The ACLU of Louisiana has written to the members of the Livingston Parish Council, urging them to repeal an ordinance that changes the official date of Halloween when October 31 falls on a Sunday, as it does this year. The same ordinance mandates specific hours for "trick or treat." Because the government is prohibited from telling people where they can go and when they may serve candy to visitors, and because Halloween is a religious holiday the date of which cannot be mandated by government, the ACLU urges the Livingston Parish Council to block enforcement of Ordinance 11-10 until it can be repealed.
"Neither Halloween nor any other event is subject to the dictates of a government that wants to tell people when they can visit their neighbors and when they can serve treats to children," said Marjorie R. Esman, ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director. "The penalty for violation of this misguided ordinance can be up to 30 days in jail. No parent should fear jail time for taking children to a neighbor's house for candy, and no resident should fear prosecution for offering a treat to a visiting child."
Halloween is part of an ancient religious tradition that includes Celtic and Christian elements. Tied to the celebration of the dead and respect for their souls, it is a religious celebration that cannot be rescheduled at the whim of government. "The free exercise of religion, mandated by both the U.S. and the Louisiana Constitutions, means that government cannot reschedule Christmas or any other religious holiday," continued Esman. "That includes Halloween, which falls on October 31 regardless of the day of the week."
A copy of the open letter may be found here.