News articles on Halloween
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THE EVIL IN HALLOWEEN
By Terry Ann Modica
(From The Buffalo News, Oct. 30, 1988)
Halloween means fun. Doesn't it?
We've gone many months without a holiday we can decorate for. Even adults enjoy carving pumpkins, designing or choosing costumes, creating ghosts and scarecrows and turning their homes and yards into haunted houses and cemeteries.
Halloween delights the imagination, not to mention the sweet tooth, of the grown-up as well as the child. True, we have to worry about poisoned candy and child abductors and accidents, but it's still great to participate.
Or is it?
Halloween means much more than costumes and parties and candy. Though we may be unaware of it, when we put faces on pumpkins or hang devils on our doors we're actually helping certain unhealthy elements in our society celebrate something we would normally have nothing to do with.
Halloween started when the Christian Church created counter-holidays to replace those honored by pagan converts. November l was a Roman holiday honoring the dead and became All Saints Day.
In Celtic and Anglo-Saxon times, that day marked the beginning of the new year. The night before (All Hallows' Eve) people lit bonfires on hilltops to frighten away evil spirits. All Saints Day became known as the time for the dead to revisit their homes and for witches, demons, hobgoblin and fairies to roam.
To appease the spirits and safeguard their homes, people put food on their doorsteps. That was the beginning of trick-or-treating. And pumpkins were carved and lit with candles to ward off evil spirits.
Today, we've grown ignorant of the reasons behind our traditions. And with that ignorance, we've become willing participants in the occult.
There's a danger in that. The Old Testament clearly speaks against the occult. Deuteronomy 18: 10-14 warns us to avoid involvement with fortune tellers, soothsayers, charmers, diviners, those who cast spells or consult with ghosts, etc.
But are we really involving ourselves with anything dangerous when we celebrate Halloween? Can't we just have some good-natured fun with it--as long as we don't really practice witchcraft or Satanism?
Halloween is the high holy day for Satanists. To them, it's a night when special powers are given to the spirit world. And for witches, it's New Year's Eve. Halloween is a celebration of the beginning of death and destruction, represented in nature by winter.
The question is, why would we want to help Satan worshipers and witch covens celebrate their sacred holidays?
Interest in evil supernatural powers is on the rise. Books on witchcraft and Satanism are selling fast and there are hundreds to choose from. Since l969, more than 500,000 copies of The Satanic Bible have been printed. Look at the widely-publicized stories of sons and daughters getting involved in Satanism, butchering their families and committing suicide.
Of course, refusing to observe such a popular national event isn't easy. But we can create a new holiday, one without the trappings of Satan's domain.
Celebrate harvest. Decorate with uncarved pumpkins, Indian corn, gourds, and other harvest symbols -- a perfect lead into Thanksgiving.
Then, when a 4-foot demon knocks on your door and says, "Trick or Treat," wonder why this child would want to pretend to be something evil.
(Terry Ann Modica is a free-lance writer who lives in Jackson, N. J.)Witchcraft Declared a ReligionShould the United States government recognize witchcraft as a religion? The question is fast becoming moot.
By Don Feder
(The Boston Herald, June 12, 1989)
Item: An Air Force woman who says she's a witch has been granted time off to celebrate her "religious holidays," including All Hallow's Eve. Airman Patricia Hutchins (a self-proclaimed disciple of "Wicca") was supported in her request by the chaplain at her base in San Antonio, Tex.
Item: The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi ruled that Jamie Dodge's dismissal from employment with the Salvation Army constituted unlawful discrimination. Dodge was fired after a supervisor caught her using the office photocopier to reproduce material relating to what was characterized as a "satanic ritual."
The court held that since the Salvation Army was the recipient of federal funding for the project on which Dodge was working, it could not discriminate on the basis of religion.
Take the foregoing to their logical conclusions. Will we soon see Druid chaplains in the armed forces, giant flashing pentagrams as part of Halloween displays in public parks, tax exemptions for sacred groves, a witch stamp issued by the postal service (from Salem, of course)?
