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Red Letters

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

It’s that time of year again – the second most popular holiday behind Christmas. There are many names given for this season: “Halloween,” “All Saints Day,” “The Devils Day,” “Hallelujah Night,” and “Fall Festival.” The origins of this go back to at least the fourth century. It was quite popular in pre-Christian Ireland and Scotland. The Celtic year ended on October 31, the eve of Samhain,
and was celebrated with both religious and harvest rites. For the
Druids, Samhain was both the “end of summer” and a
festival of the dead. When St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland, he had a way of
accommodating certain pagan customs, which the people incorporated into
Christian beliefs. It’s interesting that he brought Christianity to these beliefs.

Halloween is also a sort of marker in the calendar, a turning
point in our year, when the fallen leaves and passing of a season are swept away by the pre-winds of winter and we brace
ourselves for the uncertainties of a dreary dark winter. I’m reminded of this as I listen to Sting’s album, “If On a Winter’s night.”  


Thumbnail image for pumkinfaces.jpg

If Halloween is not for you, lighten your spirit! Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner. If this season tells us anything, it speaks to the need we all have for celebrations that brighten the dark times. 

There are many opinions by Christians about this particular holiday. How should Christians celebrate Halloween? Should they celebrate it as is, alternatively, or ignore it all together? 


Is it right to hand out candy if your own children are not allowed to
go trick or treating?  Do you allow your child to dress up at school
only or to participate in the “fall festival”?

Romans 14:5-9 has something to say on this issue:

What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to–all the way from life to death and everything in between–not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.”


I know I’m throwing a bit of a wrench into this but some things really aren’t black and white as we’d like them to be. What I
choose to do may be completely opposite from what you choose to do. So
the answer to the question about how should Christians handle Halloween
is between you and God. You may feel right before God about
the choice you make.  However if there is any doubt then it
should be reconsidered. 

I’m curious, how are you choosing to celebrate Halloween this year? 

Comments read comments(32)
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Mary Anne Beckworth

posted October 28, 2010 at 8:47 am

As a family, we attend a Fall Carnival at our church. It’s a wonderful time of celebration and the kids love to dress up and be with friends and family. Thanks for a great article on Halloween that really made me think.

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Matt Levitt

posted October 28, 2010 at 8:50 am

Family pumpkin carving is our favorite! We try to teach our kids how to engage in culture, not run away from it. We talk about what evil is, what’s good, what’s bad, who God is. Then we go trick or treating and enjoy the celebration. We’re not celebrating dead people and goblins, but the God of the harvest, of Halloween, and of all things.

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posted October 28, 2010 at 8:52 am

I am choosing to dress up and have fun. Meron will be dressing up as Troy Polamalu (since they share the same hair and complexion) and she is pretty excited about it.
No ghouls or goblins, witches or scariness. Just fun. Hanging out with friends. Eating chili. Walking to a few houses in our fun costumes.
Not sure what God thinks of it all. I don’t get that icky pit of the stomach feeling around it which is how he usually talks to me – so I am hoping we’re okay…
Maybe next year we’ll all dress up as missionaries – that seems safe…

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Tom Davis

posted October 28, 2010 at 8:57 am

Tymm – anyone who dresses up as a Steeler rocks in my book! :) Great inside look into your family. Sounds like a blast! Hope to see you at the Mid-Atlantic Summit.

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Kirsten Vogel

posted October 28, 2010 at 9:03 am

You can click to read my blog post about why I dislike Halloween. It’s not that I agree or disagree one way or another, but I AM tired of it. Oh, and my kids are dressing up…. just haven’t figured out the whole trick or treating thing yet this year. (Although most years we’ve done it).

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Mary Beth

posted October 28, 2010 at 9:24 am

When I was a kid, we didn’t celebrate Halloween most of the time. But when my husband and I got married, we decided we would hand out candy to trick or treaters. How could we ignore our neighbors on the one day of the year that they are actually asking us to interact with them? It seemed to me that it would hurt our credibility.
Now that we have three little kids, our kids are dressing up, and we will trick or treat a little. We’ll probably visit a church festival too.
I hate the scary stuff, so we will avoid that at all costs, but I want to take part in redeeming Halloween. I want my children to have fun dressing up, and I want to take this opportunity to show my neighbors that I’m interested in them.

