Charismatic Church Protests Theme Park’s Halloween Show

by | Oct 18, 2010 | Charisma Archive

A charismatic church in Florida is protesting a Tampa theme park’s Halloween show, and several area churches and community leaders have joined the effort.

Ignited Church in Lakeland, a city roughly 35 miles east of Tampa, has united area churches, business leaders and school board members in opposition to Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream show, which they say makes light of criminal brutality in a letter being sent this week to officials at the African-themed park. Florida state Rep. Kelli Stargel also has signed the letter.

The SeaWorld-owned attraction, which features hundreds of animals and a vertical-dive roller coaster, hosts a Halloween attraction each year that requires separate admission like other central Florida theme parks, including Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando.

This year Busch Gardens features a skit, “Revenge Rocks,” at the center of several “scare zones.” The skit tells the story of a young woman who takes revenge on her rocker-boyfriend after he betrays her. In the live-action show, the woman severs several of his fingers and imprisons him before murdering him.

Ignited Church youth pastor Holly Strader said one of the scare zones shows college-age girls at a sorority house torturing and murdering their former boyfriends.

“From a standpoint of entertainment, if I was going as someone wanting to see Halloween haunted house, that is not what I would be expecting to see,” Strader said. “I would be expecting for people to jump out at me and their purpose would be to scare me. But this was all about acting out murder and torture.”

Busch Gardens said its Halloween show is mature content for adults and is intended only as entertainment.

“Each year’s theme is based upon a fictional character or event and is intended for entertainment only,” the company said Thursday in a statement to the Lakeland Ledger. “This year’s theme plays upon the character of an edgy musician. Advertising is never targeted to young children. This year, we took extra precautions with our outdoor campaign to not depict blood. We trust that adults understand that Busch Gardens does not condone nor support real life violence.”

Park officials acknowledge that minors are not restricted from the show. Strader and her husband toured Howl-O-Scream after hearing several complaints from parents, and she said half of the attendees were middle school and high school students. She worries that the show’s theme sends a message to youth that it is OK to physically hurt someone who offends them.

“Our biggest concern is for the youth,” Strader said. “Adults can make their own decisions…. But youth who have no clue, who are still forming morals and who are exposed to all kinds of violence already and bullying and rejection, it’s extremely dangerous for them to see not fantasy-type characters, not fiction-type characters, but real people who are attractive who could be copied. The theme person is a sexy rock star. It’s not like it’s a monster.”

Four Polk County school board members share her concerns, including Kay Fields, who also leads Girls Inc. of Lakeland and is the mayor’s wife. The school officials along with Stargel of the Florida House of Representatives, Christian business leaders and several local pastors, including Strader’s father-in-law, Ignited Church pastor Stephen Strader, have signed on to a letter being sent to Busch Gardens.

Holly Strader said the church is not calling for a boycott of Busch Gardens but is hoping for a positive resolution. She said her goal is to see the revenge and torture themes removed before the show ends Oct. 31, or at least for minors to be prohibited from attending.

“This is not an anti-Halloween [protest],” she said. “If that were the case, we’d be going to Universal and Walt Disney World, all of them, for doing their Halloween events as well. Our big thing is the theme, and that’s what really we are standing up against.”

Ignited Church became known worldwide in 2008 when Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley began leading nightly revival services there. The meetings, known as the Lakeland Outpouring, grew increasingly controversial when media outlets struggled to verify alleged healings. Bentley later left in scandal after announcing he’d had an inappropriate relationship with a female staffer, whom he married last year.

The Busch Gardens protest has gained local media attention and was even discussed on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. Some disagree with the church, arguing that the show is harmless entertainment. But Strader said many have shown support, including some atheists.

“We really feel God is with us and standing behind us because it goes beyond religious belief or denomination,” she said, noting that October is both National Bullying Prevention Month and Domestic Violence Awareness Month. “It goes beyond that into morals that all of us should possess.”

