CESNUR - Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni diretto da Massimo Introvigne

CESNUR 2005 International Conference
June 2-5, 2005 – Palermo, Sicily
Religious Movements, Globalization and Conflict: Transnational Perspectives

How 'Satanic' is Satanism?

Reender Kranenborg

A paper presented at the 2005 CESNUR Conference in Palermo, Sicily. Preliminary version – do not reproduce or quote without the consent of the author.
1)    Introduction

When we speak about ‘evil’, we also speak of the devil or Satan, as Satan is the origin of all things evil. In other words, he causes all the bad things on Earth. This is, of course, a ‘Christian’ view, as the connection between evil and the devil is self-evident in the more orthodox or conservative forms of Christianity. But evil and the devil are also closely intertwined in everyday speech, and the devil is always an evil power. People discuss the nature and extent of evil, but they all agree that ‘evil’ is really evil. The content of evil differs in every religion and culture. Opinions differ widely, but again: evil is ubiquitous. In this article[1] I will stick to the notion of evil as it exists in the Christian world.

Evil is connected with Satan; Satan as the ultimate evil power. To the believer, this cannot be just a statement, for when he sees the devil as Big Evil, he has to determine his own position and respond accordingly. It is not possible to be indifferent to Satan. As a rule, believers pledge to fight evil and Satan. It is not enough for a believer to be careful; he has to act, positively. He must not succumb to the temptations of the devil, but must actively fight against all the evil he finds in himself and in the world. His position towards the devil has to be one of aversion and defence; in fact, evil should never have been there in the first place.

Rudolf Otto spoke about God as the mysterium tremendum et fascinosum. This likewise applies to the devil. On the one hand, the devil instils fear in people: they are scared to death of him. But, on the other hand, he is interesting and fascinating. This fascination for Satan can take at least two forms. The first stops short at mere fascination with the existence of the devil, the influence of his power, and all the bad things that are happening, but the implication is not that evil is good; on the contrary, the devil can strike terror into one’s very heart. The second form is quite different: here people surrender themselves to Satan, they want to worship him, venerate him, and live according to his norms. In such cases we can speak of ‘Satanism’ as a religion in which the ‘ultimate reality’ is not God but the power of evil. In other words: in Satanism, Satan is – phenomenologically – the highest god. This highest satanic god is venerated and followed because he is bad and evil. He is venerated because bad is interesting and because the followers tread bad and evil paths. This again brings us to the question ‘What is evil?’ For, if evil is considered the highest good, can it still be called bad?  And if it is good to do evil, is evil still evil? I’ll deal with this later on.

But there’s another question. I mentioned Satanism and satanistic religion, but how should we see this? You could see satanistic as a synonym for bad and evil, in which case satanistic religions are bad and wrong. You could also use the term in a purely formal and descriptive sense, in which case satanistic religions worship a higher being known as Satan, the power of evil. But this need not mean that this religion is wrong or bad. I would draw a distinction between ‘satanistic’ and ‘satanic’. I use the term ‘satanistic’ in a purely formal and descriptive sense, devoid of value judgements. I use the term ‘satanic’ in a normative sense, in which case I do regard it as bad and wrong. ‘Satanic’ religions are bad and wrong religions. Of course, there have to be criteria, for judging whether something is bad and wrong; I shall return to this later.

 So I am now ready to address my question, which is: how satanic are satanistic religions? Or: when it comes to satanistic religions, are we really dealing with evil, with deprivation, with wrong and badness?  And, once we have decided, on the basis of our criteria, what is really wrong (and what should therefore be called “satanic”), are satanistic religions actually wrong and satanic? There is another question we need to ask after we have decided that a certain religion is bad or satanic:  Do religions exist which do not call themselves satanistic, but are nevertheless satanic? In short, there are three possibilities: religions that call themselves satanistic but can really be described as satanic; religions that call themselves satanistic, but are not satanic at all; and religions that do not call themselves satanistic, but are nevertheless satanic in reality. I shall study and discuss these three forms of religion in this lecture.

