Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

At the Christian Fundamentalist Theme Park, the Hot Jesus Made Me Believe in Redemption by Faith

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

At the Christian Fundamentalist Theme Park, the Hot Jesus Made Me Believe in Redemption by Faith

Article excerpt

The Holy Land Experience in Orlando has a three-quarter size replica of Jerusalem's Damascus Gate, and a fake first-century BCE street market, which looks like the set of The Life of Brian.

It is a theme park for Christian fundamentalists, unless you are a tax lawyer. If you are a tax lawyer, it is a museum because, in America, museums pay less tax than theme parks.

But the Holy Land Experience is not really a museum either, even if it does have a famous collection of biblical manuscripts to rival Disney World's famous display of animatronic presidents of America. (It's currently closed for the assumption of the animatronic Donald Trump, expected later this year; it will be bigly.)

The Holy Land Experience may have an entrance fee, a painting of a hot Jesus wearing boxing gloves, and multiple Last Suppers staffed by multiple Jesuses (again, all hot, for the Holy Land Experience is owned by the Trinity Broadcasting Network and no television network would cast a plain Jesus when it could cast a hot one). But, in fact, the Holy Land Experience is a church--despite the toothiness of the apostles with their Jon Bon Jovi hair. It is, in its way, as interesting as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem, even if that is not three-quarter size, or in Florida.

I know it's a church because, on a visit a few years ago, I cried during a re-enactment at the Holy Land Experience. I do not usually cry in theme parks; I laugh because people rent wheelchairs to jump queues, which disables their ability to appear disabled, and milkshake is cheaper than water. …

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