Last night was Halloween. My son dressed as a leopard and we went trick-or-treating as a family in our neighborhood. Times have been tough and most of our neighbors didn’t put out decorations this year, however, one family went all out.

They had a fog machine and dozens of skeletons and every child in the neighborhood went to that house last night. They had set up a small haunted house for the kids to walk through and an elderly white woman sat inside the “house” handing out baggies to the kids. “Wow, what a great haunted house!” we said as we walked home with Kid’s candy loot.

When we got back, Daddy went through the candy bag. As he opened the baggie from the haunted house, he found a Jack Chick tract inside, this one. For those who aren’t familiar with Chick tracts, they are evangelical Christian pamphlets in comic book style layout designed to terrify children into converting to Christianity.

The tract the old woman gave to my son tells the story of Timmy and his friends who go to a haunted house, which is demonic. As they run in terror, Timmy is hit by a car and killed. In later pages Timmy’s friends talk to his mother who tells them that Timmy is in hell right now and will be forever. Then she leads them in the sinner’s prayer so they won’t suffer the same fate as her Timmy.

It’s been over twelve hours and I still want to curse and scream. Who does that? How dare she? What gives her the right?

Don’t my parental wishes for my child’s religious education matter even a tiny bit? How can you think you’re being honorable or doing the right thing when you’re being so intentionally deceptive? What kind of person sets up a haunted house to lure children so that they can tell those children that going to a haunted house can lead them to hell?

This woman doesn’t know my son. She doesn’t know his name, his age, his favorite subject, his struggles, his hopes, his dreams. She doesn’t know his beliefs about morality or eternity. She has no idea what, if any, religion we his parents are teaching him at this age. For all she knew, we could be Christians already but not wanting to teach our son a fear-based approach to Jesus and the Bible. Did any of that matter to her? No.

If anyone reading this isn’t offended yet, imagine she was handing out Wahabi Islam tracts to your children, telling your children they were going to hell if they didn’t dedicate their lives to Islam right now. Pissed yet?

Dozens of children went to the neighborhood haunted house last night, babies to middle schoolers. Each child was given a baggie that contained a few stickers (made in China), a Jesus pin (choking hazard for the little ones!), and a Chick tract. Trick-or-treating on Halloween is a holiday tradition we have for children. It’s a chance to interact with your neighbors, let kids out later at night than usual, and to have fun pretending to be scared of things like fog machines and plastic bag ghosts.

If you think Halloween is evil or against your religious beliefs, ABSTAIN! Everyone knows not to knock at the door of the house with their porch light off, so just stay inside or go to the movies or something. Don’t set up a trap to manipulate the fears of small children you don’t even know. The arrogance of that is unforgivable.

16 thoughts on “Chick-or-Treat

    • Oh, thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Yes – the “hell houses” are awful, but that strip – it’s magnificent! I love it.

  1. A bait-and-switch is often rude, especially with children. But, I suspect confronting them won’t inspire them to change their minds.

  2. Rude? It is appalling and bordering on child abuse. Imagine how horrified a 8 or 9 year old child would be reading that tract after just having visited an open house. I am so sick of these people trying to ram their religion down everyone’s throat. I hope that the author knew other parents who were out there with their children and could call and warn them and ask them to help spread the word about these people so children won’t be victimized next year.

  3. Remember the two brothers in “A Christmas Story”? When they open ‘boring’ presents like socks and underwear, they fling them aside and reach for the next gifts. The message from the haunted house lady will likewise be jettisoned in favor of something more fun and interesting. Evangelicals are boring and their message robotic, the result of centuries of brainwashing and collective surrender of intellect. Ignore them. Maybe we’ll all get lucky and they’ll go away.

