Revolution #51, June 18, 2006
“Left Behind”—the Video Game
Training Youth as Christian Fascist Warriors
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.
—From “The Purpose Driven Life Takers”, one of a four-part series exposing the “Left Behind: Eternal Forces” video game (and its links to major mainstream Christian fascist leaders) by Jonathan Hutson, a Christian writer who has written important exposure on the Christian fascists at the web site Talk2Action.
The “Left Behind” empire (the books alone have sold 65 million copies) of books and movies are bloody, revenge-filled thrillers which, according to their website, takes inspiration from the book of Revelation in the Bible: at once, millions of people are suddenly sucked up to Heaven, and unbelievers are slaughtered in ways that would rival the goriest of slasher films: “Jesus merely speaks and the bodies of the enemy are ripped wide open down the middle… Christians have to drive carefully to avoid ‘hitting splayed and filleted corpses of men and women and horses.’” (From “What the ‘Left Behind’ Series Really Means,” by Joe Baegant, at the website YuricaReport.com.) Now they have launched a video game, expected to drop in October, aimed at training youth in the bloody annihilation of “unbelievers.”
The game’s website brags that its players can “conduct physical & spiritual warfare…using the power of prayer to strengthen your troops in combat and wield modern military weaponry throughout the game world… Control more than 30 unit types—from Prayer Warrior and Hellraiser to Spies, Special Forces and Battle Tanks!”
Screen shots of the game show Christian warriors in full battle gear, patrolling the streets of New York battling for souls against the forces of evil—the “Peacekeepers.” Hutson reports that the mission of these warriors is to force everyone else to either convert, and line up with the forces of good (the “Tribulation Force”) or be killed, with their bodies left to rot in the streets. The game’s website notes that killing unbelievers will cause gamers to lose “spirit points” — however, a quick post-bloodbath “prayer” session will rack those points right back up. The game shouts, “Praise the Lord!” every time an unbeliever is blasted away. Gamers can also switch to embody the spirit of the “AntiChrist” and literally devour fundamentalist Christians, providing further ammunition for the game’s revenge fantasies.
Many of the Left Behind Games’ advisory board members are major businessmen and marketers, who are planning to target megachurches and youth pastors: there are plans to distribute 1 million free copies to churches, and to market to mainstream gaming magazines. (Reviews on gaming websites show an eerie refusal to condemn the concept of a game designed to train teenagers in holy war.) Its designers have put effort into making this game as slick and well-designed as possible: The advisory board for Left Behind Games also includes the current director of sales for Microsoft Xbox; a former VP at Atari; and the senior vice president for a division of AOL Time Warner. Mark Carver, the executive director for Purpose Driven, the training arm of Rick Warren’s megachurch in California, sat on the board until he suddenly resigned on June 6, after Hutson’s series of articles had focused attention on his role. Purpose Driven then began trying to disassociate themselves and Warren from the game; in response, Hutson wrote that it was highly unlikely Warren was unaware of a project to develop the “biggest Christian video game in history” and asked, “Do we think that Left Behind invoked the name brand of Mr. Warren’s Purpose Driven Church without his permission?” Hutson wrote:
Now the organizations are making a public relations retreat, taking brisk, small steps, and making little noise about it, while… still refusing to condemn the gory game that glorifies violence and lets children strategize how to kill in the name of Christ, or the AntiChrist. Will [Warren] outright condemn the game and lead a boycott of any mega-churches and chain stores that plan to distribute it?
In his articles, Hutson reveals one very telling feature of the game: it’s no accident that the legions of ambulances zipping around in “Eternal Forces” do not have crosses or stars on their roofs, but are emblazoned with a big black “911”: “…as if to say, We are living in the End Times, and Muslims are among the kinds of infidels whom you should fear, whom you should be prepared to kill for your cause.”
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