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SALT LAKE CITY -- Most parents have helped their children choose Halloween costumes, and you likely have a candy stash for Saturday night's trick-or-treating. But one Utah pastor is asking the members of his congregation to rethink their enthusiasm for this tradition because of its ties to evil.
In contrast, members of the Anchor Baptist Church in Salt Lake distributed flyers around the valley to remind as many people as they could that with Halloween there is a link to worship, but it's the dark side. The flyers call Halloween "A Satanic Druid holiday."
The word Halloween comes from the Catholic term All Hallow's Eve. November 1 is All Hallows Day or All Saints Day which is a day to honor Catholic saints.
"There are lots of churches who believe like we do, that it's really more of a devil's holiday than it is of a Christian holiday," says Dr. James Qurollo, assistant pastor at Anchor Baptist Church.
The celebration of passing into winter, or the dead season, began with the ancient Celts of England, Ireland and France. Their priests, the Druids, worshipped with bonfires, prophesies and sometimes sacrifices--both animal and human.
Early Christianity added pagan observances. All Hallows Eve, October 31, when many believed spirits of the dead roamed looking for bodies to inhabit, came the night before All Saints Day, which commemorates martyrs.
"It has religious roots, yes. It goes way back to Pagan times, but it was absorbed and made a Christian holiday. And we might have some problems with that, depending on our religious point of view," says BYU's Dr. Richard Holzapfel, who has a PHD in the history of religion.
"Are you teaching them to be good neighbors, or are we going in the wrong direction with celebration of Halloween and teaching our children that involvement in demonic things and satanic things and witchcraft is acceptable," Qurollo questions.
Halloween has simply become the second most important commercial holiday in America--a $7 billion-a-year business.
"Quite honestly, it's making money, secular holiday; one that we can all participate in. We choose how to celebrate," Holzapfel says.
There are no restrictions on members of Anchor Baptist Church about Halloween, but their leaders want them and others to think about this fascination with what they call the dark side.