Friday, August 10, 2007

Pentagon Chaplain Blesses Sending Badass Apocalyptic "Convert or Die" Game to Troops in Iraq

I just received the following email from someone who takes a particular interest in Christian Zionism - the content speaks for itself.

"How appalling and sick is this? What will they do next? Watched a clip of a video made by the "Christians United for Israel" conference in DC last month. Thousands of "Christians " rose to their feet to flag wave (Israeli and American!!) and shout for Armageddon when the speaker urged that George Bush should go to war against Iran - they have completely lost their orthodox Christian roots and are so very strong and dangerous. Am just reading "Wayward Christian Soldiers" written by Charles Marsh, an evangelical American Christian theologian and professor addressing the issue of this monster movement. He quotes statements from Christian groups around the world who were strongly against the war on Iraq, but the Christian Right heeded none of these. In its own eyes it's superior to the rest of the worldwide church and having its own hotline to God - not the God of the New Covenant, who came to earth as a babe,gave his life on the cross to set all humanity free, and is all Love.

Courtesy of the Pentagon, and the Pentagon Chaplain's Office, troops in Iraq will soon be able to unwind, after a hard day's urban warfare, by playing a video game in which they command a Christian fundamentalist army waging urban warfare in America ! On the streets of New York City ! Plus, in the game screens appear, between different levels of play, with short, helpful essays such as one that explains how the Theory of Evolution is clearly impossible. And, the game will be provided to US troops free of charge ! How cool is that ?
The United States Pentagon Chaplain likes "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" and the religious warfare the game depicts so much that the Chaplain's Office is sponsoring a prayer breakfast in the Pentagon's main executive dining room this Friday morning, where the founder of an apocalyptic fundamentalist "extreme sports" ministry that will distribute the game to US troops in Iraq (thoughtfully included in care packages along with baby wipes) will address top officials of the most powerful military on Earth.
Religious war is way cool. 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. Way cool.
As a taster for my new book, Zion’s Christian Soldiers, here is the text of a recent article written for Al Aqsa Magazine about the Left Behind video game.

Armageddon Now

The video game taking Christian America by storm, aptly titled ‘Left Behind: Eternal Forces’, encourages its players to kill anyone who resists conversion to Christianity. As Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft battle it out for domination of the electronic game world, the games’ creator anticipates a ready market among those who have already bought 63 million copies of the ‘Left Behind’ novels.
The game is set in New York City , a rather unusual venue for Armageddon you might think since New York doesn’t actually get a mention in the Bible. It is, however, the location of the United Nations headquarters and that is the clue. Never popular among conservative evangelicals, in Left Behind: Eternal Forces, the bad guys are the Global Community Peacekeepers, who are on a search and destroy mission in Manhattan . Their target is the remnant of newly converted Bible-believers, left behind when Christians were apparently raptured secretly to heaven. These new believers, left on earth, form a Christian army called the Tribulation Force.
Under the heading ‘Turn or Burn?’ a review by Focus on the Family suggests the game could well be an evangelistic tool for teenagers – “the kind of game that Mom and Dad can actually play with Junior—and use to raise some interesting questions along the way.” Perhaps anticipating a degree of incredulity on the part of some readers, the review asks,
How do peace and prayer go hand in hand with tanks, attack choppers and street battles? … Yes, you're offered sniper rifles, gun turrets, even tanks and helicopters. And there are points at which a gun battle is necessary to avoid a massacre. (When this happens, there's no gore. Units fall to the ground and fade away.) But if you go in guns blazing, nine times out of 10 you fail. It quickly becomes clear that the strongest weapons in your arsenal are your top-level missionaries and worship leaders. It's easier to convert a group of enemies than it is to shoot them. Still, post-Rapture warfare is integral to the game, as it is in the Left Behind books and movies.
In an interview with Tim LaHaye, the author of the Left Behind books on which the video game is based, Focus on the Family asked whether Christians will really be expected to militarize in the future?
He told Plugged In Online that this fictionalized depiction in the books, movies and now video games is a representation "of the self preservation instinct of the much-persecuted saints during the Tribulation."
What a relief. It’s all right then apparently as long as it is “faith-based” killing. Players pray for their adversaries "and try to do good spiritual things for them" But at a certain point, it becomes acceptable to kill them. So killing is OK as long as it is done in the name of Jesus. A rather more sceptical review by Jews on First observes that,
The goals of the game are simple: Spread the gospel, and stay alive. But staying alive may sometimes lead to the taking of life -- "fighting hellfire with hellfire”. And that raises a knotty moral conundrum for any game designer who worships Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Sadly, the mistaken idea of a secret rapture on which the Left Behind empire is based, and the belief that some will come to faith after Jesus returns, has generated a lot of bad theology and galvanised a belligerent US foreign policy in the Middle East.

