I was watching “Hell House” on the Sundance Channel last night. For those of you that haven’t seen this documentary, it’s about the yearly haunted house put on by a church in Texas.
In the house are images of what this church considers to be mortal sins – scenes of underage drinking and driving, teen sex, abortion, homosexuality, drug use, and the like. Each sin is punished by everlasting damnation, burning in lakes of fire, et cetera.
At one point, the church’s pastor admits that he hopes to get more people coming to church through the use of this imagery. I’m paraphrasing, but this is essentially the quote he used:
“Yes, I’m not above using fear as a tactic to get more people into our church. People should be afraid.”
My question is, do scare tactics like these really work in the long run? Haven’t most of the organized religions gotten away from using these as motivators for increasing attendance?
Moreover, should we be teaching our children that the only reason to go to church is to prevent the bad things, not to receive the light of God? Does the message of God’s love mix with the imagery of the Hell that will await you if you don’t receive it?
Are churches turning to a risk/reward campaign now, since the message of love apparently isn’t working?