Halloween, Samhain, All Saints Day
What various faith
believe about Halloween
Attitudes of various religious groups:
Late in each October, newspapers throughout North America traditionally publish articles about
Halloween. In the past, many of these have consisted
mainly of interviews of local Christian leaders. They frequently contained
expressions of hatred against Wiccans, Witches and
A noticeable trend has developed in recent years. Some newspapers now include
Neopagans when sampling local religious opinions.
The Bergen Record newspaper in Bergen, NJ, is an excellent example. 1They
published a Halloween article on 1999-OCT-28. Their first interview is of a local Wiccan, Ellie, who apparently prefers to remain
anonymous. (This is fairly common among Wiccans; some still remain
deeply in the [broom] closet and celebrate their religion in secret for reasons
of personal security.)
The Bergen article included interviews of representatives of
Christianity, Ethical Culture, Islam, Judaism, and Wicca. On the other hand, an article in the
Salt Lake Tribune discussed only Christians' attitude towards Paganism
and Halloween. The writer did not bother to ask either a Pagan or other
non-Christian for their opinion. 2 An article in the L.A.
Times just before Halloween in the year 2000 also ignored the Pagan view.
They mentioned negative views from Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, and United
Methodist spokespersons. They included neutral views by a representatives
of the Episcopal church and of Mariners Church, Irvine CA. But they did
not include a Wiccan or other Neopagan's view. 4
There is a wide range of beliefs
about Halloween among Protestant churches. This is indicative of the
conservative / mainline / liberal split within Protestant
Christianity. Listed below are some responses from both articles:
Wicca: "Ellie" said that the
time of Halloween is a major Sabbat (seasonal day of celebration) among Wiccans.
She was identified as a North Jersey
teacher of Wicca. She wrote:
" We're light-hearted enough to understand it's
celebration for everyone, but we will do our spirituality
work...and we will be serious. But we also like to have fun...Wicca is a
pre-Christian religion that is not harmful, that has nothing to do with the
Islam: Armiya Nu'Man, Imam of Masjid Muhammad in
Jersey City, NJ, said that Halloween is:
"... not a religious holiday at all. It glorifies
evil. It's a Pagan holiday, and it glorifies devil worship."
The Rev. Terry Long of Calvary Chapel in Salt Lake City,
UT. He responded: "Exodus 22:18 reads,
'You shall not permit a sorceress to live.' It sounds to me like God
is serious about this issue...To have our kids dress up as witches
or the devil, if we have paper ghosts in our windows or have
tombstones in our yards or attend haunted houses, are we not
imitating evil, even glorifying it?" His church will offer
its seventh annual Hallelujah Party on Halloween. "There
will be games for the kids and it will be a time of Christ-centered
fun." He suggests that the condemnation of Wicca
in the Bible warns people not to mix with Wiccans: "Witchcraft
is not a game. There is no middle ground. All people, those involved
in Wicca included, are either saved by grace and love of God by
coming to him in simple faith, or are lost for all eternity."
The Rev. Ralph Fiorelli is pastor of the Bergenfield Assembly of
God Church. He said: "It's a day that's set aside for things
of darkness...things that are supernatural. In reality, it has nothing
to do with God." The church is opposed to children
trick-or-treating because of safety considerations and because it
glorifies Satan. They will offer a harvest celebration at church as an
The Rev. Mike Braun is pastor of the Covenant Community Church
Ramsey NJ. His congregation will "play down ghoulish aspects of the media-saturated
society." He added: "It's easier to put up pictures depicting Satanic
designs, which are contrary to God, than to put a cross up in public."
This is apparently a reference to crosses
and other religious objects in public schools or other
The Rev. Kevin McGuinness is pastor of the Cornerstone Bible Church in
River Vale, NJ. He notes that "There's nothing Christian about a
Christmas tree or Easter eggs...But the church has adopted these secular
customs...We try to promote the message of Christ," He is
encouraging young people to dress up as Biblical figures rather than as
ghoulish characters. This gives the church the opportunity to educate kids
about their beliefs.
The Rev. Eric Frye is pastor of The First Southern Baptist
Church of Salt Lake City. He attempts to ignore Halloween as
much as possible. He said: "It will be business as usual at
our church. There will be no official acknowledgement of the day. I
don't consider it a holiday in the true sense of the word.
Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving are holidays, or holy
days...Halloween is merely a modern cultural event that some
consider great fun, and others a great nuisance."
Commenting on Wicca, he said: "...their practices seem to
lean toward exaltation of human pride. Christianity is faith-based,
and is a quest for a relationship with God through the redemptive
mediation of Jesus Christ. Wicca and Christianity are the antithesis
of each other."
