"Convert Or Die" Game Sent To Troops In Iraq w/Pentagon Blessing
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Aug 08, 2007 at 03:18:06 PM EST
NOTE: This story, like the Christian Embassy story I've been writing about recently, derives from the investigative research work of Mikey Wenstein's Military Religious Freedom Foundation. If you like this work and want it to continue, please consider making a donation to MRFF. You could also help out by writing to Olberman, Colbert, or John Stewart to suggest they have a MRFF representative on their show to discuss the Pentagon's endorsement of promoting ideology apocalyptic religious warfare among US troops in combat ; Osama Bin Laden is surely cheering from the sidelines, and US troops will probably die due to this PR disaster that will suggest to the Islamic world that, yes indeed, the Pentagon really does want to wage a religious crusade. I don't think most Americans want that, and it's up to us to get that message out.

Courtesy of the US Pentagon, troops in Iraq can now unwind after a hard day's urban warfare and play a video game in which they command a Christian fundamentalist army waging urban warfare in America ! On the streets of New York City ! How cool is that ?

The "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" video game, is set in a "post apocalyptic" New York that looks almost exactly like New York City after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and lets players simulate commanding a paramilitary Christian army that seeks to convert Jews, mainline Christians, Muslims, atheists, Buddhists, and everyone else in New York City to fundamentalist Christianity. All who resist will be killed.

Some who criticized the game have said that it conditions players for religious war. Others think it's way cool:

"....this tremendous game that has it all; great graphics, strategy, depth and meaningful messages worthwhile of fascinating coffee table discussions." - Troy Lyndon, CEO of "Left Behind Games", describing the new "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" video game.

Now, with the blessing and endorsement of the Pentagon, a Christian ministry with apocalyptic fundamentalist beliefs that is planning a series of tours it calls a 'military crusade' to entertain US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq will also be distributing the "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" 'Convert or Die' religious warfare video game....

To US troops.

What ?

Let me repeat:

The United States Pentagon has endorsed sending a Christian supremacist religious warfare video game to United States troops in Iraq, a predominantly Muslim nation.

Osama Bin Laden himself could hardly hardly have hatched a better plot to incite widespread war between Christianity and Islam, and the Pentagon's endorsement of "Operation Straight Up" and that ministry's plan to bring the bigoted, hateful religious ideology inherent to Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins' "Left Behind" book series to American troops in the front lines casts into question the basic competence, not to mention the sanity, of every Pentagon official involved in the decision to endorse such mind boggling idiocy. Once again: "Left Behind: Eternal Forces", a game depicting fundamentalist Christians religious warfare will be distributed to US troops. Courtesy of the PENTAGON. Here's Max Blumenthal, for the Nation:

As an official arm of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, OSU plans to mail copies of the controversial apocalyptic video game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces to soldiers serving in Iraq. OSU is also scheduled to embark on a "Military Crusade in Iraq" in the near future.

"We feel the forces of heaven have encouraged us to perform multiple crusades that will sweep through this war torn region," OSU declares on its website about its planned trip to Iraq. "We'll hold the only religious crusade of its size in the dangerous land of Iraq."

*********

Now, American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will be able to unwind by playing out a sanitized version of what in reality may the most savage type of war humans wage.

If war is hell, religious war is hell with vengeance. On the smoking battlefields of the religious wars that erupted in Europe in the wake of the Catholic/Protestant rift, victorious armies would entertain themselves by making small incision in the sides of wounded enemy soldiers and pulling their intestines out to wind those around sticks and so extract the entire intestinal tracts, very, very slowly. In Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins' "Left Behind" series, God does that to unbelievers; God pulls their guts out.

That's religious war. Woo Hoo.

The real scandal involving the violent video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces is that the demonization of enemies, bloodthirsty dualism, and murderous rampages on the computer screen are accurate reflections of the apocalyptic theology espoused by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins in their Left Behind series of novels which have sold more than 70 million copies.

Few in the mainstream media have dared confront the fact that the best-selling Left Behind series is a primer valorizing bigotry, paranoia, and guerilla warfare against those who promote tolerance, pluralism, and global cooperation. - Talk To Action contributor Chip Berlet, in Left Behind Video Reflects Bigoted Apocalyptic Violence of Original Fiction Series

Last year, in May of 2006, Talk To Action contributor Jonathan Hutson began an unprecedented series of posts on the "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" video game, the first of which was entitled "The Purpose Driven Life Takers":

"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..."

In writing about the game, Jonathan Hutson, Chip Berlet, Frederick Clarkson, and other Talk To Action contributors were writing on how the game was being marketed to teenagers, and the prospect that the game would, little more than a year later, be on the way to US troops in Iraq would have seemed to us to be almost beyond imagination.

Now. visualize the hands of a clocks whirring round and round... they stop. It is now August 8, 2007, and the United States Pentagon has endorsed an Evangelical Christian organization that calls its planned, upcoming Iraq entertainment tour a "crusade", advocates apocalyptic theology, and distributes the "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" video game to the troops so that, exhausted after long hours guarding tense checkpoints or fighting block to block to root out Iraqi insurgents, American soldiers in Baghdad and elsewhere can relax by playing a video game, set on meticulously rendered New York City streets, in which fundamentalist Christians engage in simulated urban religious warfare.