2)    Good and evil, good religion and bad religion

How bad or how satanic are satanistic religions? But what is bad? And is it possible – phenomenologically speaking – to say that a certain religion is bad?  Whether something is good or bad depends on one’s point of view. From a Christian perspective, Satanism is intrinsically bad and wrong: people must not worship Satan, the essence of evil, or want to do his will. Say that to a member of the Church of Satan and he will deny it outright, because he believes that it is good to worship Satan.

This difference in insight is reflected in differences in the vision of evil which we find in the Christian churches and in the Church of Satan. The Roman Catholic Church traditionally refers to the seven cardinal sins of pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth. People who engage in such acts, have sinned grievously, and will have difficulty finding forgiveness. If they commit these sins consciously, then it will be all the worse for them. Deliberate sins are very bad, and almost unforgivable.

LaVey deals extensively with the seven cardinal sins in his Satanic Bible. He characterizes them as an instrument of oppression by the church – oppression of good human potential. So, committing these cardinal sins brings liberation and enrichment; it means that the individual is evolving towards a fuller and richer form of humanity. There is nothing against with pride. It is good to be proud of oneself; a person is not a nothing, he is allowed to be a human being. There is nothing against greed. It is not false to enjoy or to own material things. Anyway, doesn’t the Bible see riches as a blessing from God? There is nothing against lust. Sexuality is a gift to mankind. Why shouldn’t Man enjoy it abundantly? Have sexual relations as often as you want, with whoever you want (provided the other party consents) and wherever you want. There is nothing wrong with anger. It unleashes enormous energy within Man. Someone who is angry may be inspired to things he might not otherwise dare. He finds energy and power and possibilities to do his own will and to realise his own ideals. There is nothing wrong with this creative energy in Man. I could also talk about LaVey’s ideas on the other cardinal sins, but I think I’ve made my point: LaVey sees the seven cardinal sins as very good and very positive human qualities, which should not be suppressed but realised. There is nothing wrong with them.

It is clear where we are now. There are many different ideas about good and evil. It is also clear that, in many cases, these ideas are mutually exclusive. And there is no objective criterion that enables us to label one thing bad and another good. Phenomenologically, we can see that there are many different religions with different ideas and a different morality. The ethics of the Church of Satan are different from the ethics of the Christian churches. So, it is not possible to say that the first is bad and the second is good.

Nevertheless, this is hardly a satisfying conclusion.  All the more so, if it implies that it does not matter what you believe or what you do and that all ethics and all morality are in fact equal and are all equally good. I think, therefore, that even a phenomenologist should have the possibility to say that there are some religions which are really bad. Not everything is allowed, not everything is equally good. But can we find a criterion to discern between them?

I think, in this case, we should take a criterion which can be found in Satanism itself. Let’s take the words of Aleister Crowley (who has influenced Satanism very much) when he says “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”  and “There is no Law beyond Do what thou wilt”, in combination with the words” Love is the Law, love under will”. This adage can also be found in the broad spectrum of neopaganism and all the forms of Wicca. One of the most well-known neopaganist authors, Viviane Crowley, names it as the great law of neopaganist ethics: “If it harms none, do what you will”. . But LaVey has also integrated this golden rule in his ethics. It seems that the idea of harming no-one is a kind of essential criterion, a universal law or truth which is accepted by everyone. In my case I will use this adage as a criterion to determine whether a religion is bad or not. But it has to be clear if something is harmful or if people are hurt.  OK, when a religion harms people corporally it is a bad religion. Also, when a religion restricts people mentally, it is a bad religion. For example, when a religion forbids people to speak freely, causes them anguish, or blackmails them emotionally, then it is a bad religion. It must be possible to say that. So, we can find many forms of bad religion: ‘Islamism’ is a bad religion, because it leads to killings, fanaticism and fear. But extreme movements in the reformed church also qualify as bad religions: they depress the members, giving them only the prospect of eternal damnation and forcing them into a moral straightjacket. They also lay down a whole string of commandments, which do not make life easy. I do not intend to pay more attention to these examples. I only mention them as an illustration of so-called bad religion.