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Tania Daniels

posted October 28, 2010 at 9:35 am
I talked about why our family doesn’t celebrate Halloween on my blog above. For us it comes to two main reasons: 1) The origins, symbols and meaning of Halloween are evil and we don’t want to take part in it and 2) We desire that all of our actions would be pleasing to the Lord and we don’t see how we can reconcile this holiday with our consciences.
That said, we have five little children and are grateful to the churches which have Fall Festivals as an alternative. That is what our children will be doing.
I think some points from an article by Vision Forum, were good on this subject:
The Five Scariest Things
You Can Do This Halloween
The fear of the Lord is to hate evil. (Proverbs 8:13)
By Doug Phillips
Our country is in the grip of a fear crisis. The tension because of this fear is almost palpable. There is fear over elections, fear over the economy, and fear over hundreds of other issues ranging from the environment to terrorism.
The one fear that America is missing is a fear of the Lord. As a people, we no longer fear God. Because we do not fear God, we no longer hate evil (Proverbs 8:13).
Instead of hating evil, Americans toy with it. We toy with holidays like Halloween that were conceived in evil and that promote the “cute-ification” of evil, whether that evil takes the form of witchcraft, sorcery, ghoulishness, or some other form of malevolent imagery paraded before our children. We laugh at the very things that the Lord describes as “abominations,” and we find ourselves obsessively fascinated by, and attracted to, all things dark.
Yet we do not fear the Lord.
Those who “hate evil” are very scary to a secular society that fears man more than God. They are scary because they dare to declare that there are absolute standards by which society must be governed. They are scary because, if they are successful, industries like Hollywood that make billions of dollars by promoting ungodly fear will lose their influence. They are scary because such people will not be swayed by political candidates who use fear as a tool for manipulation.
With this in mind, I offer you the five “scariest” things you can do this Halloween:
The scariest thing you can do this Halloween is to not make light of evil. Halloween was conceived in evil and has remained a celebration that uses children to promote a fascination with darkness and superstitious fear. Simultaneously, it makes light of things that the Bible describes as evil. Stand against such things, and the world will find you very scary indeed. The fear of the Lord makes men turn from evil (Proverbs 16:6).
The scariest thing you can do this Halloween is to not be fearful. The media wants you to be afraid of everything from overpopulation to global warming. The politicians want you to be afraid of the economy and political instability. God wants you to do what is morally right, trust Him completely, and never be gripped by an ungodly spirit of fear. You can place your trust and hope for this nation in the King of Kings. Jesus said: “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (Luke 12:4-5). Believe this, and you will be light to the world.
The scariest thing you can do this Halloween is to completely skip Halloween and remember Reformation Day. It was 493 years ago that Martin Luther nailed his world-changing 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church. These theses included rebukes to ungodly fear and superstition. 501 years ago, sometime near October 31, a baby named John Calvin was conceived who would dedicate his life to eradicating an ungodly fear of superstitious beliefs and proclaiming the gospel of grace. His emphasis on reformation, revival, and the sufficiency of Scripture had such far-reaching implications for nations like the United States that he has been described by Christian and secular scholars alike as the true founding father of America. The Reformers did something that was very scary to the world of their day. They stood against all forms of dark superstitions which grip the minds and souls of men. It was their emphasis on the fear of the Lord and the wisdom of Holy Scripture that was used by God to liberate untold numbers of men and women. But to remember the Reformers instead of Halloween is very scary to the world. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).
The scariest thing you can do this Halloween is to refuse to watch or allow your children to watch any of the toxic Halloween and horror films emerging from Hollywood. America’s fascination with ungodly fear has made horror the most popular and fastest-growing film genre amoung youth. When parents allow their children to toy with this genre, they promote ungodly fear, and they contribute to the fear-factories in Hollywood that prey upon the youth of our culture. Say “no” to Hollywood horror and you will be dangerously scary to the media elite. “Fear ye not me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at my presence….?” (Jeremiah 5:22).
(excerpts taken from the article)

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Paul Metler

posted October 28, 2010 at 9:37 am

Great article Tom. As a pastor, I have faced the question more than once. Our congregation offers a “safe place” for our community to celebrate and experience the love of Christ. If it is a blessing to give a cup of cold water, it can be a blessing to give some candy in the name of Jesus. To be sure, Halloween also reveals a dark side in our world – the hunger of so many who seek all kinds of spiritual experiences apart from God. With regard to that concern, I have shared a quote from Frederick Buechner with the church: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Blessings old friend.

