According to The Orlando Sentinel, Marvin Rosenthal, founder ofThe Holy Land Experience (HLE) in Orlando, Fla., said charismatics need notapply for any positions at the attraction, including selling hot dogs at itsrestaurant. Prospective employees must sign a Christian "doctrinalstatement" of belief -- which excludes charismatics and Pentecostals - towork at the $16 million, 15-acre "living biblical museum."
The attraction near Universal Studios hit the headlines last month, whenrabbinical leaders criticized HLE's concept and plan to proselytize Jews.
Rosenthal, a convert to Christianity from Judaism who is now an independent, evangelical Baptist minister, has admitted that he hopes to use profits generated by the park to fund his Zion's Hope missionary organization, which targets Jews for conversion.
However, he defended the park's mission against Jewish criticism. He now says that hiring charismatics would be "hypocritical.""We are not charismatics," he told the Sentinel. "We love them. Weappreciate them. But we would not offer them a job."
Evangelical and fundamentalist Baptists are often at odds with charismatics and Pentecostals over points of Christian theology, including whether manifestations of the Holy Spirit known as "signs and wonders" -- including talking in tongues and hands-on healing favored by charismatics and Pentecostals -- are scripturally approved for modern times.
However Gregg Halteman, HLE's director of marketing and public relations,said the park already employs some charismatics. Rosenthal told the CharismaNews Service (CNS) that current charismatic employees will not beterminated. "No one will lose his or her job," he said.
Whitten, however, told CNS that he was not planning to ask his 6,000members not to visit the attraction, as had been reported. "What I said wasI am not going to raise this issue to my people," Whitten said Friday. "Ihave no plans to advocate a boycott of the theme park."
Despite the latest controversy, business at the park is booming. Accordingto the Sentinel, HLE reaches its 1,200 capacity almost daily, often bynoon. Rosenthal said charismatics and any paying customers were welcome. "Wewelcome everybody," Rosenthal told the newspaper.
HLE has a policy against "disruptive behavior" for the park's visitors,however, that Halteman said could include exuberant forms of worship, suchas speaking in tongues. "The policy is pretty standard for a publicfacility," he said. "We're not targeting people from exercising theirspiritual gifts. It could just be a 5-year-old trying to climb up on top ofa tomb. We want to make sure folks don't do things that make people wishthey were somewhere else."
Halteman said he thought Rosenthal's remarks had been overemphasized. "Idon't know if I would term this as a black eye for us," he said "SomeChristians just believe one way and some another. We serve the same God.When you really boil it all down, that really is the important issue."