A MINISTER has sparked a debate over Halloween events he says encourage children to dress up as creatures that represent ‘far greater evil’ than Nazis and terrorists.

The Revd Chris Briggs, of the Portland Methodist Circuit, says ‘no Christian has any business encouraging anything to do with Halloween and society would be better off if it avoided it’.

The comments, made on his blog Ministerial Meanderings, have attracted both agreement and disagreement from residents in the borough.

In the post, the Revd Briggs says: ‘I want you to imagine a scenario. You hear a knock at the door and open it. Outside you see two small children with a beaming parent (after all letting children go door to door in the dark is ridiculous).

‘One young child is dressed as Adolf Hitler and has swastikas on their arm. The other is dressed as an Islamic State fighter carrying an IS flag.

‘I rather suspect that many people would think not only is this bad taste but celebrating such evil is highly inappropriate to say the least. I would agree.

‘Yet we encourage children to dress as witches and the Devil and the like, deliberately encouraging dressing up as something that represents far greater evil.

‘I think we have our values back to front in this country.’ Halloween is thought to have originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, a day to mark the end of harvest and the beginning of winter – a transition that was believed to be a bridge to the world of the dead.

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour saints and martyrs and October 31 was known as All Hallows’ Eve, which later became Halloween.

Our modern day celebrations have a mixed response on social media.

Amanda Jane Green said: ‘I’m Christian but I don’t let that affect my five-year-old enjoying it. He loves dressing up. I have always joined in with Halloween.’

Shelagh Cudlip said: ‘I don’t like it or celebrate it but there are some kids that pre-arrange to go round to certain houses, they dress up so I don’t want to spoil their fun, I have sweeties ready for them.’

But Jamie Carter said: ‘It’s only got a sinister undertone if you’re a Christian and feel the need to tell people not to celebrate it... otherwise it’s clearly harmless fun for the kids.’

The Portland Methodist Circuit is hosting a ‘Light Party’ today as an alternative event to Halloween with games, craft, competitions and disco.

Speaking to the Echo, the Revd Briggs said: “It’s an alternative to the standard Halloween celebrations which in my view are not healthy because it celebrates things that are unwholesome.

“We haven’t done one in the last few years. We used to do them regularly. We are just trying to give it a positive spin. I do think Halloween is driven by a commercial interest.

“I guess businesses here looked across to America and thought, ‘Wow’, while rubbing their hands together.”

The party will take place tonight at Easton Methodist Hall between 5pm and 6.30pm. There will be prizes for ‘non-scary’ costumes.