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posted October 28, 2010 at 9:40 am

Timely blog for me. I have been struggling with this all night. God has blessed me with two beautiful little girls through adoption. I vowed to raise them to be separate from the world and sold out to Him. We have talked about the holidays, all of them not just Halloween have been so distorted by the world. But last night my youngest who is 4 and in preschool is struggling with what the Halloween party at school tomorrow means for her. She wants to honor Jesus but has been told that witches and demons are OK because it’s a holiday. “Even Dora mommy likes witches”. Watching this little one struggle with this last night my spirit ached and a feeling of conviction came over me for allowing the world to creep into her little life. Not sure what the Holy Spirit is showing me here but he is working on something! I would love prayer and input here.

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Russ Gordon

posted October 28, 2010 at 10:09 am

Tom, our family has transitioned over the years from not doing anything when they were small, to handing out candy (what good are Christians if they’re perceived as being mean spirited) to attending our local church functions (there’s almost always been one going on.) Now that our kids are older, we allow them to have a party at our house and go trick or treating. We encourage costumes and behavior that are positive and funny- never dark or evil and we make it a fun time for them. The worst thing we can do is create memories for our kids that their parents were hiding behind locked doors judging the world. At some point, they have to start to discern for themselves what is o.k. otherwise we haven’t done a very good job of instructing them in the Word.

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Julie @ Inspired to Write

posted October 28, 2010 at 10:11 am

This is a good post and a great perspective. I think it IS between you and God and I LOVE that scripture from Romans. Too many of us get caught up in the legalistic things of what we should or should NOT do, instead of loving the Lord, and celebrating HIS love, whether it falls on October 31 or August 31st. Christmas itself has gotten very secular over the years. But, I still celebrate that day. We do everything for the glory of God. Simple.

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posted October 28, 2010 at 10:17 am

Great post Tania, as we are in the same belief. We feel that there is a sense of compromise that is being made that dims the light within us when we should be doing nothing that glorifies or has the appearance of glorifying evil. Do my neighbor children dress as demons? No, probably not, but they are now of the age where they are taking notice of the butchered head mask in the Walmart next to the super hero costume or in the cable programming that occurs this time of year that is getting intensely more graphic and wicked. I was flipping channels the other night and it was more than 1980s Mike Myers and Jason on the screen. I was amazed at the depravity, the demonic, and the sheer evil that was present on channel after channel and this was on the “safe” basic channels, not pay-per-view or premium. There is an increasing bombardment to push the family and the child’s mind from the purity of righteousness and the holy through the innocent compromises that so many of us continually take for granted. To truly draw a line in the sand and take a stand of absolute holiness puts one at odds with the whole world and sadly many christians. It’s uncomfortable to be around “those” people. But this is exactly what God is saying to us when He tells us to “come out from among them” and to “be Holy (seperated unto myself) for I am Holy”.
As for candy, this year our church is doing a “Hallelujah Party” during Sunday school. No costumes, just an hour and a half of kids having fun, playing games, and getting more candy than they know what to do with. I see no harm in Fall Harvest parties but they don’t necessarily need to “substitute” Halloween. Have them anytime in the fall. Bobbing for apples, enjoying the leaf piles, hay rides – it’s all great fun that should be enjoyed – all while thanking the One who blesses us so richly in this great land of super abundance!

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Michael Dixon

posted October 28, 2010 at 10:25 am

Pick out the bones and eat the chicken. Redeem everything.

