Raising Hell House

When it first started 19 years ago, Hell House, a “haunted house” put on by a church in Texas was nothing if not shocking. Tour guides take visitors through rooms depicting botched abortions, or a mom who left her family for someone she met on the Internet (apparently, it happened to a church member).

Now? Less shocking, less sermon, more theatrical:

About seven years ago, a documentary about the church’s Halloween effort was released. Here’s NPR’s Steve Inskeep’s interview with the director:


“Despite our guffawing,” he says, “these are very nice people. The people at this church needed this church, and they needed this community. If they were in New York, they would need therapy. But they don’t have therapy.”

Ira Glass also picks up the story as part of This American Life’s theme on Saturday — Devil on My Shoulder.

  • Evan Johnson

    I just heard the original report “Devil on my Shoulder” re-aired, which it is apparently every year pre-Halloween. Reports like this make me see what my conservative friends mean when they say that MPR is liberal.

    Where did MPR’s objective journalism go for this report? It wasn’t ‘reporting’, it was practically purely promotional for the documentary “Hell House” with tons of audio clips and narration from the director of the documentary, which was meant to make Christians look like extremist bafoons, and MPR’s reporter offered no counter-evidence (or a counter-opinion in this case!).

    Many more of these Opinion pieces, and my Sustaining membership will go the way of your objective journalism regarding “Hell House”.

  • Bob Collins

    This American Life is produced by Chicago Public radio, Evan. Ira Glass is not an MPR reporter.

  • Evan Johnson

    …all the more reason to not run (or stop running) this report, Bob

  • Bob Collins

    I couldn’t disagree with you more. It’s not a “report” it’s a blog post. Things that are interesting. Things that some people agree with; things that other people do not. Things that are worthy of discussion.

    This American Life is one person’s perspective. It doesn’t say it has to be anyone else’s.

  • Evan Johnson

    I agree that you may blog about whatever is your fancy, and I agree that this topic could make an interesting discussion (take us, for example). But, Mr. Glass’ original report was not a blog; it was a one-sided nearly-promotional piece for that documentary, a documentary which was very disparaging toward its subjects. That original piece (Devil on my Shoulder) should have been more balanced, and it concerns me that MPR picks up such material.