"(If you don't want to read a long comment, skip this one)
I'd have to agree that I'm really not a huge fan of the "fear technique" as a means of attempting to get someone saved. I would agree that it does seem to be a form of "manipulation" to some degree, but like you said, from their perspective, salvation is an event which should be achieved by any means necessary. I disagree, it seems you disagree also. I'd also agree with you that conversations about beliefs, life, etc are best enjoyed in a different setting, with perhaps a little more segue than you (and I) experienced. However, like you said, they are constrained for time (and I must say did a good job of keeping everything going as far as organization/production) and, going back to the previous point, are after getting the individual saved in the most efficient way possible in the allotted time. I believe there are better ways to convert someone, if that's your end goal.
Concerning your understanding of the abortion room (which I'll get to my views on later), I feel like you're holding the room, possibly the nightmare as a whole, up to your standards (reasonable debate, factual positions, cohesive rationale, etc) rather than theirs as a "haunted house meets jesus" portrayal. Not that I'm pro nightmare necessarily, I'm just saying that it doesn't seem reasonable to go into a haunted house with a religious theme and expect a clean cut picture of the average abortion scene, you almost have to expect something over the top to some degree and turn it down a few notches to get a more accurate portrayal.
That being said, I feel that the nightmare this year (perhaps also in years past, I haven't been for about 7 years), has significantly declined in communicating the message that I believe they are trying to get across. In years past, the audience would travel through a number of scenes of progressing intensity, most of which were portrayed in a much more believable manner. For example, in the past, there was the room with the kids (in what looked like a delorean, awesome in its own right) who had been doing too much drinking, drove off and ran into a home filled with a family enjoying Christmas and the audience comes in to see the aftermath. Another room is a room where a multitude of drugs are being used and some kids have clearly overdosed, one of which was pregnant. Another room shows some fighting amongst a family only to have their (apparently) estranged child kill him(her?)self in the other room. These were believable situations that you could go through and think "Hey, my friend got in a wreck while driving drunk" or "Ya, I know how that kid feels when his parents fight, I've thought about that myself". The old nightmare got progressively worse until the audience was led into some portrayal of hell, followed by some portrayal of Christ and crucifixion which communicates the message of deliverance from all the evil the audience had just witnessed. (SPOILERS AHEAD--DON'T READ IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW SOME CONTENT OF THE CURRENT NIGHTMARE)
This nightmare was significantly different. I felt that most of the rooms had little to nothing to connect to the salvation message of the last few rooms (the crucifix and video by bill scheer). Some of the rooms were still believable/relevant, such as the school shooting room, the rape/molestation room, but most just seemed dramatic to be dramatic, not really communicating a message or allowing the audience to atleast feel the emotion in the room for very long (like you said, maybe two minutes in a room?). Plus, some of the rooms were just too far gone to really be communicating much of anything to me. One example, the zombie room...what were they trying to communicate here, this was the last room I expected in the nightmare. Maybe I misunderstood something but I def. don't think it was unreasonable to interpret that as a zombie room. Plus, as you mentioned, the "abortion" room seemed to be much to vague to really allow any sort of interpretation of a message. Clearly, there was some sort of abortion going on but you couldn't say for sure that this was in the will of the woman on the table or not, one because she appeared to be bound (though I could have been mistaken) and two because of the two extra women in the room who were clearly being held against their will. I felt like the room said nothing about abortion as a practice because it was just too ambiguous as to whether this was just something over the top to be over the top ( it is halloween after all...) or whether they were trying to communicate something? Even if it was supposed to be a room commenting on the horrors of abortion, physical or emotional, the setting had too much commentary to allow that to speak. The message was more "bad things happen in bubba's shed" than it was "abortion is a sin and God doesn't like it".
Sure, many people will argue "but there were so many rooms depicting hell, how can you argue that there wasn't a cohesion between the main rooms and the end???" I felt the hell rooms were really too ambiguous and spread apart to be effective hell rooms, and most of them really had their focus more on scaring the individuals (popping up in their faces, shaking the room, rats) rather than communicating the idea that this is hell. The room where all the kids were caged up did a decent job but to someone entirely unfamiliar with Christian imagery, this room might have looked like a mockery of a scene from indiana jones in temple of doom.
All the rooms outside of the few at the end really didn't seem to link into the Christian message that I believe guts was trying to portray. Certainly they communicated fear, but fear of what? Death? Damnation? No, fear of zombies, abercrombie models gone bad and school shootings, not separation from God. Maybe some fear of being stuck in hell, but still sketchy. Overall, the nightmare, to me, was a scary house (very well done in production/acting/effects/crowd control) that had a few rooms about God thrown in at the end. They were much better at communicating their message in the days of old, when the event took more of a storyline feel and allowed the audience to relate to believable situations which were not meant to scare solely on their portrayal but on the fact that they happened, they happened to people you knew and they destroyed lives. I'll stop with this section of the essay here, this is getting really long, heh.
I do want to quickly respond to the comment by uniq...divine however. First, did you not expect an opinion when you came to read this article? Aren't all news article flavored by some sort of opinion, particularly one such as this, where the author is clearly trying to state his opinion? I don't see why (if you are and I'm not misunderstanding what you're saying) you're being critical of him voicing his opinion and starting the mudslinging off right at the beginning. Second, while I could agree to some degree that the abortion room is communicating emotions that might be found in a woman who has had an abortion, I think the room is much to ambiguous (as I mentioned above) to be communicating anything definitive about abortion, its practice or really any emotions connected with it. If that were the case, what do the other two bound women represent, the fact that it's in bubba's shed, the "little person" (sorry, probably not P.C.)?? It just wasn't well done in my opinion. Although, I am a man, however, so I might not be able to understand. Third, I didn't see much reasoning behind your defense of Guts as a church because I didn't feel Mr. Farley did much to attack the church. Rather, it seemed he attacked the evangelistic model of fear-based salvation experiences, which Guts does use but I don't believe he said anything about the church other than this practice used in the nightmare. How does this "clouded perception" attack the church itself, rather than simply a practice of the church? It's not any different than an article saying "_____ church has a big play toy in their church for the children and I don't feel that big play toys are an effective means of communicating the gospel to children." (Please don't read into anything like I hate children or children's ministry or big play toys, I enjoy all the above). It seems like you took Mr. Farley's comments a bit personally, and would be interested to further discuss some of your previous points."