Halloween: harmless or harmful?

Halloween PumpkinToday’s guest writer is the Revd. Canon J. John. J John is an internationally recognised Christian speaker and author. He has written over 50 books and spoken in 69 countries, teaching the Christian faith and  addressing over 300,000 people in person each year.  his series Just 10 (on the Ten Commandments) has now exceeded one million people in attendance.

In light of the recent media focus on Tesco and Asda’s ‘psycho’ patient Halloween outfits, J John is keen to raise a debate on the nature of Halloween. What messages are we giving to children who are encouraged to dress up as a ‘Zombie Pyjama Girl’ for example with blood soaked pyjamas and a slashed teddy and what is the impact of Halloween on society and on vulnerable people?

You can find out more about J John and his work through his Philo Trust website and also follow him on Twitter.

————

Halloween has become one of the biggest events in the British calendar. There have always been traditions associated with 31st October but the present extravaganza, with its epidemic of ‘trick-or-treating’, is a recent phenomenon. A decade ago, spending on Halloween in the UK was only £12m; now, boosted by Hollywood and marketing, it is £300m.

Financially, Halloween is now, after Christmas and Easter, our third highest grossing celebration.

Yet Halloween has seized this position without any serious consideration of what it stands for and whether or not we even want it. When people talk about what happens on 31st October a little phrase commonly heard is that Halloween is ‘harmless nonsense’. But is it indeed harmless? Is it merely nonsense? It’s time to do some hard thinking.

IS HALLOWEEN HARMLESS?

Let me give you six reasons why Halloween is not harmless:

1 – HALLOWEEN CELEBRATES EVIL

Although people celebrate Halloween in different ways it remains, at its core, an event that glorifies the dark, creepy and scary side of life. Children and adults dress up as figures that are ‘evil’: witches, vampires, ghosts and demons. If you want to be different you can hire costumes to make you look like a chainsaw killer, a psychopathic butcher or even a shooting victim (‘with authentic-looking bullet holes’). This is hardly harmless. Whatever view we have about life, we all take it for granted that our society should spend time and energy encouraging children to care for others and to know the difference between right and wrong. Yet on this one day, we throw all those values away and glorify everything that is evil and unpleasant. Talk about sending out mixed messages!

2 – HALLOWEEN IS UNHELPFUL

We live in a world where every parent and teacher takes care to warn children that strangers may pose a threat and that they need to take precautions. Yet at Halloween we discard that rule and encourage children to go and knock on doors and accept sweets from strangers. Another mixed message!

3 – HALLOWEEN TRIVIALISES BAD THINGS

No one is in doubt that evil is serious and that muggings, stabbings and serious accidents are horrendous. Yet, again, Halloween breaks the rules. On this day we pretend that death, deformity and injury are no more than kids’ play!

4 – HALLOWEEN IS OFFENSIVE

You could simply say that scaring kids is unhelpful, but there is a more subtle and troubling issue. Halloween costumes frequently centre on deformities, gory wounds and disfigurement. There are a number of websites that tell you how to create an effective disfigurement; for example, how to create realistic-looking burns and how to make yourself hideously ugly. Now consider how you would feel about that if you yourself were a burns victim, were severely disabled or had suffered horrendous scarring. Do we really want to spread the message that ugliness equates to evil?

5 – HALLOWEEN IS GETTING WORSE

Concerns about Halloween do not simply come from those of us with a ‘religious agenda’. Increasingly, other people are expressing concern, particularly about the way that Halloween seems to be getting darker and nastier every year. Carved pumpkins were, I suppose, pretty harmless; the new blood-stained axe murderers are not. If we don’t like the direction that Halloween is going in, then maybe it’s time to stop celebrating it.

6 – HALLOWEEN ALLOWS EVIL A VICTORY

In some older Halloween traditions people dressed up in clothes that made them look evil and then, at the end of the evening, the outfits were burnt. The message was clear if naive: in the end, good triumphs over evil. Yet there is no hint of that in the modern Halloween. Now, evil is unchallenged and just slips away into the darkness, to return at some other time. That’s not the message our world needs today.

SO IS HALLOWEEN HARMLESS?

The evidence suggests that it isn’t. Halloween encourages lots of bad things and offers nothing good in return. Halloween is harmful and there is no wise reason to keep it.

I want to suggest that far from being harmless nonsense there are also spiritual risks associated with Halloween. Although all sorts of things get dragged into Halloween these days, its core remains a preoccupation with supernatural evil. The heart of Halloween is the occult: witches, ghosts and spirits. If you are inclined to dismiss this argument then before you do so you might want to do some thinking first.

Perhaps you are someone who would say that they do not really know whether God exists or not. If this is you, then may I ask why you would want to take a risk with Halloween? People talk of the ‘precautionary principle’, that useful rule which can be summarised as ‘when in doubt, don’t’. It’s not a bad rule to follow when it comes to Halloween.

If you are a Christian, you won’t need me to tell you that anything associated in the slightest with the devil, witchcraft or supernatural powers ought to be rejected. Most of the world, most of the time, has recognised that there are good spiritual powers and bad spiritual powers. The Bible, in particular, is very clear that the world is not a neutral place but a battleground between good and evil. Now when popular fiction and Hollywood talk about supernatural evil this refers to its most spectacular form: poltergeists, ghosts and demonic possession. That sort of thing does occur but evil is far more widespread as a subtle, corrupting force that can influence and affect us. Playing safe is wise. The apostle Paul summed up the attitude that we should take in one of his letters: ‘Stay away from every kind of evil’ (1 Thessalonians 5:22, NLT).

The Bible warns of supernatural evil. It also teaches us of the only power that can conquer evil – Jesus Christ. The Christian faith affirms and history testifies to the fact that God sent his son Jesus, who was God in human flesh, to conquer evil and death once and for all. Jesus went to the cross to defeat the power of evil and the grip of sin in this world. Proof of his victory over evil powers was given in his resurrection from the grave on the first Easter Sunday. The apostle Paul writes this about Jesus in one of his letters: ‘And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross’ (Colossians 2:15, NIV). For two thousand years Christians have known deliverance from the power of evil through the name of Jesus Christ and the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

If you have been involved in the occult, if things that have happened to you at Halloween or at other times have left you with unease or bound by evil powers, then I urge you to turn to Jesus Christ.

