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A Rumor of Devils: Allegations of Satanic Child Abuse and Mormonism, 1985-1994

A paper read by Massimo Introvigne at the Annual Conference of The Mormon History Association (MHA) - Park City, Utah, May 21, 1994.

Note: This paper, which generated a lively discussion in 1994, is reproduced here without changes or updates. Although much has changed in the satanic ritual abuse controversy since 1994, the paper still essentially capture a chapter in the history of contemporary Mormonism.


I. The Satanism Scare

In 1993 sociologist Jeffrey S. Victor published a book on allegations of Devil worship and Satanism in the United States. On the first page of the book, Victor noted that "some really bizarre things have been happening in this country. These strange happenings may be omens of one of the biggest secret conspiracies, or one of the biggest hoaxes, in recent history". He then proceeded to give a few examples. His first example was that:

A top-level leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) wrote a confidential report for an internal study of the church, in which he said that he believed that the church had been infiltrated up to the highest levels, by a conspiracy of criminal Satanists who sexually torture children and ritually sacrifice babies. The confidential report was obtained by an anti-Mormon group of fundamentalist Protestants who published it in a Salt Lake City newspaper in October, 1991 [1].

It seems that the Satanism scare and Mormonism are related. Before examining a few examples from the Intermountain West from 1985 to 1994, I will offer a short summary of the larger context: the history of Satanism and anti-Satanism, the involvement of the anti-cult and counter-cult movements, and the Satanism scare of the 1980s.

1.Satanism and Anti-Satanism: An Historical Overview

If we define Satanism as the organized worship of what the Bible identifies as Satan or the Devil, by groups which are organized as religious or magical movements, historians agree that Satanism is not a very ancient phenomenon. Rumors of Devil worship surfaced during witchcraft trials in Europe in the late Middle Ages and in America in the late seventeenth century, but there was no suggestion that organized and hierarchical Satanic cults existed. The first Satanic cult which possibly existed was operated by Catherine La Voisin at the Court of the French monarch Louis XIV. Although some historians are skeptical, the documents of the enquiry by Nicholas de la Reynie, the Police Chief of the king -- who was not a particularly religious man but a rather cold and stubborn policeman --published by the 19th century historian François Ravaisson-Mollien, make a persuasive case for the celebration of "Black Masses" (the term was coined by La Voisin herself) at the Court of Louis XIV. "Black Masses" were described as rituals mocking the Roman Catholic Mass, in which Catholic hosts were desecrated through sex rituals and children were occassionally sacrificed to the Devil in order to obtain power and love for the wealthy customers of La Voisin [2]. La Reynie's police effectively destroyed the cult, but copycat imitations surfaced during the 18th century and during the French Revolution. These episodes were connected by pious Catholic authors to the Revolution itself, which they believed had been masterminded by anti-Catholic Satanists.

Between 1800 and 1865 more than thirty influential works exposing a widespread Satanist conspiracy were published in France and in other countries [3]. New religious movements such as Spiritualism and Mormonism were also believed to be the creation of the Devil and part of the worldwide Satanic conspiracy. The anti-Spiritualist Orestes Brownson (1803-1876) expressed his opinion in the United States that only Satan could have been the real author of the Book of Mormon. [4] His theory was adapted in Europe by the Paris Lawyer Joseph Bizouard (1797-1870) in his six-volume anti-Satanist work published in 1864 and which became one of the most influential books in the French anti-Satanism scare of the 1860s [5]. In the meantime -- in the second half of the 19th century -- an occult subculture flourished in Paris and Lyon, including both non-Satanic and Satanic occult societies (some of them operated by defrocked Catholic priests). Journalist Jules Bois (1868-1943) and novelist Joris-Karl Huysmans (1848-1907) explored this underworld, and Huysmans published in 1891 a famous novel on Satanism, Là-bas, which included one of the most famous literary descriptions of a Black Mass [6]. The Satanists of the 1880s were not invented by Huysmans; they existed, but they were -- admittedly -- only a few members in two or three small cults in France and Belgium [7]. Again, public opinion overreacted and -- in the wake of the success of Là-bas -- sensational revelations on a worldwide Satanic conspiracy were offered to the French public by Dr. Charles Hacks, a medical doctor writing under the pen name of "Dr. Bataille". Hacks published his huge Le Diable au XIXe siècle, whose two volumes appeared between 1892 and 1894, with the help of journalist Léo Taxil, whose real name was Gabriel Jogand (1854-1907) and who had announced with much fanfare his conversion from Freemasonry and anti-clericalism to Catholicism in 1885 [8].

Taxil supplemented Bataille's stories with more of his own, and the whole affair became increasingly wild. Taxil claimed to be the spokesman for Diana Vaughan, a High Priestess of Lucifer who was converting to Catholicism. Vaughan -- whose name appeared as editor of a monthly journal published in Paris, Mémoires d'une ex-Palladiste -- revealed that a huge Satanic organization called Palladism was behind Freemasonry, Spiritualism, occultism and even Mormonism. The arch-rival of Diana, another American girl named Sophie Walder, who had a Mormon connection, had been appointed High Priestess of Lucifer in competition with Diana by the Satanic Pope himself, the prominent American freemason Albert Pike (1809-1891). Her father, Phineas Walder, was described as "the shadow" of John Taylor in Salt Lake City; Taylor (1808-1887), the third President of the Mormon Church, was also accused of being a secret member of the Satanic Palladist organization [9]. Eventually, Taxil's stories about Diana Vaughan came under increasing scrutiny by both Freemasons (including the British Masonic encyclopedist Arthur Edward Waite, 1857-1942) [10] and Catholics (particularly the Jesuit press in France and Germany). The Jesuits were actively engaged in the anti-Masonic campaign but, at the same time, did not trust Taxil. He was finally pressured to introduce the public to the elusive Diana Vaughan (who had never been seen) or admit that her existence was merely a literary device. In 1897 Taxil confessed at a conference in Paris that there was no Palladism nor a worldwide Satanic conspiracy at all; his own conversion to Catholicism had been a hoax which he had conceived in order to convince the world how gullible the anti-Masonic Catholics of his time actually were. [11]

Although a body of literature inspired by the Taxil fraud continued to be published well into our century (including L'Élue du Dragon, a 1929 book claiming that U.S. President James Abram Garfield, 1831-1881, inherited Albert Pike's mantle of chief of the worldwide Satanic conspiracy before his assassination in 1881) [12], anti-Satanism was largely discredited after the infamous Taxil hoax. When in the 1930s Russian-born occultist Maria de Naglowska (1883-1936) established an openly Satanic cult in Paris, the press was more amused than scandalized, and some newspapers characterized Naglowska's Satanism as an interesting religious experiment [13]. The international press was less kind when British magus Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), shocked his contemporaries by styling himself "the Beast 666" and "the wickedest man in the world". Crowley made use of Satanic imagery and is still regarded by many as the founding father of contemporary Satanism. The British occultist, however, was a magical atheist who did not believe in the actual existence of Satan; and although he has been influential on later Satanic movements, he is not regarded as a Satanist in the narrow, technical sense of the term [14]. On the other hand, It is true that Crowley enthusiasts -- including movie director Kenneth Anger -- were instrumental in founding the Church of Satan in San Francisco in 1966, whose notorious spokesman is the former carnival performer Anton Szandor LaVey. To this day LaVey's Church of Satan and its main splinter group -- the Temple of Set, whose leader is Michael Aquino -- are the largest Satanic organizations in the world. They are not large. Their combined active membership (not to be confused with their mailing lists) does not exceed one thousand people and is probably even smaller [15]. LaVey's notoriety did have a role in the early stages of the latest anti-Satanist campaign, which can only be understood within the framework of the larger anti-cult propaganda of the 1970s and 1980s.

Summing up, from the Court of Louis XIV to contemporary California the pendulum has periodically swung between Satanism and anti-Satanism. Smaller Satanic cults have existed from time to time and have produced -- since Satanism is, by definition, intolerable -- gross overreactions in the form of Satanism scares. The success of the anti-Satanist campaigns has been self-limited by their own exaggerations. The fact that each wave of anti-Satanism has been discredited has allowed new Satanic cults to operate for a while, creating in turn a new overreaction, and so on.

2. Anti-Cult and Counter-Cult Movements

The success of the latest Satanism scare in the 1980s can only be understood as a peculiar development in the history of movements which have been created to fight the so-called "cults". Anti-cult movements are not new in American history. In the 19th century Nativist organizations devoted to the defense of a Protestant America labelled as "cults" three groups perceived as quintessentially hostile to the American way of life: Freemasonry, Roman Catholicism, and Mormonism [16]. New entries were gradually added -- Seventh-Day Adventists, Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses -- while Catholics and Mormons were eventually accepted by most Americans as part of the mainline of the national religious life while anti-Masonism became marginalized. By the end of World War II, hostility towards "cults" was reduced to a bigoted fringe of American Fundamentalism. The situation, however, changed in the 1960s with the emergence of the juvenile counterculture and of new religious movements such as the Children of God, the Moonies and the Hare Krishnas. Their proselytism targeted young adults and college students, leaving their families puzzled and worried when sons and daughters abandoned their secular careers to work full time for a bizarre religious movement. The metaphor of "brainwashing" was quickly applied to this apparently unexplicable change in behaviour, and a militant opposition (first against the Children of God) and then against the "big three" (no longer Catholicism, Mormonism and Freemasonry, but now Moonies, Krishnas and Scientologists) spread from California throughout the United States and eventually to many other countries.

The movement against the "cults" was, however, hardly a united front. Students of the organized hostility to the "cults" have recognized the difference between a secular anti-cult movement (claiming to discuss only deeds, not creeds) and a religious counter-cult movement (where the fight against heretic creeds remains crucial). The different anti-cult and counter-cult movements have occasionally cooperated, but their relations have become increasingly difficult in recent years [17]. Within each movement against the "cults" -- the secular and the religious -- differences have also arisen. I have argued elsewhere that both segments of the organized hostility to the "cults" are presently divided in a more moderate "rationalist" and a more extreme "post-rationalist" wing. Within the secular anti-cult movement the "rationalist" wing is composed of professional skeptics who regard the leaders of the "cults" as clever frauds, while the "post-rationalist" wing insists on the theory of "brainwashing", seen as something magical, or even "the modern version of the evil eye" [18]. Within the religious counter-cult movement the "rationalist" wing argues with logical arguments against the anti-Scriptural heresies of the "cults" and cautions against any attempt to connect the "cults" too directly with the activities of the Devil. The idea that the Devil personally directs the "cults" is, on the other hand, the trademark of the "post-rationalist" wing of the counter-cult movement [19]. I have tried to show elsewhere that the different attitudes -- religious and secular, "rationalist" and "post-rationalist" -- also apply to the history of recent anti-Mormonism and may be used to build a typology of its different and often conflicting wings [20].


3. The Satanism Scare of the 1980s

In his early studies of hysteria, Sigmund Freud used hypnosis, and for a while became convinced that what he called the "theory of seduction" could explain the genesis of hysteria in female patients. All the patients he hypnotized, in fact, remembered being sexually abused in their childhood, a memory they were not conscious of while not under hypnosis. While Freud was initially persuaded that these memories corresponded to real, historical instances of abuse, he became perplexed when, continuing the hypnotic therapy, almost all the patients "remembered" abuse by Satanists (mostly their parents) in bizarre ceremonies and apparitions of the Devil himself. Freud dismissed these stories as fantasies, abandoned the theory of seduction and went on to formulate the alternative explanation for hysteria which eventually made him famous [21]. Eighty years after Freud's early career, the theory of seduction has surfaced again. A Canadian Catholic therapist, Lawrence Pazder, was told by his patient Michelle Smith that she had been abused by a Satanic cult of international proportions twenty years before as a child, had witnessed horrible scenes of human sacrifice and cannibalism, had seen the Devil but had forgotten these experiences until beginning therapy with Pazder. Unlike Freud, Pazder concluded that Smith's memories corresponded to true, actual historical events. He persuaded the Bishop of his Canadian Diocesis to accompany him and Michelle to the Vatican, where their dramatic revelations about Satanism were met with more caution than enthusiasm. Pazder, however, decided to to publish a book that eventually became a bestseller, Michelle Remembers, in 1980 [22]. Shortly thereafter Pazder left his wife and four children to marry Smith, herself a divorcee, and the couple had to terminate their relationship with the Catholic Church (which does not condone divorce).

