The Internet Monk re-posts Michael Spencer's annual "Halloween Rant." I didn't grow up in a fundamentalist church like he did but otherwise my Halloween church experience was very similar to his — we had costume competition in the church basement involving adults as well as children. There was a dark passageway where you were handed things like skinned grapes and were told they were eyeballs. It wasn't remotely anything but perfectly innocent fun. Spencer:
.... I grew up among Southern Baptist fundamentalist Baptists. The KJV-only, women can’t wear pants, twenty verses of “Just As I Am,” Jerry Falwell, Jack Chick, twice a year revival kind of fundamentalist Baptists.The Internet Monk Annual Halloween Rant | internetmonk.com
We were serious about things like beer. By sheer quantity of attention in sermons, drinking beer was the most evil act one could describe. We were serious about movies, cards, and something called “mixed bathing,” which normal people would call “swimming.”
We were serious about the Bible, Sunday School, suits and ties, and walking the aisle to get saved.
And we were big time into Halloween.
No, that’s not a typo. I said we were big time into Halloween.
From the late sixties into the early seventies, the churches I attended and worked for—all fundamentalist Baptists—were all over Halloween like ants on jam. It was a major social activity time in every youth group I was part of from elementary school through high school graduation in 1974.
We had haunted houses. Haunted hikes. Scary movies. (All the old Vincent Price duds.) As a youth minister in the mid to late seventies and early eighties, I created some haunted houses in church education buildings that would win stagecraft awards.
The kids loved it. The parents loved it. The pastors approved. The church paid for it! ....
And then, things changed.
Mike Warnke convinced evangelicals that participating in Halloween was worshiping the devil. Later, when we learned that Warnke may have been one of the most skillful of evangelical con-artists, lying about his entire Satanic high priest schtick, the faithful still believed his stories.
Evangelical media began to latch onto Halloween as some form of Satanism or witchcraft, and good Christians were warned that nothing made the other team happier than all those kids going door to door collecting M&Ms.
Evangelical parents decided that their own harmless and fun Halloween experiences were a fluke, and if their kid dressed up as a vampire, he’d probably try to become one. If there was a pumpkin on the porch, you were inviting demons into your home, just like it says in Hezekiah.
A general fear of the occult, manifesting itself in Satanic ritual abuse mythology, crept into evangelicalism and took a deep hold on many churches. ....
Today, if you want to split your church, divide your singles group, get a fight started with parents or see the youth minister fired, just find some way to have an old-fashioned Halloween event in your church. .... [more]