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Well, Halloween has a connection to certain evangelical sensibilities that appear on a regular basis. For instance, there's the whole phenomenon of evangelicals creating safe "alternatives" to popular secular culture. So we see Christian self-help books, and Christian music, Christian television, etc. So the evangelical tendency to create Halloween alternatives -- Hell Houses, Reformation Day, Harvest Festivals - is really just another example of the larger move to put a Jesus mask on what offends them.

Evangelicals have a tradition of taking up various cultural trends for their own purposes, but they rarely just go along and have fun with them.

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In general, what do you think these "evangelical sensibilities" suggest about the current state of evangelicalism? For the evangelical, everything is about the euangelion or "good news" of Jesus, who is to redeem the world from the perils of sin. This is a salvation that, for the evangelical, starts by systematically transforming what isn't right in the world.

While the Protestant work ethic may have said that whatever is done for God is sacred, eliminating a medieval division between sacred and secular, evangelicals still find the need to sacralize everything further. It has its pragmatic benefits in that evangelicals create hospitals and missions for feeding the poor, but it can also mean that sometimes they forget about how to just live with their neighbors and do mundane things without always working with an ulterior motive. Are any of the Christian fears about the religious significance of Halloween grounded? When you consider that most Americans surveyed still hold to very strong beliefs in the supernatural, it should be no surprise that Christians react as strongly to Halloween as they do.

In , for example, a Gallup Poll showed that 70 percent of Americans believed in the Devil. A more recent YouGov poll has that number at around 6 in 10 Americans who believe in the Devil, with 51 percent believing in demonic possession and 45 percent in the power of exorcism.

In some traditions the belief in a real Satan and literal spiritual world that battles against the heavenly is very much alive. There are mainliners, for example, who would find the conservative and fundamentalist views of Halloween and fixation on Satan to be almost primitively ancient, but I also know of Christians for whom these things are real threats.

Scriptures

You're saying some Christian beliefs in Satan reinforce the negative feelings they have toward Halloween? For instance, my very young niece -- whom I love dearly -- told me before that Halloween is Satan's birthday. But not all Christians cite Satan as their reason for not celebrating Halloween.

Many Christians point to the practices traditionally associated with it. Some will claim that the Druids engaged in human sacrifice, which is a claim that is disputed. The more significant accounts of sacrifice are drawn from Roman leaders, and it is important to remember, however, that many Roman historians were not always careful in their understanding of the religious practices.

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For example, they misunderstood the Eucharist so poorly that they accused Christians of cannibalism, which would be a very literal interpretation of "this is my body. Do you think Christian fear of Halloween points to a larger problem with today's Christians. Namely, that they're largely ignorant of religious history? I'm an educator, so ignorance is something I'm exposed to often. You might say that there is an overemphasis on what is done today versus what the history actually is.

I would even say that what is labeled Halloween today is so divorced from the history itself that what is being opposed by many American evangelicals is often the Americanized version that resembles very little of the history.

Where did Satan come from?

Are there any similar boycotts in the annals of church history? What can we learn from that?

Christians have always had mixed reactions to what was considered questionable, supernatural practice. For example, the belief of many evangelicals that astrology is demonic was not always the case with their Protestant predecessors. Calvinists, however, rejected it.

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Those who accepted it had their reasons God controls the stars, for example , while those who rejected it saw it as a pagan and demonic practice. As I see it, there are similarities in how Christians approach Halloween. Christians not knowing exactly how they should handle days considered to be "questionable" have always had to find their way to address it. For some, there is nothing inherently wrong in costume and candy, and since God created all days alike, then Halloween can be redeemed in some way. For others, it invites demonic activity and is connected to a shady history, so it should be shunned or replaced with harvest or Reformation festivals.

Last question: Satan's birthday? Is there cake? There is -- just don't ask how many candles are on it. You're saying some Christian beliefs in Satan reinforce the negative feelings they have toward Halloween? For instance, my very young niece -- whom I love dearly -- told me before that Halloween is Satan's birthday. But not all Christians cite Satan as their reason for not celebrating Halloween.


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Many Christians point to the practices traditionally associated with it. Some will claim that the Druids engaged in human sacrifice, which is a claim that is disputed. The more significant accounts of sacrifice are drawn from Roman leaders, and it is important to remember, however, that many Roman historians were not always careful in their understanding of the religious practices. For example, they misunderstood the Eucharist so poorly that they accused Christians of cannibalism, which would be a very literal interpretation of "this is my body.


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Do you think Christian fear of Halloween points to a larger problem with today's Christians. Namely, that they're largely ignorant of religious history? I'm an educator, so ignorance is something I'm exposed to often. You might say that there is an overemphasis on what is done today versus what the history actually is.

I would even say that what is labeled Halloween today is so divorced from the history itself that what is being opposed by many American evangelicals is often the Americanized version that resembles very little of the history. Are there any similar boycotts in the annals of church history? What can we learn from that? Christians have always had mixed reactions to what was considered questionable, supernatural practice. For example, the belief of many evangelicals that astrology is demonic was not always the case with their Protestant predecessors.

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Calvinists, however, rejected it. Those who accepted it had their reasons God controls the stars, for example , while those who rejected it saw it as a pagan and demonic practice. As I see it, there are similarities in how Christians approach Halloween. Christians not knowing exactly how they should handle days considered to be "questionable" have always had to find their way to address it. For some, there is nothing inherently wrong in costume and candy, and since God created all days alike, then Halloween can be redeemed in some way.

For others, it invites demonic activity and is connected to a shady history, so it should be shunned or replaced with harvest or Reformation festivals.

SATAN'S FALL IN COPTIC MAGIC

Last question: Satan's birthday? Is there cake? There is -- just don't ask how many candles are on it. I hear there's hell to pay. US Edition U. News U. HuffPost Personal Video Horoscopes. Newsletters Coupons. Terms Privacy Policy. All rights reserved. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. First things first. Give us some background on Halloween. So then, there is historical precedent for the Christian v. Halloween thing?


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This is the same timeframe as Mike Warnke, so-called Satanist extraordinaire? Halloween then Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard. Join HuffPost Plus.