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SATANISM, AS VIEWED BY NON-SATANISTS:

EXAMPLES OF INFORMATION AND MISINFORMATION ON THE INTERNET

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Satanism on the Internet:

The terms "Satanism" and "Satanist" have very definite meanings to followers of that religion. However, non-Satanists often assign very different definitions to these terms.

Many Internet web sites created by non-Satanists describe contemporary religious Satanism in unusual ways:

bulletA growing number of information sources describe religious Satanists as Satanists understand themselves: persons -- typically adults -- who follow Satanism as a religion that is unrelated to other faith traditions. It is not a Christian heresy or a form of inverted Christianity. Non-Satanic authors are increasingly accepting this viewpoint. They are now frequently basing their essays on primary information sources -- material that was actually written by Satanists.
bulletSome believe that Satanists are criminals who engage in horrendous activities involving Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA). This includes sexual molestation, physical maltreatment, rape, murder, and even cannibalism. Their writing is based on the widespread popular beliefs about secret, underground, multi-generational Satanic cults which became popular during the Satanic Panic of 1980 to 1995. These beliefs turned out to be without foundation. They have since been discredited and largely abandoned.
bulletSome define all persons who are not Christians or Jews as Satanists, and lump together the followers of many benign religions, from Asatru to Zoroastrianism, as worshipers of Satan. Satanism then becomes a synonym for "non-Judeo-Christian."
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When some discuss Satanists, they are actually referring to teenage Satanic "dabblers." The latter are often youth who have pieced together an eclectic belief system derived from multiple sources. Some dabblers engage in mild vandalism.
bulletStill others refer to Gothic Satanism, an imaginary religion which was believed to exist centuries ago during the Burning Times when the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant churches exterminated heretics. Gothic Satanism didn't exist then and doesn't exist now. But some beliefs about Satan worshipers from the late Middle Ages and Renaissance have become embedded in our culture and are still accepted today.
bulletMany people consider religious Satanism and Wicca (a.k.a. Witchcraft) as being related or even identical.
bulletSome describe Satanism as representing the core of the Occult. Other unrelated pastimes, religions and activities like Wicca, other Neopagan religions, the Masonic Order, Tarot cards, tea leaf reading, horoscopes, Ouija boards, heavy metal rock music, role playing games, etc. are basically considered to be recruiting mechanisms to lure unsuspecting people into the Occult and entrap them into Satanism.

With so many meanings attributed to only two words -- "Satanist" and "Satanism" -- it is important for reporters, webmasters, authors and others to define precisely what they mean by these terms in advance, before discussing Satanism. Unfortunately, this is rarely done. Quite often, an article or essay will intermix information on religious Satanism, Gothic Satanism, Satanic dabbling, Wicca, and other Occultic activities.

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What level of accurate knowledge should we expect about Satanism?

There is a wide variation among the North American public concerning Satanism:

bulletOn Satanic Ritual Abuse (a.k.a. SRA):
bulletA 1992 public opinion survey conducted by the Deseret News in Utah showed that 90% of adults in that state believed that secret groups -- presumably Satanists -- engaged in ritualistic child sexual abuse. One reason for this high percentage may be the religious affiliation of Utah citizens: over 70% are believed to be members or adherents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). Like most conservative Christian denominations, Satan plays a major and profoundly evil role in that church's belief system. One would expect similar results if a poll were taken in a Southern state in the U.S. or Alberta in Canada where a large percentage of the population is affiliated with a Fundamentalist and other Evangelical Christian faith group.
bulletYet, almost all police officers and other investigators who have spent over a decade searching for some evidence of SRA have concluded that it does not exist.
bulletOn the theology of Satanism:
bulletWe would estimate that in excess of 90% of North American adults believe that religious Satanists worship the Christian devil, Satan.
bulletAlmost all academics who study new religious movements realize that most Satanists are unconvinced whether one or more Supreme Beings exist. That is, they are Agnostics. When Satanists discuss Satan, they are not referring to the Christian devil -- a living entity with finite supernatural powers. They are referring to a pre-Christian concept representing pleasure, virility, strength, enthusiasm for life, etc.

As of late 2003, sixty million Internet sites contain the word "God." Nineteen million sites contain the word "Christ." From these numbers, we can surmise that there are probably many millions of religious web sites on the Internet. All writers for the Internet have a responsibility to thoroughly investigate their topic in advance, in order to avoid misinforming the public. One might wish that the non-Satanic webmasters who discuss Satanism would have thoroughly studied that religion. However, this appears to not be true. From the massive amount of misinformation about Satanism on the Internet, it is probable that non-Satanic webmasters are basing their writing on their denomination's teaching, rather than on primary information sources from Satanists themselves.

