I started out watching The Root of All Evil on youtube tonight. When I got to the part where Dawkins is witnessing a church's plans to put together a Hell House, I had to stop watching, to think. Things just hit too close to home for me. I found a documentary following the creation and execution of a hell house, and rented it to watch. It brought back some memories, things I had tried to forget. I found myself breathing with great difficulty throughout the film. (If you aren't sure what a hell house is, check this link out for a summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell_house )
About 8 years ago, I was a freshman in highschool, a catholic school. Several of my friends and I piled into a van, along with their parents. They told my family and I that we were going to a haunted house, and I was surprised when we arrived at a hell house. I had no idea what to expect, in fact, I was extremely naive. Everyone coming in seemed...happy, while everyone coming out seemed disturbed, to say the least. I was horrified by how graphic the scenes were. From what I can remember clearly, there was a graphic car wreck, a suicide, a rape/incest situation, and, worst of all, a graphic abortion scene. As time passed and I went through each of these scenes, the horror of it all began to get to me. When they whipped out what appeared to be a bloody piece of meat during the abortion scene, spraying fake blood to the audience, I finally lost consciousness. When I awoke, it turned out that several others had, as well, and this was not a rare occurance.
I begged them to let me leave, to let me go home, and I was dragged straight to the "hell" scene, still feeling woozy and sick. The people were kind to me, but...they were more concerned with making me go through the entire thing, than my welfare. I remember the car ride home, they had to stop several times for me to stumble out of the van and vomit on the side of the road. In fact, these so called "christians" laughed at me for my weak stomach and delicate sensibilities. Real christian-like, huh?
This film brought it all rushing back. Here are people, trying out for scenes, absolutely thrilled when they get the part. "I get to be the rape girl! I get to be the suicide woman, yay! Oh, my favorite scene is the abortion one! The best scene to be in is the school shooting." They laugh, they joke during rehearsal, they don't seem the least bit fazed by any of this.
Do these people even know what true evil is? Do they realize what they are re-enacting? That they are making a rabid spectacle out of human pain and suffering? The true evil is the message these people are communicating, is that all of these occurances are the fault of the individual, that it's the girl's fault that she has been raped, that the man chose to be gay, and now they are going to burn forever in some sort of fictional fiery pit. Their message of brainwashing and terror is of a far deeper level of evil and immorality. (As a side note, they portrayed the demons residing in hell as gothic, which offends me a bit as I have several close friends that identify with that group, and they are wonderful people.)
After all of this, they herd people into a little room and intimidate them into going to pray, etc. The same thing happened to me, except I was so nauseous and claustrophobic that all I did was wave them away. I had a bunch of tracts shoved into my hand and was loaded into the car.
I still identified as catholic then, but I really think I have been atheist my entire life. It strikes me as odd that I, an atheist, was so disturbed and affected by the depiction of real-life violence that I passed out, while these people laugh and giggle between reenactments of a school shooting, human sacrifice, and spousal abuse. Human suffering is a very serious thing, and shouldn't be used to lure people like terrified sheep into becoming "saved."
It seems they care more about saving "souls" than they do actually doing something to end violence and injustice. The money that they spent on putting it on, or that they raised, could have had better use at a battered women's shelter, a children's hospital, or battling the aids epidemic in Africa. The massive amount of manpower they used...imagine how much they could have done at a food bank, or building homes for the poor.
These people have a twisted sense of morality.
On edit: I just watched the dvd extras. They have an "oscars" ceremony after the production. The girl in the rape scene wins an award, and she runs onstage happily. The first thing out of her mouth was, "I couldn't have done it without my rapers!! It turns out that being raped was actually pretty fun!" Oooh, cringe worthy.