How fundamentalists create hell(s)

Progressive Christian blogger Fred Clarke recently called my attention to a worrisome phenomenon taking place in the deepest centre of fundamentalism in the United States.

His post was meant as a parody.

******

The Harrowing of Hell House

As the Christian Nightmares blog reminds us, it’s that time of year again. October means Halloweeen — trick-or-treating, haunted hay rides, and — at places with names like “Greater Works Deliverance Ministries” — it means Hell Houses.

https://i2.wp.com/hemisphericinstitute.org/hemi/images/e-misferica/4.1_images/41_lg_smalec_1.jpg
Hell Houses are an irredeemably bad idea — a combination of the very worst forms of evangelism with the very worst forms of community theatre. The only thing worse than their warped soteriology and eschatology is their stunted, politicized, culturally shaped notion of what constitutes human sin. Or maybe the writing and acting.

They’re so very awful — and, ultimately, cruel — that some might be tempted to respond by, perhaps, Creating a Scene.

Disclaimer: I do not, of course, advocate interrupting, disrupting or otherwise interfering with any actual Hell House production. That would be uncivil and even, potentially, a misdemeanour. So the following suggestions are just a joke. No one should actually do any of these. Certainly, definitely, absolutely, probably not.

Option No. 1: If not for you meddling kids.

Cast size: 4

Props required: purple dress, bulky rust-colored turtle-neck, large-framed eyeglasses, chartreuse V-neck, cravat. (Optional: Groovy van, Great Dane).

Attend Hell House event dressed as Velma Dinkley, Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, Fred Jones, and Daphne Blake.

When the first demonic characters appear, Velma loses her glasses and stumbles, blindly into the performance space. After she blunders into the “demons,” Fred and Daphne step forward to unmask them, after which Shaggy says, “Zoinks! It’s the youth pastor!”

Scoobies

Option No. 2: The Hell House in the Woods.

Cast size: 3-5.

Props required: Short-sleeve white dress shirts, unfashionable ties, pocket-protectors, ID badges, clipboards, lab coat, sweater vest (for optional Roger the Intern).

Attend Hell House event dressed as Bradley Whitford, Richard Jenkins and Amy Acker’s characters from The Cabin in the Woods. Pretend to be orchestrating the demonic characters of the Hell House and the torment of the teenagers playing humans in the cast, but maintain a business-like, corporate attitude. Calmly explain to other attendees that the torments of Hell may seem cruel and unpleasant, but that we must placate the ancient ones and its the task of these sinners to be offered up to them.

Cabin33

Option No. 3: Who you gonna call?

Cast size: 4

Props required: Matching gray jumpsuits, proton packs, high-tech-looking goggles,  four large trenchcoats (to hide the jumpsuits and proton packs), smart phone with Jackie Wilson mp3 cued up.

Attend Hell House dressed as the Ghostbusters. At the first appearance of demonic characters, whip out the proton packs and start firing. As you are escorted off the premises, hit play on “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” and sing along, enthusiastically, on the way out.

Cautionary reminders: Don’t cross the streams. And if anyone asks you if you’re a god, say yes.

GB

Option No. 4: He descended into Hell …

Cast size: 1-12

Props required: White robe, beard, sandals, shepherd’s crook, stigmata. Bathrobe/sandal/beard costumes for assorted patriarchs and prophets (see Acts 7, Hebrews 11 for casting suggestions).

Arrive dressed as Jesus of Nazareth. At the first mention of Hell, shout “Come with me if you want to live” and begin escorting the dead from the Underworld and into Paradise (outside). The gates of Hell House will not prevail against you.

Harrowing2

*****************************

I just discovered hell houses through this post. I’m truly horrified by their wretched theology.

These Conservative Evangelicals worship an evil demon they call God.

He CURSED people with a sinful nature in the first place and will eternally torture them for misdeeds they were BOUND to commit.

Never mind the fact that the concept of sinful nature can’t be found within the Bible.

Never mind that the concept of everlasting torment is at odds with or unsupported by almost all Biblical texts.

Any human acting like the Conservative Evangelical god would be seen as a psychopathic monster.

I am also appalled by their focusing on sexual immorality and drugs while ignoring sins related to social justice and lack of charity.

