Weeks after Pokémon Go has become a global phenomenon, social media posts and several YouTube videos have began circulating, accusing the game of being anti-Christian, even Satanic, and sparking debate online between some of the member of the Christian community and fans of the game.
One popular claim was the assumption that Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri created Pokémon to battle Christianity.
While that interview actually never took place, the Pokémon creator did give a real interview with Time Asia in 1999, where he talked about the game’s real inspiration for the game: his fascination with collecting bugs.
Recently, Pastor Rick Wiles preached via his podcast how Pokémon Go is a tool of the devil:
“These Pokémon creatures are like virtual, cyber-demons.
“The enemy, Satan, is targeting churches with virtual, digital, cyber-demons. I believe [Pokémon Go] is a magnet for demonic powers.”
In Hong Kong, a debate within its religious community was ignited after an anonymous message circulating in social media suggested that Pokémon characters were inspired by entities found in Japanese shrines, reported South China Morning Post.
The viral post reportedly warned that “the game would guide people to play with evil spirits.” It also called on Protestants to pray for those who are hooked on the game.
Local Christians in the city, however, have been engaging in discussions on using the game as a possible aid in spreading religious gospel.
A senior pastor at Assemblies of God West Post Church agrees with some of the raised opinion on the subject and shared his view via a blog post which was largely shared on Facebook.
“There are Christians talking about not playing the game … and I agree that you can choose not to play it to avoid getting addicted,” Reverend Sam Chung Shu-sum said.
“But while new [trends] are always attractive or even potentially addictive, Christians could also make good use of them.”
One theologian even suggested to place “lures” in churches to attract new attendees. According to Alliance Bible Seminary assistant professor John Chan, Pokémon Go players can be invited to join religious gatherings once they show up.
Chinese University associate professor of divinity Francis Yip Ching-wah said he agrees with Chan’s suggestion, pointing out that Christians’ discussions on popular culture could encourage better interaction. “In the 1960s, Christians debated whether they should go to the cinema or listen to rock music,” he said.