Advertisements


Categories: Children & families, Morals & ethics

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

93 replies

  1. Having worked with elderly people in the community for many years i can say that many feel very vulnerable and afraid on Halloween. Last year in our church we organised a public celebration of all saints day and combined it with ”Random acts of kindness” giving out sweets cakes and bottles of water. More treat than trick and we were able to speak to a number of people about Halloween and a group of children took the sweets left over and took them as a gift for their neighbours and the left over cakes went to the nearby sheltered housing for the elderly. The jack o lantern was originally used to ward off evil spirits and what better way to do that than calve the cross of Christ into our scooped out pumpkins with the light of the world inside. Like the light inside each of us. It would be great if children were encouraged to go around in angel costumes and Halos giving gifts. No fear. No extortion. What a positive message that would be.. . .

    • The idea of kids dressing as angels on Halloween and then going door to door GIVING gifts is the best idea I’ve heard all week, Graham! That is a completely brilliant idea!

    • That is such an amazing idea. Our church do a light party for kids every Halloween to celebrate God and the light of Jesus, but going out on the streets and giving freely and unconditionally is such a fantastic next step!! Thank you for sharing that!

    • I’m not christian, not religious even, but I do agree that random acts of kindness are *always* a fantastic idea.

  2. Reblogged this on Richard's Watch and commented:
    Agree >100% with J John, as is clear from my very recent account of bondage to the demonic through occultism. Our highly respected Canon’s article doesn’t elaborate upon how we are set free by turning to Jesus Christ. That forms the next parts of my testimony.

  3. Very well said Gillan and it needs saying.
    Of course people will accuse you of scaremongering – but no. Playing at evil is a way of celebrating evil and the effect this can have in the minds of young children is an aftermath of Halloween which cannot be measured.
    Evil spirits are not confined to fiction and seek acceptance. Identification with spookiness, even in innocence, can prove a gateway to something far more serious.

    • The difficulty with this is that for those with no belief, interest or understanding of a spiritual dimension to life, this sort of thing can be seen as alarmist and unfounded. Halloween might have been founded through the church, but this was a rejecting of evil before All Saints Day on 1st November. This side of things has been largely lost and we are left with something that celebrates a darker side of life.

      It’s not surprising that so many Christians reject Halloween even though it makes them (us) look like we’re fussing over nothing and generally being party poopers. But that’s no reason to back down and just sweep the issue under the carpet. As Jesus said in Luke 11:

      “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

  4. I read this post with interest. My children are constantly bombarded with information about Halloween – invitations to parties, ‘spook nights’ at Brownies (of all places!) and general trick or treating with friends. Having been brought up as a christian, I have always felt it was something to be avoided, for the reasons you state above. I do find however, as with most things, that many Christians seem to be watering it down and making the decision that it is harmless fun. I am glad you confirmed my thoughts. I wrote a post on it myself this time last year….http://www.3childrenandit.com/2012/10/is-it-safe-to-come-out-yet.html

  5. Here’s a very good video recently published on Halloween: Trick or Treat http://vimeo.com/75045602

  6. I always had a good time at Halloween. Fireworks, sparklers and toffee apples were my idea of a good time as a kid. I think I also dressed up in a witches hat when I was little. I think my parents’ church disapproved, but it was one of those ‘time with grandparents’ trade-offs that my parents sometimes made (we always went to grandparents for Halloween). I’d have said it was harmless for me, but then I never went trick-or-treating or got into the gory side of it. Indoor fireworks are also kind of cool!

  7. You make a good case and very sensible arguments to Christians. When I was a child, Halloween was not celebrated. It was hardly mentioned but then that was in the days when every child in England was taught about Christ; in schools there was assembly every day where we worshipped Him; the great feasts of the Christian calendar were celebrated for the right reasons. It is not a coincidence that the rise of Halloween and interest in the occult has taken place due to the present-day lack of Christian teaching in our schools.
    That is my belief anyway.

    • Why is it a good thing that YOUR beliefs are forced upon young impressionable children from such a young age?

      If a grown adult makes the decision that they believe in god and would like to follow a religious life then they are free to do so. Why should they be forced into an entire lifestyle just because you were or even chose to yourself?

  8. When I was a boy I used to go trick or treating on halloween. There were a Christian family on the estate I lived. When I knocked on the door and said ‘trick or treat’ they replied ‘I’m sorry, we don’t believe in halloween’. It really didn’t attract me to Christianity.

    It isn’t in the Nicene Creed that Christians have to hate everything to do with Halloween. Most of the people are not consciously worshipping the devil just because they celebrate halloween. If you think that the people are worshipping the devil then at least give them credit for celebrating Christ at Christmas. But the people don’t even get that concession from us.

    • Thanks Nick. There are some important points here. Most people at Halloween are just up for a party, a good night out and maybe free sweets. Telling people they are devil worshipping isn’t going to win you many friends. That said, Halloween is surely the worst festival. No others cause so many people to get upset and fearful, not knowing who’s going to be knocking at the door or hoping they don’t have eggs thrown at their house. Some Christians oppose it on spiritual grounds, but there are other reasons to question the value of it. Being taken advantage of by retailers selling tacky merchandise is a good enough reason in itself!

      • I hate all the rubbishy merchandise! Especially during a recession when it’s yet more pressure on people to spend ….. and that’s before you start on the spiritual side (where my attitude might be summarized as being the same as when someone asks me my star sign).

        I have nothing against the literal meaning of Halloween – All Hallows Eve. That has to do with Saints, thus holy people, not evil. I think I am right in saying that as the eve of a major feast day it would have been marked by fasting in pre-Reformation days. Maybe we should do that as a prayer for all the evils we see.

