Churches using violent video game to recruit kids

Filed under: Teens, That's Entertainment

When I was growing up, the Catholic church was working to find ways to make faith more relevant to young people, who were leaving in droves. We had acoustic guitar music and interpretive dance at Mass, movie nights, and retreats that started with a couple hours of religious education and ended with a dance.

Oh how things have changed: Sunday's New York Times reported that more and more churches are using the video game Halo 3 to draw kids into the fold. The Halo series, for those of you not familiar with video games, is rated M for "mature" which means that it can't be purchased by anyone under 17. Players control a character called "Master Chief," a soldier who is armed with guns, grenades, and missiles; he battles members of a group called the Covenant, religious fanatics who believe that the destruction of the Earth is the key to their ascent to Heaven.

Churches have Halo nights where they provide the game, big screen TVs, snacks, and a religious lesson. You know, after the kids -- most of whom are NOT over 17 -- spend a couple of hours virtually breaking the sixth commandment (that's "thou shalt not kill," just so you know). Church leaders argue that Halo 3 offers a creative and harmless way to reach out to young men, who need religion in their lives, and that playing the game together is a way to provide community and fellowship. But one 12-year-old, interviewed at his church's Halo night, said he liked the game because "It's just fun blowing people up."

That's not exactly the lesson I want my kids learning at church.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.