A podcast for new atheists, lifetime atheists, ex-evangelicals, truth-seekers, and free-thinkers
Satanism The Difficult Work of Being Heretics
It's week two of Unbound October and tonight we are tackling a subject that I can assure you isn't anything like your pastor ever told you it was. It's not even what popular media has told you it is. In fact, there are varied opinions about what it is from within its own ranks. I'm Spider...
...and this week we're looking at the subject of Satanism and will hopefully be able to set the record straight about what it is, what it means to people who identify as such, and just how evil it really isn't. But before we get too far into that...
Satanists, Anarchists, skinheads, goths, punks, and the like are all the same thing
Heavy metal music is a huge tool of Satanism
Satanism is a broad term for a diverse group of people who view satan as a model or symbol or force around which they can structure their lives. For the most part, Satan is an intellectual concept and a construct for determining thoughts, opinions, attitudes, and behaviors. I don't even want to say morals and ethics but there are clear moral and ethical lines that most flavors of Satanism not only teach but draw proverbial lines in the sand over (mostly things that deprive people of their rights, violate their bodies, or make them un-alive).
Media misconceptions – Geraldo, the McMartin Preschool Trial, etc.
Evangelical misconceptions - “We're feeding off what the media has to say and the media is getting its information from Christianity.”
Turning isolated events into stereotypes (Sean Sellers, Richard Ramirez, the rantings of various death metal, goth, and skinhead groups, mostly in the 1970s and 80s)
Satanism is largely about knowledge, enlightenment, and pride – all things that Christianity frames as being “bad.”
Satan is the author of lies and promoter of evil... in the eyes of the real adversaries (mostly Christians). In reality, he's one of a precious few truthful characters in all of scripture. Far more so than Yahweh and the evil he is alleged to promote (if you want to go with the popular story of him being the snake in the garden, which he wasn't) was actually the way he basically helped Adam and Eve grow up.
The real truth is that Satanism promotes diversity – you can do what you want, live how you want, and believe what you want.
Satanists do a good job of separating who they are from what other people think. They seem to have a lot more self-assurance than the average evangelical and basically don't give two shits what anyone else thinks.
Most Satanists are atheists.
How Metalheads became stereotyped as Satanists
It started with Charles Manson and people pointing fingers at “acid rock” as an influencer on the Sharon Tate murder fiasco.
Shock Rock (Alice Cooper, Kiss, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Venom, Slayer, etc.)
And uh... if you want to be perceived as devil worshippers, use a lot of dark imagery. Pentagrams are also a nice touch. I think immediately of Iron Maiden, Dio, Saxon, Slayer, King Diamond, Venom, and even Motley Crue. Nothing like lyrics like these to grab attention (and fuel pointless hysteria)...
Then there's Nativity in Black or NIB by Black Sabbath and stepping a toe outside the realm of metal, The Rolling Stones even favored us with “Sympathy for the Devil” (a very John Milton concept)
But like with anything else, Christians just couldn't separate reality from theatrics with any of this.
Even Bob Larson admitted in Spin magazine that Slayer's schtick in particular was nothing but theatrics. He was invited on tour with them in the late 80s and was amazed at just how staged, scripted, and choreographed the entire thing actually was.
Of course we all know how this hysteria morphed into a huge arm of the Satanic Panic during which time every band from Black Sabbath to Jefferson fucking Airplane were being branded as satanic and people like the Peters Brothers, Joe Viera, and Gary Greenwald were out there making bank on a little psychological trick called backward masking: we tell you what to listen for, you listen, you hear it. That's really and truly all there was to it, even with Stairway to Heaven (which I will admit still dumbfounds me to this day – but I know it boils down to nothing more than coincidence and a little pre-suggestion).
So what about human sacrifice?
FACT: Anton LaVey does advocate for a concept that he describes as human sacrifice in the Satanic Bible, but it's a very woo-rific, mystical sort of thing. Kind of like distance Reiki but with destructive intent. In short, it's bunk. It doesn't work and it's not really supposed to. It's more about expressing and purging negative feelings and emotions toward “the target.” It has all the effect of swearing at someone from your car who will never hear you or know you're angry.
