Dear Mr. Whalen,
I see you’ve gotten a threatening letter from a supposedly “Christian” business (though how one can run a “Christian” business and be publicly traded is beyond me). I am no lawyer; my advice is worth nothing legally.
But I’m going to offer it to you anyway.
Don’t back down. Don’t change a thing. You’ve done nothing wrong and you own no moment of moral uncertainty to a bunch of bullies passing themselves off as “Christian.”
We here in Nashville have some experience with “Christain” businesses deciding they can use the threat of lawsuits to silence their critics.
What we discovered from the incident is that folks who threaten to sue bloggers are notoriously internet unsavvy and have little to no idea of the bad publicity such actions can generate, especially once word gets out of their bullying tactics.
Ms. Coble was fortunate to find herself the help of a legal team devoted to protecting the rights of bloggers. I would advise you to see if such help might be available to you.
In the meantime, here’s how I’ll help.
My Christiand Friends (and other purchasers of video games), I implore you to not purchase any of the Left Behind video games and to return any that you may have purchased. Perhaps it’d be worthwhile to return the books as well.
People can have disagreements about a game, about what an “acceptable” level of violence is, and even whether a game is a good buy for a consumer. Very rarely are said disagreements legally actionable.
Listen, my Christian Friends, here’s what I want you to consider. The Left Behind games are selling a supposedly Christian-friendly message to Christians and the broader public. Of course, it’s up to you to try out the game and to decide for yourself whether the message of the game is compatible with the message of Christ.
But, Left Behind Games itself is also benefiting from its association with Christianity. And here’s what you have to ask yourself. Is it particularly Christian to threaten to sue your critics? Is it particularly Christian to use your money and your access to lawyers to take after poor grad students? Is this behavior you want associated with you?
I wrote them a note expressing my displeasure. It reads:
Shame on you! Where exactly in the Bible does Jesus say it’s okay for powerful businesses to use their money and access to lawyers to scare poor grad students and bloggers into not giving their honest opinions of your products?
How, exactly, you get from “turn the other cheek” to “bully the weak”?
We’ll see how it goes.
I also took a look deeper into their website and came across this from their FAQ:
Does the violence depicted in the game run contrary to Jesus’ message on “love your enemy”?
Absolutely not. Christians are quite clearly taught to turn the other cheek and to love their enemies. It is equally true that no one should forfeit their lives to an aggressor who is bent on inflicting death. Forgiveness does not require absolute defenselessness. Apparent contradictions on behalf of Christians are often the result of them placing greater importance on the message, than in caring for others. LEFT BEHIND: Eternal Forces is a game which provides great entertainment while encouraging fascinating discussions about matters of eternal importance.
Y’all, seriously, what does that mean? Im asking this, all snark aside, is that what they’re teaching Christians today?
Back in my day, the words in red were THE TRUTH and nothing else in the Bible was as equally true. If you read something in the Bible that seemed to contradict what the red words said, you went with what the red words said.
Well, folks, “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemies” are words in red. How can it possibly be “equally true” that “non one should forfeit their lives to an aggressor who is bent on inflicting death”? Is that from the little-read Book of Rambo (sorry, snark sneaking back in)? How is that even Christian?
And I’ll have a dollar for the person who can explain what “Apparent contradictions on behalf of Christians are often the result of them placing greater importance on the message, than in caring for others.” means.
I find myself in a position where I can’t even disagree with them because I can’t understand what they’re saying.
I mean, I don’t think that there’s anything in the Bible that would preclude one from defending herself or her loved ones. Yet, I assume (and maybe I’m wrong), that such action is supposed to be a drastic, last line of recourse, and that one is supposed to feel some emotion about having to take such a step.
Is there a moment in the video game when, after shooting your first person or encountering the body of a friend, you throw up or pass out or shake so bad you have to sit down?
I somehow doubt it.
Anyway, we’ve gotten way off track. Let’s recap:
1. Whalen, tell them to suck your butt.
2. Folks who buy this video game, tell them to shape up or you want your money back.
3. Left Behind Games folks, come on! Accept criticisms, even respond to them (as you have here), but stop it with the bullying asshole behavior, especially because you’re not just passing yourself off as a regular business but as a business that abides by the teachings of a dude your behavior seems in direct contradiction of.
4. Someone must promise that, when we finally invent time travel, someone will return to BC Judea and hand out baby books to folks. I had started this post with a joke about Mary, James, and John, but had to delete it because even I, the daughter of a minister, could not keep the Jameses and Johns straight in my head.