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A sampling of non-Satanic web sites which describe Satanism:

bulletThe Christadelphian Magazine and Publishing Association Ltd (UK): Their pamphlet "Satanism or Christianity" is reproduced on the Christadelphia World Wide web site. 1 Some excerpts:
bullet"Satanism is a more specific definition, and is used to refer to the worship of Satan, who is alleged to be the supreme evil spirit." [Note: This is incorrect. Religious Satanists do not recognize or worship Satan as a living being or spirit]
bullet"The worship of the Devil by Satanists has therefore been likened to the worship of God..." [Note: See above]
bullet"Many believers in the occult hold services where real blood is offered and drunk as a mark of the 'fellowship' existing between the congregation and the ungodly powers, the blood having first been taken from a 'living sacrifice'." [This is incorrect. Religious Satanists neither use living sacrifices nor drink blood.]
bullet"The fear engendered by occult and satanist groups is known to hold many people in a trap of terror." [This is incorrect, and appears to have its source in Middle Age beliefs about Satan worshipers who were believed to have sold their soul to Satan. A Satanist is free to change their religion at any time.]
bulletChristianity Today published an article about The Godless Americans March on Washington, held on 2002-NOV-2. 4
bulletAmerican Atheists organized the march and invited "all groups and individuals who sincerely declare themselves to be 'Godless Americans' " to be listed as endorsers of the march.  Ed Buckner, executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism, reportedly complained about the presence of two groups of Satanists: The Order of Perdition and the United Satanic Convenire. He said: "This is supposed to be a march of those without religion. We don't believe there is Satan or any other god." Ellen Johnson, the president of American Atheists, allegedly said that: "we're disappointed that the Council for Secular Humanism has decided to go public with this non-issue." She wanted "all of the endorsers to work together and to strive toward unity in this march." 5 [Note: Buckner apparently misunderstands the theological beliefs of religious Satanists. The latter are Agnostics and do not worship Satan, the Christian God or any other supreme being or quasi-deity.]

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A sampling of non-Satanic web sites (Cont'd):

bullet"Exposing Satanism and Witchcraft" is a conservative Christian web site that is opposed to Wicca and Satanism. 6 Their essay on Satanism facts is fairly accurate. 7 Some excerpts:
bullet"Satanism exists for one reason and that is to mock and rebel against the word of God." [Note: This seems to imply that Satanism is a type of inverted Christianity -- a concept that originated in the religious propaganda of the Middle Ages. In reality, Satanism is an independent religion.]
bullet"There are those who kill and have committed horrendous crimes in the name of satan and those are the ones that capture the headlines....Yes there are underground groups who do kill and Yes there is animal sacrifice in some groups. These groups are few and very secretive so what you see in the news is probably just a nut case gone off the deep end." [Very expert investigators have studied SRA for decades and found no evidence that it exists.]
bullet"It may surprise many readers to learn that the founder of the Church of Satan was fundamentally an atheist." [Note: Actually, LaVey was an Agnostic.]
bullet" 'Satan' to [Anton] LaVey [the founder of the Church of Satan] was a personification of his humanistic values, not a literal being to be worshipped or feared." [Note: LaVey did not consider Satan to be a living entity; a person. Satanism and Humanism are two very different belief systems.]

Their essay on Halloween states, in part:
bullet"In modern day Satanism and Witchcraft covens, this is the day when Satan himself comes to 'fellowship' with his followers." 8 [Note: Wiccans do not recognize the existence of Satan or any other all-evil quasi deity. Satanists do not view Satan as a living entity who is capable of fellowshipping. Satanic groups generally refer to their groups as grottos or temples, or occasionally churches; they do not use the term "coven."]