"Push The Prayer Button"

Last December, 2006, I wrote a piece on the "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" game entitled "Push The Prayer Button". My title was a reference to an odd feature in the game : the Christian fundamentalist soldiers lose "spirit strength" every time they kill, so they need to go through a little ritual of penitence to restore their strength, after they kill, by "praying". Gamers active the "prayer" by pushing a button on their gaming joysticks. So: kill/push "prayer button", kill/push "prayer button", push button to kill/push prayer button, push button 1/push button 2.

In "Push The Prayer Button", excerpted from a longer essay I wrote called "Religious Warfare Stocking Stuffer", I addressed the teenagers who would be playing the game. So, I've struck out the word "teenagers" in the text below, to replace that with "US troops", and I've inserted "Pentagon" as necessary :

Teenagers US troops who play "Left Behind:" Eternal Forces" will learn that the act of playing out and imagining religious war has the sanction of their parents the Pentagon and the enthusiastic endorsement of powerful religious advocacy groups such as Focus On The Family the US military Chaplaincy. Teens US troops who play the game will understand it to be a wholesome, moral enterprise that has the endorsement of authority figures they love and trust top US military leaders.

They will learn that the immorality of killing can be cleansed by going through the motions of ritualized prayer as if saying a few "Hail Mary's" or mumbling some religious incantation. Imagine the outcry if the Harry Potter series described a magical incantation that murderers could intone to make the moral and legal onus of their crimes vanish ?

Lots of killing to do ? No problem. Press the "prayer button" as necessary....

....many parents on the Christian right are the United States military is socializing children US armed forces members with the vocabulary of violence and the expectation that they will wage religious warfare, against specified societal groups, within their lifetimes. That was the context for the recent documentary Jesus Camp and "Jesus Camp" is part of a much wider societal phenomenon ( see: Kids In Combat )

Further, such efforts to socialize children US troops towards religious warfare mesh with a pattern, in American public discourse, of prominent religious, political, and media figures employing demonizing and eliminationalist rhetoric against targeted societal groups and even calling for the use of nuclear weapons against civilian populations ( see: Enough hate speech to stun an ox and Dave Neiwert's writing on hate speech at Orcinus, and Hatecrime.org as well as the work of the Southern Poverty Law Center in monitoring hate and extremist activity in the US

Conditioning people to commit acts of mass violence, research has shown, doesn't happen overnight - it tends to be a gradual process. People can be habituated to commit mass violence quite easily, especially if the conditioning is incremental. So, why not start with kids US troops in Iraq ?...

( for more on the socialization of violence, see: )

How Average Humans Can Be Conditioned To Carry Out Acts Of Mass Violence
for further analysis on how the "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" game may condition and socialize game players towards violence, see Virtual religious, ethnic, and cultural cleansing in "Left Behind: Eternal Forces"
for more on the ideology behind the "Left Behind" book series that the video game is based on, see Chip Berlet's eight part series at Talk To Action.

"The conversion of socialized people into dedicated fighters is achieved not by altering their personality structures, aggresssive drives or moral standards. Rather, it is accomplished by cognitively redefining the morality of killing so that it can be done free from self-censure. Through moral justification of violent means, people see themselves as fighting ruthless oppressors" - Albert Banduras

image, below: the true face of religious war, a painting of the 'St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre' of French Protestants.

Postscript :

Talk To Action may be the only website on the Internet with a special site section devoted to the "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" video game and the hateful ideology of the "Left Behind" book series that the video game is derived from.

There are over 34 articles on Talk To Action in our site section entitled Religious War. Here are the early Talk To Action posts that followed Jonathan Hutson's landmark "The Purpose Driven Life Takers".

A CONTRASTING OPINION

[ From Pentagon Chaplain Thinks "Convert Or Die" Religious War Game Is Way Cool ]

It's a refreshing change of pace that the Pentagon Chaplain's Office is bold enough to stand behind Jonathan Spinks' invocation of the Crusades, because it might make Iraq insurgents in Baghdad think twice before taking on America troops to know that those troops are playing a video game that's sort of like a Crusade, in which they're waging war against their fellow Americans ! If the Iraqis can be made aware that US troops, some of them anyway - the ones who are tough like the Crusaders were tough - can be taught to wage war against their fellow Americans or pursue victory with the single mindedness of Crusaders, those Iraqis might just smarten up and stand down....

The "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" game has it all - total war, tanks, helicopters, snipers, satanic 'UN Peacekeeping Troops", goat-footed demons, Creationism smacking down Evolution, satanic atheists and rock musicians....

The Pentagon Chaplain's endorsement of distributing the game to troops, and invoking the name of the badass Crusaders to strike fear into the hearts of America's foes, is radically cool.

You go, Pentagon Chaplain. The only thing cooler would be if you had the the strength to personally send brave symbolic messages to America's enemies the way the Crusaders did.




Display:
It sounds fairly insane really that the Pentagon is sendig this game to their troops. What are they thinking?
Jennifer, Web Designer working on the Migraines Online Pharmacies project.
by Jennifer D on Sun Feb 24, 2008 at 06:43:31 AM EST


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