Although Michelle Remembers was written from a religious point of view, it was welcome more by secular mental health professionals than by the Churches. Michelle's story has been interpreted within the context of an ongoing discussion on Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), a disorder where the same patient "dissociates" into different "alters" who speak with different voices, may have very different personalities and may not remember what the other "alters" think or do. Two Hollywood movies, The Three Faces of Eve in 1957 and Sybil in 1973, popularized this rather spectacular, if rare, disorder. The therapist who had treated Sybil, Cornelia Wilbur, was also instrumental in promoting the theory that MPD was almost invariably the result of severe childhood trauma, often in the form of sexual abuse. Not only was Freud's theory of seduction revived, but Freud himself was accused of a coverup for his refusal to treat seriously his patients' memories of Satanic abuse. In the 1970s Dr. Wilbur was associated at the University of Kentucky with Dr. Arnold Ludwig and other therapists who were already active in the anti-cult movement. In 1984 the First International Conference on Multiple Personality/Dissociative States was organized in Chicago, where Wilbur delivered the opening plenary address. By 1986 leaders of the Cult Awareness Network, the largest secular anti-cult organization in the U.S., were invited to address the annual Chicago conference, thus forging an effective link between the MPD professionals and the anti-cult activists. The latter simply applied to the Satanic cults whose memories surfaced in MPD patients their model of brainwashing and mind control. The result was twofold: as a result of increasing media coverage of MPD, thousands of patients in the United States began claiming that they were "survivors" who had been abused by Satanic cults in their childhood; and their therapists and anti-cult activists alike finally repudiated Freud and claimed that the survivors' stories were literally true. They also called for quick action by public authorities to uncover the perpetrators, who were -- they claimed -- members of a vaste, "multigenerational" and deadly dangerous Satanic conspiracy. Anti-satanists also speculated that MPD does not always arise as a spontaneous protection against tramautic memories but may be "planted" by Satanists, who presumably have access to sophisticated psycho-technologies enabling them to brainwash children to dissociation, making their memories so garbled that future identification of the perpetrators becomes virtually impossible [23].

Another development took place in the same years. Survivors in treatment for MPD Began relating events that took place decades before their memories surfaced again. Influenced by the survivors'stories, some therapists reasoned that the Satanic cults were probably still operating, and that many of the childrens sexual abuse incidents (unfortunately common in the United States and elsewhere) may include an undetected Satanic element. The first and the most famous case involved the McMartin Preschool in the affluent Los Angeles suburb of Manhattan Beach. The McMartin case began in 1983, when the principals and a number of teachers of the respected preschool, were accused of operating an underground Satanic cult, which ritually abused and tortured children. Mental health professionals involved in the case were later accused of having "planted" the stories in the children (some of them were only two or three years old) based on their own persuasion that a Satanic conspiracy exists. The McMartin trial was the most expensive in United States legal history and ended in 1990 with no convictions [24]. The McMartin case had an enormous media impact and it surely had something to do with hundreds of subsequent similar accusations of sexual ritual abuses in both day-care centers and in family settings. Although complete statistical data is lacking, it is possible that as many as two thousand cases of Satanic ritual abuse of children have been investigated in the decade 1983-1992 [25]. The number of convictions obtained in this ten year-period is a matter of dispute; but skeptical sociologists claim that there are less than five, out of thousands of cases investigated, while anti-Satanists circulate a list of thirteen. Figures are disputed because a specific felony of Satanic ritual abuse has been introduced only recently, and only in some States; in other cases where a conviction for sexual abuse has been obtained it is unclear whether the Courts have in fact recognized the existence of a "Satanic" element [26]. It is, at any rate, important to distinguish between the stories told by survivors who suffer from MPD and the stories told by children. A bitter debate exists between national lobbies who argue, respectively, that children always tell the truth (Believe the Children) and that their memories are often false (False Memory Syndrome Foundation). However, while not even a single court conviction has been obtained based on the survivors' stories, at least a handful of cases exist in which abusers who appear to have used Satanic symbols and paraphernalia have been convicted based on reports by children. There was no evidence that these abusers belonged to international, organized Satanic cults and no reports of human sacrifice have been confirmed. Some therapists do not believe in the stories of the survivors, but they do believe that some of the stories of Satanic abuse told by children may be true.

It is also important not to confuse the debate on Satanic ritual abuse of children with discussions of adolescent Satanism. There is little doubt that gangs of teenagers exist who perform some sort of a home-made mix of Satanic rituals (copied from comics, books or movies) and drug parties. These teenagers are often guilty of minor crimes such as vandalism or animal sacrifice. In less than a dozen cases more serious crimes appear to have been committed, including a handful of murders. In these cases it is difficult to determine whether drug, gang-related violence or Satan worship are mostly responsible for the crimes. What is clear is that teenage Satanism is not connected with any international conspiracy, and it is a different phenomenon from both religious Satanism represented by organizations such as the Church of Satan and "ritual" child abuse by adult perpetrators [27].

Attitudes before the widespread allegations of Satanic child abuse in the 1980s reflect the differences between anti-cult and counter-cult movements. Some anti-cult movements -- whose influence was declining in the mid-1980s -- quickly seized the opportunity of adding Satanism to the list of "cults" they were claiming to fight, and became one of the main forces behind the Satanism scare [28]. While "post-rationalist" organizations such as the Cult Awareness Network do accept the claims of survivors at face value, the "rationalist" wing of the anti-cult movement is predictably more skeptical. CSER, the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, an organization with connections to CSICOP and with the skeptic press Prometheus Books of Buffalo (New York) -- both active in exposing "cults" (including Mormonism) from a secular humanist point of view -- reacted very strongly against what it perceived as a superstitious legend. CSER published a report in 1989 in which the Cult Awareness Network was included on a list of "non-experts" on Satanism. The skeptic Committee concluded that the whole idea of a widespread Satanic conspiracy was a huge hoax [29] Surprisingly, the religious counter-cult movement -- although firmly convinced of the existence of the Devil -- was quite slow in adding Satanism to its own list of "cults". Evangelical counter-cultists were suspicious of secular psychiatrists who figured too prominently in the promotion of the Satanism scare. Eventually, however, the "post-rationalist" wing of the religious counter-cult movement (already persuaded that the Devil was behind most "cults") accepted the claim of the survivors. Evangelical survivors, prepared to explain their experience in strictly religious terms, began to develop -- particularly in Pentecostal and charismatic circles -- a technique called "inner healing" was developed, where lost memories of childhood abuse are recovered not through secular therapy but through a protracted group prayer on the disturbed individual [30]. The "rationalist" wing of the evangelical counter-cult movement, on the other hand, flatly refused to jump on the Satanism scare bandwagon. The Christian Research Institute -- the organization founded by the late counter-Mormon activist Walter Martin (1928-1989) -- concluded that "there is still no substantial, compelling evidence that Satanic ritual abuse stories and conspiracy theories are true (...). Careful investigation of the stories, the alleged victims, and the proponents has given us every reason to reject the Satanic conspiracy model" [31]. Christianity Today, the most influential voice of American Evangelicalism, recommended "skepticism" in a June 1993 article authored by two Evangelical university professors, noted that while "for nearly a decade, American law enforcement has been aggresively investigating the allegations of victims of ritualistic abuse", so far "there is no evidence for the allegation of large-scale baby breeding [i.e. "producing" babies whose birth is not registered with public authorities for sacrificing them in Satanic ceremonies], human sacrifice, and organized Satanic conspiracies". "We cannot fall victim -- the Evangelical professors concluded -- to sloppy thinking or judgment based on a mixture of fallacies, non-evidence, and subjectivism. 'He who chases fantasies lacks judgment' (Prov. 12:11)" [32]. In March 1994 the same Christianity Today even recommended the ultimate skeptic book on the Satanism scare, Satanic Panic by (secular) sociologist Jeffrey S. Victor. The reviewer confirmed, once again, that "to date there has been no investigation that has substantiated the claims of alleged Satanic abuse survivors" and quoted John F. Kennedy to the effect that "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived, and dishonest -- but the myth -- persistent, pervasive, and unrealistic" [33].

The most visible conflict was not, however, between "rationalist" and "post-rationalist" groups against the "cults". Sociologists and other academics specialized in new religious movements were united in their militant opposition to the theory of the Satanic conspiracy and did much to ridicule the stories of survivors. The publication of the collective work The Satanism Scare in 1991 by noted sociologists and anthropologists was a crucial blow to the survivors' credibility [34]. By 1991 even some psychiatric specialists of MPD were harboring doubts on the factual truth of the survivors' stories, and the difficult decision to allow skeptic anthropologists and psychiatrists to propose alternative points of view in the yearly Chicago conferences on MPD was made, much to the disappointment of militant survivors' organizations such as Voices in Action and others [35].

When former Mormon, turned anti-Mormon, William Schnoebelen and the authors of the God Makers books and video series began claiming that Mormons worship Lucifer or Satan in their temples, arguing from a typical "post-rationalist" perspective, more "rationalist" counter-Mormons such as Jerald and Sandra Tanner reacted very strongly, and labelled the "Lucifer God Doctrine" of Schnoebelen as a wild fantasy, which caused a bitter fight to follow [36]. When, however, the Satanism scare hit Mormon country, "rationalist" and "post-rationalist" counter-Mormons did not divide along predictable lines. In different degrees, all Evangelical counter-Mormons accepted the reality of the Satanic conspiracy. More surprisingly, the conspiracy theory was accepted by the Mormon Church itself.


 II. The Feast of the Beast comes to Utah

1. "A Political Nightmare": The Lehi Ritual Abuse Scare (1985-1988)

Sexual abuse of children in Utah has been the subject of much controversy. Anti-Mormons often suggest that the statistics on child abuse in Utah show that Mormon claims about the healthy situation of LDS families are mere propaganda, and some "post-rationalist" Evangelical counter-Mormons even insist that the "evil" nature of Mormonism and reminiscences of polygamy make child abuse more likely in Utah than in any other State of the Union. In fact, a 1988 national study sponsored by a number of federal agencies concluded that "as far as child sexual and physical abuse is concerned, there is no evidence that the situation in Utah is much different from the [rest of the] U.S." [37]. Contrary to what some pious Mormons may believe, LDS theology on the family does not make Utah a safe haven against child abuse, but anti-Mormons are equally wrong when they contend that Utahns are more prone to child abuse than other Americans. When it comes to Satanic child abuse, the number of accusations made by children in Utah (as opposed to different accusations made by survivors) appear to be smaller than in most other States. The comparative small number of prosecutions against adults accused of Satanic child abuse by children has probably something to do with the particularly controversial nature of the first Satanic abuse scare in Utah, which took place in Lehi between 1985-1988.

During the Summer of 1985 Mrs. Sheila Bowers of Lehi, Utah, contacted Dr. Barbara Snow, a therapist working with the Intermountain Sexual Abuse Treatment Center. Bowers was worried about her three small children, who seemed to talk too freely about sex. Dr. Snow interviewed the children and concluded that they had in fact been sexually abused. Dr. Snow claimed that the children had told her about the perpetrator, a teenage babysitter who was the daughter of Keith Burnham, the respected Bishop of the Lehi Eight Ward of the Mormon Church. Dr. Snow also asked to interview other Lehi children who had been attended by the same babysitter, and most of the families involved decided to comply. As a result of these further interviews, Dr. Snow announced that she had evidence that the babysitter and her parents, Bishop Burnham and his wife Shirley, had sexually abused a number of Lehi children. The Burnhams were also accused of abusing their own younger children, who were removed from their parents and placed in foster homes by the State Division of Family Services (weeks later, no evidence of abuse was discovered -- despite Dr. Snow's claims -- and they were returned to their home). While many Lehi citizens refused to believe the claims against the Burnhams, others joined Dr. Snow in a parent-therapy group. Alan B. Hadfield and Rex Bowers, both active Mormons in the Eight Ward, emerged as vocal supporters of Dr. Snow. At their urging, the Utah County Sheriff's Office and the Utah Attorney General Office began a lengthy investigation. In the meantime Dr. Snow continued to interview new children, and more shocking revelations came. In February 1986 the son of Rex Bowers, in an interview with Dr. Snow, recalled instances of sexual molestation by his father. In May both a daughter and son of Alan Hadfield told Dr. Snow that they had been forced by their father to have both anal and oral sex with him. Believing the allegations, Hadfield's wife abandoned her husband, never to return. Dr. Snow, at this stage, claimed that the children had confessed -- just as in other prominent cases throughout the country-- that they had been initiated into Satanic cults, and compelled to worship Satan. They had apparently described rituals very similar to the horrible "Feast of the Beast" that Michelle Smith had remembered and described in her 1980 book. When the police concluded their investigation in 1987, Dr. Snow had accused fourty adults -- almost all of them active Mormons in Lehi's Eight Ward -- to be ritual child abusers and members of a secret Satanic cult. Although Snow was publically and vocally backed by the Intermountain Sexual Abuse Treatment Center and by Dr. Paul L. Whitehead, public-affairs representative for the Utah Psychiatric Association, prosecutors decided to file charges against only one individual, Alan Hadfield.

