By Joel Sams
Senior News Writer
Asbury stands apart from the rest of the nation, for whom the celebration of Halloween continues to be a major force in the consumer market. According to Market Watch, the National Confectioner’s Association predicted that Americans would spend $2.4 billion on Halloween candy this year.
For sophomore Jared Winslow, the decision to not celebrate Halloween is more of a personal choice than a statement of right or wrong. Because he has concerns about the origins of the holiday, he chooses not to observe it at all.
“I don’t know why I should celebrate it,” Winslow said. “I’ve heard that it has pagan roots. The reason is Romans 14:23 — if we have doubts about whether we should do something, we are sinning if we go ahead and do it.”
Senior Rodney Johnson said that while dressing up in costumes isn’t harmful in itself, many Americans “underestimate the power of the spiritual, because they’ve never seen it.”
“If you grew up in another country, which I did, and you see people that have to deal with witches and hexes, séances and all these things that really happen to people, that legitimately make people sick and die, then you see, from a Christian perspective, that you have to pray for these people, and you have to cast demons out of these people,” Johnson said. “You don’t want to have anything to do with anything that’s even labeled with something like Halloween from its satanic or demonic aspect, and that’s why I would be opposed to it.”
Additionally, Johnson said that he is opposed to the celebration of a day that glorifies death.
“I don’t see any reason to celebrate a day that commemorates, as it were, the wicked, or those who have passed away in sin, separated from God,” he said. “I think that should be a day of mourning.”
Though senior Joshua Bracken doesn’t celebrate Halloween himself, he says students should remember that All Hallows’ Eve, the day from which Halloween derives its name, is part of a celebration of the lives of saints, not a celebration of evil.
“We forget or do not know this because we do not attend liturgical churches anymore where they celebrate this day,” Bracken said. “All Hallows’ Eve is the night before All Saints’ Day — the day in which we remember the saints and those who have gone before us. This is really a three-day period called Hallowmas in which we pray for and remember the dead.”
Freshman Amantha Wagner is enthusiastic about Halloween, but church history isn’t the draw.
She says her favorite part is the “free candy.”
“I’ve asked people if they’re going to trick-or-treat, and they’re like, ‘No, I don’t do that,’” she said. “Some of them are just like, ‘I never did it as I kid.’ I think it’s sad that you, as a kid, never got the experience of eating strangers’ candy. I’m forcing my friends, who are like 21, to go trick-or-treating for the first time.”
Wagner says she is not disturbed by suggestions that Halloween has pagan roots.
“So does Christmas,” she said. “So does Easter. You can say that about anything. ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ has a witch in it, but we totally worship C.S. Lewis. People seem to have one face for one thing and one face for another.”
In spite of perceived negative aspects of Halloween, junior Hannah Whitis thinks there are appropriate ways for Christians to observe the holiday.
“My church growing up used it as a ministry,” she said. “Through the years I’ve seen a lot of conversions come out of that, and I do think it can be used as a good thing, depending on how you use it.”
Whitis says that Halloween’s mixed roots don’t have to color modern observances of the holiday.
“I believe very much that God can use evil for good,” she said. “What one man intends for a bad thing, God can definitely turn around and use for his own purposes. Be that as it may, I’m not saying definitely go glorify something you know is evil. But I would say, take what you can from it to teach other people.”