But still I am not satisfied with my analysis. Not least, because it raises many questions. For instance: How can we measure the harm that is done? In which cases can we say that something is harmful? What can we say about voluntary actions, which look bad (is flagellation, which people do of their own free will, harmful?). Or: when people are happy in such religions, can they still be called bad? But I will not deal with these questions today. My problem lies elsewhere. I think we need to distinguish between consequence and intention. By ‘intention’ I mean that a certain religion is deliberately out to harm people, to behave badly to others, really wanting to be evil. By ‘consequence’ I mean that the consequences of certain religions, which do not intend to be bad, can still be harmful to other people. The extreme reformed churches which I mentioned earlier definitely do not wish to harm their members; on the contrary, they want salvation for them, eternal salvation. In fact, they want eternal salvation for the entire population of the world. This also applies to Islamism. Adherents of this movement within Islam want all the Moslems to live according to the rules and laws of the Koran and are convinced that everybody should have to do so – as Islam is good to people.  We cannot say that Islamism is a bad religion. The consequence of the fundamentalists is that they fight and destroy all the friends of true Islam

In short, the question is not ‘How bad are certain religions?’ as this is very difficult to discern. But ‘Do religions exist which really intend to harm and damage people?’ We could label this kind of badness as ‘satanic’.

Returning to our theme of Satanism, we can ask the following questions:

-       Is Satanism in reality a religion which is, in essence, satanic, i.e. it deliberately intends to harm people?

-       Do religions exist, which are not called satanistic, but can really be labelled as satanic, as they have the intention to do harm to people?

3)    The Church of Satan of Szandor LaVey

 There are many groups and movements which explicitly label themselves as satanistic.  The best known and most representative is the ‘Church of Satan’, founded in California in 1966 by Szandor LaVey (1931-1976).

The church was established to worship Satan. According to LaVey:

“To the Satanist ‘God’ – by whatever name he is called, or by no name at all – is the balancing factor in nature and is not concerned with suffering. This powerful force which permeates and balances the universe is far too impersonal to care about the happiness or misery of flesh-and-blood creatures on this mound of dirt on which we live.” [2]                                                                                              

   Or, quite otherwise defined:

 “Satan is the spirit of progress, the inspirer of all great movements that contribute to    the development of civilization and the advancement of mankind. He is the spirit that leads to freedom, the embodiment of all heresies that liberate.”

Satan is, in this case, not the power of evil, but a kind of energy which permeates and determines all things. This is reminiscent of ideas in New Age and neopaganism. It is also the power which makes man realise his potential. We can see this reflected in his view of man. Man is a part of nature, with much potentiality within himself, even the deepest Self within Man can be called ‘devil’. Here ‘devil’ is not meant as the evil within Man, but as a part of the cosmic energy dwelling inside him. Man has to go to his ‘devil’, to his deeper Self, and in the process, he develops his potential. Man is, in essence, good, but the influence of the church has made him view himself as bad, sinful and evil. He has also formed the idea that he is forbidden to exploit his natural potential; he may not feel desire or fight for himself; he has to love his neighbour and to deny himself. LaVey protests vehemently against these ideas. You have the right to be, you do not have to be ashamed of yourself, the so-called cardinal sins are not sins, they concern things in man which are essentially good (see above in the introduction) and you do not need to love your neighbour above yourself.

