The Associated Press reported, “Pokémon Go players have been sharing all sorts of bizarre places the app has been taking them and where Pokémon have been showing up. The list includes toilets stalls, graveyards, the Church of Scientology… even strip clubs.”1)“Getting Hurt, mugged and even finding a dead body with Pokémon Go,”July 10, 2016; http://www.cbc.ca/news/trending/pokemon-go-injuries-1.3672615 With the recent passing of laws permitting transgenders to enter bathrooms of the gender they choose to identify with, the potential of perverts with their phones out ready to take pictures in bathroom stalls becomes a frightening reality. The report continues, “Ankle injuries, mishaps with revolving doors and walking into trees have been among the painful results.”2)“Getting Hurt, mugged and even finding a dead body with Pokémon Go,”July 10, 2016; http://www.cbc.ca/news/trending/pokemon-go-injuries-1.3672615 On the positive note, a missing dead body was discovered by a lonely wanderer searching for Pokémon.”3)“Getting Hurt, mugged and even finding a dead body with Pokémon Go,”July 10, 2016; http://www.cbc.ca/news/trending/pokemon-go-injuries-1.3672615

What is Pokemon Go? Peter Sayer explains, “Pokemon Go uses the Real World Gaming Platform developed by Niantic Labs, which is also behind games such as Field Trip and Ingress. The popularity of the game has been such that servers have foundered under the load, and the launch in additional countries has been delayed.”4)Peter Sayer, “Armed robbers lured victims with Pokemon Go,” July 11, 2016; http://www.pcworld.com/article/3093523/security/muggers-used-pokemon-go-to-lure-victims-police-say.html Matthew McGrath writes, “Pokémon Go is a new game that skyrocketed in popularity the moment it was released July 6. The game is similar to other Pokémon games in that characters need to be captured and trained, except this game uses GPS to virtually place characters in the real world. To capture a character, players need to go to physical locations.”5)Matthew McGrath, Leonia teenager playing Pokémon Go mugged in Englewood,” July 15, 2016; http://www.northjersey.com/news/leonia-teenager-playing-pok%C3%A9mon-go-mugged-in-englewood-1.1630775  Sue Poremba writing for Foxbusiness identified the popularity of this game, “The app has been available for a week, and, at least for now, users are spending more time per day playing the game than they are using popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.”6)Sue Poremba, “Pokemon Go: Security Nightmare for BYOD,” July 21, 2016; http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2016/07/21/pokemon-go-security-nightmare-for-byod.html

Because Pokemon Go is a real-time on location game, criminals have used it to lure unexpected victims and the players are so immersed in the game, they hypnotically follow their screen instead of watching their next step. “Pokemon Go has led to muggings, car crashes, cliff rescues—and now a shooting.”7)Steph Solis, “Pokemon Players shot at in Palm Coast Fla.,” July 18, 2016; http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/gaming/2016/07/16/pokmon-trainers-shot-palm-coast-florida/87207116/ Police in O’Fallon, Missouri, reported, “The way we believe it was used is you can add a beacon to a Pokestop to lure more players. Apparently they were using the app to locate people standing around in the middle of a parking lot or whatever other location they were in…”8)Peter Sayer, “Armed robbers lured victims with Pokemon Go,” July 11, 2016; http://www.pcworld.com/article/3093523/security/muggers-used-pokemon-go-to-lure-victims-police-say.html In San Francisco “police identified Manu Pomele, a 19-year-old San Francisco resident, and Jonathan Limu, a 20-year-old San Francisco resident, as suspects in the robberies. Both were arrested on suspicion of multiple counts of robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, firearm charges, one count of attempted carjacking and conspiracy.”9)“2 Arrested In Robbery Of San Francisco Pokemon Go Player,” July 15, 2016; http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/07/15/pokemon-go-san-francisco-robbery-arrest-crime-spree/ Is the Church of Scientology and strip clubs utilizing the popularity of this game to lure victims with this same method the criminals are using to rob and mug people. Most disturbingly, churches are attempting to capitalize on this game also as if it can be used for evangelism.10)Jeanie Law, “Churches Are Using Pokémon Go as Evangelism Tool to Catch Them All, Says Hunter Frederick,” July 20, 2016; http://www.christianpost.com/news/lakewood-church-uses-pokemon-go-evangelism-tool-catch-them-all-interview-166719/#D37LPySETTXFTEq6.99