    • Thank you Nick, I agree that for most people it *is* harmless fun. We are a Christian family and my children went trick-or-treating when they were younger (I went with them, most parents do); now my daughter is planning to serve a mission so it hasn’t hurt her in any way. It’s not fun to glorify evil, but I don’t think that’s the idea, it’s more about poking fun at it. And the victory is already won so we can do so in safety and triumph.

      Having said that, I don’t like Halloween but not for reasons mentioned in the article. At the very least it is in poor taste, and it’s also an American thing which has come over here and largely eclipsed Guy Fawkes night. I’m patriotic, and I’d far rather observe that than Halloween, but many churches (including mine) and groups can’t afford to do both and go with Halloween. I would rather they observed the equally tasteless torture and execution of a sixteenth century terrorist.

  9. Excellent . I agree whole-heartedly with all you’ve posted.

    • Why??? Im Catholic also and I don’t see any harm in children having fun trick or treating!!

      • As a practising Catholic I don’t like the premise for trick or treating, as stated above,’I want to suggest that far from being harmless nonsense there are also spiritual risks associated with Halloween. Although all sorts of things get dragged into Halloween these days, its core remains a preoccupation with supernatural evil. The heart of Halloween is the occult: witches, ghosts and spirits. If you are inclined to dismiss this argument then before you do so you might want to do some thinking first.’

        Also, All Saints’ is celebrated the very next day….confusion for the the children methinks.

  10. Some interesting points there, but for an alternative view on Christianity and Halloween (i.e. that maybe its not so bad) then check out:

  11. Yikes, when i post these links the Youtube video appears so big. Sorry! Don’t want to flood your board with this stuff, but cant work out a way of posting the links without it throwing up these huge shapes!

    Anyway, here are the responses to the Christian rejections of Halloween.

  12. And now the FINAL video (I promise!)…that last few responses to Christian rejections of Halloween.

    At the end of the day, I think that above points made by J John are important and need to be considered. I offer these alternatives not to be antagonistic in any way, but just to offer an alternative angle.

    Thanks!

  13. Hi Liz, Nick & Potter, yes it’s reasonable to make something enjoyable, if kept clean. The drawback, imho, is that the evil one is an ardent legalist; as being ‘the accuser of the brethren’ and insisting upon his claim over Moses’ body would indicate.

    Hence, even when we are born again he persists in not relinquishing footholds gained from ‘innocent’ activities that ‘trade on his floor’ and glorify him and not our Maker and Saviour. Consequently, as he stands upon his rights in our lives it’s unwise to give any place to him.

    Rather too many believers are dismissive of the inherent dangers, whereas it would be wiser to heed pastoral warnings, or those from people who’ve been there, done it and got the T-shirt (as had I – and burned the shirt). All were wonderfully freed by turning to Jesus in true contrition for, renunciation of, and cleansing from personal and generational sin. Thank you Lord for saving me…

    • Hi Richard, As far as I’m concerned the demons only have rights in my life when there is a total lack of love, mercy and forgiveness on my part. If I’m wrong and God is allowing them rights because of my attitude towards halloween then I stand corrected (and frightened).

      However, I’m partly questioning J John’s view of halloween because he is clearly evangelistic and I think that condemning the celebration in its entirety further alienates non-christians. And because of that I think the demons rejoice.

      • Thanks for responding Nick with your good points to which I’d like to reply. First, however b4 bashing keys with my thoughts, it strikes me to ask for yours b4 doing so. Would you care to dig into your reason for the closing opinion? (Ie. beyond its preceding para – it may enable me to give a better reply.)
        Thanks

  14. Hi again Richard,

    I don’t really have any dark agenda for that opinion (I hope). I’m simply basing it on my own experience of being a non-Christian who used to celebrate halloween. When I occasionally encountered Christians who condemned halloween I found that the response put me off Christianity even more. I’m also concerned about freedom. I’m concerned about not condemning too many things which are not intrinsically wrong. As far as I’m concerned the more freedoms that Christians have the better, including the freedoms to either participate in or question halloween. Otherwise I think we retreat and alienate our audiences.

    Why throw out the changeling baby with the bathwater?

  15. Thanks for elaborating upon your earlier note Nick.

    Please note my remarks aren’t meant as criticism but as clarification of my last, nor am I looking for demons ‘under the bed’. Also, the emphasis is empirical rather than scriptural. Hopefully, this explanation may prove helpful and allay your concerns. I’ll cover your points in sequence:

    None save the Lord are perfect and unclean spirits can use our own failings. However and in addition to my final para above, their influence is prevented by wearing our spiritual armour and being covered by the Blood of the Lamb.

    This last is the crowning blessing that protects us. Together with observing scriptural injunctions, it keeps us under the Lord’s protective hand. So, it’s more a matter of God not covering us because we’ve not entered into – or chosen to come out of – his favour, rather than of His allowing demons to oppress us. The demonic accuses those who don’t follow God’s instructions (eg on witchcraft/mediumship/) and thereby gain rights of access and harassment and can, in the case of deliberate rebellion, take captives.

    Hence the vital importance of dealing with personal and family sin issues, especially in anything belonging to the realm of the ‘Prince of the air’.

    The fact Jesus gave up his life for you and me in order to buy us back from Satan’s ownership means we owe it to Jesus not to indulge in anything whatsoever of our former owner, does it not?. When we knew no better the responsibility was less, but the exposure to danger wasn’t diminished for the simple reason we were right inside his territory. Now ‘saved’, why would we want to crucify Jesus again by disobedience?

    Thus, there needs to be a clear and determined allegiance to the King of kings.

    Those of the world know nothing of the difference between the two kingdoms. They simply don’t appreciate why Christians are obliged to take a stand, even if this may alienate them. Eg. if those you mention in your first comments had explained, would you have understood? Much wiser for Christians to keep it simple, as Gillan suggests. (You’re now no longer religiously illiterate Nick, yet you’re still kicking this around.)

    So yes indeed, the demonic rejoices at entrapping yet more ‘innocent’, grossly ignorant youngsters!

    I too am very concerned about freedom. What you describe, however, is a false freedom. [Check my journey and eventual rescue at http://wp.me/p1Y1yB-46G – am about to write about generational stuff that trapped me.]

    And it’s certainly not a question of retreating. That gives greater significance to the issue than is warranted.

    The reality and never-ending excitement of being a Spirit-filled Christian is beyond description – ‘taste and see that God is good’. Why choose anything less?

    I hope this may have helped in some small way.

  16. Thanks Richard for explaining your point of view. I take your views extremely seriously and concede that there are some dangers to halloween.

    As an aside, have you really discovered the ‘never-ending excitement of being a Spirit-filled Christian (beyond description)’?!?

    • Appreciate and pleased to read your reply, so thanks Nick.

      Hah, well done in picking me up on what popped in only as an after-thought. After penning the provocative part I nearly hit ‘Post Comment’ but thought a parting positive would uplift it.

      I know it may smack of ‘happy-clappy’ clowning around. But it’s neither fatuous or far-fetched – I’ll try being concise:

      Two decades were spent in practical supernatural stuff and deep philosophy of Western esoteric tradition. I’d rejected churches as being hypocritical and failing their founder. Increasing intellectual arrogance made me contemptuous of clergy and biblical bigots. I thought their archaic teaching couldn’t compare with that of the New Age, Eastern religions and occult. But I was badly mistaken.

      So it was a major turnaround to become a Christian, involved laying down all past interests and abilities plus healing and deliverance. (Including clearance from freemasonry, which I hadn’t been into – I’d been spiritually infected by a leader who’d resigned! Hence the dangers of Halloween.)

      There were difficulties along the way but always the Lord was at hand, along with His Holy Spirit. It was a carefully woven path for me involving solid teachers of differing church backgrounds – just like going to school, progressing through grades and into much higher levels. As I love practical learning in depth, it was and remains exciting.

      For example, last weekend a visiting young man covered a lot I’d recently learned. As he always looked intently at listeners I could perceive more behind his comment; especially when he ‘unwittingly’ referred to God’s prime aim! (Eph3). That’s been my recent focus and so he brought a new insight. That’s what I mean by ‘beyond description’!

      So, the answer to your question is a resounding ‘Yes’.

  17. Although three is a redl danger in getting involved in the occult I think there is a danger of throwing the baby out wit byte bathwater. Halloween is a Christian festival, yes there are distractions just like Christmas but we shouldn’t stop celebrating goodness in response to evil. See my blog on it http://thesillyvicar.com

  18. You people really are misinformed. Hallowe’en (it’s called “Hallowe’en”, not “Halloween”… if you’re going to argue about a time period, at least get it right or you’re further accentuating your ignorance) is nothing to do with dressing up as anything evil and, if anything, is the exact opposite. It signifies the date on which the veil between the world of the living and the dead is at its most delicate, and this allows the spirits and demons to infiltrate our own world in search for souls of the living, apparently. In order to prevent oneself from having your soul captured, one would wear a disguise which would hopefully fool the dead into believing that you were one of them, thereby sparing your soul.

    It’s not about celebrating evil, nor is it a way for you to glorify evil. Those who follow the Hallmark traditions of “Halloween” (note, not “Hallowe’en” because clearly commercialism also has no clue) are as oblivious to the foundations of it as they are Christmas which, if you are to believe the retailers, is all about dressing up in red, eating copious amounts of rich food and expecting an Xbox to drop on to your hearth.

    If you are, as you say, Christians.. you should be as upset with yourselves for exhibiting the same ignorance that you find appalling when Christmas rolls around and you complain about how nobody recognises it as the birth of Christ anymore, and only see it as a way to commercialise everything. What you’re doing with this article is the same – spreading inaccurate information to people who are too lazy to actually read up on it themselves and learn the true meaning, and that they’re not saying “ugliness equates to evil” and I’m surprised that the phrase even appears in your article as that would suggest that YOU are saying that deformities and scarring is ugly. Shame on you.

    As for encouraging anyone to speak to strangers… that’s just bad parenting. I’m in my forties and was never allowed to go out at Hallowe’en without at least one adult per group of children, and if that’s not still the case (which it will be when my little girl and boy are old enough, assuming it’s still safe to go out at night without being shot) then the parents are to blame and not Hallowe’en itself.

    So please, I emplore you… stop with the scaremongering and claiming that everything that doesn’t take place within the walls of the church (and I don’t mean sex with choirboys, although if we were to believe everything that we read, that would certainly be the case – another point proven that people should research before believing what they read) is evil. It isn’t. It may be evil because you disagree with it, but the same can be said for any religion where people want to encourage others to join them by instilling fear.

    • See?

      Another lovely person horribly alienated by our Hallowe’en position.

      I now believe this whole thing is only about church leaders like Revd J John feeling sore that they don’t get invited to Hallowe’en parties anymore…(or that could just be me :-D).

    • Well if we are being picky about the spelling of Hallowe’en try to spell correctly yourself, I emplore you or implore you.

      Having got that out if you insist on introducing your children to going round begging for sweets and scaring old people, at least don’t be surprised if they later take up an interest in the occult – which I assure you has destroyed and continues to destroy all who get involved in it.

      You are putting their spiritual safety at risk.

  19. Well, this bunch of nutters says that gay people are evil and harmful too so I haven’t even bothered to read the full article. I cannot and will not take anything ‘church people’ say seriously. Nutters

  20. First off, I’m an atheist, let’s get that out there. However. I do object to a few things about Halloween.

    1. Trick or treating – In my mind, it’s basically begging, going door to door asking for sweets, or even money with a vague threat of a ‘trick’ is basically begging and should be discouraged. However, it’s almost the same reason I don’t like carol singers knocking on my door with a poor rendition of the first verse of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and ask for a fiver.