bulletJames L. Melton is a conservative Christian who is the pastor of the Bible Baptist Church in Sharon, TN. In a booklet about Halloween, he writes, in part:
bullet"Halloween is Satanic!...it represents paganism, Satanism, human sacrifice, torture, rape, murder, idolatry, witchcraft, and spiritualism! Did you know that October 31st is considered by Satanists to be their most important day of the year? Friend, WAKE UP! Don't honor the Devil!" 9 [Note: This seems to be another association of Satanism with horrendous violence As mentioned above, no hard evidence has been found that SRA exists. Also, a Satanist's personal birthday is the most important Satanic day of celebration each year, not Halloween.]
bulletThe Onion is a satirical web site that specializes in poking fun at a wide range of topics, including religion. An article in their 2000-JUL issue discussed the Harry Potter books and their supposed links to Satanism. Unfortunately, it is no longer available online. Their article claimed, with tongue firmly in cheek, that American students are turning to Satanism in large numbers. One Christian apparently did not realize the nature of The Onion's web site and believed that the article was reporting accurately. This motivated them to circulate an Email expressing horror at the Harry Potter books, which they considered an "encyclopedia of Satanism." The Email received very wide circulation, as recipients passed it on to their friends. At least three were sent to our web site. The Email characterizes J.K. Rowling as "a former UK English teacher who promotes witchcraft and Satanism." The Onion states that a nine-year old student, Ashley, said that she "...used to believe in what they taught us at Sunday School...But the Harry Potter books showed me that magic is real, something I can learn and use right now, and that the Bible is nothing but boring lies." The Onion quoted an imaginary interview where Rowling was quoted as saying: "I think it's absolute rubbish to protest children's books on the grounds that they are luring children to Satan. People should be praising them for that! These books guide children to an understanding that the weak, idiotic Son Of God is a living hoax who will be humiliated when the rain of fire comes, and will suck the greasy **** of the Dark Lord while we, his faithful servants, laugh and cavort in victory." [Note: The entire Onion web site is a intended to be humorous, not realistic. Unfortunately, many Christians interpreted the article at face value and assumed that it was accurately reporting real events.]
bulletRuss Wise is the author of an essay titled "Satanism: The world of the Occult." 11 Some excerpts from his essay are:
bullet"The news wires carry story after story about young children being kidnapped, only to be found later as victims of some bizarre ritualistic crime." [Note: Actually, there are many news articles speculating that a missing child may have been ritually abused. There are also many reports of investigators planting false memories of abuse in children's minds. But that is about it.]
bullet"...the primary goal [of Satanists] is to alter people's values and turn them against themselves, their beliefs, family, God, and society." [Note: Few if any Satanists proselytize. Generally, Satanists don't care what others believe.]
bullet"Young satanists....often make a pact with Satan. They commit themselves to a future date when they will take their own lives by suicide. They believe that if they submit themselves to Satan in death, they will come back in another life as a stronger being and rule with him forever." [This is not grounded in reality.]
bullet"Some [young Satanists] are a part of a multi- generational family involved in worshiping Satan as savior." [Ditto]
bullet"...'black metal' [music]...is overtly satanic. The lyrics encourage such activities as incest, necrophilia, rape, torture, and human sacrifice." [These are not Satanic activities; they are forbidden by their ethical code.]
bullet"Satanism: Unlike Witchcraft, Satanism is the worship of Satan, formerly known as Lucifer, and the practice of Black Magic. Satanism is a reaction against the Christian church and the Word of God in particular." [Satanists do not worship Satan. Religious Satanism is no more related to Christianity than it is to Hinduism.]
bullet"Through initiation [into Satanism] an individual is given a chance to declare total allegiance to Satan by participation. Often one will sever a portion of a finger or a toe to indicate their commitment to the unholy one." [The concept of swearing allegiance to Satan and amputating a toe or finger are common beliefs of conservative Christians, but are unrelated to actual Satanic behaviors.]

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References:

  1. Christadelphia World Wide web site is at: http://www.christadelphia.org/ Michael Ashton's essay "Satanism or Christianity" is at: http://www.christadelphia.org/pamphlet/satanism.htm
  2. Deseret News Archives, 1992-JAN-1, P. A1-A2
  3. The Council for Secular Humanism has a web site at: http://www.secularhumanism.org/  
  4. Ted Olsen, "Weblog: Satanism, Sans Satan," 2002-SEP-30, at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/138/32.0.html
  5. Peter Steinfels, "A Turf Battle Between Nonbelievers," New York Times, 2002-AUG-17, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  6. "Exposing Satanism and Witchcraft," at: http://www.exposingsatanism.org/
  7. "Satanism Facts," at: http://www.exposingsatanism.org/
  8. "Halloween." at: http://www.exposingsatanism.org/
  9. James L. Melton, "Should Christians Observe Halloween?," Bible Baptist Publications, at: http://www.biblebelievers.com/
  10. "Email chain letter brands Harry Potter series an 'encyclopedia of Satanism'," Ship-of-Fools, 2000-SEP-14, at: http://ship-of-fools.com/
  11. Russ Wise, "Satanism: the world of the Occult," Probe.org, at: http://www.probe.org/

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Site navigation: Home page > World religions > Satanism > here

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Copyright © 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2003-DEC-21
Latest update: 2003-DEC-22
Author: B.A. Robinson

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