       “We are self-respecting, proud people – we are Satanists”.[3]


       “Satanism is the only religion known to Man that accepts Man as he is.”[4]

Man needs to be liberated from all these negative ideas about himself. This may mean that one is summoned to hate. You are not duty-bound to love your neighbour. You must love yourself first and hate everyone who is against you. The Christian organizations, for instance, want to suppress Man. There are also ‘mental vampires’, who suck the strength out of other people and blackmail them emotionally. And weak and miserable people who appeal to something inside you and make you want to help them and deny yourself. LaVey also says that you should not become overpowered, but stand up firmly for yourself. If somebody strikes you on your left cheek, do not turn your right cheek, but hit him back twice as hard. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated. In short, it could be said that LaVey wants Man to develop fully, in every respect, and that nothing should stop him from doing so. With one proviso: this development may not happen at the expense of other people.

This brings us to the satanistic way of life. What does a satanist do? Two things are important: magic practices and the black mass.  Magic entails working with the energy in nature (i.e. the satanistic power) to achieve certain aims.  There are three forms of magic: sexual magic, compassionate magic, and destructive magic (or cursing). Magic is always practised collectively – so, at the services of the Church of Satan. The aim is written on a piece of paper, which is then burned ritually while incantations are recited collectively to make the magic more effective. In sexual magic (love magic) the aim is to win a beloved person and bind him/her to oneself. In compassionate magic someone is sent extra power or energy via rituals. In destructive magic an individual is condemned to death within the meeting. I shall not go into the question  whether all these things are effective here. LaVey maintains that his magic is highly effective (and sends out strong warnings to his adversaries); however, he also speaks of a catharsis, as the magic enables people to give full utterance to their deepest wishes. In this case it is a kind of psychotherapy.

             The black mass is clearly a parody of the celebration of the Eucharist and is modelled on the black masses which were celebrated in the eighteenth century. Satan is invoked, the body of a naked woman is used as an altar, the host is desecrated, and hymns are sung to venerate Satan. LaVey speaks at length about the meaning of these black masses: he says it is a psychodrama, in which people can be freed from all the frustrations inherited from the church. It is a kind of purification.

Of course, a lot more can be said about the ideas and practices of the Church of Satan. It is all clearly explained in the two booklets ‘The Satanic Bible’ and ‘The Satanic Rituals’. It is formulated more strongly than I have formulated it here, but, in essence, it is no different.  So, we can now answer the question: How satanic is this Satanism?

It should be clear by now: the Church of Satan is not satanic, it is not out to harm or damage people. On the contrary, it wants Man to develop his potential as far as possible. Obviously, the call to hate and the curses are not exactly friendly, but so far, nobody has been damaged by this church. This cannot be said about many fundamentalist movements and religions, which have harmed and killed many people. In many cases it has to be said that the satanistic element is meant as provocation. It is a protest against the dominant culture, and especially against the dominant religion, the Roman Catholic Church. Both are clearly rejected, and often in a shocking manner. This is why many texts are so extreme, and why they call on Satan. It’s not really about worshipping the power of evil; it’s about being provocative. It’s a reaction. The question remains as to whether this reaction is too strong or too provocative, but it is up to you to judge that. But again, in this case, the Church of Satan cannot be described as “satanic”.

Can we apply this conclusion to all the satanistic groups and movements? Of course, I haven’t studied all of them, but I do derive the impression that it does also apply in all these cases. None of these groups are, in essence, anti-human. We can see this for instance in the Dutch Satanskerk (established by Maarten Lamers, in the 1980s). Lamers hardly ever mentioned Satan, and when he did, he saw him as identical to the pagan god Pan; so, in a neopaganistic way. We do not find destructive magic here and we never find a call to hate your neighbour. To Lamers, self-development was also very important, manifesting itself most of the time in sexuality. This was so strong, that right up to today, many people believe that the Satanskerk is just another name for a sex club, where the satanic aspects were found, at most, in the many SM games.

