“Hey John,” wrote Latoya, one of what I’m sure are my many readers in Jamaica. “Could you do a post on how the Christian community in the U.S. views Halloween?”
I’d love to, Latoya! I feel I should tell you, though, that the U.S. Christian community hardly ever returns my phone calls.
“Oh, we meant to call you,” they’ll say when I run into them later. “But we just got so busy with our Up With Teens! fundraiser.” Or, “We were going to call you, but had to finish putting the roof on the orphanage in Mexico we’re building.”
It’s always one lame excuse or another. Some people just don’t know how to establish priorities.
Anyway, my many years of eavesdropping on Christians and reading their church bulletins allows me to say, with a fair degree of confidence, that when it comes to U.S. Christians and Halloween, the following is true:
In general, U.S. Christians are not particularly keen on the idea of children dressing up in fantastical outfits and running around getting free candy from strangers. I’m not sure exactly why that is. My guess is that Christian parents are afraid, what with all the mask-wearing going on, that they’ll end up taking back home with them at least one kid who isn’t theirs. And then of course they’ll end up raising that kid, because who wants to admit they took someone else’s child home with them on Halloween? But they’ll always wonder whatever happened to their own little princess or pirate. And Christians don’t like wondering about things; they like knowing things. So forcing them to wonder is one major strike against Halloween, right there.
Here are the opinions that I believe U.S. Christians hold about some of the more specific features commonly associated with Halloween:
Jack ‘o lanterns: Christians like pumpkins—they love pumpkin pie—but they don’t like the idea of a fat person with a fire burning inside of them, because it makes them think about the heartburn they’re going to get from eating all that pumpkin pie. So it’s thumbs-down for jack o’ lanterns.
Black cats: Christians don’t generally like cats, because they know cats couldn’t care less about what they or any other humans think or believe. So it’s hard to imagine converting a cat. Any dog seems like it’s one tap on the forehead away from falling to its knees and confessing where it hides all its bones; they’re already so close to talking in tongues. But cats act like even if you’ve forgotten that in ancient Egypt they were worshiped as gods, they haven’t. And a black cat, which acts haughty and looks cool? Forget it.
Witches on flying brooms: Generally Christians believe that it’s a bad idea for cleaning implements to take flight. They like angels to fly, not mops and dustpans. Also, a flying broom implies that magic is happening—and, as everyone knows, Christians despise magic, because they can never figure out how the tricks are done, which (see above) drives them crazy. Christians also like safety, and there’s nothing safe about a grown woman zipping through the air on a stick.
Haunted houses: The first thing Christians think when they hear the words “haunted house” is “decreasing property values.” Enough said.
Goblins: The main reason Christians don’t like goblins is because they’re not sure what exactly a goblin is. A gnome without the pedigree? A leprechaun with an eating disorder? A troll on steroids? Whatever goblins are, Christians are pretty sure they can be killed with a can of insecticide. So they’re not too worried.
And there you have it, Latoya. Thank you for giving me this chance to share with you and the rest of the world my insights into the mind of the American Christian.