke, the bodies and body parts heaped on the street. That's the stuff of post-traumatic stress for New Yorkers who witnessed that. So what kind of caring, loving Christians design a game where New York City is choking with smoke billowing from skyscrapers, as bodies pile up in the streets, and holy warriors kill infidels while shouting, "Praise the Lord!"?

This outrage demands an apology. This is shameless and bigoted filth, and it is an abomination that any pastor, any mega-church would push this product in its pews. Make that peeYEWS, because this stinks to high heaven.

In its review of Left Behind: Eternal Forces GameSpy wrote:

As for the violence in a game built from a Christian perspective, Lyndon doesn't shy away from that either, pointing out that the Bible itself is quite a violent book. "The point of morality is that people have a choice in how they react to situations -- and one of those choices is always going to be violence." While the game itself has no blood, it doesn't shy away from showing corpses, and lots of them. In fact, one of the things people might find surprising is that bodies in this game don't disappear, making for some gruesome landscapes as corpses pile up in the streets of New York. "Violence has consequences -- even justified violence," Lyndon said. "You can behave morally and still cause harm."
But can you callously cause harm and call that morality?

What Would Drucker Do?

Time magazine, which once designated the Rev. Billy Graham as American's foremost evangelist, has now dubbed Mr. Warren as "America's minister" and the Second Coming of Rev. Graham. But the dry-eyed Forbes magazine has appraised him from a Wall Street perspective. Forbes called Mr. Warren's previous book, The Purpose Driven Church, "The best book on entrepreneurship, management, and leadership in print." Oh, by the way, it's got some new age spirituality mixed in with the management and marketing theories, too.

Mr. Warren received his Doctorate in Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. At the same time, he sat at the feet of a man who is remembered as the greatest management guru of the 20th Century, Peter F. Drucker, who taught at the nearby Claremont Graduate School.

Mr. Drucker is known as the father of modern management for his work on innovation, entrepreneurship, and strategies for change. Mr. Drucker once said, "I became interested in management because of my interest in religion and institutions." It was Mr. Drucker who taught Mr. Warren how to apply the systematic study of management to mega-churches. Mr. Drucker coached pastors, including Mr. Warren, through the Leadership Network. In a tribute to Mr. Drucker, the Leadership Network speaks of Mr. Warren and his Saddleback Church leaders:

Warren says his staff reads and discusses Drucker's writings, using them to manage the church's multi-faceted ministry. Everyone who walks into the pastor's office is reminded of Drucker's well-known advice, which appears on a print that Drucker signed and gave to Warren:

*"What is our business?"

*"Who is our customer?"

*"What does the customer consider value?"

Mr. Warren has described Mr. Drucker as his mentor of more than 20 years.

"As a young man (I was about 25), I began to call him up, write him, go see him," Mr. Warren said in eulogizing Mr. Drucker, who passed away in November 2005 at the age of 95. "Before his passing, I would sit at his feet regularly. He honed into me hundreds of one-liners and taught me that growth always comes from the outside -- from people who are not now using your product, or listening to your message, or using your services."

Mr. Drucker stopped giving interviews, for the most part, in 2002. But he made an exception in October 2004 - for Mr. Warren - who arranged an interview by Forbes Publisher Rich Karlgaard. The interview took place in Mr. Drucker's home in Claremont.

"The most dangerous traps for a leader are those near-successes where everybody says that if they just give it another big push it will go over the top," Mr. Drucker told Forbes. "One tries it once. One tries it twice. One tries it a third time. But, by then it should be obvious that this will be very hard to do. So, as I always advise my friend Rick Warren, 'Don't tell me what you're doing, Rick. Tell me what you've stopped doing. ' "

Left Behind Games first announced that it would release its violent, theocratic videogame in late 2005, and then promised it would hit the shelves of Walmart, and the pews of mega-churches, by Easter 2006. Now, they're giving it a third try, aiming for an October 2006 release, in time to see their video - and its vision of fundamentalist, religious zealots attacking New York City and dead New Yorkers rotting on the streets - gift-wrapped for Christmas. Meanwhile, they continue to merchandise their product by invoking the name brand of the Purpose Driven Church on their web site.

It seems far-fetched to suppose that Mr. Warren allowed his organization's name brand to be used by accident, or without his prior approval. But if he knows nothing of this, then he should follow his mentor's advice, and tell us what he's stopped doing.

Mr. Carver is advising the corporation that created and marketed this game. Why is he involved? First, to give them business advice, because he is involved in marketing analogous products to the same customer base - pastoral networks and mega-church members. And he also brings the luster of the Mr. Warrens' Purpose Driven name brand - a business technique known as "endorsement by association."

The Left Behind Games web site - part and parcel of its marketing pitch - states:

"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."
And if Mr. Carver is invoking the Purpose Driven Church name brand without Mr. Warren's permission to market this disreputable product, then what would Mr. Drucker say about that?

Greg Stielstra's book PyroMarketing

PyroMarketing, or What a Trend We Have in Jesus

Greg Stielstra, who directed the marketing campaign for The Purpose Driven Life, presented lessons learned from that project in a network marketing how-to book, PyroMarketing. Zondervan, an Evangelical Christian Bible publisher, had issued Mr. Warren's book and planned to publish Mr. Stielstra's. But before the release of PyroMarketing, Mr. Warren pressured Zondervan to censor all references to his book, because he was concerned that it would make people think his phenomenal success was driven primarily by network marketing techniques.

Mr. Warren later relented, and HarperBusiness published PyroMarketing in September 2005 after making certain changes. However, Mr. Warren emphasized, "The worldwide spread of the purpose-driven message had nothing to do with marketing or merchandising. Instead it was the result of God's supernatural and sovereign plan, which no one anticipated."

Mr. Stielstra has broken down this "supernatural and sovereign plan" into four easy steps that treat converts as customers and customers as evangelists.

PyroMarketing: The Four Step Strategy To Ignite Customer Evangelists and Keep Them for Life reveals the network marketing strategy that made The Purpose Driven Life one of the best selling hardcover books in American history by using a fire metaphor that involves four steps:

(1)    Gather the driest tinder - people most willing to buy your product (for example, mega-church members);

(2)    Touch it with a match - give people a free preview of your product (for example, Left Behind Games is distributing "presale" DVDs through pastoral networks);

(3)    Fan the flames - for example, Mr. Warren sold the first 400,000 copies of The Purpose-Driven Life for $7 each to ministers and churchgoers. They formed study groups, which drove up sales of the hardbacks at some $20 a pop.

(4)    Save the coals - keep a database of your customers, so you don't have to start again from scratch. For example, Left Behind Games told the Los Angeles Times that it plans to distribute 1 million copies of its violent video game through churches nationwide.

Will the video game produced by the corporation which Mr. Carver is advising wind up in the same distribution channels - global pastoral networks and mega-churches -- that he and Mr. Warren built, primed, and tracked in massive databases?

The 'Purpose-Driven Operating Chip'

On December 24, 2005, The Economist published "Churches as Businesses: Jesus, CEO," an indepth analysis of how mega-churches are borrowing management and marketing techniques from the corporate world. According to this special report, "Rick Warren has inserted his 'purpose-driven operating chip' into churches in 120 countries around the world." He does so, because Mr. Drucker taught him that the way to systematically transform whole societies is by forming strategic partnerships between churches, corporations, and governments. This systemic management and marketing approach has built Mr. Warren's global empire.

To assist in building that empire, he looks for opportunities to form strategic alliances and cross-promote his brand. For example, he's now got a quote from the Purpose Driven Life on Starbucks coffee cups.  That did not just happen without his awareness and permission. In fact, he planned it: he submitted the quote to Starbucks and suggested that they run with it. Hey, nothing wrong with that: it's a win-win for the corporation and the church, in terms of "endorsement by association." (Technically, Starbucks notes that the quotes do not necessarily reflect their corporate viewpoints. However, each party to the transaction hopes that some of the goodwill and chocolately goodness of the other party will rub off on them.) Strategic business alliances are about more than quips on coffee cups. The Purpose Driven Church even created a web presence so that people reading the cups could get to know more online, and eventually maybe come into the fold. This is long-term strategic thinking, evincing an awareness of how to use popular culture in marketing an empire. It is multi-layered; each piece is carefully thought out, and honed to work with the other pieces of the strategy.

So now Mr. Warren is planting the seeds of a corporate-friendly Christianized state in Rwanda, whose president has vowed that his genocide-torn country will now become the world's first "purpose driven nation." Yet the same management systems and marketing practices could be put to use in any country or corporation where Mr. Warren's mega-church chooses to make inroads. The techniques of market manipulation are transferable, just like an Intel chip.

And what exactly does Mr. Warren mean by "purpose-driven operating chip"? The Economist reports:

Rick Warren likens his "purpose-driven formula" to an Intel operating chip that can be inserted into the motherboard of any church -- and points out that there are more than 30,000 "purpose-driven" churches. Mr Warren has also set up a website,, that gives 100,000 pastors access to e-mail forums, prayer sites and pre-cooked sermons, including over 20-years-worth of Mr. Warren's own.

Indeed, in a nice reversal businesses have also started to learn from the churches. The late Peter Drucker pointed out that these churches have several lessons to teach mainline businesses. They are excellent at motivating their employees and volunteers, and at transforming volunteers from well-meaning amateurs into disciplined professionals. The best churches (like some of the most notorious cults) have discovered the secret of low-cost and self-sustaining growth: transforming seekers into evangelicals who will then go out and recruit more seekers.

For pastors who view themselves as entrepreneurs, and manage their flocks as growth opportunities, the Great Commission means great profits. There's nothing necessarily wrong with a corporation making profits, and there's nothing wrong with a prophet making a study of modern management and network marketing practices. But since Mr. Warren has built an empire by forming strategic partnerships between business and ministerial interests, he should take care who invokes the name brand of his Purpose Driven Church. Mr. Warren does not have to explicitly endorse or be involved in the production and marketing of Left Behind: Eternal Forces in order to be held accountable for allowing his name brand to be used in the selling of this antisocial product. He is Mr. Carver's pastor as well as his boss. So where's the accountability?

[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. -- JH]

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)

This video game is anti-American because it immerses children in a virtual world of roving death squads in the ultimate battle between good and evil, where everyone must finally choose sides. So every "infidel," that is, everyone who is not a conservative, Evangelical Christian (that's the Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, moderate mainstream Christians like me, and that suspiciously well-groomed organist at your local mega-church) is viewed as a target of opportunity to be converted or killed. On the other hand, the game is also anti-Christian, because it teaches children to fight with the weapons of the world, such as guns and tanks. Every New Yorker, every American, every Christian, every citizen of the world (and certainly that nice young man who sells antiques and moonlights as a translator for the U.N.) should protest this game. When it hits the shelves of chain stores near you, boycott! And girlcott! And mascot and ascot! On dancer, on prancer, on Cupid and Vixen, let's open the whoopass can that we're fixin'!

by jhutson on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 08:34:32 AM EST

It seems that when there is lots of people and money involved, an organization will always sink to the lowest common denominator- greed.

Believers are nothing but walking wallets to these people.

by Lorie Johnson on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 09:28:41 AM EST

This truly frightens me... What is it going to take for the mainline moderate Christians to become vocal? Witch and Heretic burnings in the town square?

by SaraBeth on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 09:42:54 AM EST
as Monty Python points out, first you take the accused witch and toss her in the water. If she floats, she's made of wood and therefore a witch. If she sinks, then she's innocent, you see, God be praised.

But seriously what it takes is a little humor to give us some perspective, and then it takes a conversion. We need to convert that fear into anger, and that anger into action -- sustained action on a systemic basis. Turning talk into action is what this site is all about. We're glad you're here!

by jhutson on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 09:59:50 AM EST

As a fellow Pagan (Asatru by faith),
I am equally worried as I watch the dominionist "revolution" that has swept the US by storm over the last 10 years.  The malicious (and quite false) words that the dominionists tend to use against all Pagans in particular is bothersome.
Many (but certainly not all) of the moderate Christians are also a bit scared of the words "Pagan" and "Heathen," and they often will not speak up for us because of it.  Their own lack of knowledge when it comes to Wicca, Druidism, Asatru, and so on perpetuates the problem.  Even the moderates keep calling us "Devil worshippers" --even when such is not the case.

by Heathen1 on Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 09:45:06 AM EST
A fault line runs through Christianity - on one side are those Christians who recognize the validity, in part or in whole, of other religious traditions and faiths. On the other side are Christian religious supremacists - who hold that Christianity, or even their own particular interpretation of Christianity, is the only true religion and faith.

Many religious supremacists don't like to actively disparage other faiths, but the position is nonetheless problematic. If all other faiths are invalid, then they can easily be viewed as against God, or actively evil.