In the broad range of satanistic groups we at least know two really ‘evil’ religions which wanted to damage people as much as possible. These two groups originated in the so-called ‘post-hippie Satanism’ at the end of the 1960s: the ‘Four Movement’ and the ‘Manson Family’. Here murder, slaughter, sacrifice were practised. It should be noted that these were very small groups, and really exceptional. Their existence does not prove that satanistic groups are satanic, but rather that degeneration also exists within the religious tradition of Satanism (as in the Christian tradition; take, for instance, the Dutch case of Meerkerk[5]).

4)    The ritual Satanism

The idea of terrible satanistic movements are found mostly in stories about ‘ritual Satanism’. I’ll give you a brief description of what happens in these groups.

They meet clandestinely. The rituals are always performed in the dark, in a wood, or a crypt, or a damp dark cellar. Somewhere there is an altar, which is indeed used for sacrifices. Around the altar are black candles. We can discern the typical satanistic symbols, like the upturned pentacle or cross. All the participants, male and female, wear black hooded cloaks. One of them is a priest. Everyone stands around the altar. During the ritual disgusting things happen, mostly around the sacrifice. In some cases, an animal is sacrificed – a cat, say – but a baby is best. The infant is slaughtered ritually (some stories say that it is torn apart), and its blood is caught and drunk by the participants (who believe that the blood of an infant contains vital power and energy). We also find stories in which adults are sacrificed (and their blood is also drunk). We also find children among the participants. They are forced by their parents to be present, with the intention of raising them as Satanists. In all the cases these children are sexually abused during the rituals. They are forced to eat disgusting things and to perform weird actions. We also find stories involving a kind of group sex, in which these children have to participate.

During the rituals, the sacrifices and the sexual actions, texts are recited to invoke Satan. His presence gives power to the meeting and brings even more evil. Usually, Satan is supposed to be present as a power, but sometimes he is physically present with all the attributes: horns, cloven hooves, and sulphur. If he turns up he has sexual intercourse with all the participants, which is terrible and fearsome.

Meetings like these take place very often and everywhere. As brainwashing techniques are used, nobody dares to speak about them, so it all is kept very secret – but these things happen all the same.

We could say that, in these ritualistic-satanistic meetings, we really are faced with a satanic religion – which is terrible and bad. The intention is to harm and damage people, so the participants are always hurt in some way or other. This is clear from stories told by adults about what happened when they were young, when they were forced to visit these meetings and abused in ritual satanistic sex.

But there’s a problem: this ritual Satanism does not exist.  The kind of meetings, just sketched, do not happen in reality. No babies are sacrificed, the devil does not appear at these rituals, not a single trace of such meetings has been found. We only know stories about them, because that’s where they exist. This is fantasy. All these stories are told under hypnosis, and their content is determined by wishful thinking, or suggested by the hypnotist.  Obviously, what we are dealing with here are mental problems, but this is neither the time nor the place to go into them. In short, in ‘ritualistic Satanism’ we do not find a ‘satanic’ religion.

Can we also draw the conclusion: satanistic religions which are really satanic do not exist?  Indeed. The only exception is that sometimes very small groups of three or four people can do terrible things. But these tiny cells are not at all representative; these are mentally disturbed people.[6] But, sometimes we find movements, which do not label themselves as satanistic, but are, in reality, ‘satanic’, i.e. pernicious and evil, damaging and harmful.

5)    ‘Satanic’ religions

To find these groups I read the Turner Diaries. According to the cover written by Andrew MacDonald, the ‘Diaries’ are a kind of science fiction. They appeared in 1978 and contain the diary notes written by a certain Earl Turner during the coming of the Great Revolution in the United States in 1991 – 1993. The introduction in the diaries suggests that the book was published in 2099, with the aim of teaching the younger generation of 2100 what exactly happened during the Revolution, which was accomplished in 1999.

