Why Haven’t Religious Groups Targeted GTA IV?

Given the widespread criticism of Grand Theft Auto IV following the game’s April 29th release, reporter Gary Stern (left), who pens Blogging Religiously for news site LoHud.com, wonders why church groups haven’t weighed in:

Religious groups, of course, protest just about anything… So it surprises me that there has been little—any?—religious outrage over Grand Theft Auto. Lot of groups have protested against the incredibly violent video game—police, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and prostitutes among them (the game allows interaction between prostitutes and clients and alludes to the rape of prostitutes).


To be clear, I’ve never played the game (or seen it). But based on what I’ve read about its contents, I’m simply surprised that the religion world hasn’t taken notice. Religious groups complain about a lot less. And GTA, you would think, would be a target that liberals and conservatives could agree upon.


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  1. C'tri says:

    imo, its because there are more important things than ranting over video games’ content. as most gamers would agree.

    "religions being sensible?! DOOM AND DESPAIR!"

  2. T5 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This blogger is a troll, looking for a fight, trying to make news where there is none and that is as simply as that. 

  3. Anonymous says:

    I believe you’ve made the common mistake of confusing Religious Groups with Faithful.

    Religious Groups are just special interest groups who, like all SIGs hide their ulterior motives under a seemingly relevant social argument.

    Faithful spread the ‘Word of God’. Religious Groups manipulate and pervert the ‘Word of God’.

  4. Voligne the Archon says:

    A REAL religous group would not be trying to secure political power of any sort, it has no business in the cogs of the government. A REAL religous group would be preaching the Word of God to any who would care to listen, not wasting their time on people who won’t.

    (If you haven’t gathered yet I am a christian who regularly attends church, I am also a Mass Effect fan >.> )

  5. shaoron says:

    played GTA2 and 3… quiet frankly… i don’t like them anymore.. and i am a Christian.

    I’ve played lots of violent games since from when i was younger till i became a Christian. Games include Halo, Counter Strike, Call of Duty, RTS games and so on so forth… Me and my church mates even sometimes play DOTA (a warcraft 3 mod), the occasional CS and many more. we even have lan parties (thou a bit rare due to time).

    GTA is a concern to certain kids… but to go all out and call it thing it isn’t!? my goodness… talk about lying and ignorance!

  6. black manta says:

    I think in that respect I wonder if what it’s really all about is that they fear the competiton.  When you look at it, much of the Christian mythos does sound like Fantasy.  Your central figure is, to quote Danny Ledonne, a guy who "walked on water, rose from the dead and could read your mind thousands of years later."  There are lots of fantastical creatures, i.e. angels and demons, and a large cornerstone is based on the assumption that essentially the Devil’s son will take over the Earth and there will ensue a great war were Jesus comes back and everyone lives happily ever after.  If it wasn’t so tied to a major religion, I’d say all that would be considered Fantasy.  Look at movies like The Omen trilogy, the Left Behind series, or any work of fiction for that matter that draws from the book of Revelation for inspriational material.  Essentially it’s Fantasy, Horror or Sci-Fi.

    So when you’ve got other things like D&D, Harry Potter and LOTR coming along threatening to take away your audience, of course you’re going to do whatever you can to discredit it and make it look bad. 

  7. Christophe Janson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    From the small part iv’e played, iv’e seen the republic space rangers (tv-show, war against terrorism and halo spoff) and heard some things on the radio that leans in the liberal or at least anti-republic direction. But maybe they have thrown in some anti liberal things somewhere down the road.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Could it be something like Middle Earth vs Harry Potter.  Harry Potter was railed by religious groups for its bent on magic and witchcraft.  Even though reading the book and the movie(s) have any real world ideals of either magic or witchcraft.  Tolkien, while have sweeping amounts of magic, monsters and mayhem (including a real plot), did not even have a single group mutter badly about him, his work, or the movies.  Why?  He’s a christian.

    Maybe, those who developed the game, are christians.  Maybe their denominations are different, but all/most/some are christian.  Its plausible.



  9. Anonymous says:

    The creators of GTA IV developed a world in which it is possible to murder, steal, and cause destruction – and then, given the right amount of skill, strength, or cunning, deal with those consequences.

    Our own world functions in much the same way.  I could in fact go have sex with a prostitute and then kill her to take my money back.  Chances are, I could even get away with it.  If religious groups indicted GTA IV’s creators, they would also have to indict God for making a world just as flexible and just as lawless.

