In four days streets across the continent will be covered with little people, running around in the great communal and sugar-fuelled pantomime that we call Hallowe'en.
Kids who would otherwise be brushing their teeth and preparing for bed will instead be released to ask complete strangers to give them confections. Bad for the teeth, good for those with shares in Cadbury, right? It might even be good for the community. Instead of packs of youth breaking windows and looting stores, there are peaceful packs of kids and parents meeting neighbours who, for most of the year, go about their lives with a minimum amount of neighbourly interaction. I have a hunch that for most of us, Hallowe'en is benign at worst and a fun community-building exercise at best.
But not for everyone.
The Globe and Mail reports that a number of Christians have taken to handing out Bibles (well, half-Bibles, actually) on Hallowe'en. The Jesusween movement was begun because "the world and its system have a day set aside (October 31st) to celebrate ungodly images and evil characters while Christians all over the world participate, hide or just stay quiet on Halloween day."
Jesusween "encourage[s] Christians to use this day as an opportunity to spread the gospel."
The Globe and Mail suggests that "proselytizing is becoming a greater priority for many Christians for another reason: Their numbers are steadily declining on both sides of the border."
Well, it appears that everyone's just a little confused.
In general Christians proselytize not because they are concerned about numbers—as if the great questions of life can be settled by a quick stat check—but because they are concerned about, you know, hearts, souls, and the lives of their neighbours. Most Christians agree that head counts do not comprise their full duty to take Jesus' call to spread the gospel seriously.
But the Globe and Mail is not alone in being confused. The Jesusween movement—no matter how much I support the distribution of Scriptures—is also a bit confused. Hallowe'en is a Christian holiday—a holy day—not something that the "world and its system" (not sure what that is) sets aside to celebrate ungodly images and evil characters.
While certainly there are visual vestiges of paganism in the holiday—the same is true of Christmas—All Saints Day existed in the Christian church as a means of remembering and honouring saints for centuries before its transformation into its current form. For 1.2 billion people worldwide, the evening before All Saints Day is a time to reflect on the lives and example of those who have been transformed by the very gospel that Jesusween's founders want to spread.
Now, evangelicals don't hold the same view of sainthood that Roman Catholics do, so yes, the founders of the Jesusween movement might still consider the day something to be reformed, but it needs to be said. Hallowe'en as a demonic day set up to "celebrate ungodly images"? Quite the opposite.