Christian groups cross with Left Behind

Religious organizations take exception to faith-based real-time strategy game, saying it promotes violence and intolerance.

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An assortment of Christian organizations is hoping that when faithful gamers leave their favorite retailers this holiday season, they'll leave behind one new religious real-time strategy game. Groups including CrossWalk America, Christian Alliance for Progress, The Center for Progressive Christianity, and The Beatitudes Society are calling for a boycott and a recall of Left Behind Games' first title, Left Behind: Eternal Forces, saying it promotes a number of decidedly un-Christian values.

Released earlier this month and famously mocked on The Daily Show, Left Behind: Eternal Forces is based on the Left Behind novels, which depict a world after the Rapture. That's where the authors believe the faithful are taken up to heaven, leaving everyone else behind to fight a climactic battle between good and evil.

A petition hosted at CrossWalk America's site asks Left Behind Games to recall the game. The petition cites the game's manual and in-game tutorial in saying that Eternal Forces involves killing non-Christians and Christians who don't convert to a particular form of Christianity, teaches teens that activists are "wolves in sheep's clothing," that rock and pop stars are "formidable spiritual opponents," and that non-Christian aid workers like doctors and nurses are enemy forces who can be killed. It also points to a passage on the game's Web site that says the Antichrist is "an imposturous one world government seeking peace for all of mankind," saying the game teaches players that those who seek peace are with the forces of evil.

In a post on her blog, Beatitudes Society executive director Rev. Anne Howard called the game reprehensible, saying, "we cannot be silent in the face of a video game that promotes killing, violence, intolerance, and a hideously false reading of the Bible."

A recall seems unlikely however, as the company has invested heavily in this, its first game. Earlier this month, the company filed its quarterly financial report with the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying that its net losses since its inception in August of 2002 through the end of September 2006 totaled more than $27 million.

Left Behind Games CEO Troy Lyndon responded to the protest with a statement of his own.

"Those throwing rocks at our game simply haven't played it through," Lyndon said. "There is no 'convert or die' in the game. There is no blood, gore or gratuitous violence of any kind. … Left Behind Games' desire is to have a positive impact on an industry that traditionally has had a dark influence on gamers and the world."

To find out how Left Behind: Eternal Forces plays as a game, check out GameSpot's less-than-heavenly review.

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