Most Americans revere Halloween as the only day of the year during which their children can go door-to-door to collect massive amounts of candy from neighbors, while wearing bizarre costumes. For many, the celebrations associated with the holiday are benign, entertaining and carry very little significance.
But others -- manly those in America's Christian community -- see participation in the holiday as an official observance of evil (or at the least, a positive reinforcement of negative forces). Over the years, many churches have come up with alternative plans so that families can avoid the negative tenets that are often associated with the holiday. Often dubbed "harvest festivals," these celebrations provide children and families with candy, Bible games and other associated alternative activities.
In a sense, these celebrations provide an opportunity for families and kids, alike, to enjoy the holiday while keeping out the ghosts, ghouls and other dark elements. This year, there's another alternative activity in the works that its founding pastor hopes will be adopted around the globe. I'm referring to "Jesus Ween."
As you may recall, the Blaze already brought you a report about this alternative, Christian movement that seeks to put a more positive spin in Halloween. Founded by Paul Ade, a pastor from Calgary, Canada, the Vancouver Sun describes Jesus Ween as follows:
Instead of chocolate bars and gummy bears, [Ade is] asking people to shun demonic costumes and instead dole out pocket-sized bibles or other "Christian gifts."
The idea has caught on in communities across North America, according to Jesus Ween creator Paul Ade. He's hoping it will bring a new perspective to an otherwise pagan festival, he said.
"I do not associate myself with ghosts, demons, Satan and witches. These are things I want to get rid of," he said.
Celebrations like Jesus Ween and church-led harvest festivals are praised by many as beneficial to children. But others see these diversions as ineffective.
"I think it's awful. It feeds into the stereotype that to be a person who follows Christ is to be against everything outside of the church," said John Van Sloten, the pastor of New Hope Church (Calgary). "I'm kind of appalled by someone doing this."
While Van Sloten was speaking specifically about Jesus Ween, it's likely that some Christians and non-Christians, alike, would agree with him when also considering harvest parties and other related activities. When it comes to general Halloween celebrations, John Mark Reynolds, a professor at Biola University, writes:
Good Christians are right to want to avoid evil, but Halloween is not evil, at least the way it is celebrated today. Some sincere people may worry about the origins of Halloween, but that is a mistake. [...]
The day after All Hallows, Christians celebrate the lives of the greatest of the faithful who have died and gone to God. On All Hallows the fact that we will all die is brought home to us. We do fear death, but rejoice in the victory of Christ over death. The costumes and the joy poke fun at the diabolic, they do not embrace it.
Both sides make a compelling case regarding Halloween celebrations. In the end, the decision to participate or to refrain must be decided by individual families. That being said, where do you stand? Take our poll, below, and let us know: