** THE THREAT OF SATANISM ** About five years ago, when the movie 'War Games' came out, th
** THE THREAT OF SATANISM **
About five years ago, when the movie 'War Games'
came out, there was a commotion in the popular
press about 'computer hackers' who break into
top secret military computers with their modems.
It made little difference to the press that they
had misused the old computer term, hacker (which
really refers to any dedicated computer enthusiest
who spends a great deal of time with his hobby,
especially if he is writing programs or working
with his hardware). Of course, generalizing like
that made all computerists look like criminals,
which is a fallacy. Now it seems that the same sort
of deffective logic may be occuring again, in a
The generalization we are seeing is the bunching
together of all occultism, New age, and non_Christian
religions as 'Satanic'. This is especially being done
by 'Christian Fundamentalist', and 'Born Again Christian'
media, but the publicity is ricocheting into the more
general press as well. As in the case of the War Games
hysteria five years ago, this faulty journalism may be
causing more harm than good. It is time to investigate
the claims and the motives of the people behind it.
WHERE THERE IS SMOKE THERE IS FIRE
Evil is appealing and entertaining. It sells things.
Is it any wonder then, that the press and Fundamentalist
Christian groups glorify evil? What they are talking
about is Satanism, the worship of the Devil. But we've
gone through that before. It was about 400 years ago
and it was called the Inquisition. Thousands of innocent
people were tortured and lost their lives because of this
same sort of deffective logic. In more recent times,
Hitler slaughtered millions of Jews, gays, and other
minorities for the same or similar 'reasons'.
In fact, Satanism was probably practiced during the
middle ages, and it is probably practiced today. But
before you go jumping on the next bandwagon, let me
point out a few of the things the Fundamentalists
aren't telling us.
Occult means hidden or secret knowledge. It generally
refers to a wide area of philosophy, metaphysics,
and alternative religions. Based upon that deffinition
we can say that Satanism is a *type* of occultism.
We certainly cannot say that all occultism is Satanism.
In fact, Satanism is only a very small part of the
occult. Further, it would be inane to call the
numerous non-Christian religions in the world 'Satanic'.
Satanism, and the glorification of evil is being promoted
by the very Fundamentalist groups out to stop it. It is
also being promoted by certain movies, books, and musical
groups. There is a romatic attractiveness to Satanism
which is appealing to *dabblers*. And the more
publicity there is against Satanisms, the
more dabblers there will be who become involved with it.
It may even be that a few of those dabblers are performing
those reprehensible acts so wildely publicised (desicrating
churches and cemitaries, ritual murder, etc.).
Another thing about Satanism is that it is a form of
rebellion. Classically, Satanism is a Christian heresey.
In other words it operates within a Christian worldview.
(Anyone not disposed to the Christian worldview cannot
be a Satanist, by deffinition.) It always was, and still
is, a form of rebellion against the Christian church, and
the 'establishment'. That is why many 'outbreaks' of Satanism
occur in small towns in conservative, 'Christian' parts of the
country. For some teenagers, Satanism may be a symbol for
feelings of rebellion against authority. Some of the
'new wave' and 'heavy metal' rock music groups capitalize on
this fact in their music.
TYPES OF SATANISM
Certainly there is a great difference in the beliefs and
practices of those individuals we would call (or who would
call themselves) Satanic. We need to define some terms for
three distinct types of Satanism.
CLASSIC SATANISM, or 'true' Satanism, is a 'religion' in
which Satan, as the embodiment of evil, is worshipped in
deffiance of God and Christianity. Such Satanists believe
that God has betrayed the human race. The practice of
classic Satanism implies an upside-down reversal of
traditional values and standards, and a perverse
pleasure in practices such as self-indulgence, cruelty,
violence, and depression. Certainly this is the
'hard core' of Satanism.
HEDONISTIC SATANISM, is a watered-down version of
the above. The tendency here is to believe that
Satan is misrepresented, and is not actually evil
at all. Such groups cannot be considered inherently
evil. They are made up of mild-mannered accountants
whose greatest 'perversion' is to follow the 'Playboy
philosophy' of sensuous pleasure, that is, 'it is
alright to do it if it doesn't hurt anyone.'
MOCK SATANISM, is Satanism for a 'kick'. Put here
the dabblers, the misinformed, and certain
rebellious teenagers, reacting to their music
and movies. They see Satanism as a romantic
notion. This is not serious Satanism at all. Rather
it is a 'fad' and media hype.
YOU CANNOT OUTLAW SATANISM
If it is nothing else, Satanism is a religion or
a system of belief. It is protected under the
constitution, so long as the practice doesn't
break any laws or hurt anyone. Most Satanists
are off in their own world, doing their own
things, and should be left alone. The very few
*criminal types* who break laws and cause
mischive, are *individuals* who should be
prosecuted as individuals, not as a movement.
Even in the occult community, Satanism tends to
be regarded in a negative way. Mostly, it is
simply ignored. Real believers in Satanism
are a very small minority.
COMMON FALLACIES ABOUT SATANISM
While it is true that some Satanists may
participate in magical and occult practices,
such practices does not imply that all
occultism is Satanic. Just because I like Italian
food, doesn't mean I am Italian.
The presence of occult books, even of the
infamous (and best selling) 'Satanic Bible'
is not proof that someone is a Satanist, any
more than the presence of the Bible is proof
he is a Christian.
Similarly, the presence of an altar, of candles,
or of magical implements is not specificly
Satanic. It may indicate an interest in
the occult, but even that is a generalization.
Some mainstream religions, such as Buddhism,
may use these things.
A pentacle (ie, a five-pointed star) is not
specifically a Satanic symbol. It is a
legitimate symbol in occultism for protection
against evil. And it is a symbol in Judaism
(along with a six-pointed star). The pentacle
has, unfortunately been maligned by occult
subject movies. When they do their homework
they *invert* the pentacle for Satanic (or
evil) purposes. A pentacle with the point
up is a good pentacle. A pentacle with the
point down is considered evil. An analogy
might be made with the Christian cross.
Displaying the cross in normal fashion is
considered good. However, an inverted
cross is a Satanic symbol. Of course
that doesn't mean the cross itself is
a Satanic symbol; it is Satanic only
when it is inverted.
WHITE HATS AND BLACK HATS
The world is not a western. You can't always tell the
good guys from the bad by the color of the hat that
they wear. And it is an oversimplification to blame
the problems in the world upon a Satanic conspiracy.
There is no conspiracy. Name calling, and the
alarmist tactics being used by certain Fundamentalist
groups will not benefit anyone. Evil is not more
powerful than good. The best protection against
evil is to be a good person.
April 6, 1988. (revised)
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank