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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 01:21 GMT 02:21 UK
Halloween outfits 'create fear'
Halloween masks
Halloween is marked by children dressing up in scary costumes
Retailers who sell traditional Halloween merchandise, such as scary masks, are creating a "climate of fear", the Bishop of Bolton has said.

The Rt Rev David Gillett has written to supermarkets asking them to rethink the way they promote the pagan festival, celebrated on 31 October.

He said they are focussing on the darker side of Halloween.

Mr Gillett suggested shops stock hair braids, bright balloons and colourful costumes alongside traditional items.

"I share the view of many Christians that large retailers are increasingly keen to commercialise Halloween celebrations in a way that pressurises parents to purchase goods that promote the dark, negative side of Halloween and could encourage anti-social behaviour," he said.

"I am worried that Halloween has the potential to trivialise the realities of evil in the world and that occult practices should not be condoned, even if they are only being presented in a caricatured, light-hearted form."

He added: "Those in the Church supporting this move towards a more positive approach to the event are not being killjoys, but are simply reflecting the concerns of many parents and teachers across the land.

"We want supermarkets to take a responsible position in relation to the products they promote for celebrating the event."

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