(Barb, this is a portion of the review I mentioned to you in Netmail.)
To: witchhunt , drscience.PEN.TEK.COM!steves
The following book review is Most Interesting. Self procalimed Satanic
priest is shown to be unturthful. His stories discredited. This review
appeared in the Jan/Feb 95 issue of Skeptical Inquirer. Only part of the
review appears here. To obtain the full issue write Skeptical Inquirer,
Box 703, Amherst, NY 14226-0703.
Within this evangelical subculture, Mike Warnke was a media superstar.
Undoubtedly, part of his appeal was the way in which he proved to people
that if they dedicated themselves to Jesus then they could have a good
live, no matter how terrible they might have once been. As proof of
this, Mike Warnke offered himself. He confessed to having been not only
a drug addict but also a high priest of a satanic cult that practiced
human sacrifice and ritualistic rape and child abuse. Warnke proudly
stated that, through Jesus, he now had a blissful family life.
Warnke's alleged conversion from high satanic priest to dedicated
Christian entertainer made a fascinating story and attracted considerable
attention. Unlike Smith and Pazder's _Michelle_Remembers_, an earlier,
influential, allegedly autobiographical, staunchly pro-Catholic,
satanic-cult-hysteria book, _The_Satan_Seller_ appealed to the evangelical
In time, Warnke became known in some circles as an authority on satanic
cults, and he appeared in that role on "20-20," "The Oprah Winfrey Show,"
"Larry King Live," "Focus on the Family," and "The 700 Club." He was
cited as an authority on Satanism and living proof of the existence of
cults engaging in satanic ritual abuse in such works as Friesen's
_Uncovering_the_Mystery_of_MPD [multiple personality disorder],
Stratford's _Satan's_Underground_, and Ryder's _Breaking_the_Circle_
_of_Satanic_Ritual_Abuse_. These in turn were cited in other works.
Although it would be an exaggeration to say that Mike Warnke was solely
responsible for the current spate of satanic-cult paranoia, he undoubtedly
had a great influence. Few who have examined the arguments of believers
in such cults can deny that many of them tend to have a worldwiew strongly
grounded in Christian belief-systems and frequently a conservative
Warnke's book consists of his telling stories about the key events in his
life and how they convinced him of the importance of adopting a Christian
lifestyle. There were only two problems: He was a pretty lame and
mediocre comedian, and he was corrupt and untruthful. In such a case,
what is one to do? The answer is simple--call in Jon Trott and Mike
Hertenstein, a pair of born-again Christian investigative journalists.
Hertenstein and Trott, working for _Cornerstone_ magazine, an evangelical
publication, conducted a thorough investigation into Warnke's claims.
In _Selling_Satan:_The_Tragic_History_of_Mike_Warnke_, they recount the
investigation and the findings. Trott and Hertenstein tracked down and
interviewed more than one hundred of Warnke's acquaintances from
throughout his life. Among the discoveries was that Warnke's lies were
not even very good ones. For example, by his own admission, he had
been involved in drugs in college. He told how drug use led him on a
self-destructive path culminating in involvement in the occult. This in
turn led him to Satanism, and ultimately to becoming high priest of the
group. Following the period of occult involvement, Warnke joined the
Navy and served in Vietnam with the Marine Corp as a medical corpsman.
While in the service he was converted and "saved" by two Christians who
were sure that even Mike Warnke, former drug addict and satanic high
priest, was not too far gone for Jesus' love to turn him around.
The writers uncovered that Warnke had entered college, a secular junior
college, September 13, 1965. He entered the Navy on June 2, 1966.
During his one semester prior to dropping out, there was hardly enough
time for the many adventures Warnke claimed happened during his
drug-addicted drug-dealer/Satanic-cultist-turned-high-priest period.
These included being shot three times, riding a motorcycle to Mexico to
make drug deals for a gangster, imprisoning sex slaves in his apartment,
participating in CIA-funded LSD experiments at the college, and kidnapping
a variety of victims for his cult's evil rituals and orchestrating the
abduction of others. He described walking around campus dressed in black
with pasty white skin, innumerable scabs on his face, waist-length hair,
and six-inch-long fingernails, painted black and sharpened for fighting.
As ludicrous as this thrill-a-minute college semester sounds, it became
even more absurd as Trott and Hertenstein began pinning down the dates
even further, based on Warnke's descriptions of various diabolic
ceremonies held under the light of a full moon. The dates fell apart
Fellow students and college faculty found further problems with the story.
It was, after all, set in the early sixties, not the late sixties. There
were no drugs at the junior college at the time, no CIA-funded LSD
experiments, and no people with waist-length hair, much less the rest of the
bizarre description Warnke provided. This pattern of gross falsehood
continued. His period in Vietnam, described as a "year in Hell," was six
months long, and most of his war stories had happened to other people or
never occurred at all. Other stories could not be corroborated. For
example, the two dedicated Christians who had "saved" Warnke had, he
claimed, "died in Vietnam." His blissful family life following the war
consisted of a series of four marriages, each ending in divorce, with
much womanizing on the side. The donation plate passed around after each
show supposedly went to a center for aiding satanic-cult-abuse victims.
Neither the center nor the victims existed. And as for his Christianity,
Trott and Hertenstein uncovered that, in a completely unexpected episode
of bizarreness, Warnke had secretly been ordained as an independent bishop
in an obscure Eastern Orthodox sect, which he practiced on the side.
I found _Selling_Satan_ fascinating. It is more than the story of one
individual; it also deals with his effect on others. Warnke, evil as he
is, is an intriguing character. ...
The book review was written by Peter Huston, a writer based in Schenectady,
New York. His first book, _Shattered_Harmony_, a detailed study
of Chinese gangs, secret societies, and underground religious cults, will
be published by Paladin this year. He is also working on a book-length
critique of the traditional arts and sciences of China.