Christians embrace ‘positive alternative’ to Halloween

Many Christians have previously ignored Halloween altogether, believing it to be a celebration which goes against their faith. But now churches are encouraging practices which add religious elements to the festival.

Originally published in The Telegraph 

Christians traditionally have an uneasy relationship with Halloween, but many of them are increasingly embracing the event by holding parties designed to add a religious significance to the festival. Organizers say they are increasingly also attracting non-Christian children whose parents don’t want to let them go trick-or-treating because of “stranger danger”.

Paul Stockwell, of the Scripture Union, which has been sending out its “Light Party Packs” for four years, said he believes increasing interest is partly down to non-Christian parents who are worried about the more mainstream Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating.

“They like the fact that it’s in a safe environment instead of their children wandering the streets,” he said.

When the packs were first launched four years ago the charity sent out around 4 000. Now this has doubled, and they expect to send out 8 000 this year.

The packs include ideas for light experiments, games, a service plan and Bible-based activities. In an introduction to the pack Rich Powney, of the Evanglical Alliance, said the parties were designed to ensure that “on this night, of all nights, people are attracted to the light and away from the darkness.”

Many Christians have previously ignored Halloween altogether, believing it to be a celebration which goes against their faith. But now churches are encouraging practices which add religious elements to the festival.

Christians are encouraged to carve pumpkins with “positive” symbols, like crosses and hearts, instead of the traditional scary faces.

Christian children’s charity World Vision has even created a God-friendly Halloween character, Patch the Pumpkin a pumpkin with a heart which shines out light.

Many Christians also cite the religious origin of Halloween as All Hallows Eve, the day before All Hallows Day, also known as All Saints’ Day, the day when some Christians celebrate the entire Church.

Lucy Davis, vicar of Flitwick, Bedfordshire, is running the church’s first Halloween event this year. “The reason for doing that is that Halloween has become such a big secular thing, and people feel pressured into doing something,” she said.

She expects many of those who come not to be regular churchgoers, as many local parents have “mixed feelings” about trick-or-treating because of safety concerns.

“As a society we’re quite fearful for our children. It sends mixed messages for our kids – you’re saying normally it’s not OK to knock on strangers doors, except for on this one night. Parents do feel a little bit conflicted about that,” she said.

Senior church figures have also backed the change in focus to embrace the controversial festival.

The Rt Rev Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn, has endorsed a Christian Halloween chocolate which alongside chocolate buttons offers “a quiz, maze, word game, a call to buy Fairtrade, a prayer suggestion, a national competition with a prize, and a challenge to treat someone less well off by donating to a children’s charity”.

He said the pack, produced by the Meaningful Chocolate Company, offered “an alternative to the increasingly common Hallowe’en attempts to scare and frighten”.

Christians are being encouraged to hand it to families who come trick-or-treating.

Martyn Saunders, the vicar at St Philip & St James Church, Chatham, where demand for their alternative party has grown for the past three years, said churches wanted to offer “a positive alternative to Halloween”.

“Churches vary as to whether they are happy to take anyone in whatever costume they’re in – we are more than happy to take anyone who comes through the door.

“People who are passing by come as long as they want to, play games, drink hot chocolate, and have fun, as opposed to being out on the streets trick-or-treating,” he said.

“Demand does increase, but it increases as the reputation in the community grows that what we’re offering is fun without being too pushy,” he added.

 

Pakistani man admits he shot dead his sister, in ‘Honor Killing’ because she married a Christian man

He said: ‘He used to tell us, “If you don’t stop, I will kill myself. Stop!” The guys here told him, “It would be better to kill your sister”.’

A Pakistani man has admitted murdering his sister in an ‘honour killing’ because she married a Christian man.

Mubeen Rajhu, 24, from Lahore, shot Tasleem, 18, in the head at home after he discovered his Muslim sister had defied the family and married a Christian.

He had been taunted by co-workers who had seen Tasleem in their neighborhood with the man.

Rajhu, who is from a poor neighborhood on the northern edge of Lahore, is being held by police. He said he had demanded that his sister swear on the Quran that she would never marry the man. He said: ‘I told her I would have no face to show at the mill, to show to my neighbors, so don’t do it. Don’t do it. But she wouldn’t listen.

‘I could not let it go. It was all I could think about. I had to kill her. There was no choice. There was no yelling, no shouting. I just shot her dead.’

Ali Raza, a co-worker at the mill, said the taunting of Rajhu about his sister had gone on for months. 

He said: ‘He used to tell us, “If you don’t stop, I will kill myself. Stop!” The guys here told him, “It would be better to kill your sister”.’

Raza said Rajhu told them he had bought a pistol and one day in August stopped coming to work.

The number of ‘honour killings’ in Pakistan has increased over the past few years.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 1,184 people were killed in 2015, compared to 869 in 2013.

Rajhu, who is from a poor neighborhood on the edge of Lahore, is being held by policeRajhu, who is from a poor neighborhood on the edge of Lahore, is being held by police.

