An Arvada, Colorado, Assemblies of God church that received national media attention last Halloween for its gruesome Hell House, is selling kits to churches around the country that want to duplicate the grizzly dramatization.
Hell House was criticized for its gory depictions of an abortion, a homosexual dying of AIDS , drunken driving, teen suicide, and hell. Critics, including the Colorado Council of Churches, condemned the scare tactics used in the presentation and the literal demonization of homosexuals and abortionists.
Keenan Roberts, youth pastor and director of Abundant Life Christian Center's Hell House, says the complaints are misdirected. "It's Romans 6:23 in contemporary packaging. 'The wages of sin is death,' " he says. Roberts, 30, developed an annual Hell House in Roswell, New Mexico, before moving to Denver.
Charging $5 for admission, the church made a $17,000 profit in last year's five-night presentation. This year, it is extending the run to 16 nights. Roberts says the church grew by 25 percent after last Halloween.
The 500-member church is selling Hell House kits for $149. Buyers get a 263-page manual, a video of the Denver Hell House, and a tape or compact disc with sound effects. The manual includes everything from a script to prop advice, including, "Do your very best to buy or purchase a meat product that will resemble as much as possible pieces of a baby that are being placed in the glass bowl for all to see."
So far, the church has sold 60 kits, which it spent $10,000 to produce.
Last Updated: October 4, 1996