It’s that time of year again in the United States. The month of October is the beginning of the Autumn season and the busiest time of year for one of the largest industries in the country. No, not the consumer retail industry, although Wal-Mart does have a fairly good selection of Halloween Costumes. I’m referring to Christianity, Inc. Halloween is a very special time for Christianity. Easter and Christmas is a time when they gather together to worship their invisible friends, but to evangelicals, October is when they pull out all the stops and really ramp up their sales drive…er…evangelism. The driving force behind Christian evangelism is fear, and ordinary, run-of-the-mill demons, principalities, spooks, specters and ghosts are given the month off. Their top PR man, another invisible friend, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan. He gets center stage now, and no expense is spared in scaring the living shit out of another crop of impressionable young minds, thereby propagating into our society freshly squeezed delusional dingbats to be trained for the convention of carnage to come next Halloween.
And the beat goes on…
Evangelicals all across the country will be doing their level best to convince the youth of America that if they do not convert to Christianity, they are doomed to eternal punishment by being forever tortured in hell where their flesh will burn forever, where there is constant weeping, gnashing of teeth and where worms will be forever and painfully burrowing into whatever flesh they have that is not perpetually on fire. By far, their favorite way to do this is by staging productions that go by a variety of names. Two of the most popular are “Hell House” and “Judgement House”. After all, what better way is there to impress upon a young mind the love of god than a guided tour of hell? And it works, which is why every October tens of thousands of churches all across the land use this tactic of terrorism to let kids know that if they don’t straighten up and accept Jesus into their life before they die, which can happen at ANY moment, then they are doomed to an eternity on the Christian version of Elm Street. But Freddy Kruger is a wuss compared to Satan, of course.
Usually set up on the grounds of a larger church due to it’s many torture chambers….er…Sunday school rooms, as well as the availability of several other large rooms and a parking lot big enough to set up mock car accidents, some of these Hell Houses are really an awesome spectacle. Generally, there are five parts to a Hell House, and we’ll examine each one in detail.
Part one: Guilt.
Your child enters through a seemingly benign front door, but once inside, the fun begins. Christian ‘actors’ portray, in very realistic method, a variety of mortal sins such as drug use, prostitution, listening to secular music, sex of almost any kind and, of course, Atheism. These sins are acted out first to give your child warning by guilt if they should happen to be engaging in any of these things.
Part Two: Fear.
This is usually when they are herded outside to view a mock car accident. The church hauls in a couple of wrecked cars and places their actors in various locations with a heightened aspect of gory reality. Dismembered bodies, gallons of fake blood, smoke and often there is one unrepentant actor who is on the verge of death when the tour group arrives, only to die right in front of them with last words to the effect of, “No.. I am only fourteen…” or some such other tear-jerking comment. Next stop may be a mock hospital emergency room where the actor has just died. Onward to another scene of equally grisly portrayal of human pain and suffering, where the victim has died without knowing Christ, which sets the scene for volley number three…
Part Three: Hell, itself.
This is where these people really SHINE! While the tour group is making their way to the auditorium, gym or whatever large room the church has, the actors who have just died in the previous room scurry behind the scenes to take their places for their next role, which takes place in the church’s production of hell, complete with Satan and fallen angels. Satan, of course, is done up about as scary as he can be and the angels are not much better. Now, in my wry humor I would think it quite hilarious if a flash mob invaded this scene and broke out into Micheal Jackson’s “Thriller” dance.
But I digress…
The Hell Room is usually set up according to what the bible depicts hell to be. Plenty of shredded sheets soaked in fake blood, dry ice smoke, shrieks and moans emitting from high-end sound systems, strobe lights and everything drenched in red lighting. The actors from the previous scenes of human misery on earth are now spotlighted here in hell, screaming and writhing in torture. One of them might look directly at your child with typical warnings about not receiving christ before you die, or right at the parent with an admonition for not yet making sure your kid is saved. Sometimes the now-dead-and-rotting-in-hell child actor will spout off something like, “Why didn’t my parents tell me about this place?! They could have told me about Jesus and I would not be suffering!”
