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Accuracy in Evangelical Christian writings:

When this collection of essays on Halloween was initially written in 1997, almost all Halloween web sites by conservative Christians had gross inaccuracies. Very few authors based their writing on primary sources. Instead, they used secondary, conservative Christian writings filled with errors. Some of the most popular misconceptions were:

bulletThat Samhain was a Celtic God of the Dead.
bulletThat Druids and Wiccans -- both ancient and modern -- engage in human sacrifice.
bulletThat followers of Satanism, Wicca, and other Neopagan religions all worshiped Satan.

In recent years, some conservative Christians have begun to write much more accurate essays about Halloween, Wiccan and other Neopagan traditions. Neopaganism is treated as a collection of non-Christian religions that are unique faith groups in their own right, rather than as a group of anti-Christian religions. Many of the non-historical beliefs have been dropped. This type of writing is still rarely found among conservative Christians. However, its existence bodes well for the future.

Two essays are analyzed below.

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Rafael Martiniz:

Rafael Martiniz is the director of the Tennessee Valley Bible Students Association and its "Spirit Watch" web site. His essay is titled: "Halloween: Treat or Trick?" 1

bulletIntroduction: He describes the common belief that Halloween is "just another harmless season of celebration and party-going."
bulletHalloween source: He writes: "the underlying essence of our celebrations of Halloween is based upon  modern Wiccan interpretations of pre-Christian paganism..." Most historians would probably disagree with this belief. One reason is that Halloween has been in existence a lot longer than Wicca. Wicca and modern-day Halloween activities are separate traditions, the former religious and the latter secular. Both are linked to ancient, Celtic, pre-Christian practices. The situation is similar to the belief among some conservative Christians about believers in the theory of evolution -- that the latter believe that humans were descendent from apes. This is an often repeated error even now -- a century after the death of Charles Darwin. Scientists generally believe that humans and apes had a common ancestor. They believe that humans did not get their DNA from apes. Rather, human and ape DNA can be traced back to an ancient animal from which they have both descended.
bulletWicca: Although he has not established that modern-day Halloween practices derived from Wicca or from another Neopagan tradition, he tackles Wiccan and Paganism for much of the remainder of his essay:
bulletThe Occult: He states that Halloween involves: "...occultic  rites and practices that Christians should have no dealings with." Some might argue that it is no longer accurate to include Wicca under the catchall term of "Occultic." In Occultic religions, pastimes, and other activities, knowledge is kept secret from the public and only released to initiates in small quantities during a lengthy training session. That may have been true in the early decades of Wicca, within its more tightly structured traditions such as Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca. However, much of modern day Wicca is eclectic in nature. Beliefs and practices are generally shared at Pagan festivals. Full descriptions of most traditions can be obtained from books which are sold in any large book store. There is a growing realization that Wicca and other forms of Paganism are simply ordinary religions, like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Thus, casual involvement by a Christian in Wiccan activities (e.g. watching a public Pagan solstice ritual) would be as harmless as taking a tour of a Mosque or Synagogue.
bulletDeity: Martiniz describes Paganism as being based on both:
bulletPolytheism in which followers believe in multiple deities, and
bulletPantheism in which believers see every existing entity (humans, animals, etc.) as a part of deity.

Others might argue that Wicca and other Neopagan traditions are based on:

bulletMonotheism, because believers ultimately recognize only one supreme, genderless deity, sometimes called "The All," or "The One." Alternatively, Neopaganism could be considered as:
bulletHenotheism, because believers recognize a single deity, of whom gods and goddesses (or the Goddess and her Consort) are viewed as different aspects of that supreme deity.
bulletHistory: Martiniz accurately describes Druidism; Celtic practices; the Celtic end-of-the-warm-season festival "Samhain;" and adoption of festival into Christianity by the early Church.
bulletRitual: He differentiates between Christianity and Paganism in the area of ritual. But it might be argued that differences are not that great. Both religions create sacred space and invoke deity during their rituals. They both frequently attempt to change the future: Christianity via prayer; Pagans via magick.
bulletSymbols: The main point of his essay is a perceived linkage between Pagan rituals and secular Halloween activities:
bulletPagans, on rare occasions, use masks during rituals. Children sometimes wear masks with their  Halloween costumes.
bulletCandles are often used in Pagan rituals. At Halloween, people sometimes place candles inside Jack-O-Lanterns.
bulletSome Pagans wearing black clothing because black is the color that they associate with life. (White, the color of bones, is associated with death.) Some children wear dark clothing at Halloween, although it is not recommended for safety reasons.
bulletHe also cites two Pagan rituals which appear to have no corresponding secular Halloween rituals:
bulletNecromacy (contact with the dead).
bulletDivining the future.
bulletHe likens trick-or-treating with Muck Olla referred to by another Christian web site as an alleged "early Druid [sic] deity." 2 Still another Christian web site refers to Muck Olla as a Celtic sun god. 3 "Muck" is in reality a type of mythical boogie-man from Yorkshire in England. His name is grounded in old folk stories; he never existed as a Druidic deity. Martiniz notes that in ancient times, there was an implied threat that if the home owner didn't dispense candy to the children, that they would experience misfortune. This he compares to the modern Halloween ritual where the kids come to the door asking for candies.

The question posed by the "Halloween: Treat or Trick?" essay is whether a child's Halloween mask, or a candle in a Jack-O-Lantern are directly linked to ancient Pagan ritual. Or are they just a harmless mask and candle. Is the activity of a child, whose only concern is getting candy at a front door, somehow linked to to the practice of satisfying an ancient Celtic God centuries ago?

If the children's activities are considered to be linked to Paganism, then one must logically tackle Christmas next. The Christmas tree, yule log, mistletoe, ivy, Santa Claus, the exchange of presents, the choice of DEC-25, and other traditions are all traceable back to ancient Pagan customs. They too would have to go.

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Bob and Gretchen Passantino:

The Passantinos lead Answers in Action a "dynamic non-profit, evangelical, Christian organization based in Costa Mesa, California, which trains individuals to think logically and reasonably about all things." They have published an essay, copyrighted 1990, titled: "What about Halloween?

bulletThe first two-thirds of the essay deals accurately with:
bulletPublic perceptions about Halloween.
bulletThe acceptance of the Celtic festival of Samhain into Roman Catholicism as All Saints Day, and into Protestant Christianity as Reformation Day.
bulletThe traditions of Pagan Celtic festival of Samhain; Wicca is not mentioned in their essay.
bulletThe source of Halloween customs, which they explain are derived from ancient Paganism -- not modern-day Wicca.
bulletThis material is followed by the clarification of some false rumors:
bulletThat Halloween is the most important Satanic day of celebration; the most important day is actually the Satanist's own birthday.
bulletSatanic crime occurs rarely, and largely consists of vandalism and rowdy behavior. They imply that the perpetrators are generally teens.
bulletSatanists don't search out "Christian virgins" to rape.
bulletOccasionally, a sociopath will commit a crime and blame it on Satanism. (The "Devil made me do it" defense.)  But the prime motivation is their mental illness.
bulletPoisoned or adulterated candies are not a major risk.
bulletFinally, they conclude with Christians' responses to Halloween:
bulletIsolate themselves from the secular celebration.
bulletHold a community party, or a party with friends.
bulletAllow their children to "trick or treat", dressed as Bible characters.
bulletHold Harvest Festivals at church as an alterative to Halloween.
bulletSponsor Hell Houses to portray the Hell that awaits the unsaved.
bulletMake up food baskets and distribute them to the poor.

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  1. Rafael Martiniz, "Halloween: Treat or Trick?" at: http://www.spiritwatch.org/occhallow.htm
  2. Mrs. Gloria Phillips, "Halloween: What It Is From A Christian Perspective," at: http://www.webzonecom.com/ccn/cults/issu37.txt
  3. David L. Brown, "The Dark Side of Halloween", LOGOS Communication Consortium, at: http://www.execpc.com/~dlbrown/logos/halloween.html
  4. Bob and Gretchen Passantino, "What about Halloween?" Answers in Action at: http://www.answers.org/Issues/Halloween.html

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Essay copyright 1997 to 2001 incl., Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2001-OCT-26
Author: B.A. Robinson

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