    • “Evangelicals are boring and their message robotic” — yet more continue to be made.
      “the result of centuries of brainwashing” — so they know what they are doing all the more.
      “Ignore them. Maybe we’ll all get lucky and they’ll go away.” — said the Jews of the Nazi party, said the free persons of the KKK, said the South Africans, Hawaiians, and Native Americans of the Europeans…

  4. The sad thing is, my great-grandma used to be one of those old ladies. :/ Not with that much effort on Halloween, but handing out cookies to all the neighborhood kids and passing out tracts like no tomorrow (apocalypse joke, lol)

  5. Well, that’s the thing with some religious approaches: sure, parents rights, scaring children, being deceptive, disrespectful, offensive… but what’s all that when what is at stake is eternal torture? She is helping her neighbors, not being an ass to them, see? If morals are based on something entirely external to people, you can treat people like crap, and still feel morally superior…

  6. I note – because I am a liturgy geek – that it is more or less impossible for Halloween to be “against” a Christian’s religion. Halloween – or Hallowe’en, or Hallows Even, or All Hallows Eve – is the eve of All Saints’ Day, the church’s celebration of all the saints of God. Because Christianity takes its most ancient forms from its mother, Judaism, our most sacred feasts actually begin at sunset (or Vespers or Evensong) the evening before. The remaining vestiges of this, in popular society, are Halloween, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve (originally the eve of the Feast of the Holy Name).

    So. Whence All Saints’ Day? Well, like most of our most precious holy days – we stole…er, borrowed it rather, from the older feasts celebrating the turning of the year and the coming of winter, and the remembrance of the ancestors. And naturally, there were superstitions about the ancestors walking abroad on the eve of that feast – not as frightening or dangerous things, but as a sort of annual reunion, an acknowledgement that the living and the dead are still one community bound beyond the visible and tangible.

    Has it been somewhat twisted with ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties, and things that go bump in the night? Well, I suppose. But I think this woman’s Christianity has been far more perverted by a mindless, slavish devotion to a literalistic and frightening interpretation of texts that were never meant to be so interpreted – to the point where she does this nasty thing to children in the name of “saving” them. Those who burned heretics believed the same – and were just as wrong-headed.

    So. Why this geeky dissertation? Because I am a woman of faith, and it pains me to see something that should be inspiring and life-giving turned into this death-dealing, pinched, twisted, crabbed travesty. If I believe in the devil and his work – and I do – I see this twisting of faith as truly demonic and evil, a perversion appalling in its clever wickedness.

    I am so incredibly weary of having to defend Christianity from justifiable accusations of irrelevance, meanness, narrow-mindedness, prejudice. People like your neighbor give all people of faith a bad name, and I am so tired of it – and so I speak up, to say that we aren’t all like that, we aren’t all mean or narrow or vicious.

    Cold comfort, I suppose, in the face of such hateful people – but please know we aren’t all like this. We aren’t even mostly like this. Some of us are really quite decent – and mostly we’re so justly occupied with our own shortcomings that we have no time to go poking our noses into anyone else’s. If we talk about salvation, we talk about it in terms of renewed strength to face and help repair the world, in terms of service to our fellow human beings and to our fragile planet, and in that service, we serve the One Who made it all.

      • Absolutely! Maybe I wasn’t clear enough – I agree with you. I’m frustrated and angered by people like this, and partly it’s because many people – though not you – think we’re all like that.

        Sorry if I was less than clear.

  7. When I was a kid, we used to go to the local game store every week to buy comic books and D&D stuff. Inevitably, this guy would be outside, trying to get me, an 8-year-old, to take the “Dark Dungeons” tract. I always thought he was a creep, but at least he didn’t try to trick me into taking it. The whole thing reminds me of the Jews for Jesus scam on a smaller scale.

  8. There is nothing more fearsome than a beautiful pissed off atheist! I was one of the traumatized survivors of Chick. This is child abuse and this woman should have those tracts shoved up her ass-tract! I remember being about 8 yrs old and horrified at the thought of my spirit broiling for eternity, lucky I lost faith at 12 and only had guilt over that one. Screw intolerant people and their dogma but sometimes we can’t keep all of the poison that they dole out at arms length. You have every right to be furious.

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