A Chicago elementary school that was supposed to be the site of a “Christian haunted house” has refused to co-host the event after learning that one of the scenes in the attraction will depict the Pulse Night Club shooting.
As the Windy City Times reports, until last week, Fairfield Elementary School, on Chicago’s South Side, was originally slated to be the location of The Room: A Journey to Hell, a Christian haunted house that was ostensibly intended to teach visitors about the dangers of making the wrong decisions and winding up in Hell.
— Jillyn (@jayohsul) October 31, 2016
“Guest [sic] will experience IN YOUR FACE scenes of dark reality. ‘A trip through hell’ You will walk in 10 Rooms and encounter individuals who will make choices. The choice is life or death; sin or salvation; heaven or hell. The scenes will be action-packed, real and jaw dropping.”
However, once Chicago Public Schools (CPS) learned of what, exactly, would be included in the Christian haunted house, they quickly changed their minds about letting the school co-host the event. Specifically, one of the 10 rooms in the attraction would depict the Pulse nightclub shooting. In case you don’t remember the magnitude of the event, the shooting was the worst mass shooting in American history; 49 people were killed and 53 more were injured during the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
— FrancesFlynnTho (@FrancesFlynnTho) October 31, 2016
Other scenes of questionable taste featured in the attraction include a botched abortion and the 2015 Charleston church shooting.
In an email to the Windy City Times, CPS spokesperson Michael Passman said the even’s organizer “mischaracterized” what the attraction was supposed to be. Now that they know the truth, no public school is having any part of it.
“The event organizers mischaracterized the true content of the event, and we did not approve any association with the activities the organizers have now advertised. The event will not be held on CPS property.”
Tyrone Tappler, the Christian minister who developed the haunted house, claims on his website that he “believes in reaching people in an unconventional way.”
Christian haunted houses, also called “Hell houses,” are productions put on by some Christian churches or ministries that usually pop up around Halloween, according to Religious Tolerance. Touted as an alternative to the more traditional haunted attractions that pop up this time of year, these so-called Hell houses include graphic depictions of Hell, presumably in order to scare the visitor into believing.
Some such Hell houses have garnered criticism, not just for the heavy-handed way in which they present complex theological concepts, but also for espousing controversial, evangelical Christian beliefs, including that abortion is murder or that the LGBTQ lifestyle is sinful (and a ticket to Hell).
Similarly, some such Christian haunted houses have been accused of using tragedies as the backdrop of gross displays to make a point, such as the Columbine High School shooting and the events of September 11, 2001.
Back in Chicago, one parent, who asked to be identified only as Nat, said they were appalled that a Christian ministry would use the tragedy of the Pulse Night Club shooting to make a point.
“In terms of ‘moral choices’—whose moral choices are we talking about? Is it immoral to just want to go out and be with your friends and dance?”
Worse still, to Nat anyway, was that the event was being put on, at least partially, with tax money.
“And what really bothered me was that this was in a public school supported by our tax dollars. If you want to have a haunted house with that kind of thing in it, have at it. But don’t do it in a public school.”
Do you think Chicago Public Schools was right to cancel a Christian Haunted House that depicted the Pulse nightclub shooting?
[Featured Image by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images]