Are Trick-or-Treat Bags a Place for Gospel Tracts?

Would Islamic, Atheist 'Evangelism' Be Accepted on Halloween?

Stuck to a sticky candy wrapper could be a child’s ticket to Heaven. Or at least that is what some Halloween missionaries are hoping as they slip tracks into this year’s trick-or-treat bags. However, some parents wonder if they are comfortable with the religious messages being mixed in with their kid's Halloween candy stash.

The American Tract Society holiday offerings include Peek-A-Boo: Jesus Loves You, which offers an elementary tailored teaching of Christ and lets those who receive it know that "the Bible says the wages of Sin is death," then provides a kid-friendly version of the sinner's prayer that says "Jesus, I’m sorry I do bad things. Please forgive me…"

On their website, ATS provides advice for Christian families who wonder if they should participate in Halloween festivities. According to ATS's advice, "By leaving your light on, you are opening the opportunity to share the gospel with potentially hundreds of children. Normally attracting this many people to an evangelistic event would take weeks of planning and be very costly, but at Halloween it is as simple as a flick of the light switch."

However, many wonder if tracts are appropriate on Halloween. Faith blogger Cathy Lynn Grossman posed the question, "Should people refrain from pitching their faith to stranger's children?" in a timely blog post for USA Today Monday afternoon.

Grossman's topic came when an issue arose years ago when she covered American Tract Society's past Oct. 31 efforts. She wrote about You've Got a friend, a tract that included a "Toy Story" illustration in years prior.

Shey Wakley of Falls Church, Va., a Buddhist, was shocked to find the religious pamphlet concealed with a mainstream image. According to USA Today, she called it "completely inappropriate for Halloween, a night for children to have fun."

When ATS unveiled its 2011 Halloween tracts, the topic became heavily debated in communities, churches and online.

One commenter of the USA Today post shared a pessimistic viewpoint on the issue. They wrote, "Nothing like 'sin-death' comments to help young children get a grip on life."

Another commenter considered the possibility that religious discrimination would come into play during potential backlash against Christian evangelism on Halloween.

One commenter wrote, "Well, if it's okay for people of any religious belief to do that, then it's okay for Christians. I suspect that if Muslims or Atheists did the same thing, there would be an outrage though."

One parent provided a fairly balanced opinion but posed some limitations with a hopeful view to avoid possible conflict. The parent wrote, "It can be annoying if you believe differently. As a Christian I would be ok with it, but please don't put an 'Allah is Great' or 'Wiccan is the Way to Go' pamphlet in my kids' bag. I think I would be obligated to respond that my kids already have their religion, and you can keep your own ideas to yourself. And then it might get ugly."

Another commenter took a sterner tone with their reaction to Grossman's question, "Should people refrain from pitching their faith to stranger's children," putting emphasis on the reality of faith. They wrote, "We should examine how important our kids are to us. They can make it a couple of days on a bag of candy, but much longer with Jesus."

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