I’ll get straight to the point here since the attraction itself certainly didn’t pull any punches: Nightmare, the popular Halloween walk-through attraction hosted by Guts Church, is about as sickening and gratuitous a product as civilized humanity is capable of producing. And no, I do not say that lightly. Nor am I positive that the people in charge of this train wreck can really be properly categorized as civilized.
“Haunted house entertainment” is not for the faint of heart and I am well aware that excessive gore is just something that goes with the territory. Truth be told, I am usually a big fan of these types of activities, since I am the type of person that gets a thrill out of being scared. As such, it wasn’t the level of violence or horror in Nightmare that bothered me, it was its theme and subject matter.
The good people of Guts Church seem to prescribe to a fire-and-brimstone version of Christianity, if Nightmare was any indication. Their tagline for the event is “it’ll scare the hell out of you,” and it is described as a “graphic walk-through presentation of real-life, modern-day struggles challenging our world today.”
In other words, it is a tour through a variety of events that will send a person to hell, followed by an actual descent into hell to observe the myriad ways in which these souls will be tortured for eternity.
As a believer in the Constitution and this country’s founding principles, I stand strongly behind the idea of religious freedom. Regardless of whether or not I share the same beliefs and values as the people of Guts Church, I respect their right to hold them. What I will not abide is the manner in which they choose to spread their gospel.
Nightmare is nothing more than base exploitation and fear-mongering, meant to frighten and brainwash people into following the specific doctrine of this church. Evangelism and religious conversion should be about helping people along a natural path into the faith, accepting Christ into their lives on their own terms, not making them believe that they will suffer for eternity for not believing in God.
What’s more, Guts Church’s targeted demographic for this event is teens and preteens (the most frequent patrons of Halloween attractions), meaning that the minds they hope to prey on with their disgusting rhetoric are still at a very impressionable age.
I even saw several children who were clearly much younger than 12—the supposed age of admission—accompanied by parents who did nothing to shelter their children’s eyes from such pleasantries as a coat-hanger abortion, violent rape in a bathroom stall, and murder-suicide by a bullied high school student.
This wasn’t pulp horror, it was an exploitative and exaggerated depiction of terrible real-world tragedies, and not something that a child should ever have to endure. As a not-particularly-squeamish 18-year-old, even I was sick to my stomach.
Perhaps this isn’t the place for it, but I would urge for a boycott of Nightmare amongst any TU students or their family members who want to go. There can be no justification for this level of distortion of the message of Christianity, this perversion of religion so as to scare people into line. And to any of you who help put on this spectacle, if you are reading this: shame on you.