It's All About Science...Even for Santa

I ran across this a few years back and have gotten a few good chuckles out of it ever since as the silly season has rolled around each year. Unfortunately, I've never been able to trace down the original author. Regardless, I thought I'd get into the spirit and share it with my regular readers as well... Jage

"There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world. However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or Buddhist (except maybe in Japan) religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15% of the total, or 378 million (according to the population reference bureau). At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that comes to 108 million homes, presuming there is at least one good child in each.

Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 967.7 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with a good child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh and get onto the next house.

Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks.

This means Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second - 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a pokey 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per hour. The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized LEGO set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying over 500 thousand tons, not counting Santa himself. On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that flying reindeer can pull 10 times the normal amount, the job can't be done with eight or even nine of them -Santa would need 360,000 of them. This increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth (the ship, not the monarch).

A mass of nearly 600,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance - this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each. In short, they would burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reaches the fifth house on his trip. Not that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of accelerating from a dead stop to 650 m.p.s. in .001 seconds, would be subjected to acceleration forces of 17,000 g's.

A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim considering all the high calorie snacks he must have consumed over the years) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo. Therefore, if Santa did exist, he's dead now. MERRY CHISTMAS!!!"


Has Fear Simply Become the New God?

"Yea, and I will bring down'eth My mighty hand of fire and brimstone to smite those who would dareth use the brain unto which I have bestowed upon them'eth...Yea."

I just don't know what to say. Many of you may not be aware of this, but the American Museum of Natural History in New York recently debuted a fantastic exhibit of the life and scientific discoveries of Charles Darwin. The opening began with a fanfare of celebrities and patrons of the museum. Jon Stewart of the Daily Show was in attendance and had this to say as he marveled at the collection of specimens demonstrating Darwin's discoveries...
"It just makes you wonder," deadpanned Stewart. "Why is Jesus trying to trick us?"

"I do wish George Bush would start paying attention to issues that are important for the country," Stewart went on. "Gay marriage, for instance. I don't understand why the religious right fears homosexuality. They say it's an abomination. The Bible says that shellfish are also an abomination. … They who oppose sodomy must also oppose scallops."

For the rationally-based in the audience this might sound like an encouraging step, huh? Well, there's a kicker...the $3 million budget for the exhibit had to totally be funded through private donations as not a single corporation in America had the guts to sponsor it. Not one. Because of fear of the room-temperature-IQ Intelligent Designers (AKA ' Creationists', AKA 'Young Earthers').

Why do so few in this country remember this mentality's first two installments of this 'Leave Us Behind' movie series? You know, 'Part Alpha - The Earth is Flat' and 'Part Deux - The Universe Revolves Around the Earth'. Why are we now letting a freak show of uber-literalist individuals run amok around our great nation proclaiming that the Earth is only 6,000 years old with hardly any resistance? Is it just because it's easier to give in to stupidity? When the Hell did it become PC to cave in to coercion from religious fanatics? Again, I just don't know what to say...other than I'm starting to really lose tolerance with our unbridled religious-tolerance. We either have to decide to move forward as an intelligent species or just stop and give up trying...it truly is that simple... Jage


God Prefers Big Breasts

"Check out those, err, that cross..."

But, but, but...I thought 'deviant' sexual behavior was a bad thing...once again, the Religious-Right repeals the double-standard rule...you know, one would almost begin to think that there's a connection between continued repression of normal sexual desires/urges and such outbursts of sexual weirdness from those espousing those moral dictates...hmmm... Jage

From Adult Christianity...(with comments from me as marked)

"You just put your lips together...and blow." The sultry words of Lauren Bacall must have lodged in the subconscious of J. Lee Grady, the editor of Charisma magazine, one of dozens of Strang magazines targeted to Pentacostals. He's blowing the whistle these days and it's not on the usual suspects: homos, baby killers, and the ACLU. This time he's turning on his own.

In an article aptly titled It's Getting Really Weird Out There Grady catalogs the sins of powerful Pentacostal leaders, and these include:
  1. a Christian megachurch pressuring the leaders' wives and female staffers into getting breast implants (I guess their original breast sizes weren't designed intelligently enough - Jage)
  2. several elders of a Bible-believing church found having homosexual sex with their married pastor (But at least he was officially married to a woman, so they can cut him some slack - Jage)
  3. a powerful Pentacostal leader who told his congregation that men at his level of service to God are allowed multiple sexual partners (So, it was wrong when David Koresh made this proclamation, but it's okay in this application? Hmmm...I must just not understand the difference - Jage)


Avian Flu Post

If you're interested, I just made a post about the much-hyped 'Avian Flu' over at the Matilda's Advice and Rants blog where I also serve as an occasional staff writer. The post can be accessed from the link below... Jage


The Natives are Getting Nervous...

