Christians & Halloween


Why do some Christians have such a problem with Halloween? It’s just kids dressing up to be scarier than the things which scare them which seems quite healthy. Every year my teacher friends receive letters from religious parents requesting that their kids do not take part in school Halloween events.

 Despite the work of many religious believers to de-literalise their holy books, some do believe that angels are real. The corollary of that I suppose would be that they believe demons are real too. Maybe they feel that the images of Halloween are too gruesome and disturbing for young minds yet those same parents might present their children with pictures of a tortured naked man nailed to a cross.

 A few months ago I took part in a public discussion about the nature of “spirituality” with a former President of the Pagan Federation who is now its National Interfaith Officer. We agreed about many things. He described himself as “a deeply religious man.” To paraphrase a well-known phrase often debated in December, I’m sure he knew the “real meaning” of Halloween. Based on the ancient harvest festival of Samhain, Halloween, like Christmas, has psychological and seasonal resonance for everyone regardless of the modern mythology attached to it by any one religion.

 Parents of course must be free to request their child’s non-participation in Halloween events but we should remember that all Scottish schools are still statutorily obliged to hold Religious Observance throughout the year. Depending on the ethos of the school these assemblies can sometimes simply be Christian worship and are often led by evangelising outsiders.  Families who have read the small print know that they can ask that the school provides alternative activities for their child at those times but many are concerned not to stigmatise their child or become “that awkward parent.” Do those Christians who object to Halloween get the irony ?

Two non-religious friends of mine are happily supporting their daughter Clara in her excitement about being a donkey in the Christmas nativity play.

Is that any different from dressing up as a witch at Halloween?

Neil Barber

Communications Officer

Edinburgh Secular Society

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