Conservative and Evangelical Christian Republicans have remained some of the strongest supporters of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why? Some of the churches are training their youngest members to identify, objectify, and kill their enemies, through violent video games, although they insist they’re just shooting pixels, not real people. These are the same Christians that are against the violence of the media, and recognize that the media can influence our actions. They’re the same Christians who adamantly talk about the sanctity of life, yet their actions tell us otherwise. Both the violent video games of Halo and the Left Behind series are being played in churches to help recruit teen-agers who seem to have lost interest in church. By playing the games in churches, and then justifying the games by discussions about Jesus afterwards, teen-agers can once more flock to the church to shoot it out with their enemies. These are the same churches that caution against violent entertainment, such as Quentin Tarantino’s movies, but if the label “Christian” is listed somewhere – as writer, director, creator – then it must be all right. By bringing in violent video games, where so-called Christian boys can blow people up, and feel justified for doing it, they can get snared into attending church. Suddenly, their church-going makes them Christians and thereby saved from going to hell.
Since many of these games are only for mature audiences, those over 17 years old, the church can provide them with the adult guardianship necessary for them to play the game thereby encouraging their violent game-playing which they find fun and exciting. Focus on the Family says they’re having trouble deciding their stance on it. Lisa Anderson, one of their spokespeople says they’re trying to balance the game’s violence with its popularity, thereby trying to figure out whether they should be for or against it. For many Christians, this is a no-brainer. Somehow, some Evangelicals are trying to decide whether the ends always justifies the means, or not.
Halo’s message and the Left Behind message is also apocalyptic: Halo encourages the destruction of the earth to hurry up Armageddon so believers can go heaven. The Left Behind series applauds the rapturing up of the Christians and the destruction of all those non-believers who obviously didn’t choose correctly. Is it any wonder that many Christians, and non-Christians, find this thinking dangerous and frightening? Is it any wonder that many of us find the hypocrisy of some Christians to be far too influential in our social and religious and political life?
But what kind of Christ are these churches selling, once they snare the teen-agers into coming to church? It’s not the Christ who is the Prince of Peace, The Suffering Servant, the Lamb of God, The Compassionate One, The Healer, The One who Forgives, the Lover, the One who tells us to love our enemies and to do good to those who persecute us. The image of a Militant Christ is not found in the Gospels. Nor is it good theology to talk about hurrying along Armageddon, as if we had control over any End Times.
And if these churches had to choose between Jesus Christ and Barabbas, who would they choose? Considering their choices for how they recruit their disciples, it would seem that who they really follow is the Revolutionary, the Zealot, the violent Barabbas.