Both Snow and Whitehead testified against Hadfield at the 1987 trial. It was, however, clear that a sizeable share of public opinion in Utah did not believe the therapists. Some State legislators questioned whether it was wise for Utah to fund controversial institutions such as the Intermountain Sexual Abuse Treatment Center. The investigation was described as "a political nightmare" by Utah's Deputy Attorney General Paul Warner [38]. At trial, it came out that both Wayne Watson, Chief Deputy Utah County Attorney, who had witnessed through a two-way mirror one of Dr. Snow's interviews, and Judy Pugh, a colleague of Dr.Snow at the Intermountain Sexual Abuse Treatment Center, thought that Dr.Snow was coaching the children into admitting sexual and Satanic abuses that they had initially denied. A ten-year old girl testified that she had tried to persuade Dr.Snow that she had never been abused, but later had cracked under the pressure of the therapist, persuaded that Dr.Snow would not have let her go unless she agreed to accuse someone of ritual abuse [39]. Hadfield's defense attorney Dr. Stephen Golding, director of clinical psychology at the University of Utah, as an expert witness who labelled Snow's techniques as "subtly coercive and highly questionable" [40]. A nervous and confused Hadfield did not help his case when he said in Court: "If I did those things, I don't remember" [41].

Hadfield was convicted of four first-degree counts of sodomy on a child and three second-degree counts of sexual abuse of a child by an eight-member jury on December 19, 1987. He should have been sentenced to a minimum ten years jail term with no probation. However, Utah allows probation for abusers after six months in jail (with a further possibility of work release) if they accept to place themselves in a therapy program. Although most programs would not accept a convicted abuser who, like Hadfield, maintains that he is innocent, Hadfield's case was somewhat unique. He was admitted for treatment and thereby escaped a long jail term. Hadfield's support in Lehi was massive. A rally in his support after the 1987 decision drew eight hundred persons, and a benefit banquet for his legal defense attracted around a thousand persons, including State legislators and local Mormon leaders (one of whom was Bishop Burnham, who at the beginning of the scare had been accused of sexual abuse by Hadfield himself). While in Salt Lake City Dr.Whitehead argued that such massive support for Hadfield in Lehi merely showed that the town was in fact controlled by a Satanic child-abuse ring [42]. The press believed, for the most part that Hadfield was innocent. Reporters became still more suspicious of Dr. Snow's methods when they discovered that the therapist, who had moved from Lehi, had subsequently discovered other Satanic cults guilty of extended sexual abuse in Bountiful in 1986 and in the Salt Lake City area in 1988. No charges related to a specific "Satanic" abuse were filed in Bountiful, and a fourteen months probe was quietly dropped in Salt Lake in April 1988 [43].

The other therapist involved in the Lehi scare, Dr. Whitehead, wrote the foreword of a book called Paperdolls: Healing from Sexual Abuse in Mormon Neighborhoods, written in 1992 by two Salt Lake Valley women using the pseudonyms April Daniels and Carol Scott, who tell their own and other stories of sexual abuse [44]. The book used material from the 1987-1988 ill-fated Snow investigation in the Salt Lake area, and made only passing references to ritual or Satanic elements in the abuses. The sacrifice of a baby kitten was however described, and the book claimed that in this particular incident the daughter and the son-in-law of a Mormon Apostle were involved [45]. In December 1991 Sunstone published a letter by Marion B. Smith, formerly the director of the Intermountain Sexual Abuse Treatment Center, mentioning "sex rings discovered in Bountiful" (apparently the same detected by Dr. Snow) and added that "one aspect of the second alleged sex ring was that a daughter and a son-in-law of a general authority were named as the main abusers" [46]. As mentioned earlier, no charges of Satanic abuse were filed in the Bountiful and Salt Lake cases, perhaps because police and prosecutors thought the controversies who had surrounded the Lehi scare where enough.

One of the sociologists who has adopted a militant attitude against the credibility of all survivors' and most children's stories about ritual abuse is Anson D. Shupe. Although a vocal critic of anti-cult organizations such as the Cult Awareness Network [47], Shupe is a also a skeptic of claims of contact with supernatural beings by founders of religious movements, including Joseph Smith. In 1991 he wrote a book for the skeptic press Prometheus Books which could be ascribed to the "rationalist" secular anti-Mormon wing. In this book, Shupe discusses at length the Lehi incident. His sociological analysis of Lehi's reaction to the Hadfield case concludes that all is not well in this Zion town, but also claims that "there really was no evidence of a child-sexual abuse ring" and "the unfortunate truth for Hadfield was that he was no more likely to be an abuser than were his neighbors". Blaming "the psychoterapists' conjecture", Shupe argues that "in the aftermath of the Hadfield trial, horrific possibilities gradually receded to become grotesque improbabilities". Shupe also admits that although "LDS Church leaders were undoubtedly relieved to see the controversy die", on the other hand "there is no evidence they played any role in discouraging further prosecution. The 'scandal' collapsed of its own weight, not on account of outside pressure" [48]. Overall, Utah had reacted more coldly to claims of sexual abuse by children than other States, equally or more affected during the same years. Utah, however, proved more vulnerable to claims of past Satanic abuse by MPD patiens and survivors.

2. "The Devil Makes Bad People": The Baby X Case

In early November 1989 in Minidoka County, Idaho, the dismembered and burned remains of a 4-to-8-weeks-old female Hispanic infant were discovered in a garbage dump. Forensic experts ascertained that "Baby X" -- whose identity was never discovered -- had been disembowelled and mutilated before she was burned. Rumors of a Satanic sacrifice started almost immediately. In March 1990 a 10-year old boy, "Timothy" (his name was not released by the authorities for privacy reasons), entered therapy for disturbing dreams of sexual abuse and torture. He began drawing pictures which, although open to multiple interpretations, suggested that "Timothy" had witnessed Satanic rituals including sexual abuse. "Timothy" told therapists and later police detectives that his experiences had taken place in Rupert, a Southern Idaho town close to where Baby X's remains had been found. Shortly thereafter, "Timothy" claimed that during a Satanic ritual he had witnessed the sacrifice of an infant who may well have been "Baby X". "Timothy's" recollections were later published in the South Idaho Press and included a graphic description of a Satanic ritual. "They put me on a table with a Bible. -- "Timothy" reported -- The devil is there. They pray to the devil. 18 people stand around. The devil makes these people hurt me. They hurt me so bad. They hurt me in the private parts. They have hurt me so many times. The devil makes bad people. They have sacrifices. It's done in the real Bible. The devil is there. 18 people are there. They sacrifice cats. They put them on a table and pray and sacrifice and give them to the devil. They do this all the time, even in the winter when it's cold. They sacrifice all animals. They even sacrifice babies. (Where do they get the babies?). From humans. They lay them on this table and give them to the devil. They pray to him from the real Bible. The Bible is on the table. Where do they get the babies, I don't know. The babies don't have any cloths on. They just put them on the table and pretty soon the devil makes a fire and they are on fire. My mom and dad are there, they watch" [49]. Although "Timothy" accused both his parents of beinf involved in a Satanic cult, authorities were reluctant to file charges. While the population of Minidoka County is predominantly Mormon, "Timothy's" family -- described by authorities as "severely dysfunctional" -- was associated for a short period of time with Jehovah's Witnesses and "Timothy" was reportedly impressed by Witnesses' literature graphically depicting the Devil and witchcraft [50].

On November 8, 1991, with national TV networks in attendance, 300 to 500 persons attended a candlelight vigil for victims of Satanic ritual abuse, including Baby X, in Rupert. Apparently, "several busloads" of "survivors" and advocates from Salt Lake City came to Rupert for the vigil [51]. In the same month of November 1991 the Idaho Attorney General's office took over the investigation of the case. A noted pathologist, Dr. William Brady, re-examined the remains of "Baby X", and a noted psychologist, Dr. Charles W. Gamble of Boise, examined "Timothy". In 1992 the Attorney General's Office released his report. Dr. Brady reported that, although he could not tell exactly how Baby X had died, he had ascertained beyond doubt that there was: "1) no evidence of mutilation with a knife or other sharp instrument, almost certain to be present had some person dismembered the body; 2) teeth marks on the body consistent with damage by small predators such as rats, mice or birds; 3) evidence of pneumonia in the infant's lungs". The prevailing theory was that poor Baby X died of pneumonia and her illegal alien parents try to dispose of the body through amateur cremation, with animal predators later attacking the infant's remains. The Attorney General's report also noted that no member of "Timothy"'s family was in the Rupert area "anywhere near the time of the infant's death and disposal". As for "Timothy" himself, Dr. Gamble concluded that he "had never witnessed a Satanic ritual and (...) may have invented the story". Randy Everitt, an investigator working for the Idaho Attorney General's Office, told the press that authorities were "fairly well convinced that the little boy didn't see anything. We believe the boy jumbled what he's been read [in Jehovah's Witnesses' literature], and other folks interpreted that as they wanted" [52]. Although the Attorney General's Office told the press that the case was not closed and investigations continued on the possibility that "Timothy" had in fact been victim of sexual -- but perhaps not Satanic -- abuse, and reporter Chrostopher Clarke of the South Idaho Press embarked on a personal crusade arguing that a Satanic cult may in fact exist in the Rupert area, no charges were ultimately filed.

An interesting part of the Baby X case is the candlelight vigil held on November 8, 1991 in Rupert. This episode proved that a network of moral crusaders promoting the Satanism scare existed in Mormon Country, and that "survivors" from Salt Lake had already formed a small lobby trying to persuade the public that their stories and those of the children like "Timothy" were basically the same, equally deserving public belief.

3. "Secret Combinations": The Mormon Church Investigation

The fact that Satanic ritual abuse, perpetrated by active Mormons, was possibly taking place in Zion could not have been overlooked by the Mormon Church. On May 24, 1989 the LDS Social Services released a report on Satanism, followed by another report from the U.S. attorney for Utah Brent Ward (an active Mormon) and a further memorandum from Bishop Glenn L. Pace, then Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, dated October 20, 1989. All these documents have never been published. A fourth document, a memorandum also authored by Bishop Pace and directed to the Strengthening Church Members Committee on July 19, 1990, although marked "Do not reproduce", came into the possession of Evangelical Salt Lake counter-Mormons Jerald and Sandra Tanner in 1991. They doubted the authenticity of the memo, and even doubted that a "Strengthening the Members Committee" (later to become famous for reasons unconnected with Satanism) did in fact exist. They were able to obtain from Pace's secretary a confirmation that the Strengthtening the Members Committee did in fact exist and the report was genuine. In November 1991 the Tanners published the memo in their Salt Lake City Messenger, and -- after its authenticity had not been challenged by the LDS Church -- they reprinted it in a book published in 1992 under the title Satanic Ritual Abuse and Mormonism [53]. In the memo, Bishop Pace reported that he has "met with sixty victims", all members of the Church and most of them adult survivors, the majority having "been diagnosed as having multiple personality disorder or some other form of dissociative disorder". In fact the report includes only passing references to stories told by children, and relies primarily on MPD and other survivors' cases. After ritualistic child abuse -- Pace stated, echoing the survivors' typical argument -- "the only escape for the children is to dissociate": "they will develop a new personality to enable them to endure various forms of abuse. When the episode is over, the core personality is again in control and the individual is not conscious of what happened. Dissociation also serves the purposes of the occult because the children have no day-to-day memory of the atrocities". Pace's conclusion was that multiple personalities are willingly created by Satanic cults. Satanist have developed technologies enabling them to brainwash their victims in order to make disclosure less likely to occur. However, Satanic cultists are not entirely successful because after many years, when the children become adults, it may happen that "something triggers the memories and, consequently, flashbacks and/or nightmares occur"; when therapy follows and the memory "is tapped, it is as fresh as if it happened yesterday".

