A Tour Through a Hell House June 5, 2010

A Tour Through a Hell House

I know it’s not that time of year, but it’s still frightening as hell.

Here’s video of an actual “Hell House” sponsored by Trinity Church of Cedar Hill in Texas.

This is a real event and it’s aimed at children. Church members want to scare kids into accepting Jesus.

Because, obviously, if you’re not a Christian, then your life must be as miserable as the characters you see below…

I’m scared shitless after watching that. And not for the intended reasons.

(via skepticalProgrammer)


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  • this is mass stupidity.

  • Greg

    Sick. Absolutely sick.

    How can these people look themselves in the mirror each morning?

    If there is one thing that causes me to lose faith in humanity, it’s religion.

  • Russ

    Christian schadenfreude – If you can’t wait until the next life to enjoy it, run a Hell House now!

    It’s truly sad to see the delight they take in the suffering of others. If you can’t make the case that your religion leads to happiness and contentment I guess you are left arguing that others are (and should be) more abject.

  • Wtf. You can’t be serious? Make people feel guilty about some fucking lie.

  • Meaghan

    I think the scariest part for me are the children being preached at in the end. They look like they are about 12-13 and there is not an adult shown with them. They are being taken advantage of and they are too young to know it.

  • gski

    Perhaps enough of an impression has been made on the kids that when they begin to think for themselves they will remember this and realize how vulgar the lie is.

    It seemed to me that even when pressured less than half walked through the door.

  • sarah

    “This is not a scare tactic…”

    hmmmm… yes it is.

  • Philbert

    My favorite part was the “this is not a scare tactic” bit.

  • Matt

    Remind me not to be eating next time…

  • CJ :)

    I usually blow coffee all over my monitor when I watch these things.

  • Nerdette

    Disgusting. It didn’t really hit until the hospital scene. “This is not a guilt trip” my ass. That man stood there and literally said “No pressure, but if you don’t go through that door, you are damned forever.” How do they even look in the mirror…

    Also, hell is full of goths? Only homosexuals die of AIDS? God has a Southern accent? Yuck. Fear-mongering, the whole lot of it.

  • Ruru

    Apparently hell is full of ICP fans. I definitely don’t want to go there.

    This is almost as awful as getting “saved”. They emotionally rape you en mass, then act like they’re doing you a favor. So horrible.

  • I was pretty much laughing my ass off (figuratively) the whole way through at just how patently absurd the whole thing is, until they showed that scene with the little kids being coerced into praying for their souls.

    Now I wanna strangle them.

  • Kordis

    Wow, talk about displacement.

  • Lisa

    This … is disturbing.

  • Wendy

    “this is not a scare tactic”

    If that isn’t the absolute DEFINITION of a scare tactic I don’t know what is

    FSM, it’s like reliving my childhood.

  • inmyhead9

    I got sucked into going to one of these as a teen ager. It was soo horrible. They had an abortion room filled with fake blood, baby dolls and devils. Then they tried to trick me into accepting jesus christ. Bleck. I said no and left. 😀 Those things are horrible.

  • Matt

    This is sick…..anyone who trivializes suicide and rape like this to proselytize is a monster.

  • Durr Hurr

    Clearest case of projection I’ve ever seen. I wonder how many of these “scenes” are straight out of the lives of the Christians who are promoting this idiocy? Normal people don’t behave in this way. Only in the dark, demented fantasies of Christian nutcases do people behave like this.

  • Kevin

    why is it that the more i learn about these religious groups I’m glad i turned away from God.

    any person that would believe that this is the right way to help our children, needs to be lock up because they are sick in the head

  • This is the shrewdest and most reprehensible form of proselytizing—straight up fear mongering. Join our religion and you will have nothing to fear. You will have eternal life (in a heaven that is made out of tin foil and barn doors, apparently).

    There are so many mini-atrocities being committed in this video that one cannot even begin to sort them out.

    I’m beginning to think that the biggest harm religious extremism does is not giving people false hope (which is pretty bad), but rather giving people false “explanations” for their plight. Notice how the (fictionalized) rape victim in the video is made to feel that what happened to her is due ENTIRELY to her distance from the Lord Jesus Christ (just reprehensible is the implication there…because, you know, women who attend church regularly and “trust God” are never raped!).