  10. GRIZZAM PRIME says:

    Maybe the organized religious groups realized that acting like nuts makes them look…well, they look like fucking psychos.


    -GRIZZAM PRIME(c)is property of the U.S. Marine Corp. Wetworks Dept., and also The Incredible Hulk-GRIZZAM PRIME is not to be associated with GRIZZAM 512 or any other GRIZZAM entity under penalty of law, so sayith ZARATHOS.

  11. Father Time says:

    It is tamer, other then the laundry list of complaints that have been copied and pasted since GTA III there has been very very little (except for dunk driving but even then MADD only made a small wimper).

    Hell there’s been more controversy over the game before it was released, you know back when they were still releasing trailers and ads.

  12. Father Time says:

    It’s so cliche at this point it might as well go like this.

    Us: Hey organized religions what so you have to say about grand theft auto IV?

    Organized religion: Take what we said about vice city and san andreas (minus hot coffee) and there you go, now please leave us alone.


    Organized Religion: They made a fourth one? The church is displeased that it lets you kill prostitutes and cops rockstar should take more responsibility etc. etc. now go away, we need sleep.

    Perhaps religion doesn’t want to bash the best selling video game right now

  13. ConstantNeophyte says:

    What are you talking about "something against certain ethnic groups"?

    As for religious references, there was the priest-type dude (with prostitute saving designs) you had to take out in GTA SA. Hardly anything to get upset about though.

    -ConstantNeophyte: always the newb, ALWAYS.

  14. Haggard ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    You did in San Andreas too (the mission for OG Loc where you chase his ‘prison pal’ on the motorbike). But then, San Andreas had an accidental instance of a sex minigame. And we can’t allow children to see such content! No way, not on my watch are they gonna learn how to continue the human race.

    But then, with people like JT around – why should we even want them to?

  15. Mr. Blond ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Is it me, or is the controversy around GTA4 just tamer overall? I think by now, people know what to expect, so the content is no longer a shock. In fact, if not for Hot Coffee, it appeared that San Andreas criticism was pretty much the usual ho-hum grumblings from the usual groups. The same thing happened with Mortal Kombat. By the time the third game was released, the shock factor had died down, and people accepted that it was here to stay.

  16. 1AgainstTheWorld says:

    Ah, good old Jack, nice of you to drop by.  (Gee, I "can\’t" imagine how I guessed "it\’s" you.)

  17. Anonymous says:

    huh, I could care less what the religious groups say anyway, all they do is point to their bibles(or some other "holy" book) and scream stupidity.


  18. JustChris says:

    Most religious groups I’ve seen just point out occult/magic references in games. They seem to have a bigger beef with fantasy games than any other genre. Killing someone with a gun, that’s bad to them. Killing someone with magic, that’s REALLY bad.

  19. Rubiximus says:

    I heard some guy on Christian radio talking about it the week before it came out. In the same segment he explained how Bioshock is brainwashing kids to kill their little sisters to get, as he puts it, “full power.” He then went on to talk about the new evil game from the terrorist company Rocktar and their parent Take-Two and how no Christian parent should own stock in a company that is teaching their kids to kill.

    So it’s not a protest, but they did talk about it — in a classicly misinformed way, I may add.

  20. Ken ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    There’s probably nothing religious in the game. All the others had something against certain ethnic groups.

  21. Anonymous says:

    "And GTA, you would think, would be a target that liberals and conservatives could agree upon."

    They do agree.  That it’s innocuous.  Hence, no protests.

  22. JonC ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    When it came to Manchester United, the church was featured in the game.
    Though GTA4 does cross alot of marality issues, does it cross any boundaries to offend religion the church?  I am not fluent enough with the game yet to know if Churches are even promenantly shown.

    If they attack the sex with prostitutes, you can always respond with "well, it could be altar boys".

    And lets not forget that the Bible had it’s fair share of killing.

  23. Gift says:

    The Mancester Cathedral episode just shows the shock bearded old bishops felt when they saw how accurately new technology could recreate a holy space (and then populate it with aliens and gunfire). The bishops’ complaints probably arose from their lack of familiarity, and comfort, with new technology. That is to say "not gaming" probably explains their adverse reaction as well as, if not better than, religion or nationality.

    Also, I’m not sure just who you think has rallied against "everything from Resistance to WiiFit". The CofE’s objections to the former was met with a massive public yawn, and the popular outcry regarding Wiifit… Well I’ve yet to see outrage even from well meaning, but misguided, church officials.


  24. Jim Strathmeyer ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hilarious how you say "we" without specificying who you’re referring to. You change your ingroup, it’s confusing.

