Hell Houses

There are Christians out there mad enough to think that schemes like this are a good idea. They are, according to The Times, ‘the new morality plays‘. That article, incidentally, is well worth reading, because it says what I’m saying, only better. Basically the plan is that on Halloween young teenagers (and their families) go to hell houses to see horrifically graphic and realistically gory depictions of late-term abortions and gay men dying of AIDS and teenagers committing suicide, as well as the negative effects of drinking alcohol, pre-marital sex, and so on. These are played out by real actors as darkly as possible. The idea is that the children who see them will thus be ‘saved’ by their fear of sin; and that people who still choose to drink, smoke, take drugs, go on the Pill, use tampons, or have a partner of their own gender are condemned to hell straight out, with no possibility of forgiveness.

I’m sorry, but there is nothing wrong with alcohol, tampons, homosexuality, the Pill, or cigarettes, in terms of sin. It is offensive and wrong to suggest to anyone that being gay automatically leads to dying of AIDS more than having straight sex would. It is terrible to suggest that drinking and partying absolutely and definitely WILL culminate in rape and suicide. It’s nonsensical. It seems downright silly to suggest that using tampons will mean that you are no longer a virgin, that you will get Toxic Shock Syndrome and you will then die. And when your audience is young and impressionable it’s even worse.

I am a Christian, and I believe in love and forgiveness. I believe that you have to live your own life and make your own mistakes and ask for forgiveness when you truly understand for yourself where you’ve gone wrong. I also believe that, like I said, the vast majority of the things these far-right Christian organisations would have down as sins are in fact not sinful in the least. But even for things which I would agree are wrong in some way – adultery or promiscuity – I believe the only way you can truly be a good person is to understand why this is bad and that is good, and being shown Struwwelpeter-like horror stories about gory consequences and hellfire is absolutely not the way these things should be ‘taught’. Among my Christian friends, the ones I most admire, whose moral choices I most respect, those who are the most accepting, the least judgemental and the most outward-looking – those who accepted and helped me the most – are those, in the main, who have got to that point by much the same route as I took – who started off most definitely not on the straight and narrow, made choices that ended up not making them happy, and then realised that living life differently could bring them peace and contentment and joy. I’m not out to judge anyone in that last sentence, incidentally – I know there is joy to be had in drinking far too much and piecing together last night over a bleary coffee the next morning, in pulling someone you’ll never see again or ending up the wrong side of town on the wrong side of the day after completely unpredicted adventures, and as far as I’m concerned that’s a personal choice.

And personally I do not think that traumatising and scaring young kids, shutting os cut ‘sinners’, raining judgment and hellfire upon anyone who doesn’t conform, as all of the more right-wing church movements do in one way or another – I do not think that this constitutes Christian behaviour. I think it’s wrong to terrorise impressionable young people, I think it is wrong to judge other people for the way they live, I think it is wrong to lie about the consequences of life choices you do not personally agree with, I think it is so absolutely xenophobic (in the sense of ‘fear of other’) that part of me is amazed that things like this even exist in this day and age. I think it’s disgusting under any guise, and I am absolutely appalled that this is done by people who apparently share my faith (or indeed anyone’s). I feel like I’m apologising for the black sheep of the family, the fatcat businessman in a family of loving, giving liberals. I could reel out some apt quote about the Pharisees criticising Jesus for something like not washing his hands in the temple, while they themselves are trading and doing business in the temple instead, but instead I shall go to bed. I will never understand the logic behind right-wing Christianity, I really won’t.



Filed under Uncategorized

12 responses to “Hell Houses

  1. Remove the words “right-wing” from the last sentence, and you get my sentimients ๐Ÿ˜›

    • Jenny

      In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined that you’d post a comment as illuminating as that, Dickie, thank you ๐Ÿ˜› xxx

  2. teacherface

    I see nothing wrong with religion – it’s the flatform people use it for that is horrifically corrupt.

  3. Jenny

    my view entirely – how can these people call themselves Christians? How dare they use their ‘faith’ to blacken the name of mine, and worse, to inflict such harm? How can they treat people like this in the name of what is good and holy? Or indeed at all? It’s not so much the hell houses to which I object, as the attitude behind them that means that people set up such things. It’s such a skewed view of what it means to be religious.

  4. Rosie

    Agreed. I’m catholic, and that’s important to me. However, what these people are doing is built upon really damaging logic. In fact, can you really call it logic?

