To the Rev. Glen H. Morris of the Pasadena Church of God, dressing up like a ghoul and trick or treating around the neighborhood isn't child's play.
It's an abomination in the eyes of God.
Morris and his wife, Portia, are sponsoring an alternative Harvest Festival tonight, free to all Pasadena residents "who don't want to celebrate Satan."
Citing evangelical literature, Morris explained that tomorrow night is the unholiest of the eight unholidays on the satanic church's calendar and said that its popularity among children is proof of the decay of American society.
"The trick-or-treat concept is a manifestation of what we are trying to call into question. Think about it," Morris said. "You say give me a treat or I'll give you a trick. It's a very subtle form of extortion. We would never accept the vandalism, the fearful or macabre aspects of Halloween as normal any other time of the year, so why would we allow it on this one night?"
Answering his own question, Morris said that demons and their servants in the church of Satan have taken advantage of weakened Christian resolve to establish a foothold in mainstream society.
Morris' Pentecostal view that Halloween horrors should be suppressed appears to be part of a growing regional trend.
This year, The Sun reported that principals from at least three elementary schools in Baltimore and Howard counties have sent letters home urging parents to steer children away from gruesome or violent costumes.
Many schools also are avoiding the word Halloween and are calling their in-school costume parties "fall festivals."
Morris hasn't appealed to the school system, but this is the first time his church is opening its 7-year-old harvest festival to everyone in Pasadena.
"I don't have any figures," he said, "but I've been told by other ministers that this corridor between Baltimore and Annapolis has been targeted by Satanists as a center of activity."
While the Pasadena Church of God has received support from some area churches, others don't share Morris' wide interpretation of idolatry.
Pastor Raymond Simmons of the Galilee Lutheran Church of Pasadena said he believes there is no harm in dressing up like a witch or goblin, so long as it isn't done consciously to pay tribute to a dark force.
"Every minister has his own view of the Bible, but I don't think you can give glory to Satan without intending to," Simmons said. "I don't think any child that I know is dressing up like a witch to worship Satan. Most are just being cute to get candy and apples."
Simmons said dressing up for Halloween is a superstitious practice born out of the celebration of the eve of All Saint's Day -- a holy day of obligation in the Catholic Church -- and that the scary costumes were worn to frighten off the demons believed to roam the earth on that night, rather than attract them.
Morris said the practice of scaring the demons "has been perverted" into a celebration of death and darkness that he believes is unhealthy under any circumstances.
"Why can't we support a Halloween associated with Christ, with safety and with well-being, that is also fun?" he asked.
Morris' church at 7975 Tick Neck Road will be sponsoring its Halloween alternative from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. tomorrow, with pony rides, games, contests for non-satanic costumes, hay rides, a bonfire and bags of candy.
Hot dogs and soda will be sold. Children younger than 10 must be accompanied by an adult.
Phone 255-8403 or 255-3168 for information.