Jim Wallis - who has been advising the Democratic Party on matters of faith and politics - has made religious supremacist statements in his latest book, "God's Politics" :

The vision we will put forward in this book for our contemporary society is simply the content of what the Old Testament prophets, Jesus, and the New Testament writers had to say - about our public commitments, our common life, and the social bonds we share in community........The vision is there and merely awaits us. When we move towards our prophetic and democratic visions, slaveries are ended,
civil rights achieved, freedom established, compassion implemented, justice advanced, human rights defended, and peace made....When we come closer to the vision, our practice of citizenship is always enlivened; when we move away from it, apathy and withdrawal grow like a
cancer in the body politic." [ "God's Politics", page 28 ]

Let me boil that down :

"When we move towards our prophetic and democratic visions [ derived from the Bible ]", good things happen but "when we move away from it [the Biblically derived vision ], apathy and withdrawal grow like a cancer in the body politic."

That is the language of religious supremacy, and it is opposed in spirit to American Constitutional democracy.

by Bruce Wilson on Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 10:34:13 AM EST

He frightens me more than a bit, especially since he seems to have been adopted as the DNC guru. Suspect he'd like to become the Dobson of the Left. Perhaps it's my paranoia but when Dean does something really dumb like going on the 700 Club to "reach out" and then misstates the Democratic platform - saying marriage is between a man and a woman - I smell Wallace. Pandering doesn't=pluralism.

by Psyche on Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 03:30:49 PM EST
or so I gather from his latest book.

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 03:01:11 AM EST

I have thought this after reading his book "Why the Right Gets in Wrong, and the Left Doesn't Get It".  (That title is from memory, and may be wrong, but is close.)  My brother, the former YWAM missionary, thinks I'm nuts, so I'm glad that somebody else sees it.

by guleblanc on Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 12:05:50 PM EST

I don't think there were any conversions in it. But the basic plan of both is urban combat an kill most of them, let god sort them out idea. Certainly Dominionist in its flavor.

by Nightgaunt on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 10:45:55 PM EST

This article reveals all about Rick Warren and the "Purpose-Driven Church".  The "purpose" is to make some dough and turn conservative Christians into dominionists for whom apocalypticism is the center of their belief system.   Warren and Co. by their own yardstick can't be Christian and can't be biblical because they are breaking commandments:

'You shall have no other god to set against me' (Ex. 20:3).  Their god, clearly, is money, for what else but greed would motivate people to urge others to break a commandment of God ?(see below)

'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.    That is the greatest commandment.  It comes first.  The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  Everything in the law and the prophets hangs on these two commandments.' (Mt. 22:37-40)  If you are sending your followers the message that it's OK to kill people who are not 'believers', you totally ignore Jesus' commandment.  And you encourage them to break another commandment:  'You shall not commit murder.'  (Ex. 20:13)  What about this game reflects love for your neighbor?  

That players can also switch modes and become the Antichrist makes 'Left Behind' no different from other 'God game' on the video game market: it desensitizes the players to violence and opens up the possibility that some people may try to act out what they see occurring in the game.   The only difference is that this game is targeted to a 'Christian' audience by people who ought to know better.  Jonathan, you have done a great service by summing up the evidence on Rick Warren and presenting him for what he is: nothing but a shameless marketing machine.

by UCCKurt on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 10:05:09 AM EST

Personally, I am extremely gratified that someone is finally noting that even in "tame" circles--like Rick Warren's--spiritual-warfare theology and "corporate churches" are being promoted.

One of the associations Rick Warren has that is of particularly grave concern to me is the links between him and Paul Yonggi Cho (nee David Yonggi Cho).

Cho, for those who aren't familiar (and most of you won't be unless you are a walkaway from some of the most spiritually abusive segments of the dominionist movement), is the head of Yoido Full Gospel Church--an extremely large Assemblies of God church in Seoul, South Korea (and with multiple "satellite" congregations throughout South Korea) that qualifies as the world's largest megachurch and (if its satellite congregations are counted) quite possibly the largest single congregation of any church; the church has claimed quite literally three-fourths of a million people in South Korea as members, and effectively is the Assemblies of God in that country for all intents and purposes.  His megachurch empire started a scant ten years after the Assemblies entered Korea, so he is a prime study on how the Assemblies actively exports dominionism worldwide.

Cho is the inventor of possibly one of the most spiritually abusive tactics ever devised--the "cell church" or "shepherding group", which has been the primary method in which his church has grown exponentially.  (Of note, it was originally invented as a way to keep control over the huge congregation.)  Cho is also, very much, a promoter of dominion theology and particularly "name it and claim it"; Cho has had links with the Assemblies frontgroup Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International which has historically been a major force in promotion of dominionism both here and abroad, and a profile at Rick Ross Institute notes that he has bastardised concepts from traditional Korean shamanism in almost identical fashion to that of the Moonies.  He has also, by his own admission, used tactics based on those used by Soka Gakkai--a "Buddhist-based" highly abusive coercive religious group that is almost universally considered cultic and possibly violated law in obtaining confidential NCIC records for purposes of "dead-agenting" critics and which uses prayers as a form of cursing mainstream Buddhist leaders in Japan, has in general engaged in extremely unethical behaviour and whose members have even literally attempted to torch the temples of mainstream Buddhist churches.

It is, in fact, probably not a major exaggeration to state that Cho has been responsible for the increasing rate that the Assemblies of God has gone hard-dominionist worldwide; in fact, in 1992, he was elected head of the World Assemblies of God Council (the group overseeing all Assemblies of God churches worldwide)--the exact period when "Third Wave" pentecostalism (such as promoted in Brownsville Assemblies of God during the "Pensacola Revival") and its associated spiritual-warfare movements were embraced officially as a "move of the spirit" by the American Assemblies of God headquarters.  

It should be noted that this is not the first time Cho has tried to breed the "Pensacola Madness", though.  Part of the reason I am all too aware is that the  Assemblies of God church I am a walkaway from was the first documented church in the US where Cho predicted, and was trying to encourage, "Brownsville"-style revivals:

It is interesting how a claim regarding a prophecy attributed to Korean Pastor Cho changed three times, each time becoming more specific until it identified Pensacola as the city where a "great end-time revival" would break out and spread throughout the world. Actually, I had heard of that prophecy years before when we lived in Kentucky, and there was speculation that Evangel Tabernacle would be the church where it was to start. The prophecy didn't change . . . the telling of it did.

(In fact, the church I'm a walkaway from pretty much was one of the first "Third Wave" churches in the US, a full thirty years before Brownsville's "revival".)

Another article (which notes that the church I am a walkaway from was the first in North America targeted by Cho) also notes that between the time the church I left was targeted and Brownsville was targeted that he claimed the next "outpouring" would be in Canada--at the Toronto Airport Fellowship, a Vineyard church often credited for "Third Wave" pentecostalism and its associated spiritual warfare movements.

