Hell House

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A Hell House is an annual Halloween "attraction" often run by Fundamentalist Christian Evangelicals. Hell Houses have attempted to scare children into becoming born again with heavily exaggerated scenes of sins since 1970, when they were first created by Jerry Falwell.[1]

The setup[edit]

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 (conveniently ignoring actual reasons for suicide, such as being relentlessly harassed by bigoted bullies). 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.[2]

Variations include houses that go on to try to recreate the fundamentalists' image of what Hell is like, complete with fire, sulfur, screaming, demons, and wicked sinners being barbecued.

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 principles' veracity. If fear stops working, then people lose respect for their faith altogether, having never been imbued with the basic principles of their religion.

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.

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.

The "Culture in Crisis" room of the Creation Museum has been described as similar to Hell Houses.[3]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Hell houses, judgment houses, etc. at Halloween by B.A. Robinson (2009-SEP-01) Religious Tolerance.org
  2. How is The Hell House Outreach structured? New Destiny Christian Center (archived from December 8, 2006).
  3. Righting America at the Creation Museum by Susan L. Trollinger & William Vance Trollinger Jr. (2016) Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 1421419513.