Department of Defense Cancels Left Behind: Eternal Forces Plan

Department of Defense Cancels Left Behind: Eternal Forces Plan

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The U.S. Department of Defense has canceled plans to send copies of the videogame Left Behind: Eternal Forces to American troops stationed in Iraq.

The cancellation followed an ABC News inquiry into the plan. The games were meant to be included with care packages provided to the troops by the evangelical group Operation Start Up, which "actively" preaches and seeks converts to Christianity among soldiers. The plan to send the game was first uncovered by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which issued a statement supporting the decision to "cease this provocative act." However, the Foundation's president, Mikey Weinstein, added, "I doubt this will prevent unconstitutional activity in the Pentagon with regards to freedom of religion for more than just a few days."

Operation Start Up President Johnathan Spinks drew criticism recently for his comments on the program when he wrote on the organization's website, "We feel the forces of heaven have encouraged us to perform multiple crusades that will sweep through this war-torn region. We'll hold the only religious crusade of its size in the dangerous land of Iraq."

The plan to include the game came under fire from multiple sources almost as soon as it was uncovered. Critics claimed it violated constitutional provisions regarding religion and was unnecessarily and overtly provocative. Based on the Left Behind series of books, Left Behind: Eternal Forces is a real-time strategy game in which the Christian Tribulation Force engages the army of the Antichrist, known as the Global Community Peacekeepers. The game was released to generally poor reviews, receiving an aggregate score of 45 percent on GameRankings and 49/100 on MobyGames.

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Regardless of religious preference, I find it a little chilling that the DoD was pressured to stop the distribution of a game to the troops. If the game was REQUIRED, they would have a point. Giving it away to be played or not played is totally different. Does that mean bibles can't be distributed? What about the Koran or the Torah?

My friend pointed out that it wouldn't be nice to send a game called "Left Behind" to those still stuck in Iraq.

The issue that was pointed out (shared by myself and one or two others) when the initial inclusion of the game was posted on the site, was the DoD approval stamp on the package. Nobody is stopping a secondary organization from donating whatever they want to soldiers in Iraq... but, the DoD, and the Armed Forces, should not be engaging in what could be seen as evangelical behavior. Heck, stick it in the PX/BX of your average base, with a big sign saying who donated it. But, imho, they should not be doing anything that could make it look like "Alright soldier, here's your standard issue camo, vest, weapon, and Christian conversion game."

When we sent our troops games that nobody in the US wants to play, that's when we know the terrorists have won.

Geoffrey42:
The issue that was pointed out (shared by myself and one or two others) when the initial inclusion of the game was posted on the site, was the DoD approval stamp on the package. Nobody is stopping a secondary organization from donating whatever they want to soldiers in Iraq... but, the DoD, and the Armed Forces, should not be engaging in what could be seen as evangelical behavior. Heck, stick it in the PX/BX of your average base, with a big sign saying who donated it. But, imho, they should not be doing anything that could make it look like "Alright soldier, here's your standard issue camo, vest, weapon, and Christian conversion game."

But giving them Bibles is okay by you? I don't hear anyone complaining about that.

My original qualm, which I'm sticking to, is the DoD sponsorship of the package. If the DoD is handing out Bibles along with the camo, kevlar vests, weapons, and Christian conversion games, then I would take issue with that. If you can point out a source which lists everything the OSU had put together, which the DoD then stamped/approved, which includes a Bible, then I would be HAPPY to begin complaining about it. All I've seen so far on this story mentions the game. Alternatively, if you want to point out a separate instance from the current OSU package being discussed, with the DoD Stamp of Approval, which included a Bible, I'd be glad to complain about that as well.

Really, my point is, you don't hear anyone complaining about it, because UNTIL you enter the evidence requested into the conversation, the Bible isn't (and wasn't) pertinent to the discussion. You also don't hear anyone complaining about moose-flavored lollipops. But, for some reason, I'm not surprised by those complaints' absence, either.

To answer your question directly: Anyone is free to give them Bibles, except their bosses. 'tis still a free country, with separation of church and state, at least, for the moment.

 

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