With Orlando quickly emerging as the new Promised Land for Christian ministries (CT, Feb. 8, 1999), it is not surprising that ground is being broken for the region's first religious-themed attraction.

Orlando already is the world's theme park capital. But Zion's Hope, an evangelistic ministry to Jews, plans to open by next fall a $10 million "living museum" called the Holy Land Experience.

Executive director Marvin Rosenthal will oversee construction of the seven-acre complex just up the road from Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World. It will focus on Jerusalem, a city sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and will feature both scale and full-sized replicas of Herod's temple, the Garden Tomb, and the caves of Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. People portraying characters from the Old and New Testaments will emerge from a Bedouin tent to tell stories.

Some central Florida Jewish leaders voiced concern that the attraction could be used for stealth evangelism. Rosenthal says the enterprise will not be used to proselytize.

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