Strader is seeking a meeting with Busch Gardens officials this week and so far has heard nothing from the company. Whatever the outcome, she said the protest will send a message to Busch Gardens and other Florida theme parks. “Just to caution them just to think twice when they’re deciding what they’re going to do for next year, what’s appropriate for our families,” she said.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Prophet: Learning to Listen With Discernment

Prophet: Learning to Listen With Discernment

Learning to listen with discernment means that you begin to recognize the voice of God so well that other voices sound unfamiliar. In John 10:5a, Jesus told his followers, "Yet they will never follow a stranger." This statement needs to become a reality in your life....

5 Stages of Building a Successful Team

5 Stages of Building a Successful Team

The definition and purpose of leadership are directly tied to organizational models and the five stages of building an organizational model. Let’s talk about those five stages. What we say here may sound somewhat like what you may have heard before about building a...

Mario Murillo Compares America Now to Israel on Mount Carmel

Mario Murillo Compares America Now to Israel on Mount Carmel

America stands in a crucial moment, much like the moment where Elijah made Israel choose between Baal and Jehovah. Elijah said to the people, "How long do you halt between two opinions? If Baal is God..." That's according to Evangelist Mario Murillo, whose ministry...

Spirit-Filled Pastor: Can I Ask God for Confirmation?

Spirit-Filled Pastor: Can I Ask God for Confirmation?

There are many incidents of God giving people a sign throughout the Bible. Although I believe God still does this, I also believe that we must be careful. Asking for a sign can be misleading if other factors are not taken into consideration. In Genesis, we find an...

Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: Are You Ready To Meet Jesus?

Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: Are You Ready To Meet Jesus?

The last words Jesus spoke to me in my 23 Minutes In Hell vision were, “Tell them I am coming very, very soon.” Then He repeated Himself and said again, “Tell them I am coming very, very soon.” The Bible is clear that Jesus is coming back to rapture His believers,...

The Best Way to Love Others and Yourself

The Best Way to Love Others and Yourself

I believe that other than the gospel regarding salvation through faith in Christ, learning to walk in love is the most important lesson in God’s Word. Jesus says that love is the most important commandment (Mark 12:28–31). The apostle Paul writes that love is the...

RECENT ARTICLES

Prophecy: The Breach in Our Nation Will Be Repaired

Praise be to Almighty God, righteous judge, holy of holies, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. The earth is His footstool, and to His kingdom there is no end! Breached Births The Spirit of the...
Experience a Better Kind of Love in Your Relationships

Experience a Better Kind of Love in Your Relationships

Do you have any relationship struggles? Perhaps you want to learn how to love, for real. Too often today, people search for a fairytale love and are disappointed when the fairytale fizzles, which it will. Michael Gibson, author of Real Life Love, challenges folks to...

The Power of Godly Words Over Another Life—and Yours

The Power of Godly Words Over Another Life—and Yours

Have the words that others have spoken over you ever significantly impacted you? Words can birth destinies on the inside of us and bring hope to our hearts for the future. They have the power to ignite our dreams and give life to our souls. At the same time, negative...

The Power of Godly Words Over Another Life—and Yours

The Power of Godly Words Over Another Life—and Yours

Have the words that others have spoken over you ever significantly impacted you? Words can birth destinies on the inside of us and bring hope to our hearts for the future. They have the power to ignite our dreams and give life to our souls. At the same time, negative...

How You Can Foil the Plot Against Your Life

How You Can Foil the Plot Against Your Life

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Jesus warned us that we have an enemy, and he is a thief. He steals our joy, purpose, peace and, if he can, our future. Jesus knew it was important to warn us...

Activating Introverts in Evangelism

Activating Introverts in Evangelism

 Many believers mistakenly think that evangelism is only for charismatic, extroverted personality types. If they aren’t called to be evangelists, they shrink back from sharing the gospel with the lost entirely. The scriptural reality is that fivefold ministers, and...

Pin It on Pinterest

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]