We guarantee that no matter who or what jumped out at you during a Halloween event this year, it wasn't as demented as what went down at Hell House in Pasadena, Texas. Linda Ybarra says when she bought tickets for herself and her 14-year-old son, she thought the church-run event was like any other haunted house, with "zombies, and ghouls and goblins." Instead, she was subjected to scenes depicting abortion and teen suicide intended to "lure people to Jesus."
Click to viewYbarra tells KTRK that while the tickets came with a vague warning about graphic images, like you'd see at any event featuring wounds applied with spirit gum and buckets of fake blood, there was no indication that it was hosted by Potters House Christian Fellowship Church — or that it contained disturbing depictions of what the church considers evil acts. Ybarra says that inside Hell House,
"There was a young lady lying on a gurney, and two nurses. And one of the nurses was reaching into the lady and pulling out a bunch of gunk, and throwing it on the floor."
She felt the scenes were too "realistic" (though safe and legal abortions obviously don't involve guts being thrown about the room) and quickly asked to leave, but she was told she had to stay and go through the whole house due to safety concerns. Good thing she wasn't having a heart attack.
Pastor Lamont Melrose defended Hell House, saying it's about scaring people with real-life sins rather than imaginary ghosts. He explained:
"The material we are using to scare people is reality. We want to give people the horror of what it is to go through an abortion. We want to give people the horror of what it is to deal with a rebellious son that commits suicide."
Yeah, it's always the teen hooligans who kill themselves, not the kids being bullied by peers who've been convinced their sexual orientation is an abomination.
Churches around the country have been putting on similar productions, and stirring up controversy, for years. As Brian Kirk, a Christian minister opposed to the practice, writes on Patheos:
Instead of vampires and werewolves, guests are treated to scenes such as a young girl having an abortion, a gay man suffering from AIDS, a teen dying in an auto accident who failed to give his life to Christ. In each scenario, these presumed sinners are tormented by actors dressed as demons. The implication, none too subtle, is that each deserves both their suffering and their one-way ticket to damnation. The gay man, molested by his uncle as a child, chose to have sex and contract HIV. The teen girl chose to get drugged at a rave, raped, and become pregnant. The boy in the car wreck chose hell because he refused to listen to his parents' religious teachings. The message of these hell houses is that the same fate awaits us all. But wait! There's hope. These terror tours usually end with a glimpse of heaven and the opportunity to give one's life to Jesus.
Members of Potters House Christian Fellowship Church say they aren't bothered by Ybarra's complaints because their house of horrible lies is saving souls. Though, we've never heard anyone say their religious conversion was sparked by seeing an intentionally inaccurate abortion scene at a haunted house.