Pokemon has had a long history of butting heads with religious groups, and that hasn't stopped with Pokemon GO. Saudi Arabia has just extended fatwa to the game which essentially bans it, claiming it goes against Islamic beliefs.
A fatwā (Arabic: فتوى; plural fatāwā Arabic: فتاوى) in the Islamic faith is the term for the legal opinion or learned interpretation that the Sheikhul Islam, a qualified jurist or mufti, can give on issues pertaining to the Islamic law. - via Wikipedia
The fatwa against Pokemon was first brought about 15 years ago with the original Pokemon franchise, but that has now been extended to Pokemon GO. Of course, some people don't seem to care, and they're playing it anyway saying, "it's not just a game."
In some ways, it's not just a game. Pokemon GO has brought people together in ways that people never expected. Several-hundred person sing-alongs, police and civilians playing together, and even Pokemon Go dating is coming out of the world-wide phenomenon. So how could a lighthearted exercise game that seems to thrive by encouraging teamwork and fun be thrown into so much turmoil?
Pokemon vs Religion
This isn't the first time Pokemon has come under fire. From violence, to gambling, to evolution, the game is fraught with things that people who practice religion are against. This isn't restricted to Islam, but also Christian and Jewish groups as well.
Back in 2007, one group called the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry - or CARM - wrote about Pokemon as anti-Christian. As a result, many wrote in to dispute the findings. CARM stood by what they believed, saying:
If children are conditioned to accept these things in youth, then they will be more likely to accept these ideas in adulthood. This leads people away from God's word and truth, not toward it. This is dangerous to a person's eternal destiny.
Currently they are researching Pokemon GO, and will decide whether or not it's against Christian beliefs at a later time.
In 1999 the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish Civil Rights group, accused Nintendo of displaying Nazi symbolism. The manji, or swastika, was subsequently removed and replaced.
ADL also had to defend itself against the claims of Muslim leaders that Pokemon led into a Jewish conspiracy back in 2001.
The controversy that is brought up by the differing religions seems to tear people apart more than bring them together. This is almost a polar opposite of what the Pokemon franchise seems to portray. Throughout the games and the show, characters stress the importance of responsibility, friendship, and teamwork in a relatable way for both kids and adults to understand.
Is Pokemon and Pokemon GO anti-religion?
It really all depends on who you ask. Depending on that person's culture and background, they may just say, "Yes."
Of course, most would say "No." Most of the world is totally in love Pokemon GO for various reasons, whether it's that it brings people together, gets kids outside, or it's just plain fun. It's hard to imagine that there are many who are against an innocent game that is so widely loved.