Beyond a Sweet Tooth: Halloweeners Believe in the Power of the Pumpkin

By By Rosy Gardner

By Rosy Gardner

It comes but once a year. And for the religious group, The Halloweeners, the last day of October is the only day that matters.

&It&s the one holiday that we celebrate each year,& explained Bo Ghastly, the acting pastor for the organization. &To us, celebrating anything else would diminish the sacredness of that day.&

The Halloweeners are the newest addition to the University of Utah&s campus ministry, although their religion dates back to the 1600s.

&People often confused Halloweeners with the common folk back then. The difference is that we believe in the magical powers that Halloween can give us. We often celebrate that power by casting spells, riding brooms, hiding under children&s beds and generally causing mayhem,& Ghastly said.

&[The confusion] made Halloweeners mad until the whole witch trial thing started. After that, they just sort of laid low and let the christians take the rap,& Ghastly continued.

Ghastly also explained that the group was founded by Jekyll Scarymcgee, a former Buddhist who had trouble reconciling his demonic tendencies with the religion&s anti-violent teachings.

During his search for ultimate truth, he stumbled upon a pumpkin patch.

Under the full moon, he knelt down in front of a particularly large pumpkin and asked for guidance. The answer he reportedly received was that none of the religions were the true religion, so he had to form his own.

With a renewed spirit, Scarymcgee set out to form the Halloweeners.

&There are a lot of misconceptions about our group,& said Tinker Bella, the organization&s co-pastor. &It mostly stems from ignorance. That is why each year we go door-to-door trying to spread the truth. At first, people are put off when we ask &Trick or treat?& but we try to show them that Halloween is the one true holiday.&

In addition to spreading the word on Halloween night, Halloweeners have a rich tradition of ceremonies.

One such ceremony is the annual decoration of Halloweeners& homes.

&We believe that the pumpkin represents the origins of our religion because that is what Scarymcgee turned to when he wanted the truth,& Bella said. &We carve them and place candles inside because we believe it represents our true Halloween nature being illuminated. Each person strives to find their own representation.&

Of course, the religion is not without its persecutors.

&Each year, our pumpkins are smashed by evil-doers. They think it will crush our spirits, but we have enough faith to overcome such setbacks,& Ghastly said.

For Kitty Gypsy, this strong faith is what drew her to the group.

&I had tried everything from Lutherans to Jehovah&s Witnesses, but nothing quite fit. I even dabbled in Christmasanity, but Halloweeners just made more sense. I feel connected by their strength of faith and I really think I look good in orange and black,& Gypsy said.

But perhaps the most important factor for Gypsy and other Halloweeners is the versatility and diversity the religion offers.

&I can be whatever I want to be here. Whether I decide to be a pirate or a princess, people will accept me,& she said.

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