If you haven't visited the Church Sign Generator yet, you should...lots of blasphemous fun to be had there... Jage


The Beast from 134,994,000 B.I.D. (Before Intelligent Design)

...or 135 million years ago to the scientific and sane in our society... Jage

Ancient 'Godzilla' Crocodile Found in Argentina

Unlike present-day crocodiles, the Dakosaurus andeniensis lived entirely under water and had fins instead of legs, said Ohio State University researcher Diego Pol, who determined that the creature was an ancestor of the crocodile.

Discovered at the southern tip of South America in 1996 by paleontologists Zulma Gasparini and Luis Spalletti of the University of La Plata, in Argentina, the three fossils were identified using an advanced computer program, Science magazine reported on Friday.

Its the size of the animal that makes it a "Godzilla", explained Pol, adding that contemporaries of Dakosaurus andenienis were smaller and more delicate, with long, skinny snouts and needle-like teeth for catching small fish and mollusks.

Godzilla, instead, had a short head, a jaw 47 centimeters (1.5 feet) long with interlocking serrated teeth up to 10.2 centimeters (four inches) long.

Pol said Godzilla was a fearsome predator even among the monstruous creatures that roamed the seas at its time and represented a remarkable jump in size, tooth and jaw shape in the sea crocodile's evolution.

One of the fossils was unearthed in Argentina's western Mendoza province, while the other two were found in southern Neuquen province.

Sex Sells...Even for Christian Purposes!

I'm confused again...being in the sex industry is morally wrong, but if you're trying to save these potentially lost souls then it's okay to use sex to sell your message? Ahhh, now I remember (actually, how could I ever forget?)...if the means suit the religious-right's ends, then the double-standard rule gets suspended in the spirit of the cause... Click here to visit the 'JC's Girls' web site and witness the newest approach by the D.E.F. (Don't Ever Fuck) Christian Militia... Jage

(Thanks to Adult Christianity for the story and link!)


I've Got Religion - You've Got Sorcery

What an utterly useless waste of time...I mean, jeez, some of these tribes were still worshipping the cargo planes that dropped supplies to their tribes in decades past...how threatening could that really be for any 'serious' religion or government? Jage

PORT MORESBY (Reuters) - Police in Papua New Guinea have arrested 320 people for practicing sorcery and religious cults, the National newspaper reported Thursday. Belief in sorcery is widespread in this jungle-clad, mountainous South Pacific island nation where some villages only encountered Western civilization in the 1930s.

Police raided three villages Monday near the city of Lae on the north coast and arrested leaders of a "cargo cult" and their followers, the newspaper said. Those arrested were aged between 20 and 70. Cargo cults believe that Western goods or cargo, first encountered through missionaries and explorers, are created by ancestral spirits. They have been known to build airstrips in the jungles in the belief that planes would land with cargo.

One group led by two women used menstrual blood as "sacred water" to enable them to see "invisible things," said the newspaper in the capital, Port Moresby. One of the female cult leaders, Malamba Kifea, said the sorcery improved the livelihood of the people in Kasin village, a remote settlement some eight hours walk from the main highway.

"We read the Bible and in the book of Leviticus, we found strange teachings about women and their monthly period," Kifea told The National. "We were not sure and did not consult our pastor but kept the secret to ourselves after having revelations and seeing cargo and money being given to us."


Arkansas Blog Index

I just discovered a really new index site for Arkansas blogs that looks like it could eventually grow into a useful resource for people across the state. It seems to cover the whole spectrum of blogs with all viewpoints included. Parts of the sidebar links on the page look like they're still under construction, but I already noticed a couple of updates to the site today. I've gone ahead and added a link to it on my sidebar and e-mailed them some suggested blog sites to include as well. Give it a look (click here) and see what you think...it's the biggest collection of Arkansas blogs I've seen so far... Jage

Jesus Imagery of the Week

Balloon Jesus

Simply put, it's an “airigami” rendering of a very, very happy Jesus. Though it's best not to get him near any barbed wire, tacks, angry unicorns or crown-of-thorns...

