There’s a movement by some Christians to take advantage of Halloween to evangelize, since people will come to your door, and it’s considered acceptable to go knock on strangers’ doors. They’re calling it Jesusween, Jesus Ween, Jesus Win, and/or World Evangelism Day. They don’t seem quite sure how to brand it.
The main idea is to hand out miniature New Testaments, tracts, and Christian books and music to trick-or-treaters who knock on your door. “The days of hiding are over and we choose to take a stand for Jesus,” they declare. Personally I think they’re implying a greater level of persecution than is realistic. On Ash Wednesday, I’m not driven into hiding – I just don’t participate in that ritual. But I grant that priests don’t come door to door offering to smear ashes on me, so I can see how Halloween involves a lot more peer pressure. Most other people in the neighborhood will be handing out candy. It’s awfully uncomfortable to be the stick-in-the-mud whose porch light is off.
But is Jesusween a better option? If Christians worry that not participating in Halloween will alienate their neighbors, this is exactly the wrong direction to go in. A dark house on Halloween was always a bit of a disappointment, but you tended to roll with it. Sometimes people are at parties or events, or simply out with their own kids. But that lady who handed out apples, and the dentist who offered toothbrushes? Everyone hated those houses. They were total buzzkills. At best, receiving a tract will elicit a similar reaction from kids. Plus the added possibility of seriously offending parents (like me) who object to adults trying to convert their kids without parental consent.
Personally, I’m fine with people opting out of Halloween because it conflicts with their beliefs. You don’t owe my kids candy. But hand them a tract instead of a Snickers, and you’re going to ruffle my feathers. And theirs!
When I mentioned to my 8 year old that some people might be giving out Bibles instead of candy, she immediately said, “If someone gives me a Bible, I’m going to throw it in the trash. Besides, I’m too young to be reading that!” Covering my giggle at the latter statement, I talked to her about being polite, even when someone gives us something we don’t like. She allowed that she would be nice and say thank you, and wait until she got home to throw the Bible in the garbage.
Evangelizing: you’re doing it wrong.