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A Hell House is an annual Halloween attraction run by fundamentalist Christians. Hell Houses have been
scaring the shit out of children teaching children how not to go to Hell since 1970, when they were first created by Jerry Falwell.
Inside, actors act out scenes of various evils and assorted religious right bogeymen, such as premarital sex, homosexuality, abortion, belief in evolution, drug usage, playing Dungeons and Dragons, listening to heavy metal and punk rock, watching pornography, and eventually committing suicide. The visitors are told that these actions are sponsored by Satan, and will result in the participants going to Hell. Sometimes they are presented with a pledge to God and invited to accept Jesus as their personal savior and become born again, or the church may conclude the tour in a "response room" where the host church requests information regarding first-time or recommitment decisions.
Hell Houses are notorious for disguising themselves as conventional haunted houses to lure people in, with Halloween revelers not knowing that they're going to a fire-and-brimstone sermon until the church has already committed the bait and switch. This makes for a deliciously hypocritical irony, given that the people running the Hell House, of all people, should be conversant with the Ninth Commandment.
Many mainline, sane Christians feel that Hell Houses, in their quest to convert young people, fail to foster a lasting belief. This assertion agrees with logic as well, as Hell Houses only work to foster commitment to religious principles by appealing to fear as opposed to laying the groundwork for rational consideration of the veracity of the principles. If fear stops working, then people, having never been imbued with the basic principles of their religion, lose respect for their faith altogether.
Richard Dawkins, noted atheist, has condemned Hell Houses, saying that using fear to convert children is child abuse, and that the children only leave with nightmares and soiled underpants. While the former may be going a bit far, the latter is probably undeniable.
A "haunted house" sponsored by a fundamentalist church is a possible, though not conclusive, sign that the haunted house in question isn't a fun Halloween event, but rather something with a deceitful purpose.
- Morris Cerullo and his 1970s-era "witchmobile"
- Judgment House — How to build your own Hell House, as well as locations and times of training conferences
- Landover Baptist Church (Parody) — Online Hell House. Interactive!
- Something*Positive — A mini-arc in which an old man (and actual Christian) goes to one expecting it to be an actual haunted house. Author R*K*Milholland is just as disturbed by these things being real as the reader is.
- America's Evangelical Haunted Houses Are Terrifying — An investigator volunteers in a Hell House, sees kids and adults being terrified, believes it can traumatize.
- Hell House — a 2001 documentary on the Cedar Hill, Texas Hell House
- Hell houses, judgment houses, etc. at Halloween by B.A. Robinson (2009-SEP-01) Religious Tolerance.org
- How is The Hell House Outreach structured? New Destiny Christian Center (archvied from December 8, 2006).
- Righting America at the Creation Museum by Susan L. Trollinger & William Vance Trollinger Jr. (2016) Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 1421419513.