Local church tries to use fear to entice new believers with haunted house

True Harvest Church has held its award-winning haunted house for the past 30 years in Tulsa, each year altering it as to stay on top of trends. This year was no different, but the theme certainly was.

The haunted house is held inside a warehouse on the church’s property. It was unclear how this was used during other parts of the year; perhaps as shelter for the homeless or some other worthy cause. I, accompanied by a few friends, found myself at the end of a very long line. As with most haunted houses, a “fast pass” was sold, but as college students, we decided an hour of procrastination was significantly worth more than $15.

The line took an hour. During it, various actors wandered around, trying to scare us — an abortion doctor, a stereotypical butch, presumably lesbian and a Muslim. While their jumpscares did get us once or twice, my friend ended up asking for the “lesbian”’s number, making things more awkward than terrifying.

Once we finally made it to the front doors of the haunted house, we were asked to split by gender. This led to some arguments, but we eventually were let in.

Then, the real horrors began. The first room as freezing, as if we had stepped into a restaurant freezer from “The Shining”, and empty. At least we thought it was, until I saw a rat. It may have been an animatronic but then there was more so we decided to move on. The door to the next room was so cold it was only with my friend’s flannel any of us could open it.

We walked straight into what we presumed was an abortion clinic, considering all the anatomically incorrect pictures of abortions and pamphlets advertising abortions at 50 weeks. A receptionist screeched out from behind a counter grabbing for our bellies and chests. Our male friends reported that in this room, they’d been chased by a crying pregnant woman and her fetus, and been thrown pamphlets on how children were a gift from God.

The next room was hot, partially due to its crowded nature. Some wept, some screamed, some whispered in our ear about how we were going to hell. We mostly focused on keeping our purses close and keys in between fingers, prepped for a fight.

Then came the suicide of a teen, in her room, but it happened so quickly it seemed built to sadden and trigger more than reinforce a lesson. It was also unclear why suicide was frowned on instead of focusing on more shitty actions, like rape, robbery or murder. We stepped into a leather, BDSM room next, complete with a man expertly tied and in a muzzle, with a dominatrix lording over him. She cracked her whip in our direction until we left, taking longer than normal because we had to physically drag someone out of there.

Other rooms weren’t as exciting. There was a loud pride festival feasting on baby parts, a fedora-festooned atheist man who leered at our Facebook profiles and basically cat-called us, a room with a thin bed of water and immobile screaming people, and finally an STI clinic. The male group reported the fedora man had been replaced by an unshaven feminist in a business suit who was a CEO; they reported being more attracted to her than actually terrified, as we were of the fedora man.

Last, we met the devil. Or, at least, his voice, droning on about how what we’d seen had been sins and what he planned to do with us. His voice and the dark room made me want to sleep, so I checked Snapchat to stay awake.

After we left Satan’s palace, we were confronted by well-meaning worshippers offering us the word of God. We nodded politely, told them we’d look into it and headed for our car.

The technical aspects of True Harvest’s haunted house were surprisingly professional for a megachurch, but this was probably meant to entice new believers. It left me questioning why they didn’t spend this budget on something more productive, like charity. Their message was muddled and off-putting. It was unclear, for example, how being a feminist, a CEO or unshaven could land one in hell, or why we saw no instances of murders or abusers or other actual criminals going to hell—most focused on deviancy from heteronormative patriarchal norms. It seemed designed for a certain kind of Christian, and not fully in agreement with itself.

In terms of horror, well … it wasn’t all that much. Especially considering how some of the situations, like the abortion clinic or suicide, garnered stronger emotions than fear, like rage. Personally, I found the continuation of lies surrounding the topic to be aggravating for an institution built on “truth.”

Allowing actors to touch you was initially scary, but eventually just became an annoyance and required self-control not to punch or kick someone. One black friend got into a screaming match with an actor for grabbing her natural hair, for instance.

Combined with the long line and cost, I would only recommend this to those who are conservative Christians, and definitely not to anyone with a history of suicidal thoughts, abortions, LGBT+ or who doesn’t hate those groups.

Post Author: Michaela Flonard