Happy Halloween. Have Fun In Hell.
It's Halloween night on the porch of a religious home, and a group of children is about to receive The Good News Of Jesus Christ on tiny booklets tossed into their sacks of treats.
CHILD: "Trick or Treat!"
RELIGIOUS HOMEOWNER: "Hi kids! Here's a single piece of candy and whole PAGES of pathetic religious propaganda. (By the way...nice devil costume. That'll come in handy if you wind up in Hell. G'nite!")
Yes, it's once again the Season of Fear. Not the frivolous, fun spooks and scares of All Hallows Eve. No, it's time for religious people and organizations to attempt to scare the literal Hell out of children. The faithful wail about Satan's Day, about the true witchcraft represented in those icky witch costumes, and about the holiday that they don't celebrate (while they actually do) because it's chock full of E-V-I-L.
For the church, October 31st is a critical day in the fight of Good Versus Evil, and its weapons are often facepalm-worthy, like this classic bait and switch that's sure to piss off children and parents: a religious message disguised as...CASH!
Here's another gem: Jesus Harvest Seeds (with a scripture on every candy packet!).
Available from Memory Cross is this little gem, which includes the assertion that each child who reads it should confess to Jesus, "I know I have done wrong" (aka: I was born), so that he/she can receive a eternal treat that will last much, much longer than that worthless ol' candy.
Another website, the infamous Chick Tracts site, has a whole series of cartoon booklets on Halloween.
I'll give the God Squad a helpful tip here. Kids who ring your doorbell on The Most Awesome Holiday Of The Year came for two things:
1) They want to show off their groovy Halloween costume.
That moment when these young children fish through their sacks of sweets to discover a lame cartoon about a boy named Bobby frightened into Pascal's Wager after God sent his dead friend Timmy to Hell? That's when many of them learn to swear.
For the slightly older kids, the church turns up the volume.
Religious fundamentalists don't do haunted houses. They do Hell Houses, where the patrons aren't confronted with ghosts and vampires, but instead get to witness DUI car accidents, teen suicides, botched abortions and entire rooms filled with the simulated agony of hellfire. Whole documentaries on the phenomenon of the Hell House have been produced (here's one: http://youtu.be/BbhQsRJ6ARw)
The pic below is just one scene from the Hell House at Trinity Assembly of God in Dallas, Texas. Children pay their admission in the spirit of a genuinely fun, frivolous holiday, and they're treated to scenes like this, framed as a real-world consequence for the rejection of their cherished myth.
Perhaps the most mind-numbing part of this whole scenario is the absolute ignorance about the origins of the Halloween holiday, a day which has huge ties to (wait for it)...THE CHURCH. I did a radio podcast on the subject in 2011. Click To Listen.
Look, if you're religious and don't want to participate in Halloween, fine. But stop infecting a fun, festive holiday with your superstitious nonsense. Stop co-opting an enjoyable, harmless fantasy to promote your own harmful one. Stop junking up our kids' treat bags with bullshit stories about a loving God torturing young children for noncompliance. Stop throwing the planet's bloodiest headlines at Hell House ticket holders and blaming the carnage on their own sinful hearts. And stop vilifying a holiday that's much, much less terrifying and offensive than huge portions of the Christian Bible.