Bishop Pace main concern appeared to be the features of the Satanic abuse peculiar to Mormon Country. While in Catholic settings survivors tell of Black Masses, Mormon survivors report that they have been abused within the context of a "black" version of Mormon temple ceremonies. One particularly disturbing consequence is, Pace reports, that "many of the victims have had their first flashbacks while attending the temple for the first time. The occult along the Wasatch Front uses the doctrine of the Church to their [sic] advantage. For example, the verbiage and gestures are used in a ritualistic ceremony in a very debased and often bloody manner. When the victim goes to the temple and hears the exact words, horrible memories are triggered". We have recently -- Pace went on to say (and one has to remember that he was reporting to the Strengthening the Members Committee) -- been disturbed with members of the Church who have talked about the temple ceremony. Compared to what is happening in the occult along the Wasatch Front, these are very minor infractions. The perpetrators are also living a dual life. Many are temple recommend holders". Pace explicitely asked the survivors not to provide him the names of the perpetrators, but allowed them to explain what Church office the Satanists held. "Among others -- Pace reported -- there are Young Women leaders, Young Men leaders, bishops, a patriarch, a stake president, temple workers, and members of the Tabernacle Choir. These accusations are not coming from individuals who think they recognized someone, but from those who have been abused by people they know, in many cases their own family members". There was, according to Pace, ample cause for alarm: "Not only do some of the perpetrators represent a cross section of the Mormon culture, but sometimes the abuse has taken place in our own meetinghouses". Pace also speculated on the extension of the problem: since he has met with 60 victims, "assuming each one comes from a coven of 13, they are talking about the involvement of 800 or so right here on the Wasatch Front" (the idea that all Satanic "covens" have thirteen members -- in order to mock Jesus Christ and the twelve Apostles -- comes from survivors' and anti-Satanist literature; no Satanic Church or movement known to scholars and active in the 19th or the 20th century was ever organized in groups of thirteen, and the very name "coven" comes from Witchcraft, a different phenomenon from Satanism). Asking the Strengthening the Members Committee to "excuse me if I am being presumptuous", Pace concluded his memo with seven good pages of references to Mormon scriptures, claiming that the latter-day emergence of Satanic ritual abuse had been prophetically foreseen in the Book of Mormon, which "is replete with descriptions of these secret murderous combinations as well as prophecies that they will always be with us". Pace explicitly quoted the Gladianton Robbers, and the prophecy of Mormon 8:27 on "a day when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness". Finally, Pace said that he did not "want to be known as an alarmist or a fanatic on the issue" and in fact hoped "to take a low profile on the subject". Because of the unknown hand who passed the memo to the Tanners, this was not to be.

4. "Hocus Pocus": Therapists and the Governor

According to the article in Network magazine, "soon after the memo [by Bishop Pace] was written and released to the Strengthening Church Members Committee of the church organization, the Utah Governor's Commission for Women and Families formed a subcommittee and task force to address issues of ritual (including Satanic) child abuse" [54]. According to an article in the Deseret News of September 8, 1991 -- the first of a four-part series who introduced Utah readers to the survivors' stories -- the subcommittee was formed "in February 1990" (before Pace's memorandum) [55] When released in 1992 the task force report stated that the subcommittee "was created in March 1990". 27 "community leaders" were sitting on the ritual-abuse subcommittee, including former U.S. Attorney Brent Ward (involved, as we mentioned earlier, in the Mormon Church investigation on Satanism), first lady Colleen Bangerter and Bishop Pace himself [56]. The prime force (and the co-chair) in the Committee appeared to be Dr. Noemi P. Mattis, a Belgian-born therapist who had received a Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University. Dr. Mattis described herself to the Deseret News in September 1991 as "a New York humanist Jew and a quintessential skeptic," part of a group of people who "don't even believe in Satan". She was also referred to as "a Holocaust survivor". [57] The other co-chair was Aileen Clyde, a counselor in the LDS Relief Society. The subcommittee appeared to be so stuffed with Mormon leaders that it could hardly be called a secular enterprise; it also included Reverend Richard W. Bauer of the Catholic Community Services and Rabbi Frederick I. Wenger of the Congreation Kol Ami". As early as 1987, Dr.Mattis was one of Utah therapists attending the MPD yearly conferences in Chicago, and later described the "emotional moment" when the attendees realized that the majority of them, unknown to each other, were hearing stories of Satanic cults (as mentioned earlier, in these years anti-cult activists also attended the Chicago conferences and helped MPD therapists understand what a Satanic "cult" may be like) [58].

Dr.Mattis' experience with survivors and her belief that their stories were factually true were not unique to her; in fact, she represented rather typically one side of a national controversy. What added unique features to the case was the Mormon setting and the publicity which had surrounded the publication of Bishop Pace's confidential memorandum by the Salt Lake City Messenger of November 1991 (in fact issued in October of that same year). Apparently the involvement of Bishop Pace and the fact that a confidential memorandum had been published by anti-Mormons produced more excitement than the previous Deseret News September series which had interviewed both skeptics and believers (the latter possibly getting more coverage). Immediately following the publication by the Tanners, between October 24 and October 25, 1991 both KTVX (Channel 4) and Mormon-owned KSL (Channel 5) reported on Bishop Pace's document and interviewed survivors of Satanic cult abuse readily supplied by Salt Lake therapists. A survivor told KTVX: "My grandfather was a Bishop and my grandmother was a Relief Society President. My grandparents were the leaders of what was happening to me as a child. As a very small child I witnessed my baby brother being murdered by the cult. Everyone participated in this. I do remember the evidence was often burned and, for instance, when I was an adolescent, I was pregnant and the cult literally aborted my baby and burned it". A woman giving "Jody" as her name told KSL that at age three she "unknowingly became trapped in the scene of ritualistic abuse. It lasted five years. Twenty years of therapy has triggered her memory of the most heinous rituals in which she was forced to participate" including "infant sacrifice and cannibalism -- a lot of torture" [59]. On the same October 25, 1991 the Deseret News released full information on the Mormon Church investigation whose existence had not previously been widely known. The Deseret News published a short statement by the LDS Church Public Affairs Department, stating that "Satanic worship and ritualistic abuse are problems that have been around for centuries and are international in scope. While they are, numerically, not a problem of major proportions among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for those who may be involved they are serious". The statement went on quoting from a previously unpublished letter of September 18, 1991 from the First Presidency to Church leaders. The letter, later called the First Presidency's Statement on Evil Practices and the Occult, reads as follows:

"We occasionally receive reports from some areas about the activities of people who engage in ritualistic practices including forms of so-called Satan worship.

We express our love and concern to innocent victims who have been subjected to these practices by conspiring men and women. We are sensistive to their suffering and assure them that help is available through the mercy and love of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

We caution all members of the Church not to affiliate in any way with the occult or those mysterious powers it espouses. Such activities are among the works of darkness spoken of in the scriptures. They are designed to destroy one's faith in Christ, and will jeopardize the salvation of those who knowingly promote this wickedness. These things should not be pursued as games, be topics in Church meetings, or be delved into in private, personal conversation" [60].

The First Presidency's Statement mentioned a "conspiracy", but -- unlike Bishop Pace in his confidential memorandum -- did not take an explicit stand on the survivors' question. Mormon therapists who did believe in the survivors' stories felt, however, encouraged. On November 10, 1991 Dr. Noemi Mattis appeared on the program Take Two on Channel 2 in Salt Lake. The therapist announced that at least 360 victims in the Salt Lake area had been treated for ritualistic abuse by "a total of 32 therapists" (later, appearing on the same TV station, Dr. Corydon Hammond -- a research associate at the University of Utah who had been elected president of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis -- also a member of the Governor's subcommittee, raised the number to 366). Questioned by reporter Rod Decker, Dr.Mattis said that "doctors and morticians" are involved in Utah Satanic cults, and this explains why Satanists have "rather devious ways of disposing of bodies", which are never found. Dr.Mattis also repeated the story of the so-called "breeders", by then familiar in the national media coverage of survivors. "There are -- Mattis told the TV reporters -- a number of people who report having given birth to babies who were never registered officially -- babies who were born in home -- in home deliveries and who were then sacrificed, and those babies may never have had a legal existence. There are reports of women who have said that they have been breeders -- that they have had a number of babies raised specifically for sacrifice" [61]. Although Dr.Mattis did not mention that police and FBI -- despite extensive investigations -- have never found the slightest evidence of "breeding" practices having actually taken place, and the most famous "breeder", Laureen Stratford, had been exposed as a fraud (who had never been pregnant during the period of her alleged "breeding") by fellow Evangelicals in the Cornerstone magazine [62], skeptics were not late in manifesting themselves. David Raskin, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah, told the Salt Lake Tribune after Dr.Mattis's Take Two interview that "mass hysteria" was been fomented "in the form of a non-existent evil called Satanic ritualistic child abuse". Raskin criticized the Governor's Task Force arguing that "State government has become the pawn of those who believe ritualistic child abuse exists despite a lack of supporting evidence". "All this -- Raskin concluded -- is fantasy" [63]. Raskin was criticized on November 18 in an editorial of the same Tribune, that was cautious but not skeptic [64].

In the meantime a tragic parallel development had occurred in Logan. Michelle Tallmadge, age 23, had committed suicide after repressed memories of childhood ritualistic abuse had surfaced in therapy. Michelle had been disturbed by various psychiatric diseases since she was 15, and was diagnosed as suffering of MPD. Michelle, an active Mormon, left a note confessing that she "saw several babies bleed to death after I was forced hand over hand to cut their throat". "Lord -- Michelle wrote -- I have some repenting to do. I did many horrible things. I raped little children". Ultimately, the memories were too much for Michelle to bear and she saw suicide as the only alternative. Active Mormons, her parents told the local press that "unless we align ourselves with God, we will not win" against Satanists. "We will not win with Governor's task forces. -- they said -- We will not win with law enforcement. We will not win with public awareness. We must align ourselves with God and pray that this evil will be made public" [65]. While therapists argued that Michelle's sad story was a confirmation that Satanic ritual abuse was "widespread" in Mormon neighborhoods, skeptics raised the question whether Michelle's death could not be evidence of the dangers involved in therapy itself. On January 18, 1992 Mormon-owned KSL interviewed another survivor, "Jane", who reported "human sacrifices" and other "horrific things" which had happened in a canyon near Kamas, Utah, when she was a child. "Jane" told the TV reporters that "her father and others raped, tortured and killed people in their worship of Satan". "I know it happened -- "Jane" explained -- because I was forced to commit murder. I committed several sacrifices myself" [66].

In March 1992 Network, a feminist-oriented Salt Lake magazine, published an in-depth article and interviewed both Utah and national believers and skeptics. Overall, the point of view of the skeptics sounded more convincing, although reporter Gode Davis claimed she had not reached final conclusions [67]. Dr.Mattis told Davis that Satanist behaviour is "as secretive as the Mafia -- as strictly enforced as the Mafia" and that, although in the first sessions the Governor's Task Force included skeptics, in the end, to Dr.Mattis's satisfaction, believers prevailed. When the report was released in April 1992 although dated May 1992, it clearly exposed the point of view of believers [68]. Ritual abuse, the report claimed, comes from three different "traditions": Satanism, "a reversal of Christianity", in which "members worship the anti-Christ"; Black Magic, which is "a reversal of Witchcraft"; "ceremonial magic", which is "a reversal of tribal religion"; all three traditions are most dangerous when they take the form of "generational cults", which reverse whatever established religion they come across, including Mormonism. "Generational" cults in a given area, according to the report, "will mock the predominant church group in that area, for example, doing 'Black Masses' and other distortions of the traditional service in Catholic worship". It is, accordingly, not surprising -- the task force concluded -- that "in predominantly Mormon areas, LDS ceremonies are copied, distorted, and sadistically profaned. Scriptures and other religious wordings are perverted. Ritual group members are subjected to experiences that mock not only baptism, but marriage and other ordinances. When those victims are later involved in the legitimate services of the benign religion, their programmed terror is triggered, and the baptism or the wedding becomes a nightmare". This, according to the report, constitutes a specific category of "spiritual abuse", often co-existing in Utah with "sexual", "physical" and "emotional" abuse.

