To Celebrate or Not to Celebrate? Halloween Sparks Debate, Controversy for Some Christians
The celebration of Halloween can definitely be a touchy subject among members of the Christian community. While some may see the holiday as a harmless day of fun with scary paraphernalia, costumes and candy, others feel it goes against fundamental Christian teachings that forbid the practice of witchcraft, pagan rituals and other occult practices, which are often brought to the forefront on Halloween.
In an episode of "The 700 Club" last month, Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) founder Pat Robertson called the holiday the "night of the devil," and said that Christians have no place celebrating a holiday that relishes in the occult.
However, R. Brad White, the founder and president of Changing the Face of Christianity, an organization dedicated to reversing negative Christian stereotypes, recently wrote in an article on the group's website that there is nothing wrong with Christians wanting to participate in all the Halloween fun.
"So, should we as Christians boycott Halloween?" White wrote. "My answer is an emphatic No! Unless you are planning a blood sacrifice, a seance with the undead, and a quick game of ouija, my answer is absolutely not! I wouldn't miss it for the world!"
Some Christian outreach organizations, such as Jesus Ween (or JesusWins), use the holiday to evangelize.
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, those who participate are expected to wear white tops to symbolize God's righteousness and are encouraged to donate the money that would normally be spent on costumes to food banks or another charity of choice.
Pastor Paul, who started Jesus Ween in 2002, 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."
White told The Christian Post that the holiday has fallen so far away from its pagan roots that Christians should have no qualms celebrating what Halloween has become, which is a fun time for families and neighbors. In addition, he said the holiday could be beneficial in fostering a better sense of community by opening the door to communication between neighbors.
"Are there some rare people (non-Christians) that take it seriously and keep it as an evil or mystic ritual? Yes," he explained. I don't believe these are the people walking the neighborhood and handing out candy. If they did take it seriously, they would probably be equally disgusted with what Halloween has become...a parody."
"If you focus on the right things during the holiday (family and neighborhood relationships), it is fun and shouldn't cause any long-term damage, except for the need to hit the gym and burn off that sugar rush."