Conservative Christian Responses to Halloween

October 27, 2000

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

On October 27, 2000, the San Francisco Chronicle published an article on some Christians' responses to Halloween: "To many Christians in the Bay Area, this night, when identities and inhibitions are shed and children turn into candy-crazed creatures out for a sustained sugar fix, is anything but the benignly spooky trick-or-treat ritual most relish. To them, Halloween is, well, evil. Far from being harmless, they believe, the holiday is harmful to one's faith and goes against church doctrine. They see it as a celebration of paganism, which many evangelical Christians equate with satanism. 'Halloween glorifies that demonic life,' said Dan Appel, pastor of the Pleasant Hill Seventh-Day Adventist Church. 'It makes it interesting, tantalizing and attractive to impressionable children. I'd just as soon not expose people to it.'" Many churches have turned to celebrating Harvest festivals that are devoid of pumpkin carving or references to ghosts, for example the "Alamo Christian Assembly, where the church parking lot will be turned into a "trunk-or-treat" harvest festival, and the Calvary Temple in Concord, which is renting a park in Pittsburgh for a festival with rides, goodies and proselytizing."

Others are less upset by the day: "People who are literalists in Christianity get upset every year at this time, because their literalism gets challenged," said David Sammons, pastor at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Walnut Creek. "Well, it's already been challenged by science, by all kinds of things in our society. Heck, the way Halloween grew in society was not out of anti-Christian sentiment. People have turned it into a miniature Mardi Gras. Jack o' lanterns aren't evil. They're fruit and vegetables."

The article suggests that "much of the holiday's supernatural aspects were siphoned off when Christians adopted the holiday about 1,000 years ago. In the United States, Halloween has long been either excoriated by Puritans and fundamentalists or celebrated by those seeking a nondenominational holiday."

"Scott Brooks, first-year pastor at Fortress Christian Church in Antioch, says his church's harvest festival is based on strict religious doctrine. He makes no apologies about his fundamentalist approach. 'Most people would just say Halloween's a fun, innocent holiday, not knowing what the true foundations are," Brooks said. "Why do people dress up? It's to try to scare off the spirits of the dead. The jack-o'-lantern was a symbol of a familiar spirit. The light represents the light of a dark spirit that casts a spell on your home. We don't bob for apples, either. That was another practice of evil divination. We don't encourage our families to dress up, not even in innocent costumes. It's a hard stance to take, but we do."