Grisly haunted houses aren't my thing, but perhaps even more disturbing is the uniquely fundamentalist Christian creation of Hell House, an attraction that has been described as a modern day fire and brimstone sermon. Brian Kirk at Patheos describes it:
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.
Don't expect Hell Houses to catch on in Catholic circles anytime soon. This month's cover story in US Catholic focuses on the Church's shift in emphasis away from punishment and towards salvation (read it here ).