“Hell houses” have been a fixture during the American Halloween season since the early 1990s. These productions, staged by mainly evangelical Christian churches, are a twist on the traditional haunted house. Instead of scary killers wearing hockey masks or razor fingers, they instead attempt to scare patrons with terrifying scenes of depravity which will result in a trip to hell instead of the loving arms of Jesus Christ. But recent years have seen hell house attendances dwindling as young people are no longer bothered by the horrific images that these church productions exhibit.
“Yeah, I just don’t get it. Kids are really not being scared any more. And we’ve really gone all out to show them the kinds of things that will burn them in hell,” said Bill Safire, associate pastor at the Trinity Assembly of God just outside of Dallas, Texas. “They used to come running into the church, crying the next morning after seeing some of this stuff. I think Hollywood is desensitizing kids to these evil things. Teachers play a big role as well, with their talking about evolution and stuff.”
Trinity has really turned up the heat this year, depicting images of people driving electric cars and recycling, sick people receiving health care, loving gay couples getting married, women getting a pap smear, people in lab coats performing science experiments, frank talk about contraception, and scenes of Barack Obama as President.
“This should have really done it,” added youth pastor Jim Stone. “But numbers are off, and the kids who have been through already are giggling through most of it. Especially when they see Jesus at the end. If this keeps up, we might need to put a hockey mask and some razor fingers on him after all.”