Violent video games and the Bible

Last night a Toronto public school board finalized a ban on the distribution of Gideon Bibles to fifth graders. (There were threats of violence from various Christian objectors, but that’s a topic for another day.) The decision was based on possible human rights violations (I’m not sure of the details), but another serious argument was apparently ignored, namely that the Bible just isn’t suitable for fifth graders.

I can almost see Christians steaming from the ears at such a suggestion, but I think it warrants consideration. There is a lot of gruesome violence in the Bible, including the mass slaughter and rape of women and children. If you don’t want to expose your children to this type of violence, you should probably put your Bibles on the top shelf.

The irony is that it is Christian groups who are often at the forefront of protests against violent video games and other media (see here and here, for instance) even as they grant their young children unfettered access to the scriptures.

Of course, there are some churches that are willing to let their objection of violence slide when it allows them to recruit new members (if there is one thing I’ve learned from my experience as a Christian, it’s that most churches’ long-held doctrines and traditions become unusually flexible the moment the congregation starts to shrink). In 2007, The New York Times ran a story about churches using the violent Halo video game to attract young people. Nothing like a little violence to turn people onto Jesus! (Apparently the “WWJD” mantra was conveniently forgotten here.)

Although I’m an atheist, I have no objections to my child reading the Bible. Indeed, to be well educated about religion, he should read it. (I would even consider pointing him to the Qur’an, but after having read it myself I’m not sure I can bring myself to make such a recommendation.)

However, just as with the violent video games, my child’s going to have to wait until he’s a little older.


5 Responses to Violent video games and the Bible

  1. I’ve missed reading you; I’ve been so busy. I really enjoyed this post, Keith. I do understand where you’re coming from. The bible is intense in places and children are sure to ask a lot of questions. I know .. mine is continually inquiring about numerous things related to it. She keeps me on my toes.

  2. Here in the UK (and I’m sure they have them elsewhere) we have things called “Childrens’ Bibles”. A bit like the Jefferson Bible, I suppose, because most of the bad bits have been taken out. There was no massacre at Jericho, for example, in a childrens’ Bible that I browsed in a bookstore.

    I see a sales opportunity here, because you could theoretically produce a bible for any group you want, and still claim it to be the inspired word of God.

  3. Good day! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from
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    I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about setting
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    • Keith says:


      It’s pretty easy with WordPress. It’s free, and you can start blogging right away. The real difficultly lies in getting lots of people to actually read it, something I have been only partially successful with. If you’re really dedicated (which I am not), then you’ll try to get yourself on appropriate blogrolls (lists of blogs that cover a particular topic), maybe set up a Facebook page that links to the blog, etc.

      Hope that helps.

  4. This is absolutely among the most interesting sites I have seen.
    It’s so easy to get jaded, but there is honestly some good stuff on the net, and I feel your blog is one of them!

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