The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

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October 30, 2011

Ghost tales have integral role in Southern culture

— The question of whether ghosts really exist is one of those timeless quandaries that is often examined at Halloween.

A majority of religious experts will agree that there are, in fact, ghosts. It can be argued that one of the world’s first “ghost stories” originated with the Holy Ghost — the rising of Jesus from his tomb after being crucified.

At Halloween, ghosts are often celebrated through scary movie marathons, spooky campfire stories and haunted houses. Retail outlets nationwide make millions of dollars selling devilish costumes and spooky accessories to the parents of trick-or-treaters.

And, while there are plenty of skeptics and non-believers, some local residents aren’t shy about saying paranormal activity is a very real thing. Even spookier, you may not have to be a psychic or have a sixth sense to experience it.

A word of warning

Though families often celebrate Halloween through dressing up and telling ghost stories, a local religious leader stressed caution when it comes to exploring the paranormal.

Dr. Edwin Jenkins, pastor of Athens First Baptist Church, said his views on spirits and ghosts may not make him popular at Halloween, but he wants people to be aware of the dangers.

“When we talk about ghosts and goblins and haunted houses, there is a fine line we might go over and get us into an area where we don’t want to be,” he said. “I’m confident that the Holy Spirit within the life of a believer is greater than any other spirit in the world.”

He said it may be popular to break out a Ouija board or visit haunted houses at Halloween, but he said such activities could cross over into dangerous territory.

“The Bible says ‘The devil is a roaring lion seeking whom me may devour,’ so we need to be careful about dabbling in those things,” Jenkins said. “Some will say it’s harmless, but I have to stand on the truth of the word of God.”

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