Let’s consider one of their favourite passage for arguing for endless torments:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he
will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered
before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a
shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are
blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for
you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me
something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I
was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you
clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you
came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord,
when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you
something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in,
or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in
prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you
did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after
me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry
or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and
did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

In other words, NON-believers practising charity are worthy of heaven whereas BELIEVERS failing to do it are worthy of hell, meaning irremediable destruction.

This passage does NOT teach that all people dying as non-believers will be eternally tortured. Quite the contrary. It teaches salvation by work , a doctrine Conservative Protestants passionately detest.

I am extremely confident that many loving and humble people DYING AS ATHEISTS will be in heaven where they will gladly accept to worship the good God they did not believe in after having repented for their trespasses.
It would not shock me that much if many religious self-righteous bigots won’t inherit eternal life and will end up being no more i.e. returning to dust.

Let us give the say to the leader of the Church of Rome for a while:

 

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8 thoughts on “How fundamentalists create hell(s)

  1. You are in danger of picking out only one group which creates hell. For example, hell was created for me, by mostly non-Christians, during my youth. I had no close friends—zero. That is a wonderful way to construct a hell. Or consider the current spate of online abuse. That stuff isn’t new; instead, adults are merely being forced to confront something that children have done for at least decades, if not longer.

    Society needs to scapegoat, if it is not willing to face its crimes. Jesus was a scapegoat, but he was not the first, nor was he the last. Society continues to create conditions in which some people will ‘go bad’, and then it punishes them, placing them in prison for arbitrary amounts of time. Society rarely admits that it could be responsible for many of the crimes committed. Cain said he was not his brother’s keeper; many societies agree with him.

    So, please do not cherry-pick fundamentalists. Hell was created for me, by non-fundamentalists. This evil is part of human nature, not [just a] part of fundamentalism. If you pick on fundamentalists alone, you will simply be one more person in the long line of scapegoating.

  2. This passage does NOT teach that all people dying as non-believers will be eternally tortured. Quite the contrary. It teaches salvation by work , a doctrine Conservative Protestants passionately detest.

    False. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about actions coming from internal motivations. Jesus says that if one wishes to be his disciple, one must (a) deny oneself; (b) take up one’s cross; (c) follow him. Jesus lambastes the Pharisees for appearing good while inside being full of evil. See:

        “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
        “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Mt 7:15–23)

    To construe Mt 25:31–46 as works righteousness is to cherry-pick a text in isolation from other bits in the very same gospel. Jesus is very clear that appearances can be deceiving. Truly good works, on the other hand, arise from a truly good tree. There is a cause and effect relationship, going on. Healthy tree ⇒ good fruit. Or, to use James’ language: live faith ⇒ good works.

  3. Never heard of this – it sounds like acting out the scripts of Chick Booklets. It is very manipulative towards children and encourages moral infantilism I should think. The school shooting scenario… hmmmm…. well putting a school shooting by a child down to a little demon that takes control is a good way of not looking at the reasons why school shootings happen I guess. It is an initiation into a paranoid world view – of course it is. As a role play game it seems to be derivative of secular role play games on offer at the moment.

    I find the descent into Hell of the Saviour a curious scenario for them to choose – I wasn’t aware that the Harrowing of Hell that has played a bug part in some universalist eschatology was a big thing in fundamentalism (because it’s not). I think they need to revise that one and it is amusing that they’ve hinted at a wider hope while intending to do the opposite.

    I think if a Christian teacher tried to use these games in an ordinary classroom in a state school then they actually should be disciplined for this – because it’s obviously not good for children to be brought up in a paranoid worldview. It makes them hate themselves and to project that hatred on to others.

  4. This is informative about Hell Houses

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/hallo_he.htm

    I hadn’t realised that they were part of the fundamentalist reaction to/creation of a parallel to Halloween. This is all very curious – the evangelical Halloween scare. It seems to have started in the 1980s with a coupe of evangelical con men coining stories about Satanism and Halloween (celebrated in a Chick booklet I understand). Halloween was never a big thing in the UK before the 1990s in the UK. And Hollywood Halloween and Fundamentalist parallel Halloween seem to have come here at the same time – along with the Satanic panic. Really crazy stuff this 😦 I note that mainstream evangelicals in the UK are doing their best to dampen down the scare stuff about Halloween – although there was a Methodist Minister this year who said that Trick or Treaters were worse that Nazis or members of ISIS – what a twit!!!! The Trick or Treaters who came to my door this year were perfectly charming 🙂

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