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Hell houses, judgment houses, etc. at Halloween

Judgment houses, revelation walks, etc.

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Halloween Costumes

Judgment Houses

New Creation Evangelism, Inc of Clearwater FL sells a "Judgment House" kit. Its literature describes it as "an 8 scene drama that makes people aware of the reality of heaven and hell."  It shows "them the joy of having a relationship in Heaven with Jesus." Also shown is hell, "the ultimate haunted house, which is where they will spend eternity if they do not accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior..." Their kit is more expensive than the one for Hell Houses; A Judgment House Promo Pack and other benefits are sent to conservative Protestant churches who join in a "Single Year Covenant Partnership" for $599.00. 1

Tom Hudgins, youth pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, created the first Judgment House in 1983 "as a Christian alternative to Halloween." 2 It consists of a sequence of eight scenes involving three teenagers: Whitney is saved; Darren rejects Jesus; Billy is initially undecided saved but later trusts Jesus. It "simply presents the gospel through real-life situations and allows the guests the opportunity to choose their final destination." 2 They have recorded over 1000 visitors of whom 150 (15%) became saved because of the experience. They list success stories from other locations: 1500 visitors of whom 105 (7%) came to Jesus; 4000 visitors of whom 400 (10%) were saved. Their conversion rates appear to be much lower than those for Hell Houses. Hudgins rejects the idea that Judgment Houses are similar to Hell Houses. The former appear to be far less horrific.

The various scenes introduce the three main characters. A fire kills Darren and mortally injures Whitney. A medical team unsuccessfully tries to save her life. Whitney dies, is judged, and is granted her reward of eternal life in heaven. However, Darren did not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior in time -- while he was alive. He is thrown into the lake of fire for eternal torment without hope of mercy or relief.

"The Hell scene usually consists of a dark room heated to about 80 degrees into which the participants are herded to listen to agonizing screams from invisible speakers that surround them. Heaven is usually depicted as a bright white room (with no deficit of air conditioning) where one is surrounded by soft music and men and women dressed in heavenly garb." 3

Jesus is shown welcoming each new arrival. Christian counselors are accessible to the viewers as they exit the heaven scene. Adam Butler and two other members of the Alabama Freethought Association visited a Judgment House at Westwood Baptist Church in Burmingham AL. They were not impressed. Butler wrote:

"After I saw two children praying through tears at the end of a performance, I realized just how powerful the fear tactics used by Judgment House really are. The mentality of churches to produce such an atrocity is simple--scare children early in their lives and they'll fear it until the day they die..."...what is the purpose of Judgment House, if not to use fear to convince someone of something that reason cannot?"

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Revelation Walk:

Another approach is the Revelation Walk portrayed by the Eden Westside Baptist Church in Pell City, AL. 4 It consists of 12 scenes involving over 180 members of the congregation in its construction and operation. It describes "an outdoor drama that will show what the end times will be like for those who are left behind when Jesus 'raptures' the church." The rapture is a conservative Christian belief that Jesus will appear in the sky and call all saved Christians onto himself. Those who have died will have their bodies reconstructed, and will leave the grave, rising towards Christ in the sky. Saved Christians who are alive at the time of the second coming of Jesus will rise bodily into the sky to join Jesus as well. One Revelation Walk scene shows a traffic accident resulting from vehicles going out of control as their drivers exit through the roofs of the car or truck. The rapture event itself is shown, as well as scenes of Hell and Heaven.

Tribulation Trail:

The Metro Heights Baptist Church near Stockbridge, GA started its "Tribulation Trail" in 1992. They expected 30,000 paid visitors during the Halloween season of 2001. Visitors get to see a demonstration of what conservative Protestants call "The Tribulation" a time when a wrathful God sends massive afflictions to humans. Various scenes deal with:

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The exile of John, whom they believe wrote both the Gospel of John and book of Revelation.
 

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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, representing conquest, war, famine and plague.
 

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Movies of the attack on the World Trade Center.
 

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A classroom debate on the separation of church and state. It ends with a black-clad girl (presumably representing a Goth, Satanist or Neopagan) pulling out a gun and shooting a classmate. She shouts that she is "sick of hearing Jesus this and prayer that." [Author's note: It may be worth mentioning that no Goth, Satanist, Wiccan or other Neopagan student has ever been involved in a school shooting in North America.] 5

References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Judgement House," New Creation Evangelism, at: http://www.judgementhouse.org/
  2. Tom Hudgins, "Morality plays," http://www.usnews.com/ 

  3. Adam Butler, "Alabama freethinkers visit 'Judgement House,'" http://www.ffrf.org/fttoday/november97/butler.html 

  4. Eden Westside Baptist Church, 223 Wolf Creek Road N, Pell City, AL, 25125.

  5. "Halloween spooking, Christian style," American Atheists news release, 2001-OCT-27.

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Latest update: 2009-SEP-01
Author: B.A. Robinson

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