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Halloween:

As viewed by evangelical Christians

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Halloween Costumes

Topics covered in this essay:

bulletQuotes
bulletOverview
bulletEvangelical Christians and:
bulletBeliefs about religions other than their own
bulletBeliefs about the Occult
bulletBeliefs about Satan, demons
bulletBeliefs about Halloween
bulletInformation sources

Quotes:

bullet"I think we ought to close Halloween down. Do you want your children to dress up as witches? The Druids used to dress up like this when they were doing human sacrifice...[The children] are acting out Satanic rituals and participating in it, and don't even realize it."--Pat Robertson, "The 700 Club," 1982-OCT-29
bullet"There is [only] one reference to human sacrifice in Celtic literature, but it appears to be a Christian forgery. The ancient Celts might have engaged in ritual killing; certainly other contemporary societies did. Modern Druids, of course, do not." Excerpt from this website's essay on the Druids

Overview:

Many books on Halloween have been written by fundamentalist and other evangelical Christian authors. There are also many Internet sites devoted to the topic. 1 to 10

Most of these authors tend to paint a very different picture of Halloween than do other writers, both religious and secular. Conservative Christians generally have a very negative view of Halloween, and are very concerned with its growing popularity in North America. 

Much of their fear and rejection of Halloween are described below. They are based on:

bulletTheir fundamental beliefs about non-Christian religions, the Occult, Satan and his demons.
bulletThe information sources that they use for data about the ancient Celts and Druids, modern Neopagan beliefs and practices, and Halloween itself.

Evangelical Christian beliefs about non-Christian religions:

The Christian Scriptures (New Testament) clearly and repeatedly states that followers of other religions worship demons. One example is 1 Corinthians 10:20-21: "But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God..." Most conservative Christians believe that the Bible is inerrant when interpreted literally. Thus, many of them view other world religions as being partly or completely false, and either influenced by Satan or actually controlled by Satan. Thus, they see few differences among Hinduism, Buddhism, Satanism, Wicca, Neopaganism, and hundreds of other religions. All are viewed as involving demon worship that will prevent their followers from being saved, and will lead them directly to the pits of Hell.

Needless to say, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Satanists, Neopagans, mainline and liberal Christians, etc. reject this viewpoint. They see major differences among the religions of the world. They do not accept the belief that their own Gods and Goddesses, or those of other great religions, are actually the Christian Satan, or demons, or evil spirits. They look upon the concept of Satan as being largely a Christian, Islamic, Jewish, and Zoroastrian concept that is unrelated to the beliefs and practices of other religions.

There is really no right and wrong here. Differences are caused by foundational beliefs about God, mankind and the rest of the universe. Many conservative Christians have elected to interpret the Bible literally, and thus define other faith groups as Satanic. Unfortunately, their beliefs sometimes lead to serious misunderstandings. Different groups are using the same word, "Satanism," to mean very different things:

bulletMost of the North American population define "Satanists" as individuals who acknowledge worshiping a Satanic entity, or have some special recognition of Satan as a pre-Christian fertility concept. Using this definition, there are perhaps ten to twenty thousand Satanists in the U.S.
bulletBut the more inclusive definition of "Satanism" used by some conservative Christians defines two thirds of the human race -- over four billion people -- as Satanists.

Largely because of the Inquisition during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, irrational fear of Satanists is widespread. Religiously based Lynching, attempted mass stoning, shootings, common assaults, etc. have been documented in North America in recent years. The root cause of such criminal acts is often the belief that all non-Christian religions are Satanic.

Fortunately, since the first draft of this essay was written in 1997, many Wiccans, Satanists, and other Neopagans have come out of their "closet" and gone public with their faith. North Americans have become much more aware of other major world religions and recognize those religions' strengths and merits. Conservative Christians' association of non-Christian religions with Satanism has faded in recent years. Finally, by 2005, many conservative Protestant information sources have abandoned their inaccurate portrayal of other faith groups. They no longer demonize other religions, even though they regard them as misguided, and false -- leading their membership to eternal torture in Hell.

Evangelical Christian special beliefs about the occult:

bulletThe Occult: This is defined by most people as a set of unrelated esoteric, secretive, practices. Many of the more conservative Christians disagree; they have a much broader definition of the term. They believe that Satanism is at the heart of the "Occult."  They view the Occult as being composed of:
bulletEntire religions such as Wicca, other Neopagan religions, Satanism, Hinduism, Buddhism, other world religions, and the New Age. 
bulletDivination techniques such as astrology, horoscope reading, casting of runes, palm reading, tarot card reading, and tea cup reading.
bulletGames such as Ouiji boards, children's TV programs and cartoons, some toys, and fantasy role playing games.
bulletMusic, such as heavy metal rock bands.
bulletOther activities, as diverse as fire-walking, acupuncture, Yoga exercises, membership in the Masonic Order, reading some novels, meditation, etc.

Many believe that occultists actively promote these activities to lure people into the Occult with the aim of eventually recruiting them into Satanism.

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Evangelical Christian special beliefs about Satan and demons:

Satan: Conservative Protestants generally believe in Satan and his hordes of demons as very real supernatural entities with magical powers. Again, this belief is derived from their acceptance of the inerrancy of the Bible. The Christian Scriptures (New Testament), in particular, has many references to Satan as a quasi-deity. Jesus is described as exorcising many people, releasing them from the control of indwelling demons. 