The Diaries do not make pleasant reading. They are racist and extremely violent. They gradually become more violent: with a certain glee, an announcement is made at the end that the entire Chinese race has been exterminated by biological, chemical and nuclear weapons (only a few small groups of mutants are still roaming in Asia), resulting in the Great Asiatic Desert (now, around 2001, it is possible for white Americans to establish colonies in this region). As already mentioned, the book is extremely racist. Black people are the cause of all the problems, and political emancipation has contaminated American society, which has become very sick and is being terrorized by the blacks. Black men rape – mostly white – women and get away with it. They also abuse children. After the Revolution succeeds, it is followed first by chaos and hunger. The black people have no qualms about slaughtering the white people for food. With a deep sense of satisfaction the author describes that all the blacks have been driven out of the country to places where they can try to live. But as this is virtually impossible, many of them starve to death. Those who do not want to leave are simply shot. But the blacks are nothing compared with the Jews, because the Jews have power and can control the white people. They are also pathetic with their fabricated stories about the Holocaust, told only to get them more power. The author mentions briefly with some complacency that Tel Aviv has been destroyed by a nuclear bomb, and that all the Arabs are heading for Israel to kill off the remaining Jews. But the situation is changing in Europe as well, where all the Jews are exterminated too. The author is a little concerned that some of them might survive this modern Holocaust (they always do that!), but his Organization will prevent that from happening. And there is more violence. White collaborators name people who want to mix the races or who have had relations with black or coloured people or have welcomed them in their homes as friends, etc. All these liberals are killed immediately after the Revolution. With a frisson of pleasure, the author says that in Los Angeles (the place where the Revolution first succeeded) people are hanging from every tree and lamppost; he mentions sixty thousand, and seems to think that this isn’t much, as there were many, many collaborators.

This is not a book to read for enjoyment – especially as it projects an empty, loveless mentality which gets increasingly stronger. Only the small group of revolutionaries which belong to the Organization have the right to live, although there are other stories in the book which show that these revolutionaries were not all trustworthy – in which case, they too are summarily executed. So, what is the background to this book? This is not altogether clear when you read it, but there are some subtle clues. Once, mention is made of a thousand-year reign (but not enough to draw any conclusions), twice we find the word ‘Aryan’, which may point in a certain direction. Then we find a remark that the Organization has existed for 68 years. As the year is 1993 in the book, a simple subtraction brings us to 1925, the year Hitler founded the NSDAP. At the end of the book, when the Revolution has succeeded in 1999, a remark is made to the effect that exactly 110 years have passed since the birth of ‘The Great One’. And, indeed, Hitler was born in 1889. Nevertheless, the book did not originate in Nazi or fascist groups. So, where did it come from?

In the meantime, it might be useful to pose the question: what do these Diaries have to do with religion and Satanism? Nothing at all with Satanism in a formal sense; on the contrary, Satanism is mentioned twice in the book and categorically rejected. For, in Satanism, we find black people who do perverse deeds, slaughter people and worship the devil. These are things which Turner abhors. And has it anything to do with religion? We find very few religious ideas in the book, except for the fact that the core of the Organization is called ‘The Order’, into which people are initiated with rituals, and where the members are clad in hooded robes. But this cannot be called typically religious. However, there is another aspect. Further research reveals that the way of thinking in the Diaries recurs in specific religious traditions. What’s more, the mentality of the Diaries has been espoused by some groups which have radicalized profoundly and were encouraged to carry out acts of terrorism (bombing).

