Former Growing Pains star turned Christian activist Kirk Cameron is now well-known for his Christian-centered films highlighting what he sees as the evils of society, but this year his focus seems to be on the holidays people know and love. In an interview meant to promote his new movie Saving Christmas, the filmmaker took aim at the upcoming holiday of Halloween, trying to dispel its many myths. He talked about the origins of the holiday and why Christians should celebrate it wholeheartedly. In the process, however, he rewrites thousands of years of history that Christians have acknowledged for centuries. Kirk Cameron’s interview targets Halloween as a time of evangelization and even likens President Obama to Satan in an analogy that boggles the mind.
In keeping with his theme of holidays, Cameron attempted to debunk the idea that Halloween stems from pagan feast days. According to him, the real origins come from the Christian calendar, especially the early Catholic one. All Hallow’s Eve and All Saints’ Day (November 1) were the original party days when believers remembered the dead and celebrated the fact that Christ had defeated death. The concept of Christ defeating death through his resurrection stems from the biblical passage in the first chapter of 2 Timothy which declares that Jesus “abolished death and brought life and immortality” through his message of salvation. Cameron’s view on that is extremely traditional for Christians, but his view of history is simply incorrect.
The first origins of Halloween were undoubtedly pagan. Samhain, the pagan Celtic festival, had been observed on October 31 for centuries before the advent of the Christian religion. Yet Cameron ignores that fact in order to promote his own revision of history. “Over time you get some pagans who want to go this is our day,” he told Christian Post, “high holy day of Satanic church, that this is all about death.” In his story, Halloween was taken over by pagans, not the other way around.
In actual fact, the date of Halloween and most of its traditions stem from the original Celtic festival. Halloween is a national holiday in Ireland even now, a tribute to its ancient Celtic past. The original holiday of Samhain was a festival of remembrance of the dead and a look forward into the future as superstitious rites of fortune-telling were also present. It emphasised community through the ritual lighting of a communal bonfire from which all hearth fires were then relit. It also included a communal feast and represented the strong ties between people who would soon face the harshness of winter. It is that richness of tradition that Ireland still celebrates today. Irish immigrants were probably some of the first to bring that celebration to prominence in the United States. It became one of the main yearly holidays in the 20th Century, but before that was not celebrated due to the early Americans’ strong puritan beliefs. Understanding the ancient origins of Halloween actually sheds light on the popularity of the holiday in America today and adds a depth of meaning and history to an otherwise frivolous child’s holiday.
Kirk Cameron’s interview does not just target Halloween, however, but reached out into politics with a reference to President Obama that was truly confusing. In discussing the tradition of dressing up in costume for the day, he made the point that for Christians they are meant to mock Satan. In order to make the point, he offered an analogy. When people wear costumes of Obama, complete with the caricature of bobblehead and big ears, people are making fun of the president, not honoring him. He connected that form of mockery with the costumes of the devil and other scary things, which, he said, are supposed to make fun of the Devil for having been humiliated by Christ.
While the analogy is technically sound, the implicit connection between Obama and Satan has some people a little offended. In making that argument, Cameron connected Satan with Obama, something that has been done before in political contexts. It would seem that the actor is also someone who believes Obama is evil otherwise the analogy would not have been so easy for him to make. While that analysis may be a little paranoid, there certainly does seem to be a connection for Cameron between Obama and evil. He said as much in 2012 during the election in a conversation with Tony Perkins who said that Obama was in “defiance” of biblical morality. Thus, Cameron has a history of connecting Obama with Satan and evil that makes this most recent statement troubling.
Besides targeting Obama, Kirk Cameron also urged Christians to target their friends for evangelization during Halloween festivities. He suggested a party in which the religious hosts can give their guests biblical tracts in order to teach them the true meaning of the holiday. On a day when most kids would be expecting candy for trick-or-treating, a party giving out evangelical tracts simply does not sound fun. In light of that, Cameron’s “true origins of Halloween” party would probably not be a success. All the kids in the neighborhood will be avoiding Kirk Cameron’s house this year and hitting the ones who give out the good candy. And if his Christmas parties are similar, no one will be going to them either.
Opinion By Lydia Bradbury