Sadly, the rampant spiritual abuse I have reported as a survivor of "Third Wave Madness" is all too typical in the "Third Wave" churches--in fact, the whole "Third Wave" is increasingly regarded as spiritually abusive per se, and some of its core doctrines are frighteningly similar to those in Scientology.

Not only did Cho devise "Third Wave" pentecostalism, he in fact invented many of the tactics that are used by "spiritual warfare" groups--including "prayer gangs", "territorial marking" with Wesson oil, etc. and can in fact be credited with much of the dominionist "spiritual warfare" movement's invention and popularising.

Of interesting note, Cho has attempted to promote dominionist movements in South Korea itself and has multiple links to dominionist groups here in the States; in addition to the FGBMFI and other links, he's also linked to quite possibly one of the most spiritually abusive of the Assemblies frontgroups, "Youth With A Mission" (which is almost universally considered by exit counselors as cultic, and which has multiple links to dominionism here).

Quite obvious why I consider anyone and anything to do with Cho as being Bad News.

And the links between Cho and Warren are, sadly, extensive indeed.  Deception In The Church and Let Us Reason document this:

Warren was a key speaker at Yonggi Cho's church growth conference in 1997. Cho is known to mix occult concepts with Christian teaching. He is especially known for his word faith & visualization techniques. Warren was also a key speaker at Schuller's Institute for Successful Church Leadership.

David Cho's connection to Robert Schuller is evident. Robert Schuller writes in the foreword to Yonggi Cho's book, The Fourth Dimension: "I discovered the reality of that dynamic dimension in prayer that comes through visualizing.... Don't try to understand it. Just start to enjoy it! It's true. It works. I tried it."

To say Cho is promoting mysticism would be an understatement. He says if Buddhists and Yoga practitioners can accomplish their objectives through fourth dimensional powers, then Christians should be able to accomplish much more by using the same means. (Paul Yonggi Cho, The Fourth Dimension, vol. 1, 1979, pp.37, 41) "You create the presence of Jesus with your mouth... He is bound by your lips and by your words... Remember that Christ is depending upon you and your spoken word to release His presence." (Ibid., 83)

In Warren's interview with Cho we can see his respect for him.

Warren: Do you think American churches should be more open to the prayer for miracles?
Cho: I feel that the most American churches really don't believe in the miracles of God. The church is getting very institutionalized. But I tell you that by a new anointing the American church would start to believe the miracle of the nation of God's hand."

Warren: Can you please pray a prayer of blessing to the pastors that are reading this? (Rick Warren And David Yonggi Cho Talk About Using The Internet by Tim Bednar July 25, 2003) (originally from

More damningly, a dominionist publication has interviewed Cho wherein the latter admits links with Rick Warren; this same publication has an article by Rick Warren where he quotes Cho directly in admitting both have possibly plaigarised sections of sermons from Billy Graham and a pastor of a Dallas, TX church:
There has been much talk in recent years on blogs and Web sites about how much of other people's sermons is appropriate to incorporate into your own messages. When does it get to the point of "plagiarism"? A friend of mine in Cincinnati was recently dismissed by his church's board of trustees because of this. As I predicted to that board of trustees, the size of that thriving church has been cut in half, the momentum they had been experiencing has gone away, and they are in big financial trouble. What a needless waste of God's momentum that had been resting upon them.

At a seminar, Dr. Cho, pastor of the world's largest church in Korea, was asked during a question and answer time, "How do you put your weekly messages together? They are so powerful!" He said, "Honestly, I have never given an original message in all my years of ministry here at Yoido Church. Each week, I preach word-for-word messages from either Billy Graham or W.A. Criswell from Dallas First Baptist Church. I can't afford to not have a home run each weekend when we gather. I don't trust my own ability to give completely original messages." Wow!

Warren was also a speaker at the Azusa Street Centennial (held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Azusa Street Revival, generally held as the "birth" of pentecostalism including the Assemblies of God) and reportedly shared the stage with Cho.

Warren and Cho also have joined forces in promoting megachurches via the Internet including setting up "cell churches" online (and networking fellow dominionists):

Churches need to stop building bigger buildings and start relying more on the Internet, say two leading pastors in the church growth movement. David Yonggi Cho, pastor of the 750,000-member Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, and Rick Warren, pastor of the 15,000-member Saddleback Valley Community Church, say the Internet is a "next generation strategy" that will connect decentralized home groups to the larger church body.

The two met recently in California to discuss church growth strategies for the 21st century, and their conclusion was -- stop building buildings and use that money for world missions. The interview appears in the July 25 issue of Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox, a free, e-mail newsletter available from the Web site

With 20,000 new converts a year, Cho says there is no way his church can match buildings to membership and so he's encouraging younger converts to stay at home and worship through the Internet.

"We are so jammed that we have no way to keep growing except by going to cyberspace," says Cho. He says he tells young people, "Don't come to church, just stay home and get your teaching through the Internet." These long-distance members give regular feedback on the sermons and services, and they can give their tithe through the Internet, and they stay physically connected to the larger body through small study groups.

Rick Warren, the author of "The Purpose Driven Church," adds, "Even if we had all the buildings we needed, one question is whether or not the next generation wants to worship in huge buildings." He says Saddleback is experimenting with live Internet services on the weekends and has already set up a GroupNet to help small groups stay connected to each other.

Cho's church offers live services over the Internet, including Sunday and Wednesday. "But also, when I want to give special instructions or teaching to the cell groups," says Cho, "then I will teach it through the Internet to the cells and apartments."

"It is silly to build larger and larger church buildings," says Cho. "It is silly to spend more money on branch church buildings! You'll never have enough. I really believe this, and I have already announced to my people and ministers that the next step is to go into total cyberspace ministry because it is a real waste of money to build larger buildings." Warren adds, "No matter how much land you have, it eventually fills up.

Besides, just think of that money and how it could be used for missions. Our goal is to decentralize -- to send our church members out for ministry into their neighborhoods." Regarding the traditional need for buildings, Warren cites Saddleback's legacy: "We wanted to prove to the world that you don't have to have a building to grow a church. We were running over 10,000 in attendance before we built our first building. So we know how to grow and minister without buildings. What we're trying to learn now is how to do it through the Internet -- into the homes."

(It is worth noting--on a rather frightening note, at that--that many estimates have South Korea as the world's most "wired" nation, especially in regards to broadband access.)

