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In the front yard of Michele Laramie's home in Madison Heights, you'll find typical Halloween decorations -- pumpkins, a graveyard, a ghost.

And tonight, her 3-year-old daughter will dress up and trick-or-treat as a witch.

Witches, ghosts and graveyards -- not exactly angelic images.

But many people are like Laramie, who is Catholic. They will spend this morning in church and then dabble in the traditional displays of Halloween spirit this evening. It's the way it goes when the holiday for ghouls and goblins falls on a Sunday, the holy day for Christians.

Laila Jones, 3, of Farmington Hills waits to go into the haunted halls of St. Paul Lutheran Church.

The Rev. Jeremy Schultz, pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Royal Oak, says that's probably OK.

Unless churchgoers take celebrations to a twisted extreme, he sees little harm in traditions like trick-or-treating or dressing up in costume.

"Yes, it's true, there are historical roots of Halloween that we would certainly not endorse as Christians," Schultz says. "But what Halloween is today and the practice of trick-or-treating and dressing up, it is really more along the lines of pageantry and fun."

As Laramie says: "It's something that I think is meant to be fun. I'm sure there are those people who don't like it. But many do."
A consistent message

Those who don't observe Halloween customs for religious reasons may be in the minority, but they are serious.

The Rev. Bryan C. Moore, pastor of Historic Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church on Detroit's west side, hopes members skip the trick-or-treating tonight and come to the church's Harvest Game Night party instead. It will feature food, games, candy and kids dressed as biblical characters.

What it won't include are scary things like ghosts -- outside of the holy one, of course.

For Moore, it's about sending a consistent message as a Christian.

"It can be confusing for people you're trying to communicate your Christian values to," Moore says. "If they see you're a part of this Christian community but you also celebrate something that is purely anti-Christian, it kind of convolutes us. It really hurts us when we get ready to tackle other issues and we've lost credibility."

Beverly Phillips, assistant director of public relations of the Jewish Community Council, said many Orthodox Jews avoid the holiday completely.

"Instead, they focus on Purim," Phillips says, referring to a Jewish festival that celebrates being saved from slaughter in Persia. "It's a celebration in March, and kids do dress up in costume then."

In the Muslim community, Halloween doesn't seem to be an issue, says Imad Hamad, a father of three and regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

He says his kids and others he knows from Muslim families celebrate Halloween in typical fashion with costumes, candy, tricks and treats. He said the religious implications of the holiday had never crossed his mind.

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