I feel the need to preface my thoughts with the fact that I am not a Christian and not a fan of organized, institutionalized religion in general.
With that being said, the idea of in-game churches for real world religions grates against my thoughts on what online games should be about. Online games are an escapist pastime, places to go to lead a another life for a few hours a week, a world that lets you get away from the real one. Dealing with pamphlets at the mall, on my university’s campus, or outside the local grocery store is one thing. People are certainly free to proselytize their religion in the United States. However, after skimming across the deserts of Tatooine in my landcruiser for a few hours, I’d rather not enter port to be greeted by a wookie selling healing services and telling me Jesus saves.
Besides, the Force might get jealous of God, and then we’d have the Middle East played out on Hoth. Sure, the Gungans don’t want you to kill or eat Banthas on Saturdays because Banthas are unclean. However, killing Banthas is the only way for the Naboo to powerlevel. And then there are the Ewoks. They seem fairly pagan. Obviously, the Jedi will sweep in to convert them (see Episode Six), because that’s what the Jedi do. The next thing you know, Yoda is driving down the street in a Pope Mobile and a Sith takes a shot at him with his blaster. It can get rather messy rather quickly.
Real world religions should stay in the real world. I certainly do not pay $10 a month to be converted. However, the question that is begged here is as follows:
If a church based on a real world religion takes shape in an online game, should the company take action against them?
That is a question I cannot begin to answer. At best, I have visions of devs fleeing this question in terror, if only because any answer they give is bound to offend someone somewhere.
Still, the establishment of religion within online worlds disturbs me. And I imagine it disturbs others.
Thanks to Damarr, the Irish Griefer, for the link.