A video game that depicts a crusade of violence by Christians could be heading for the bestseller charts this Christmas, even though it has been condemned by Muslims and secularists.
The game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces, is set in post-apocalyptic New York and features God’s army battling the Antichrist.
Based on Left Behind, the bestselling Christian fantasy book series created by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, it puts players in command of brainwashed legions fighting for Christianity.
Players are ordered to convert or kill to advance to the next level and remodel America as a Christian-controlled state, and establish its world vision of Christ’s dominion.
They pit battles between the paramilitary Christian Tribulation Force and the grey, faceless, Global Community Peacekeepers of the Antichrist, said to be modelled on the United Nations. The fantasy is based on what might happen if the events of the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, happened today.
Critics accuse its creators of mixing religion and violence to appeal to teenage fans of violent games such as Grand Theft Auto.
The game was sold originally in the US. British outlets are releasing the game for the Christmas market. The Left Behind books have sold more than 63 million copies.
Muslim groups have denounced the game as portraying Islam as evil and accuse its creators of insulting their faith. The Muslim Association of Britain called for the game to be banned, describing it as evil.
It said: “This game is irresponsible and highly racist. It demonises every other religion which isn’t Christianity. People must boycott this violent game.
“Games like this poison the minds of young people.”
Terry Sanderson, the president of the National Secular Society, said: “Fundamentalists on both the Christian and the Muslim side are creating this kind of nasty, extreme propaganda and aiming it at young people. I’m not into banning things or censoring them, but I think most Muslims and most Christians would recognise that this is crude and despicable hate-mongering and give it a wide berth.”
The creators of the game have dismissed the criticism, saying that the religious story- line in the game is not taken from the Bible and is a creation of the Left Behind authors, which should not be taken seriously.
Troy A. Lyndon, the chief executive of Left Behind Games, said: “The game is designed to be a classic battle between good and evil. We have deliberately censored the blood and it does not gratuitously depict death or violence. Left Behind is not taken from the Bible, it is a fictional story.”
A meeting of fiction and theology
Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’s bestselling series of 12 novels started in 1995 with Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth’s Last Days
President Bush is said to be a fan of the series
The theological doctrine in the books and the new game is known as premillennial dispensationalism
Neither the Church of England nor the Roman Catholic Church has said officially that it does not believe in this apocalyptic scenario
Christians in both churches endorse their belief in it in the Nicene Creed: “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.”
See Also: Ruth Gledhill’s blog: Articles of Faith