HebrewOther dangers people are in include self-inflicted injuries caused by their own stupidity. “According to the Syracuse Post-Standard newspaper, a 28-year-old man driving his brother’s car slammed into a tree while playing the game.”11)“Don’t Pokemon And Drive, Highway Signs Warn,” July 15, 2016; http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/07/14/dont-pokemon-and-drive-highway-signs-warn/ A year after its release a study entitled “Death by Pokémon Go” from Mara Faccio and John J. McConnell presented further concerns. “Beginning in 1988, traffic fatalities seemed to be going down in the US pretty steadily. According statistics from the National Highway Traffic Society Administration (NHTSA), American traffic fatalities numbered 42,130 in 1988, and fell to 29,867 by 2011. Then fatalities and overall crash numbers began to rise again. When the NHTSA saw a 7.2 percent increase in deaths in 2014, it made an official call to action for researchers to study why this is happening. The increase has continued, and in 2016, the number of fatalities hit 37,461.”12)Rhett Jones, “Study Estimates That Pokemon Go Has Caused More Than 100,000 Traffic Accidents,” 11/27/17; https://www.google.com/amp/s/gizmodo.com/study-estimates-that-pokemon-go-has-caused-more-than-10-1820776908/amp#ampshare=https://gizmodo.com/study-estimates-that-pokemon-go-has-caused-more-than-10-1820776908 What they determined was that accidents increase substantially after the release and near locations of Pokemon Go hot spots. “The two researchers gathered accident data from the county between March 1, 2015, and November 30, 2016. Pokémon GO was released on July 6, 2016, and had racked up over 100 million downloads by the end of that month. Analysis of the data found that accidents increased across the entire county, but the likelihood of an accident occurring within 100 meters of a Pokéstop was 26.5 percent higher. Numerous factors like school breaks and population fluctuations were taken into account in the researchers model, and each time, the data showed an increase in accidents over the previous year in locations that gained a Pokéstop.”13)Rhett Jones, “Study Estimates That Pokemon Go Has Caused More Than 100,000 Traffic Accidents,” 11/27/17;https://www.google.com/amp/s/gizmodo.com/study-estimates-that-pokemon-go-has-caused-more-than-10-1820776908/amp#ampshare=https://gizmodo.com/study-estimates-that-pokemon-go-has-caused-more-than-10-1820776908

The dangers expand beyond the physical issues of injuries, muggings, and ending up at obscene places. Matthew J. Schwartz reports, “Meanwhile, multiple security researchers have been warning that the Pokémon Go app has access to many more device permissions than it requires, thus posing a privacy risk…. Pokémon Go requires full access to a user’s Google account, thus giving the app the ability to read a user’s email, send email using their identity, access and delete all Google drive documents, review a user’s search history, access private photos stored in Google Photos and more.”14) Matthew J. Schwartz, “Pokémon Go Mayhem: Privacy, Muggings, Malware,” July 12, 2016; http://www.bankinfosecurity.com/pokmon-go-mayhem-privacy-muggings-malware-a-9256 Furthermore, because the app was released officially in only a few countries so far, mirror apps have been created that open Android devices to susceptibility, giving hackers a backdoor into smartphones. “Now, a malicious version of the software is poised to infect Android phones with code that provides hackers a backdoor to their phones.” 15)David Z. Morris, “Hackers Are Spreading Malware Through Pokemon Go,” July 10, 2016; http://fortune.com/2016/07/10/pokemon-go-malware/  Foxbusiness warned, “In an email statement, Tim Erlin, director of IT security and risk strategy for Tripwire, said that cybercriminals are after any angle that helps them gain a foothold on your devices and that leads to a popular app not available everywhere becoming a near-perfect target for crafting and delivering malware.”16) Sue Poremba, “Pokemon Go: Security Nightmare for BYOD,” July 21, 2016; http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2016/07/21/pokemon-go-security-nightmare-for-byod.html

