"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


WWW Talk To Action


Nine Mainline Protestant Christian Martyrs
This is a tricky time for the Christian Right. Immediately following the mass murder at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in......
By Frederick Clarkson (3 comments)
Terms, Definitions & Glossaries for Writing about the Religious Right
One of the challenges in writing about the Religious Right and what to do about it is the matter of terms and definitions. That's......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Top Southern Baptist Official Admits Churches Won't Be Forced To Marry Same-Sex Couples
For years now, Religious Right leaders have been whipping up hysteria by claiming that, should marriage equality become the law of the land, conservative......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
The Pope, Climate Change and the Catholic Right.
The conservative criticism of Laudato Sii, ("Praised Be"), Pope Francis's encyclical on the environment and poverty that began even before its release, has now......
By Frank Cocozzelli (4 comments)
Simply Put -- LGBTQ rights are not a threat to religious freedom
I'd like to underscore the conclusion of this piece, which is crossposted from LGBTQ Nation.  The advance of civil rights for LGBTQ people is......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Pluck Of The Irish: Same-Sex Marriage Vote Shows Yearning For An End To Clerical Domination
A provocative headline from Reuters news service last week caught my eye. "Irish plunge stake through Catholic Church's heart," it read.The headline is perhaps......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Religification as a Tool of Massive Resistance to LGBTQ Equality
So much of the contemporary religious liberty campaign being conducted by the Christian Right is demagogic fear-mongering designed to justify discrimination against other Americans,......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Happy Birth (Control) Day!: A Golden Anniversary That Shouldn't Be Overlooked
American women today enjoy a right that for thousands of years of human civilization was virtually unheard of: The power to decide if they......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
GOP Gov. Pat McCrory Did The Right Thing
Republican Governor Pat McCrory did the right thing -- and in so doing showed the way for conservative Christian Republicans in the age of......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Dinosaurs in South America and Other Legends
In the early seventies I made a visit to church members.  I was with Dr. Bill Hendrix, one of the most distinguished theologians in......
By wilkyjr (5 comments)
The Christian Right's Claims of Persecution by the Secular State Ring Very Hollow
Religious exemptions to various laws and regulations have been much in the news in recent years, particularly in relation to the advance of LGBTQ......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
The JFK Speech That Made Santorum Want to Throw-Up
On February 26, 2012, (when I first published this post), the heated GOP presidential primaries were getting hotter as the Christian Right sought to......
By Frederick Clarkson (9 comments)
The Religious Bigotry of Rick Santorum
Now that Rick Santorum has announced that he is running for president, again, it is worth reminding ourselves that he is a coarsely obvious......
By Frederick Clarkson (24 comments)
Thoughts on the Finale of the Finn Debacle
Now that Bishop Robert Finn has finally resigned his leadership of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri -- here are some final thoughts......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
DeVos and School Privatization Funders Backing Philadelphia Democratic Mayoral Candidate
The Betsy DeVos-led American Federation for Children (AFC) and its core funders have spent more than fifteen million dollars in Pennsylvania over the last......
By Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)

Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (0 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (3 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (1 comment)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (5 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (5 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (3 comments)

More Diaries...




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