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posted October 28, 2010 at 11:33 am

I use to toss back and fourth about this topic and I personally really don’t care for this day…but Our family always dresses up , we visit church festivals, which I have to wonder if some Christians view this as total sin, then why do churches have “fall festivals”…I mean really it is the same..dressing up and games etc.. Does it make people feel better about things if they go to a church? Anyway we do attend the church festivals and we do dress up as a family and go visit our friends! We are not celebrating any form of evil within our selves. But just having fun with dressing up. I also own a dance studio and this week allowing the children to dress up if they want, we play fun games and eat fun snacks as well.

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posted October 28, 2010 at 11:36 am

chirstans should have the freedom to do so

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posted October 28, 2010 at 12:14 pm

We don’t, we haven’t and we won’t particpate. My thoughts on it are that we do not encourage our children to tinker with things occult any other day of the year and that disguising them in candy and games doesn’t make them any less occult. The underlying themes of witchcraft and demonic activty have no place in our lives any day of the year but Americans in their fun-loving ignorance have invited satan into a day of the year with no restraints. That day has turned into amore than a month with all the store hype and sales promotions of things demonic scary, occult, and just plain ugly. There’s nothing Phil. 4: 8 about it anywhere. Because we hae a lot of new believers in our circle lately, I think its even more important to remember not to cause anyone else to stumble. IF we say “avoid the very appearance of evil” but play with halloween, what message do we send? IF we quote “resist the devil an he will flee from you” but invite the things of the devil (again occult costumes, dead-play toys and symbols, witches and ghosts) into a “Celebration” of candy and “fun, what message do we send? We’ll flee the devil tomorrow??? On the surface this “one day” may look like “simple fun” but lighten up??? I don’t think so. The enemy is prowling like a lion to see whom he can devour. IF I’m munching Halloween candy and lugging my kids around in the dark amongst demon-mimicking chidlren and their ghostly-ghouly looking friends, I might just be the next thing “munched on” and it won’t be by a hardy late-fall mosquito.
Have a blessed day what ever you all do on the 31st, but can we really ask God to bless us when we praticipate in something that condones and promotes anything of the devil and encourages others to do the same? That’s my question.

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posted October 28, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Halloween has lots of history. Just google Hallowen History. Here’s one link.
Children are intrigued by the costumes and events surrounding Halloween and can feel they are missing out on some fun, even if you explain that many of the celebrations are not pleasing to God. Many churches offer alternative activities to Halloween to provide a Godly atmosphere and redeem the day that has come to encompass dark practices and festivities.
We have had Bible character costume and pumkin redemption contests at church and school with activities set in the heavenlies or harvest themed activities. The children love it and others in the community appreciate having a safe place and Christian atmosphere in which their children may participate.

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posted October 28, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Celebrating Halloween is a decision that is definately between us and God. For our family it looks different every year depending on how God is leading us. Our kids never dress in anything that would be dishonoring to God when they go out to trick-or-treat. We used to trick-or-treat for unicef when I was young. A couple of years ago my son made a change jar with information on Swaziland on the outside of it about Swazi orphans and he took it out on Halloween when went out to trick-or-treat with his friends. He raised close to $100 to give to The Third Project at WVC which supports a certain carepoint and the money goes to support Swazi orphans. It was also a great way to share about the neeeds in Swaziland with people in our nieghborhood. This year my girls are enjoying pumpkin carving and fun activities with neighbors and then going ot to T-or-T. My son and I are volunteering that night at a community center in town where we are serving with a group of believers to provide a Halloween party for underprivileged kids. We have also had years where we have gone to Fall festivals at New Life or Pulpit Rock, but most years we have felt comfortable letting our kids go out to T-or-T. Each year looks diffferent at Halloween time and I think it is really important to follow God’s leading and the Holy Spirit even on a holiday like Halloween.