However, the spiritual dangers are even more concerning, which is why it is extremely disturbing to hear of churches endorsing the game in the name of evangelism. The Pokemon fad is nothing new and Christians should have more discernment over the overt occultism imbedded within the games. “Pokemon” is shortened from the original Japanese title “Poket Monsters” (Poke-t-mon-ster). Wikipedia states:

 The franchise was created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1995, and is centered on fictional creatures called “Pokémon”, which humans, known as Pokémon Trainers, catch and train to battle each other for sport.17)“Pokemon,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon#cite_note-1

 By catching these creatures and training them as pets to fight other creatures, it is no more than an animated dog fight game. John Gocke wrote his concerns of the roleplaying game of Pokemon, “A child who pretends to be a character that abuses animals and attacks people is more likely to find that type of behavior acceptable in real life. What we focus on makes a difference in how our children grow in character and spirit.”18)John Gocke, “Taking a Poke at Pokemon,” undated; http://www.christiananswers.net/spotlight/games/2000/pokemon.html The Bible teaches, “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10) Teaching children to be entertained by animals viciously attacking one another in the game format can potentially lead to the desire of seeing it in the real world which Pokemon Go is taking them one step closer to fulfilling. But will this game satisfy such lust for violence or produce a deeper hunger? Animal cruelty is one rout Pokemon Go might take you.

Another direction Pokemon may take your children is the philosophy of evolution. Wikipedia reports, “many species of Pokemon can undergo a form of metamorphosis and transform into a similar but stranger species of Pokemon, a process called evolution.”19)“Pokemon,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon#cite_note-1 John Gocke explains this aspect of the game, “As your cute little Pokémon gain experience points, they evolve into bigger and badder Pokémon. This evolving is almost Darwinian, as the critters get larger (some Pokémon grow from barely a foot high to more than seven feet tall and hundreds of pounds), often sprouting horns, fangs, and talons, as well as gaining supernatural powers. Their fighting ability evolves right along with their size.”20)John Gocke, “Taking a Poke at Pokemon,” undated; http://www.christiananswers.net/spotlight/games/2000/pokemon.html We have elsewhere documented how evolution is paganism essentially resorting to men evolving into gods,21)Heath Henning, “Evolution is Paganism,” http://truthwatchers.com/evolution-is-paganism/ and have posted numerous articles and free eBooks to prove it is unscientific.22)see the free eBooks by Heath Henning – Homo Naledi: The Rising Star of Evolutionary Icons; and Unreliable: The Science and Logic of Bill Nye;  http://truthwatchers.com/ebooks/ Yet entertainment is a major format for indoctrination of unsuspecting children.

Another direction that Pokemon Go can lead is influenced by its evolutionary philosophy—i.e. Neo paganism, New Age occultism. Discussing the former Pokemon games, their fighting is described as, “Depending on their elemental (horoscope like) sign, they may fight by belching fire, psychic attacks, casting spells, spraying poison clouds, crushing moves and crippling mayhem.”23) John Gocke, “Taking a Poke at Pokemon,” undated; http://www.christiananswers.net/spotlight/games/2000/pokemon.html “The psychic type of Pokemon is among the strongest in the game.”24) Tom Olago, “How Should Christians Repond to the Pokemon Go Craze?” July 14, 2016; http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/article.cfm?recent_news_id=491 Thus occult psychic powers is encouraged. “To gain the competitive edge, a trainer must use magic potions to heal and strengthen his Pokémon, and wear magic badges to control the stronger Pokémon. In addition, the really powerful Pokémon have psychic powers and can throw curses. This bears disturbing similarities to witchcraft.”25) John Gocke, “Taking a Poke at Pokemon,” undated; http://www.christiananswers.net/spotlight/games/2000/pokemon.html  Pastor David Brown wrote,

