Pokémon, the adorable and magnificent creatures that have brought joy to so many since their inception in 1995, have not always been viewed well. As a product of the American South myself, I have seen and heard firsthand the hysteria behind these fictional beings. Ever since video games made it into the mainstream, Christians have found ways to demonize the medium and strike fear into their congregants, and that even includes considering Pokémon as demons or products of the devil himself.
It really is insane to recall such a time, but then I remembered that Pokémon GO inspired the same kind of storytelling and fearmongering back in 2016. Well, it’s that time of week again, and this is That Time Pokémon were considered demons and part of the Satanic cult.
When Pokémon Red Version and Blue Version reached American stores in 1998, many people did not have a clue what was entering the culture or how it was going to immediately magnetize the attention of children. Kids across the world were drawn in by the imaginative world and larger-than-life characters. However, with all great things comes a group of ignoramuses that ruin it all, and before long, Pokémon were stirring up crime in children, causing a crime wave, and made an 11-year-old rob children at his school with a knife.
However, there was a different group that spun the story even more, and it was the religious elites of the Christian church. Pastors began speaking about the demonic nature of the series and how it teaches children elementary witchcraft and encouraged them to join the occult (Which one, I’m not sure). Some churches even outlawed the game because of the fear painted all over it, and the fact that the kids were enjoying their games and cards more than their Bible schooling is quite telling.
But the most famous video from Everything is Terrible features a pastor from Richmond, Texas named Phil Arms, who went into great detail why Pokémon are demons and what they are doing to our children, and he was the catalyst for this type of thinking… despite the fact that he stole money from his church to pay for painkillers (Who are the demons again?).
Parents went into a panic because of the constant spiritual projecting, and kids were forced to get rid of their video games and trading cards. But why all of the hysteria? Why did these religious leaders villainize a very cute and quite safe series? Well, the answer is a bit racist, and that is because it is Japanese.
You see, when it comes to the demonic within Christianity, most of the time it can be pinpointed to one of two things: blatant acts of sin like violence, sex, and crime or the unknown. Pokémon unfortunately falls into the latter category of the unknown, and because it is laced in Japanese culture and children’s entertainment, it is significantly easier for pastors to lay claim that the unknown is evil instead of learning about Japan and how it has always implemented collecting into their children’s series.
The irrationality spread worldwide, too, and we even saw reports of the series being banned in Turkey and even Saudi Arabia because it “possessed kids” and contained Jewish symbolism. In 1997, there was even an anime episode that released in Japan that caused thousands of children to have photosensitive seizures, and this led to these same religious-minded areas to believe all the more that the series is out to kill your children.
Things would eventually die down as the Pokémon series continued, although there are still plenty of stories during the 2000s, but things took a turn when a parody site in 2012 fabricated a TIME interview from 1999 with Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri. In this fake interview, the following question is asked, “What inspired you to start making the Pokémon games?”
Well, kind of like how morons use The Onion as a resource, many people found this interview and assumed it was legit, and this fake answer from fake Tajiri only furthered the demon discussion, “Well, my parents were Christians. I grew up being taught the ways of that religion. When I got older, I started to realize that the things they said were foolish and I guess I rebelled a little.”
Fake TIME later asked, “So those who say that the game is anti-Christian are correct?” And then fake Tajiri concluded, “I mean, some could say that the game supports Satanism. I don’t officially celebrate it, but I can understand why people would be attracted to it.”
This rebirthed the notion that Pokémon are demons, and now Tajiri is their evil creator, betraying his “Christian roots”. This parody interview got lots of heavy spotlight when Pokémon GO launched in 2016, because once again, Christian parents were becoming concerned about their children’s new obsession and wanted to find a reason to shut it down without checking their sources.
Pastor Rick Wiles, another obnoxious far-right conspiracy theorist and hyper-religious nutjob, went on a roll about how these “digital demons” are ruining America since Pokémon GO‘s debut, so we once again jumped on the boat that these here Pokémon are just pure evil, which is ludicrous.
The Satanic Panic is a mindset the western church has fallen into for decades now, and since roughly the 1980s, all forms of entertainment have fallen victim to blame shifting and demonic projection. It doesn’t matter if it is a racy movie, a vulgar song, or a violent video game, no area seems safe from the assault of the panicky Christian parent, and it doesn’t look like it will be going away any time soon.
And if you think your cute and cuddly Pikachu is safe from such assault, think again, because the unknown is one of the most common victims of such judgment and unfairness.
Frankly, the idea that Pokémon are demons is one of the purest forms of stupidity and ignorance in the modern age, but I guess these fanatics need something else to hate. It is just sadly at the expense of our joy, although I find it funny that every church in America is either a Pokéstop or Gym for Pokémon GO… which means every church in America is possessed by these digital demons, huh?
Thank you for stopping by Nintendo Link and enjoying this “That Time” article. What do you think of this topic? Do you have any of your own stories about how your parents demonized your games? Let us know what you think in the comments below! Happy gaming, everyone.
What's Your Reaction?
My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.