The subcommittee, which included two LDS general authorities, described Mormonism as a "benign religion" and the temple ceremonies as "legitimate services" in order to make it clear that members did not share the most outrageous conclusions of anti-Mormons. The authors of the report were, however, aware of the skeptics' objections and released a statement executed in early 1992 by sixty-six Utah therapists, reading as follows: "We, the undersigned mental health professionals, have each heard memories of ritual abuse recounted by some patients, as have therapists across the nation. We believe these patients allegations to have basis in fact. We are dismayed by accusations that therapists brainwash their patients or collude to create a mental health problem where none existed. We urge our public officials to take appropriate actions to counter ritual crimes". The crucial question "Where is the evidence?" was answered by the report listing five different elements:

a) "Independent identification, by victims unknown to each other, of the same perpetrators";

b) "Reports of recent ritual abuse strikingly similar in their particulars to the abuse remembered by adult suvivors whose trauma was perpetrated decades ago";

c) "Independent detailed reports, in many different states and in foreign countries, of identical acts of ritual abuse";

d) Successful prosecution of cases of child abuse which contains elements of ritual abuse;

e) "Perhaps the most persuasive of all, documentation from mental health professionals throughout the nation showing that patients get well when their memories of ritual abuse are dealt with, event patients who have not responded to years of other therapy" [69]

All the five elements were not unique to Utah and had been often mentioned in the national controvery. Their selection reflected the composition of the task force, which included mental health and law enforcement professionals and religious and children rights activists, but no sociologists or anthropologists. Significantly, the report's bibliography included 15 titles, only one of them written by a (cautious but not skeptic) sociologist [70] and all the remaining by either mental health professionals - including Michelle Remembers and an article co-authored by the same Dr. Barbara Snow involved in the Lehi scare - or journalists, some of them quite sensational. [71] Ignored altogether were works by skeptics and by academic scholars of Satanism and the occult. For skeptics, of course, evidence (1), (b) and (c) merely proves that therapists throughout the nation read the same literature and conduct their hypnosis investigations in the same manner, thus predictably obtaining the same results. Evidence (d) only proves that in a percentage of child abuse cases (minimal, as we mentioned earlier, with respect to the total number of cases investigated) perpetrators scare children through references to the Devil and Satanic paraphernalia. The small number of "successful prosecutions" does not confirm that an international conspiracy exists. Evidence (e) would not convince most of the therapists themselves: in fact it is widely acknowledged that patients "get well" in a variety of cultures when the spirits possessing them are exorcised by religious specialists (be they the spirits of the ancestors -- or of foxes -- in Japanese folk religion, or wandering Devils in African witchcraft). Mental health professionals and anthropologists have recognized that patients "who have not responded to years of other therapy" by Western doctors in fact "get well" when treated in a more culturally familiar setting by local African or Japanese folk exorcists; this - however - has not lead therapists and anthropologists, with very few exceptions, to believe that ancestor spirits or tribal Devils literally exist and possess these African or Japanese villagers. [72] The report also ignored that, by 1992, another category of academics had entered the controversy: folklorists, specialized in explaining how urban legends and rumors are born and spread. To folklorists, the fact that the same narratives about Satanic abuse are "strikingly similar" or "identical" throughout the nation or the world - just as legends about the "vanishing hitchiker" are reported identically in California, Italy and Japan - is precisely evidence that the stories follow the typical cycle of expansion of rumors and are not factually true. [73]

In April 1993 Utah Holiday published a further article on ritual abuse in Utah, taking openly the side of the believers. The latter were, at that stage, actively engaged in name-calling against the skeptics. Dr.Hammond reported that -- perhaps as a response to the subcommittee report -- in 1992 the skeptic False Memory Syndrome Foundation had established a chapter in Utah, whose membership was growing. FMSF and other skeptics were, Dr.Hammond claimed, merely "clever propagandists lobbying and doing public relations for pedophiles. They engage in a classic propaganda ploy of tainted scholarship, trying to appear scientific by selectively quoting only research that appears to support their premise" [74]. Dr.Hammond and his colleagues in the Governor's task force had however produced a "selective" document of their own, relying almost entirely on stories told by survivors and on the national anti-Satanist literature. Their typology of ritual abuse cults could not fail to raise eyebrows among scholars of the occult. The first category, the Satanists, should include groups worshiping "the anti-Christ". However no Anti-Christ worship has appeared in the Church of Satan, the Temple of Set or any other major Satanist group from Catherine La Voisin to the present times. The only group which emphasized references to the Anti-Christ was the Agapé Lodge-Church of Thelema established in 1942 in California by nationally prominent rocket scientist John Whiteside ("Jack") Parsons (1914-1952) with the blessing from England of the then aging Aleister Crowley. In 1948 Parsons ritually changed his name in "Belarion Anti-Christ" and was expelled by Crowley from his magical order O.T.O. Parsons -- who was killed in the explosion of his chemical laboratory in 1952 -- was not a Satanist but a crowleyan anti-Christian libertarian, and certainly his group (no longer in existence) is not "typical" of Satanism [75]. The second category of the subcommittee's report, "black magic", should be a "reversal of witchcraft". In fact, it is not always easy to distinguish "white" from "black" magic in Witchcraft, and many groups describe their magic as "white" only to find that the same rituals are regardes as "black" by rival groups in a field where not many courtesies are wasted between competing organizations. The third category describes "ceremonial magic" as "a reversal of tribal religion". The relationship will be regarded as surprising by any scholar of the occult. It would have seemed not less surprising to poet William Butler Yeats and Masonic scholar Arthur Edward Waite, perhaps the two most prominent practitioners of ceremonial magic in our century, both leaders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, in turn the largest modern organization of ritual magic. Waite, a pious Christian, regarded ceremonial magic as a legitimate part of Christianity [76]. Yeats, although not as committed to Christianity as Waite, considered ritual magic a sophisticated intellectual experience close to philosophy and poetry, and would not have understood in which sense his magical operations were a "reversal of tribal religion" [77]. Finally the fourth category of the report, "generational" Satanism, of course only exists if one believes the survivors'stories.

It appears that in the subcommittee report, as in others widely criticized documents, a number of Utah therapists, with the help of some lawyers and a few religious leaders, had embarked in what could only be described as amateur history and sociology of the occult, while these two disciplines are studied by excellent professionals, whose works have been ignored by the task force. When this approach is taken, strange incidents may happen. In 1992 a book on Satanism and ritual abuse introduced as scholarly and endorsed by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis was published in New York. The main paper on the history of Satanism quotes a "Vaughan 1990" source as evidence that "in the 1830s" American Masons were performing Satanic rituals in Charleston, South Carolina. A look at the endnotes confirms that "Vaughan 1990" really means the 1990 publication by survivors' organization Voices in Action of the spurious Memoirs of an ex-Palladist by Diana Vaughan, the most egregious part of the infamous Taxil hoax, whose shadow of allegations of Satanic abuse against Charleston Freemason Albert Pike (in the 1880s, not in the 1830s, if one follows the Memoirs and Le Diable) apparently still haunts some American therapists [78].

The part of the subcommittee report on "black" versions of Mormon temple ceremonies seems to be taken verbatim from Bishop Pace's memo, minus the references to prophecies of "secret combinations" to come in the Mormon scriptures. In fact, rather than the subcommittee borrowing from Bishop Pace, both documents may have a common source. In the early 1990s Dr.Mattis gave a number of speeches on the issue of Satanic ritual abuse. In 1993 she published a paper, co-authored with Elouise M. Bell, a professor of English at BYU and a member of the Governor's Task Force (as well as a former member of the General Board of the LDS Church's Young Women's Organization), in a collective work on abuse published by Mormon Church-owned Deseret Book Company. Most of this paper is hardly original and summarizes the arguments of all advocates of the Satanic conspiracy theory in the national controversy. The main points of the paper (which summarizes Dr.Mattis' earlier speeches) are as follows:

a) survivors tell us -- and we, as experienced therapists, know that what they say is true -- that in their childhood they have been "subjected to sexual activities of bizarre, deviant and extremely painful sorts" by carefully organized Satanic cults who routinely practice "sacrifice of animals (...); the torture and sometimes murder of babies, including in some cases the infants of young girls required to bear children specifically for sacrifice; the torture and sometimes murder of adults; and the systematic disposal of bodies";

b) survivors of ritual abuse "have been programmed ('brainwashed') to dissociate and to develop multiple personalities" through a "prolongued and carefully structured mind control or programming" devised by the Satanic cults in order to make difficult or impossible their detection and prosecution;

c) admittedly, no one has been convicted of any major crime based on the survivors' stories. This, however, does not mean that Satanic crimes, including murders, are not committed by Satanists. Bodies are not found because the Satanic cults "include morticians, pharmacists, butchers. These individuals have access to techniques and equipment useful in eliminating evidence of the cult crimes". Second, "more often, those killed are infants born and bred within the cult for that express purpose" and "not recorded on any public records". Third, "survivors have blocked the memories of their experiences and retrieve them only in therapy". They have been astutely "programmed early on to tell contradictory stories" and for this reason their accounts "rarely holds up in court under the present rules of evidence" (these rules, the paper implies, should perhaps be changed). Fourth, the best "cultists' protection" is "public disbelief", actively promoted by skeptic historians, mental health professionals and sociologists, some of them perhaps hired guns or even associated with the Satanist ring;

d) "If solid evidence is so hard to come by, how do we, in fact, know that ritual abuse truly exists? Essentially, it is the cumulative experience of many therapists across the world that has led to increased understanding of ritual abuse";

e) therapists have also discovered that "cult activities are often part of a multigenerational tradition. That is, particular families have been involved in ritual activities, children of successive generations being indoctrinated and programmed by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles".

What is peculiar in Dr. Mattis's and Prof. Bell's paper -- with respect to the large amount of national and international literature on survivors and ritualistic abuse -- is the Mormon connection. "Cult members -- they report -- sometimes hold respected and even elevated positions in the churches in their areas: in the East, they may be prominent Catholics or Episcopalians; in the South, active Baptists; and in the West, Mormons with priesthood and auxiliary callings. These respectable facades may be designed as 'fronts', thought to earn the cultists additional favour with their [Satanic] gods". But the Satanic cults go beyond mere facades, since they "pervert religious rituals for their own purposes". While in Catholic communities the Satanists "do 'black masses'", "in Mormon communities, scriptures and other religious wordings may be perverted. Latter-day Saint ordinances, such as baptism, marriage, or temple ceremonies, may be mocked or distorted. When victims are later involved in the authentic services, their programmed terror is triggered, and the ordinance becomes a nightmare". Dr. Mattis also believe that "LDS scriptural suggestions" are evidence that multigenerational "secret combinations" of Satanists do in fact exist [79]. As it is easy to see, Dr. Mattis' and Prof. Bell's paper is very close not only in arguments but in its very wording to Bishop Pace's memo, which in turn parallels the Governor's task force report. It is interesting that Dr. Mattis, who in 1991 -- as we mentioned earlier -- had described herself as "a New York humanistic Jew and a quintessential skeptic" has signed her name -- although as a co-author with Prof. Bell -- to an article with clear Mormon scriptural references. If the paper Dr.Mattis co-published with Prof.Bell in 1993 is in fact a modified version of speeches of the early 1990s, Dr.Mattis -- as spokesperson of a group of believing therapists and as a participant to the national Chicago conferences on MPD where, as we mentioned earlier, therapists and anti-cult organizations forged their links in the 1980s -- may be a likely common source for both the Mormom memo and the State report. The latter document was hailed by believers as an act of courage. Skeptics called it, more crudely, "hocus pocus" [80].

What was the impact of the report? Not great, apparently. Before its official release, the independent LDS magazine Sunstone reported in November 1991 that "Utah Governor Norm Bangerter suggested that the state task force on Women and Families, which included the investigation on child abuse, should disband" (although he also "budgeted more money for investigators to follow up on [individual] complaints"). Sunstone also reported that -- consistently with their conspirational views -- "some supporters of the task force publicly speculated whether the governor has been pressured by `influential people' in the state who are satanists." [81] "A spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City" told Sunstone that "no one has ever complained to the diocese's office about ritual abuse." [82]

5. "Mormon Miscreants": Anti-Mormons and the Utah Satanism Scare

As we have mentioned, the national Satanism scare in the United States has divided the secular anti-cult and the religious counter-cult movements along predictable lines. Secular "rationalist" skeptics and Evangelical "rationalist" counter-cultists (such as those writing in the Christian Research Journal and Christianity Today) have dismissed survivors stories as wild fantasies. A skeptic, "rationalist" anti-Mormon like sociologist Anson D. Shup does not believe that a Satanic conspiracy exists in Utah. The Evangelical counter-Mormon reaction has been less predictable. We have mentioned that in a previous controversy about whether Mormons worship Lucifer in their temples, counter-Mormons had split along the usual lines: the "rationalist" Tanners (who have very friendly relations with the Christian Research Journal) have strongly denied allegations of Satanic worship in the temple, leaving to the lunatic "post-rationalist" fringe to defend such wild claims. Not so when it came to the survivors' stories. The Tanners had their scoop -- and their obscure newsletter was mentioned by all major newspapers and TV stations in Utah -- when they were first in publishing Bishop Pace's memo. Although aware that some of their friends in the Evangelical counter-cult community do not believe that survivors' stories in general are true, the Tanners this time concluded that Utah survivors -- with their stories accepted at face value by senior Mormon Church officers -- were simply too good an opportunity to attack and embarass the LDS Church to be skeptically dismissed. They wrote that "we differ in our views concerning Satanic ritual abuse" from the Christian Research Institute (and particularly from their friends Bob and Gretchen Passantino). They also explained that "while we do not endorse many of Mr. Schnoebelen's conclusions", they were ultimately not afraid to concur with Schnoebelen and other "post-rationalist" counter-Mormons (no matter how bitterly they had previously engaged in name-calling with them) about the truth of Mormon survivors' stories [83]. While the Tanners perhaps deserve credits for having reacted against the gross exaggerations of the two God Makers movies, on the issue of Satanic ritual abuse in Utah they appear to have gone back from a "rationalist" to a "post-rationalist" position.

Like other anti-Mormons, the Tanners have been quick to note that references to "multigenerational" Satanic conspiracy should have a particular meaning in Utah. While little is known about the ancestors of other survivors throughout the United States, when the survivors are Mormon Utahns, the fact that they have been victimized in a "multigenerational" family Satanic setting means that their own ancestors were Satanists. And their ancestors are well known: they are, in fact, the Mormon Utah pioneers. The Tanners, thus, suggest that the remote origins of the "multigenerational" Satanic rings in Mormon Country may lay in the unholy practices of early Utah polygamists, who may have indulged in marriages between brothers and sisters and other forms of incest. They quote recent historical works by "new Mormon historians" to this effect [84]. This line of thought is not unique to the Tanners. A connection between possible issues of incest among polygamous Mormon pioneers and the Satanic cults exposed by survivors has been quoted in lectures by one Linda Walker, who describes her profession as "genealogy researcher", and through Walker has found its way in the national survivors' lecture circuit and literature. Walker claimed as early as 1990 in an interview with a newsletter for the survivor community, Beyond Survival, that she "could document" not only "ritual abuse" but also "mind control" and "breeding" in Utah dating back to the times of the first settlers and involving prominent Mormon pioneers, including John Taylor and possibly Brigham Young himself. While one wonders whether Walker had also read the pseudo-Diana Vaughan's Memoirs, just republished by a survivors' group in 1990, on the Satanic connections of John Taylor, she claims that her evidence include the circumstance that "along with congenital diseases, multiple personality disorder is also found in greater frequency among polygamous Mormon families", statistics that "may point to either a high incidence of incest, or to ritual abuse, or to both"; and the "startling fact" that among "early Mormon patriarchs" "marriages and deaths seemed to occur in a higher-than-random ratio on three suspected occult holidays. October 31, February 2, and April 13" [85]. Walker announces a forthcoming book where she will explain from what sources exactly she knows that MPD is more common in "polygamous Mormon families". Perhaps she will also explain how the 19th century "Mormon patriarchs" could have access -- unless,that is, they were in direct contact with the Devil, as Le Diable had already claimed in 1892 -- to lists of occult dates and holidays which surfaced only in the 1960s in the context of the occult revival in California and England.

The Tanners also quote the persistent criminal practice of blood atonement by present-day polygamous cults in Utah and elsewhere, and the perverted sexual ceremonies performed by the Fundamentalist cult operated by John W. Bryant. They also speculate that the second anointment ceremony -- a ceremony that, for selected Mormons, followed the common temple endowment in the 19th century church, and which apparently has became extremely rare in recent times -- may have included sexual ritual practices between husband and wife [86]. These arguments are, of course, extremely weak. Polygamy, blood atonement in polygamist groups, the second anointing and even incest among early Saints have nothing to do with Satanism. Even if some of these practices are highly questionable from many points of view, people involved in them surely had -- and, in the case of present-day Fundamentalists, have -- no idea nor intention of worshiping Satan. On the contrary -- even through polygamy or blood atonement -- their religious practices are intended to worship God, perhaps in a paradoxical way. Far from being Satanists, even the wilder Fundamentalists engaged in blood atonement (not to be confused with more moderate polygamous groups) would rather think that by their deeds they are actually fighting Satan.

It is not surprising that anti-Mormons, including the Tanners, use the Satanism scare in Utah (in itself a part of the national Satanism scare) to attack and embarass the LDS Church. It is, also, not surprising that the same conflict between believers (mostly in the mental health profession) and skeptics (mostly in academic settings and among sociologists) on the factual truth of the survivors' claims, which has been going on at a national level in the United States (with international connections) for more than a decade, has reproduced itself in Utah. What is surprising is that the main religious organization in Utah, the Mormon Church, has apparently decided to align itself with one party in the controversy, and has released official and semi-official documents proclaiming that survivors should be believed. As sociologist Jeffrey S.Victor has observed, the Mormon Church position is somewhat unique. Although individual activists and members of the clergy of many denominations have supported the survivors' claims, so far no Church has ventured to take an official stand. As mentioned earlier, authoritative voices in the Evangelical community, including Christianity Today, have rather sided with the skeptics. In the Roman Catholic Church, the commission appointed by four Vatical Secretariats to examine "cults" and new religious movements decided to hear in a session held at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska on May 10-12, 1991, as the only expert on the Satanism scare, the skeptic Anson D. Shupe, whose report was warmly endorsed by the commission [87]. The attitude of the Mormon Church is, as Victor remarked, "paradoxical", since they are "lending authoritative credibility" to anti-cult and counter-cult sources who normally also attack Mormonism as a "cult" [88]. If the first LDS Church document (unpublished, but mentioned in Bishop Pace's memo) dates back to 1989, it seems that the first interest of the Church on ritual abuse may have been connected to the Lehi case, based on allegations made by children. The concern of the Mormon Church on a sad and widespread phenomenon such as child abuse is understandable, although we have mentioned that child abuse does not appear to be significantly more frequent in Utah than elsewhere in the United States. Nothing in this paper is intended to minimize the very real danger of child abuse, nor to suggest that Churches should not be involved at their best in fighting and preventing this tragedy. It is also possible, as some cases outside Utah seem to suggest, that occasionally abusers scare children by using Satanic symbols and paraphernalia. However, there is no evidence of national or international Satanic conspiracies. What is more dangerous, looking for such conspiracies may lead the efforts astray from the identification of real perpetrators on a case by case basis. It had been suggested that when social workers, therapists and law enforcement officers become too concerned in finding evidence of Satanism, they may end up by making the defense of the guilty abuser easier (and, sometimes, by prosecuting the innocent) [89]. It is also essential that stories told by children about abuse that occurred in the last few weeks be not confused with stories told by survivors about abuses that they claimed occurred decades ago. The two narratives belong to different categories.

The Mormon Church, understandably, became very concerned when it heard from therapists stories told by survivors about Satanic abuse in specific Mormon settings and "black" versions of the temple ceremony. Apparently, however, some Church officers did not consider that survivors' stories do not arise in a vacuum but are socially constructed narratives. One of the leading academic textbooks on MPD explains that a number of famous MPD patients -- believed to be basically sincere by the authors -- had read a significant number of books in University and other libraries and appear to have constructed some of their "alter" personalities, perhaps unconsciously, based on what they had read [90]. Satanic stories told by MPD patients and survivors do not appear to be independent from their cultural context either. Material from early anti-cult literature was largely used by survivors (which, as mentioned earlier, does not necessarily mean that survivors are consciously lying). Thus in a Fundamentalist anti-Catholic setting, one finds the stories of Edna Moses ("Elaine"), a survivor who told her therapist Dr. Ruth Bailey (who had been barred from practising medicine in the State of Indiana because of malpractice, and had changed her name to Rebecca Brown) that most Catholics, particularly Jesuits, are secretly involved in Satanic cults -- although probably only extreme Fundamentalist audiences would be prepared to believe "Elaine" when she tells the story of having been taken by Satan in person, who owns a private jet, to the Vatican, where Pope Paul VI admitted to be himself a member of the Satanic cult [91]. ?In anti-Masonic settings, survivors recall tales of Devil worship and ritual abuse in Masonic lodges, where Masons follow the famous "Instruction on Lucifer" written by Albert Pike on July 14, 1889. In 1992 Ann-Marie Germain, herself a survivor, graduated at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with a Master's thesis on ritual abuse in Masonic settings, that was later used for a section on Masonry in a book written by another survivor under the pseudonym of Margareth Smith [92]. Apparently, these survivors are not aware that Pike's 1889 "Instruction", where the famous American Freemason confessed that he worshipped Lucifer, was never written by Pike. It was a forgery by Léo Taxil, part of his famous hoax, and Taxil specifically admitted having forged this document in his 1897 confession [93].

As anti-Catholic Fundamentalist survivors told stories of Satanism in the Vatican, and anti-Masonic survivors mentioned Satanism in the lodges, it is not surprising that Utah survivors should have mentioned Satanism in the Mormon temple. While anti-Masonic material from the Taxil hoax and Diana Vaughan surfaced on survivors' stories about Masonry, widely available anti-Mormon material alleging that Satan worship takes place in the temple found its way to other survivors' stories in the Intermountain West. And, while the existence of anti-Masonic survivors of course does not confirm that a Diana Vaughan existed and that Albert Pike was a Satanist, Utah survivors' stories do not constitute evidence that Satan is actually worshipped in Mormon temples. Both kind of stories are however an indication that the survivors' experience is a socially constructed cultural metaphor, the expression of socio-cultural tensions as well as of individual distress. The situation is similar to memories of past-life experiences and of "abductions" aboard UFOs by extraterrestrials often told in therapy. In 1980 - the same year when Michelle Remembers was published - therapists in California founded the Association for Past-Life Research and Therapy [94]. Later, some therapists decided that even UFO abduction stories told by their patients may be factually true [95]. In a sense, the therapists' position is easy to understand. They are reluctant to "re-victimize" their patients by not believing their stories on Satanic abuse, past lives or extraterrestrial abduction. The "either/or" attitude may, however, be a misunderstanding. It is not necessary to conclude that either the survivors (from dramatic past lives, UFO abductions, or Satanism) are pathological liars or they are remembering factual incidents. A third possibility exists. Survivors may be expressing their anguishes and needs (that may sometimes come from very real experiences of rape or incest) by constructing stories conditioned by the books they have read, the media, the social setting (and perhaps the therapist's social setting and biases). That this may be the case is not a new theory. In the last years of the 19th century Geneva psychiatrist Théodore Flournoy (1854-1920) -- highly respected by Freud -- was confronted with the case of his patient Catherine-Elise Muller (1861-1929), whom he disguised under the pseudonym of "Hélène Smith". Muller told Flournoy vivid stories of past lives in India and elsewhere, and of having been taken to the Planet Mars by extraterrestrials. Flournoy noticed that Muller's Indians and extraterrestrials talked and behaved like Swiss of the fin-de-siècle, but at the same time he was sure of his patient's good faith. He concluded that Muller (who was also a painter) was rendering in artistic terms certain problems of her own [96].

