I went to lunch today with a friend of mine and she told me about an article that she had read in a magazine. The article is titled ‘What put the fear of God into these kids?’ and tells of churches in the US who, each year in the lead up to Halloween, run what is known as a hell house or judgement houses. Inside these ‘houses’ which are usually demountable classrooms set up to look like an old haunted house, actors (usually members of the church) reenact scenes of a school massacre, abortion, date rape, suicide, child molestation, drink driving accidents and in previous years a scene of a gay man dying of AIDS. The scenes are acted several times a night for group of up to 20 children, often as young as 11. All these scenes are narrated by ‘the devil’ – who wears a mask and a black cloak and hood, much like the grim reaper. The final scene ends with a message from a pastor of the church – “There’s only one way to heaven and thats if you have a relationship with Jesus. You must make your choice.”
The article showed pictures of a number of these scenes – these pictures being what stunned my friend the most. She was horrified. Her thoughts are that sending kids to see this amounts to child abuse and that if she didn’t know me she would think that all Christians were like this and she would never have anything to do with them. She also, wisely, said “there are bad things in this world and sometimes they happen to good people. Surely being a Christian doesn’t mean you will never be the victim of child molestation or date rape, so isn’t it just a lie to say that you make the choice of one or the other??”
I praise God for the conversation I was able to have with her because of this.
I’d be interesting in other people’s thoughts on these hell houses.