Photo Courtesy of J2K-five.


I've Become an Official Disciple!

Follow this link for the proof...praise be, maybe there's hope for me yet... Jage

Open Hearts - Open Minds - Open Assisted Suicide


A Lament for an Aborted Chicken-Baby

"Please don't terminate me...
I'll be tasty when I'm grown."

I don't feel the necessity for much commentary on this story...it definitely speaks volumes all on its own. I will say, however, that it's a shame the chick didn't get any consideration for its' right to be born. Ah, the downfalls of being 'soulless', eh? Anyway, since this is a BBC article, there are some spellings and colloquialisms that might need clarifying. Credit to Adult Christianity for the link to the story... Jage

- 'Foetus' is the British spelling of 'Fetus'.
- 'Gossip' in this usage refers to the tactics of religious extreme groups in Liverpool who have been causing a lot of ruckus lately.
- Liverpool is a very conservative Christian town with a good bit of political pull in GB. A conservative MP (Member of Parliament) recently caught a lot of flak for saying the "Liverpudlians were hooked on grief".

From the BBC:

Tributes left for a dead chicken

Flowers and tributes were left in an alleyway where the body of a mystery dead baby was found - before police realised it was only a chicken foetus. A member of the public discovered the remains in a back alley in the Anfield area of Liverpool. Police cordoned off the scene but soon realised that it was not a human but a chicken foetus.

Well-wishers had laid more than a dozen bunches of flowers at the scene, along with cards and teddy bears. One of the cards read: "RIP Little Baby. Safe in the arms of Jesus. From someone who is a loving mother xxxx." Merseyside Police told the community on Monday to "stop grieving, it's only a chicken".

A spokeswoman for Merseyside Police said: "It seems a member of the public saw the remains of a foetus, which possibly resembled a human foetus, and called us. "We cordoned off the area to investigate, as we would with any possible suspicious death, but it became apparent it was not a human foetus. "The flowers and cards are obviously the result of local gossip, but we can assure people that the remains were not human."

The Rapture is a Racket?

Oh, say it ain't so...I was counting on getting my neighbor's new car when he goes floating skyward (yes, I'm coveting again, how damned American of me)... Jage

Below are excerpts from an interview by 'The Wittenburg Door' with Dr. Barbara Rossing who teaches New Testament at the esteemed Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. An ordained Lutheran minister, Rossing holds a doctorate from Harvard University Divinity School and a Master of Divinity from Yale University Divinity School. The interview focuses on the subject of her new book. The Rapture Exposed:The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation.

The first sentence of my book is, "The rapture is a racket," and I think it's important for your readers to know that the whole rapture is a fiction. It was invented by British preacher John Nelson Darby in the 1830s as part of his system of biblical interpretation called dispensationalism. The system of dispensationalism divides world history into periods of time, the second to the last of which will be, according to Darby, the so-called "seven-year period of tribulation," followed by the return of Christ and then the 1,000-year millennium. This is the basic system of premillenialism, but what proponents can't agree on is when the so-called rapture will happen, sucking naked born-again Christians out of their beds, cars, airplanes...

Door: Um, did you say naked??

Rossing: The main way you'll know the rapture has happened, according to Left Behind, is that people's clothes, glasses, false teeth, replacement knees, will all be left behind on their chairs and in their beds. One day, my students left all their clothes carefully arranged on their chairs to make me think they'd been raptured, but lo and behold, I found the students down in the cafeteria!

Door: Those rascally scamps! But aren't there indeed passages in the Bible about people getting sucked up into the air and stuff?

Rossing: That's I Thessalonians 4:13-18, but the word rapture does not occur here or anywhere in the Bible. This is a passage about Jesus descending to earth from heaven and how Christians go out to meet him as part of that descent. The dispensationalists have to piece together numerous Bible verses, in what I call a "pick-and-choose" method of interpretation, in order to fabricate their notion of the rapture.

On 60 Minutes in April 2004, LaHaye and Jenkins claim to be totally biblical. Jenkins says, "I didn't make this stuff up. This comes straight out of the prophecy."

Rossing: Anyone who wants to take a Bible verse here and a Bible verse there and string them together can make the Bible say anything they want. Tim LaHaye uses the image of a prophetic clothesline, and he hangs Bible verses on it.

Door: What precisely are you trying to expose about the Book of Revelation?