    2. Evil – The definition of evil is somewhat subjective, is killing someone evil? Is it still evil if that person was attempting to kill you or your family? Ghosts, witches, ghouls, demons, devils, they don’t exist, they personify the Church’s view of Evil, I don’t particularly care if people want to dress as them and go to parties.

    3. It’s offensive – That again is subjective, I don’t find halloween itself particularly offensive as such, not being a Christian and not believing in the supernatural, it doesn’t mean anything to me.

    4. It trivialises bad things – We do a lot of that in society, it’s a coping mechanism a lot of the time to trivialise bad things, but again, what is bad? It usually depends which side you’re on. There was a lot of bad stuff that Christians did in the past that was in God’s name that we now think of as evil. The Crusades for one, the Spanish Inquisition (yes I know that was the catholic church) for another.

    5. It’s unhelpful – Well perhaps it’s unhelpful to the church, but to a lot of people it’s a good time, an excuse for a party and fun, and if that helps when the evenings get a little gloomier, why not?

    6. It’s getting worse – I agree, it’s the whole Americanisation of halloween that I object to, it’s the massive array of pre-made ready to go goods just for the purpose of getting yet more money out of the public. In my youth you went door to door wearing a sheet or some rubbish costume that nobody could object to with your parents and asked a few neighbours if you could have some sweets, and there was nothing wrong with that, maybe your parents had a few friends round for a little party, but it’s got too out of hand.

    Is halloween harmless

    I think for the most part, it is, it’s one day of the year, it does send slight mixed messages, but then quite a lot in our society does, it’s up to the parents to tell their children that it is just a bit of fun and that it doesn’t mean anything, nobody is going to take up witchcraft or go around killing someone because they dressed up as a ghost on Halloween.

    The best thing the church can do is ignore halloween altogether carry on with your All Saints Day, and let people get on with having fun. Halloween is never going to be

  21. Well I totally disagree with this. First of all, you have come into this argument with a narrow mind, not to mention you only argued one side of the story!
    I am aware that Christians believe halloween should not be celebrated for it “goes against god”. However, this celebration is not going to stop just because a few highly religious people believe it is wrong. And it shouldn’t stop. It’s been a tradition for centuries, and the core reason behind Halloween was not celebrate evil, but to have people wear masks and dress up as evil spirits to confuse evil. If anything, the whole tradition is based on religious beliefs.
    Yes, the costumes are a lot more different to he simple bed sheets children used to wear to be ghosts… But it is in in means harmful. If children are taught why Halloween happens, then they will understand that it is only this day they can trick or treat and wear these costumes.
    If they have no understanding as to what Halloween is, then it is no different to Christmas Day. Children receive a tonne of presents, half of which they don’t need, and most of them have no idea why. Not to mention, it has nothing to do with “celebrating the birth of Christ”.
    I have nothing against religion, I believe you should believe in whatever you want to believe; but stopping children experience age-old traditions, and having some fun (that is of course, safe) is the most selfish thing to do. Halloween teaches children about culture, religion, and superstition, all whilst having fun.
    Let them enjoy their childhood and their innocence in this HARMLESS tradition.
    Although I said people have the right to whatever religion they wish to follow, forcing a child to follow it too is a damn straight more harmful thing to do than Halloween.

  22. We take a view that Halloween is a time of opportunity.
    We have gone out with our kids in the evening with a big box of choc’s and visit people’s houses.
    On answering the door our kids ask…”Treat or Treat”?
    Among the confused faces…. (which then turn to surprise / joy)….the house occupants can choose a sweet from either basket…treat or treat!
    Our pumpkins have been named “Happy Heads” with gapping smiles. All great fun for the kids, instead of a kill joy attitude.
    So what is my take on it all? Our God is an awesome God who owns every minute of every day. We just reclaim Halloween as a day of opportunity to share, a day of outreach.
    So many opportunities around if we just are willing to get out of our comfort zones.

    • ^^ this. Why can’t everyone have this attitude?

      Jesus has overcome the world – so lets not fear it or anything in it.

    • Sorry but I think you are misguided to take your kids round the neighbours offering sweets. Don’t you tell your children not to accept sweets from strangers?

      You are giving them confusing messages. Why not just ignore the whole thing?

      We always did and the kids didn’t miss anything.

      Halloeen is an American import and not an English tradition at all.

      • There is nothing confusing if you are clear about context. Context in life is so important.
        It is one thing to have a parent with a child on an evening out handing out sweets (treat or treat as previously mentioned, where we bring a different side to Halloween), as opposed to a child taking sweets from stranger who they have never met.
        If we do not teach context at a very early age, we are not teaching our children skills for life.

        What shall we say then…”Water is dangerous you can drown son”…this is true so we better stay away from anything wet?
        No, a wise thing to do is take your kid to swimming lessons as early as possible so if your child ends up in the water, he / she can deal with the issue because they have learnt all about the dangers at an early age….
        or maybe we should just hide our children away like water doesn’t happen, the sea doesn’t happen, lakes do not happen? Hmmm.

        Preparation for life means we face the challenges head on, we do not just run away, miss opportunity and put our kids in some kind of cotton wool bubble, no instead we face it head on, explain the dangers and look for opportunity to be a light in the darkness.
        You cannot be a light in the darkness if you only ever hang around where it is only ever light.

        Time to get out of the comfort zones I believe…

  23. I respectfully disagree with this article.

    A more balanced perspective can be found here:

    http://www.vergenetwork.org/2013/10/20/halloween-trick-treat-or-missional-jo-saxton/

  24. Reblogged this on Teacups & Pearls and commented:
    Why I don’t celebrate Halloween. I couldn’t have put it better myself…

    • Shame you clearly dont understand.

      Look into the roots a little better, if you dont celebrate Halloween then you may as well not celebrate Christmas because it has about as much to do with Jesus as halloween.