Confident that Christians will escape and witness the events from the grandstands of heaven, exponents detach themselves from the Christian responsibility to work for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East . Instead they describe in graphic detail the suffering that will soon take place there. Charles Ryrie, for example predicts this will be, ‘the time of Israel ’s greatest bloodbath.’
[3] John Walvoord similarly predicts a holocaust in which at least 750 million people will perish.[4] Tim LaHaye warns that ‘Jacob’s trouble’, prophesied by Jeremiah 30:7, will certainly be far worse than the Spanish Inquisition … or even the Holocaust of Adolf Hitler.’[5] Not to be outdone, in The Final Battle, Hal Lindsey claims, ‘ Israel is in for a very rough time. The Jewish State will be brought to the brink of destruction.’[6] In a later chapter he clarifies what this will mean for the Jews:

The land of Israel and the surrounding area will certainly be targeted for nuclear attack. Iran and all the Muslim nations around Israel have already been targeted with Israeli nukes … All of Europe, the seat of power of the Antichrist, would surely be a nuclear battlefield, as would the United States ... Zechariah gives an unusual, detailed account of how hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the Israel battle zone will die. Their flesh will be consumed from their bones, their eyes from their sockets, and their tongues from their mouths while they stand on their feet (Zechariah 14:12). This is exactly the sort of thing that happens from the intense radiation of a neutron type bomb.
John Hagee takes an even more aggressive approach toward Iran . At the July 19th, 2006 Washington DC inaugural event for Christians United for Israel , after recorded greeting from George W. Bush, and in the presence of four US Senators as well as the Israeli ambassador to the US , John Hagee stated :

The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God's plan for both Israel and the West... a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran , which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming of Christ.

The highly speculative and imaginative interpretation of ancient prophecies that under girds the Left Behind books, films and now computer game has a fatalistic view of the future. With its prewritten script, it is inherently suspicious of anything international, anything ecumenical, anything involving the European Community or the United Nations.

Efforts to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East are spurned as counterfeit and a satanic ploy to beguile Israel . Such paranoia might be deemed a sick joke were it not so pervasive and influential, not least in galvanising US foreign policy with its perpetual war against the ‘Axis of Evil’. Its greatest danger, however, must surely be that it is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In the Middle East , this kind of apocalyptic theology, which is invariably pro-Zionist and hostile to Islam, is having a devastating effect on relations between the faith communities and on the viability of the indigenous Christian community.

Munib Younan is Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land , and a Vice President of the Lutheran World Federation. He describes how this theology has impacted him and his family.

“My father was one of the 6,500 refugees driven out of Beersheba in 1948, and my mother was from West Jerusalem . She remembers fleeing her home after the Haganah told her family to go and it would be safe for them to return soon, only to look back and see they had bombed her house and it was engulfed in flames. Their families became part of the 800,000 Palestinian refugees that were driven from their homes, more than 200,000 of whom left before May 1948 or before any of the more organized neighboring Arab armies came in. I grew up in the Old City of Jerusalem, through the 1967 war which led to the occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza , which has dominated our lives since then. Occupation continues to violate basic human rights. The worst part for me, however, was that some of my own Christian sisters and brothers from all over the world began justifying what happened as a part of God's plan. I still remember my first encounters with what I would now call a Christian Zionist who came to tell me that I should be thanking God because the scriptures were being fulfilled in the Six Day War… It is painful to me that in this Holy Land , scriptures and religion have been terribly used, abused and twisted to justify violence, injustice and hate...”

The Right Reverend Riah Abu El Assal, the retired Episcopal Bishop in Jerusalem , also said recently,

"Nearly a thousand years ago, European Crusaders tried to colonise Palestine , fuelling religious hatred and bringing the indigenous Christian community close to extinction. It is tragic, if ironic, that misguided Western Christian Zionists, by their one-sided political support for Israel , are today succeeding where the Crusaders failed… It is heartbreaking to see misguided Christians identifying more with Ahab and Jezebel than with Naboth. On a daily basis we are seeing our land confiscated, our vineyards destroyed, our homes demolished, our children traumatised and our future negated for the sake of an earthly kingdom which the Lord Jesus has plainly repudiated. I [call] Evangelical Christians, in particular, to break the spiral of violence and hatred. Instead we must obey the teachings of the Prince of Peace who has called us to a ministry of reconciliation.”

In the Summer of 2006, members of the EMEU Executive were invited to assist the heads of the local churches in Jerusalem to draft the "Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism" rejecting the tenets of this movement. The Jerusalem Declaration included this statement:

“We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.

We further reject the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organizations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine . This inevitably leads to unending cycles of violence that undermine the security of all peoples of the Middle East and the rest of the world.

We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war rather than the gospel of universal love, redemption and reconciliation taught by Jesus Christ. Rather than condemn the world to the doom of Armageddon we call upon everyone to liberate themselves from the ideologies of militarism and occupation. Instead, let them pursue the healing of the nations!”
The new Left Behind video game seems a very long way from the simple teaching of Jesus who promised “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

PS from me..........can anyone technical please tell me how to post my pix so I don't end up with all the text down the side???!

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