    And they’re tax-exempt.

    Frankly, I can’t think of anything that should be taxed more than fear-mongering.

  • Ughable

    I believe they have the entire documentary this is from on Netflix streaming if any of you have an account. It’s just titled “Hell House”

  • fritzy

    Yeah, this most definitely is child psychological abuse. But in the minds of the people producing this trash, they really do mean well–they do believe the ends justify the means. People who wouldn’t allow their kids to be exposed to depictions of these sorts in movies have no problem using the same images to coerce impressionable minds to “join the fold.” If only these adults could take a step back. Good intentions really are not enough, as is illustrated here.

    I couldn not personally finish watching this–it took me back to some of my childhood fears when I was a believer. Guess I never realized how much I was scarred by my beliefs.

    The statements “This is not a guilt trip/this is not a scare tactic” certainly lends credence to the assertion that everything before “but” is bullshit. It also indicates that on some level, the troglodites producing this garbage really do realize they are indeed scare tactics–but again, the end justifies the means. Of course, if their mythology had anything of substance to offer, they wouldn’t have to rely on the most base of emotions to recruit.

  • OMG, I had to turn it off at 6:26. What utter bullshit. Scare tactics without the facts or the truth.

    If they have to tell you it’s not a scare tactic, it must be.

  • Armyrunner

    This is the most disgusting video I’ve seen in a long time.

  • They’d better keep an eye on the guys who volunteered to dress up and put makeup all over their faces. They won’t be in the congregation much longer (unless, of course, they decide to be pastors for a while).

  • aardvark

    Totally disgusting & a very important bit of video – Clearly a form of hucksterism; the good news is that this is likely to turn off more than it is to turn on. Those who are duped by this are vulnerable to lapse and, as we know, believers are dwindling in number.

    Still, it is an obscenity

  • TXatheist

    I couldn’t help but notice only half of the folks went thru the door at the end, guess the rest just knew heaven and hell were fairy tale ideas and didn’t need to follow like scared little sheeple.

  • June

    Brainwashing at its finest.

    The most disturbing part for me was the association that only GAY people get AIDS and that, of course, they can’t be devoted believers because they’re gay. Do these people forget Ryan White? A CHILD inflicted with HIV/AIDS because of a “god-given” illness…. so he’s going to hell too?

  • JJR

    June, I remember a powerful AIDS awareness commercial that featured a minister’s son who was heterosexual, Christian, and HIV positive.

    He looked at the camera and said “If I can get it, anyone can.”

    Christianity’s practitioners too often have made for themselves what I like to call the “Hallmark Card” version of reality. That all is sweetness and light so long as you’re a believer, and bad things only happen to those OTHER people, the heathens and unbelievers.

    Those able to recognize that bad things happen to Christian and non-Christian alike, that Christians can also behave badly, etc, retreat to their postmortem Candyland fantasies. “My reward is in heaven, away from this horrible, sinful, fallen world…”

  • Korny

    I have a strong desire to go to one of these things just drunk enough to shut down my inhibitions and then laugh loudly at every scene. A lot of the tension in these things is helped along by everyone around you taking it seriously. Then factcheck on my (non-existent) iPhone and announce my findings in a carrying voice.
    And then put on a silly hat and go back tomorrow night 😀

  • Fundie Troll

    Who ever said Christians don’t celebrate Halloween? That was the coolest haunted house I’ve ever seen…

  • lilybird

    I was 15 when I went with one of my friends to one of these, and they effectively scared me into a very fundamental Assembly of God church. I didn’t leave until years later, and I still occasionally suffer from the brainwashing I received.

    Some church in my city does this every year around Halloween, only they charge $20 and bill it as a “haunted house.” Some of my friends were seriously ticked off when they realized they’d spent twenty dollars for an elaborate Love-Jesus-or-Burn sermon.

    I haven’t been to this so-called haunted house, since I have better things to do with $20, but the Feminists for Progress at my university protested outside its doors because of its unrealistic and cruel portrayal of abortion.

    The one in this film seems particularly disgusting. I almost cried at the part where the demon is taunting the girl who was raped–like it was *her* fault!!!

  • izam

    Who was supposed to be the bad guy in the trailer-trash wife-cheating scene? If I were a christian, I would say the abusive husband was totally in the right, except that he didn’t kill her for disobeying.

