POKEMON - Another Introduction
© by David L. Brown, Th.M.

My son called me on the phone recently and asked, "Dad, do you know anything about the kids' collector card game Pokémon?" The reason he asked was because my oldest grandson, who is 7 years old, came home with several of the cards he got from a friend at church. He showed them to his dad and said his friends thought "they were really cool." After looking at the few cards, his dad had a different opinion. Though he could not put his finger on exactly what the problem was by looking at those few cards, he definitely had an uneasy feeling about them. While he neither saw nor read anything overtly evil on the cards, there were a couple of hints on them that made him suspicious. He decided not to allow his son to get involved with Pokemon until he looked into it further. This proved to be a wise decision. Here's what I discovered.

The History of Pokémon

The name Pokémon is derived from pocket monster. Pokémon has entertained Japanese youth since 1995. While it is rare for a Japanese cultural phenomena to be duplicated in the Western world, Pokémon has proved to be the exception. Pokémon has moved into the United States "BIG TIME" and captured the minds of elementary aged children all over this country. Pokémon is everywhere…Nintendo video games, cartoon shows on television, a movie, comic books, toys, clothing, VHS videos, DVD's, and the wildly popular collector card game. The Pokémon "virus" has infected virtually every media outlet imaginable, and by plan, the "virus" has become an epidemic among elementary aged children causing them to crave and beg for more Pokémon paraphernalia. Countless elementary aged children are obsessed with Pokémon.

Measuring Pokémon By The Bible

Without apology, I acknowledge that I am writing this pamphlet from a biblical perspective. And, I believe there is a battle going on for the minds of our children and grandchildren. In fact, Satan and his diabolical hordes want to corrupt the minds of children and adults as well! One of the problems is that Satan is getting the upper hand because Christians are oblivious to the tactics the adversary is using to pollute the minds of men, women, boys and girls. While many Christian adults would catch blatant demonic doctrines, the truth is, Satan seldom mounts a direct assault. Rather, he, through his human helpers, uses subtle, clandestine and deceptive methods to advance his evil doctrines. So, how can we detect these deceptive methods and evil doctrines? How can we protect our children and our-selves? The Bible says, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." 1 Thessalonians 5:21. The Bible says, "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" 1 Corinthians 10:31. The Bible says, "…Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good." Romans 12:9. Therefore, we must measure Pokémon paraphernalia by the principles of the Bible to determine if it is acceptable. Let's do that.

What values, beliefs, and philosophies do the game promote?

One of the first things I did was to find out who produced the trading card game. Here is an exact quote right from the Web page of the producer - "The Pokémon Trading Card Game is a new collectable Card Game that is made and distributed by Wizards of the Coast. The same company that made the best selling game ... Magic: The Gathering." Magic: The Gathering is a heavily occult laced trading card game very popular in the 1990's. I have a research report titled Beware of Magic:The Gathering that can be viewed on the Logos Web page at… http://logosresourcepages.org/magic-g.html

Oh yes, I should mention that Wizards of the Coast also owns TSR, the producers of all the Dungeons & Dragons materials. When I discovered who owned the American Pokémon Trading Card Game rights, I knew the game was not just an innocent card game for elementary school children.

Next, I looked into the characters in the Pokémon video games, comics, cartoons, movies, etc. What kind of values do they have? Ash Ketchum (a boy) is one of the main characters. He is described as "an energetic and determined 10-year-old…a little too competitive." He is obsessed with catching all Pokémon and driven "to become the world's foremost Pokémon Master." Oh yes, you can be sure that the Pokémon Rap song and mantra will be included in the materials --

"I will travel across the land
Searching far and wide
Each Pokémon to understand
The power that's inside.
Gotta catch them all!"

The last line of the Pokémon mantra, "Gotta catch them all!" is used over and over again in Pokémon paraphernalia because it fuels the craving for more cards, games, toys, gadgets, and comic books.

Let's look at another character, Ash's companion Misty. She is described as "headstrong and stubborn…constantly quibbling with Ash…and seems to harbor deeper feelings for Ash." Then there is the third member of the trio, Brock who is "by far the most hormonal. Brock's fascination with the opposite sex many times gets him or the group into trouble, although he's yet to have anything resembling a score." Let's take a look at Pokémon trainer Gary. He is "a real jerkself-centered, vindictive and obnoxious. Then there are Jessie & James. Here is how they are described -- "Prepare for trouble, make it double.... Jessie, James…are a mysterious and evil gang looking to steal rare Pokémon. Jessie and James are stuck up, fashion conscious, and prone to cross-dressing."