How sacred scriptures are read may also be conditioned by social settings. When the first Mormons -- and anti-Mormons -- read about "secret combinations" in the Book of Mormon, they immediately pointed at the controversies of their time about Masonry, and Martin Harris called the Book of Mormon the "anti-Masonick [sic] Bible" [97]. Today, the reference to "secret combinations" is more easily read as a prophecy of present-day Satanic cults. Finally, Mormon Church authorities accepting the theory of "multigenerational" Satanism in Utah apparently did not realize that they were opening the door to the conclusion that the "multigenerational" ancestors of present Utahns could only be the Mormon pioneers and, as a consequence, to wild speculations about a connection between early Mormon polygamy, blood atonement, and Satanism.

Will the Satanism scare continue unabated in Utah for years to come? Will the Mormon Church continue to support therapists who believe that survivors' stories are factually true? One frequent Utah myth is that everything in the Beehive State should necessarily be unique and without parallels elsewhere. While it is true that the Utah Satanism scare has certain peculiar features, it is largely part of the national Satanism scare and of a larger national -- and now international -- controversy. As mentioned earlier, skepticism about the factual truth of survivors' stories seems to be more and more prevailing in academic settings. Apparently even MPD specialists start having doubts. Dr. Lawrence Pazder -- who largely started it all with Michelle Remembers and who coined the very term "Satanic ritual abuse" -- recently told reporters that perhaps Satanic abuse memories are "more an expression of a deep level of violation caused by abusive family members than actual accounts of Satanic ritual abuse" [98]. If believers in the factual truth of survivors's stories will become marginalized in the mental health profession throughout United States (as they already are among sociologists and law enforcement professionals, despite the resistance of a small lobby of "cult cops"), [99] it is not difficult to predict that the Intermountain West will ultimately follow the national trend. Bishop Pace's memo and Dr. Noemi Mattis' papers notwithstanding, the general authorities in the Mormon Church do not appear to be so committed to the survivors' agenda that a more cautious attitude may not prevail in the future.

At the May 1993 meeting of the Mormon History Association in Lamoni, Iowa, LDS sociologist Armand Mauss noted among other evidences of a Mormon "retrenchment" from the 1960s to the 1990s an increased "susceptibility to fundamentalist `scare' scenarios." Mauss - who used "fundamentalist" in the national meaning of "conservative evangelicals", as opposed to the Utah meaning of "polygamous splinter Mormon groups" - argued that an "indication that [LDS] church leaders, as well as the folk, might be susceptible to fundamentalist scare scenarios can be seen in the credence which a member of the Presiding Bishopric gave a couple of years ago to stories of satanic child abuse." Mauss, who does not believe that these stories are factually true and rather supports the "general debunking of such satanism stories by social scientists", sees in the church involvement in the Satanism scare evidence of "the process by which folk fundamentalism gets disseminated upward into the leadership echelons and then back downward to the folk with an authoritative aura." Mauss, on the other hand, does not believe that "folk fundamentalism" reflects the collective consensus of the general authorities, nor of the whole Quorum of the Twelve. The lack in recent years of "a full and vigorous First Presidency" has, Mauss thinks, made it very difficult to rein in the "folk fundamentalist" preferences of individual general authorities, but this does not necessarily mean that these preferences are shared by the majority of the brethren. [100] An indication that cautious voices on the Satanic abuse issue also exist among general authorities came from Apostle Richard G. Scott's speech at the General Conference of April 1992. Although Elder Scott deplored the "tragic scars of abuse", he also cautioned against "improper therapeutic approaches," "leading questions," and "excessive probing into every minute detail of past experiences". The LDS Apostle argued that such techniques may "unwittingly trigger thoughts that are more imagination or fantasy than reality. They could lead to condemnation of another for acts that were not committed. While likely few in numbers, I know of cases where such therapy has caused great injustice to the innocent from unwittingly stimulated accusations that were later proven false. Memory, particular adult memory of childhood experience, is fallible. Remember, false accusation is also a sin" [101].