  • alph

    Is there not a commandment about lying? Take their tax exempt status and see how many churches survive.

  • Tony

    Would be good to go to one of these and just shout “BOLLOCKS!” at every scene.

  • Hazor

    This is disgusting. I couldn’t watch more than 3-4 minutes of it. It baffles me how anyone can take seriously a belief system which resorts to such ludicrous antics.

    And just to repeat the obvious, how in the name of the FSM is that not scare tactics?

  • E Nonne

    There used to be something Believers Church put together, very similar, in Marshfield, WI. They called it the “Nightmare” – same scenerios – and held it in October for Halloween. They have recenlty shut down the 11 year long event. Little victory for us:)

  • Mark

    This is awfully close to the Poe horizon. Are you sure it’s real?

  • Jenni

    omg that video was hilarious. Also
    “Apparently hell is full of ICP fans. I definitely don’t want to go there.”…I can’t stop laughing at that comment LOL

  • Hitch

    Yep it’s real. Lots of coverage on it if you google. Has a very hoaxy feel to it indeed.

    Because it really isn’t that good.

  • NFQ

    At least not everybody went through the door at the end. That gave me a tiny sliver of hope.

  • Hitch

    The real racket is the freak show scientologists put up, with holocaust pictures and all. John Sweeney famously lost it after having seen that stuff.

    And they charge more too.

  • Dan W

    Wow, that is disgusting and asinine. It most definitely is scare tactics and guilt tripping, based on nonsensical Christian bullshit. How repulsive. I don’t know how people could stand to go through one of these “Hell Houses”. I hope they don’t pay money to go see this horrible crap. It’s schadenfreude- laughing at a girl who was supposedly raped, a guy dying of AIDS (and it’s not just gays who get AIDS), and a boy who committed suicide? Wow, feel the Christian love.

    Also, Hell is controlled by goths? What?

  • staceyjw

    What is wrong with people????

    Awful, the whole production was ridiculous and the end where they force prayer had my blood boiling. That scene with the poor girl that had been raped was disgraceful, talk about blaming the victim!
    These people ought to be ashamed of themselves! And they are the ones that decry violence and sexual imagery to kids. I guess it’s ok if scares them to follow christ I guess….
    SICK!

  • Apsalar

    I went to one of these with a friend when I was a kid. The hell part was pretty interesting, but at the end, the ‘trip’ ended in Heaven, which was boring as … heaven. People dressed as angels singing hymns and telling us how wonderful heaven is compared to hell and don’t we wanna embrace Jesus now and all that. I was completely uninterested in this heaven.

  • I want to fucking vomit.

    Just thinking of how this sort of thing twists the minds of children makes me want to become violent.

  • BoomerChick

    One part I liked at 4:49 where Jessica picks up the picture of Jesus and asks “what kind of god are you?!” Then she tosses his picture on the floor.
    There was a glimmer of hope for her but I’m sure god just added blasphemy to her sins for that.
    This is very sick indoctrination and child abuse oh wait, the church condones child abuse. Silly me.

  • My reaction to this is very mixed. If one believes that eternal hell is a real danger, this sort of tactic makes a lot more sense.

    On the other hand, the Orwellian doublethink here is amazing. I’m particularly shocked by the section with “Jessica” around 5 minutes in, where it really does seem like they have a perfectly good argument against the existence of a loving deity; the section about her father raping her seems like that’s just there only to make the theodicy situation more problematic. Is the lesson something like “Yeah, existence of evil and suffering of innocents is a real problem. So if you think about it, you’ll go to hell?”

    I feel very sorry for the kids who are being subject to this. It seems to border on child abuse.

  • Evilspud

    The logic of these houses is pathetic.

    Anyone who markets their claim to children through fear, lies and bigotry cannot reasonably establish themselves on a moral high ground.

    Therefore, they cannot consider themselves followers of a Morally perfect God, and would be considered false prophets according to their own religion.

  • Rachel

    “Not a scare tactic”? Pfft, yeah, right. If you say so.

    Also, was that kid who committed suicide in the first skit named Jeremy? Looks like someone’s a fan of Pearl Jam.

  • It appears that scared straight programs don’t work (in fact have the opposite effect).