The word revelation is the word apocalypse, which means unveiling or exposing. The Book of Revelation exposes the oppression and domination of the Roman Empire for first century Christians. The question for today is, "What needs exposing in our culture?" In my view, it is the violent and dangerous "gospel" of books like Left Behind that leads to war and an eagerness for Armageddon.

Door: In your book, you speak of Left Behind proponents who support Israel at the expense of the Palestinians. Do they want the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians to get worse?

It's a peculiar kind of support for Israel. They want Israel to take over all the land but in the end only Jews who convert to Christianity will be saved. Two prominent Israeli rabbis recently warned against accepting financial support from Christian fundamentalists. I read that one American fundamentalist Christian group raised $100 million for settlements in the occupied West Bank, so I'm delighted that finally some rabbis are speaking out against this. Peace is bad, according to these Christians, because only the Antichrist signs peace treaties in the Middle East. They want the Jewish temple to be rebuilt and animal sacrifice to resume on the Temple Mount—only so that the Antichrist can desecrate it three and one-half years into their seven-year period of tribulation. Of course, to rebuild the temple would mean destroying the Dome of the Rock, Islam's third holiest site, which would undoubtedly precipitate a war. Christian Zionism is a theology that could be characterized the way Israeli peace activist Yehezkel Landau ironically says: "God so loved the world that He sent World War III."

Door: You also suggest that rapture theology leaves ecology far behind.

It presents an escapist rapture off planet earth as God's plan for Christians. It's no coincidence that Christians in Left Behind first drive Range Rovers and then Hummers, the most gas-guzzling vehicles on earth. Gas mileage doesn't matter if you think the world has only seven more years. It's a use it or lose it theology—the very opposite of early Christian ethics, which taught that the urgency of Jesus' return means caring for the world as good stewards until He comes again. It's surprising to people, but I find the Book of Revelation one of the most down to earth books of Scripture. If anything, it's about a "rapture in reverse," because God and the Lamb come down from heaven to earth in the final vision, to which the whole book leads.


Thought for the Day

"This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it. The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion."

John Adams (2nd President of the United States of America)


Halloween: Christianity Unmasked, Part 3

Part 3 - Tribulation Trail, Revelation Walk, Scaremare and More

In conclusion of this three-part series (part 1 here and part 2 here), the focus shifts from the fundamentalist Halloween 'alternatives' that are rapidly marching into every state of the union to three thus far localized, but very nationally-recognized, events. Not that that being in one spot prevents crowds of 30,000 or more making pilgrimages across the country to these events each year or anything. From what I've garnered in my research on these attractions, beyond attracting the unsuspecting visitor in the area looking for a good scare, the primary means of promoting and transporting crowds to these events are being organized through Christian youth groups around the nation. The mottos operandi generally is, starting through a word of mouth campaign among teens in their schools/communities, to attempt to load a busload with members of their group along with some of their more heathery friends on a Halloween 'field trip'; always with the hopes of bringing back a few newly saved souls on the return home. Actually, that's passé now...the new catch phrase is for saved people is soemone who has made the 'decision'. If you've done any follow-up to the web sites listed in this series, I'm sure you've see that euphemism in use a few times as well. And it's always important to stay 'hip' when talking about the fundamentalist movement, right?…ahemAnyway, since I'm covering three spectacles in this final post, I'll keep my input below to short intros rather than additional exposition…

(Now complete with a Middle-Eastern Military scene)

Tribulation Trails

The Metro Heights Baptist Church near Stockbridge, GA started its "Tribulation Trail" in 1992. It was based on an event called 'The Chilling Fields' that a few churches in Georgia had done a few years previously. Metro Heights gets around 30,000 paid visitors (at $10.00/head) during the Halloween season each year. Visitors get to see a demonstration of what conservative Protestants call "The Tribulation"; a time when a wrathful God sends massive afflictions to humans.

Various scenes deal with:

- The exile of John, whom they believe wrote both the Gospel of John and book of Revelation.

- The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, representing conquest, war, famine and plague.

- Movies of the attack on the World Trade Center.

- A classroom debate on the separation of church and state. It ends with a black-clad girl (presumably representing a Goth, Satanist or Neopagan) pulling out a gun and shooting a classmate. She shouts that she is "sick of hearing Jesus this and prayer that." (Note: It may be worth mentioning that no Goth, Satanist, Wiccan or other Neopagan student has ever been involved in a school shooting in North America)

(From the Baltimore Business Journal)

"You see, the Tribulation Trail is a big-time production, well known in the Atlanta area and beyond. And what people are slapping down their hard-earned cash to see isn't what many of us consider entertainment; on the contrary, it is a frightening vision of the last days of the world, based on the biblical Book of Revelation.

