Friday, November 05, 2010

A Quick Word On... The Most Terrifying Costume of All

The premise is simple. Draw as many people as you can into a building for a scary show. Ideally, you want the performance to appear like a Halloween pantomime. The catch is however, it's less Scooby Doo and more Constantine. In America they call them 'Hell Houses', pantos performed by amateur actors with the sole intention of inspiring in the viewer an immense and confronting image of hell, in order to kick-start their religious motor. Here it is called The Haunted House II, organised by The Potter's House Christian Fellowship, and dispensing with the ghosts and goblins, who are instead replaced by intensely horrific and moralising visions of rape and abortion. At the end, it's the scariest part of all: you are accosted by evangelicals who give you the chance to repent your sins and pray for forgiveness, before inviting you to the Sunday sermon and a cuppa afterwards.

To show you the sorts of things to expect from a 'Hell House' here is a video from Richard Dawkins' Root of All Evil, in which he viewed first hand the creative process behind one of these performances:

In Launceston's verson, various specifics have been revealed, such as a rape scene in which the abused woman is told 'if you don't want it, don't advertise', and a drunk, laughing doctor giving a violent abortion to a screaming woman. Although 12 year-olds were denied entry to the event, the MA15+ rating was wavered for some 13 and 14 year-olds, many of whom have been made grossly upset by the experience.

When the film The Exorcist first came out, evangelical Billy Graham announced that a real demon was present in the very frames of the film. Fear it seemed, was an instrumental of the devil, the complete opposite of what religion was trying to achieve. For years we have been hearing from churches that what they preach is not religion, but instead a relationship with Jesus Christ. Knowing that terrible and immoral carnivals of the grotesque like Haunted House II are at the forefront of this 'relationship' makes me ill. What kind of relationships do you know that are based on anger, fear and mental manipulation? Only abusive ones.

In my experience there are many, many Christians who are respectful, honest and loving people, and I am amazingly fortunate that my dealings with religion have mostly been based on friendship, curiosity, and a mutual desire to provide services of enormous worth to the most needy sectors of the community. What the creators of this abhorration have shown through their performance is that in the end they will do whatever it takes to get people to come to their church, even if it is psychologically manipulating teenagers into believing that all abortions are performed in back alleys with coathangers, and that gays are posessed by demons and unworthy of being considered real people. According to Ninemsn, Pastor of The Potter's Church Michael White has defended the performance by saying that it is simply part of 'challenging religious and political values'; yet if I put on a performance in which a priest blottoed on communion wine simulated the sexual molestation of young boys, in an effort to divert people away from the Catholic Church, I would have an uproar. It is imperative that anyone who believes in the fundamental rights of humanity speaks out against this mental abuse, and hopefully we can put a stop to the concerts in general - but particularly children being able to attend them. This is not the first Haunted House performance in Tasmania, and if we don't deal with it this time round, it may also not be last.

One of my favourite Michael Leunig cartoons features a simple picture of the snowy-bearded archetype of God strolling across the page holding a massive protest billboard. The sign reads simply: 'Not In My Name'. I can't help but recognise how apt this statement is in relation to these performances. The Potter's House Christian Fellowship should be ashamed of themselves, in the same way that I have no doubt Jesus would be ashamed of them, for their blatant and unapologetic terrorising of innocent minds.

You don't create heaven on Earth by subjecting people to hell.


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