Many religious conservatives regard themselves, their families and friends as continuously being at risk for demonic oppression or possession. Conservative Christian psychiatrist David Enoch has said that: "...Halloween practices open the door to the occult and can introduce forces into people's lives that they do not understand and often cannot combat..." 15 Some believe that "Doorways" which allow Satan to have access can be created by something as simple and innocent as bringing a box of Celestial Seasonings tea into the home. These have a 5-pointed star on the rear of the container. This is a "Star-K" certification symbol indicting that the products meets kosher food requirements as stipulated in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). 17 However, many conservative Christians believe is a Satanic symbol. Having such a box of tea in the house is said to give Satan the "legal right" to enter the home and attack the family. A "doorway" could also be created by a Wiccan healing ritual, acupuncture, yoga exercises, hanging an aboriginal dream-catcher on the wall, or engaging in thousands of other activities. Incest and child sexual abuse is believed to produce another type of doorway. Although mental health professionals have long abandoned demonic possession as a cause of mental illness, this belief continues today among many conservative Christians.

Evangelical Christian beliefs about Halloween:

Most conservative Protestants incorrectly link together present-day Halloween celebrations, ancient Celtic Paganism, and modern Neopaganism. However, many go further and link these practices with Satanism. 10 Some examples:
bulletA Christian Broadcasting Network essay: "Every act around Halloween is in honor of false gods, which are spirits in the realm of the Satanic. Thus, Halloween is seen primarily as a Satanic holiday." 6
bulletAlbert Dager: "Children...shouldn't have anything to do with the celebration that glorifies the power of God's enemies." 11
bulletWilliam Schnoebelen, "...the difference between witchcraft or Wicca and satanism is actually non-existent." 12
bulletDavid L Brown, "modern day witches and Satanists still worship demon gods & goddesses, practice bizarre & immoral sexual rituals, and certain groups offer animal and human sacrifices." 13
bulletDavid L Brown, "Though witches like to make a distinction between themselves and Satanists, there really is NO DISTINCTION biblically speaking...but the power behind Satanism and Witchcraft is the same-Satan... and his demonic hoards." 13
bulletChristian Youth Alliance, "Satan loves Halloween because it glamorizes the powers of darkness, drawing little kids into his realm. And it is paying off, witchcraft is exploding among teens today." 14 
bulletLight the Night is an Evangelical Christian outreach to evangelize trick-or-treaters. The sponsors note that Halloween night is "an excellent opportunity to take back ground in which the enemy has controlled for too long." (The webmaster clarified that the "enemy" being referred to here is Satan) They say that by "...allowing our 'light' to shine on a very dark night, it is a very simple way to combat that darkness with the love of Christ." 16

Evangelical Christian Sources of information about Halloween:

An analysis of popular conservative Christian writing about Halloween reveals that many authors often draw on inaccurate sources. They tend to re-circulate erroneous material from:
bulletA probable example of anti-Druidic wartime propaganda written by Julius Caesar in one of his books.
bulletReligious propaganda from the "Burning Times," (15th to 18th century CE) when the church taught that Witches worshiped Satan. Tens of thousands of Witches and other heretics were convicted by civil and religious courts in western Europe, and burned alive or hanged.
bulletModern urban folk tales about Satanic Ritual Abuse and adulterated Halloween candy that have since been shown to be hoaxes.
bulletUnverified opinions by other conservative Christians about Halloween.

They rarely draw on factual material from:
bulletThe thousands of books and web sites of modern day Neo-Pagans, including material from two large reconstructed ancient belief systems: Wicca and Druidism.
bulletHistorical and archaeological research into the beliefs and practices of ancient Celts. 

Related essays:

bulletAnalysis of Evangelical Christian websites about Halloween:
bulletExhibiting misinformation
bulletExhibiting accuracy

References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Jack Chick, "Halloween Kid's Treat or Pagan Trick?" The essay is at: http://chick.com/
  2. Tricia Schnell, "Is Halloween in Harmony with Christianity?" The essay is at: http://www.intowww.org/
  3. William J. Schnoebelen, "Should Christians celebrate Halloween?" Essay is at: http://chick.com/
  4. "Happy Halloween, Chick Productions. P.O. Box 662, Chino, CA, 91708-0662. It can be seen at: http://chick.com/
  5. Gloria Phillips, "Halloween: What It Is From A Christian Perspective" Available at: http://www.webzonecom.com/
  6. The Christian Broadcasting Network, "A Christian Perspective on Halloween". It was available at: http://www.cbn.org/, but has since been removed.
  7. W.J. Bethancourt III's detailed expose of four Christian anti-Halloween essays is titled: "Halloween: Myths, Monsters and Devils" See: http://www.geocities.com/
  8. "Answers in Action" is an Evangelical Christian Internet site that takes a realistic view of Halloween. See: http://www.answers.org/
  9. Jean Claude Boulenaz, "Halloween - a harmless ritual?", at: http://members.tripod.com/
  10. J.S. Victor, "Fundamentalist religions and the moral crusade against satanism: The social construction of deviant behavior." Deviant Behavior, 15, Pages 305-334, (1994).
  11. A.J. Dager, "Halloween - Should Christians Be Apart," Media Spotlight, Costa Mesa, CA, (1986)
  12. William Schnoebelen, "Wicca: Satan's Little White Lie," Chick Publications, Chino CA, (1990), Page 9.
  13. David Brown, "The Dark Side of Halloween," Logos Communication Consortium at: http://www.execpc.com/
  14. "A brief history of Halloween," at: http://home.computer.net/ 
  15. Quoted in Russ Parker, "Battling the Occult," InterVarsity Press, Downer's Grove, IL, (1990), Page 35.
  16. "Light the Night" has a web site at: http://www.lightthenightpa.com
  17. "Star-K Kosher Certification," at: http://www.celestialseasonings.com/ This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from:

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Home page >  Christianity > Practices > Holy Days > Halloween > here

Essay copyright 1997 to 2008, Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2008-MAR-23
Author: B.A. Robinson

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