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.”26)David Brown, “The Problem with Pokemon,” posted July 18, 2016 at http://www.wayoflife.org/reports/the_problem_with_pokemon.html

Pastor Brown further notes, “Wizards of the Coast also owns TSR, the producers of all the Dungeons & Dragons materials…. Pokémon is designed to be a stepping stone to harder occult oriented games like Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons.”27)David Brown, “The Problem with Pokemon,” posted July 18, 2016 at http://www.wayoflife.org/reports/the_problem_with_pokemon.html John Gocke agreed with this assessment. “Pokémon can be a gateway and a simple stepping-stone to more overtly occult games like Dungeons & Dragons.”28)John Gocke, “Taking a Poke at Pokemon,” undated; http://www.christiananswers.net/spotlight/games/2000/pokemon.html The Bible warns us to avoid such slippery slopes: “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 27:12). One Pokemon is named Magickarp (Magick-arp)—it was the Satanist Aliester Crowley who identified the spelling of “magic” as illusionists, and “magick” as actually demonic empowered occultism.

Another course that Pokemon Go may lead to is unwitting idolatry. Who knows what a Pikachu is, what it means, or where the word’s etymological roots are derived from? Consider that in Transcendental Meditation people are given mantras that are names of Hindu gods to be spoken over and over, or how in Yoga the very positions one contorts their body into is purposed to evoke a specific Hindu deity.29)see Heath Henning, “Yoga: the Dangers of Spiritual Deception,” http://truthwatchers.com/yoga-dangers-spiritual-deception/ Being Japanese in origin, how possible is it that the names of these Pokemon creatures are actually names of the dead ancestors being conjured as is practiced in Shintoism? Americans are blissfully ignorant of these thing being assimilated  into our culture as similarly the tribal tattoos, being as popular as they are, actually are images representing dead ancestors for evoking them as magical talismans for protection and have been stolen from tribes that practice ancestor worship.30)see Heath Henning, “Tattos: What is the Biblical View?” http://truthwatchers.com/tattoos-biblical-view/ We know this is the case for at least one Pokemon—Abra, who evolves into Kadabra—Abracadabra. D. Michael Quinn explains:

By the early 1820s “Faculty of Abrac” was a well-known phrase linking magic and divinity. Medieval and early modern magic manuscripts in England used “Abrac” and “Abraca” as one of the names of God in conjurations. In seventeenth-century English translations of Peter Abano’s work on ceremonial magic, “Abrac” was one of the names used in conjurations seeking “Visions and Apparitions.”…

Mosheim’s Ecclesiastical History identified “Abraxas” as a Gnostic name for God that had become associated with magic…. Specifically, many publications noted that Abraxas derived from the untranslatable magic word “Abracadabra.” This word was often used as a talismanic spell in the form of a triangle…31)D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic Worldview (Revised and Enlarged), Signature Books (Salt Lake City, Utah: 1998), p. 68-69

This is what the Bible warns against under the title of “necromancy” and is considered an “abomination” (Deuteronomy 18:9-12). This is the very sin that king Saul lost his kingdom and his life for (1 Chronicles 10:13).

