I came across this little gem from the Denver Post during my coffee/early morning web surfing. Apparently, churches all over the country are using Halo 3 to attract young parishioners. But does the M-rated game work as a religious recruiting tool? Absolutely. It just doesn't seem all that appropriate.
Now, I'm a practicing Catholic, and I think that if religious leaders of any denomination want to test new waters to reach out to young people, then more power to them. I'm also fairly liberal, and don't see violent video games as necessarily being a negative influence on children if they're taught the difference between reality and fantasy.
But what I do have an issue with is that religion and Halo are two entirely different spheres. While multiplayer Halo matches offer a wide variety of gametypes, they mostly involve blowing up your opponents in a violent fashion. Then there's the single-player campaign which involves mass slaughtering of a group of religious zealots. Doesn't necessarily gel with the whole "Thou shalt not kill" thing. Insert your "well, actually" argument here.
What I DO like is that some religious leaders are using Halo 3 to talk about some of the game's larger themes. From the article:
The organization recently sent e-mails to 50,000 young people about how to share their faith using "Halo 3." Among the tips: Use the game's themes as the basis for a discussion about good and evil.
In that sense, sure. There's a lot to discuss, and I liken it to using Lord of the Rings or Star Wars in a homily to relate to young people some of the grander themes in The Bible. But a violent, albeit totally awesome, video game has no real place within a place of worship.