Mike Otterson, spokesperson for The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints said that the Church takes no stand on
Halloween: "For Latter-day Saints, the matter of how and if
to participate in Halloween-related activities is a matter of
personal choice." However, in 1999, Halloween came on a
Sunday. Otterson commented: "Sabbath observances preclude
any activities, whether related to Halloween or not, which tend to
diminish the significance of the Lord's Day."
The Rev. James B. Sullivan is the priest at Holy Trinity
Roman Catholic Church in
Fort Lee, NJ: He said: "My basic concern is the loss of the religious
significance and the emphasis that is placed on the
'spookiness' of the holiday celebration...It's unfortunate that honoring our beloved
and saints has been twisted into the celebration of
Halloween." He is probably concerned about lack of attention to All
Saints' Day and All Souls' Day by the public .
The Rev. Paul Kucynda is the priest at the Holy Resurrection
Russian Orthodox Church in Wayne. The church has a fall festival
at which the children of the congregation make scarecrows and play
||Mainline Christian denominations: |
The Rev. Harold Lay, is minister of the First Reformed Church, Saddle
Parents in the congregation have asked the church to sponsor a Halloween
party. Rev. Lay commented: "Although violent and ghoulish images
are not...very healthy, the congregation does not take issue with"
The Rev. John Lohr is minister of the Presbyterian Church at Franklin
Lakes, NJ. He said: "When we hold a [Halloween] party, it's not a
religious observance anymore than having an Easter
Bunny or Santa, which are cultural celebrations." He suggests that
Christians can learn from the Pagan seasonal days of celebration who
have a deeper understanding of the cycle of the seasons. This is an
apparent reference to equinoxes and solstices celebrated by
The Rev. Ronald Hodges is pastor of Salt Lake's Christ United
Methodist Church. He is not concerned about Halloween and its
Pagan origins. He said: "If [we] believe fully in the
ominipotence of God, then concern about witches, ghosts and goblins,
and things that go bump in the night, is misplaced. It is God alone
who rules creation, and persons need not fear...the dark side of the
human experience." Referring to Wiccans, he commented:
"We do not condemn [them]. Nor do we believe that what they
practice brings them the peace, hope or joy of the Christian faith."
The Rev. Darlene Avery, is the minister of Holladay United Church of Christ
(UCC) in Salt Lake City. She said:
"To be a Christian, one must contemplate and come to some terms with concepts
like life and death, sacrifice and atonement, good and evil...
Halloween is a healthy expression and outlet for those experiences."
She said she was "heartfully sorry'' for the Witch craze
in New England a little over three centuries ago.
"My religious forbearers in the UCC include the Puritans in Salem and other U.S. colonies who tried and executed 'witches,' who may or may
not have been involved in 'non-Christian' beliefs or practices. I would also entreat other Christians to acknowledge and learn from our sad past.
As an ordained minister...I am vowed to 'show Christian love to people of other faiths,' and I will love any of my neighbors and extend God-mandated
hospitality to the stranger."
Judaism: Rabbi Arthur Weiner is a rabbi at the Jewish Community
Center in Paramus, NJ. He explained that Halloween has no significance
for Jews. He is frustrated with youth who go to Halloween parties and miss Hebrew school. He is also "concerned with
Unitarian Universalist: No representative
from this very liberal religious group was interviewed. The Unitarian
Universalist Association recognizes many sources of beliefs among its
members: Judaism, Christianity, Humanism, and Earth Centered traditions,
including Neopaganism. A spokesperson would probably have the same positive
response to Halloween and Samhain as the Wiccan representative: it is a spiritual
time of reflection and fun.|
Ethical Culture Society (a humanistic
movement which makes no claim about belief in a Supreme Being): Dr. Joseph
Chuman is the leader of the Ethical Culture Society
of Bergen County, in Teaneck, NJ: He said: "Although Halloween has no special significance for the
Ethical Culture Society, our view is that it has evolved into
an American celebration," said Chuman. The society will be hosting a
party for its members. Chuman urges youth to go beyond the commercialism of
the holiday and use trick or treating to befriend their neighbors.
"Halloween: harmless fun or wicked influence?," The Bergen Record, Bergen, NJ, 1999-OCT-28. Online at:
Bob Mins, "Christians long leery of Paganism, " The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, UT, 1999-OCT-30. Online at:
T. Hargrove & G.H. Stempel III, "Poll indicates a haunted nation." Nando Times, 1999-OCT-27. Describes a poll by Scripps
Howard News Service and Ohio University during 1999-SEP/OCT. margin of error: 4%. Available at:
Dr. Muzammil Siddiqu, "Questions of faith: Is Halloween a holiday
that should be celebrated?," L.A. Times, 2000-OCT-28, Orange County
Edition, Metro section, Page B-6.
Copyright © 1999 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 1999-OCT-29.
Latest update: 2009-OCT-04
Author: B.A. Robinson