Modern witchcraft (support your local coven) is an integral part of the New Age movement, which is spreading like a social disease. There are over 2,500 New Age bookstores nation-wide. Nearly every record store has a section for New Age music.
Fortune 500 corporations are buying in with human-potential seminars. The Aquarian philosophy is propagated by a host of catalog services hawking audio and video cassettes, which promise health, wealth and wisdom to those whose nativity (every 60 seconds) P.T. Barnum memorialized. Shirley MacLaine, star of the new "spiritual workout" video, is the sect's most visible shaman.
There is a real danger in government sanctioning this mumbo-jumbo creed. Religion warrants official recognition and support, as our founding fathers well understood. The New Age cult might more accurately be described as an anti-religion. True faith brings us closer to God; New Age paganism takes us further from Him.
Consider the pillars of New Age enlightenment (witchcraft, call it what you will). Pantheism -- an impersonal deity. While Western religion posits one God, omnipotent and actively involved with his creation, the New Age offers a multiplicity of dieties -- all passive, offering neither hope nor help to mankind.
Nature is God. The principal deity is nature itself, its various manifestations are aspects of the godhead. This has considerable appeal for '60s nature freaks who despise industrial society and seek pristine virtue in field and forest -- naivete based on a total ignorance of the random cruelty of nature.
Man is God. As a part of nature (rather than a being separate and apart from the natural world, as Judaism and Christianity postulates), man himself is a deity, or is capable of becoming divine by getting in touch with his essence (by contemplating his navel while listening to sitar music, or scaling a mountain to chant for world peace).
Morality is relative. Since man is divine, he becomes his own law-giver. This is a prescription for moral anarchy and unbridled hedonism. Released from the oppressive strictures of monotheistic faith, values are based on intuition, whim or the teachings of some moth-eaten guru.
Man creates his own reality. If man is God, it stands to reason that, like God, he can shape reality -- hence modern witchcraft, sympathetic magic, "mystic crystal revelations and the mind's true liberation."
This is the perfect dogma for late 20th century society. It offers salvation of sorts (reincarnation, merging with the cosmic consciousness) without more effort than suspension of the critical faculty, certainly without the need for moral discipline. It may be appealing to burned-out hippies and rootless yuppies, but religion it is not.
As far as I'm concerned, Shirley MacLaine can fondle her crystals till her hands grow numb, and modern witches dance by the light of the silvery moon 'til they drop from exhaustion. But for the federal government to sanction this pantheistic prattle is blasphemous.
Like Rome in the declining years of the empire, barbarians are at the gates. Government, which should be holding the fort, instead is lifting the portcullis to admit them.
Police Put on Alert for Satanism
By Michelle Hiskey
(The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, May 4, 1989)
Upside-down crosses, pentagrams, the number "666" and other satanic symbols are appearing increasingly often on crime scenes around the country, and an experienced investigator predicted in Atlanta Wednesday that lawbreaking linked to satanic cults will be the "crime of the '90s."
Detective Kurt Jackson of Beaumont, Calif., a 14-year police veteran who specializes in investigating crimes with possible ties to the occult, spoke to a group of about 200 Atlanta area law enforcement officers.
"If you're on a crime scene where there's tarot cards, you might want to look further," he said. "Not all tarot readers are bad. But if you have a weird crime, take a look around."
In this decade, satanism has become more pervasive, Detective Jackson said, nothing that military chaplains are now required to know how to perform some of the religion's rituals to guarantee servicemen's constitutional right to religious freedom. Paralleling the popularity has been an increase in occult-related crimes, such as the ritual killings discovered in Mexico last month.
Last year in Douglas County, three teenagers were convicted in the murder of a 15-year-old girl, and one defendant described the killing as a satanic ritual.
