We know there is a faux war allegedly being waged against Christmas that those on the far right-wing of the American mindset claim to fight each and every season — but let there be no doubt there is a second, more insidious, religious war being fought against the black cauldron public celebrations of Halloween.
I’ve always enjoyed Halloween. It’s a universal, dramatic, moment in time where you can be someone else for awhile all while celebrating the changing season and the fun of each other’s imaginations.
Over the past few years or so, though, I’ve seen a dedicated effort by a religious few to remove the pumpkin spectacle from public purview. Is protesting the wicked witch the way some hope to preserve the baby Jesus?
One direct example happened when I was teaching at a major university. The students were generally older, cultural minority, females who were attending school to advance the grace and intelligence of their lives.
As part of a teaching lesson, I planned to have us play a special edition of “Halloween Bingo” that would use “Green Frankenstein” and “Orange Pumpkin” and so on — as replacements for “G-4” and “B-3” and so on — substituting one learning meme for a more immediate one.
One older Black woman raised her hand and told me she refused to play Halloween Bingo because it was against God, and evil, and she was going to report me to the department for degrading her Christian religion in class.
I told her she could be excused from class without penalty. I wasn’t going to let her do what she intended — cancel our Halloween Bingo game — because the 99% of the other students were eager and happy to play and some of them had even come to class in their Halloween costumes for partying later with their friends.
The woman decided she would not leave the classroom because she wanted to keep an eye on me — but she would not take a Bingo card or participate in any way. I didn’t argue with her. I just ignored her eye rolls and heavy sighing during every witchy call and response through the graveyard.
After that experience, I began to tune in more to how people perceive and react to the idea of Halloween. Most people seem to enjoy the event, but I’m learning there are more than a vocal few who are absolutely offended by the idea of celebrating a Pagan ritual in public places.
I’ve been hearing lots of stories from friends and acquaintances that some of their co-workers and neighbors are beginning to protest Halloween displays. Those people are offended by the celebration of the dark side inside us, and instead of just not joining in on the celebration, they instead want the Halloween displays removed. They need the entire notion of Halloween recanted because it is immoral.
Pumpkins appear to be the most obvious victim of these machinations. Protectors of the pumpkins argue they can also represent Thanksgiving. The protesters claim all pumpkins are evil, carved or not, because they are overwhelmingly associated with Halloween and, therefore, must be removed by association.
There are some who may argue that Halloween, with its roots ancient religions, is a protected celebration in America — but those who seek to remove Halloween from our mindset are quick to bring up their perceived public persecution of the baby Jesus in a manger during Christmas, and the refusal to allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed on government property.
When Halloween becomes about giving equal access to the baby Jesus while banning all pumpkins, I start to cringe a little. Most in the mainstream world are able to accept both Halloween and the idea of baby Jesus at the same time — as well as many other cultural celebrations without scoring an irreconcilable internal conflict — but for the radicals among us, reflexive thought is not good enough; compromise is an abomination. They want a full, recanted, submission — a total denial of the independent self — and a complete, eviscerating, win on the immoral battlefield that they feel entitled to collecting because their particular beliefs demand that one and only end.