  1. Jeffrey S. Victor, Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend, Chicago and La Salle (Illinois): Open Court, 1993, pp. 1-2.
  2. See François Ravaisson-Mollien, Archives de la Bastille: Documents inédits,19 vols., Paris: A.Durand et Pedone-Lauriel, 1866-1904, see vol.6 (1873) and vol.7 (1874).
  3. The most influential works include: Jean-Baptiste Fiard, La France trompée par les magiciens et démonolâtres du XVIIIe siècle, fait demontré par les faits, Paris: Grégoire, 1803; (Jules) Eudes de Mirville, Pneumatologie, 10 vols., Paris: Vrayet de Surcy, Delaroque et Wattelier, 1853-1868; Henri-Roger Gougenot des Mousseaux, Moeurs et pratiques des Démons ou des esprits visiteurs du spiritisme ancien et moderne, Paris: Plon, 1865; Joseph Bizouard, Des Rapports de l'homme avec le Démon. Essai historique et philosophique, 6 vols., Paris: Gaume Frères et J.Duprey, 1864.
  4. See Orestes Brownson, The Spirit-Rapper: An Autobiography, Boston: Little, Brown and Company and London: Charles Dolman, 1854, pp.164-167; Brownson's book was translated into French: L'Esprit frappeur, Scènes du Monde Invisible, Paris and Tournai: H.Casterman, 1862 (see p.103 for the reference to the Book of Mormon).
  5. Bizouard, Des Rapports de l'homme avec le Démon. vol.VI, pp.111-127.
  6. Joris-Karl Huysmans, Là-bas, Paris: Tresse et Stock, 1891. See also Jules Bois, Le Satanisme et la magie, Paris: Léon Chailley, 1895.
  7. See Richard Griffiths, The Reactionary Revolution: The Catholic Revival in French Literature 1870-1914, London: Constable, 1966, pp.124-125.
  8. Dr. Bataille, Le Diable au XIXe siècle, 2 vols., Paris and Lyon: Delhomme et Briguet, 1892-1894.
  9. Bataille, Le Diable, vol. 1, p.360.
  10. See A.E. Waite, Devil Worship in France or the Question of Lucifer, London: George Redway, 1896. In 1897-1898 Waite wrote an interesting sequel to this book, Diana Vaughan and the Question of Modern Palladism: A Sequel to "Devil Worship in France", which has remained unpublished and is at present in a private collection in England.
  11. Taxil's confession was published in the anti-Catholic magazine Le Frondeur, April 25, 1897. A good treatment of the Taxil incident is Eugen Weber (ed.), Satan Franc-maçon. La mystification de Léo Taxil, Paris: Julliard, 1964. After Weber's book a number of new documents have surfaced and are discussed in my Il ritorno del Diavolo. Satanisti e anti-satanisti dal Seicento ai giorni nostri, Milan: Mondadori, 1994.
  12. See Clotilde Bersone, L'Élue du Dragon, Paris: L'Étincelle, 1929. The book is kept in print to this day by anti-Masonic groups in various languages.
  13. See Marc Pluquet, La Sophiale, Maria de Naglowska: sa vie, son oeuvre, Paris: The Author, n.d.; Alexandrian, Les Libérateurs de l'amour, Paris: Seuil, 1978, pp.185-206.
  14. For Crowley's non-belief in the existence of the Devil (nor of God) see Aleister Crowley, Magick, edited by John Symonds and Kenneth Grant, York Beach (Maine): Samuel Weiser, 1973, p.296. For a discussion see my Il cappello del mago. I nuovi movimenti magici dallo spiritismo al satanismo, Milan: SugarCo, 1990, pp.268-279.
  15. See David G.Bromley and Susan G.Ainsley, "Satanism and Satanic Churches: The Contemporary Incarnations", in Timothy Miller (ed.), America's Alternative Religions, Albany (New York): State University of New York Press, 1994.
  16. See Robert N. Bellah and Frederick E.Greenspahn (eds.), Uncivil Religion: Interreligious Hostility in America, New York: Crossroad, 1987; David Brion Davis, "Some Themes of Counter-Subversion: An Analysis of Anti-Masonic, Anti-Catholic, and Anti-Mormon Literature", Mississippi Valley Historical Review 47 (1960): 205-224.
  17. See my "Strange Bedfellows or Future Enemies?", Update & Dialog 3 (October 1993): 13-22.
  18. See Barbara Hargrove, "Social Sources and Consequences of the Brainwashing Controversy", in David G. Bromley and James T. Richardson (eds.), The Brainwashing/Deprogramming Controversy: Sociological, Psychological, Legal and Historical Perspectives, New York: Edwin Mellen, 1983, pp. 299-308 (p. 303).
  19. For more details, see my Strange Bedfellows.
  20. See my "The Devil Makers: Contemporary Evangelical Fundamentalist Anti-Mormonism", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 27, n. 1 (Spring 1994): 153-169.
  21. See Sigmund Freud, with Josef Breuer, "On the Psychical Mechanism of Hysterical Phenomena", in Collected Papers, vol.1, London: International Psychoanalytic Press, 1924.
  22. Michelle Smith and Lawrence Pazder, Michelle Remembers, New York: Congdon & Lattés, 1980.
  23. For these developments see Sherril Mulhern, "The Demonization of Psychopathology", in Jean-Baptiste Martin and Massimo Introvigne (eds.), Le Défi magique.II.Satanisme, sorcellerie, Lyon: Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 1994, pp.53-73.
  24. For a story of the trial from a skeptical point of view, see Paul and Shirley Eberle, The Abuse of Innocence: The McMartin Preschool Trial, Buffalo (New York): Prometheus Books, 1993.
  25. See Victor, Satanic Panic, p.109.
  26. For the anti-Satanists list, widely circulated (including in Utah) by Cavalcade Productions, a producer of anti-Satanist videos based in Ukiah, California, see Craig Lockwood, Other Altars: Roots of Cultic and Satanic Ritual Abuse and Multiple Personality Disorder, Minneapolis: CompCare Publishers, 1993, pp.269-271.
  27. The most balanced treatment of adolescent Satanism has been written by a Presbyterian pastor who is also a clinical social worker specialized in assisting teenagers with problems: Joyce Mercer, Behind the Mask of Adolescent Satanism, Minneapolis: Deaconess Press, 1991.
  28. See Victor, Satanic Panic; David G. Bromley, "The Social Construction of Subversion: A Comparison of Anti-Religious and Anti-Satanic Cult Narratives", in Anson D. Shupe and David G. Bromley (eds.), The Anti-Cult Movement: An International Perspective, New York and London: Garland, 1994.
  29. CSER, Satanism in America, Buffalo (New York): CSER, 1989.
  30. See John and Mark Sandford, A Comprehensive Guide to Deliverance and Inner Healing, Grand Rapids (Michigan): Chosen Books, 1991. Whether or not inner healing is an acceptable form of prayer has been the subject of considerable debate in Catholic charismatic circles: see "Two Views of Inner Healing", New Covenant, vol.23, n.7 (February 1994): 7-10.
  31. Bob and Gretchen Passantino, "The Hard Facts about Satanic Ritual Abuse", Christian Research Journal, 14:3 (Winter 1992): 20-23; 32-34.
  32. Robin Perrin and Less Parrott III, "Memories of Satanic Ritual Abuse: The Truth behind the Panic", Christianity Today, June 21, 1993: 19-23.
  33. Susan Bergman, "Rumors from Hell", Christianity Today, March 7, 1994: 36-37.
  34. James T. Richardson, Joel Best and David G. Bromley (eds.), The Satanism Scare, New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1991.
  35. See Lockwood, Other Altars, pp.13-15.
  36. See for the whole story and bibliography my "Quand le diable se fait Mormon. Le Mormonisme comme complot diabolique: l'affaire Schnoebelen", Politica Hermetica, 6 (1992): 36-54; and "The Devil Makers". Schnoebelen also claims that the Satanic Masonic cult called Palladism (the core feature of Taxil's hoax) is a real organization still existing in Chicago, and that both himself and his wife Sharon have been initiated in the cult. In order to persuade skeptics, they have reproduced in their 1993 book Lucifer Dethroned a certificate of initiation into Palladism signed "D.DePaul" (see William and Sharon Schnoebelen, Lucifer Dethroned, Chino [California]: Chick Publications, 1993, p.205). I contacted Michael Bertiaux, the Chicago occultist who had consecrated Schnoebelen as a Bishop in his Gnostic Church, for additional information about DePaul. Bertiaux assured me that, my doubts notwithstanding, DePaul was "a real person", a "Roman Catholic from an orphan home". Since DePaul was anxious to establish a new Satanist order, Bertiaux himself -- half-jocularly -- "suggested that he make contact astrally with the 19th cent. Satanist movement in France, the Palladium. He [DePaul] believed that Diana Vaughan was a real spirit trying to contact him. He also stated that she came to him and directed him in setting up a mystical society that would continue the work of the Palladium, of which he was chief". In the 1980s DePaul moved from Chicago to Georgia and Bertiaux "lost contact with him" (letter from Michael Bertiaux to the author, February 12, 1994). Accordingly, it is not impossible that the Schnoebelen had been initiated in an organization established by Diana Vaughan. What they fail to explain is that it was the spirit of Diana Vaughan, channeled by DePaul, who had founded the Chicago Palladium in the 1970s. Why Diana -- having converted to Catholicism as she tells in the Memoirs -- should now bother from heaven (if it is not hell) to contact mediums in Illinois to establish Satanic cults also remains unclear.
  37. Study of National Incidence and Prevalence of Child Abuse and Neglect: 1988, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1988, p.XIII; see Boyd C. Rollins and Craig K. Manscill, "Family Violence in Utah", in Thomas Martin, Tom B. Heaton and Stephen J. Bahr (eds.), Utah in Demographic Perspective, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1986, pp.163-164.
  38. Salt Lake Tribune, December 16, 1987.
  39. Salt Lake Tribune, December 17, 1987.
  40. Deseret News, December 17, 1987.
  41. Salt Lake Tribune, December 27, 1987.
  42. Deseret News, January 13, 1988.
  43. Salt Lake Tribune, April 26, 1988. For Dr. Snow's version see Barbara Snow and R.N. Sorensen, "Ritualistic Child Abuse in a Neighborhood Setting", The Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 5:4 (December 1990): 474-487.
  44. April Daniels and Carol Scott, Paperdolls: Healing from Sexual Abuse in Mormon Neighbourhoods, Salt Lake City: Palingenesia Press, 1992.
  45. Daniels and Scott, Paperdolls, p. 108.
  46. Marion B. Smith, Letter, Sunstone, December 1991, pp. 4-6.
  47. See Shupe and Bromley (eds.), The Anti-Cult Movement.
  48. Anson D. Shupe, The Darker Side of Virtue: Corruption, Scandal and the Mormon Empire, Buffalo (New York): Prometheus Books, 1991, p. 123.
  49. South Idaho Press, September 13, 1991.
  50. Los Angeles Times Magazine, May 17, 1992.
  51. Gode Davis, "In the Name of Satan", Network: A Progressive Publication for Utah Women, vol. 14, n. 12 (March 1992): 15-16.
  52. The Times-News (Twin Falls, Idaho), May 19, 1992; South Idaho Press, May 19, 1992; Los Angeles Times Magazine, May 17, 1992.
  53. "Ritualistic Child Abuse and the Mormon Church", Salt Lake City Messenger 80 (November 1991): 1-15; Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Satanic Ritual Abuse and Mormonism, Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1992, pp. 7-18. See also "Mormon Leaders Fight Satanic Infiltration", Salt Lake City Messenger 81 (March 1992): 1-15.
  54. Davis, In the Name of Satan, 14.
  55. Deseret News, September 8, 1991.
  56. Deseret News, October 25, 1991.
  57. Deseret News, September 9, 1991.
  58. Davis, In the Name of Satan, 16.
  59. Transcripts in Tanner and Tanner, Satanic Ritual Abuse and Mormonism, p. 45.
  60. Deseret News, 25 October 1991; see Ensign, June 1992: 79; and R.Clayton Brough, Teachings of the Prophets: Statements of LDS Leaders of Contemporary Issues, Bountiful (Utah): Horizon Press, 1993, p.80. The only other LDS document on Satanic abuse Brough mentions (but does not reproduce) is Bishop Pace's memorandum, and it is somewhat strange to see this devout (althoug unofficial) compilation of LDS documents referring its readers to the Tanners' anti-Mormon Salt Lake City Messenger, November 1991, as the only source where the memorandum could be found.
  61. Take Two, November 10, 1991, transcript.
  62. See Gretchen and Bob Passantino, and Jon Trott, "Satan' Sideshow: The True Lauren Stratford Story", Cornerstone, 18:90 (December 8, 1989): 23-28.
  63. Salt Lake Tribune, November 13, 1991.
  64. Salt Lake Tribune, November 18, 1991.
  65. The Cache Citizen (Logan, Utah), December 18, 1991.
  66. KSL, January 18, 1992, transcript in Tanner and Tanner, Satanic Ritual Abuse and Mormonism, p. 45.
  67. Davis, In the Name of Satan.
  68. Report of [Utah] Governor's Task Force on Ritual Abuse, Salt Lake City: n.p. May 1992.
  69. Report, p. 6, emphasis in original.
  70. David Finkelhor [misspelled in the Report, p. 11 as "Finklehor"], Nursery Crimes, Newbury Park (California): Sage Press, 1988.
  71. See "Bibliography", in Report, pp. 11-12.
  72. For a comprehensive treatment by an anthropologist see Felicitas Goodman, How about Demons? Possession and Exorcism in the Modern World, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1988").
  73. See Victor, Satanic Panic; Bill Ellis, "The Devil Worshippers at the Prom: Rumor-Panic as Therapeutic Magic", Western Folklore 49:1 (January 1990): 27-49; Véronique Campion-Vincent, "Descriptions of Sabbats and Rituals in Contemporary Anti-Satanist Fears", unpublished paper presented at the conference New Religions and the New Europe organized by CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions), INFORM (Information Network Focus on Religious Movements) and ISAR (Institute for the Study of American Religion), London School of Economics, May 1993).
  74. Alf Pratte, "Too Bizarre to Believe: Ritual Abuse in Utah?", Utah Holiday, April 1993: 20-25.
  75. See John Whiteside Parsons, The Manifest of Antichrist / The Book of Antichrist, ed.by E.W.Plawiuk, Edmonton (Alberta): Isis Research, 1980; Idem, Freedom is a Two-Edged Sword and Other Essays. ed.by Cameron and Hymenaeus Beta, Las Vegas: Falcon Press, 1989.
  76. See Waite's biography by R.A.Gilbert, A.E.Waite: Magician of Many Parts, Wellingborough (Northamptonshire): Crucible, 1987.
  77. See, for his definition of magic, William Butler Yeats, "Magic", in Essays and Introductions, London: Macmillan, 1961, p.28.
  78. Martin H.Katchen, "The History of Satanic Religions", in David K.Sakheim and Susan E.Devine (eds.), Out of Darkness: Exploring Satanism and Ritual Abuse, New York: Lexington, 1992, pp.21-39. See Diana Vaughan, Memoirs of an ex-Palladist, Chicago: Voices in Action, 1990.
  79. Noemi P. Mattis and Elouise M. Bell, "Ritual Abuse", in Anne L. Horton, B. Kent Harrison and Barry L. Johnson (eds.), Confronting Abuse, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1993, pp. 180-200.
  80. Pratte, "Too Bizarre to Believe", 23.
  81. "Leaked Bishop's Memo Spotlights LDS Ritual Satanic Sexual Abuse", Sunstone 15:5 (November 1991): 58.
  82. ibid.
  83. Tanner and Tanner, Satanic Ritual Abuse and Mormonism, p. 24 and p. 34.
  84. See Tanner and Tanner, Satanic Ritual Abuse and Mormonism, pp.70-74.
  85. Lockwood, Other Altars, pp.118-120. Lockwood is the editor of the newsletter Beyond Survival, and quotes in the book (under the heading "Mormon Miscreants") from his 1990 interview with Walker.
  86. Tanner and Tanner, Satanic Ritual Abuse and Mormonism, pp. 81-82.
  87. I am myself a member of the commission organized by the International Federation of the Catholic University (IFCU) upon a mandate of four Vatican Secretariats, and have heard Shupe's rather strong remarks against those who believe in survivors' stories in Omaha. Proceedings of the IFCU commission remain confidential.
  88. Victor, Satanic Panic, p. 269.
  89. See the comments by British social worker Gary Clapton, The Satanic Abuse Controversy: Social Workers and the Social Work Press, London: University of North London Press, 1993.
  90. Carol S. North, Jo-Ellyn M. Ryall, Daniel A. Ricci and Richard D. Wetzel, Multiple Personalities, Multiple Disorders: Psychiatric Classification and Media Influence, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993, pp. 118-119.
  91. See Rebecca Brown, He Came to Set the Captives Free, Chino (California): Chick Publications, 1986 (2nd ed.: Springdale [Pennsylvania]: Whitaker House, 1992); Mike Hertenstein and Jon Trott, Selling Satan: The Tragic History of Mike Warnke, Chicago: Cornerstone Press, 1993, p. 271; CSER, Satanism in America: How the Devil Got Much More Than His Due, Buffalo (New York): CSER, 1989, pp. 104-105.
  92. See Ann-Marie Germain, Ritual Abuse: Its Effects and the Process of Recovery Using Self-Help Methods and Resources, and Focusing on the Spiritual Aspect of Damage and Recovery, Master's Thesis, Carbondale, Illinois: Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, 1992; Margareth Smith, Ritual Abuse: What It Is, Why It Happens, and How to Help, San Francisco: Harpers San Francisco, 1993.
  93. See Weber, Satan Franc-maçon; John J. Robinson, A Pilgrim's Path: Freemasonry and the Religious Right, New York: M. Evans and Company, 1993, pp. 57-59.
  94. For an historical overview, see the entry "Past-Life Therapy", in J.Gordon Melton, Jerome Clark and Aidan A.Kelly (eds.), New Age Almanac,Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1991, pp.80-89.
  95. For a summary of the believers' arguments see David Michael Jacobs, Secret Life: Firsthand Accounts of UFO Abductions, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992. Jacobs is Associate Professor of History at Temple University.
  96. See Théodore Flournoy, Des Indes à la Planète Mars. Étude d'un cas de somnambulisme avec glossolalie, 4th ed., Geneva: Atar, amd Paris: Fischbacher, 1909 (1st ed.: 1900). A biography of Muller has been published after her death by W.Deonna, De la Planète Mars en Terre Sainte. Art et subcoscient - Un Médium peintre: Hélène Smith, Paris: E. de Boccard, 1932.
  97. See Michael W.Homer, "Similarity of Priesthood in Masonry: The Relationship between Mormonism and Freemasonry," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27:3 (Fall 1994), 1-115.
  98. Perrin and Parrott, "Memories of Satanic Ritual Abuse", 23.
  99. On "cult cops" and their decline see Robert D. Hicks, In Pursuit of Satan: The Police and the Occult, Buffalo (New York): Prometheus Books, 1990. Some of the most prominent "cult cops" in the United States are from Idaho and Utah, although Utah police also has a percentage of skeptics: see Deseret News, September 10-11, 1991 where both skeptic and believer law enforcement officers were interviewed. The most vocal "cult cop" in Utah, Capt. Randy Johnson of West Jordan Department Public Safety, was a member of the Governor's task force.
  100. Armand L. Mauss, "The Mormon Struggle with Assimilation and Identity: Trends and Developments Since Midcentury", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27:1 (Spring 1994): 129-149. This is an adapted version of Mauss' 1993 speech at the Mormon History Association annual meeting in Lamoni, Iowa. See also Armand L. Mauss, The Angel and the Beehive: The Mormon Struggle with Assimilation (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 185-88.
  101. (Elder) Richard G. Scott, "Healing the Tragic Scars of Abuse", Ensign 22:5 (May 1992): 31-33. Salt Lake Tribune, April 5, 1992. Predictably, a number of therapists - including Marion B. Smith - wrote to the Tribune to criticize Elder Scott's remarks. See letters by Marion B.Smith in the Tribune's Public Forum, April 19, 1992; and by therapist Robert Buck and by Susan G. Aldous on April 21, 1992. According to the Tribune of April 6, 1992 a protest against Scott's talk was staged on Temple Square by ten women carrying placards the day following Scott's speech. Of course, protesters were not wrong in claiming that Elder Scott's remarks on the fallibility of survivors' memories contradicted Bishop Pace's insistence in the 1990 memo on the reliability of the same memories "as fresh as if it happened yesterday". Elder Scott, on the other hand, had in 1992 the benefit of two more years of scholarly research which had critically analyzed the claims of the survivors.

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