The last way that Pokemon Go can lead you to is the complete loss of self-control through hypnosis. Consider how these people are walking around like mindless zombies in their chase for Pokemon. Hypnosis has a number of different effects on a person which seem to be apparent in those involved with this game. Hypnosis has an addictive effect. Speaking of a former Pokemon video game, John Gocke stated, “Pokémon has been banned on a number of school campuses because of its addicting influence on kids… Games like this are designed to be addictive…. The cute, colorful characters, the sensory stimulation of the cartoons and video games, the thrill of winning, the challenge of collecting and keeping all the Pokémon can lure some kids into a fantasy world they may not readily wish to leave.”32)John Gocke, “Taking a Poke at Pokemon,” undated; http://www.christiananswers.net/spotlight/games/2000/pokemon.html This comment bears all the characters of what others have indicated to cause hypnosis and the people involved in the creation and development are well aware of these factors. Rock Musician Frank Zappa has said, “The loud sounds and bright lights of today are tremendous indoctrination tools. Is it possible to modify the human chemical structure with the right combination of frequencies? If the right kind of beat makes you tap your foot, what kind of beat makes you curl your fist and strike?”33)Musician Frank Zappa, cited by Gary Allen, That Music, American Opinion, Feb, 1969,p. 58 Researcher Berit Kjos brings attention to how the internet has produced “digital drugs” which is flashing lights and certain frequencies that get people “high,” which is really just a hypnotic state of mind. She wrote:

An article titled “A new worry for parents—‘digital drugs’ sold on the Internet” describes how teens are “getting high” from listening to certain high frequency digital sounds on the Internet. Basically, what is happening is the sounds are being used as a mantra to take listeners into altered states of consciousness, similar to drug use of contemplative/centering prayer (i.e. Eastern mediation). It was the contemplative mystic, Thomas Merton, who compared contemplative mediation to that of an LSD trip. Now, parents have a new worry—their kids getting “high” without drugs.34)Berit Kjos, How to Protect Your Child from the New Age & Spiritual Deception, Lighthouse Trails (first edition, 2013), p. 146

The Pokemon televisions show has caused serious effects as well from the flashing lights. Wikipedia reports:

 On December 16, 1997, more than 635 Japanese children were admitted to hospitals with epileptic seizures. It was determined the seizures were caused by watching an episode of Pokémon “Dennō Senshi Porygon”, (most commonly translated “Electric Soldier Porygon”, season 1, episode 38); as a result, this episode has not been aired since. In this particular episode, there were bright explosions with rapidly alternating blue and red color patterns. It was determined in subsequent research that these strobing light effects cause some individuals to have epileptic seizures, even if the person had no previous history of epilepsy.35)“Pokemon,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon

Furthermore, hypnosis has a numbing effect that has been used for medical purposes, and now Pokemon Go is too. One newspaper reported of a hospital in Seattle using Pokemon Go as,

…part of a trial that doctors and researchers at the University of Washington Medicine Burn Center at the hospital have been testing since July 16. They’re tapping into the Pokemon Go craze…

Researchers say the benefit is twofold: The game helps mobilize patients and keep their infected areas in motion while also taking their minds off the pain, the way a good book or intense action movie might….

Shelly Wiechman, attending psychologist in the Burn and Pediatric Trauma Service and Pediatric Primary Care Clinic at Harborview. Said the hospital pioneered the use of virtual reality after painful procedures around the mid-1990s…..

“Our challenge is to find something that’s more stimulating and engaging than pain they’re experiencing, so something like virtual reality that’s new or Pokemon Go that’s new, it’s more exciting and takes attention away from the pain,” Wiechman said.36)Patricia Madej, “ Hospital in Seattle uses Pokemon Go in recovery,” July 27, 2016, Journal Times, p. B1, B4 ))

So there is strong reason to believe that people are actually hypnotized from this game. The Bible tells us to be “sober minded” (Titus 2:6) which simply means not allowing our mind to be under the control of anything else. When your mind is wholly given over to the control of Pokemon Go, who knows where else it might take you.

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Heath Henning
Heath's Testimony Heath heads the Set Free addictions ministry on Friday nights at Mukwonago Baptist Church and is involved in evangelism on the University of Wisconsin Whitewater campus, offering his expertise in apologetics at the weekly Set Free Bible Study every Tuesday evening. He currently lives in East Troy, Wisconsin with his wife and eight children.