For prices around $299.00, it is once again possible this year to buy a Hell House Kit for creating your own moralist haunted house. Halloween is a longtime bogeyman, if you will, for various churches, which criticize the holiday for what some congregations deem to be connections to devil worship. Never one to miss a marketing opportunity, the late televangelist Jerry Falwell hit on the idea of encouraging church communities to construct haunted houses anyway. They would be designed in the typical scare-the-crap-out-of-the-kids spirit. But the frights would be religiously-themed: the seven deadly sins.
Not that the New Testament isn't a pretty good ghost story, but hell houses typically define sin less biblically than legislatively. In most hell houses you'll be scared not by a ghost, but a vision of a woman bleeding to death from between her legs—she's terminated a pregnancy, and now presumably pays Satan's price. The anti-gay streak in the Hell House narratives tends to be strong too.
New Destiny Christian Center, a Colorado-based evangelical ministry, is the specialist in the programs. The business of hell houses, at least as they practice it, looks to be classic up-sell marketing. The basic kit goes for $299.00, but from there the church offers plug-in "modules," allowing a particular hell house to address specific sins in one's own neighborhood. The online brochure starts off with a new "domestic abuse" stage set, moving on to the "rave scene," "drunk driving," and the "gay wedding." They used to loan out a video, according to the church's website, but they've stopped doing that because people were just copying the concept and not putting the whole experience together properly. That risked visitors just getting scared, like a regular haunted house, and not receiving the intended religious message. The church pastor drafted some additional scenes, according to the order form. Most deal with family-related horror stories—abusive marriages, druggy kids—in a Halloween spirit:
Domestic Abuse - A phenomenal surprise beginning to the production starts by including this scene. The home and family is a major target for the kingdom of hell and abuse is fuel on the fire for doing damage to marriages and relationships.
Rave Scene - Youth culture often sees itself as wildly indestructible. The underground world of rave clubs and drug usage proves to be a deadly combination, and hell's demons rejoice.
Teen Suicide - The seemingly insurmountable stress and pressure of teen life is amplified by the dark shadows of Satan's schemes. Suicide is the result.
Mother's Womb Abortion - A young mother is miraculously given the opportunity to learn from her mistake upon being blessed with a visit by her aborted daughter at four different ages of life.
Drunk Driving - Four teenagers are out on a Friday night high, alive and buzzed after the prom. There's just one problem: this night ends with two that are dead and two more left to deal with their horrible guilt and shame - and hell's bad boys will make sure of that.
Gay Wedding - The sacred institution of marriage between a man and a woman is further disgraced by the unholy union of a man and a man, and Satan wouldn't have it any other way.
Hell - The eternal fury and fire of hell is portrayed as the hell-dwellers, gate keeper and Satan declare that every person there is destined to burn forever in constant pain and agony.
Heaven - This particular heaven scene also has an angelic rescue which brings all the attention to glorious eternity. A wonderful connection also occurs between this scene and the abortion scene with a surprise reunion in heaven! Jesus explains restoration and gives everyone the chance to pray the prayer of salvation.
New Destiny claims 75,000 people have toured houses created with their mail-order kit, and a third of those have become religious converts or rededicated themselves to their faith. It's not clear how they arrived at those stats, and no one picked up the phone when we called earlier today.