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RELIGIOUS PROPAGANDA IN THE SCHOOLS:

HALLOWEEN MANIA

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Much of the school-based religious propaganda, hatred and misinformation comes at Halloween time. This may be because the end of October and beginning of November includes three historically related observances:
bullet the secular holiday of Halloween, a fun time of pumpkins, witches, ghosts and vampires when the kiddies engage in the annual "trick or treat" shakedown.
bullet the pre-Christian, ancient religious celebration of Samhain, which is the most important seasonal day of celebration of Wiccans and other Neo-Pagans
bullet the Christian All Souls' or All Hallows' Day which was an adaptation of Samhain.

Propaganda seems to occur in one of two forms:
bullet attempts by devout believers in a religious faith to impose their beliefs upon a public school system
bullet programs within religious schools that teach hatred of faiths other than their own.

To most people, Halloween is a fun time. To others, it a time when Satan and his demons are particularly active, and when children are in real danger. The propaganda mills go into high speed at the end of October each year.

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What we see is a conflict between two world concepts:
bullet The "Belief of Satan under Every Rock": a fear which has remained essentially unchanged since the 15th Century, that Satan and his hordes of demons exist, are profoundly evil, and are ready to possess the mind of any child who engages in celebrations which have Pagan roots.
bullet The "Secular View": a belief that children can engage in fantasy and enjoy what has become a secular holiday without endangering their eternal souls.

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Religious Intolerance In Religious School

The Sunday News, a weekly tabloid from New Zealand contained an article in its 1995-OCT-22 edition: CHRISTIAN SCHOOL PUTS HEX ON WITCHES by Neil Reid.

A local Christian school, Bethlehem College, banned a number of children's classics, including "Bad Jelly The Witch" by Spike Milligan. Pages of some textbooks were either ripped out or glued together. According to principal Graham Preston, the banned books and songs described Witches in a "fun sense". He mentioned that the school was determined to produce "pure thinking kids".

As described elsewhere at this site, the term Witch currently has two mutually exclusive meanings:
bullet followers of a benign religion, Wicca, the pre-Christian faith of the Celtic people
bullet non-existant, evil cannibals and Satan worshipers, a belief left over from the Witch burning times of the Renaissance.
This school wants to preserve the latter meaning of "Witchcraft" by withholding any positive image of real Witches from the children. Books portraying Witches in an evil light will probably be permitted in the school. This will guarantee that the discrimination and persecution of Witches, which started about 1450 CE in Western Europe, will continue into the next millennium. Many conservative Christians will continue to live in fear of evil people who do not exist.

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Attempt to Suppress Halloween Celebration

On 1995-OCT-18 at about 10:00 hrs, CNN carried a short report of a school controversy in Los Altos CA. The public school's traditional celebration of Halloween was being opposed by people which CNN identified as "conservative Christians". During a meeting of the school board meeting:
bullet A woman said, simply: "Don't Mess with Halloween"
bullet A man said "Don't scare our children by treating ghosts or goblins or demons as if they were real and endangering their souls."
bullet A second woman said "I'd like to speak about the parents of the children who were ritually abused by Witches. Those children were hurt by Witches." (This is another example of how some conservative Christians do not differentiate between real Witches (Wiccans), and the imaginary kind left over from the Witch burning times).
bullet Eric Prior, a well known opponent of Wicca, Neo-Paganism, Unitarian-Universalism and Humanism was introduced as a "Witch turned preacher". He said "I got involved with Satanism when I was ten years old. I have seen sacrificed human bodies. It all got started for me going out and playing Halloween games...and one thing led to another.". (Again, there is the confusion of Witches with Satanists, and the confusion of both with the baby-killing fables of the "burning times".) Eric was waving a copy of a commercial video tape "Satanic Cults". Behind him, an incredibly bored looking police officer was looking over a duplicate copy. He did not seem at all concerned about Eric's statement that he had seen the results of human sacrifices.
The result of the school board meeting was that Halloween will be celebrated as usual in 1995 in the public schools of Los Altos.

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Separation of Church and State Issue

The Orlando Sentinel (1995-DEC-7) reported on a suit filed by a Robert Guyer of Gainesville FL about the celebration of Halloween at his son's school. His claim was that Witches, cauldrons and brooms were religious symbols. Thus the celebration violated the principle of separation between church and state.

His appeal was turned down by the Florida Supreme Court in 1994-JUL; the US Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal in 1995-DEC. Perhaps the courts looked upon Halloween symbols as more cultural than religious.

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Anti-Halloween Religious Propaganda

For an analysis of anti-Halloween propaganda see HALLOWEEN: MYTHS, MONSTERS AND DEVILS", a 26 page essay by W.J. Bethancourt III at: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/6696/hallows.htm
His introduction mentions: "Every year, right around Halloween, we are treated to an outpouring of what can only be described as "scare" literature telling us all about how the holiday is 'satanic' and evil, and should not be celebrated by Christians. These opinions are backed up with some rather unusual, and very frightening, fantasies masquerading as historical facts."

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Werewolves, Vampires and Zombies

Stories about strange, unnatural creatures have terrified people for centuries. There is often a resurgence of interest in these deviate life forms at Halloween. They have a natural explanation:
bullet Werewolves are supposed to be normal looking humans who change into the form of a wolf at night - particularly under the light of a full moon. These beliefs, which were particularly popular in France in the 18th Century, are probably based on a disorder called congenital generalized hypertricosis which caused extreme hairiness all over the body - even the eye lids. Such people would tend to stay indoors, out of sight during the day, and emerge only at night.
bullet Vampires are supposed to be people who died by their own hand, were never baptized, were a heretic or who had been bitten by another vampire. They also shunned the daylight and roamed only at night seeking victims. Those who he bit (most vampires were male) wasted away and died. He could appear in the form of a bat or even be invisible. These beliefs seem to have come from two sources:
bullet vampire bats do attack mammals, make an incision and lick blood
bullet before tuberculosis was effectively treated, members of a family would often catch it from each other, falling sick and wasting away. They would believe that the first person who sickened was the vampire.
bullet Zombies are believed to be a dead person who has been reactivated through the use of magic. The zombie remains dead but appears to be alive and remains under the total control of the magician. This belief is widespread among people who watch Hollywood horror movies on Voodoo, and among people who follow the religion of Vodun. It has an element of reality: some Vodun potions include a toxin that can induce a temporary coma like state. In Haiti where Vodun is widely followed as an overlay to Roman Catholicism, everyone has heard stories of Zombies but very, very few have actually seen one.

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