Many conservative Christians believe in an event called the Rapture, when Jesus Christ returns to take believers to heaven. Those left behind have to deal with seven years of tribulation, a time when the satanic "antichrist" takes over and forms a diabolical one-world government. This time of trouble, which some Christians believe is coming soon, is captured by convincing, volunteer actors on the Metro Heights church grounds.

Eventually, on the trail, Christ returns to defeat a shrieking Satan -- just behind the house where I was staying -- and rule the world.

Along the way, visitors are treated to an orgy of violence, including the antichrist's machine gunners mowing down people who refuse to get a computer chip implanted in their heads. Another scene features a girl who shoots a Christian classmate.

In one of the final scenes, a woman meets a guy playing Jesus and begs for mercy. The guy isn't buying it. He tells her, "I never knew you," and shoots her through a trap door, presumably to the fires of hell.

From a business perspective, it is a marketing phenomenon. Metro Heights gets about 30,000 visitors to its trail every year. At $10 a pop, that would be an additional $300,000 in church revenue. You can't do that selling peach pies at a bake sale.

I was sure of one thing after standing in line for an hour: The Tribulation Trail is one helluva business."

(From Creative Loafing, a Blog/News Site from Atlanta, GA)

"Last year's Tribulation Trail featured "evidence that the end is near" with a slide show montage that conflated Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden with "Will & Grace." This year's montage replaced "Will & Grace" with images of the Asian tsunami and hurricane damage.

Other than that, everything's pretty much the same. God speaks with lots of reverb. The grim reaper drawls. The United Nations and the European Union are still tokens of Satan. The various Jesuses still look like the king from the Burger King commercials, and the River of Life is still lined with plastic."

Revelation Walk

In essence, this is another of the Rapture's-Coming-'Round-the-Corner melodies. It was started in 1999 by the Eden Westside Baptist Church in Pell City, Alabama, and is now drawing thousands of visitors each year. It consists of 12 scenes involving over 180 members of the congregation in its construction and operation. It describes "an outdoor drama that will show what the end times will be like for those who are left behind when Jesus 'raptures' the church." Just for those who don't know (seriously), the rapture is a conservative Christian belief that Jesus will literally appear in the sky and call all saved Christians onto himself. Those who have died will have their bodies reconstructed, and will leave the grave, rising towards Christ in the sky. Saved Christians who are alive at the time of the second coming of Jesus will rise bodily into the sky to join Jesus as well. Look at the large version of the picture above this section if you won't take my word for it…

(From Eden Westside Baptist Church's Web Site for the Event)

"Revelation Walk is an interactive outdoor drama based on the Biblical book of Revelation. The drama is portrayed by several outdoor scenes.. Walking shoes are recommended. You will be guided through the walk in groups of 25-50 people with some parts of the walk stepped with cross ties. No child care is provided.

What you will see.

The Word From John - This dramatization is based on John’s personal account of the vision God gave him. This provides the setting for our Walk.

Do You Hear It? - Meet our Pastor, Rev Jacky Connell hear his message and watch the video.

Tunnel Of Despair - A mother deals with a tragic event, drop in on a family at home and then meet the unexpected.

John meets with his Pastor - Listen in to this vital conversation as John seeks explanations to the events happening in his life Why do bad things happen to good people?

Chaos at the Warehouse - Two men milling around a warehouse are about to experience an explosive event. Where will they end up?

Camping can be Creepy - Hear people being freaked out at this campsite. Where are Jeff and Tracy?

The Wreck - You will be met by an officer. Listen carefully to the instructions and be aware of your surroundings. Experience the intense panic as a family is separated.

Sharing Regrets - Listen as two people share some poor decisions taken up to this point. Will you make the same mistake?

Demon Central - Hear about the plotting of evil and how Satan works to organize a plan to destroy lives. This is a world of chaos, confusion and intense assault as evil reigns.

An Audience - You will meet and hear the plan of a promise, safety, security, food and water in return for.........

The Horseman of the Apocalypse - These four horseman have a message for you. Murder, Mayhem, Famine and Death. Will you survive their threats.

