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Book Review:

"When the Devil Dares your Kids"

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Sponsored link.

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Book Review

Of the many books have been written by Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christian authors about the Occult, this one is by far the most accurate. It appears to be a "transition book" - one that offers some accurate data but which still contains a great deal of misleading information. The book is written by Bob and Gretchen Passantino of Answers in Action of Costa Mesa, CA.

The title does not sound too encouraging, because it incorrectly implies that Satanism, Witchcraft and the rest of the occult are somehow linked to the Christian devil. Satan (in his present form) is an uniquely Christian and Islamic concept which is recognized neither by Witches, Satanists nor by any other component of the occult:
bulletWiccans and other Neo-Pagans do not recognize the existence of Satan or of any other all-evil deity. Satan is completely missing from their pantheon of Gods and Goddesses.
bulletThe Church of Satan recognizes a pre-Christian concept of Satan who bears little or no resemblance to the Christian or Islamic Satan
bulletThe Temple of Set worships an Egyptian God who is regarded as a precursor to the Satan of the Bible
bulletThe Tarot Card deck has a devil card. But is it linked to the Greek Pagan God Pan, and relates to a personal legacy or temptations or obsessions.
No other occultic activity even recognizes the existence of the devil.

The back cover does not sound too encouraging either. It states that "Satanism, witchcraft, and other occult practices lure even 'good' kids into a dark world of destruction and pain."

But the book has many accurate passages. They devote an entire chapter to an accurate discussion of Neo-Paganism, including contemporary Witchcraft and Wicca. The authors emphasize in Chapter 6 that Witches do not engage in criminal or destructive behaviours, and that they are honorable and trustworthy. The Passantinos simply regard Wiccans as mistaken and "following an attractive but unfulfilling" religion. Their grammar appears to be also in transition; they spell Witch and Witchcraft in small letters, but do capitalize the word Wicca. Unfortunately, they leave out the core rule of Wiccan behaviour, the Wiccan Rede: "Do what thou wilt [wish] as long as it harms nobody,
including yourself
"

This book is believed to be the first which contains relatively accurate coverage of Wicca by an Evangelical Christian author. Most previous conservative Christian authors defined Wicca is simply a variation of Satanism and accuse them of horrendous crimes.

The Passantinos' perform a needed public service by exposing as frauds a number of Christian books about Satanism, including Mike Warnke's The Satan Seller, Lauren Stratford's Satan's Underground and Michelle Smith's Michelle Remembers. To their credit, they mention that the rumors of widespread Satanic Ritual Abuse are grossly exaggerated.

But even this book has some serious errors:
bulletThey create the image that the Occult is a single monolithic, destructive organization. (e.g. P. 12 heading "The Occult Wants Your Child")
bulletThey interleave unrelated non-occultic horror items in their discussion of the occult (e.g. P. 13 horror movies)
bulletThey imply (P. 14) that all occult activities promote a "do what thou wilt" philosophy. They have apparently taken part of the Wiccan Rede and infer that all activities within the Occult follow that rule of behavior. That is definitely not true. By leaving off the second half of the Wiccan Rede, the authors have inverted its meaning.
bulletThey imply (P. 14) that involvement in any form of the occult leads to alcohol abuse, drug usage, running away from home, failing at school, violent behaviour, mass murder and other criminal activity.
bulletThey imply that some teenagers involved in the occult engage in animal torture, mutilation or killing (P. 20). There is an element of truth in this. Santerians do kill animals ritually and humanely with as little pain as possible. A very few teenage self-styled Satanists do ritually kill animals; but this is not true of Satanism generally. It is certainly not true of any other occultic group.
bulletThey state that Witches "take increasingly large doses of drugs to sustain them through increasingly complex and bizarre rituals" (P. 30). This is not true; it is simply a bit of propaganda left over from the Witch burning times during 15th to 18th century Europe.
bulletThey say that teenagers become involved in the occult because of easy sex, drugs, freedom and thrills. (P. 65). Again, some rebellious teenagers do dabble in a form of Satanism that they create and which engages in sexual activity and drugs. But this is rare and is unrelated to "mainstream" Satanism and to other occultic activities.

An overwhelming deficiency permeates the book: they:
bulletcombine the serial murders of a few psychotic youth who have used Satanism as a convenient cover story, with
bulletthe animal killing, graffiti drawing and tombstone desecration of a small percentage of teens who dabble in Satanism, and
bulletgeneralize these activities as being typical of all Satanists, and
bulletgeneralize Satanic activity to being typical of the entire Occult.

In doing so, they do a major disservice to all of the faith groups, games and other unrelated activities which form the Occult.

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Return to the OCRT home page, or to the "Hot" religious topics menu, or to the Occult essay.

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Book Reference

B & G Passantino, When The Devil Dares Your Kids, Servant, Ann Arbor (1991)