A Church of Ireland rector has been branded a killjoy after he banned Halloween.
Earlier this month, the Rev Terence Cadden of Seagoe Parish Church in Portadown wrote to youth leaders telling them that Halloween contained “negative spiritual influence” and to hold parties associated with the holiday would be “inappropriate”.
The letter stated: “While the Select Vestry encouraging enjoyable and safe parties, we ask that organisations do not focus on Halloween, either by negative fancy dress, stories associated with Halloween, or by decorating buildings with items associated with Halloween.”
Mr Cadden told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday: “The church must protect the interests of its children, and the Select Vestry believes that the trappings of Halloween with its dark connotations, and not linked with Christ, are inappropriate. We have had much support in our stance.”
But that support isn’t evident with the local Upper Bann MLAs.
Stephen Moutray (DUP), a prominent Free Presbyterian, commented: “It’s taking things too far. As long as Halloween parties are in the context of having a bit of fun, I can’t see the harm. I don’t see youth leaders telling stories about the Prince of Darkness or the occult. I sell false faces and other Halloween trappings in my supermarket. I don’t sell fireworks, as my business includes a petrol filling station. The two don’t mix!”
SDLP’s Dolores Kelly commented: “The Seagoe stance is nonsense. It’s time they had a reality check. Children’s dressing up for a bit of fun and dunking for apples can hardly be construed as being anti-Christ. It’s unbelievable.”
And George Savage (UUP) said: “I think churches have more important social and community issues to deal with in this day and age, rather than banning children having a bit of fun at Halloween. It smacks of the church coming down on anything that gives a bit of enjoyment. Maybe they should join the real world.”
And a Seagoe parishioner contacted the Belfast Telegraph to say that she was considering leaving Seagoe in the light of the letter.
“It’s censorship — political correctness gone mad,” she said. “Children are hardly likely to become involved in black magic by donning pointed hats and eating toffee apples. It’s time the Select Vestry came out of its ivory tower.”
A spokesman at the Church of Ireland press office in Belfast said that issues such as Halloween were up to each parish. “We don’t have an overall policy,” the spokesman said. “Decisions like this are up to the individual Select Vestry.”