  25. I disagree,
    Your type of Christianity caused millions of deaths in past civilisations by your fixed and deluded way of interpreting scripture, feel so sorry for you, let me remind you that God is love and play acting is an essential
    part of growing up with good guidance to reality.

  26. So, the reverend says that Halloween is harmful because it celebrates evil, trivialises stabbings, is offensive and “allows evil a victory”? He must have had too much communal wine and forgotten that Halloween is a Christian festival.

    Originally in May, Halloween is simply the night before before All Souls’ Day, where the souls stuck in purgatory due to venial sins are helped up to heaven by Christian prayers. Of course, there’s no way for us to know this is true, it’s more of a “conceptual” thing, created by the church to describe their imaginings of the afterlife, but then described literally to followers.

    The wearing of devil costumes, the terror, the violence etc. might be scary, but it’s Christian too. It is supposed to represent the lost souls that are not yet in heaven, and aims to poke fun at the devil and his cronies.

    Halloween was eventually moved to 31st Oct in order to replace pagan harvest festivals and help make Christianity easier to fall in line with for non-Christians – the date was moved as part of a multi million pound, international marketing strategy to make is socially difficult to be non-Christian.

    Halloween is a very successful piece of propaganda created by the reverend’s own religion, but it became commercialised to a point that the reverend forgot it is his own. Now, he can no longer “own” it and it is no longer serving it’s purpose for him. That’s why he looks at Halloween, and decides it is harmful. Because this powerful image is no longer serving his interests.

    This guy should do some research before writing anything else. Just because he has “Rev.” before his name doesn’t mean his opinion is in any way valid. In fact, it’s utterly biased, and in this case, ill informed. This is how religion has propagated over centuries – people believing human lies because the person telling them claim they come from god.

    Is Halloween evil or harmful? No. But the reverend is immoral for wilfully spreading ignorance because it suits the lifestyle he has chosen for himself – and because he has conveniently forgotten that the responsibility for Halloween lands at his own doorstep.

    • Personally I dont celebrate haloween because I want no part in laughing at anything that is designed to be scary/fear based. I am a christian and I dont find witches/spirits/cackling dolls/zombies/ghosts/grim reapers and crazy looking death clowns amusing. As far as I am concerned fear doesnt belong to me because I am in Christ. This is a descision I have made as an adult because I realised the reality of a real spiritual world through some personal experiences. I cannot understand why true born again christians think its is fun to participate in something that even involves the darker spiritual world. If you truely LOVE Jesus then natuarally this stuff wouldnt even interest you and would infact saden you. Today I walked past a store which said ‘raise hell’ and ‘worship evil’ now come on. Really? Do you think this gloriifys a loving God? Do you really think Jesus would have gone around giving little sweeties to kids dressed up as grim reaper? If ur a christian and really KNOW Jesus then dont try and justify the event being acceptable by God you are kidding yourself. God is a God of love and mercy and grace YES!! But that doesnt mean He likes it. I do understand the difficulty in wanting to not leave your children out of things. Why? Because I was one of those kids who kicked up a fuss when I wanted to go to a Haloween party. My parents didnt allow me to go when I was a child but on one occassion I had joined a new school and my parents let me go because they wanted me to make friends. I went, nothing happened of course it didnt I just had a good time and more than likely nothing will happen if you participate in it either. BUT you dont KNOW that for a fact, and you dont think about the fact that real satanists out there are actually praying and cursing Christian families and that evil is a real thing that belongs to this earth, and so are spirits and demons. Just becuase your living in westrern world dont be ignorant to the fact that satan wants us ignorant. Go to a third world country and it is raging with spiritual encounters because third world countries are not blind to their being a spiritual world and they mess with it!! Spirits cause depression, anxiety, cancer, sickness, suicide, mental health (not all – some is physical deformitys but fact is physical deformitys wouldnt exist if it wasnt for evil born on this earth anyway) So there is NO WAY I want to take even associate myself to have fin in something that causes pain on ths earth. Personally for me I have made the descision to aim to love God and dont believe Haloween glorifys God and if it doesnt glorify God I dont want to do it. I do not judge people who do it because they do not see Haloween from my perspective but I do object to Christians who do celebrate haloween who try and object and critisise Christians who dont want to participate.

      In regards to people who like to bring up the crusades and spannish inquisition I do not deny that people in the name of ‘christianity’ or catholics have done things that are evil. The fact is though a) there is a difference between being born into christian tradition and actually being born again. I know a lot of people who claim they are christians but have never actually read a bible, never truely come to jesus with a repantant heart (meaning to want to change) and never asked Jesus into their lives. The bible says that ‘if you SAY with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and BELIEVE in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved.’ this meaning you have to ASK Jesus to come into your life and believe and mean it. This makes you a born again christian. You become a NEW creation lead by the holy spirit. But the bible says that we are to RENEW our minds by the word. that meaning our spirit is new and clean and holy because of the blood of Jesus but then our soul and mind are still set in the old ways. If you dont renew it then your mind remains unchanged and so we can still then fall into the worlds ways. hence why you will never find a perfect Christian and also meet a lot of christians who arent walking in the light and truth of Jesus because the fail to read the word of God which brings life! Sometimes they are not even aware of it themselves!! So yes you may meet a lot of christians who dont behave very christian like thats why we need the grace of God. Thats also why a lot of christians still walk in suffering because they are not holding onto the promises of God. Dont believe me? Start reading your bibles and start declaring the promises of God and believing and you will see a Gods word prevail in your life, and lastly thats also why history does not prove that those people actually ever knew Jesus!!.

      • Lovely judgmental comment…thanks. Clearly you are one of the ones who REALLY KNOWS Jesus….or maybe not 😉

      • To be honest, reading that nowadays someone believes that cancer and physical deformity are caused by spirits scares me way more than Halloween.

      • The really good thing is that the Lord God is good and can change cancer. He enabled a couple of people we know personally who’d been given death sentences of only weeks, to survive and live – to medical amazement!