Especially damning, Cho admits on his own website the links between him and Warren and cross-promotion of each other:

Prayer is the only way to survive!
Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in the USA came to see Dr. Cho who was visiting Los Angeles for the Spiritual Renewal Conference 2001 at Sarang Community Church in Los Angeles (Rev. Jung Hyun Oh). While Dr. Cho was talking to him, he urged the churches in the USA to pray. Dr. Cho emphasized prayer for the survival of the churches in the USA. He further said that leaders should listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and find out the methods of drawing young people into the Church, such as using the Internet.

(FWIW, if people want, I can actually make this part of a dedicated post.  This info REALLY needs to be brought out more in the open.)

by dogemperor on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 10:28:55 AM EST

The Bible, Matthew 5:43-46 and beyond states:

43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

If we are to give even our most hated enemies such love, should we not also give a brother or sister that may have a different belief system that kind of love?  I understand the reasons behind the Christian belief that there is but one God, but even supposing that is true, are we not to follow the commands of Christ and love one another no matter what?  A pastor friend of mine said that God is the incarnation of love.  Love does not kill. Love does not rob someone of their chance to grow to understand who God is, no matter how God decides to reply to that need.

I am a Christian, I believe Jesus is the son of God.  And I find this game deplorable.  I was in tears after reading the articles concerning this game, because I felt so sickened and betrayed.  How dare someone pervert Jesus' message of peace and love?  It angers me to no end.

May God have mercy on their souls and teach them what's right and wrong before it's too late, or they may end up with a big surprise come judgement day.

by AngelRuse on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 03:47:23 PM EST

As an additional note about the marketing practices for this game...

I stopped by the official website to check it out. (While I respect and believe Jonathan very much - I just had to see it with my own eyes to believe it!)

I perused their "press kit" offerings, which included an image of what the game packaging will look like... The box image includes their "LB Games" logo...

I couldn't help feeling like I had seen the logo before - or something similar...

Does anyone think the LB logo looks suspiciously similar to the EA Games logo?

I was just thinking along the lines of marketing to the general gaming population by trying to appeal to their sense of "normalcy" in that this logo is familiar and routine - a known entity - without really being so...


by EmilyWynn8 on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 05:27:45 PM EST

 Disgusting - Serving a god of money instead of the true God and taking the deceived down a dangerous slope with them.

Matthew 24:
23-At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. 24-For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. 25-See, I have told you ahead of time.

by FFL on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 06:08:05 PM EST

I'm afraid the publicity will kill the game before I get my copy for mocking purposes.  Can you guys back off a bit?  :-)

Abu Ghraib: Hell House of the Religious Right II
by sendtoscott on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 04:15:45 PM EST

To both you and the church nuts:  Please stop trying to save my children.  They'll do fine without your help, thanks.

Please note that the average age of a video game player in the US is now over 30.  Not children, adults.  Very cynical adults.

This game, like Ann Coulter and Ted Rall, will end up doing more harm then good for it's cause simply because of it's fairly obvious ridiculousness.  You guys need to learn that when your enemy is driving his car full speed into a brick wall, don't stop him.  Let these guys release the game, cheer them on, they're just going to shoot themselves in the foot with it.  So let them.  When Pastor Mike gives little Jimmy this amazingly violent video game it's going to cause fireworks across the country when Mom finds out, and the gaming community will be merciless in it's condemnation, or at least in it's mockery.  The only people who are going to take it seriously are those who already do, and your message is lost on them anyways, so save your breath.

by CHZ on Thu Jun 01, 2006 at 05:17:33 PM EST

It certainly is a relief to have someone around to set us strait about that.

But I wonder why, if our words don't matter, you would take the time to tell us that they are not worth speaking. Isn't that like, wasting your breath? Especially since we will very likely post more on this subject anyway?

I wonder...  do you support the purposes of this site?

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 01:27:47 AM EST

Although some dominionists will love this game, it will probably do more harm than good to the religious right. We should condemn it, but after it comes out. We don't want to make such a fuss about it now that it never gets released. They're going to hurt their cause with this, and we don't want to stop them. In fact, we should encourage them to do anything that makes them look stupid or hateful. You must admit, Pat Robertson's recent outrageous comments actually did us some good.

by Dave on Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 02:09:22 AM EST
I don't agree with you on this.

This is an important opportunity to expose what Lahayism is all about.

We will continue. Ever heard that silence can be complicity?

We cannot control whether or not they release this product, and I am quite sure they will, and you will get your wish -- although they have delayed its release several times.

As for Pat Robertson, he has been making comments as outrageous as any you have heard of -- for his entire career. The only difference is that now people are inexplicably paying attention.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 02:47:50 AM EST

I'm not advocating silence, merely that our message would be more effective after the game comes out. I'm as tired as anyone of watching these people being seen as decent folks with legitimate concerns about the "immoral" direction of society. Their true goal, (at least of the leadership) is to convert or eliminate everyone who doesn't share their brand of Christianity, including other Christians. And it gets even stranger when you realize they don't even agree with each other. We can certainly talk among ourselves, I just wouldn't want there to be a public outcry that prevents this game from coming on the market. For some reason, sighted people react much more strongly to images than words. So I want to make sure you all get the opportunity to see it.

by Dave on Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 03:19:11 AM EST
It is Jonathan Hutson's writing here on Talk To Action which has launched the public outcry against this video game.

You seem opposed to the current outcry on the basis that it might prevent this hate-filled game from coming to market :  your hope is that the hate-filled game coming to market will provoke the same public outcry which you currently want to discourage.

By your reasoning, rather than organize counter demonstrations against some socially reprehensible display such as that of an individual KKK rally, concerned activists would do much better to help KKK members to hold many rallies at various different locations and - indeed - don KKK robes themselves - and march alongside Klan members on the basis that KKK rallies are the best advertising against the group's agenda and - presumeably also against more KKK rallies.

There is a different way of thinking about this :

The boundary of the permissable : the line which certain public speech and other forms of public expression - such as the narrative and plot lines of video games - should not cross.

There is nothing whatsoever in the Amercan legal system that would preclude the production and mass marketing of video games depicting genocidal campaigns - or just violent expression - against various minority groups.

That line - beyond which people, in public speech, and in the character of certain commercial cultural products such as video games, will not go demarcates our societal realm of "the blasphemous".

The line is under constant challenge - "conservative" talk radio show hosts have been advocating deportation and mass violence or even genocide against Arab-American citizens for several years now.  Would you say that the airing of such speech makes more such speech less likely ?

Well, that is not the way things played out in Rwanda, where public speech that demonized one societal group seemed to pave the  way for a genocidal campaign against that group.

