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Left Behind: Eternal Forces - The Video Game
Posted: December 19, 2006

The popular “Left Behind” books and movies – which promotes an exclusionary Christian theology that believes Jews and others must convert or be killed at the End of Days – has a new addition to its growing franchise: “Left Behind: Eternal Forces,” the video game.

The game, released in November 2006 on CD-ROM, is based on the same intolerant theology embedded in the adult and children “Left Behind” book series, which features gory depictions of the annihilation of Jews and other non-Christians who refuse to convert at Armageddon.

The “Eternal Forces” game was released to coincide with the Christmas 2006 shopping season.  It represents the latest tool in the arsenal of millionaire pastor Tim LaHaye, co-author of the “Left Behind” books, and is based on his Christian-only salvation theology and his horror-filled interpretation of Biblical prophecies about Jews, Israel and their fate during the Apocalypse.

While the Left Behind books portrays a world beset with violence, and the final installment of the series is full of gruesome scenes of destruction and the killing of Jews and others, the video game avoids such stark portrayals.  If the game had stayed true to the level of violence in the books, it would probably not have been able to keep the “Teen” rating it garnered.

However, the inclusion of a “Left Behind” book in the package for “Left Behind: Eternal Forces” creates a direct link between the two. Together they promote the overall message of an exclusivist religious system that considers the proselytization of Jews to be an imperative.  This theology portrays itself as the only path to salvation. And Jews, people of any other faith, or those of no faith who do not convert before it's too late, are destined to suffer horrible deaths.

Good vs. Evil

The “Eternal Forces” game pits the “good guys” a Christian religious militia, battling the “bad guys,” called the Global Community Peacekeepers - a United Nations-like world army led by the anti-Christ. LaHaye argues that the video game is “designed to be a classic battle between good and evil,” adding that since there is no “gratuitous” blood and gore, its tale of the hellish demise of non-believers, will actually “perpetuate positive values.” 

The game, like the rest of the Left Behind franchise, mirrors another troubling aspect of the Christian Supremacist movement in the United States by portraying Christians who believe in their specific brand of theology as a put-upon minority who are being persecuted by larger and better equipped evil forces.   

The game is designed to make force an option only used by players if necessary when their forces are attacked by those hunting them, and any characters that kill others in the game are penalized. Conversion to Christianity in the game is not depicted as forcible in nature, and violence is not rewarded in the game.

The game revolves around "spirit" - a low spirit leads a character to the side of the Antichrist, and players must continually watch their spirit levels to ensure they do not slide towards evil.  Killing others in the game deeply affects the spirit levels, and players must have those characters pray to build themselves back up or risk turning evil.

Ultimately, the game comes down to a choice of fighting - both materially and spiritually - against the forces of evil, or joining evil and losing. Evil is typified by “rock stars” and “cult leaders” who pull souls into darkness.

“Life Stories” and Moral Lessons

“Left Behind: Eternal Forces” includes “life stories” that can be read describing all of the characters populating the game, including the Christians (making up the Tribulation Force) and the minions of the Antichrist, as well as the neutral characters both sides are seeking to influence and win over as recruits. The back stories of the characters include moral lessons in each person’s history.  For example, one character’s family was religious and he was not, and after they were “Raptured” he still is not entirely convinced in the religious nature of their disappearance, so he is a neutral character.  Another was a criminal who ended up joining the forces of the Antichrist.  Others on the Tribulation Force were nominally Christian and only converted after they recognized the true nature of the Rapture.

The neutral characters populating the game are often members of religions other than Christian or lapsed/not faithful Christians from various denominations. However, the particular religious and social backgrounds of characters in the game does not make them any more or less susceptible to conversion, nor is there any special benefit attributed to converting someone of a particular background (i.e. no “extra points” or “increased difficulties” when trying to convert a person from a specific group/belief).

Promoting An Evangelical Worldview

Another insidious aspect of the game being used as a way to promote a particular fundamentalist view of Christianity occurs at the end of each level, where there are optional “clues” that serve as informational pieces designed to promote the evangelical beliefs of the makers of the game. These pages have Christian music playing the in background, and include a link out to purchase the particular tune playing.

Topics of these pages include themes such as questioning evolution or giving descriptions of historic Christian sites in Israel (and links out to further materials online about the topics). Players are not required to read them to continue with the game.

In its press materials, Left Behind Games points to the success of Christian products such as Mel Gibson’s high-grossing 2004 film, “The Passion of the Christ.” They claim there are a built-in market and a built-in distribution system.  The networks of churches that ascribe to the beliefs of LaHaye and others are important parts of the company’s marketing plans, which include sending a million promotional CDs to churches across the country.

Related Materials
"Left Behind" and the Jews
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2006 Anti-Defamation League