The Execution - What happens when you refuse the mark that promises food, medicine..the very essentials needed for life. What sacrificies will have to be made just to survive?

The Great Divide - Be still, in this place, if you can and you may hear our Lord of Peace. Who is the final victor?

The Tunnel - As you walk, enter the tunnel but listen carefully.

The Great White Throne - Watch and hear Jesus speak to those who stand before His throne. Knowing about Jesus does not mean you accept him or that you will go to Heaven. Understand the truth once and for all.

Counseling - You have by now seen and heard the messages, now is an opportunity for you to make a decision for Christ based on what you have seen in Revelation Walk.

There is a simple way to accept Christ in your own life. One of our trained counselors will be available for you to talk to tonight."

(This is from a Quasi-Religious Group Called 'Universists' - It's Their Group's Rules for Behaving During the Show)

"Please note that we WILL NOT DISRUPT the event. We're going for our own genuine entertainment and education about evangelical Christian culture. There will be no heckling and an absolute minimum of laughing at the natives! Remember, opposing Christians peaceably attended our movie premiere. There is an opportunity to be "saved" after the Revelation Walk is over - at that point I think it's perfectly fine, if you are itching to respond, to engage the counselors in discussion."


This brain-child comes from the gut of one of my old buddies: Reverend Jerry Falwell and his Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Jerry and I have had a hate-hate relationship continuing since the last good old Christian conservative days with the Gipper. Putting that long running angst aside for the purposes of this story, this probably is the least controversial of the popular Christian Halloween alternative festivals. Or let me put it this way, the central focus with this house-o-heathen-horrors is on death and gore and, though they verbally espouse their views on abortion, even Falwell wouldn't let them depict an abortion scene as the others in the field of fundamentalist frights are doing. So, it's that kind of less controversial, if you understand the fine point. Still, the pressure tactics used by the 'counselors' on visitors at the end of the show seem to be a tad aggressive. Darn those enthusiastic collegiate Christians! Click here for the official 'Scaremare' web site.

(From the Washington Post)

"Compared with some of its offshoots, Scaremare -- a $50,000 production -- is fairly light on the hell but heavy on the death. Some years, it features scenes of drug overdoses and teen suicide, Vandegriff said. It scrapped a school shooting scene a few years ago after receiving complaints, he said.

After his message last week, Cashman asked those who were accepting Christ for the first time to make eye contact with him. In the first two weekends of Scaremare 2004, about 10 percent of visitors made that commitment, Vandegriff said.

Vandegriff said some students have suggested an abortion scene, which he has vetoed. Even Falwell -- never one to shy away from controversy -- said he supports that decision.

"We don't try to push the envelope," Falwell said in a telephone interview. The Baptist television evangelist attends Scaremare each year.

Last weekend, Scaremare seemed to make its point well enough. Descending a dark set of stairs, a group of adolescent girls gripped hands and chanted, "I like Jesus. I like Jesus. I like Jesus."' (Now that sent shivers up my arms! - Jage)

(From a Blog Where Liberty University is Located)

"Every year about 20,000 souls descend upon Jerry Falwell's Liberty University to attend Scaremare.

Scaremare, produced by Liberty University (LU) students for over three decades, is part cheap thrills and part hokey sermon that graphically depicts the fundamentalist college's views concerning issues like abortion and homosexuality.

Thrill seekers are ushered around the grounds of a building where bodies spill out of the wreckage of a grisly car crash, a young girl is laid to rest and a bloody Jesus hangs on a cross.

The innocent pilgrims are then brought to white tents, where LU students attempt to persuade them to turn to Jesus Christ. What ever happened to employing logic and reason to convince others to accept your views? Why do religious fanatics like Mel Gibson and Jerry Falwell feel it's necessary to scare us into converting to their brand of fundamentalist Christianity?

I live in Lynchburg and I can testify that LU students with their vacant eyes, clean-cut appearance and uncontrollable exclamations of "Praise The Lord" are scarier than a bunch of zombies. I can't think of anything more terrifying than becoming a fundamentalist Christian, I'd rather turn into a Reality TV contestant or a punching bag for Mike Tyson."

Heaven's Gates & Hell's Flames

Honorable mention goes out to this act as it's quite a hit as well. In essence, they use the same scene formats as seen in Judgement Houses (discussed in part 2 of this series) except it's all performed on a single stage that the audience watches from either a seated or standing viewpoint. A central link to these events is below if you're curious.