Let's try a simple thought experiment :

What if, during the American civil rights struggles of the 1950's and 1960's, our current video game technology had been available ?  Don't you suppose that certain companies might have been tempted to market games allowing players to assault, bomb, and shoot civil rights demonstrators ? And, how do you think such a game might have effected the civil rights struggle ? Do you think it would have led to less violence against civil rights demonstrater, or more ?

If you are interested in research into how people can be socialized to participate in mass political violence, I would suggest a recent book by the researcher James Waller, Whitworth Professor's New Book a Timely Analysis of How Ordinary People Can Commit Acts of Extraordinary Evil

Waller's Becoming Evil refutes many of the standard explanations for antisocial behavior and presents four ingredients that lead ordinary people to commit acts of extraordinary evil. Waller contends that being aware of our own capacity for inhumane cruelty, and knowing how to cultivate the moral sensibilities that curb that capacity, are the best safeguards we can have against future genocide and mass killing.

"To offer a psychological explanation for the atrocities committed by perpetrators is not to forgive, justify or condone their behavior," Waller states in his preface. "Instead, the explanation simply allows us to understand the conditions under which many of us could be transformed into killing machines. When we understand the ordinariness of extraordinary evil, we will be less surprised by evil, less likely to be unwitting contributors to evil, and perhaps better equipped to forestall evil."

A July 1, 2002 review in Publishers Weekly praises Waller for "clearly and effectively synthesizing a wide range of studies to develop an original and persuasive model of the processes by which people can become evil...Because Waller provides a broad overview and a summery of the current research, [Becoming Evil] is an excellent choice for readers just beginning to investigate the phenomenon."

Experts in the fields of psychology and genocide studies agree that Becoming Evil makes a significant contribution toward our efforts to understand human nature and to circumvent future mass killing.

"By challenging some of the traditional theories, Waller paves the way for a new model for understanding human behavior and human nature itself. Becoming Evil is an astute and perceptive look at a haunting phenomenon," says Holocaust historian Victoria J. Barnett, author of For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest Against Hitler and Bystanders: Conscience and Complicity During the Holocaust.

by Bruce Wilson on Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 08:56:08 AM EST
I don't oppose a public outcry, I just think it would be more effective if we wait until after the game comes out. When conservative Christians attack a movie before it's even released, they look stupid and paranoid. We don't want to look like the leftist counterpart of that. When the game comes out, if it's as bad as we think, we can simply add our voices to the many others criticizing it. And our condemnation will be more powerful. While I would never encourage violence, I do contend that the actions of the KKK and southern authorities were a crucial part of the success of the civil rights movement. When these terrible things were broadcast across the country, Americans were forced to watch the reality of their racist system. And they were forced to decide if they wanted the country to continue to be that way. Today, groups like the KKK have few members and little power. And it's mainly because most people rightly view them as dangerous and despicable. The Christian right on the other hand, has many followers and lots of power. It represents a genuine threat to our democracy, and it's mainly because people do not consider them dangerous and despicable. We will not win the war against them unless we change that perception. And the perception won't change until Dominionists are more open and honest about their true agenda. So yes, I do encourage them to be as hateful and outrageous publicly as they are privately. But there's a second step that's just as crucial; publicity. The KKK was doing reprehensible things long before the 1950's. But change only occurred when average Americans had their noses rubbed in it until they couldn't stand the stench. Sometimes, people need to be shocked in to action. And the shock needs to happen early in the growth of a pathological movement like Dominionism. Once the movement establishes power, it's to late. At that point, a new mindset takes over and you're convinced whatever you do is right. Then almost no act, however unspeakable, will be enough to affect you.

by Dave on Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 02:16:48 AM EST
( "I do encourage them to be as hateful and outrageous publicly as they are privately" )

- Dave, I'm sorry to have to inform you over the course of the last half century and right up to the present day, leaders of the Christian right and America right have emitted  hate-speech that could fill a book big enough to stun an ox ( perhaps, even, enough to fill a number of volumes to stun an entire small herd of oxen ).

Perhaps you have somehow missed it.

Here is a tiny sampling :

"Most of these feminists are radical, frustrated lesbians, many of them, and man-haters, and failures in their relationships with men, and who have declared war on the male gender. The Biblical condemnation of feminism has to do with its radical philosophy and goals. That's the bottom line."
--Jerry Falwell

"There are so many women on the floor of Congress, it looks like a mall."
--Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), repeating a joke he heard

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." Pat Robertson,  In a 1992 fundraising letter

"Men in the pro-choice movement are either men trapped in women's bodies...or younger guys who are like camp followers looking for easy sex."
--Rep. Bob Dornan (R-CA)

"I want to coin a phrase here, and I don't mind help. What would be the communication version of "ethnic cleansing?" Because that's what in particular the homosexual activists try to do."
--Dr. Laura Schlessinger, August 11, 1999

"Our culture is superior. Our culture is superior because our religion is Christianity and that is the truth that makes men free."
--Pat Buchanan, speech to the Christian Coalition, Sept. 1993, as reported in ADL Report, 1994

"Brute beasts ... part of a vile and satanic system [that] will be utterly annihilated, and there will be a celebration in heaven."
-- Jerry Falwell, on homosexuals, as quoted in The Bible Tells Me So, 1996

"I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I'm gonna be blunt and plain: if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died." - The Rev. Jimmy Swaggart, in a September 2004 evangelism television broadcast

"I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good... Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called on by God to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism."
--Randall Terry, The News Sentinel, (Ft. Wayne, IN.), 8/16/93

"This is God's world, not Satan's. Christians are the lawful heirs, not non-Christians."
--Gary North, Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), p. 102

"The State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit [homosexual] conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle." Judge Roy Moore -- from a 2002 concurrence in a custody case involving a lesbian mother

"The Media is ruled by Satan. But yet I wonder if many Christians fully understand that. Also, will they believe what the Media says, considering that its aim is to steal, kill, and destroy?"
--Jimmy Swaggart, The Evangelist, January 1988

"If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being."
--Jerry Falwell

"Most politically active Christians don't want equal time with homosexuals, abortionists, animal worshipping pagans, witches, radical feminists and pornographers. We want them silenced and mercifully disciplined according to the word of God."
--Jay Rogers reviewing Ralph Reed's Politically Incorrect in "Chalcedon Report," 2/95

"I don't know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."
--President George Bush, August 27, 1988

"It's a hell of a challenge."
--Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) responding to the question "Conrad, how can
you live back there with all those niggers?" AP, 10/20/94

"Now I have learned that the radical, perverted homosexuals and lesbians are already promoting their '2000 Disney Gay Day' -- with Disney's help! And they are timing it to occur in June -- right when children out of school will be flocking to Disney-owned parks! This proves the true intent of these homosexuals: they are after our children!!"
--Bonnie Mawyer, wife of Christian Action Network founder, in a March 2000 letter blasting Disney for allowing gay groups to visit Disney World.