Headstrong, stubborn, quibbling, self-centered, vindictive, obnoxious, hormonal, sexually preoccupied, evil, thieving, cross-dressing jerks are most definitely not biblical role models! These characters do not portray biblical values. Pokémon does not measure up!

Are supernatural powers portrayed, and if so, what is the source or origin of those powers? Are occult, New Age characteristics or symbols included?

Pokémon has supernatural powers. "Some Pokémon grow, or evolve." This is facilitated by the "Energy cards" that "make your Pokémon bigger and more powerful." And what is the source of this power? It is the pantheistic power of the occult, not the supernatural power of God. I have found two cards that make this very clear (there are likely more). They are Abra and Kadabra. Yes, these are their actual names. "Abrakadabra" (or abracadabra) has been a word long associated with occult magic. Webster's dictionary defines it this way - 1) a word supposed to have magic powers and hence used in incantations, on amulets, etc. 2) a magic spell or formula. It is no accident that the two Pokémon called Abra and Kadabra are psychic cards with magical powers.

On the Abra card we read "Using its ability to read minds, it will identify impending danger and teleport to safety." Then there are the occult symbols on Kadabra. He has a pentagram on his forehead, SSS on his chest and he is giving the Satanic salute with his left hand. All of the above have strong occult significance. It is clear from the Bible (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) that we are neither to participate in nor associate with activities related to the occult.

Some of the readers will no doubt protest, "it's only a game!" To be sure it is a game, but a game that does not glorify God! When God says something is wrong, it is wrong regardless of what form it is in. Not only that, but many of the kids who play this game are seduced into believing the principles that the game subtly teaches. Here is but one example. In the booklet that comes with Pokémon, note what is stated -- "Welcome to the world of Pokémon, a special place where people just like you train to become the number-one Pokémon Master in the World! But what is a Pokémon, you ask. ' Pokémon are incredible creatures that share the world with humans,' says Professor Oak, the leading authority on these monsters. There are currently 150 documented species of Pokémon. . . . Each Pokémon has its own special fighting abilities. . . . Some grow, or evolve, into even more powerful creatures.. . . Carry your pokemon with you, and you're ready for anything! You've got the power in your hands, so use it!"

Listen, kids are carrying around their Pokémon like a magic talisman. Author and researcher Berit Kjos tells of a mom who overheard two boys discussing their little pocket monsters. As the conversation developed one boy said, "I'll just use my psychic powers." It was clear that the so called fantasy world of Pokémon had already conditioned this boys thinking to be receptive to a key occult doctrine - psychic powers!

Pokémon promotes occult values, not biblical values and therefore should be rejected!

Where are the player's thoughts and imagination being directed?

I pointed out earlier that Pokémon originated in Japan. What I did not draw to your attention was that a Pokémon Master is a spin off of a martial arts master in Japan. Pokémon Masters are the leaders of fighting schools or battling gangs that solve their problems by beating their opponents. And how do they do this? Their little booklet says, "Some attacks cause the Defending Pokémon to be Asleep, Confused, Paralyzed, or Poisoned."

The Bible warns us to be cautious about what we occupy our minds with (Proverbs 4:23). The games a child plays, the television programs he watches, and the things that he listens to have a powerful mind shaping influence over that child. Mental health professionals are finally coming to understand what the Bible has said all along -- the things you let into you mind shape your thinking and your thinking directs your actions. This truth was acted out at the Columbine High school slaughter. The shooters had saturated their minds with violent video games, Gothic death music, and violent reading material. The result was on April 20, 1999, twelve students and one teacher were murdered.

Could Pokémon influence the children who play it? I pray that it does not happen, but I wonder how long it will be before a grade school child, tries to do what is written on the Weepingbell - Razor Leaf Pokémon card. It says, "It spits out poisonpowder to immobilize the enemy, and then finishes the enemy with a spray of acid." Does this line up with what the Bible has to say about how to handle our enemies in Romans 12:14-22? I Think not! It is clear that Pokémon leads the player's imagination down the wrong path. The Bible says that we are to abhor that which is evil, and cleave to that which is good (Romans 12:9). Poisoning, paralyzing, etc. your enemies is clearly evil and no one should occupy their minds with such thoughts, game or no game. Our every thought is to be screened to be sure Christ approves of it (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). If it does not line up, it is to be rejected.

So, what's the problem with Pokémon? Its subtle suggestions, images and values are manipulating the minds and feelings of the children who are into it. Pokémon conditions them to accept humanistic wisdom and occult spirituality. Heavy involvement in Pokémon blurs the player's ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality and sears the conscience of the player as well. Pokémon is designed to be a stepping stone to harder occult oriented games like Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons.

God wants his children to have a completely different focus. We are even told where our thoughts should be directed in Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."