It haunts me that in 2019, consumers spent about $8.8 billion to celebrate Halloween. As the coronavirus pandemic disrupts plans for trick-or-treating and ghostly festivities, a National Retail Federation’s survey concludes that fewer than 60% of Americans are planning to celebrate Halloween this year. But those that will, are spending a record amount on candy, costumes and decorations—$91.12 each, up from $86.27 last year, the most since the survey started in 2005. Halloween is now the country’s second-largest commercial holiday after Christmas.
It’s not uncommon for Christians to struggle with whether to celebrate Halloween. According to secular sources, the traditions of Halloween are based upon the worship of false gods, contact with the dead, foretelling the future, and communing with evil spirits—all practices labeled detestable in the Bible. “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead (Deuteronomy 18:10-11).
On the other hand, others recognize that Halloween, the eve of “All Saints’ Day” (November 1), is also associated with Martin Luther and the Reformation. They celebrate the religious freedoms won at that time in history. Since each of these perspectives contain truth, it is difficult to know how to respond.
Because of my experience with women inmates, I have a different mind-set; I’m looking not only at the current skirmish, but the end game. Satan has been studying human behavior since the Garden of Eden, and deception is his first line of attack.
I recall Shana, who during one of our sessions at the jail said some girls in her pod were into reading horoscopes. “I told them Christians have spiritual-scopes. It’s not the stars, but God’s promises that are true, and we can really count on them.” Sadly, millennials are turning away from Christianity and to alternatives that range from astrology to tarot cards as they embrace the supernatural.
Nevertheless, to make Halloween palatable for the Christian culture, trunk or treating in church parking lots and costume parties have become an acceptable practice for many pastors and parents. “It doesn’t have the significance it used to have,” they reason. “Today it’s just a harmless kid’s holiday where children can dress up and get candy. We’ll invite the community, and they’ll see we’re not really different or weird; maybe they’ll start coming to our church.” Is this outreach . . . or compromise?
There is a huge fascination with the occult in the United States right now. We can see this in our movies, popular novels and on television and social media where werewolves, wizards, warlocks, witches and zombies abound. Satanism is on the rise in American, and a recent article in Newsweek reported the number of witches and Americans practicing Wicca religious rituals (the term “Wicca” means witchcraft) increased dramatically since the 1990s. Several recent studies indicate there may be at least 1.5 million witches across the country. A Trinity College study conducted in 1990 estimated only about 8,000 Wiccans in the U.S., but the increase has been led by a rejection of mainstream Christianity among young Americans as well as a rise in occultism.
Author Julie Roys said in comments emailed to The Christian Post last month, “. . . Wicca has effectively repackaged witchcraft for millennial consumption. No longer is witchcraft and paganism satanic and demonic, it’s a ‘pre-Christian tradition’ that promotes ‘free thought’ and ‘understanding of earth and nature.” It’s no surprise that this year’s top costume pick for adults is a witch.
Our sophisticated worldview often downplays the Bible’s admonition to avoid any practices associated with darkness. Satan wants to hide his skeletons in the closet and his motives—to mislead and eventually destroy mankind. As far as Halloween is concerned, the devil’s best trick is to persuade you that it’s harmless, he doesn’t exist, and it’s just good-natured fun.
And yet, there are some “spooky” statistics that show crime spikes across both the United States and Canada on Halloween, as compared to other consumer holidays. According to James Alan Fox, a professor at Boston’s Northeastern University, crime around the city of Boston was 50 percent higher on October 31 than any other date all year.
“There are on average 17 percent more crime-related claims on Halloween,” said Scott Humphrey, who handles risk control for Travelers, the third-largest personal insurer in the U.S. One university professor believes Halloween brings out the Freddy Kruegers of the world, possibly because of its association with paranormal psychology and urban legends.
Black cats, spiders and bats aside, isn’t it time to look behind the web of Satan’s lies to the Truth? If we don’t, we may suffer grave consequences.
Make no bones about it, Romans 12:21 says, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Why celebrate a day that gives glory and prominence to God’s enemy, no matter how innocuous our society makes it appear? Instead, let’s exploit October 31st this year to pray for our missionaries who are engaged in spiritual warfare. Pray they will put on the full armor of God, not just so they can defend themselves, but so they can march into the enemy’s kingdom to proclaim and live out the gospel that sets people free. Now, that’s something to celebrate!
The Gospel PostScript