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The Occult:

Conservative Christian beliefs

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Conservative Christian beliefs about the Occult:

There is no consensus on the nature of the Occult:

bullet Some people (particularly individuals involved in occultic activities) look upon the Occult as fascinating, harmless, mysterious, spiritual and a source of knowledge and healing power.
bullet Others (particularly conservative Christians) see it as being profoundly evil, criminal, destructive, life threatening, and Satanic. It is a word that generates horror and revulsion.

Although it is common for people to differ in their religious views, it is rare to have a disparity as extreme as this.

Many Evangelicals and Fundamentalist Christians define the Occult as including an enormous range of practices. We have seen references to:

bullet Religions & Spiritual Movements:
bullet American Meditation Society
bullet Anthroposophical Society
bullet Baha'i Faith
bullet Ceremonial Magick. This includes the use of rituals, spells, chants to change the material world.
bullet Children of God (Family of Love)
bullet Christian Science: An established Christian denomination centered in Boston MA.
bullet A Course in Miracles
bullet Eckankar: A religious and spiritual path, sometimes called the Religion of the Light and Sound of God.
bullet Gothic Satanism: This is a non-existent, anti-Christian faith whose members were believed to engage in cannibalism, human sacrifice, etc. It is an imaginary faith created during the latter Middle Ages. It justified the extensive Witch burnings and hangings of the 15th to 18th centuries.
bullet Hinduism: The third largest of the world's great religions.
bullet Hindu sects of various types, such as Hare Krishna.
bullet Jehovah's Witnesses (a.k.a. Watchtower Society, WTS)
bullet Kabala
bullet Macumba: This is a syncretistic religion combining elements of Roman Catholicism and African native religions. It is similar to Vodun.
bullet Mormonism (a.k.a. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
bullet New Age: This is a system of thought including belief in monism, pantheism, reincarnation, personal transformation, spirit guides, etc. Includes practices such as channeling, use of crystals, meditation, etc.
bullet Palo Mayombe
bullet Rastafarianism
bullet Rosicrucianism: An ancient syncretistic religion dating back to the 17th century.
bullet Santeria: A Caribbean religion which combines Roman Catholicism and African native beliefs.
bullet Satanic Ritual Abuse: The abuse and murder of children by Satanists during rituals. This appears to be a non-existent phenomenon.
bullet Satanism: A modern religion based on a pre-Christian concept of Satan, who is recognized either as a principle or as a supernatural being.
bullet Church of Scientology: A religious movement based on the writings of L R Hubbard.
bullet Self-Realization Fellowship
bullet Spiritualists National Movement, and other branches of Spiritualism/Spiritism.
bullet Shamanism
bullet Theosophy: A religious group whose beliefs are largely based on the writings of Helena Blavatsky.
bullet Transcendental Meditation
bullet UFO cults: Groups who believe that extra-terrestrial beings are attempting to communicate with us and lead humans to a higher plane of understanding. 6
bullet Unification Church: An established Christian denomination originating in Korea.
bullet Vedanta Society
bullet Vodun: A syncretistic Caribbean religion which combines Roman Catholicism and African native beliefs.
bullet Voodoo: A non-existent religion from the Caribbean invented for Hollywood horror movies).
bullet Wicca: A Neo-Pagan earth-based religion similar to Native American spirituality. It is sometimes called "White Witchcraft" by the public.
bullet Zen Buddhism 7
bullet Divination Techniques -- methods of foretelling the future:
bullet Astrology
bullet Biorhythm
bullet Crystal divination
bullet I Ching
bullet Palm Reading
bullet Rune casting
bullet Tarot Card Reading 5
bullet Tea Cup Reading
bullet Games
bullet Adult games (e.g. Ouija Boards).
bullet Children's TV programs and cartoons (e.g. She-ra).
bullet Children's toys (e.g. Smurfs).
bullet Fantasy role-playing games (e.g. Dungeons and Dragons)
bullet Medical and therapeutic techniques:
bullet Aura reading
bullet Various holistic medical processes
bullet Hypnotism
bullet Iridology (diagnosis from study of the iris)
bullet Reflexology (diagnosis from manipulation of the foot)
bullet Visualization techniques (a.k.a. guided imagery)
bullet Other Activities
bullet Educational courses - a range of modern methods of teaching
bullet Fire walking (bare-foot walking on a bed of glowing coals).
bullet Heavy metal rock music.
bullet Holistic Health Practices (healing by acupuncture, flower remedies, homeopathy, etc.)
bullet The Masonic Lodge (or similar men's fraternal organizations).
bullet Meditation.
bullet Reading novels by specific authors (e.g. Carlos Casteneda).
bullet Yoga and other exercise techniques.

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Impact of Occultic activities:

Many conservative Christians believe that if a person engages in occult experiences, then "points of contact or entanglement with demonic entities" will occur, and "malevolent spiritual entities" (demons) can infiltrate their mind and body. They become demon possessed.

Many Evangelical Christian authors often visualize the opening of occultic "doorways" through which malevolent forces have a "legal right" to infiltrate the person's home and cause serious spiritual problems. These demons can become attached to the person's location and can cause inter-generational infestation over a period of decades or even centuries.

These views correspond closely to 1st and 2nd century CE beliefs in possession by demons and evil spirits. They have been abandoned by most psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals for centuries. Within the professional therapeutic communities, such beliefs now appear to be confined to a small minority of mental health professionals who are Roman Catholics or conservative Protestants.

Rex W. Rosenberg, a conservative Christian clinical psychologist who has specialized in Multiple Personality Disorder, believes that such infiltration can lead to what he calls "demonically-mediated dissociation" (DMD). This is one form of a mental disorder that others call Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). 1,2 All forms of MPD and DID are now recognized by almost all therapists as iatrogenic (physician created) disorders that no not occur in nature.

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The Occult in the Christian media:

Many books have been written by Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christian authors in opposition to the Occult. 3 Most are filled with fear and lurid descriptions of the fate of occultists. They are quite terrifying.

One partial exception appears to be a "transition book." It is titled: "When the Devil Dares your Kids, Protecting Your Children from Satanism, Witchcraft and the Occult" by Bob and Gretchen Passantino. See a critical review of that book. The quality of the Passantino's book is at a much higher level than is seen in most conservative Christian writings. 4

Pat Robertson, his Christian Coalition and 700 Club discuss the Occult frequently. In his book, "The New World Order," he describes a world-wide conspiracy whose goal is to establish "an occult-inspired world socialist dictatorship....[a] new world order based on the overthrow of civil governments, the church and private property.". He identifies the leader of the conspiracy is "international Freemasonry." which he believes is dominated by "satanists and occultists." By this century, he writes that a Freemasonic coalition of "humanists" and "occultists" had seized control of governments, schools, banks, the media and "apostate" churches. We have been unable to find concrete evidence of such a conspiracy.

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Comparing beliefs about the Occult:

Some of the beliefs by conservative Christians, and the contrasting beliefs of others:

Common conservative Christian belief about the Occult

Belief by Occultists

All occultic activities are controlled by demonic forces, and are inspired by Satan. With the exception of Satanists, no occult groups recognize the existence of Satan.
Engaging in any occultic practice will lead to personal demon possession. Mental health professionals essentially all agree that demons do not exist. Possession is impossible.
All occultic activities are controlled by a single, secret, international organization that is seeking total political power. All occultic groups work quite independently of others, with the exception of cooperation during psychic fairs.  
Occultists hate Christianity. Some Satanists ridicule Christianity. Some Wiccans fight back legally when they experience by prejudice and physical attacks by Christians. But, most of the remaining occultists are Christians. 
Once you start in the Occult you are prevented from leaving. Anyone is free to leave any Occultic group or practice at any time.
All occultic practices are recruiting programs for Satanism. There is no connection between Satanic and other occultic groups.
"Occult crime" is a separate class of criminal activity inspired by the Occult. With the exception of some young dabblers in Satanism who are into painting graffiti, (and very rarely animal sacrifice), occultists do not engage in criminal acts that are associated with their practices.
Occult groups commit 50 to 60 thousands of human sacrifices per year. The only known documented human sacrifice in the U.S. or Canada was by the Solar Temple leadership; they are a Christian-New Age group.
All elements of the Occult recruit extensively, and concentrate heavily on youth. Satanists and Neopagans to not recruit members of any age. Most Wiccan covens refuse to initiate or educate an individual under the age of 18. Other occultic practitioners are typically approached by an interested person rather than vice versa.
Witchcraft (most often Wicca) and Satanism are essentially identical. Wicca and Satanism are totally different religions. Their behavior codes are totally contradictory. They recognize different deities. Their beliefs, rituals etc are quite different.

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References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Rex W. Rosenberg: web site dealing with "Demonically-Mediated Dissociation" (DMD) at: http://www.awav.net/wzeroall/
  2. Rex W. Rosenberg, "Occult Activities and Manifestations Survey," at: http://www.awav.net/wzeroall/survey.html
  3. The following Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christian anti-Occult references were consulted. None are particularly reliable. However, they may help the reader gain an understanding of the mind set of people who fear the Occult. Some of the material in these books appear to have been derived from the Middle Ages and other Christian anti-occult books. You will not believe the amount of misinformation, religious hatred and religious intolerance contained within these publications:
    bullet D.W. Hoover, "How to Respond to the Occult," Concordia, St. Louis (1977) P. 8
    bullet J. McDowell & D. Stewart, "The Occult, Here's Life," San Bernadino (1992)
    bullet N. Price, "New Age, the Occult and Lion Country," Power Books, New Tappan NJ (1989)
    bullet Texe Marrs, "New Age Cults & Religions," Living Truth, Austin (1990)
    bullet W.Viser, "The Darkness Among Us," Broadman & Holman, Nashville (1994)
    bullet E. Winker, "The New Age is Lying to You," Concordia, St. Louis (1994)
    bullet D. Hunt, "America: The Sorcerer's New Apprentice," Harvest House, Eugene, (1988)
    bullet T. Schwarz & D. Empey, "Is Your Family Safe?," Satanism, Zondervan, Grand Rapids (1988)
    bullet J. Michaelsen, "Like Lambs to the Slaughter," Harvest House, Eugene (1989)
    bullet M.F. Unger, "Demons in the World Today," Tyndale House, Wheaton IL (1971)
  4. B & G Passantino, When The Devil Dares Your Kids," servant, Ann Arbor (1991)
  5. Solandia has many pages showing the great variety of Tarot Cards that are currently available. See: http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/
  6. Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna, "Alien abductions and the Orthodox Christian," Orthodox Christian Information Center, at: http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/
  7. This list is taken from a number of conservative Christian sources, including Bishop Alexander (Mileant), "The enticement of the occult," OrthodoxPhotos, at: http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/

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Copyright 1995 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 1995-JUN-8
Last update: 2007-OCT-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

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