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October 2000


The Soap Box

by TarQness

Halloween - Just A Fun Holiday. So Get Real, People!

Summer is officially over. The leaves are turning, a chill is in the air, which smells of dying corn fields and the smoke from chimneys. To me, autumn is one of the most beautiful times of the year. It's also one of the most fun. Halloween is coming soon and all one has to do in order to know that is to walk into your local grocery store, which has been stocked with Halloween party supplies for well over a month. Local farms are beginning to advertise their hayrides and pumpkin patches for the children. My own children have already decided who they are trick-or-treating with this year and picked out their costumes weeks ago. This has always been one of their favorite times of year, second only to Christmas.

So last week, one of my husband's co-workers warns him that their supervisor "doesn't like" Halloween. In other words, she thinks it's evil and satanic. Apparently, she's a bit religious and doesn't want anyone working
under her to have anything to do with the holiday in the office. It's her spot and they go by her rules, so whatever. However, this has prompted me to look up the history of Halloween on the internet and to find out just why fundamentalist Christians feel so threatened by a child-oriented holiday. First, let me assure you that I am not against Christianity in general. It's just that some of its practicioners seem to have assigned themselves to the job of "morality police" and I don't find that to be "Christian" at all. As with the controversy over the Harry Potter books that I covered last month, I feel that this is yet another of the Fundamentalist Movement's attempts at controlling the masses with hysteria.

That said, let me start out with some of the historic facts about Halloween:

The word "Halloween" actually originated in the Roman Catholic church. It's sort of a contraction of "All Hallows' Eve", or more literally, "All Saints' Eve". Most people know that November first is "All Saints' Day", which is a Catholic holiday that honors their saints. Some historians are of the opinion that it was a holiday created to overshadow the ancient Celtic holiday "Samhain" (pronounced "Sow-en" in Celt gaelic), that marked the last day of summer. There is evidence that the Celts celebrated this as far back as the 5th century, B.C. It's said that Samhian was the day when all of the spirits of those who had died that year would come out to roam the villages in search of new bodies to posess. In order to discourage the spirits, villagers would dress up in frightening costumes and act obnoxious so that their bodies would be considered "undesirable" to a potential new occupant. There are accounts of ancient Druids (religious "leaders" of the Celtic community) making animal as well as human sacrifices in order to appease these spirits. More evidence that this is rumor originated by the Roman Catholic church is coming to light all of the time. According to many ancient documents and a growing discovery of archaeological evidence, the Celts and Druids were actually peaceful people who tried to live in harmony with the forces of nature. Human sacrifice went against their very culture. The Roman Catholic movement was a terrific if not oppressive force in medieval Europe and the effects of their domination last to this day. That's just my short version of the history of this holiday.

Today, most people see Halloween as nothing more sinister than a fun day for kids to have an excuse to boldly beg for candy. However, Christian fundamentalists see it as a day which opens up innocent children to Satan worship and Occultism. Pat Robertson's 700 Club has a website ( which gives some insight into the basis for this opinion. I am going to take some quotes from this website and inject my own commentary into it. First, please keep in mind that the quotes may not necessarily be from Pat Robertson himself, but are from the webmasters for the CBN website. I am too lazy to figure out exacly who they are and if I get in trouble for quoting a site that is accessible to the public, then so be it:

"...despite the dangers associated with trick-or-treating, Halloween is celebrated more than ever. In fact, the night is the second most popular party night of the year (after December 31) for "baby-boomer" adults. Many adults look at it as the one night of the year they can dress up and act foolish. But while children and adults innocently imitate ancient Celtic customs, darker practices persist. Witches and Satanists still consider Halloween to be one of the strongest times during the year to cast a spell."

First, there are whackos everywhere. No one can deny that there are nuts out there who are merely poseurs, claiming to worship Satan and be Wiccan, who do nasty things to other people. But there are Christians out there who are just as nutty and dangerous. Oh, and what in the heck do the Baby Boomers have to do with this?

"A beaming child dressed in a black pointed hat and matching gown -- with a wart carefully drawn on her nose and a trick-or-treat bag held tightly in her hand -- is hardly thinking of death or the spirits of departed relatives. Nor should she be. She's thinking of candy and fun. She's glowing because of her delight in her special costume. And she's anticipating the adventure of her house-to-house pilgrimage."

OK, I agree completely. Children do not know nor do they care about the ancient fables surrounding this holiday. They only care about how full they can get their bags of candy. Which is why I feel that the next quote is superfluous propaganda:

"If our children dress as witches and sorcerers, if we hang cardboard ghosts in our windows, if we entertain with tales of ghouls and haunted houses -- what are we doing but imitating that which is evil? We need to make it clear as Christians that witches and evil spirits are not funny and are not harmless, even if the people in witch costumes are only play-acting."

Uh huh. Now we are getting into the myth that children have absolutely no concept of right and wrong and therefore will start to worship Satan if they are allowed to go trick-or-treating. Well pardon me, but my family all particpated in Halloween and most of them are regular churchgoing folks who are quite the opposite of Satanists. This theory doesn't hold water at all.

So the site then gets into what one can do instead of celebrating (or more appropriately, "anti-celebrating")Halloween, which would be fine if they kept it to themselves and were not attempting to "save" everyone else from the holiday:

"Hold a Bible study on what God says about the occult and witchcraft. This might be especially good for teenagers, since they are probably coming into frequent contact with influences of this type. This may sound farfetched to you, but in recent years there has been an amazing growth of witchcraft and Satanism in the U.S. Some New Age cultists are attracted to many aspects of witchcraft, especially the ideas of tapping the "powers of the universe" and of controlling our own destinies."

Yeah right. These are Wiccans, who are harmless people. Nearly every Wiccan I have encountered is a good, honest person(and as with all walks of life, I have run into a few jerks in that set too), which is more than I could say for the majority (not all, so don't get your shorts in a wad, folks) of Fundie Christians I have encountered. Halloween doesn't make kids turn to Wicca or Satanism. Using the independent thoughts that God has given us is what prompts people to make up their own minds about religion and sprituality. I have seen debates in many Delphi forums over free will and why some Christians feel that we will be punished for the very thing God supposedly wants us to have. But the CBN doesn't want to stop with Bible study. Oh no:

"Use trick-or-treating as an opportunity to tell others about the love of Jesus. Most Christian bookstores carry small pamphlets about the Lord -- designed especially for children on Halloween. These could be taped to candy and dropped into each trick-or-treat's bag."

I remember getting Chick ( for those who don't know what I mean) tracts in my trick-or-treat bag as a child. There was nothing loving or comforting about them. I am not sure if those are the pamphlets to which the CBN refers. I hope not, because for me, they were completely ineffective. Pretty much, what this bunch is about is making sure that children think about Jesus 24/7. I am sure that even Jesus takes a breather from that once in awhile. Let me again reiterate that I am not anti-Christian. I know and love many Christians. It's these uptight fruitcakes with a "cause" that I have a problem with.

As I have said, there are far more dangerous things out there to worry about like drugs, rapists, molesters and murderers. Dressing up like Barney one night of the year and running from door to door asking for candy isn't going to turn your kid into a Devil worshiper. Not if they have brains in their heads. It's just a holiday. Lighten up..