During Halloween spirit week, a high school teacher in Arizona has been placed on leave for allegedly dressing as the devil and using a pitchfork while uttering “Hail Satan” as students entered the classroom.
The incident took place at Mesa High School, prompting concerns and an ongoing investigation. Mesa Public Schools district released a statement to local media, noting that administrators learned of the incident late last Wednesday.
Consequently, the district’s Human Resources department launched an investigation the following day and put the teacher on paid administrative leave while the inquiry progresses.
Nathaniel Hamlet, a sophomore student at Mesa High School, reported that a teacher came to class wearing devil horns and carrying a pitchfork during the Halloween-themed week. The teacher allegedly waved the pitchfork over students while saying, “Hail Satan.”
Hamlet shared that reactions among students varied, with some finding it funny, while others were uncomfortable or indifferent. However, the costume offended Hamlet’s Christian faith. He pushed the pitchfork away and asked the teacher to stop, but the teacher persisted.
Hamlet reported the incident to his father, Chris Hamlet, who is a Christian and a former Republican candidate for the Mesa Unified School Board. Chris Hamlet brought the matter to the school’s principal, expressing his concern about the teacher’s actions.
Chris Hamlet explained his reaction, stating, “What really tipped it over for me is, he kept telling him ‘no.’ And he and the teacher kept persisting.”
HAIL SATAN IN MESA PUBLIC SCHOOLS, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? Mesa Public Schools is hypersexualizing, indoctrinating, and grooming our children at every turn!!
Just a few short hours ago, one of the 10th grade geometry teachers at Mesa High School wore horns and a pitchfork to school… pic.twitter.com/ICYedNLprD
— Chris Hamlet (@ChrisHamletAZ) October 25, 2023
The teacher involved defended his actions, explaining that he had dressed up for the school’s Halloween spirit week and had coordinated with another teacher who dressed as an angel.
Halloween celebrations in schools have faced criticism from concerned parents and administrators nationwide. In New Jersey, a school district recently prohibited students from participating in Halloween festivities during school hours as part of an effort to promote greater equity.
For some Christians, Halloween is viewed as a holiday with ties to the occult, as it originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. This festival marked the midpoint between the autumn equinox and winter solstice and was believed to be a time when the veil separating the physical and spiritual realms was at its thinnest.
Statistics show that 78% of Americans planned to celebrate Halloween in 2022. However, Christian views on the holiday vary, with some believing it to be a commercialized celebration focusing on costumes, trick-or-treating, and pumpkin carving, rather than an observance related to warding off evil spirits.
In a survey conducted by the Christian polling firm Lifeway Research in September 2022, it was found that only 13% of over 1,000 Protestant pastors urged their congregations to avoid celebrating Halloween entirely, up from 8% in a 2016 survey. The results highlight the diverse opinions within the Christian community regarding Halloween.
As the investigation into the teacher’s actions continues, the school district will likely take steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.
Halloween celebrations in schools will likely continue to be a subject of debate, with various perspectives and opinions shaping the way they are approached in educational institutions across the country.