In Summary

All I can say in conclusion is that the sane and rational in this nation need to wake up and smell the Inquisition burning down the street before it's our own front lawns that are on fire. The fundamentalist movement is ever-growing and really itching for a showdown with non-believers in both the political and social arenas in the near future. And don't kid yourself that these are attributable to harmless holiday fun - whether it's a Hell House, Judgement House, Tribulation Trail, Revelation Walk or whatever it may be called…these atrocities are a breeding ground of prejudice and hatred that's cunningly capturing the clutched fears of thousands of citizens each and every year. As the philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell so concisely put it, "Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom." Oh well…Happy Damned Halloween anyway!… Jage


Halloween: Christianity Unmasked, Part 2

Part 2 - Judgement Houses

(Before I begin…a quick apology for the continual misspelling of the word 'Judgment' throughout this post. Apparently, the church that began this Hell House variation felt their message extends far beyond the need for proper 'riting or other such fancy stuff and, wanting to present a fair portrayal of this event, I'll just go ahead and swallow my grammatical OCD tendencies, leaving it spelled so below in the spirit of honesty…except for the one critic quoted below who got it right… Jage)

This 'alternate' alternative to the celebrating Halloween dilemma for American Fundamentalists actually scares me a tad more than the 'Hell House' phenomenon I discussed in the first part of this series (here). It's promoted as a less-horrific approach than the in-your-face style of Hell Houses, but the accounts I've read about this growing sensation over the past twenty years smell heavily of the 'wolf in sheep's clothing' reality in the final analysis. The main goal of the program is still to use fear as a tool for 'saving' a person and bringing them into the tithing fold (along with making some good seasonal revenue as well). This quote from Adam Butler of the Alabama Freethought Association who visited a Judgment House at Westwood Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL pretty much sums it up in my opinion...

"After I saw two children praying through tears at the end of a performance, I realized just how powerful the fear tactics used by Judgment House really are. The mentality of churches to produce such an atrocity is simple--scare children early in their lives and they'll fear it until the day they die...what is the purpose of Judgment House, if not to use fear to convince someone of something that reason cannot?"

As in the first part of this series, I'll start out with some simple background on the concept…

A Typical 'Judgement House'

From the mouths of the makers themselves of the official Judgement House Kit - "A standard presentation involves an eight-scene walk-through drama that tells the story of several youth facing their individual daily challenges. A guide leads visitors from one scene to the next as the narrative unfolds…Each 5 – 7 minute scene is a progression of one story that focuses on the decision we all must make to either accept or reject the salvation offered by our Lord Jesus…One teen chooses to accept Christ and another chooses to reject Him. Then the characters die in a common calamity such as an a car crash or natural disaster, and they are flung into their respective eternal destinations, thus revealing the end results of the choices they made -- everlasting Heaven or Hell…After the heaven scene the guests go to an invitation room where they are offered the opportunity to accept the free gift of salvation, to rededicate their lives to the Lord, or to pray with a counselor."

Scenes from 'Judgement Houses'

(From the Original Script by New Creation Evangelism - makers of the kit)

- A fire kills Darren and mortally injures Whitney. A medical team unsuccessfully tries to save her life. Whitney dies, is judged, and is granted her reward of eternal life in heaven. However, Darren did not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior while he was alive. He is thrown into the lake of fire for eternal torment without hope of mercy or relief. "The Hell scene usually consists of a dark room heated to about 80 degrees into which the participants are herded to listen to agonizing screams from invisible speakers that surround them. Heaven is usually depicted as a bright white room (with no deficit of air conditioning) where one is surrounded by soft music and men and women dressed in heavenly garb." Jesus is shown welcoming each new arrival. Christian counselors are accessible to the viewers as they exit the heaven scene.

(From the Updated Script by New Creation Evangelism)

- This year’s script is called ABDUCTED. It is the story of two middle school girls who are in the parking lot of a movie theatre and are taken away. It is a parent’s worst nightmare. You will see the trauma that the parents go through and the reaction of the girls, one who has a personal relationship with Christ and the other who does not. You will see how they handle their circumstance and you will follow them in the midst of their terrifying experience. More and more there seems to be headline news about kidnappings and abductions. This is a relevant storyline that touches the hearts of not just teens but parents as well.

