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Are religion-themed costumes appropriate for Halloween?

A new survey ranks offensive costumes and suggests you might want to rethink that nun habit and veil

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A new survey ranked Halloween offensive costumes, and religious-themed costumes were high on the list.

Children run down the sidewalk in anticipation of Halloween in Oakland, N.J., Oct. 14, 1966. A new survey ranks offensive costumes, and religious-themed costumes were high on the list.

Eddie Adams, Associated Press

If you still haven’t decided on a Halloween costume, Google is out with its annual list of favorites. Like last year, “witch” is the most popular, followed by rabbit, dinosaur and Utah’s top choice, Spider-Man.

But be careful when picking up that broom. Or considering anything related to religion.

Halloween costumes have become another cultural minefield to navigate in a nation that is increasingly sensitive to real or perceived affronts.

Good Housekeeping magazine recently published a list of 15 “cringe-worthy, harmful and offensive costumes that ruin everyone’s good time.” The list rightly includes anything that involves blackface or the COVID-19 pandemic or anything suggestive of cultural stereotypes.

The authors oddly didn’t object to the truly cringe-inducing “sexy” costumes of different professions that are common these days (for example, “traffic cop”), but thankfully they did warn about any costume making light of sexual harassment.

Meanwhile, market research company OnePoll compiled a similar list, drawn from the responses of 2,000 American parents who have children 10 and younger. Like Good Housekeeping, OnePoll warned against costumes suggestive of transphobia or the Holocaust, but the company also added the Confederate flag as something to avoid, as well as controversial people (“i.e., Adolph Hitler, Donald Trump”) and religion.

The 74 million Americans who voted for former President Trump in 2020 would like a word with whoever put Trump and Hitler in the same parenthetical. But beyond that very real affront, the inclusion of religion on this list may raise eyebrows since religion-themed costumes are often part of church Halloween celebrations. Noah and his ark, Jonah and his whale, and Queen Esther are reliable hits at costume parties and “trunk-or-treat” events held at churches.

OnePoll did not immediately respond to a request for clarification on what religious costumes parents found offensive. But common sense suggests that any costume that mocks a religious faith — whether it be a Catholic nun or priest, or a Buddhist monk— crosses a line.

Your adorable little Noah is probably OK.

OnePoll also offered a list of costumes that are deemed appropriate for children. Among them: superheroes, Crayons, pirates, ghosts, vampires, scarecrows and assorted foods or animals. (Utah has got the superheroes covered; according to Google Trends, the state’s No. 1 costume is Spider-Man.)

As for Google’s national Frightgeist list, the top 10 costumes (after the ever-popular witch) are: rabbit, dinosaur, Spider-Man, Cruella de Vil, fairy, comic-book character Harley Quinn, cowboy, clown and horror-film character Chucky.