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Hell houses, and other dramatic scenes at Halloween

Judgment houses, revelation walks, etc.

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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..."

Many conservative Christians, and others, believe that there is only one criterion for a person to be saved and attain Heaven after death. It is to have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior while they are still alive on Earth. This is a very difficult criterion to meet for the billions of people in the world who have little or no knowledge of Christianity, because they were brought up in another religion, and/or live in a country where Christianity is not widely followed.

Members of churches interested in organizing a Judgment House at their location can enter into a Covenant Partnership Agreement with New Creation Evangelism at a cost of U.S. $479.00 (as of Halloween, 2018). 1 This covers the cost of a digital package of information, access to a training conference, customer support, name & logo license, and access to leaders across the country.

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 does not accept Jesus; Billy is initially undecided, but later trusts Jesus.

The Judgment House:

"... simply presents the gospel through real-life situations and allows the guests the opportunity to choose their final destination [Heaven or Hell]." 2

They have experienced a 15% conversion rate where visitors became saved because of the experience. They list success stories from "Houses" at other locations, including: 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 along with Billy. However, Darren did not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior in time -- i.e. 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 F 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 to Heaven. 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:

A similar approach is the Revelation Walk, organized 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 after Jesus 'raptures' the church.

The rapture is an event that most conservative Christians believe will happen soon. The rapture begins when Jesus appears in the sky and calls all saved Christians onto himself. Those who have been saved and have died will have their bodies reconstructed. They will leave their graves, rising towards Christ in the sky. Then, saved Christians who are alive at the time of the second coming of Jesus will later rise bodily into the sky from wherever they are on Earth to join Jesus as well.

One of the Revelation Walk scenes shows a traffic accident resulting from vehicles going out of control as their drivers exit through the roofs of their car or truck to meet Jesus. Scenes of Hell and Heaven are also shown.

Tribulation Trail:

The Metro Heights Baptist Church near Stockbridge, GA organized its first "Tribulation Trail" in 1992. During the Halloween season of 2001, they anticipated 30,000 paid visitors. Visitors see a demonstration of what conservative Protestants call "The Tribulation." This is an event that is expected by many Christians that follows the rapture. God sends an army to earth whose soldiers kill billions of humans in a massive genocide. 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, to our knowledge, no Goth, Satanist, Wiccan or other Neopagan student has ever been initiated a school shooting in North America.] 5

According to entries on Facebook for 2018-OCT, the Tribulation Trail has continued as a yearly observance. 6

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.
  6. Marvin Holmes, 2018-OCT entries on Tribulation Trail group, Facebook, at: https://p.facebook.com/

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Home>Christianity>Practices>Holy Days>Halloween>Hell Houses, etc.>here

Copyright 1998 to 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2018-OCT-12
Author: B.A. Robinson

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