You know it as “Halloween,” the seemingly harmless holiday in which your kid dons the persona of a tiny cow or a pirate with some face paint and a plastic sword and consumes their weight in sugar.
But the Rev. Pat Robertson — the conservative televangelist, outside-the-box thinker and man who once blamed the 2010 Haitian earthquake on a “pact to the devil” — sees Oct. 31st, uh, differently.
“That’s the day when millions of children and adults will be dressing up as devils, witches, and goblins … to celebrate Satan,” Robertson said on his program “The 700 Club” on Thursday. “They don’t realize what they’re doing.”
However outside the mainstream his views on Halloween may appear, Robertson is far from alone among Christians, according to a recent survey from LifeWay Research.
The survey revealed that 3 in 5 Americans believe Halloween is ‘all in good fun,’ but 21 percent refuse to celebrate the holiday and another 14 percent avoid the pagan elements, LifeWay reported.
“As popular and pervasive as Halloween has become, there is still a sizable minority that avoids at least some elements,” said Scott McConnell, vice president of Nashville-based LifeWay Research.
The survey also found that:
Catholics are more likely to select “It’s all in good fun” (71 percent) than Protestants (49 Percent).
Evangelicals are more likely to avoid the holiday completely (28 percent) or its pagan elements (23 percent), although 45 percent say Halloween is “all in good fun.”
“More than two-thirds of evangelicals welcome the candy, costumes, or community interaction surrounding the holiday, but the majority are unwilling to label ‘the pagan elements of Halloween’ good.” McConnell added.
Although elements of Halloween may be loosely inspired by ancient Pagan harvest rituals, the holiday is strongly rooted in the Christian traditions, such as the Feast of All Saints and the Feast of All Souls, according to Colorado University history professor Scott Bruce.
“The poor people at the time of All Saints and All Souls would go from house to house to house, and there they could expect to receive an offering of food and this was called souling,” Bruce told the CU News Center in 2012, noting that the food handed out was often a “wafer-like sweet.”“In popular tradition, the giving of the soul cake was good for the soul of the giver. The consumption of a soul cake, Bruce explains, represents a soul that will be released from purgatory.”
Bruce noted that Christian Halloween traditions share sensibility that ancient Pagan traditions, one that has persisted as the natural world changes each fall.
“What pre-modern people may have shared is this sensibility that as the days got shorter and as the night encroached upon their lives, the membrane between the world of the living and the dead was thinner,” Bruce added. “This explains our modern fascination with haunting and fantastical entertainment during the days leading up to Halloween.”
Robertson’s latest comments about Halloween is not the first time he’s taken aim at the holiday. As recently as last year, he referred to Halloween as “a festival for demonic spirits.”
“All this business about goblins and jack-o-lanterns and all that all comes out of demonic rituals of the Druids and the people who lived in England at that particular time.” he said.