Editorial on Halloween tract created unnecessary debate

On Nov. 3 the Baker City Herald editorial board started a public debate regarding Blue Mountain Baptist Church and their decision to include gospel tracts in bags of candy being given out to children during the downtown trick-or-treat event that broached topics like the Ten Commandments and hell. The editorial board stated: “Churches that choose to include religious messages during the downtown trick-or-treat event should either make tracts available separately from the candy, or consider whether the tracts are appropriate for the audience.”

After reading this editorial, I found myself asking four things:

One, what was the motive behind the editorial board’s decision to publish the initial article, “Tricks, treats and a tract?”

Two, who is the editorial board to dictate what churches should or shouldn’t do during the downtown trick-or-treat event, especially when they have a First Amendment right to do it?

Three, would our fine residents even be arguing or debating this matter online or in the newspaper had it not been for the inflammatory message of the initial editorial?

And four, has anyone who stands opposed to what Blue Mountain Baptist Church did, taken five minutes out of their day to stop by the church to have a personal, one-on-one, respectful conversation with the church’s pastor about how offended they were before publicly excoriating the church under the guise of “public interest?”

This may come as a surprise to some people, but individual Christians and churches have been putting gospel tracts and candy in little children’s Halloween baskets for several decades, and these tracts are usually intended more for the parents than the children. And considering that Oregon “continues to be among the least religious states in the country” (according to a Gallup analysis of polling data from 2012), Blue Mountain Baptist Church is simply trying to be obedient to Jesus’ command to “Go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel) to every creature (of the whole human race”) — Mark, 16:15, The Amplified New Testament.

Chris Burk

Baker City