Churchmen concerned at impact of 'highly dangerous' Halloween festivities on young
The renowned Halloween festivities in Londonderry have been criticised as having become "highly dangerous" by Church of Ireland ministers.
One of the clergymen claimed the annual festival is becoming like a "cult" and also questioned why Derry City and Strabane District Council is promoting it.
The ministers were speaking during the annual synod of the Dioceses of Derry and Raphoe, which was held at An Grianan Hotel in Co Donegal.
Rector of Taughboyne, Rev Canon David Crooks told the assembly: "Halloween is turning into this ridiculous nonsense. In shops all over the place, we see all these accoutrements of witchcraft and all that kind of horrible nonsense. People say, 'Oh, it's just for the children'. Well, I think it's sending the wrong message to children - it's actually highly dangerous. It can lead children to start looking at the internet and finding things like tarot cards and seances. It's highly dangerous stuff and I think that church leaders of authority should speak about it."
Canon Malcolm Ferry said: "It's not accidental that the shops in the city are decorated - the council are promoting it. This is a problem, and maybe the Diocese would need to think that if this is council's strategy, we need to have a strategy."
Rector of Ardstraw, Rev Ivan Dinsmore also spoke out. "It's really good to hear church leaders speaking up on this subject and coming out against this festival of paganism that is so popular now within our community," he said.
Rev Mark Lennox agreed, and claimed he'd seen a shop in Derry that was selling ouija boards for children.
He said: "We as a church do need to speak out against this and educate our people that these things aren't just fun but are actually opening the doors to the principalities and the powers that we read about in the Book of Romans and other parts of Scripture."