"In the last five years, the increment has been noticeable," said Agent Daider H. Rosario of the Atlanta FBI office. "Not just in California, the land of fruit and nuts, but on the East Coast, in Texas and in Georgia."
The FBI sponsored the seminar along with the Georgia State University Department of Criminal Justice and Metropol, an Atlanta-based organization of police personnel.
While there are satanists who practice the religion peacefully, there are self-styled dabblers in it -- usually teenagers influenced by heavy metal rock bands that celebrate the underworld -- who carry their rebellion into vandalism and animal sacrifices, Detective Jackson said.
Less often, drug and gun trafficking, child abuse, white slavery or contract murders are tracked to satanic cults, he said.
"Cults don't fear law enforcement; they consider us an inconvenience," he said. Their theology makes them less fearful, he added because death is believed to bring a reunion with the devil.
He cautioned officers to protect their families if they become involved in a cult-related case. He said he has been threatened, and dead animals have been left outside other investigators' homes.
He warned the officers that satanists have been known to sharpen their teeth as weapons and to carry sharp objects in their pockets to harm officers who might frisk them. He said satanists should always be considered armed, and that swords and knives are favorite weapons.
There have been cases linking satanists and white supremacists, he said, adding that was not surprising since his research has shown that Adolph Hitler was "heavy into the occult."
He presented graphic slides showing evidence in cases in which satanists were involved. Coffins were dug up and body parts stolen, animals were ritually slaughtered on a sink that served as an altar, and satanic symbols had been etched into someone's facial skin by sulfuric acid.
Law enforcement officials should not become upset in interviewing suspects involved in satanic rituals, but neither should they be sympathetic, he cautioned. A few officers who investigated cases of satanism became involved in the religion.
"Try to find other reasons than the occult for a homicide," he added. "Then try the occult. It does occur, and it's starting to occur more."
SATANIST `REVIVAL' RUMORS STIR A FUROR
By Jack Kelley
USA TODAY, October 29, 1990
Rumors of a satanists convention in Washington, D.C., has thousands of Christians up in arms, fasting and praying around the clock.
In letters, mailed during the past few weeks to 25 area preachers, pastor Richard Shannon of Fairfax, Va., says "tens of thousands" of satanists are expected to descend on the capital for a "revival," culminating in a series of events between now and Nov. 9.
But Shannon says his information was based on unconfirmed reports received from a former satanist. "I was trying to reach Christian leaders . . . to avoid a feeding frenzy and this hysteria."
His efforts have had just the opposite effect: Worried religious groups are mailing or faxing Shannon's letter around the country, and gathering their own forces.
Dozens of occultists, pagans, witches, satanists, police and cult-watching groups deny any convention is planned and frown at the hysteria.
"Christians have shunned us for so long that we're just trying to clear the air: There's no convention," says Bryan Jordan, 23, a Washington witch.
"This is the typical stuff that comes out around (Halloween), saying how bad we are," says witch priestess Lady Kestryl, 25, of nearby Laurel, Md.
In response to the rumors:
MasterMedia, A Christian ministry for film and TV professionals, sent Shannon's list of planned satanic events -- ranging from satanic baptisms to marriages -- to ministry's 14,000 members.
"All we did was solicit prayer. We're not in the middle of this," says president Larry Poland of Redlands, Calif.
Women's Aglow, an international Christian women's group, put out a "prayer alert" and fasting request to its chapters in 50 states. It also asked women to go to Washington to pray against the occultists during the Women's Aglow national convention Nov. 4-6.
"I just know that we've been in a spiritual warfare since the word `go' with our conference," says Women's Aglow conference chairwoman Margaret Heiser. "We Christians tell everyone what we're doing. The enemy operates in the darkness. We're praying for their souls."
Students at South Carolina's Columbia Bible College -- along with seminaries and churches in Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, Texas and California -- were given copies of Shannon's satanic timetable, and asked to pray.
