Local church offers alternative to usual Halloween celebration

October 24, 2003|HERB BROCK

A week from today will be Oct. 31. The day for dressing up as ghosts and goblins? For most people, that's right, but for the Rev. Tom Lane, it is the day for honoring Martin Luther and the "95 Theses."

Lane, pastor of Cornerstone Assembly of God on Lexington Road in Danville, is opposed to the observance of Halloween for religious reasons.

"It essentially is a celebration of things demonic and pagan," he said.

But Lane has done more than preach against observing Halloween. He has tried to offer an alternative to it. He has been offering a "Plan B" for his parishioners since he became pastor of Cornerstone 15 years ago.

However, before he offers his own form of un-Halloween fun, he explains why there needs to be an alternative.

First, he stresses in Halloween orange-and-black fliers in church bulletins and in sermons in October that the last day in October is an extremely important day in the history of Christianity. Oct. 31 is Reformation Day in observance of the day some 400 years ago when a Catholic priest named Martin Luther posted his "95 Theses" on a church door to protest what he considered to be abuses by the church.


"Many Christians don't realize that Oct. 31 is one of the most important days in Christian history," Lane said. "It represented a revolution in the church that spawned the creation of numerous other forms of worshipping Christ."

His reasons for his opposition

Second, he expresses in those bulletin fliers detailed reasons for his opposition to Halloween observances, including the following:

* Halloween is a "patently pagan religious celebration" in both its origins and its modern-day practice.

* Halloween is considered a "high holy day" for covens and satanic organizations, and there is evidence from law enforcement reports of human sacrifices committed on this day.

* Halloween, "even in its most innocent form, is based upon deception and fear, neither of which are "acceptable for Christians to participate in."

* Halloween is a "night that both clarifies and trivializes the practices of and personages of darkness such as demons, witches, murder etc. These things are very real and serious in our society."

* Halloween "definitely does not edify but rather teaches non-Christian ideas and principles." That view is supported in the Scriptures in this passage in the Book of Timothy: "Charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than Godly edification which is in faith."

* Halloween celebrations and decorations are encouraged in public schools but serious, important Christian holidays are "trivialized" and their religious significance is reduced or removed. "Public institutions deliberately discriminate against the Christian holidays by making Christmas about Santa and winter and Easter about a silly bunny, while at the same time promoting occult ideas and trivializing the reality of the spiritual dark side."

He offers a light side option

While Lane is deeply concerned that Halloween is promoting the "dark side," he wants his parishioners and the community to know that he is offering an option that is more on the light side.

In addition to making the congregation aware of the historic importance of Oct. 31 and encouraging parishioners to observe Reformation Day, Lane throws a party on the day.

"On Oct. 31, the last 15 years, I host what I call a 'hallelujah party' that night. We'll be holding it on our farm," he said.

"We offer it as an opportunity for our members and their friends to come together for food and fellowship, to enjoy each other in a way that celebrates family and faith, not demons or devils," said Lane.

By the way, each child gets a bag of candy, and, he said, that usually more than offsets any disappointment in not being allowed to wear costumes to the party.

"I have no objection about kids getting candy at Halloween, and some of the costumes are kind of cute," he said. "It can be fun and wholesome time, but that fun time occurs in the greater context of a celebration that flies in the face of Christian teachings."

Lane said that he occasionally receives negative feedback during October when he is writing and preaching against Halloween.

"From time to time, a member or two, usually new to the church, object to my stand," he said. "But I explain to them that I am not attacking them personally if they allow their kids to dress up and do trick-or-treating. I also let them know that it is within the realm of Christian liberty for parents to allow their children to participate in Halloween festivities. It's their decision.

"But while I don't want to come across as some killjoy who's making a mountain out of a mole hill, I feel a need to let parents know that, when they make their decisions about their kids and Halloween, they need to consider what Halloween really means and they need to know that, at least in my view, observing it is a serious mistake for those who want to be consistent in their witness to their children and to the world."

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