Should Christians Celebrate Halloween? New survey explores

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One of the things I didn’t realize until I moved to Utah—and became a mom—is that churches are often big players at community Halloween events. They help organize costume contests, serve as the jumping-off point for Halloween parades, and host trunk-or-treat gatherings, including the one I plan to attend with my son.

In recent years, I’ve assumed that this Halloween programming was largely unrelated to the religious mission of churches. I thought houses of worship wanted to be good neighbors and protect children.

But after reading a new Halloween poll from Lifeway Research, I realized that many pastors view the holiday as an important evangelistic opportunity. They often want church families to invite other families to church Halloween events and hand out faith-related brochures to trick-or-treaters.

“Few pastors simply ignore the fact that so many Americans participate in Halloween celebrations,” Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, said in a statement. “Most pastors focus on the social nature of these celebrations and encourage their congregations to associate with others outside their church.”

Here’s an overview of the study’s findings:

71% of Protestant pastors said they encourage church members to invite friends and neighbors to Halloween-related church events. 58% said church members should seek relationships with neighbors who do trick-or-treating. 34% of Protestant pastors want church families to hand out “gospel tracts” to trick-or-treaters. Only 13% encourage church members to “Avoid Halloween completely.” (I wrote about some religious families avoiding Halloween in 2017.) Pastors over the age of 65 are most likely to discourage Halloween celebrations, Lifeway Research found. Hot off the press

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Here are two other stories on religion and business from my colleague Suzanne Bates:

‘May I Pray for You?’: Intel CEO on Faith and Business

Perspective: Companies risk dividing the workplace if they speak out on controversial issues

Place of the week: Mindekirken

Mindekirken, also known as the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church, is a Minneapolis house of worship that is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. As part of the festivities, it recently hosted an incredibly chic guest: the Queen of Norway!

“Queen Sonja of Norway praised the Mindekirken Congregation for maintaining worship in Norwegian for all 100 years of the Church in Minneapolis,” reported The Associated Press.

The church was founded in 1922 to serve Norwegian immigrants in the area, according to the article. Leaders continued to hold services in Norwegian long after other immigrant churches in the area switched to English.

“The group said, ‘We will speak American English every day, but we need the language of our hearts when we praise God,’ Reverend Gunnar Kristiansen said during the Queen’s recent visit, according to The Associated Press.

Today, services — and social events like coffee hours — are offered in English and Norwegian.

What I read…

Two New York faith leaders have been given temporary restraining orders against a new firearms policy that aims to prevent gun owners from transporting them to “sensitive” places, including places of worship, Reuters said. The judge cited a recent Supreme Court ruling quashing a separate New York gun law to explain his decision.

My friend Bob Smietana of Religion News Service last week published a fascinating report from Branson, Missouri, examining how the popular tourist destination offers conservative, religious visitors “spiritual renewal and tranquility from the troubles of modern life.”

Deseret News reporter Sam Benson recently spoke with a Jewish convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about how to cope with the rising tide of anti-Semitism.

Opportunities and goals

I was delighted to learn last week that I was taking home an award in this year’s Religion News Association reporting competition. I took third place in the “Excellence in Religion News Analysis” category. Here are the three stories I included in my submission:

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