    I think when some of these kids get older they will look back on this and remember that the best persuasion Christians can come up with is theater (bad theater). If it’s all just smoke and mirrors (and it wasn’t even sophisticated enough for the mirrors part), then what does that say about it?

  • Tim

    This is so wrong on so many levels, I couldn’t even watch it halfway through. It really sickens me.

  • The production is amateurish and heavy handed. I’ve seen better from college horror productions. The message is far too obvious and the impact only suitable for the gullible who have already bought into the ideas presented. I give it a D minus.

    When are a bunch of atheist students going to caricature it and make it entertaining?

  • Evilspud

    I was just thinking that.

    Perhaps a Flying Spaghetti Monster House. kids would wear eyepatches and stick hands in wet noodles. We could tell them that they can use the unpatched eye or patched eye to decide what they are touching. And everyone would be allowed to rave, not just actors. Oh, and a beer volcano… and hookers…

    On second thought, forget the whole house.

  • AJPIII

    Cultist indoctrination similar to a boot camp mentality where ultimately you are taught to kill AND THIS CASE IT IS ONES OWN ABILITY TO REASON AND FULLY IMAGINE!

  • Evilspud

    Hell House is about ninety minutes, and does a fairly decent job not as an opinion piece, but simply describing the lives of a community.

    In the closing statements of the film, one girl stated that the world is worse than ever, that “it is an ugly and evil place.”

    It certainly seems that way when living in a bubble. The world is actually better than it’s ever been, and I don’t think it unreasonable to describe the present as a new Renassance of sorts.

  • Yes, it is terrible that they are using these methods to brainwash innocent kids who don’t understand the crude methodology they are using. However, i also have to say that this hell house is so much COOLER(in its awfulness) than the one our local Potters House church puts on at Halloween. The one here was vague and repetitive. In ours the ‘sin’ of the tormented and how that leads to damnation was very unclear. The afterward where they split us into groups and told their personal stories while offering hot cocoa and cookies was much more fun, playing argument for the existence of god bingo “Pascal’s Wager, BINGO!”

    PS: I am totally up for Evilspud’s FSM house. Hookers and a beer volcano are at least as likely to promote good moral judgment as scaring and confusing kids with a demented version of hell.

  • Lisa

    Oh no, a GOTH!! That’s some scary shit. The guy at the end reminds me of the hardline time-share guy who comes in at the end to try to get you to close the deal. Shameful on so many levels.

  • Rebekah

    That was all kinds of wrong…..and sadly I grew up being told all that, thankfully I woke up from the lies. Hope those kids do too.

  • Evilspud

    Funny, my old Community Church holds pretty similiar views, but they also do a haunted house, and dammit I feel a wave of respect for them. Their’s was at least legit. It was for the fun of the Halloween season, with undead, murderers, an abandoned school bus, chains, mutilations…. some kids would wear strange clothing and run through woods, following groups from a distance. Other volunteers would join groups and then get dragged away in the middle of the ride.

    If I could, I would volunteer again in a heartbeat. Considering I’ve criticized them pretty harshly in the past, I figure they’d give me more than my money’s worth to boot. =D

  • I think it could actually be entertaining if they didn’t take themselves so seriously.

  • jcm

    This is disturbing.

  • Jen

    That Hell House movie, referenced above in the comments, is pretty awesome. They also did a segment on the movie and the other Hell Houses on This American Life. After watching the movie, I felt like I understood why they put these things up, but I still felt disgusted. Among the crimes I saw when I watched the movie:

    1. Typical Hollywood casting of women. Very few parts for women, despite more women then men wanting to try out, and the parts that exist are mostly “rape victim” and “abortion chick who bleeds out for being BAD” and, oh yes, did I mention that the rape victim kills herself after revealing a childhood of abuse?

    2. Hating the gays. I think the abortion chick bleeds out, but gets to go to heaven right after. Gay man next to her curses god for giving him AIDS and then dies, carried off by demons. Also, why do the demons get to talk to people, while the angels don’t bother until they promise to love the Jesus?

    3. The exploitation of the recent school shootings. Terrible.

    4. Damn sanctimonious stupid kids.

    I would be willing to bet that anyone who converts over this shit doesn’t go to church more than a handful of times before wandering away. If they even bother showing up after they forget their fears.

