Churches hand out thousands of pounds of candy on Halloween while others decry 'pagan' holiday

Children dressed in halloween costumes trick-Or-treating. |

On Sunday, churches across the nation celebrated Halloween as a “harmless” holiday that can create a “fun” environment focused on costumes, candy and celebratory festivities. Other churches, however, warned their congregants about the “pagan” ties to the holiday and hosted alternate events.  

Pastors of churches who recognize Halloween and celebrate the day with their congregations said they view the Oct. 31 holiday as a time that can potentially bring unity in their churches as members plan and host events.

And some pastors said they hope their pre-planned, family-oriented entertainment and activities will increase Christian fellowship and lead to lasting God-centered friendships. 

Rev. Branden Norman, the pastor of Remnant Church in Terre Haute, Indiana, held a trick-or-treat event at his church Sunday in which over 2,000 pounds of candy was distributed.

Norman had hopes of celebrating Halloween alongside his congregants and creating an environment that could lead to participants fostering lifelong memories and relationships. 

“Our heart is always [centered on] the family,” Norman told local news outlet WTWO. “Here at Remnant Church, we really push family emphasis.” 

Along with a live DJ and bubble machine, Remnant church volunteers loaded over 1 ton of king-size candy, food and toys into multiple cars lined up in front of the house of worship for the annual affair, according to the news outlet.

“It’s very important that families gather together and create memories. There’s been a lot going on. ... If we can help that process and just give hope to people … If this can just ease that,” Norman added.

On Sunday, Medford, Oregon’s Joy Church held its church services as usual. But afterward, the Halloween festivities began, and the church handed out candy, donuts and coffee to church attendees and hosted classes for children as part of its first “candy palooza,” reports a local NBC affiliate.  

“There’s a lot of security and safety protocols in place,” Joy Church Executive Pastor Rev. Natalie Aman was quoted as saying. “It’s a fun environment where parents can enjoy the service and kids can enjoy a great time.”

The United Methodist Church of Morristown, New Jersey, held an outdoor, organ mini-concert on Halloween on Sunday night. During the free event, musician Jennifer Yang played Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor.” 

While many pastors and their congregations recognized and celebrated Halloween, many churches chose not to celebrate. Instead, they held fall festivals or other non-Halloween-related events because of their beliefs that Halloween is a “pagan” holiday tied to Celtic origin and associated with occult rituals.

Halloween’s origins originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which consisted of people lighting bonfires and wearing costumes to ward off ghosts while they aimed to attract other dead spirits.

They believed the veil which separates the earthly realm from the spiritual realm is thinner on Oct. 31, giving them more access to the occult spiritual world. 

According to a 2015 Lifeway Research survey, 23% of Christians in the United States do not celebrate Halloween because of the holiday’s “pagan” roots and other reasons.

The survey further found that three out of five Americans celebrate Halloween as “fun,” but 21% avoid it entirely.

The survey found that most Christians (54%) believe Halloween is in “good fun,” while 18% said they try to avoid the pagan elements. 

Rev. Ron Smith of the Church of the King in McAllen, Texas, chose not to celebrate Halloween this past Sunday with his congregation because he views it as “pagan” and “not biblical.”

Instead of engaging in any Halloween practices, Smith and his church recognized The Protestant Reformation. They treated Oct. 31 as a day to rejoice about the teachings of salvation by faith through grace from the works of the law, reports

Smith said that on Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his "95 Theses" to the Roman Catholic Church door because he did not support Pope Leo X, who had initiated the selling of indulgences to anyone willing to assist in rebuilding St. Peter’s Basilica. 

According to Smith, “Luther changed the Western civilization and ultimately the world by putting up his list because it spread like wildfire.” 

“2021 marks the 504th anniversary since then, and the Church of the King chooses to celebrate to this day because it changed the world,” Smith said. 

A congregant from the Church of the King said that his church is a “huge part in continuing the work of Martin Luther.”

“What’s spookier than goblins and ghosts and all of that is losing our rights for free speech, for being able to have our own freedom of religion,” church member Johnny Vasquez told Valley Central. “Those are very important to the American people and of course, our community.”

At the Experience Vineyard Church in Long Island, New York, associate pastor John Reichart said that he and his congregation chose not to celebrate Halloween as is their custom. 

Based on the origins of Halloween, Reichart preached a sermon about how to combat the occult realm, demonic thoughts and attacks from Satan.

Reichart shared a time when he said a woman he was praying for experienced a demonic attack. Reichart said he was praying for the woman, and she admitted to having engaged in some “‘bad’” sexual decisions in her life. Reichart recalled telling the woman that it would be helpful to confess what happened out loud before God. He told her that he would pray for her afterward. But in the next moment, when the woman tried to admit what happened out loud, she suddenly could not speak at all no matter how hard she tried.

“She leaned forward to pray, and no words came out. She was trying to speak, but she couldn’t, and I was looking at her, and I looked at the other person who was praying for her and I said, ‘Wow, it looks like we got some company,’” Reichart stated, alluding to the notion that demons were among them. “So, we had to try a different approach to prayer, a little more authority of Jesus.”

Reichart spoke of another encounter in which a woman came to him for prayer because she said she felt like she was being strangled by something evil.

“The woman has a Ph.D. but she still struggled and she still needed help getting out of this. As we prayed for her, she experienced a breakthrough. And she said, ‘Jesus, I confess my sins.’ And boom, sweetness and calm landed on her and her whole account changed,” Reichart preached Sunday. “We have also seen sudden childlike [and] distracting childlike behavior when praying for people. A person was in their mid-50’s, but suddenly she’s acting like she’s about 6, trying to distract and destroy.”

Reichart said he is familiar with demonic occurrences such as the ones he believes to have happened so much so that it doesn’t “freak” him out as much as it used to in the early days of his ministry. 

Reichart stressed that it’s essential for anyone who is a person “of the Book” to know the Bible and “reconcile the fact that the way Jesus and the whole New Testament views this is as a ‘clash of kingdoms.’”

“Here’s how you fight back against the animated demonic attacks of the enemy: You fight back the way Jesus did. … It’s a battle for truth. Jesus battled demonic suggestion with eternal truth,” Reichart said, referring to how Jesus told Satan the Word of God from the scriptures when being tempted in the desert. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”

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