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Halos and Halo?

Back in August, plans by a Pentagon backed group to send copies of a Christian themed video game in which the player goes around killing unbelievers in a post-Rapture apocalyptic world, were scrapped over the furor generated by the idea. Critics, in addition to claiming it violated the separation of church and state, also claimed it was unseemly to peddle a video game that demonized those not of a particular faith.

And now the church has usurped the idea for themselves, this time utilizing the mass appeal of video games to lure younger patrons to the pews.
First the percussive sounds of sniper fire and the thrill of the kill. Then the gospel of peace.

Across the country, hundreds of ministers and pastors desperate to reach young congregants have drawn concern and criticism through their use of an unusual recruiting tool: the immersive and violent video game Halo.

The latest iteration of the immensely popular space epic, Halo 3, was released nearly two weeks ago by Microsoft and has already passed $300 million in sales.

Those buying it must be 17 years old, given it is rated M for mature audiences. But that has not prevented leaders at churches and youth centers across Protestant denominations, including evangelical churches that have cautioned against violent entertainment, from holding heavily attended Halo nights and stocking their centers with multiple game consoles so dozens of teenagers can flock around big-screen televisions and shoot it out.

Though I'm not to up on what the exact statistics are regarding religious youth, from what little I have heard about the subject, the need to bring more wee lambs into the fold as it were has become more paramount as the aging elders have fewer and fewer successors to their legacies. Given this dynamic, its not surprising churches would turn to whatever hook was able to bring in the most parishioners. But what I do find surprising is the chosen medium of Halo.

I know that it can probably be brushed off as merely the obvious choice given the popularity of the game but I can't help but wonder if the religious overtones of the game itself also play a role. Was Halo chosen not because you get to kill a bunch of invading aliens but because said aliens practice a different faith, as evidenced by the heavy emphasis of religion in the second game? In that sense, is the appeal of a game like Halo to the church going sect any different than the appeal of a game in which you get to kill a bunch of unbelieving hordes?

The idea of killing anyone, be they human or alien, should be abhorrent. Because in real life, there is no reset button.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

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