  • ellie

    really this is all bullshit… and who they hell do they think that they can convert when they have such shitty actors?
    i nearly puked on my screen from the idiotic nature of this

  • Heidi

    I didn’t make it past Blame the Rape Victim at 4:48. That was disgusting.

  • UnSaved

    I read this site daily but this is my first comment.

    I was practically in tears watching this because I was one of the young teens who was manipulated by these tactics (I grew up in a Southern Baptist church). I don’t think much now about how I felt when I was religious, but I do remember many of the religious “experiences” I felt when I was younger, and looking back I realize that every one of them was caused by group pressure and manipulation.

    There was a time not too long ago when I believed with my whole heart. It saddens and physically sickens me to remember this.

  • RedSonja

    I’ve seen the whole movie, “Hell House” – in fact, you can occasionally find it on the Documentary Channel, for those of you who have it.

    This is definitely real. These people are pretty much the same demographic as the people featured in Jesus Camp. Lots of magical thinking and scare tactics, obviously. However, I think my favorite part of the whole movie is while they’re building sets, and the pastor and one of the associate pastors are arguing about what color the pentagram in the Satanist scene should be painted (white or red).

    When the camera pans to said pentagram, it’s actually a Star of David.

  • I have been to that Hell House. I found it hilarious, but the mind fucking with kids is disgusting.

  • Jaysen

    Didn’t Ned Flanders do something like this on the Simpsons?

  • Jeff B.

    if I ever found out someone put my kid through something like that; their would be real blood on those walls.

    Fucking sick bastards

  • Ryan

    What I got out of it:
    Commit suicide when things go wrong but just before you die say “Help me Jesus.”

  • JJ

    Maybe it’s just me but I actually found the end of that video kind of encouraging in that when the guy asked people to go through the door to pray a lot of people decided not to. Especially I noticed those going in were older adults and those that did not seemed the younger crowd. Given the peer pressure in that kind of situation that that is kind of impressive actually.

  • That was disgusting and definitely needs a NSFW label.

  • Vas

    So what I saw was an awful lot of Visqueen, (all that black plastic sheeting) this stuff is very flammable and sticks to anything when it is burning/melting. This has to be a clear fire code violation. Cedar Hills must have fire codes and fire marshals. this hell house should have been shut down for safety violations. If there is a hell house in your town why not take a trip down there with an eye for public safety issues, fire code violations, etc. observe, document and report the violations to the proper county authorities, they will have no choice but to shut them down. Helpful hint… all theatrical draperies are required to have a fire proofing tag with a date of treatment, (they must be sent out and may not be done “in house”) also plastic sheeting like the stuff in this video is never allowed as it can not be fireproofed. Don’t just complain and act offended, do something proactive and shut ’em down or at least increase the cost for these monsters to have their little shows.
    Oh yeah and tax the churches and the businesses owned by the churches.

  • Riccardo

    And they say we atheists are ruining the world…

    I hope they appreciate the LOTS of effort I’m putting in in order not to hate them.

  • Rachel

    This is sickening. I sat through the entire “Hell House” movie and it is amazing that these people would subject these lies to people and then make them feel guilt for not going into the room where they are forced to pray. It sickens me that they are allowed to spread their hatred and misinforming ignorant propaganda.

  • Adriana

    Not true actually; I go often and I’ve never been scared. If you’re scared, it’s because you’re probably living a life you’re not supposed to.

  • Adriana, these children have been brainwashed/indoctrinated to the point where they are scared by such things. That’s the sad part. Obviously, an emotionally healthy adult atheist (or teenager) would not be frightened by the blatant lies and fearmongering, but children from sheltered, religious environments are susceptible to falling for these kinds of scare tactics. The manipulation is utterly despicable.

  • Maria

    Oh, how strange. I guess “The Friendly Athiest” is not into abiding by ANY law. Not God’s nor Man’s. Because THIS is what I found when I clicked on the video. “This video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated due to repeated copyright infringements.”

  • Dallashernandez1234

    well the reason yall r scared is because yall r ahteist i workm hell house yall r the ones that need this

  • Dallashernandez1234

    exactly

  • Dallashernandez1234

    we r not forcing u we ask u before u go in u need to listin more