Halloween is coming around and this special holiday has me thinking about the kooky, scary people you see. No, I’m not talking about the mummies and monsters roaming the streets, but the special neighbors sitting out on their porch who see this night as chance to evangelize.

Let me sketch out a typical scenario I’ve seen and you can tell me if this happens in your neighborhood too: You send your kids out in their cute little Batman or Cinderella costumes, cheerfully chanting “Trick or Treat” throughout the neighborhood like little undercover Oliver Twists begging “Can I have some more?”

They return home with their plastic pumpkin pails full to the brim with mini Snickers and Kit Kat bars. Occasionally, instead of some nugget of processed sugar that will rot their teeth, they get an apple handed out by one of the more health conscious neighbors. But along with that ripe reminder of Earth’s own abundant candy, your kids also receive two or three religious pamphlets that explain that, oh by the way, they’re all going to Hell (with a capital H) because they’re Trick-or-Treating for free candy. Does this happen to you? Apparently—at least in my neighborhood—much like, oh, murder, incest, thievery, sacrilege, and rape, celebrating Halloween is a hell worthy offense too. Why? Because these people believe it’s some widespread form of devil worship, which is laughable to say the least.

Quick History lesson: Hallowe’en, or All Hallow’s Eve, was never a Satanic holiday to begin with.  Oh, it may have been usurped as such by some misguided delinquents in recent years and certainly it’s been high-jacked by horror movies as prime fodder for scaring the bejeesus out of us, but the truth of the matter is that Halloween originated with paying homage to the dead (i.e., paying respects to relatives who have passed on).  Some believed the holiday was a time when the “veil between the worlds is thin,” (if you believe in that sort of thing) and therefore it is a night to pay your respects to your ancestors since the ability for you to communicate with them is at its strongest. Long story short, Halloween was meant to be a time of RESPECT.

Going back to the origins of Halloween, the Celts used the day to mark the end of the harvest season and the start of winter– though I seriously doubt it was exactly on October 31st.  Roughly around that time they harvested their fields and killed animals (cattle) to fill their larders and cull their herds for the coming winter. Of course, nowadays that equates to a sacrificial frenzy that involved people bathing in blood and killing off their friends and neighbors in bizarre Satanic rituals (which is surprisingly hard to do when you don’t believe in Satan).

While I don’t know the Bible cover to cover, I don’t believe Halloween is even mentioned in any of the gospels. So the info in the pamphlets my kids have brought home is sort of suspect right off the top. Of course religious zealots (emphasis on zealots) have twisted the whole “evil” thing to their advantage since Halloween is basically a pagan idea.  And as we all know Christians = good and Pagans = bad.  You know, all that willy-nilly sacrificial stuff.

Sadly, just like Christmas, Halloween has been so commercialized that it barely resembles what it used to be anyway. Now, of course, it’s treated just as a time for kids to go out and “beg” for candy, and very few kids will “trick” (as in, TP a house) if they don’t get any. So it’s really just “give me candy” aka “treating.” No threat of a “trick” at all to the candy giver any more. Sad how the world has changed.

But back to the pamphlets— even those individuals who adhere to the origins of the holiday (which I can’t emphasize enough is paying respects to deceased ancestors, NOT sacrificing first-born infant sons to a winged beast of the netherworld), don’t push their beliefs on others by handing out pamphlets telling the costumed critters they’re going somewhere awful just because they’re not home lighting a candle to remember Grandma in the great beyond.

So why do other religious folk feel the need to tell young children that they’re going to go to Hell simply for dressing up as their favorite cartoon character and begging for a few Starbursts? I’ve never understood the folks who are so narrow-minded and so holier-than-thou that they would spoil an innocent kid’s holiday with religious dogma. If you don’t want to give out candy to the little mites, just don’t answer the door.  Do the universal “leave me alone, I’m not giving out candy” thing: turn off your porch light and leave it at that.

Childhood is a time of innocence, at least for a short while. Let the buggers beg for candy in peace for goodness sake.