(Photo: AP Images / Alexandre Meneghini)
Halloween may be a fun day of trick-or-treating, dressing up and watching scary movies for some, but Christian Broadcasting Network founder Pat Robertson is not having any of it, and implied that Christians should avoid the holiday all together. Other believers, however, say the holiday can be used as an occasion for outreach and evangelism.
During a Sept. 27 episode of "The 700 Club," Robertson's daily talk show, a viewer wrote in saying he felt "unsettled" by the fact that every year his church "hosted one of the area's largest haunted houses," and how popular the holiday was in the church community.
Robertson responded, "I agree with you, we need the power of God, not some kind of earth-set entertainment. We don't believe in haunted, we don't believe in ghosts, we don't believe in all this business. Halloween is Satan's night, it's the night of the devil."
He continued, "Churches shouldn't do that. You can do something besides have a haunted house. You're feeling badly? You should."
While Halloween may mean pumpkins, candy and scary paraphernalia to the general public, some Christian outreach organizations, such as Jesus Ween (or JesusWins), use the holiday to evangelize.
According to the initiative's founder, Pastor Paul, "Christians will not have to hide during Halloween; instead they will share God's love by giving others a gift." The nonprofit organization encourages Christians to hand out Bibles and tracts, and to share the good news with trick-or-treaters who knock at their doors.
In addition, according to Jesus Ween's Facebook page, "On Oct. 31, every Christian is expected to wear a white top to symbolize Righteousness and the love of God to all mankind. The money normally used to buy costumes can be given to ministries that print Christian books to help the unsaved or give such funds to Jesus Ween or food banks to help the poor."
Pastor Paul started Jesus Ween in 2002 and told Gawker.com in an interview, "I think (Halloween) is an activity that doesn't have anything to do with Christians. And I think many Christian families are not knowledgeable to what it's all about. Halloween is not consistent with the Christian faith. Many people say they feel uncomfortable on that day. We think people should choose an alternative activity."
However, not many viewers of "The 700 Club" share Pastor Paul’s and Robertson’s belief that Halloween is something inherently evil that is not to be celebrated.
"So it's satan (sic) who makes us eat half the trick or treat candy before Halloween even gets here and makes us go back to the store to buy more? Well that makes sense," commented one viewer on a blog entitled "Crooks and Liars."
"Does satan hold Hershey's stock or something? It would truly be hell night if the little spookies came to our door and we had no candy for them. Nothing worse than a little witch or ghost crying at your front door."
Others commented that the holiday has practically nothing to do with religion.
"Neither God nor Satan has much to do with the over-commercialized hype that is Halloween," one viewer said.
"This is no more the work of Satan than Christmas decorations going up in November."