(From a Judgement House by Northside Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, TN)

- This year's Judgment House — "In the Twinkling of an Eye" — will emphasize the rapture, a future Biblical event where the faithful suddenly disappear from earth. The drama is being put together with the help of David Allen, an illusionist from Georgia, and Clark expects attendance to exceed that of last year's event.

(From a Judgement House by First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach, FL in 2002)

- "People lie dying on the street of a small Florida town hit by a tornado, their mangled bodies buried under uprooted palm trees. Survivors walk around in a daze, pleading for help. A small boy, blood running down his face, goes from person to person asking: "Have you seen my mom?" A busload of people arrive to witness the carnage. They lift the yellow tape of the police cordon and walk through the scene, anxiety written on their faces. But they make no attempt to help. They are hurried on by a tour guide, who leads them into a makeshift operating theatre where victims lie on the floor screaming in pain"

(From the 2005 Judgement House by First Baptist Church of Maryville, IL)

- More than 1,500 people toured the church's Judgment House last year. The theme this year is "Family Skeletons: What's hiding in your closet?" Judgment House is a one-hour, guided walk-through drama based on the reality of American life. Guests are guided through several scenes in the lives of a typical American family as they struggle to live the American Dream while they cope with the price they pay for the realities of unemployment and alcohol abuse.

The History of 'Judgement Houses'

Tom Hudgins, youth pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, FL created the first Judgment House in 1983 "as a Christian alternative to Halloween." Since then, he founded New Creation Evangelism, Inc (also in Clearwater) to begin selling the 'concept' and script kits for the event. But - don't order just yet - the payment of $335.00 (US) doesn't just buy the kit…the participating church also becomes a 'Covenant Church' with annual membership fees and new sinner scripts each year. If you're curious what churches in your state are on the membership roles, click here for an interactive map for each state. So far, this particular outbreak has mostly been contained within the Baptist Church in southern states, but it is beginning to spread across the land between the shining seas as a quickening pace.

The Target Audience

As with the Hell House goals, there's a specific focus on aiming the message of eternal doom and punishment for certain sexual and social behavior on teens and pre-teens. The scripted stories in Judgement Houses are always about teens making bad choices while children. And it's having the desired effect. Here's a letter sent in to New Creation Evangelism by a Baptist minister operating a Judgement House…

"A group of 30 teenagers came through our Judgement House presentation with some pretty rough looking guys and gals. The youth pastor that brought the group was really excited that so many unsaved teenagers came with him to tour Judgement House. After going through the tour, one of the boys raised his hand for salvation during the invitation and went for counseling. No one else in the group responded to the invitation.

Several hours later the youth pastor called my cell phone. He was sobbing uncontrollably as he shared his story with me. He had been discouraged that only one young man from his group was saved. On his way home he was upset because it seemed that God had not worked. He began to rationalize why no one else had responded—the drama wasn’t real enough, the invitation wasn’t strong enough, hell wasn’t hot enough, etc.

When he got back to his church parking lot, the one 14-year-old boy who did make a decision asked if he could say something to the entire group. The youth pastor gave him the okay. All the students gathered around while this newly saved teenager began to speak. The teenager was not raised in church but with the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the knowledge of God’s grace toward him, he started to give the plan of salvation to his fellow students. He quoted Scripture that he heard in the invitation room word for word and presented the gospel in clear fashion. His final statement was, “I have only been saved for an hour but God has made a big difference in my life already.” With that final statement, he gave a chance for others to respond to what he had already tasted. Fourteen of his peers accepted the Lord in that parking lot!

Funny isn’t it how God can continue to work even after the groups leave our churches? Our job is to sow the seed…Judgement House allows us to do that time and time again.

Serving the Lord and Loving it!
Dan Kubish

Messiah Baptist Church
Wichita, Kansas"

On the Light Side

Here's the bugger about this one…there is no light side. The overly-obvious Hell Houses are finally starting to get some scrutiny and scorn from the sane, but Judgement Houses are still pretty much flying under the radar. If a Judgement House isn't in your city or state this year, chances are it likely will be in one of the Halloweens to come… Jage

Next: Part 3 - Tribulation Trails and Revelation Walks (Final Segment)

Some Related Judgement House Stories Online:






Thought(s) for the Day

"The idea that religion and politics don't mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country."

- Rev. Jerry Falwell, Sermon, July 4, 1976

"I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises."

- Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Samuel Miller, 1808

"Jerry Falwell believes that Thomas Jefferson was the Devil."

- The Jage, 2005

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