There's a world of difference between Christianity and Islam, and I think the "Hollywood Hell House" provides an excellent example.

"Hollywood Hell House," which opened Aug. 28 and stars Bill Maher as Satan, Andy Richter as Jesus and a rotating cast of other celebrity comics, is based on the Hell House Outreach kits sold by Keenan Roberts, an Assemblies of God minister in suburban Denver. Religious haunted houses have been around since at least the early 1970s. But Mr. Roberts's version, which he first staged 10 years ago, has proved especially popular: Church groups have produced it some 3,000 times, in most states and more than a dozen countries. ...

"We're not upset this is happening," Mr. Roberts said. "I'm out here to affirm what Hell House is all about--that sin always leads to a devastating and destructive end, but that hope is found in Jesus Christ. In the heart of the entertainment capital, something that is important to us is being presented. It's an honor. Even if they don't agree with our message, they realize we've got something here." ...

"But I'm not here because of what they're doing with it," Mr. Roberts added. "I'm here because of what God is doing with it--and that's much bigger than what you see here on Hollywood Boulevard."

Ms. Soloway walked up at that moment. "What did you think?" she asked.

"Interesting," Mr. Roberts said.

"Well, thank you for coming," she replied.

Try to imagine for a minute this exchange occurring after a show parodying the tenets of radical Islam, which certainly has its own share of kitsch. You can't, because even if Hollywood hipsters got past worrying about seeming like Muslim-bashers, their own fears of a fatwa would shut the thing down before it even began. There are some forms of hell that even Bill Maher can't joke about.

Mocking Christianity is apparently just edgy enough to entertain these folks without upsetting anyone important.



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