A fellow gamer recently told me about this. Apparently someone is making a film adaption of one of Jack Chick’s many anti-D&D Chick Tracts, with the aim of showing just how very, very stupid it is. I’m looking forward to seeing it, because everything Jack Chick has ever said in his entire life, as far as I can tell, is completely deserving of all the scorn and ridicule that the whole of humanity is able to conjure up.
If you don’t know who Jack Chick is, he’s a fundamentalist Christian who makes comic strip pamphlets, which he calls Chick Tracts, in which he spouts out his hateful, close minded and ignorant views on the world. Like a lot of other fundamentalists, such as Pat Robertson, some of Mr. Chick’s favorite targets are homosexuals, secularism, the LDS church, feminists, and Dungeons and Dragons.
Yeah, that’s right. D&D is, according to this asshat, a direct path into the warm embrace of satanism.
This far-right Christian* hate of role playing games, D&D in particular, is perhaps the greatest example of arguing from ignorance I’ve ever encountered. The idea seems to be that Dungeons & Dragons teaches people how to perform satanic rituals, thereby making them more willing to join satanic cults.
The first problem with this argument is that the kind of satanic cults Jack and his ilk are trying to make us afraid of simply don’t exist.
The other problem is that while the real religion of Satanism, that is the religion represented by Anton LeVay’s Church of Satan, does perform ritual magic, Satanic rituals have less in common with D&D as I have in common with a kangaroo; I mean we’re both eukaryotes, animals, chordates, and mammals, but that’s about it.
Basically, the far-right Christian fear mongers are speaking authoritatively about the connection between Satanism and Dungeons & Dragons while simultaneously making it very clear that they’ve never done any real research into either one, such as reading the D&D Player’s Handbook or the Satanic Bible. I, on the other hand, have read both of those books, and feel very qualified to compare and contrast the two.
First of all, the only similarity I can think of between Satanism and Dungeons &Dragons is that neither one of them promotes worship of the Christian Devil. No, seriously, the Satan of Satanism is not a divine or angelic being, but a concept describing a “force of nature”, as the Satanic Bible puts it.
Now, for some of their differences:
The Satanic Bible is a religious text defining the practices and tenets of belief for a real life religious movement called Satanism. The D&D Player’s Handbook is an instruction manual on how to play a game.
The Satanic Bible discusses two different kinds of magic. The first is coincidental magic, wherein a person manipulates events to lead to a desirable outcome. An example that the Satanic Bible gives is a woman wearing perfume to attract a potential sex partner. You may recognize this kind of magic as not actually being magic. The other kind is ritual magic, in which a group of Satanists get together, wear black clothes, light candles and recite fancy incantations with the idea being that doing so will enhance and focus emotional energy to guide events to a certain outcome. The Satanic Bible is very clear that ritual magic needs to work with nature, not against it, so the effects of ritual magic tend to be subtle; for example, the inaccurately named Ritual of Destruction seeks to cause an increase in the frequency with which a specific person has bad things happen to him or her. The D&D Player’s Handbook, on the other hand, presents a system of game mechanics to determine whether or not a fictional character living in a fictional world can cause a fictional (and decidedly not natural) phenomenon to occur. Because it’s a game.
The Satanic Bible presents Satanism as being in direct opposition not only to Christianity, but to other pagan religions such as Wicca, and says some very not nice things about them. The D&D Players Handbook doesn’t take a stance one way or the other on any real world religion, because Wizards of the Coast is in the business of selling games, not religious conversion.
D&D involves a lot of dice rolling. Satanism doesn’t.
The last thing I want to say about this is that a lot of the ridiculous claims Jack and friends are making about D&D to try to scare people away from playing it are things which would actually be a lot of fun if they were incorporated into the game. Like, I’d kind of like to have a podium and a hooded cloak while I’m GMing.