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Religious Tolerance logo

Analysis of the ritual crime
report by the state of Utah, 199

2. Introduction. Ritual Abuse
Crime Unit. Occult Groups

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Pages 6-7: Introduction:

King and Jacobson mention a number of other reports on ritual crime. One unfortunate definition of "occult crime" is taken from a 1990-JUN survey by the Michigan State Police:

"any crime involving Neo Paganism, Satanism, Witchcraft, Voodooism [sic], Santeria and other black arts practices".

Here, the report links together five unrelated religious practices, and implies that they all engage in the "black arts". This implies that all are involved in harmful, criminal, and abusive activities, which is not true. On a positive note, the Michigan authors should be commended for at least treating these religions as valid faith groups by capitalizing their names.

The entire introduction is based on the unsupported assumption that ritual abuse is a serious problem in Utah and is widespread throughout the state.

Pages 8-11 Legislative concerns and funding; Goals & responsibilities of the Ritual Abuse Crime Unit:

The investigating officers averaged 14 years of police experience when they started the inquiry; each had had "occult crime investigative experience". It is obvious from their report that they were (and remain) strong supporters of the belief that "occult crime" is a serious and pervasive problem in the US. The term cult cop has been used to describe police officers who actively attempt to raise public consciousness of SRA, in spite of the complete absence of physical evidence that the activity exists.

The authors describe "ritualistic" abuse in very broad terms, including

bulletReligious ritual abuse by Satanists;
bulletReligious ritual abuse by other religious groups; and
bulletAbuse motivated by the cultural, sexual or psychological needs of perpetrators.

They made reference to the Zion Society case, even though no ritual abuse seems to have been committed there.

In spite of this broad definition, their entire investigation appears to have been concentrated on Satanic abuse; there is no indication that they made any effort to assess abuse during exorcisms or other forms of Christian Ritual Abuse.

They list the primary goals of the Ritual Abuse Crime Unit are to:

  1. Gather factual information regarding ritual abuse allegations statewide through a law enforcement survey.
  2. Investigate allegations of ritual crimes in the state of Utah
  3. Obtain opinions and impressions from each jurisdiction in the state regarding perceptions and validity of ritual abuse claims
  4. Obtain any case history made available by departments
  5. Examine causes of occult activity

We question goal #3; why should a state agency collect impressions? It would seem more reasonable to confine themselves to collecting evidence of crime rather than unsupported beliefs.

We also question goal #5. The authors have included a variety of legitimate Neo-Pagan, Caribbean and other religions within their definition of "the occult". The fact that a state police force would establish a goal of monitoring religious minorities is a particularly scary thought. This role attacks the one of the foundation principles of the American constitution: that of freedom of religious expression.

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Pages 12-21: Groups involved in occult practices:

The investigators acknowledge the help of "Captain Randy Johnson of the West Jordon Police Department" who they describe as a "nationally and internationally recognized authority on the occult."

We see a major switch in the report at this point. Although the inquiry was supposed to deal with ritual crime, the investigators now start to investigate the makeup of "the occult". The only logical implication is that people active in the occult are responsible for ritual crime. We are now two steps removed from reality:

bulletThey have not shown that ritual abuse exists in Utah at any significant level
bulletThey have not shown that any occult group has engage in abuse of any sort

The authors list two dictionary definitions on the "occult", which cover a wide variety of legitimate religious expressions as well as the Masonic Order, horoscope casters, tarot card readers, fortune tellers - even Christian religious services and prayer. They state that little information is available on the occult, and then contradict themselves by mentioning that such information is readily available from occult and New Age stores.

They then discuss a group of activities and religious beliefs that have sometimes been called "occultic". Again, one questions why:

bulletA state agency is investigating legitimate minority religions.
bulletSome religions (e.g. Wicca and other Neo-pagan faiths) are included in their study, but very similar religions (e.g. Native American Spirituality) were ignored.
bulletThey link followers of benign religions to psychotic serial murderers.

Copyright © 1996 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-AUG-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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