Hyper-vigilant, would-be televangelist, Rick Wiles of TRUNews a member of Jim Bakker’s PTL Ministry, recounted the seemingly benign tale of a stranger playing Pokémon Go outside his office building this week.
According to RightWingWatch, Wiles attributed the player’s otherwise explicable behavior to none other than the Biblical villain Satan himself. He went on to describe a vast conspiracy to infest his office and churches with “cyber-demons.” The motive of the conspiracy for Satan according to Wiles is:
“…targeting churches with virtual, digital, cyber-demons,” Wiles said, before adding: “I believe this thing is a magnet for demonic powers.”
To what nefarious and malevolent ends? What does Wiles think that Satan wants with Pokémon Go?
“Pokémon masters” may soon start “telling people to kill people in those buildings” in order to catch more Pokémon, comparing the use of the App to Philando Castile’s girlfriend use of Facebook Live to live stream the aftermath of Castile’s shooting by a police officer, which he said might have been staged.
The theme of murder conspiracies and genocide is all too common a feature in Wiles’ Evangelical outreach. According to LGBTQNation:
Wiles has been featured in other posts for claiming LGBT people would kill anyone who doesn’t support marriage equality, Target‘s bathroom policy will lead to a nuclear attack and Obama is coming into schools to “rape your children,” and praying for Ebola to hit the United States to “solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality.”
For rational people, Wile’s conspiracies sound a bit far-fetched like some sort of delusion produced by a paranoia-enhancing illicit drug. Unfortunately, Satanic panics are all too common and can be fueled by religious thinking alone. According to writer Terrence Towles:
In 1982 Paul Couch of the PTL Club hosted a show on which a so called neuroscientist William Yarroll made the claim that rock groups were working with the Church of Satan to place diabolic, subliminal messages on their records. Many began to capitalise on these rumours, such as minister Gary Greenwald who held several lectures on the subject. The Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) would even repeat such claims about Led Zeppelin.
So no paranoia-inducing drugs necessary for Wiles to attempt to provoke mass hysteria about Pokémon Go. As a former believer, who lived through the Satanic Panic about rock music and even supposedly hidden messages in Crest toothpaste , I don’t feel a sense of superiority to the Christians that panic over messages like Wile’s fear mongering over an innocuous video game. It’s an insidious attempt to manipulate people with the fear of the Biblical Satan.
For me, it seemed to be Christians looking to confirm their beliefs with confirmation that Satan was a real entity. I grew up being taught to fear the Devil. The fear of Hell was so deeply ingrained in my psyche as a child; it was one of the last beliefs to finally leave when I rejected religion.
Unfortunately, many people take Rick Wiles seriously and that is a real shame because people act on their beliefs to continue instilling unwarranted fear. As most rational people know all monsters are human.