"God Hates Fags!"
--Rev. Fred Phelps

"They want our preschool children. ... They want our kindergarten children. ... They want our middle school and high school children." Lou Sheldon,  In a recent direct mail appeal

"We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors."
--Ann Coulter, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, 02-26-02

"That's treason, not patriotism. They ought to be run out of our country and not allowed back."
- Tennessee State Sen. Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville), commenting about people who publicly opposed the Iraq war

"Homosexuals are dangerous. They proselytize. They come to the door, and if your son answers and there is nobody there to stop it, they grab the son and run off with him. They steal him. They take him away and turn him into a homosexual." Lou Sheldon -  In 1992, as reported by journalist Jimmy

"Who really cares what Hollywood thinks?  All these hacks come out there.  Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.  It`s not a secret, OK?  And I`m not afraid to say it.  That`s why they hate this movie.  It`s about Jesus Christ, and it`s about truth.  It`s about the messiah.
  "Hollywood likes anal sex.  They like to see the public square without nativity scenes.  I like families.  I like children.  They like abortions.  I believe in traditional values and restraint.  They believe in libertinism.  We have nothing in common.  But you know what?  The culture war has been ongoing for a long time.  Their side has lost.
  "You have got secular Jews.  You have got embittered ex-Catholics, including a lot of ex-Catholic priests who hate the Catholic Church, wacko Protestants in the same group, and these people are in the margins.  Frankly, Michael Moore represents a cult movie.  Mel Gibson represents the mainstream of America.
--William Donahue, President of the Catholic League, December 8, 2004 on MSNBC's Scarborough Country, discussing Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" vs. Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ"

"I haven't run into a pagan faith-based group yet, much less a pagan group that cares for the poor! Once you make it clear to any applicant that public money must go to public purposes and can't be used to promote ideology, the fringe groups lose interest. Helping the poor is tough work and only those with loving hearts seem drawn to it." --James Towey, during a Nov. 26 online "Ask the White House" question-and-answer session

"We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."
--Ann Coulter, writing about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks

"Islam was founded by Muhammad, a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives, the last one of which was a 9-year-old girl.  And I will tell you Allah is not Jehovah either.  Jehovah's not going to turn you into a terrorist that'll try to bomb people and take the lives of thousands and thousands of people."
--Rev. Jerry Vines, former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, speaking at the June 2002 SBC convention

"They were an endangered species. For many of these Japanese Americans, it wasn't safe for them to be on the street... Some (Japanese Americans) probably were intent on doing harm to us, just as some of these Arab Americans are probably intent on doing harm to us."
- U.S. Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), who according to the AP "agreed with the World War II policy of confining Japanese -Americans to internment camps." AP, 2/5/03

"Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you."
--Attorney General John Ashcroft, during an interview with syndicated columnist and radio personality Cal Thomas

"Two things made this country great: White men & Christianity. The degree these two have diminished is in direct proportion to the corruption and fall of the nation. Every problem that has arisen (sic) can be directly traced back to our departure from God's Law and the disenfranchisement of White men."
--State Rep. Don Davis (R-NC), emailed to every member of the North Carolina House and Senate, reported by the Fayetteville Observer, 08-22-01

"Patrick Leahy is a 'God's people-hater.' I don't know if he hates God, but he hates God's people."
--Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family

"The Christian God encourages freedom, love, forgiveness, prosperity and health. The Muslim god appears to value the opposite. The personalities of each god are evident in the cultures, civilizations and dispositions of the peoples that serve them. Muhammad's central message was submission; Jesus' central message was love. They seem to be very different personalities."
--Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, commenting on George W. Bush's statement that Christians and Muslims "worship the same god."

"You know, and this can be misconstrued, but honest to goodness (husband) Ed and I for years, for 20 years, have been saying, 'You know, look at who runs all the convenience stores across the country.' Every little town you go into, you know?"
- U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), who as the Charlotte News and Observer reported, "confided in a speech that she had been driving, worried, around the country for decades fueled by suspicions about Arab and Arab-looking convenience store owners." 2/7/03

"George, do you think you ought to lecture me on what a Christian is all about?"
--Dr. Dobson's reply to George Stephanopoulos when asked about the quote above

"In your re-election, God has graciously granted America - though she doesn't deserve it - a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ."
--Bob Jones III, president of Bob Jones University in a letter to George W. Bush after Nov. 2nd

"I think Mohammed was a terrorist.  He - I read enough of the history of his life written by both Muslims and - and - non-Muslims, that he was a - a violent man, a man of war.  And I do believe that - Jesus set the example for love, as did Moses.  And I think that Mohammed set an opposite example."
--Jerry Falwell, 60 Minutes, October 6, 2002

"I have never said in a sermon or a speech that Muhammad is a terrorist."
--Jerry Falwell, interview with Religion News Service

"With all due respect to those dear people, my friend, God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew."
--Bailey Smith, a founding father of Robertson's Christian Coalition, once told 15,000 people at a Religious Roundtable briefing in Dallas, June 26, 1994

"The Jews are returning to their land of unbelief. They are spiritually blind and desperately in need of their Messiah and Savior."
--Jerry Falwell, Listen, America!

"If he's going to be the counterfeit of Christ, he has to be Jewish.  The only thing we know is he must be male and Jewish."
--Jerry Falwell commenting on the anti-Christ, January 1999

"Well, you know what I knew, that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol."
--Lt. General William G. Boykin, in a January 2003 speech in Daytona, FL, recalling his efforts to capture an Islamic militant in Somalia who had said he would be protected by Allah.  After the militant was captured, Boykin told him, "Mr. Atto, you underestimated our God."

