Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pat Robertson Versus Halloween

Fundamentalist Christians hate Halloween. This is pretty old news, of course, and just like clockwork Pat Robertson is at it again as the date approaches. On his television program, Robertson advised a viewer not to allow her child to attend a Halloween party thrown by a relative because it celebrated "demonic spirits," even though the viewer provided no evidence whatsoever that the party was anything other than a secular get-together.

Thursday on "The 700 Club," Robertson deemed the holiday "a festival of demonic spirits" in response to a viewer's question about whether or not she should let her children attend their aunt's Halloween party. "All this business about goblins and jack-o'-lanterns all comes out of demonic rituals of the Druids and the people who lived in England at that particular time," Robertson said on the show.

He then suggested shifting the holiday toward a more Christian focus. "I think churches can have Halloween parties," Robertson said. "You can bob for apples ... and turn it into a Christian festival, and that’s what we ought to do. We need to redeem these days, but that day was given over to Satanic things.”

This is the same thing Robertson says every year, so maybe it's not quite newsworthy. Still, I never cease to find his point of view bizarre, since as an occultist I think that the mainstream celebration of Halloween is a bunch of commercialized nonsense that has nothing to do with spirits or rituals or anything magical. There's a huge difference between carving up a pumpkin and carving up a pumpkin with a particular magical or spiritual intent. Does Robertson really think that the vast majority of people who carve jack-o'-lanterns are in the latter category?

At least Robertson isn't advocating those stupid "hell houses" that were something of a fad years ago. While I think a well-done "hell house" - like a haunted house built around the journey through Hell depicted in Dante's Inferno - could be awesome, the fundamentalist version is rather tiresome. The "sins" they focus on are abortion, sexuality, drug use, and "occultism," which they distort into "Satanic Ritual Abuse."

The FBI concluded back in the 1990's that organized "Satanic Ritual Abuse" is not a real thing. While psychopaths occasionally use occult trappings in the course of abusing victims, abuse cases involving religious trappings are much more common. Drug use is not even named as a sin in the Bible, and it's pretty hard to argue that the main issue Jesus cared about was sexuality. How about a "hell house" that deals with Jesus' real top issues, like exploitation of the poor and commodification of religion?

Yeah, that would probably be terrible too. But at least it would be authentic to the text that fundamentalists claim to hold above all else, even if it cut into their revenue. A better idea would be to just let people celebrate what for most has become a completely secular holiday as they see fit.

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