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Tuesday, 27 June, 2000, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Pokémon trumped by pocket saints

Christian cards can be used to spread the "good word"
Big names from the Bible could trump the popular Pokémon craze with the help of a British Sunday school teacher.

Schools across the UK have banned the Japanese card trading game and parents groups have called for tighter controls on advertising aimed at children.

Some people aren't happy with Pokémon and want an alternative

David Tate

But theology student David Tate, 29, believes his Christian Power Cards, featuring 120 Bible characters, could offer a more acceptable spiritual alternative.

The Pokémon "pocket monsters" with mystical powers have been replaced with characters who pit their faith, strength, flaws and the amount of times they are mentioned in the Bible against each other in the game of trumps.

Jesus has been left out of the pack to avoid offending anyone.

Gabriel versus Jonah

"It would defeat the purpose if Jesus was beaten by one of the bad characters," said Mr Tate.

Mr Tate came up with the idea to keep his students focused on all things holy at The Oak Community Church in St Mary Cray, near Orpington, Kent.

He said: "All the students were doing was talking about Pokémon when they came into the classes, so I thought it would be much better for them to talk about the Bible.

"It took about a month to develop the game, which is based on Top Trumps, and it seems to have caught on well with the children."

An example of a battle of Power Cards could pit the Archangel Gabriel against Jonah.

International appeal

Gabriel would win on strength and faith, scoring 100 in both, but lose to Jonah on flaws and number of times mentioned in the Bible, nought and four compared to Jonah's 65 and 18.

The idea has caught on so well that Mr Tate and his wife, Ros, 32, have been inundated with orders for the Power Cards.

The cards sell at Ł4 for a pack of 20 with 120 to collect.

Mr Tate has taken 150 orders from across the country and is trying to meet demand from as far as the Netherlands.

He told BBC News Online: "Some people aren't happy with Pokémon and want an alternative, others just want Christian games.

"There are only a handful of Bible games on the market."

A spokeswoman for Pokémon Trading Cards said that the Japanese game, like other card games, helped nurture a variety of valuable skills among children.

"Playing card games promotes social interaction and co-operation as children are encouraged to play with many friends.

"The nature of the Pokémon game involves strategic thinking, while also developing arithmetic, reading and planning skills," she said.

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See also:

14 Apr 00 | Education
Schools ban Pokémon cards
02 Mar 00 | Education
School pays for lost Pokémon cards
28 Dec 99 | Americas
Burger King in Pokemon recall
15 Nov 99 | Entertainment
Pokemon zaps US cinemas
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