John Alan Turner

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach, Facilitator

Hell House

Last night I watched Glenn Beck on CNN interview a pastor named Keenan Roberts about something that's become an October tradition in many churches: Hell Houses. Roberts sells kits for churches to help them stage Christian versions of haunted houses -- complete with scripts and props to show people the horrors that await people who live immoral lives. There is a scene depicting a marriage between two men (with Satan himself pronouncing them husband and husband); one of the two men eventually dies of AIDS. There is another scene showing a partial-birth abortion. One of the things I found extremely interesting is that CNN believed the scenes too gruesome to be broadcast. Interesting. Ironic.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this is a wise and strategic approach to ministry. Neither am I saying it's a terrible waste of time. That's not my point right now. The thing that struck me was how incredulous the CNN people got and how quickly they climbed up on their moral high horse to make the decision that the scenes were too graphic for popular consumption. Perhaps they're right, but it seems a little arbitrary for CNN to draw the line there. That just seems odd to me. Ironic.

Okay, these Hell Houses are sort of a Christian "Scared Straight" program -- designed to "scare the hell" out of young folks who might be tempted to get married to another man or have a late-term abortion or do something else that might land them in a fiery pit for all of eternity.

I remember first hearing about this years ago, and I must confess that I have never been to one. I did recently order a documentary from Netflix about the whole thing, and I plan on watching it in the next couple of days.

Any of you ever participate in one of these things? Ever attend? I'm intrigued both by the mindset that prompts Christians to this kind of participation and by the media's reaction. What are your thoughts?