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Ron Block

posted October 28, 2010 at 1:41 pm

As Christians, we have to stop living in fear. FEAR. Fear of anything but the Lord (the reverent kind of fear) ruins our lives. Christians are afraid of sex, afraid of drink, afraid of dancing, afraid of Halloween, afraid of Harry Potter, afraid of Obama, afraid of a ministry that re-forms young drug/alcohol addicts moving in up the road. The list is endless.
I’ve said this before, but to LAW our kids (”NO HARRY POTTER! OR ELSE’) will quite often create Preacher’s Kid Syndrome – kids who read Harry Potter when their parents aren’t looking, who are obsessed with Harry Potter. Or they will become legalistic anti-Potterites, judging those who read it. I’ve used Harry Potter as a catalyst for talking to my son about Story, about Satan, the reality of the Dark Side, possession, etc. Halloween can be the same – it can become a study of the origins of Halloween, abuses of it, and right use.
Nearly everything has a right use and a wrong use. Halloween is one of those many things.
My son has at times been a carrot, a young Obi Wan, complete with beard, a zombie, and a skeleton. I went that year as The Grim Rapper.

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posted October 28, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I found a great blogpost a little bit ago that talked about a devotion they’d found to use when carving pumpkins— there’s a mess inside us, we cant get it out ourselves, God cleans us out, gives us joy (smiling jack-o-lantern face) and uses the clean spot he made to put his light inside us to shine out for others to see!
We had a blast using this with our small children this year. In a couple of days I’ll have a blog post about it up here:
Mr Davis, in reference to another blog post of yours, you asked me for my email address so I could get a list of links where I could Christmas shop to support the poor. My address is: Thanks!

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posted October 28, 2010 at 3:51 pm

I’m in the camp of “it’s between you and God.” I grew up dressing as anything from a strawberry to a witch. I think it was from Wizard of Oz. I don’t have kids, so I guess it’s a moot point, but I’ve always been annoyed by the “fall/harvest parties” that simply celebrate the same halloween activities, only with a Christian veil. After reading this article, I need to remember that if someone genuinely feels stongly against celebrating any form of halloween, I need to let them be free to feel this. I just wish they’d give me the same freedom to feel the way I do.

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Rachel N

posted October 28, 2010 at 5:31 pm

We are new parents of two children born in Ethiopia. Our plan is to celebrate “Reformation Day” at our church’s Reformation Fest, as well as “Daddy’s birthday” which happens to fall on Oct 31st (plus our new daughter’s bday is Nov 1). Here’s how we look at it: Thanksgiving celebrates our American roots, Christmas and Easter celebrate our Savior… Halloween? To put it simply, it’s nothing to celebrate. This weekend we will celebrate the Reformation by beginning to teach our kids about great men like Luther and Calvin, then we will celebrate birthdays, then we will set our sights on Thanksgiving.

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posted October 28, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Thanks Tom, for this thoughtful and thought-provoking post with great comments and discussion to follow. I’m a bit worn by all the “spriritual b.o.” surrounding this season and this is a timely reminder for each of us.

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Becky C.

posted October 28, 2010 at 7:20 pm

What could be more fun as a kid than to dress up in a costume, knock on neighbor’s doors, and have them give you free candy? Almost as fun as waiting on the big guy in the red suit to drop down the chimney!
So yes, we took our kids trick-or-treating. But no, I’m not fond of real gorey or scary costumes or decorations. Balance and common sense!!

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posted October 29, 2010 at 1:06 pm

