Halloween may be months away, but it isn’t too early for evangelical Christians to start planning their fright night strategies.
The American Tract Society makes a killing each summer selling tracts for its busiest time—Halloween.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
“The summer months lead up to the tract society’s busiest season of the year, Dan Southern, president of the 178-year-old gospel tract publishing group, said in a press release.
Every year ATS fills more than 3 million orders for Halloween evangelism gospel tracts and candy treat packs for church halls and homes, the group reported.
And this year, aside from its annual trick or treat tracts, ATS is adding tract coloring contests and a Halloween Home Outreach Kit, which will include Cinemark Theaters, Zondervan and Kregel Christian Bookstore coupons, a CD and 20 treat bags filled with Testamints candy, a sticker, a movie coupon and a gospel tract.
ATS is also adding “Pumpkin Patch,” “The Hulk” and “Bibleman Superhero” tracts to its old standards, “Masks,” “Spin the Spider,” “Scared Yet” and riddle and jokes Halloween tracts.
Southern said he sees Halloween as a time when “evangelism opportunities actually come knocking at the door, and more and more Christians are answering with gospel tracts.”
Chick Publications encourages visitors to its Web site to “Turn Halloween into a night of evangelism.”
Visitors can order such tracts as “The Little Ghost,” “The Little Princess” and “Boo!” on the company’s site. Chick also offers creative suggestions on how to use Halloween tracts and even has a section that attempts to answer the question, “Vampires: Are They Real?”
Conservative evangelicals are mixed in their views on Halloween. Some shun the holiday, some embrace it and some try to redeem the holiday by minimizing its identification with paganism and the occult.
Focus on the Family asked folks a few years ago about their plans for Halloween night. Thirty percent said they would avoid the holiday altogether because they viewed it as evil.
Nearly one third of respondents (29 percent) planned on enjoying the costumes and candy, while another 29 percent planned on transforming the holiday into a fall festival.
When Christianity Today asked readers how their churches were responding to Halloween, 54 percent said their church offered children alternatives to trick or treating or secular Halloween parties.
Thirty-four percent of those polled said their church “ignored” Halloween altogether. Only 4 percent said their church opposed the holiday.
Conservative Christians aren’t the only ones that are anti-Halloween. Conservative Muslims and Jews have negative takes on the holiday as well.
“Conservative Muslims consider Halloween haram (forbidden), since they believe it represents the “shaytan,” or devil, and also because it is a non-Muslim holiday,” Beliefnet.com reported.
Devout Jews discourage Halloween celebrations not only because of its pagan roots, but also because of its association with a Christian holiday, All Saints Day.
Anderson M. Rearick III, assistant professor of English at <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Mount Vernon Nazarene College in Ohio, thinks Christians should embrace Halloween with “gusto.”
“I have always considered Halloween a day to celebrate the imagination, to become for a short time something wonderful and strange, smelling of grease paint, to taste sweets that are permissible only once a year,” he wrote in a column for Christianity Today. “How wonderful to be with other children dressed up as what they might grow up to be, what they wished they could be, or even what they secretly feared.”
Rearick also said that Halloween offers a chance for Christians to “laugh” at and “mock” the devil.
Jodi Mathews is news writer for EthicsDaily.com.