If that's the case, can we call it something else? No, because this is Anton LaVey we're talking about and his MO was always very over the top. One source I found stated quite bluntly that in many instances, LaVey's choice of words was “intentionally inflammatory.” Human sacrifice, after all, sounds a lot more caustic than calling it... say... negative projection or something.
“OK, Spider, so if we take Jesus' words about hating your parents and whatnot seriously, why try to cushion this concept?” Simple: Jesus never offered any further exposition or explained what he meant when he said his goal was to pit children against parents, siblings against siblings and whatnot but the Satanic Bible does clarify that the religion decries criminal activity and explains that this iteration of human sacrifice involves magic words, not physical weapons or violence.
(this is actually a biblical principle if you want to get technical – it's the same basic concept of giving people up to a reprobate mind (Rom. 1:28) – it's a ritual separation of ourselves from their way of thinking and from them as individuals, cutting off their influence in our lives. Think: “you're dead to me.”)
Branches of Satanism
Just like in any religion, there are disagreements and differing points of view regarding the structure and practice of Satanism. Here are a few of the ways people interpret and practice it:
Satanists say they follow left-hand paths – lifestyles that are focused on self-determination and the power of the self. They don't typically submit to a superior force. This is what many of them claim separates them from other religions, particularly Wicca which draws predominantly on the belief in literal deities. By the time I was done with Wicca I was definitely more Satanist in the way I viewed things but never identified as such... [ad lib]
The left-hand path is also where Satanism deviates from the Rede. The “harm none” aspect is removed and replaced with the notion of not harming anyone who doesn't deserve it.
Believe it or not, some of the crazy shit you heard in the 80s was true and it was fueled by the Satanic panic. There were those, usually younger people, who really managed to cash in on the counter-culture of reactive Satanism and here's the result.
“The term "reactive Satanism" or "adolescent Satanism" refers to groups of individuals who adopt the stories of mainstream religion but invert its value. Thus, Satan is still an evil god as defined in Christianity, but one to be worshiped rather than shunned and feared. In the 1980s, adolescent gangs combined inverted Christianity with romantic "gnostic" elements, inspired by black metal rock music and Christian scare propaganda, role-playing games and horror imagery, and engaging in petty crime.
In contrast, most modern "rationalistic and esoteric" Satanist groups are loosely organized with a set of moralities which explicitly focus on this world. Some may have a more transcendent, spiritual dimension that might include the possibility of an afterlife. Such groups tend to be more exclusively naturalistic and all shun violence and criminal activities.”
Rationalistic Satanism: The Church of Satan
ANTON LaVEY BACKGROUND HERE
“In the 1960s, a highly secularized and atheistic type of Satanism arose under the direction of American author and occultist Anton Szandor LaVey. LaVey created the "Satanic Bible," which remains the most readily available text on the Satanic religion. He also formed the Church of Satan, which is by far the most well-known and most public Satanic organization.”
LaVeyan Satanism is atheistic.
No gods of any kind (no literal Yahweh, no literal Satan)
You are your own god
Satan is a concept – the encapsulation of those qualities that Satanists embrace and aspire to
Invoking the name of Satan (and other “infernal” names) is a means of focusing and centering (this was what I was doing in Wicca but I didn't know it)
No suppressing of emotion – all emotions are good but require channeling in appropriate directions
The Seven Deadly Sins are pathways to mental, emotional and physical gratification (which is why Christianity teaches us to shun them as opposed to getting good at using them. There is a place for all of them but, again, in a controlled way.
Lust – are we all aware of where babies come from? Oh, and sex is awesome. Have some.
Gluttony – A little indulgence now and then can actually be good for you but your physical well-being matters, too
Greed – Without it there is no free enterprise
Sloth – Downtime and laziness aren't necessarily bad things either as long as they don't take over and keep you from ever being productive
Wrath – When channeled appropriately anger is a good thing, too. LaVey has said himself that both love and hate are necessary in controlled ways and it makes sense...
Envy – without this there is also no free market and no motivation toward self-improvement. While I think it's important to be satisfied with what I have, I am not ashamed to admit that I like the idea of building a little financial independence so one day I can travel and do the things I see other people do that are currently out of my reach.
Pride – pride in all its forms has its place. Without it, again, there is little room to move, expand, and grow as individuals. If we want to reach our full potential, we have to feel good about who we are and acknowledge what we contribute to our own lives and to the world. Pride, according to Wikipedia, “is identified as dangerously corrupt selfishness, the putting of one's own desires, urges, wants, and whims before the welfare of other people. The average Satanist would say, “well, those people have their own opportunities” but I think that many also understand that this isn't always accurate, hence the notion of doing no harm to the undeserving.
“Satanism as defined by LaVey is a celebration of the self. It encourages people to seek their own truths, indulge in desires without fear of societal taboos, and perfect the self.”
Then there is the delineation between secular and theistic Satanism which we will start looking at right now.
1. Traditionalist religious types (Esoteric Satanists) – they find the concept of ritual centering and integral to the experience of the religion, might view certain gods and entities as real, but typically understand that things like satan, lucifer, baphomet, etc. are constructs designed to provide examples of how to think, behave, interact with the world, etc. There are some, though, who believe in a literal Satan but of those there are only a few who actually purport to worship him or anything else for that matter. To most, Satan is more of a mentor: a construct with emulable thoughts, philosophies, and behaviors. This is basically how LaVey framed it but there are those who see Satan or Lucifer as a literal being they should be taking their cues from.
Theistic Satanists are also sometimes referred to as Luciferians although some (including at least a noteworthy quorum of Luciferians) disagree with this label and think that Luciferianism should never be compared to the clearly secular concept of Satanism. That said, there are precious few differences between the basic beliefs of an esoteric Satanist and a professed Luciferian.
Here is where theistic Satanism began to gain traction in America...
“In 1974, Michael Aquino, a member of the hierarchy of the Church of Satan, and Lilith Sinclair, a group leader ("grotto master") from New Jersey, broke away from the Church of Satan on philosophical grounds and formed the splinter group Temple of Set.
In the resulting theistic Satanism, practitioners recognize the existence of one or more supernatural beings. The major god, viewed as a father or older brother, is often called Satan, but some groups identify the leader as a version of the ancient Egyptian god Set. Set is a spiritual entity, based on the ancient Egyptian notion of xeper, translated as "self-improvement" or "self-creation."
Regardless of the being or beings in charge, none of them resemble the Christian Satan. Instead, they are beings which have the same general qualities as the symbolic Satan: sexuality, pleasure, strength, and rebellion against Western mores.”
Now... in my opinion, Michael Aquino is a bit of a nutter. He's kind of the Joseph Smith of modern Satanism. He claims that Satan dictated his book, The Book of Coming ForthBy Night in which Satan reveals that he is actually the Egyptian god Set and there is a whole allegory over how his role in mythology became perverted and bastardized over time. It's nothing but fanfic.
Similarities between Esoteric Satanism and Luciferianism
Neither has a single set of beliefs. LaVeyan Satanism is just one flavor – rationalists follow lots of LaVey's principles as a matter of course, not because there's some list of rules they need to follow. And even those who take their cues from the Satanic Bible also follow their own intuitions and reject anything they don't find personally rewarding or gratifying. And that, in and of itself, is the encapsulation of “do what thou wilt.” You can call yourself a LaVeyan Satanist and scrap nine tenths of everything in the Satanic Bible by simply invoking that one simple principle although most who say they follow a LaVeyan path also adhere to at least a reasonable quorum of principles aid out in TSB.
Both respect the concepts/entities that most religions would call gods but few claim to worship anything.
Both see themselves as either gods or at least on the same level as gods. Theistic Luciferians respect Lucifer and believe that there is much to be learned from him but that's as far as it goes. Again, think mentor more than deity.
Both adhere to a set of ethics that includes being respectful toward those who deserve it and taking on a live and let live philosophy toward people who haven't caused problems in their lives or in society. So basically, they leave the unassuming ones who contribute nothing positive nor negative to their lives to their own devices.
Both support the positive elements of the human experience, including encouraging creativity, striving for excellence, pursuit of success, assertion of personal freedom in all areas of life, the need for individuality, and just an overall enjoyment of life on one's own terms.
Both reject all manner of religious dogma.
Both are understandably antagonistic toward Christianity, but not toward Christians (what was that about blaming the system, not the individual....?)
“Luciferians and Satanists view Christians as being victims of their own religion, too dependent on their religion to escape from it.”
(...then along came a Spider) ...and Steve Fry, and Christopher Hitchins, and Stephen Hawkins, and Ricky Gervais, and Tracie Harris, and yes, even Matt Dillahunty in a pinch... this is where Satanists and I find ourselves at an impasse. Their solution is to just let them wallow in their stupidity. Pity them but don't give them the attention they crave. My solution is to engage them with counterpoint argumentation long enough for Christianity to stop fucking up society and politics.
Esoteric Satanism and Luciferianism also view Satan or Lucifer in radically different ways than the average Christian. Satan or Lucifer is not the embodiment of evil because, A) He isn't – even in Biblical accounts (remember his kill count stands at ten against Yahweh's 2 million at the end of the Bible) and B) Worshipping a being that is the embodiment of evil is regarded as psychopathic behavior for both Luciferians and Satanists.
2. Secularist, atheistic, philosophical types (Rationalist Satanists) – these people typically embrace all of the above but don't see the need for ritual or religion and understand the allegorical nature of things like demons and other so-called “dark forces” etc. Satan is a mental construct and a framework for reasoned, balanced, and rational thought. After all, Lucifer was the light bearer, not the baby devourer. The concept of Satan in this instance is as “a symbol of rebellion, individuality, carnality, and empowerment.” - Sacred Schisms: How Religions Divide by James and Sarah Lewis
SATANIC TEMPLE INFO HERE
So some people need structure, others can deal with a more abstract, very personal interpretation of what they believe and how they approach, respond to, and implement the knowledge they glean from their religion... if they even look at it as such. Many don't. Many Satanists see themselves as part of a subculture and that being a culture of humanism, hedonism, love when warranted, hate when warranted, and, ultimately, personal responsibility.
Intellectual or Rational Satanism is more a response to the closed-minded black and white nature of most religious thought. It provides an anchor for thought that is more human and, yes, self-centric. Believe it or not, a dose of self-centeredness CAN be very healthy when balanced with respect and fair treatment of others. Let's not confuse being self-centered with being narcissistic and uncaring. These things have a huge divide between them.
Many Satanists embrace a life of hedonism and self-gratifying behavior with deference to the ways their actions affect the world around them. “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,” but it doesn't end there. The other half of that is, “but make good choices if you want your life to generally include good things.” Unlike the Wiccan rede that says basically the same thing with the caveat of “harm none” Satanism basically teaches that harming none is a good idea but if you choose to forsake that part of it, be prepared to be unhappy and best and a victim of the consequences of your actions at worst. Personal responsibility and integrity are HUGE concepts in Satanism, as outlined in the 11 Satanic Rules of the Earth
So here you see that balance of self-gratification with respecting the rights of others. It's the counter-point to the wiccan rede that I heard so often: “Do no harm, but take no shit.”
The Satanic Bible also includes nine opening statements that mesh well with these ideas. LaVay liked his lists it would appear... and as I read through these it occurred to me that if I wasn't so averse to labels or treading too close to religious lines in matters of my own personal identity, I feel like a lot of these principles mirror the way I think about things.
Love is earned. Hate is acceptable. Forgiveness is provisional. Gratifying the flesh isn't wrong (unless you're self harming in the process but that's my own little caveat). Shun dogma and religiosity. Acknowledge people's strengths. Emulate strong, self-assured, free-thinking people and give these people the authority they deserve. Oh, and keep in mind that we're just mammals with slightly more advanced brains than the primates and sin boldly. Chances are if it feels good, it's gonna offend someone but that doesn't make it wrong.
“Satanism is a religion founded on the idea of loving and respecting yourself and others who deserve that love.” I think too few of us – yes us – understand how important that is. Some of us waste a lot of time loving people who can't or won't love us back. So much of the ideology of Satanism is a recipe for good mental health and self-image is it any wonder why the real adversaries (most Christian organizations) want to vilify it and push the stereotypes to the point where the real messaging can't rise above the din?
But wait... there are even more branches!
Anti-Cosmic Satanism (Chaos Gnosticism, the Misanthropic Luciferian Order, and the Temple of the Black Light) - The cosmic order created by the God of the Bible is a fabrication behind which lurks a reality that is an “endless and formless chaos.” Things like order and civility are just confinements and we should let chaos reign.
Transcendental Satanism – Developed by a porn director. No, I'm not kidding... Matt “The Lord” Zane was his name. This branch of Satanism “came to him” during an LSD trip. “Transcendental Satanists seek a form of spiritual evolution, with the end goal of each individual a reunification with his or her inner Satanic aspect. Adherents feel that the Satanic aspect in life is a hidden part of the self that is separate from consciousness, and believers can find their way to that self by following an individually determined path.”
Demonolatry - basically the worship of demons, but some sects see each demon as a separate force or energy that can be used to aid in the practitioner's rituals or magic.
"Modern Demonolatry" (S. Connolly) includes a list of over 200 demons aggregated from a multitude of both ancient and modern religious traditions. Adherents generally worship demons that mirror their own attributes or ones with whom they share a connection. This is pretty much how “working” with various deities in Wicca panned out.
Satanic Reds – these people view Satan as a dark force that has existed since the beginning of time. Its major proponent Tani Jantsang claims [that there was] a pre-Sanskrit history of the cult and believes that individuals must follow their own chakras to find their inner force.[Woorificness at its finest!] That inner force exists in everyone, and it is trying to evolve according to each individual's environment. The "Reds" is an explicit reference to socialism: Many Satanic Reds espouse the rights of workers to throw off their chains.
Christian-Based Duotheism and Polytheistic Satanism – This is a small sect of theistic satanism that believed that there is a on-going war between Yahweh and Satan, but instead of routing for God they root for the Devil. The sect is said to be based on ancient Zoroastrian beliefs about an eternal conflict between good and evil. There are also polytheistic groups like the Church of Azazel which revere Satan as one of many gods.
The Process Church of the Final Judgement (aka The Process Church) - a religious group established in London of the 1960s by two people who were ejected from the Church of Scientology.Together, Mary Ann MacLean and Robert de Grimston developed their own practices, based on a pantheon of four gods known as the Great Gods of the Universe. The four are Jehovah, Lucifer, Satan, and Christ, and none are evil, instead, each exemplifies different patterns of human existence. Each member selects one or two of the four that is closest to their own personality.
So much woo, so little time...
And finally... the adorable scamps that put the love in Lovecraft, I give you...
The Cult of Cthulhu - Based on the H.P. Lovecraft novels, the Cults (yes, it's actually plural) of Cthulhu are comprised of a number of small groups that share the same name but have radically different ideals, goals, and beliefs. Some believe that Cthulu was real, and will eventually usher in an era of chaos and uninhibited violence (like the Anti-Cosmics). This process will eventually wipe out humanity. Less nihilistic cultists see Cthulu as a philosophy rooted on the concept of cosmic indifferentism. The universe just is. It has no agenda, it just does what it does because that's what it does.
The documentary filmmaker Penny Lane refers in an interview about her documentary “Hail Satan?” to “the difficult work of being heretics.” I can't think of a better way to describe at least popular iterations of Satanism.
The word “heresy” has gotten a bad rep over the years. Being a heretic is baaaad.... or is it?
The way I see it, without heretical thought almost everybody would be ensnared in someone else's belief system and in a lot of ways society is. We're shackled to a lot of rules that flat out don't improve or enhance anything about life. We are allowed to marry someone, but just one someone, for example, and there are those who still want to have their say in who we love and who we marry, etc. There are those who think it's ok to dictate what a woman does about an unwanted pregnancy.
I think that in every iteration of Satanism, even more radical versions like Anti-Cosmos or baseline Cthulianism, have something legit to say and I like how they underlying principle in most branches of the religion is doing what feels right for the individual. Granted, we need laws to keep us from descending into depravity but I also think that it's ok, as some Satanists do, to ask why. The bottom line for me is that while I'm not looking to identify with another religion during my lifetime, there are definitely worse paths to choose than Satanism. Some of the more radical views I mentioned are only held by a few and, like with any religion, you're always going to find radicals here too.
But I think what I like the most about the concept of Satanism is how well it aligns with the concept of getting unbound. In the context of this show, that term means breaking free of the shackles of evangelicalism. In Satanist terms, it involves breaking free of any societal norm, way of thinking, or religious construct that doesn't serve us as individuals. For me, I have my own mission: get people out from under the confines of evangelicalism. But once that's accomplished, I think there's loads to be learned from at least the more widely-held beliefs and principles of Satanism:
Do whatever you want... but remember that there are always consequences
Don't do harm just because (but don't count it out where it's warranted)
Strive for excellence. Be focused. Know what you want and do what it takes to have it.
Be prideful, be selfish, make it all about you, but again, don't step on anyone else's right to pursue the same. You'd be pissed if someone did that to you so take a leaf from that book as you decide how to live your life.
To me, when applied the right way, these principles all steer the individual toward success. They promote a good self-image, and they teach people that it's OK to just be human. And while I'm not advocating becoming a Satanist, I do think they can teach us a lot about all of the above. And I, for one, can clearly see how the things they teach, believe, and practice form the framework for a life that is not shackled to a static list of dos and don'ts but rather one that is a clear and comprehensive definition of what it means to be unbound.
Anton LaVey, born Howard Stanton Levey and lived from April 11, 1930 to October 29, 1997. We know little of his early life. The only accounts we do have are from the man himself and he liked to 'embellish' his stories. We know he was a good musician, and played many instruments though his favorites were piano and accordion. He claims to have always had an interest in the occult, later claiming that his grandmother was from Transylvania and told him stories of demons and vampires.
He went to high school in Mill Valley, California until the age of 16, when he wanted to explore and see what else was out there for him. He started playing the oboe and organ at various local venues and claimed to have been a performer in a traveling circus, working as a roustabout, playing the calliope, or as a cage boy in the big cat show. LaVey later claimed to have seen that many of the same men attended both the bawdy Saturday night shows and the tent revival meetings on Sunday mornings, which reinforced his increasingly cynical view of religion.
Later on he started to work in bars and nightclubs, and claims to have had a brief fling with Marilyn Monroe while working in a burlesque house. This is a highly disputed claim, like most of the rest of the facts of his earlier life.
“According to his biography, LaVey moved back to San Francisco. In 1950, LaVey met Carole Lansing. They married the following year, when Lansing was fifteen years old. Lansing gave birth to LaVey's first daughter, Karla LaVey, born in 1952. In order to avoid the Korean War draft, he studied criminology at City College of San Francisco. LaVey then attained a job as a photographer for the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), where he worked for three years. He dabbled as a psychic investigator, looking into "800 calls" referred to him by SFPD. Later biographers questioned whether LaVey ever worked with the SFPD, as there are no records substantiating the claim.”
In San Francisco, he was a local celebrity, through his paranormal research and his position as a musician in various clubs. “He was also a publicly noticeable figure; he drove a coroner's van around town, and he walked his pet black leopard, named Zoltan.”
“LaVey began presenting Friday night lectures on the occult and rituals. A member of this circle suggested that he had the basis for a new religion. According to LaVey himself, on Walpurgisnacht, April 30, 1966, he ritualistically shaved his head, allegedly "in the tradition of ancient executioners", declared the founding of the Church of Satan and proclaimed 1966 as "the Year One", Anno Satanas-the first year of the Age of Satan.” In 1969, he published the Satanic Bible to clarify the position that the church of Satan promoted self-determination and the idea that humans should simply enjoy life.
He very publicly conducted Satanic weddings and and baptisms (starting with his own daughter) as well as other rituals. When the idea of walking with Satan started falling out of favor in the early 70's due to the Manson Family murders and various movies, he took things underground and no longer appeared in public except for brief occasions.
He died of pulmonary edema on October 29th 1997, though his death certificate says October 31st, as if in keeping with the showman he was.
While the Church of Satan built it's structure around ceremonial magick, rituals and hedonism, the Temple of Satan seems to be working with a focus on social justice and self-determination. Though both paths are atheistic in nature, the church of Satan focuses more on the supernatural. Anton LeVay even says that his philosophy is “Ayn Rand with ceremony and ritual added.” Currently the church of Satan is focused more on the individual and focusing on individual merits and achievements.
On the other (left) hand, the Temple of Satan is very active in current affairs, involving itself in matters of church and state division, civil liberties and civic events. Here's some of the things the Satanic Temple is working on:
Combating SB8: Attempting to skirt the law the Satanic Temple has written a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration calling on it to allow its Texas members to have access to abortion pills.
The Satanic Temple, which is tax-exempt and classifies itself as a non-theistic religious organization, argues its members should be able to access the abortion pills Mifepristone and Misoprostol via the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“Religions have special privileges under the First Amendment and RFRA. The Satanic Temple is utilizing these privileges to protect our religious belief in bodily autonomy - we’re taking our fight to the next level.
“As the courts affirm the rights of religious organizations to practice their faith, TST is demanding our religious rights to abortion access without unnecessary state interference,” the Satanic Temple’s website states.
“I am sure Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton...will be proud to see that Texas’s robust Religious Liberty laws, which he so vociferously champions, will prevent future Abortion Rituals from being interrupted by superfluous government restrictions,” Temple co-founder and spokesperson Lucien Greaves tweeted.
The Devil's Advocate Scholarship: The Satanic Temple wants to help high school graduates pursue higher education with its "Devil's Advocate Scholarship."
The organization, which fights for a separation between religion and pubic affairs, will sift through submissions from 2020 graduates and award two winners $500 in scholarship money.
Interested applicants are asked to submit a creative response in the form of an essay, poem, work of art or film answering one of two questions.
One asks what applicants have done to promote the temple's tenets and mission. The other asks for a description of a teacher who "crushed your spirit, undermined your self-confidence, and made you hate every minute you were forced to be in school."
If thousands of Satanists have their way, the Arkansas state capital will soon host a mystical winged goat idol, not far from an existing three-ton monument to the Ten Commandments.
In Minnesota they’ve sued to erect a statue they call “overtly Satanic, but tastefully so.” In Arizona they want to bless a City Council meeting, as they say theists have done for years.
Lucien Greaves, who co-founded the church in 2013, says he hopes the lawsuits will expand religious equality and free speech in a way that benefits all Americans, whether they approve of his faith or not.
“People get a laugh when they see us fighting to put a Satanic monument on the same grounds as the Ten Commandments, but whether we succeed or fail is not of minor importance,” Greaves, 45, said in an interview. When Christians seek to put up monuments in public spaces, “that’s not all they’re asking for,” he said. “That’s just a first step.”
The church’s argument in Little Rock, where it intervened in a lawsuit by secularists seeking to remove the granite Commandments monument, is that it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by putting a government stamp of approval on one religion over others. Rather than have the Commandments taken down, though, the church wants to put up its angel-winged goat, Baphomet, to memorialize people killed in witch hunts (the original kind).
Greaves, a Detroit native now living in Salem, Massachusetts, says it’s simple—and entirely American.
“You can’t give preference to a specific religious viewpoint and also say we’re a nation of religious liberty,” he said. “Religious liberty was never meant to apply to one viewpoint.”
A group of protesters dressed mostly in black gathered on the south steps of the Capitol on Saturday to make a statement about abortion laws in Utah. They were members of the Satanic Temple, demanding that Utah doesn’t turn into Texas on reproductive rights.
Demonstrators sported pentagram T-shirts and tattoos, Handmaid’s Tale-inspired outfits and horns. But, on the signs they held, Satan was rarely mentioned.
“Keeping the separation from church and state is very important,” said Melissa Weber, a 32-year-old member of the Satanic Temple, “so if churches are going to come in and tell us what we can do with our bodies, we’ll make our own rights and our church and how we do with our bodies.” She held a poster that read, “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.”
In images from the protest, Blackmore can be seen wearing a crown of thorns and a faux pregnancy belly while carrying a cross meant to symbolize “the burden of oppressive mandates endured by women,” as the Satanic Temple noted in a press release.
The Satanists marched in front of a small crowd of anti-abortion protesters, including a priest, standing next to a sign that said, “We Are Praying For You and Your Baby.”
Blackmore told The Daily Beast that the protest was meant to refute the parallels that Pro-Life Action League (PLAL) was trying to draw between the crucifixion and abortion.
“In the current abortion debate, she said, “it’s not the fetus, nor the church that suffers—but women who bear the greatest burden.”