Added in for effect are bodies lying on the ground close enough to the tour groups path so that occasionally an actor reaches out and grabs one of your kids legs and screams, “Help Meeeeee!” If this room does not cause a parent to take out a second mortgage to pay for the years of therapy that lie ahead, then the speech at the end of the Hell Room tour by Satan will. Basically, Satan pitches the usual evangelical shtick, but with a macabre twist. Statistics are sometimes cited about the rate of death amongst children and young teens, and how many of them died without knowing Jesus and how they are all down there with him, being tortured for fun and profit. Just when the effects of the death, mutilation, sorrow, torture, lights, sound and speeches have got your kid scared shitless, it’s time for part four.
Part Four: The Rescue
The group is ushered through a door into a room dark enough so that nothing in it can be discerned. Then, the lights come on. And they are really bright lights. White light everywhere. The set is made up to look like what the bible predicts heaven will look like, or as close as the budget will allow. Then, Jesus shows up. Usually a white guy with real long hair and a beard, flowing white robes and smile that would make a dentist have an orgasm. This is usually short, because the producers don’t want the group to forget about the shitstorm they just went through. Jesusdude explains that everything they just saw can be avoided if they just get to know him a little. Nothing complicated, just making him lord of your life and everything you do and accepting a life of credulous servility and joining him in brainwashing as many other kids as possible. After a few minutes of this comes part five.
Part Five: The Decision Room
This is usually in the sanctuary where all the blissy stuff is. Huge cross, shiny chalices, candles and plush carpeting. Usually the youth minister oversees this, as the whole point of a youth minister is to attract as many youth as possible. He will probably be dressed in way that will be appealing to the youth. He will give a short sermon and ask if anyone wants to make a commitment or decision for Christ. At this point usually most, if not all, of the group are very enthusiastic about receiving Christ into their lives. Of course, at this point, most of them would eat a live insect covered in rhinoceros vomit if they thought it would keep them out of hell. Names are taken, information packets are given out and there are always ‘counselors’ on hand if anyone has any questions.
And…. CUT! Production over and a new crop of converts has been harvested. These productions usually last about a week, and during this time maybe a thousand people go in the front door, eight hundred accept christ at the back door and the pastor tells the flock the following Sunday morning that they had an eighty-percent success rate which just goes to show that a “vast majority of our children are hungry for Christ”, or some such nonsense. They are actually hungry for not dying in a horrific car accident and ending up in what amounts to be Tierra del Fuego in the middle of the summer wearing a ski jacket over thermal underwear and having Adolph Hitler as their host with the most.
Thus ends a week of church sanctioned child abuse that is supported by almost every adult in the church. If you think “child abuse” is overstating it, then consider the fact that if this was done in any other venue for any other reason other than evangelism, parents would be calling lawyers so fast it would make your head spin. But this is religion, so it’s OK to poison your kids mental health. These Hell Houses are horrifically damaging to a young mind and it is not the threat of torture that hurts them, but the actual torture of having to go through this, usually at the behest of their parents. Funny, Christian parents won’t let their kids go see an R-rated horror movie, but they allow them to participate in a theatrical presentation that would probably get an NC-17 rating. Just another example of how twisted the virus of religion is.
So, here’s an idea…
If you have or belong to a local Atheist, Freethinker or Secularist group, go ahead and get yourselves one of those “instant gazebos” and some chairs and set up just on the other side of their property. Make sure you get a permit, if required, so you are within the bounds of any local laws. If you can, purchase several cases of water bottles and print-outs containing information about how this type of garbage adversely affects young minds, preferably by a well-respected mental health organization, along with information about how religion has caused untold death and destruction, and, for good measure, information on Evolutionary Theory. Sort of like little atheist care packages. You should make up some signs like the ones our affiliates have on buses and billboards, too. I would suggest you alert the local law enforcement community, because these people have a propensity to get violent sometimes, just in case you forgot the last five-thousand years of church history. Don’t be confrontational, don’t respond to threats with threats. Be peaceful, civil and have a well-spoken representative of your group handy, because it is very possible that the media will be present and asking questions. We want to keep our community of unbelievers in a positive light, so this is not the time nor the venue to be polemic. I am going to post this suggestion on my “Atheist Action Alert” blog, as well.
Don’t give the entire month to the evangelicals, people. We have a unique opportunity here to “step it up”….