the thin end of the wedge?
Children are increasingly being bombarded with media images of the occult. Witches, ghosts, demons, pagan rites and beliefs are the common fare of TV programs, movies, arcade games, role-play books, computer games and some types of music. How dangerous is this diet?
The fascination with fear, death and evil that the occult arouses is far from healthy. What begins as a 'flirtation with horror' can be the first step on a slippery slope to other more sinister activities. This is especially true at Halloween, when children can often be given the impression (however unintentionally) that it's okay to experiment with evil.
Is this overreacting to harmless fun if we oppose these influences (including trick or treat) or are we protecting our children? Many young children may be attacked by repeated nightmares. There is a consider-able evidence that more and more children are stepping into the alluring world of the occult. Older children's Halloween parties often involve experiment-ing with tarot cards, seances or ouija board -and this happens without parental knowledge. Ministers and counsellors are increasingly finding that they have to deal with traumas resulting from dabbling with the occult.
Halloween in particular has become a focal point for occult beliefs. Today there is a strong element of commercial exploitation of children, but there are much more serious implications. On this day witches traditionally call up spirits of the dead to afflict their enemies and put curses on them. Halloween is also the ancient Celtic festival of 'Samhain', the god of death. The recent resurrection of the popularity of Halloween has gone hand in hand with the return of witchcraft, mystery pagan cults and new age practices. In the light of all this, is it really scare-mongering to ask adults to prevent children in their care from getting involved in such things at Halloween or at any time? Or is it acting in a responsible and loving manner? Jesus Christ himself reserved one of his most severe warnings for the adult who leads children astray. "It would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matthew 18:6). Psalm 73 says he nearly "betrayed his generation of your children" (verse 15). Let's not betray our children, "who do not yet know good from bad" (Deuteronomy 1:39).
It is important to be aware of children's vulnerability at all times, but this is the one time of year when they are particularly exposed to the occult. Let's give our children a fun time with parties, fancy dress and food, but without the trappings of Halloween. There are far healthier things to celebrate October 31.
Chris Halls - Associate Minister