‘No dichotomy between southern and northern Muslims’

“there is no dichotomy between southern and northern Muslims.”

An eminent Islamic scholar, Fadilat Sheikh Dairu Bauchi has reiterated the strong bond that exists among Muslims, especially in Nigeria, saying,

“there is no dichotomy between southern and northern Muslims.”

Bauchi, who was in Lagos as guest speaker at a special programme organised by Nasrul Lahi L Fatih Society, (NASFAT) to mark the 57th Independence Anniversary of Nigeria, said his visit to NASFAT was an indication that a firm love exists between the southern and northern Muslims.

In his speech which was delivered in both Hausa and Arabic languages, translated into English, the renowned cleric advised Muslims to further seek unity, love and collaboration with fellow faithful irrespective of their residence, tribe, ethnicity or location.

The scholar commended NASFAT for using the platform to enhance the image of Islam within and outside the country.He ended his speech by praying fervently for Nigeria’s unity, growth and development.

The Acting Chief Missioner, NASFAT, Imam Mahroof Onike AbdulAzeez expressed the society`s appreciation to the erudite Islamic cleric for accepting NASFAT`s invitation.

He later assured him that NASFAT would continue to work in fostering peace and unity between the Ummah and the entire Nigerians.The highlight of the special event was the presentation of the society prayer book and other souvenirs to the highly revered Shiekh by the leadership of the society.

Two most wanted cult leaders killed in Imo State, Nigeria

The slain suspected criminals were identified as Tochukwu Egbelu, aka black face; and Enyia Iwu, aka Sparo. The police said they were the leaders of the Iceland cult, which had been credited with the killing of over 20 people and the destruction of over 30 houses.

Two men, said to be most wanted cult leaders and kidnappers in Imo State, were on Thursday gunned down by the operatives of the state police command. They were killed during a shootout in the Nwagbaubi forest in Assa community, in the Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area.

The slain suspected criminals were identified as Tochukwu Egbelu, aka black face; and Enyia Iwu, aka SparoThe police said they were the leaders of the Iceland cult, which had been credited with the killing of over 20 people and the destruction of over 30 houses.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Andrew Enwerem, told our correspondent that three other members of the gang escaped with gunshot injuries. Enwerem, a Superintendent of Police, said the deceased had been on the wanted list of the command for a long time.

Black face and Saparo, as well as other persons who are currently on the run, have been on the wanted list of the command. “They are responsible for the killings of Inspector Silas Obaji and Corporal Asuquo Nama sometime in April. “The hoodlums equally masterminded the beheading of one Chinweuba of Obile community in September. They are of the Iceland Confraternity,” Enwerem added.

The police spokesperson said the success was as a result of the commitment of the state Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, to stamping out kidnapping and cultism in the state.

According to Enwerem, one locally-made short gun with five live cartridges and one single-barrelled gun were recovered from the slain cult members.

“It was during a gun duel with police operatives deployed by the CP that the two men died” he said.

The traditional Ruler of Assa community, Eze Emmanuel Assor, said peace was gradually returning to his community..

The traditional ruler disclosed that the news of the death of the two cult members sparked off jubilation in the community, adding that indigents of the community, who had been on the exile, had been returning to their homes.

Assor said property worth over N700m had been destroyed since 2010 when the Deygbam and Iceland confraternities started supremacy war in the two communities.

[written by Chidiebube Okeoma, Owerri] 

Former Satanist is Shocked Parents Allow Kids to Celebrate Halloween

it is impossible to separate the dark origins of Halloween from the seemingly harmless practices of today.

A former satanist has issued a warning to Christians on the dangers of celebrating Halloween.

In an article for CharismaNews.com, John Ramirez, who used to be a high-ranking priest within the Satanic Temple before miraculously having his heart opened to the Gospel, shares the story of his personal involvement with satanism and celebrating Halloween in order to warn parents of its dangers.

Although some Christians believe that allowing kids to dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating is harmless, Ramirez has a very different view.

He shares how he and his fiance, who were both involved in satanism, chose the day of Halloween on which to get married.

“My mind goes back to the night of Oct. 31, 1987, when I had the most diabolical wedding on the planet. My fiancé and I decided to get married on Halloween, in a demonic ritual that lasted all night, and the wedding bells were heard all the way down to the gates of hell,”   

He warns Christians that it is impossible to separate the dark origins of Halloween from the seemingly harmless practices of today.

“As devil worshipers, Halloween was very special to us, and we looked forward to celebrating it because we knew the implications and the dark power behind the night. It is very different from every other night in the witchcraft world. It would be like me saying to believers today, ‘How important to you are Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday?’ Halloween has that much weight and importance to those who dwell on the dark side.”

Ramirez firmly believes that Christians should not partake in this holiday; not even if they rename it as “Harvest Fest” or any similar Christianized version of Halloween.

“The only harvest we should celebrate is the harvest of souls,”

he writes.

[written by Veronica Neffinger ]