"The god of Judaism is the devil. The Jew will not be recognized by God as one of His chosen people until he abandons his demonic religion and returns to the faith of his fathers--the faith which embraces Jesus Christ and His Gospel. "
--David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1984), p. 127

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 11:45:29 AM EST
I knew many of them. But several were new to me, and I study the Christian right. How many of these quotes do you think the average American would know? Remember, I said it's not enough that the outrages are committed. They also need to be widely and consistently covered in the media or they'll have no impact.  For example, Pat Robertson has been making offensive comments for at least 25 years. However, only recently did the press mention several of them in a row. This has somewhat marginalized Robertson, even causing some in the movement to distance themselves from him, publicly at least. Most of these things go unreported or underreported. In the rare instance one of these statements gets national coverage, (such as Falwell's deplorable comments after Sept. 11), it always has a negative impact on the whole movement. But there's no consistency to the coverage. Pointing out one hateful statement every few years by this or that preacher is insufficient. In fact, the very occasional coverage gives the public the impression that these hateful comments are infrequent. This inconsistent coverage also gives the dominionists the opportunity to use damage control; to claim they just went over the top for a moment or whatever. And you notice the guys like Fred Felps who never apologize or back down from their most outrageous statements are universally despised. Felps is far less powerful and less dangerous than someone like Dobson who presents the "kinder gentler" face of dominionism. The coverage of the violent reaction to the civil rights movement was fairly relentless. This forced people to see the violence not as an anomaly committed once in a while by a few radicals, but rather as a commonplace response. Similar coverage of the Christian right would force people to see these outrageous statements as an expression of core beliefs, rather than a rare instance where a guy just lost control and went to far. This will convince most Americans that this is not a movement to be joined or even respected. But ultimately, we have to show the effects of these words if we want to convince the public that dominionistts present a real threat. . Americans are much to tolerant of any kind of speech to condemn these guys for words alone. We have to link the speech to clinic bombings, attacks on gays, discrimination against noncristians etc. We must also show the negative impact of the dominionists on our political policies. All this assumes that we haven't already lost the war. I said in my previous post that the shock has to happen early in the growth of the movement when it's still a minority. But with polls showing over 60% of Americans believing the Bible to be literally true, and only 25% believing evolution, it may be to late already. Conservative churches are growing; moderate churches are dying. One of the only positive signs is that the number of nonbelievers is increasing.

by Dave on Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 01:47:35 AM EST

I don't want to give the impression that I'm rejecting your thoughtful response out of hand although I do disagree.

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 12:08:53 PM EST
Bill Moyers said that he learned most by interviewing people he disagreed with. I hope the same can be true for us at talk2action. And after all, we ultimately have the same goal.

by Dave on Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 01:52:56 AM EST

I have three young cousins, 15, almost-14, and 10. They love video games. And their parents love Left Behind. The almost-14-year-old got nightmares from the Left Behind kids' books, but his parents still think the ideas in them are sound. I hope to all the Gods that these kids can remember that they have a cousin in New York and that her wife taught them awesome self-defense moves. I want to buy the almost-14-year-old a real video game for his birthday. I fail to be reassured by the idea that many gamers are s.

by GreenEyed Lilo on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 11:34:21 AM EST

You may want to know that your representation of the game is being called wildly inaccurate, and if so, this makes you look bad.  Please read the critique of your misrepresentation of the game at d-video-game.html

Also, smearing Rick Warren as a Dominionist is also probably inaccurate.  I know that you lefties are in a tizzy about the Dominionists and their influence, but putting everyone who shares some of their values in that same basket is disingenous and misleading.

You may want to check out the distinctions that are well described at

by seeker on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 02:44:32 PM EST

I think you're being "wildly inaccurate" to say that that is the consensus opinion on the Cadre site. Indeed, the comments there reflect a range of views.

What I did see was substantial nit-picking about facts and interpretation but little attempt to address some central and critical issues: 1. Is this game about "Christianity" or about one rather narrow (and fictionalized) theological view? 2. Is a violent game the appropriate vehicle for spreading any message about Christianity when we live in a culture that is already so saturated with violence that people (including children) have become desensitized to it? 3. Is there an implicit message that organizations such as the UN which are struggling to bring peace are the "Anti-Christ?" 4. Is this game really about spirituality of any stripe or is it a cynical marketing ploy that uses religion as a tool to make megabucks by distributing it through churches to the "Christian Market?"

As for the "Cultural Mandate" (if, indeed, this is what Warren subscribes to), I'm not convinced that, if one considers the goals, this isn't a bit of semantic dressing up of theocracy.

If you think this site is simply a home for " a tizzy about the Dominionists" or that we dump "everyone who shares some of their values in that same basket," I would guess that you haven't spent much time reading here or that the discourse is broader than you are able to appreciate.

by Psyche on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 05:23:37 PM EST

Seeker, you are a troll who clearly does not support the purposes of this site. You joined the site under false pretenses and will be banned. When you checked off the box in order to obtain the priviledge of participating, you were stating that you agreed with the site's purpose. Clearly you do not.

Nevertheless, as site owner, I am going to make an exception and allow your comment and links to stand, in case anyone cares to read your critque and reply in this space.

But I do want to underscore that this is not a venue for debate with people who disagree with the purposes of this site. While debate and dialog is good in a democratic society, (and I enourage everyone to jump right in, the water's fine) like-minded people also have an absolute right to gather together and to publish as we will without interference. Please respect our right to do so.

As for your disingenuous concern that we might "look bad," as we shine some light into dark places, I would urge you to reflect on your own behavior.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Jun 02, 2006 at 04:32:07 PM EST

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 01:38:25 PM EST

Assuming that your account has not been terminated for violation of the site guidelines (which is a real possibility, as you have posted the identical reply to at least three separate threads so far), and so long as you are willing to remain civil in this:

a) If you can post specific, verifiable information in regards to Warren's involvement or lack thereof in this game, it would be appreciated.

b) In regards to your specific claim that Rick Warren is not promoting dominion theology, this has been noted in a previous writing--information on the precise relationship between Rick Warren and David Yonggi Cho in particular is appreciated.  (Preferably in the primary thread speaking about this.)

c) If there is in fact no relationship, why did you wait fully one week to reply in regards to this (especially as other reliable media sources have also noted claims that the game would primarily be promoted by Left Behind Games in megachurches, including Saddleback)?

d) Several persons (including myself) have found material that notes things of particular concern regarding practices at Saddleback Church, including the use of "shepherding" groups, a mandatory church covenant, and mandatory classes used in education of new members before they are allowed to become fully fledged members of Saddleback.

Would you be willing to provide information such as the content (books, etc.) used in these courses, the specific methods of shepherding, etc.?  (This is particularly relevant due to a history of abusive "Bible-based" groups using shepherding groups and mandatory courses as a form of spiritual abuse and coercive control of their members.)

e) Is it true, as reported in Christianity Today and several other publications, that multiple levels of membership exist in the organisation?

by dogemperor on Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 03:13:02 PM EST

This video game is anti-American because it immerses children in a virtual world of roving death squads in the ultimate war between good and evil, in which everyone must choose sides at some point. The game, on the other hand, is anti-Christian since it teaches youngsters to battle with worldly weapons like guns and tanks. That is something we must remember, but we must also remember to enjoy the best rare cats in battle cats.

by patsm00re18 on Wed Nov 10, 2021 at 06:53:23 PM EST

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