Archive for Saturday, October 31, 2009

Faith Forum: Does faith have a place in Halloween festivities?

October 31, 2009


Make choices that reflect your faith

The Rev. Robert Leiste, pastor, Redeemer Lutheran Church, 2700 Lawrence Ave.:

Is Halloween a celebration of the heathens, or is it simply a culturally accepted time when parents not only allow their children to take candy from strangers but actually bring them to their houses to get it?

Good Christian people will say it is occult, so people of the faith should not partake and even have alternative parties for children to attend. Other sincere members of the faith who have divorced Halloween from any devilishness connection say yes and will even have “trunk or treat parties” in their church’s parking lot for the neighborhoods to gather in as an outreach tool.

As a rule of the faith, I see this as an area of Christian liberty (see 1st Corinthians 8) where each person must decide according to their own conscience seeking to follow the biblical teaching of freedom and yet in a way as not to offend. Those who do take part have the responsibility of not giving the wrong impression and not being a stumbling block to those who disagree (my advice, watch the customs, making sure they are fairly benign). On the other side, if you feel it is wrong, then do not do it. Keep your lights shut off, don't take the kids out, and follow your own responsibility of not adding on to the word of God by making your decision apply to everyone else.

Good people of faith have disagreed about this issue like they have concerning reading “The Lord of the Rings” or the “Harry Potter” series. Perhaps the key is to understand that each side are people of the faith trying to live out their life of faith to the best and as always to the glory of God and should be treated as such.

— Send e-mail to Robert Leiste at

All Hallows Eve time for imagination

The Rev. Paul McLain, curate, Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vt.:

An important element of faith is imagination. Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, is the eve of All Saints’ Day, Nov. 1, one of the holiest days in the calendar of the Episcopal and other churches. The Festival of All Saints is a time when we especially acknowledge our communion with the saints, the intercommunion of the living and the dead in the body of Christ that we proclaim in the Apostles’ Creed. It is a time when we use imagination to enter the courageous lives and deaths of persons who have contributed to God’s collective journey with and in us throughout the centuries.

The tradition of Halloween costumes, in which children and adults often dress up in the uniforms of various occupations, reminds me of an All Saints’ hymn that goes, “I sing a song of the saints of God ... and one was a doctor, and one was a queen, and one was a shepherdess on the green, ... and one was a soldier, and one was a priest, and one was slain by a fierce wild beast, ... for the saints of God are folk just like me, and I mean to be one, too.”

It is a whimsical, childlike imagination that enables us to travel through time and space to truly commune with the saints of long ago. All Saints’ and Halloween are a time to “try on” the bold witnesses of Peter and Paul, the encouragement of Barnabas, the courageous service of Stephen, the devoted tears of Mary Magdalene, and the obedience of Mary and Joseph. It is a time to imagine how taking on their identities can reshape our identities, expanding the ways we love God and love all God’s children. Who knows — we might just be saints, too!

— Send e-mail to Paul McLain at


ahimsa 8 years, 5 months ago

His Noodliness, the Flying Spaghetti monster, approves Halloween for all. Forget your imaginary Judeo-Christian God (who is no fun at all) and heed the teachings of Pastafarianism. Ramen, sisters and brothers!

Paul R Getto 8 years, 5 months ago

Since religion was tied to the agricultural calendar, most folks have a fall festival. Samhain is ours. Do what you will with religion, the holiday stands on its own. I think the Catholics and others celebrate the day after as all souls' day.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 5 months ago

November 1 is All Saints Day and November 2 is All Souls Day. I say just have fun on Halloween and enjoy it. Stop taking everything apart to see if you can find something to argue about.

canyon_wren 8 years, 5 months ago

I agree, Irish. Everyone just analyzes things 'way too much, anymore.

One interesting thing out here in Utah--the Mormons really go all out for Halloween--they almost seem to decorate their houses, etc. more for this holiday than for Christmas! Guess it doesn't conflict with THEIR theology in any way!

mr_right_wing 8 years, 5 months ago

Halloween is a satanically-based celebration, you can call it a religious holiday if you like; therefore no government entity of any kind should have any kind of 'halloween' decorations up. They offend me. Get your satanic worship out of my face.

Separation of church and state.

Danielle Brunin 8 years, 5 months ago

I often see devout Muslim students that I know that take their kids trick or treating downtown. They are having as much fun watching their kids dressed up and seeing all the other kids in costumes. It's not a religious issue for them. It's about fun with their kids and enjoying being with the community at large.

Amy Heeter 8 years, 5 months ago

Don't waste your energy Marion. There is a spectrum to this subject. On one end there are those who have their minds closed like a steel trap. On the other end there are those who wish to be in vogue and play party games. Then there are those who live fully day to day without remorse for choice.

denak 8 years, 5 months ago

If someone wants to look at Halloween as a religious festival, more power to them.

If they chose to look at it as a time to hand out tooth decaying candy to a bunch of Disney Princesses, Harry Potters and Buzz Lightyear's, more power to them.

In my opinon, this holiday is so far removed today from its religious roots, that the religious connotations are meaningless to the majority of people. I think if we were to walk around Lawrence, or any other city in this country, and ask people want Halloween is for, 90% of them will say it is a time to eat candy, dress up and apparetnly, keep the police on high alert.


Amy Heeter 8 years, 5 months ago

That is true even the christmas tree began with the pagans. However others contributed to the current day we call halloween besides the Celts. I posted the following on a blog related to this. A brief history if you will.

Even if a person is going to go with the Celtic roots of the holiday ( as the blogger seems to have done) there is error in the presentation. About 2000 years ago Ireland part of England and another area ( now known as the U.K.) held a festival to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of harvest. The days were shorter, darker and colder thus it was associated with death. The Celts belived that the dead returned on this day and that because of their ( the ghost presence) the priest ability tp prophesy was stronger. These Druids( Celtic priests) would build large bonfires so people could burn crops and sacrifce animals. The Celtic people wore aminal skins and took turns telling each others fortunes. After the Romans conquered the Celts they combined two of their festivals with Samhain. Feralia( celebrated the dead) and the festival of Pomona who was the goddess of fruit and trees. ( ever wonder why bobbing for apples is a halloween game) Then came Pope Bonifice IV who tried to replace the existing festival( both Celtic and Roman combination) with Alhallowsmas( tanslation = All Saints Day). So yes the tradition has always been to honor or celebrate the dead as Celtic, as Celtic/Roman and as the catholic celebration

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