Sacred Space: Halloween Doesn’t Need Redeeming

Image- kevin dooley via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Every Friday in Sacred Space, Brad Williams explores the place of popular culture in the local church.

If this post ruins my street cred as a crusty fundamentalist, then so be it. I want to admit something to everyone: I love Halloween. When I was a kid, I used to alternate between dressing up as a blood-sucking vampire and a hunch-backed brain-eating zombie. (I was more in line with the “Nosferatu” style of vampire than the teen heart throb-wussy vampires of the modern genre.) I did my own make-up with minimal help from mom, and I would practice my vampire cape flourish in the mirror so I could be authentic. My only complaint was that I had to suffer with those awful plastic vampire teeth; those things weren’t fooling anyone, and I knew it.

From there, we would often head over to our local church where we would bob for apples and do cake walks. I remember that I also won “best costume” several times at those gatherings, and afterwards we would hit the neighborhood to beg candy from our obliging neighbors. In fact, this occasion was one of the few times of the year that they didn’t run me off of their lawn. I was notorious for riding my bicycle through the neighbor’s yard, oblivious to their crocuses and tulips.

Some Christians get extremely uptight about their children dressing up as ghouls and goblins. They also point out that Halloween is celebrated by pagans as the time when the veil between this world and the next is the thinnest, and so they have pagan rituals during this time to communicate with the spirits.  I have friends who are Wiccan who will celebrate Samhain this year, so I know about those things. But just because a pagan does something for one reason doesn’t mean that a Christian cannot do it for another. After all, pagans all eat and breathe on Halloween, and I’m not going to stop doing those things just because they do them too.

I like Halloween because it gets people out into the neighborhood. I enjoy seeing my neighbors and their children on that night. We have a good time together. Most years, we form a roving candy gang with our neighbors kids and head off into other neighborhoods to loot them of their Tootsie Rolls and Skittles and such. It’s a good time. Sometimes, Christians give us gospel tracts with our candy, when they do, we talk to them about Jesus. If they only give us a tract and no candy, then we go back later and roll their yard. (Okay, we may or may not do that.)

So, do me and mine glorify the devil by dressing our kids in costume and roaming the neighborhood for candy? No, we surely don’t! God forbid! Rather, we are simply having fun with our neighbors, and they understand this. Most of them, anyway.

This leads me to the subject that moved me to write: Jesus Ween! Before I continue, let me say that I think Harvest Festivals are great, that I think handing out gospel tracts is great, and that I don’t mind if some folks choose not to participate in Halloween. But this, I cannot abide: “The world and its system have a day set aside (October 31st) to celebrate ungodly images and evil characters while Christians all over the world participate, hide or just stay quiet on Halloween day.” We emphatically do not celebrate ungodly images and evil characters. It’s about the candy, dude! And we enjoy goofing off with our neighbors. God bless you celebrators of “Jesus Ween” in your efforts to evangelize your neighbors, but let’s not pretend that your brother is somehow celebrating ungodly images and evil characters by wearing a Green Lantern costume, okay?

About Brad Williams

Brad is the pastor of a Baptist church in a small town in Alabama. Brad has a lovely wife, two children, two dogs, a cat, a turtle, and five bee hives. Besides the incredible fact that he managed to persuade his wife to marry him, he is proud that he served six years in the Army National Guard, managed to graduate college with an English Lit. degree, graduate seminary, and finish the original Bard's Tale as a youngster by making maps on graph paper.

  • http://quixoticiconoclast.blogspot.com/ Chris Todd

    Let me just say up front that I cannot speak the name of that group with a straight face. Please, please, folks give some thought to your ministry names.

    I’m going to go a step further and say that if you only hand out tracts, please don’t bother. You’re only teaching kids that Christians don’t know how to have fun. For Christ’s sake (and I mean that quite literally) at least tape a tootsie roll on the front of that tract. Jesus wants you to give out candy with your tract so that little children won’t blame him for ruining their candy grab.

  • Carol

    In Australia, where I’m from – Halloween is not a big deal at all. Hardly anyone goes trick or treating and almost no one decorates. It’s a bit sad.

    Halloween has always been fun for me since living in the States and my favourite part is seeing my neighbours. This is almost literally the only time I see my street with more than 1 person and a dog walking along it. There are kids scampering everywhere, parents loitering and chatting and just a general feeling of merriment and mirth to go with the usually crisp Autumn night. It’s lovely and I enjoy it.

    As a Christian – why would I go and hide or stay quiet? I want to be known as the Awesome Lady With All the Best Candy! I want the neighbourhood kids to love coming to our place on Halloween. I want to get to know their parents, learn their names, where they live and hopefully invite them over for a BBQ or a Bears Game some day. How in the heck am I supposed to do that if I’m the Halloween Grinch? How in the world am I supposed to even build a relationship and friendship to a point where I can share the gospel if I refuse to even engage my (potentially) pagan neighbours?