I am inclined to agree with Tom’s posts on Halloween. I read Tania’s comment and it’s interesting, it actually reminds me the most of some of my Jehovah’s Witness’ friends convictions. And…I think the bottom line is that it is more about personal CONVICTIONS than anything else; if a person feels strongly about participating or not participating in a holiday I certainly believe in honoring one’s own convictions. Blessed is the man that does not condemn the things of which he approves.
having said that, though…and I know many of you will disagree…I keep seeing this mentioning of the ‘occult’…I think that maybe we unintentionally undermine our and our children’s faith and strength in Christ and the Holy Spirit of G-d when we attribute such power to some ‘occultic’ entities to which superstitions our ancient cultures both feared and worshipped. We should CERTAINLY not be afraid of ‘ghosts and witches and ghouls’ more than we have confidence in our G-d to protect us. Not that I am advocating that one play with ‘evil'; but what is evil in and of itself of dressing up like traditional spooks and choosing to laugh instead of fear these boogie men? That your poking fun is going to ATTRACT the real boogie men and G-d might not be sufficient to protect you? When so many people dress up and go trick or treating Halloween and virtually nobody takes it seriously? Do we really want to encourage our children to believe there might be a boogie man waiting for them in the closet someday?
Whether superstition or whether any such things are related to spiritual realities of which many if not most of us would rather not be aware in this lifetime…greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Do you really BELIEVE that? Do you have FAITH that is so?
My 8 year old stepdaughter asked me about ghosts; she was afraid. Not so many people believe there are witches that can perform miracles or evil spells; many more believe in ghosts and she knows people that believe in ghosts. I told her this; that is does not matter to US whether there are or are not. G-d protects us, regardless. The name of Jesus has power over all things. Never forget this. This is our strength.
It is said about our G-d, that even in the depths of hell He is with us. Christians are told to be IN the world but not OF the world…if Christ’s church is the salt of the earth; then in what condition will the earth be when the salt will not deign to sprinkle itself throughout the whole?
What happens to the world and our community if we all hide ourselves behind our church walls and locked doors? What happens to the unchurched children that have no access to a church or to people that are committed to the message of Christ? If all
‘Christians’ were to bar their doors to them? What message do you send to those outside of Christianity when you are so clearly afraid to participate in a holiday of which may open the door to some ‘evil’ that may come snatch you out of the arms of Christ? Who would want such a weak savior?

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Steve Coats

posted October 30, 2010 at 3:53 pm

One year we used carving pumpkins as a teaching moment. We told the kids that carving a pumpkin was like their life. We look inside and scoop out all the “guts”. Those guts were the sin that is inside of us. Then when Jesus takes away our sin our light can shine out. Enter the candle. My kids even went as far to carve the words Jesus, and a Cross in the pumpkins so that when the candles were lit, the light shone through as Jesus or a Cross. I thought it was kind of cool. If you look close enough, you realize that God can take any dark moment and turn it light for his glory. Yes?

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Cassandra Brown

posted October 17, 2011 at 9:29 am

I think it’s interesting to note that as a Christian positioned to provide commentary on an issue as steeped in evil tradition as the Halloween holiday, you’ve taken the stance of being halted between two opinions. Clearly everything we do is as result of choice, but when choosing to live for Christ we are admonished,”be not conformed to this world…..” St. Patrick is depicted here as being somewhat of a pacifist, compromising Christian integrity and choosing the path of assimilation rather than Christlike distinction. We are to avoid the very appearance of evil. Our interest shouldn’t be to enjoy as much of the world as possible, but to seek the kingdom of God, His righteousness, and all of the enjoyment that we desire from fellowship and holiday, can be experienced via a Godly tradition

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posted October 17, 2011 at 12:13 pm

I personally, now that I have become a christian and understand what Halloween is about, do not approve it in any form. If we do trunk or treat, we are still giving into the fact that we are celebrating a pagan holiday.

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posted October 20, 2011 at 9:01 pm

I won’t be celebrating it, for what fellowship does light have with darkness 2Cor6:14-16. Once Moses brother Aaron made a gold calf for the people and called it a feast to the LORD (Jehovah). It does not matter what you call it, it still is what it is as seen by God’s reaction at Exodus 32:9,10. He is a jealous God.

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posted October 27, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Trick or treating originated in America in the middle of the Great Depression. Kids would vandalize, disrupt and ‘trick’ people in the neighborhood. Soon, people found that if they started giving these kids candy, then the kids would leave them and theirs alone….thus….trick or treating. So I will take my child trick or treating, especially since there are no churches doing anything for the kids around here. So, I don’t think that trick or treating is the devil, as many Christians are telling me.

I really liked this post.
I just read one of the million hits that said ‘don’t worry, Christmas is right around the corner if you don’t want your children having anything to do with evil’. Even Chrismas is 100% rooted in Pagan beliefs. The church adopted it as ‘Christ’s birthday’ simply to convert pagans. The Christmas Tree, Presents, and most other things reguarding Christmas is completely Pagan. I think that if God did not want me to do what I and my family does at Halloween, he would let me know (that feeling he gives me every time I do something that He doesn’t want me to do)

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