A Tasmanian church group has been slammed for luring members of the public into a Halloween “haunted house” depicting abortion, rape and murder.
The 45-minute performance also included scenes of suicide and drug use, and ended with a pastor telling the audience that “the devil’s children” needed to give their lives to God to be saved from Hell.
Ads for the RIOT Theatre’s Haunted House event indicated the performance was MA-rated but did not include mention of religious content or the Pentecostal church Potter’s House, whose members staged the show.
Childcare worker Emma Pennington attended the show on Sunday night with her sister-in-law and mother-in-law, who had dressed as witch.
“We just saw it in the paper and it said that it was a haunted house and that all proceeds would go to the City Mission,” Ms Pennington said.
“It was nothing like what we thought.”
Ms Pennington entered the “haunted house” with about 25 other people.
In one scene, a woman was pushed on the ground in a simulated rape while the show’s narrator encouraged the activity by shouting: “If you’re not going to offer it then don’t put it on sale”.
In a later scene, a drunken doctor was depicted as laughing while performing an abortion on a woman without painkillers.
The show ended in a room filled with white curtains, where church members pressured the tour group to partake in prayer.
Ms Pennington immediately left the haunted house to warn the next group of patrons, but was too late to stop them going in.
“I feel very deceived. In the ad in the paper, the only indication that there was anything Christian about this was that the proceeds would be donated to the City Mission,” she said.
“We thought it would be cobwebs and witches, not preaching to us about drugs and rape and abortion.”
Potter’s House pastor Michael White defended the performance, saying a press release warned of “violence, mayhem, suicide, the occult and of course death”.
“If you look at it this way, social ills that we’re having in this society today need to be confronted,” he said.
“Socially provocative issues are part of the haunted house, and that if you cannot handle your religious or political views being challenged, the haunted house is not for you.”
“We’re just bringing a counterbalance that there are consequences for what you do, and at the end [tour group members] are given an opportunity to embrace Christ.”
Despite the controversy, Pastor White said the group planned to stage the performance again, tonight and tomorrow.