from Richard Mouw at First Things:
There are big banners hanging over the streets of our local business district, announcing a “Spooktacular” celebration on Halloween. I wonder whether the local Evangelicals—there are three congregations of them in the town—will boycott the participating stores. There is much evangelical opposition to Halloween these days.
My parents were Evangelicals, but they always enjoyed Halloween. My father was a pastor, and he and my mother would put on a yearly Halloween party for the young people’s group at our church. They would decorate our house with witches on broomsticks, ghosts, and pumpkin faces. My dad would turn the lights down at some point and tell a story designed to frighten the partying teens. We always also had a good supply of candy in stock for the Trick-or-Treaters, and I was encouraged to go around our neighborhood collecting candy. Then we would argue about how much of it I had to share at home.
None of that would play well today in evangelical congregations, where—at the end of October, at least—a “Christ against culture” spirit takes over for a week or so. As a counter-celebration, churches often put on “harvest festivals.” Kids may dress up in Pilgrim-like or patriotic garb—but none of the typical Halloween fare.
I wonder about this each year. And I typically get asked as Halloween approaches what I think about the way the day gets celebrated. Evangelical kids know all about the Halloween imagery and practices, and they often pressure their parents to let them wear a costume to a public school party, or to go trick-or-treating. Parents are often relieved by the opportunity to redirect their children’s attention to a “harvest festival” kind of event. But they still feel the Halloween pressure, and are not always sure what to say, beyond “It’s a pagan thing, and we are Christians.”
What has changed since my childhood? Well, for one thing...
The entire post can be read here.