We are dealing with a religious tradition consisting of many different groups. Mostly, they are called the ‘Christian Identity’. The origins go back to the eighteenth century in so-called ‘Anglo-Israelism’. This movement believes that the ten lost tribes of Israel migrated to England (British = Berith Ish = man of the covenant). They are the true Israel. In these circles America was seen as the Promised Land where the true Israel would live. But before this could happen, Armageddon would have to occur, whereupon Jesus would return. During the 19th century a racist ideology developed in the American movement. The members viewed themselves as the white, Aryan and good race, and saw the Jews as a pernicious Semitic race. At that time, there was no violence or terrorist ideas. The movement seems to have died out, but in the mid-twentieth century the Methodist minister Wesley Swift revitalized it and gave it an extremely right-wing and violent religious ideology. The theory about the races is clearly present. It is said, literally, that the Jews are children of Satan. The movement is vehemently opposed to the US government, as it is dominated by Jews and propagates the mixing of races. The members aspire to a form of theocracy within their own movement, in which the Law of Moses will be followed; there is a conviction that the whole of the USA will have to live according to Mosaic Law. The adherents to this religious tradition believe that America has been stolen from them. After all, America was destined as a dwelling place for the true Israel, but it has been annexed by the Blacks, the Indians, the Latin Americans and other coloured races. All this is the fault of the government. So, the group refuses to deal with the government anymore, all possible ties are severed, and the members live in communities in sparsely populated parts of the country (Idaho or Montana). They are ready to fight the government, and sometimes they really do. Sometimes acts of terrorism and sabotage are committed. This all fits in with the idea of the approaching Armageddon, for this always implies violence.  But comfort can be drawn from the expectation that, after Christ returns, America will be purged of all black elements and the country will belong to them, the true faithful.

There are many ‘Identity Groups’, such as the ‘Church of Jesus Christ Christian-Aryan Nations’;  in origin a neo-nazi movement which became religious under the influence of Swift, and called itself Christian. There is also ‘The Order’, a movement which planned many terrorist activities. And ‘The National Alliance’; led by a certain William Pierce, who, it appears, is the author of the Turner Diaries. MacDonald is a pseudonym. There is ‘The Covenant, Sword and Arm of the Lord’; and ‘Posse Comitatus’; and the ‘Militia Movement’; and the ‘Montana Freemen’; and the ‘Unorganized Militia of the USA’. In 1993,  when the ATF/FBI were besieging the Davidians in Waco, this last group sent troops to free them (but the Davidians themselves did not belong to the Christian Identity; the troops were sent because the Militia was committed to fighting the FBI everywhere, especially when they appear to kill people). Then there is ‘Elohim City’ in Oklahoma, where MacVeigh placed a huge bomb in 1995, causing untold disaster. MacVeigh (‘The Oklahoma Bomber’) clearly belonged to the Christian Identity and had contacts with Elohim City. There are also the ‘Sons of Gestapo’ – and many, many more. In 1996 it was reported that a sparsely populated state like Arizona had 69 communities, belonging to Christian Identity Groups or extreme right-wing groups.

6)    Conclusion

To recap, the original question was: ‘How satanic is Satanism?’ in which ‘satanic’ is viewed as evil and harmful to people. We found that groups, which called themselves satanistic are not, as a rule, satanic; they are just different and in most cases (neo)paganistic. The next question was: Do movements exist which do not call themselves satanistic, but which are really satanic? The answer is: in these Christian Identity Groups, which are clearly religious, we find an evil and pernicious form of religion. They can really be called satanic. They preach hate and violence, discard the majority of humanity, and hurt many people.

I am an enthusiastic champion full religious freedom, but there are some religions that we would be better not to have in our midst. Even in the science of religious studies we have to be on our guard for Satan. You can’t stop short at describing him, you have to fight him as well.

But: how to fight him? That is a different question.




Aleister Crowley – The book of the Law (Samuel Weiser, York Beach, Maine, 1976)

Vivianne Crowley – Principles of Paganism (Thorsons, San Francisco, 1996)

Anton Szandor LeVey – The Satanic Bible (Avon Books, New York, 1969)

Anton Szandor LaVey – The Satanic Rituals ( Avon Books, New York, 1972)


[1][1] I use the term “satanic” in a formal way; it is synonymous to “evil”or “bad”. It has not a theological meaning in the sense I should believe that satan is really working here. Just a word-play.

2  “The Satanic Bible” p. 40

[3] Idem, p. 54.

[4][4] Idem, p.53

[5]  A small isolated family  with some other people, had the opinion one of them was the devil himslef; so they murdered him.

[6] See the last part of the previous chapter.