Misconceptions About Satanism

What are some of the popular myths and misconceptions that people believe about Satanism? Let’s explore this in a two part series here at the Spiritual Satanist Blog.

MYTH: All Satanists worship the devil.

REALITY: Satanism is diverse and there are many different viewpoints and ideas in Satanism. We can see this by understanding the Christian idea of Satanism first, and that usually involves the belief that all Satanists worship the ‘devil’.

Outside of Christianity it can be understood that Satanism began as a deist practice with the Church of Satan who eventually represented Satan as a symbol, not as a deity. After this came the spiritualists and theists who either worship the Christian aspects of Satan, or who have a uniquely spiritual view that maybe entirely interdependent of Christian beliefs.

Either way, the amount of Satanists that could be classified as devil worshipers are relatively small in number and make up a very small percentage of the varieties of modern Satanic expression. An even fewer of this amount identify strictly with the Satan found within a purely christian context.

MYTH: Satanism is for Teenagers!
REALITY: It is a fact that there are teenagers that can be found in any religion – Christianity, Wicca, Satanism, or even Paganism. While there are teens that can be found in Satanism, it seems that for the most part, teenage Satanism is either a phase or a transitory practice that many abandon when it no longer suits their need. Many Satanists who have a long term practice of Satanism found it later in their lives, after their teens in their early 20’s. James R. Lewis did an excellent survey of Satanists in 2001, where he recorded that most Satanists that he interviewed were between the ages of 18- 30 years old, with more than 5 years average involvement time. So, no, Satanism is not just for teenagers – in fact, those that it appeals the most to are already away from their parents and living their own lives, able to make their own choices about what religion suits them best.

From the Lewis Survey of 2001:
Does this phenomenon, however, exhaust the significance of religious Satanism? Are most Satanists, in other words, just angry teenagers who adopt diabolical trappings to express their alienation, only to renounce the Prince of Darkness as soon as they mature into adults? While many youthful Satanists undoubtedly fit this profile, I came to feel that this was, at best, only a partial picture. Instead, I reasoned, there must be a core of committed Satanists who–for whatever reasons they initially become involved–had come to appropriate Satanism as a mature religious option.

Also: “The average Satanist is 26 years old (ranging from 14 to 56) who has been a Satanist for eight years (ranging from less than a year to 44 years for an individual who claimed to have been raised in a Satanist household). This means that the average Satanist became involved at age 18

– text selected from James R. Lewis, Who Serves Satan? A Demographic and Ideological Profile. Referenced from: http://www.uni-marburg.de/fb03/ivk/mjr/pdfs/2001/articles/lewis2001.pdf [accessed 9/24/09]

MYTH: All Satanists are Criminals.
REALITY: The Satanic Panic of the 80’s, the same myth machine that perpetuated this lie, sustains this lie in the public view even to this day, even though not one shred of evidence has ever been found of secret Satanic societies that are criminal! It was reported time and time again that these sensational stories of Satanic criminals were the fodder of book publishers, counselors, preachers, news reporters and corporations who used these stories to sell books, interviews, tv airings, and counseling sessions.

The amount of money that they profited from telling these lies is beyond belief. Reports of Satanic crime were falsified, and testimonies from so-called SRA survivors were sold to the media and book publishers. Children were coached in how to act and what to say. It was a moral panic that society has not yet recovered from, as some still hold the belief that Satanists are associated with crime.

Jefferey S. Victor in his book “Satanic Panic, Creation of a Contemporary Legend” did a great job of exposing many of the people behind the 80-‘s and early 90’s panic. In his book he tracked the history of the moral panic, and the court cases that fell through because of lack of evidence. Unfortunately there are still some people who are in jail from the trumped up charges of the Satanic panic, more than a decade ago! Why? because no one bothers to revisit the cases, evidence is created or non existent making a real trial and acquittal impossible.

The fact is, that Satanists represent a very minute portion of society as a whole, and as such, it is impossible to know what kind of crime, or lack thereof they produce. It is also a fact that the majority of people who are in prison for violent and non violent crimes are Christian, come from Christian families and are rehabilitated with Christianity while in prison. And, its not just because Christians represent a majority of the population; it is because many of these people have problems living in society and abiding by societies rules. Whether or not their Christian background is a factor in this, I do not know. My belief is that people should abide by the laws of their own government, if only to keep the peace and so that we may live in a civil society.

Then I will have a letter sent to me by some Christian who gives me a news story about the 15 year old girl who set a church on fire in Canada. My opinion on that is that she is mentally disabled and needs emotional support and should be tried as an adult. Wwhile her crime seems to have been motivated by her ‘satanistic’ religion (as they called it) what really happened is that a mentally unbalanced girl lived a very unsupervised life and because of that she went out of control, committed a crime, and used religion as an outlet for it. A person should not be persecuted on the merit of what religion they believe in.

That’s what happened in the witch trials – people were murdered for being accused of being cohorts of the devil, a false charge that assumed immediate guilt by association instead of a fair and legal trial. Criminals should be tried for the crimes they commit regardless of what religion they claim to be. Should we think any worse of the many religious criminals associated with Christianity, and assume that all Christians are therefore evil because of a few people that used their religion as a scapegoat to crime? [ for an interesting read, see, List of Convicted Religious Criminals at wiki]

When people like Warren Jeffs [see Warren Jeffs, wiki] use Christianity to commit crimes, its conveniently forgotten about and no one dares to ask, “Was what he did right? did Christianity lead him to commit his crimes?” . In other words, no one ever consults with the pope when Christians commit a crime, but they certainly want to pursue Satanists, Wiccans, pagans and all others who are not Christian once a mentally unbalanced person gets out of control and hurts themselves or other people. Its a double standard with no solution in sight.

In my view, any professional lawyer, social worker, or judge should leave religion out of the courtroom.

MYTH: All Satanists are Ignorant!
REALITY: This is obviously not true. There was an excellent survey found at Wikipedia which explained the IQ of people compared to religious beliefs. it was found that the majority of people who had a higher IQ were either spiritual or atheist, and that the more fundamental a person’s beliefs, the lower the IQ seemed to be. You can explore it HERE [Study of IQ and Religiosity].

Mr Lewis, in his wonderful essay of 2001, surveyed 140 people and over 14% of those people had at least one year of college, 20% had 2 years of college, and 11% had their bachelors degree. Many had professional jobs and had family lives. 23% of those surveyed were married.

“Satanists are employed in diverse occupations. Eighteen respondents were involved with computers and/or the internet. Forty were students. And eleven were writers or artists (fourteen if web writers are included). Otherwise, they ran the gamut from stripper to clinical psychologist, and from salesman to engineer.”

– text selected from James R. Lewis, Who Serves Satan? A Demographic and Ideological Profile. Referenced from: http://www.uni-marburg.de/fb03/ivk/mjr/pdfs/2001/articles/lewis2001.pdf [accessed 9/24/09]

Next: Misconceptions About Satanism, Part 2

Dark Moon Merchant