Thursday, February 22, 2007


As I write this post I am not really sure if I should take an offensive or defensive posture regarding an article I read this morning. A Christian legal group has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a 10-year old boy who was banned for wearing a Jesus costume during his school's elementary festivities. The principal, Patricia Whitmire, told the boy's mother that his costume violated a school policy prohibiting the promotion of religion. The irony here is that Halloween, though it has been embraced culturally in the United States by most as a benign holiday celebration, is at its fundamental root a pagan festival. Last time I checked, paganism is almost always associated with broad set of spiritual and religious beliefs, often dabbling in the supernatural realm, and frequently embracing polytheism.

So let me get this straight. Willow Hill Elementary School in Glenside, PA is celebrating a pagan holiday by allowing students to dress up as characters of their choosing, including witches and devils (and ask any Wiccan and they will tell you that their beliefs are: a) religious; and b) spiritual in nature) - which several children came dressed as and were allowed by Principal Whitmire - but this 10-year old can't come dressed like Jesus? Was he doing anything that would warrant his exclusion from the party other than his attire? Was he proselytizing young children while in character? Did he try to cast the demons out of those kids dressed like little devils? This seems to be a clear-cut case of religious discrimination against any representation of Christianity.

Now here is where I don't know whether to laugh or cry about this case. The family clearly has a legitimate argument. But the mother dressed him as Jesus, complete with a faux crown of thorns, because "she did not want the boy isolated for refusing to wear a costume" because "the boy and his mother are Christians who object to the pagan elements of Halloween." Wouldn't it have been a better witness for Christ for the young boy, who I am skeptical about whether or not he actually objects to the pagan elements of the holiday even if his mother does (he is a 10-year old boy after all), had he not worn any costume and told his friends why he wasn't dressed up? Perhaps this is too big of a burden for a 10-year old, and you could argue that it is, but if he really objects to the pagan elements associated with Halloween, it hardly seems unconscionable to ask him to do so.

Or, at the very least, if he is going to dress like Jesus, why not choose a costume that doesn't appear to mock Jesus (wasn't this the historical effect the Roman soldiers were after in smashing that crown on Jesus' head)? Who dresses their kid like Jesus, complete with a crown of thorns for effect? If I am going to dress up like Jesus for Halloween, give me the Jesus of 2Thessalonians 1:8 who will return in might to this earth in flaming fire, crushing his enemies, or of Revelation 1:12cf with eyes like flaming fire and a voice that roars of many waters with a two-edged sword coming from his mouth, with which he will slay His enemies (Revelation 19cf). Give me a Jesus who is mean and wild.

The school required that students dress up to participate in the party, and those students who did not dress up were sent to the computer room. This school has some serious issues with discrimination. Students were not allowed to participate in the fun and fellowship of the party unless they dressed up? So students were punished for not participating in the celebration of this pagan festival, even if we've embraced it culturally as harmless (and the point of this post is not to argue the merits of whether or not Christians should participate in Halloween)?

At the end of the day this 10-year old boy will probably win this case. If all the facts remain as they have been revealed, and this legal group is competent at all, they will prove that he was discriminated against. However, the end result will probably be that similar parties are banned in the future, kids won't be able to celebrate Halloween at school (many aren't allowed to have Christmas celebrations currently) and Christians will receive the blame. If only this mom had thought to dress up her son as Martin Luther instead. Jesus is culturally hip as long as you put his image on a t-shirt that says "Jesus is my homeboy", but as soon as you start coming in character to Halloween parties you're asking for trouble (and if you are going to come dressed as Jesus, bring your sword).


At 12:36 PM , Blogger Meredith said...

Wow, that's crazy...

At 3:07 PM , Anonymous akas said...

i agree. thats ridiculous. its sad to think that this is what our world is coming to, a place where any kind of christian symbol is inappropriate. makes me anxious for jesus to come back and show these people up!

At 4:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear akas,

I used to say things like that. "It will be great when Jesus comes back." Things similar to what you just said.

But several weeks ago I was reading Leviticus and it is a really good book if you can see past the ritual guidelines the old testament Israelites had to follow to find God's message.

I forget what chapter it is from but it is verse 18 and 19 in Leviticus:

Woe unto you, that desire the day of the Lord: what have you to do with it? the day of the Lord is darkness and not light.
19 As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him: or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.


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