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Faith Forum: Is it offensive to dress up as Jesus for Halloween?

Charles Gruber, seeker:

Hallowe’en was originally All Souls’ Eve. It was a Christian holiday to commemorate martyrs, saints and “faithful departed believers." Now, of course, the holiday has been uber commercialized.

When I lived in a Sufi community back in the 1970’s, on Halloween we would dress up as our favorite master or saint or prophet. We were invited to offer a few of our favorite verses from our character. It was an inspiring evening.

Would it be offensive to dress up as Jesus…like in a Christmas pageant? How about as a chainsaw killer or a zombie? What about as our animal totems or as a character from our favorite story? There is no doubt that any of these images could offend any number of people. Perhaps it’s the spirit in which we dress up. And, of course, there’s the perception of the beholder.

So, if someone is dressing up as Jesus to mock Jesus, then that’s rude. If someone is dressing up as Jesus to emulate Jesus, then that’s laudatory. The problem is, who is appointed to be the judge here? And who appointed that person?

Do I think Jesus would be offended by children and adults emulating Him? No. Do I think that Jesus would be pleased by someone mocking Him? Not so much.

— Send email to Charles Gruber at cgruber@cgruber.com.

The Rev. Mary Newberg Gale, associate pastor, First Presbyterian Church, 2415 Clinton Parkway:

Halloween is perhaps my favorite secular holiday and it can be a great time playing dress up and receiving chocolate. Yet in doing that, as Christians, we should still be aware of fulfilling Christ’s call to love one another and to support those who have no voice. Considering that we have no knowledge of what Jesus would have looked like, I am unsure how dressing like an artist’s depiction would be offensive. Any costume would be pure conjecture.

That said, there are costumes that should offend us as people of faith. Costumes that reinforce gender stereotypes ("sexy" versions of regular costumes for women), costumes that reinforce racial stereotypes (war bonnets, "thug" or "cholo" costumes), and costumes that capitalize on cultural hatred (hobo or homeless costumes) should be abhorrent to people who claim to welcome all in God’s name.

Christ calls people of faith to live differently from the culture around them. In a society where our daughters are conditioned early on that they should be cute rather than smart; in a society where boys are taught that "real men" don’t show emotion; in a world where we are increasingly taught to be frightened of people who are not like us, Christians are called to witness to the inclusivity and wholeness of God’s kingdom. Every action, including our Halloween costumes, should be about building up community rather than tearing down or ridiculing.

— Send email to Mary Newberg Gale at fpcfamilies@sunflower.com.

Comments

Ron Holzwarth

It might be interesting to dress up as Jesus at any time of the year in many countries in Europe these days, but especially in France and Germany. Since antisemitism is now running rampant in those countries, that's a good way to get beat up - or worse.

Jesus was a Jew, and Jews are disliked in Europe and many other countries, often by those who claim to be the followers of one of the most famous Jews of all time. I never have understood that.

3 years, 1 month ago

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Kevin Elliott

I am a Christian and I couldn't care less if someone dresses as Jesus, burns the Bible or spits on the Cross. Firstly, they are just symbols. Secondly, I do not find it to fit in my faith to demand others believe as I do, hold the same values as I do or agree with what I do. I lead my life by example, not by control.

What is often called "attacks on Christianity" are really examples of Christian Supremacy. the feeling that Christians have some odd right to force others to hold Christian beliefs as superior.

I am fine if someone says happy holidays, My faith is not changes, my love of God is not changes or threatened. I sometimes wonder about those who do demand that sort of Christian Superiority, as they do not reflect any message I have understood from God.

3 years, 1 month ago

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