One mom is urging parents not to let their children watch the newly-released "Hocus Pocus 2" because the film will "unleash hell on your kids and in your home."
Jamie Gooch, a mother of three living in Troy, Texas, shared a post on social media and told local news station KWTX that families should "not watch this film."
“The whole movie is based on witches harvesting children for blood sacrifices.”
mom Jamie Gooch
“A worst case scenario is: you unleash hell on your kids and in your home,” Gooch told the station. “The whole movie is based on witches harvesting children for blood sacrifices.”
The mom added that while "everybody thinks it's fake and innocent," the characters in the film "could be casting any type of spell that they want to."
"Anything could be coming through that TV screen into your home," she added.
In the interview, Gooch cited her faith and a belief that there’s a “spiritual war being waged against homes in America” as a reason to warn parents about films and other forms of entertainment that depict witches and witchcraft.
TODAY Parents reached out to Gooch for comment. Her husband, Jeremy Gooch, responded via email on her behalf and declined to comment or give an interview, writing that the family has been "dealing with threats."
Gooch shared that her family has not observed Halloween in "four or five years," but believes the potential dangers stretch far beyond All Hallows’ Eve.
"I believe whatever comes in our TV screens, there are things attached to that," she said. "I’ve seen for myself the things that I’ve watched with my eyes or heard over a TV screen, they’ve become manifested in real life."
While the family has received negative backlash, Gooch said in the interview that she’s also received positive feedback that lets her know she’s not alone.
Wendy Walters, 46 — a Texas mother of two sons, ages 20 and 27, and grandmother of two, 1 and 5 — agrees with Gooch on the dangers of the film and similar entertainment.
“There’s been a lot of discussion in my friend group about how the depiction of witchcraft and even the thought of human sacrifice or a blood sacrifice that's needed has been billed as 'entertainment' or 'fun," Walters told TODAY. "Something that can start out as harmless entertainment can quickly expose your family to some unintended consequences."
Walters says she has not seen "Hocus Pocus 2" nor does she have any plans to view the film. She did see the 1993 original. Her sons, as children, did not.
"I think that glorifying witchcraft and glorifying human sacrifice — even if it's made with jokes and fun and Disney glitter — is not what we want to open our doors and families' lives to," she added.
Despite more than half of Americans now rejecting organized religion, warning about demons, witchcraft, devil-worship and "satanic panic" is on the rise, in large part to conspiracy theory groups like QAnon and conservative Republican politicians.
The church would label women who wanted more rights for themselves or stepped outside of the norms of their day as witches, because they didn’t conform to the expectations of society.
Paul Eldred, EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN PASTOR
Washington-based Evangelical Lutheran Pastor Paul Eldred, who has a degree in biblical and liturgical studies at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, says that witchcraft is "a label that we've thrown at things we don't understand or that terrify us."
"The church would label women who wanted more rights for themselves or stepped outside of the norms of their day as witches, because they didn't conform to the expectations of society," Eldred told TODAY. "This type of fear comes from a time in our history where we were motivated by fear and it doesn't stand up to really enlightened thinking."
Eldred said he believes that this fear also runs counter to his deep understanding of God.
"That somehow a movie or book will separate us from God? That doesn't stand up to my understanding at all," Eldred explained. "Faith asks us to trust in the unknown by putting our trust in God, who is made known through love and compassion and care, not in fear and exclusion and demonization."
"I think God wants us to live with a theology of love of expansiveness; of inclusion of diversity and seeing the breadth and beauty of God's creation in each one of us, even if we're different," he added. "Look at the world around us — it's so fascinating and interesting. I think God loves creativity in all the various ways it's shown."