    I agree – God bless JesusWeen, may He bless their efforts to reach the lost. But can we Christians please stop with the sanctimonious & condescending attitudes towards the lost and unbelieving? Weren’t WE blinded to salvation at one stage in our lives too? And for real – get the GOOD candy! Along with the tracts!

  • http://alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    Chris and Carol,

    You guys hit my sentiments exactly. Actually, I think you said it better than I did, Carol. Thanks!

  • Chana Elizabeth

    Brad, to compare going trick-or-treating to eating and breathing is poor writing. I’m not talking about your stand on Halloween, I’m simply talking about the fallacies of your argument here. Eating and breathing is a necessity, so compare it to a necessity…not something that can be taken or left alone.
    On your stance about Halloween… you have Wicca friends and “know” about it, yet think it’s ok to participate? Do you “know” about the countless human sacrifices that take place for the entire month leading up to Halloween every year, not to mention the sacrifices that happen on the actual day? I apologize if I’m coming off harshly. I don’t want to, nor do I want to be one of “those people.” I just know how serious this issue is from the fact that I am a victim of SRA, or Satanic Ritual Abuse, and know of the incredible darkness of this day. It is not a light issue. Don’t hide, but please do not respond to other people’s zealous attitudes about Halloween by going too far in the other direction. I’m sure you agree that there is a place where we go to far in joining with the world, and I’m simply suggesting that possibly the line is closer then you might think it is, concerning Halloween.

  • http://www.alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    Chana,

    I am very sorry that you had to endure Satanic Ritual Abuse. That’s awful, as is abuse of any kind.

    I do want to assure you that when my children and I go out trick or treating this Halloween, we will not be harming anyone. We will not glorify the devil, and we will not be abusing anyone at all. It will be our aim to promote joy, neighborliness, and the eating of candy. This seems to be the very antithesis of what you and others experienced on Halloween and at other times of the year.

    I have to confess ignorance as to how many people are ritually sacrificed during the month of October, and I have to further confess my puzzlement as to why this would keep me from trick or treating with my family. Do you have any human sacrifice statistics you could link us to? And even if there are a bunch of evil men going about ritually killing people on Oct. 31, what does that have to do with trick or treating? Also, how is it that my family’s choice to dress up like “Jake and Neverland Pirates” and visit our neighbors somehow make us culpable of the disgusting, horrid, and apparently month-long practice of murdering people for Satan? This doesn’t make any sense at all.

    Since my first analogy was poor writing, I will give another. Pagans drive cars to their pagan services on Halloween. I will also drive a car on Halloween. I am not supporting pagan worship by driving my car. Does that make my point clearer?

  • Chana Elizabeth

    I tried responding awhile back but I’m in a third-world country and my internet has been out.

    I didn’t have any online sources, because all my information is from firsthand stories of trusted friends and from various deliverance ministries, one of which said ministries I myself have gone through to find freedom. However, I searched online and found sites that correspond with the info I have.
    I just want you to know that I’m not a crazy person, and I might not agree 100% with the sites I give you. I grew up in Aville and I know your church, as well as Brad and Stewart and I’ve met you before too. I am now a M in a closed country, and I’ve had many discussions with fellow workers about participating in pagan holidays around the world and what is acceptable. I’m not sure exactly where I stand now on Halloween, my stance is not a hard one and I don’t judge Christians for participating. I’m sure you will still trick-or-treat with your kids after this conversation, which I am ok with. I just ask Christians to step back and take a clearer look at Halloween.
    As far as participating in Halloween and trick-or-treating, I never said that you should not trick-or-treat with your kids… although it’s true I don’t think we should as Christians. However I am tinted by my experience. This article explains what I would rather spend my Halloween night doing and what I believe would be a much better experience for our children, although my mother, when a child, was impacted by a Christian lady that would hand out treats in her neighborhood so that also I can see is valid. But imagine if we spent the night with our children interceding for lives! They have to learn about darkness sometime, and think of the passion it would install in them if we spent our time in this way! http://libertytothecaptives.net/prayer_halloween.html
    As to why I will not take my kids trick-or-treating (when I have them) and why I ask Christians to take a second look at it, this article explains it well although I can’t read the whole article, but the truth is, I believe that trick-or-treating still involves demons as much as it did the day it started. Demons do not give up territory easily, trust me. http://tobefree.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/halloween-reality-check-former-satanist-recalls-human-sacrifice-of-little-girl/

    Also, a Satanic calendar http://www.theforbiddenknowledge.com/hardtruth/satanic_calendar.htm


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