    I don’t smoke or drink but that’s nothing to do with my religion – I just happen to hate the taste. Some of my best friends are gay and I have no problems with that. They are happier being gay than they ever have been – surely it would be more sinful to disapprove of that? I’m against abortion but not because of any religious reasoning – I just think it’s very wrong. (Before the question arises I am pro-choice on abortion for women – Just for me I made the choice that I don’t believe in it!)

    The sex before marrige thing as well seems a bit skewed. I used to think I saw the point but then I saw many of my christian friends getting married hideously early, as otherwise their relationship had hit a ceiling. Granted I still don’t think sleeping around is the way forward but it’s illogical to think that sex before marrige is going to send you straight to hell!

    And seriously, tampons? I do worry sometimes.

    It makes me very sad that as you say, this faith that means so much to us is often debased by the extremists. I get massively angry when the university C.U. inform me that I am not in fact Christian as I do not share their exact views. For goodness sake, I’m confirmed into one of the most important factions of the faith, and ok, I grant many see it as outdated and ritualistic – I’m not going to debate the many lunacies of Catholicism, at the ned of the day it suits me! – but that means that I am not worthy to be a ‘Christian?’ I think not!

  5. clare

    I like Catholicism.
    That really isn’t a very insightful statement…

    I’ve always found that the services I’ve been to have been very moving and beautiful, I just don’t believe in God so I would feel a hypocrite going to them more often.

    If that makes sense.

    As for the Hell Houses, there are lunatics everywhere, religion ain’t got nowt to do with it. It’s just a shame it therefore has the effect of making the rest of the people in the same group as whoever-is-being-stupid-this-time tarred with the same brush. Which is stupid.

    if someone wants to translate that OUT of babyspeak, that’d be nice. I lack the mental facility to do so at the moment.


  6. Jenny

    That made sense, Clare, fear not. And don’t feel hypocritical if you want to go to a catholic service (or indeed any service) once in a while – any church would welcome you, whatever your reasons for being there, and would be mad not to. There are plenty of people especially in Cambridge who will attend services just for hte music and the atmosphere without being in any way religious.

    On that note I’d recommend you check out an evensong service (eg your college chapel) because they are just *lovely* (and also because you’re even less likely to feel like you ought not to be there). But seriously, don’t worry about it. You know I first went to church ‘just to have a good sing’!!!


  7. “In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined that youโ€™d post a comment as illuminating as that”
    I think I’ve said it all before anyway; I’m as baffled by your religious faith as you are by the thing you linked to. I don’t mean that personally, just that I think all religion is inherently flawed, regardless of how high up the bonkers tree its adherants choose to climb.

  8. Jenny

    heh, I know ๐Ÿ˜› but there’s a thin line between bonkers and genius, as I’m pretty sure has been said by Someone Quotable in the past.

  9. teacherface

    What isn’t flawed…

  10. Kat

    I am in agreement with Rosie, Catholicism is ritulaistic and a bit dated and sometimes downright strange-being a Catholic I know this- but least my church has never told me I can’t be friends with a gay person or not to use tampons (that one really is daft medically speaking) infact I was taught to respect others and value their differences without being judgemental as this is what Jesus did. Yes its hard work. I really dont think there is a ‘right’ religion to be fair they’re all flawed.

    I’m not a fan of CU mostly ‘cos of this attitude eavangelicalism is just not for me.

    If people concentrated on the benefits a bit more than the whole you shall have sinned and go to hell maybe there would be less social issues such as excessive drinking, smoking, teenage pregnancies, drug taking etc. (notice i dont feel tampons or Gay people a social issue oddly enough)

    I am no far to hungry to continue with my rant as my thoughts turned to food mmm…

  11. Jenny

    But being a Catholic don’t you always feel guilty? I thought they were even more into sin and hell than other churches! I wouldn’t have said my church was like this – personally I’m well into forgiveness, loike.

    Evangelicalism in the bad sense is totally not my thing, but obviously I think Christianity, at least the way I see it, is a force for good, and if I can help people to see that then I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong. I think being open-minded is the most important thing, no matter what you believe – I’m prepared to admit that I might be wrong, and I hope that so is everyone else. There may be a flying spaghetti monster. There may be a chocolate teapot orbiting the earth. But I believe in a God who will forgive and save me and since I think that is such a good thing I hope that I can find a way to share that with others.

    And personally I can’t imagine that God is against gay people or tampons.

    Food. Mmmmm.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s