While children typically trick-or-treat for candy on Halloween, it's a religious holiday for the underworld, with satanists performing sacrifices and witches quietly celebrating with prayer circles or meals for the dead.
Christians "don't realize it, but they're celebrating our holiday with us . . . We like it," says Jordan.
Says born-again Christian Janelle Wade, a former witch: "I can't confirm (the satanists' convention) but it doesn't hurt people to pray and fast at this time of the year."
-----------HALLOWEEN UNMASKED AS CALLOUS DISPLAYHalloween is over for another year, and thank goodness.
By Carol Ritter
The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, November 3, 1990
It's never been my favorite holiday. When my children were small, I faced a major personal dilemma: Should I listen to my own misgivings about the extortion element of trick-or-treating, or shut up and let my kids have some innocent fun? Since I like playing dress-up as much as anybody, I chose the latter and kept my reservations to myself. But I still think trick-or-treating is one custom we could let lapse without any serious impact on our civilization.
That's not the main reason why I dislike Halloween, however. The bigger factor is my revulsion and dismay over the increasingly graphic depictions of death, decay and mayhem that have become a part of this holiday.
The Halloweens I experienced as a child, when carved pumpkins and cardboard skeletons were about as scary as things got, were pretty tame by comparison to the depictions of blood and guts I've seen in the past couple of weeks. Recent cable television listings have been a litany of awful slasher movies and horror films. While I realize that not everyone has cable television and that many parents carefully monitor their children's TV habits, we all know there are several kids who get to watch anything they want to see.
And is it really necessary to confront children with rubber masks of faces with dangling eyeballs, dribbles of blood or other atrocities? What good could kids possibly get out of visiting "haunted houses" if what they see there are simulated hangings, decapitations and murders? Seeing these things should make anybody want to throw up. If children are taught to react indifferently or to laugh at such sights, I don't dare think about what kind of insensitive adults they're going to be.
Driving through a residential area on Halloween night, I saw dozens of parents with costumed children in tow scampering from house to house. There were lots of cute clowns, Ninja turtles, Bart Simpsons, Raggedy Anns, and so on.
But I also saw grade-school children whose faces were smeared with fake blood, and kids wearing those realistic paste-on injuries emergency workers use on "victims" in disaster drills. Now, enough is enough. I can't imagine one good reason for any parent to let a child dress up in simulated blood and gore. If you know a good reason, I'd sure like to hear it. I know all the arguments in favor of Halloween: It's a celebration of fall, a chance for kids to enjoy some harmless fantasy, an acknowledgment that sooner or later we're all going to die, etc., etc.
I also know the argument that everybody likes a good scare now and then. Well, some of us, even as children, didn't like feeling scared and like it even less as adults. You can count me in this category. I avoid fast cars, roller coasters and mindlessly violent movies. It's scary enough to have to face the daily possibility of another war, an increasingly poisoned environment and hard evidence that conscience and ethics are becoming rare commodities in elements of our society.
More than anything else, I can't help being frightened by the awful things people do to each other when they've become so callous or indifferent to pain and suffering that they have no regard for the consequences of their acts.
Children need to know that we're all going to die someday: I have no quarrel with that. But they also need to know that assault and violent death are painful. Getting strangled, stabbed or shot hurts. A bleeding wound is not fun. Physical trauma has effects on the mind and body that can last forever.
As a reporter, I've seen enough drowned, burned, bloodied, and mutilated real human bodies to last me several lifetimes. I've interviewed enough grieving families of crime and accident victims, covered enough murder trials and talked to enough survivors of awful atrocities to keep me awake nights forever. I've sat in courtrooms and watched defendants yawn, smirk and grin as their victims, eyes wide with fear, testified against them. Some of those victim witnesses bore visible physical scars as evidence of the pain and suffering they had endured.
So I'll pass on Halloween, thank you. And the people who make those sickening slasher movies and gory costume masks will have to look elsewhere to make their fortunes, because they'll never get a cent from me.