  25. Chris M. says:

    "Right now, if we’re going to reach this generation, it will be through games."

    Several churches in my area have a weekly "Halo Night" with huge projector screens, and take 30 min out of a 3 hour play session to have a bible lesson and prayer.  I’ve never seen a more successful way to actually get youth, both Christian and non-, into a church setting regularly.

  26. TheEdge says:

    Well spoken.

    We can’t reach the average 12 year old through literature or books of othr kinds,it’ll be through what was once thought as the mortal enemy of the Church.

  27. Shadow Darkman ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    That’s an "Amen" right there! Though JT has been rather lax in his little flamequest. My friend has been in e-mail correspondence and JT is not flaming him, though he [JT] knows that he [my friend] is a gamer. In fact, JT has been surprisingly kind to my friend. I, myself, intend to send my complements to him as soon as I can.

  28. SimonBob says:

    This is the most balanced response I’ve heard to anything from a religious perspective all day, although I did just lock up an evolution-based flamewar at another board.  Kudos!

    The Mammon Industry

  29. Vake Xeacons ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Because we’re trying to break that stereotype. The Church in Manchester was more a British outburst, who have rallied against everything from Resistance to WiiFit.

    Religious groups don’t want to be associated to people like Jack Thompson. We want to reach out to gamers and show that we’re on their side. Attacking games would be totally counter-productive to our cause. Christians have always managed to use popular media to witness to others. Right now, if we’re going to reach this generation, it will be through games.

  30. Shadow Darkman ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


  31. Jabrwock says:

    Or maybe they are all just too busy flooding my inbox with spam and chain letters warning me that Obama is a radical Muslim terrorist dedicated to the destruction of America.

    Don’t forget the railing against gay marriage. Just their luck that California made it’s Supreme Court decision in an election year…

    — If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap…

  32. Loudspeaker says:

    I completely agree.

    The religious groups are focused on political influence right now.  Not to mention religion in the United States seems to have changed tactics from denouncing a media to simply starting their own segment in that media.  They started their own music labels, book publishing companies, and we keep seeing GP articles about video game developers that make "wholesome" games.

    While many of the old guard in religion may denounce video games the fact remains their new recruits are all gamers.  So, they’d be fighting the base of their political, financial, and future well being.  Maybe they would rather not fight their own followers?

    Whatever the reason I hope they just keep quiet.

    "Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

  33. Steve says:

    I think two main reasons, the first being that their opposition to previous GTA games has fallen on deaf ears and has actually helped increase game sales.  The second reason, it’s an election year.  The types of religious groups that normally would be getting their knickers in a twist over video games are busy getting themselves in bed with politicians and trying to secure their political power.

    Or maybe they are all just too busy flooding my inbox with spam and chain letters warning me that Obama is a radical Muslim terrorist dedicated to the destruction of America.

  34. Wyvern says:

    Maybe they’ve finally realised that complaining about a game just increases its sales.

  35. nightstalker160 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    To be fair he says the game "alludes" the rape of prostitutes.  That is not the same as the usual accusation that you either actually SEE or COMMIT rape in the course of the game.


  36. Rabidkeebler ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    There we go.  Another guy commenting on the "rape" inside the game.  Sheesh, that is the problem.  Even though he admits never playing the game, he basically comments on another person who has never played the game but says there is rape in GTAIV.  Honestly, there should be a defamation lawsuit or something.

  37. CenturionRyan says:

    Because there’s like a single referance to religion in the game, which comes from a character which is only seen once or twice in the main story and once in a side mission.

    Oh yeah, and those guys that spew gibberish on the streets.

    Or maybe religious gamers like myself have become the majority, rather than the kind who see a clip show and are quick to condemn the game.

  38. finaleve ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    not really sure.  I mean, there is a couple religious aspects in the game (the burial of one of the McReary’s, but of course in GTA fashion…).  They don’t portray anything bad anyways.  It’s like anything that you would see out of a movie…a gangster movie anyways.

  39. Belgarion89 says:

    Were religious groups particularily outspoken against previous GTA games?  Most of the church people I know next to squat about video games.


    So speak I, some random guy.

  40. Glen Haupt says:

    Well, if you look at how slow religious groups are to getting in an uproar about video games, like with the Church of Manchester incident, religious groups are probably just still looking for something less obvious to rail against.


    "What!?  You can actually FLY A HELICOPTER into a CHURCH in this game?  Grand Theft Auto 4 is nothing more than inticement for Atheist violence against religion!"

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