  27. Reblogged this on Essential Thinking and commented:
    interesting blog post here that I came across- I don’t celebrate Halloween and haven’t for years. Mostly thats to do with the spiritual side of things, but there are some interesting points made here which hadn’t occurred to me before. I know some people say that its ‘all saints eve’ which should be a religious festival… but the reality is that most people who celebrate this don’t care or know about the religious (or probably even any spiritual) significance.

  28. Are zombies and ghosts evil? Surely they don’t exist. There is actual evil in the actual world. Isn’t it terrible that I rarely talk to my neighbours? Didn’t Jesus talk more about that? We need to stop believing in these “Christian superstitions”. What is worse putting on a silly costume or avoiding the one opportunity in the year to talk to your neighbours kids and give them sweets?

    • I was typing a long comment (below) when this was posted and sums up my point much more succinctly! Well said, Simon.

  29. Christians, by definition, live to be like Christ. I’m surprised so many commenters – especially those championing the church – have neglected to consider the tired, but valid, cliche of ‘what would Jesus do?’

    You can bet that Christ would not be dressing up as ghosts or axe-murderers and participating in the scaring business. You can also bet Christ would not be holed up in his house ignoring it. I also doubt he would be writing comments or blogging about it; preaching from afar. He would, based on biblical examples, be out, where the people are, talking, befriending and helping change lives as he was on most days. Rather than alienating non-believers or accusing them, or telling them what to do, Jesus got alongside them and loved them. He helped them see why there was hurt and trouble in their lives and offered change.

    Of course, Jesus gave up everything to live this way, and most of us can only aspire to do it part-time as we have jobs and families to support. Tonight is one night, and it is highly unlikely that even the most driven, charismatic and spirit-filled Christian is able to go out and achieve what Christ might in the circumstances. But it is certainly a good opportunity to spend time with friends, show hospitality and have fun. Jesus loved a good party.

    I’ve found that one of the biggest challenges of ‘WWJD?’ is that Jesus never parented his own children. So I can only raise my children to know who He is and what He has done. We celebrate Christmas, and there are presents and Santa, as we want them to feel part of society and not holier-than their friends. We also carved a pumpkin and plan to get together with friends tonight in fun costumes to play games and eat.

    Most importantly, we take the time to TALK to them and explain why people celebrate the way they do, so they can understand the contexts and as they grow up, make those decisions for themselves.

  30. Right first of all my children only knock on relatives doors second witches are not ev il and we don’t believe in

    the devil samhain is about reflecting on your life and starting a new.
    Its also about remembering your loved ones whom have passed away. None are evil acts.
    I respect Christian beliefs and ask you to respect ours instead of calling what you dont understand evil.
    Thankyou

  31. It seems that many people are prepared to admit that there is evil in the world but very few have actually said there is an evil force that’s only interest is to kill & destroy. There is a battle going on between good & evil and one day we will have to choose sides. I chose the wrong side a few years ago, attended a grown up party weekend where anything goes. During the evening a weigy board came out and the drunken revellers me included either watched or joined in. As the evening unfolded the words being spelled out began to take on a sinister meaning. I could see one or two people by this time were a little uneasy and as the words “where will I be in a years time spelt out D.E.A. I moved across and swept the glass off the board.

    Thought no more was asked to leave, pleased to do so but the next day…..I tried to walk to work and found myself facing walls that I could not go past, this was in the street. Suddenly a police siren sounded and for no reason I had to go and hide. I learned later that I was fearful of anything. A Spirit of Fear had just come on.me Panic Attacks which lasted for years. Filled up with Tranquilizers which became addictive with horrendous withdrawal symptoms…. 9 years went by. I was a different person, no hope until I went back to the good side.

    Why am I sharing this, its simple some people can take drugs and it makes no difference, others take them even for the first time & they die. Some children will enjoy & laugh off the horror of the costumes, others will be terrified but they will not say anything because Mummy & Daddy want them to have a good time… I would just encourage those parents out there to make sure your children are not be made to do something that will change them in later life. Its a real world out there and if we play with fire we will get burnt please just make sure it is not you or any of your children because having witnessed at first hand the power of evil it is not something we should take for granted…. .

  32. Such a shame that we have yet another article about Halloween and not about Samhain, the original, pre-Christian festival.

    As a pagan, who likewise believes all things evil should be abhorred, Samhain is a time to reflect on the balance of nature that brings life into the world, but also causes things to pass on, to die.

    This is not a evil, terrifying or gruesome prospect – it simply is a statement of fact. We all must, at some point, die. To concentrate purely on the living aspect of “life” is to ignore the balance in all things that nature represents.

    Samhain lets us reflect on our ancestors, what cam before our birth and to consider our lives and how we may do better in the coming year. We give thanks for the last harvest of the year that provides us with food to sustain us through the winter.

    I agree with this article that Halloween has become completely divorced from its origin but let’s not forget that the original pagan beliefs which were absorbed into Christianity in an attempt to convert and subvert the masses, had nothing to do with murdering, killing, evil or Satanism. Satanism is a Christian concept: saying a pagan is a Satanist is a bit like saying to vegetarian that they are a meat-eater who prefers vegetables!

    It has nothing to do with paganism but yet again, Christian stereotyping dating back hundreds of years has forced this stereotype upon us in a bid to prevent people discovering the truth: that Christianity is a pagan belief system.

    I’m all for agreeing that Halloween should be taken back to its original roots but I think the church needs to accept that it is wrong in how it links pagans and their concept of evil to this modern-day celebration.

  33. I once lost a dream job on halloween. As far as I’m concerned that was evidence to me of the reality of the devil and his tedious cruel ironies (if there are ironies in life then there has to be an ironist).

  34. Interesting that in our scientific society something like Halloween is so huge. Although I am not convinced that kids dressing up as mummies or cute witches is in any way dangerous. I have come across people who have been harmed by the occult and people who have reported disturbed houses. As a priest I do some spook work from time to time. here is a blog about it

    http://www.thesillyvicar.com/2013/10/spooks-halloween-and-exorcist.html

  35. OH Boy!
    That Revd. Canon J. John is really juggling around with terms like dark, creepy, scary, spooky, ugly, evil and so on. Somehow I get the impression he deliberately uses some scare tactics! 😉
    “Children and adults dress up as figures that are ‘evil’: witches, vampires, ghosts and demons.” he wrote. What about princesses, fairies, elfs, Hobbits, pirates, Superman, Spyderman, Batman and cats? (http://www.nrf.com/modules.php?name=News&op=viewlive&sp_id=1676) Are they all ‘evil’ as well?
    and WHAT MAKES THEM EVIL?
    “…we all take it for granted that our society should spend time and energy encouraging children to care for others and to know the difference between right and wrong. Yet on this one day, we throw all those values away…” he goes on. How does anybody who takes his dressed up kids and their FRIENDs around in the NEIGHBORHOOD to get some TREATS from their NEIGHBORS and who makes his kids SHARE the treats with others throw away any value? And HOW DOES THAT GLORIFIE EVIL? How does Revd. Canon J. John differentiate between “evil” and “unpleasantness” Or doesn’t he? How can anybody who isn’t Oscar The Grouch glorify unpleasantness? What is unpleasantness anyway? And what is evil?

    Which parents send their kids alone to knock on the door of a stranger instead of acompanying them around in the NEIGHBORhood or around the shops?

    Doesn’t he see a difference between muggings, stabbings and serious accidents? and why does he list death, deformity and injury in the context of evil? and than suddenly asks: “Do we really want to spread the message that ugliness equates to evil?”
    What are his equations here?

    I personally think it is very interessting that people tried to scare evil away with “ugliness”. Ugly and deformed maskes and lot of noises were made to scare evil away. Probably as it offended humans and led humans to keep their distance. But it did not work on evil spirits and ironically ugliness ond deformities became a symbol for evil in the eyes of way too many humans.

    According to Revd. Canon J. John: “Halloween costumes frequently centre on deformities, gory wounds and disfigurement. There are a number of websites that tell you how to create an effective disfigurement; for example, how to create realistic-looking burns and how to make yourself hideously ugly.”
    Why is that bad?
    Isn’t that a chance to help reducing barriers towards people with disfigurements? doesn’t that reduce the reservations towards scars wounds and other disfigurements?
    My impression is that people with disfigurements are more offended by staring and looking away than by maskerade. But that is only my impression.

    “If we don’t like the direction that Halloween is going in, then maybe it’s time to stop celebrating it.” he wrote. But ehy! Are you in the engine room? Can you really stop it?
    Isn’t it easier to take over the steering and to change the direction?

    Halloween DOES NOT ALLOW evil a victory!
    Evil DID LOOSE once and for all 2000 years ago!
    And there is no such thing as an evil look!
    There are evil deeds, evil behavior but no evil looks, smells or sounds!
    And somehow most of those people celebrating Halloween nowadays seem to have understood that truth better than Revd. Canon J. John.

    “One” last question:
    Is Scaring people evil?
    If it is why write or share such an article?

    • Totally agree here. He uses the same logic as people who say “TV is bad because it shows bad things and it is bad for communication within families, and for that reason I don’t own one”. Well, not in my case, as well as having wine and whisky at home doesn’t mean me and my family are drunk all the time. If you cannot handle having a TV at home -or having wine, or dressing up as scary characters once a year, or that other people WHO DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH YOU dress up as scary characters once a year… well, you should seriously consider move to a house in the middle of nothing. Just saying.

  36. It is argued that commercialism has destroyed the meaning of Christmas………. Following that logic is it not favourable to allow the popularity of Halloween to continue so it will eventually loose all meaning ?

  37. This is just perfect… people that believe in holy ghosts and wear a tortured and crucified fellow around their necks, get really really worried if a bunch of kids dress up like Dracula. It makes perfect sense!

  38. Frankly I couldn’t give two hoots about the religious implications. But to comment on something mentioned here more than once; if your kids consider your neighbours strangers then I pity your community.

  39. I myself am not particularly a fan of Halloween but… do you REALLY think the fact of burning fancy dresses after the party made the thing any better in the past, and not burning them makes the celebration “worse”? I have seen better reasons to support an opinion, honestly.

    I don’t know why but I have the impression that you’d be talking of “witches Sabbath” if fancy dresses were to be burned nowadays…

  40. Evil is not dressing up your kids as Dracula on the 31st October but what some grownups (some of them Christians) do to others throughout the year to the extent of lying so to screw their life, although some of them don’t let their kids take part in a celebration with other kids, and share this crap on their facebook walls.

    Besides, I am starting to be a bit fed up with this conception Christians have about themselves as the owners and leaders of moral and decency, and everything not related to their religion being a “sin” or “evil”. Just saying.

  41. “When you were baptized, you were buried together with him. You were raised to life together with him by believing in God’s power. God raised Jesus from the dead. At one time you were dead in your sins. Your sinful nature was not circumcised. But God gave you new life together with Christ. He forgave us all of our sins. He wiped out the written Law with its rules. The Law was against us. It opposed us. He took it away and nailed it to the cross. He took away the weapons of the powers and authorities. He made a public show of them. He won the battle over them by dying on the cross. So don’t let anyone judge you because of what you eat or drink. DON’T LET ANYONE JUDGE YOU ABOUT HOLY DAYS. I’m talking about SPECIAL FEASTS and NEW MOONS and SABBATH DAYS.” Colossians 2, 12-16 (http://www.bibleserver.com/text/NIRV/Colossians2)

  42. Reblogged this on A Life Of Losses and commented:
    This is a really interesting article that every parent should read regardless of their religious beliefs! If you can’t protect yourself at least protect your kids!!!

  43. Wow, superb blog format! How lengthy have you ever been blogging for? you make running a blog look easy. The whole glance of your web site is wonderful, let alone the content!

Trackbacks

  1. Halloween | An exploration of God, Life and Spirituality
%d bloggers like this: