The Satanic Panic

They indoctrinate young children. Their priests occasionally sexually abuse boys. Their symbols include intimidating instruments of torture. Their handbook describes human and animal sacrifice. Their one ritual symbolizes the diabolic cannibalistic practice of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of their divine human leader. They are the Christians. Do Satanists also indulge in these vile practices? How concerned should we be about Satanism?

Newspaper reports about gruesome murders and mutilations allegedly sparked by Satanist rituals or beliefs abound. When the courts weigh the evidence in such cases, the Satanist claims are usually found to be groundless. Occult related murders do occur, particularly in respect of traditional African beliefs, where muti is involved, but to call that Satanism would rather stretch the meaning of the word. Could at least some of these occult murders have been instigated by Satanism?

What is Satanism? It is here that the confusion lies. The Satan character appears in Judaism (the book of Job, for instance), but Judaism does not recognize Satan as a person; merely as a metaphor for the inclination to do evil. The New Testament has more expansive references to Satan and mainstream Christianity treats Satan as a sentient being. When Christians refer to Satanism, they would therefore usually mean the actual belief in and worship of the biblical Satan. The Koran has an equivalent character (Iblis or Shaitan) and in SA, Muslims sometimes join Christians in condemning alleged Satanism. The Church of Satan, founded by Anton LaVey in 1966, does not recognize the existence of Satan (or any deity) nor worship such an entity; the Satan character has symbolic significance, hence the name Church of Satan. It is ironic that Christianity believes in a personal Satan, but the Church of Satan does not. Wikipedia distinguishes between theistic Satanism, atheistic Satanism and casual Satanism.

An up to date article in Wikipedia under the title Satanic Panic (South Africa) claims that this paranoia is on the increase here. The article attributes it to an increase in Christian fundamentalism combined with an occult revival. It looks at the role of government, especially the SAPS Occult Related Crimes Unit, the Department of Basic Education, the Human Sciences Research Council and Parliament. It also makes reference to Pseudo-Satanism and court cases where Satanism was alleged. I believe the whole article is worth reading, so I will not attempt to summarize it or identify highlights here.

Jacques Rousseau has also written on this topic.

It would certainly appear as though the fears surrounding Satanism are largely fictitious, but to what extent? Are claims of evil Satan worshippers committing diabolical crimes entirely mythical, or does it happen? Are there secret organizations recruiting vulnerable victims? Any views?

I doubt very much whether there are actual theistic satanic organisations recruiting and subverting youngsters. In the cases where satanism is involved, it seems to me mostly like directionless, undisciplined kids high on drugs who decide to experiment with human sacrifice and crap like that. You don’t prevent that sort of thing by focusing on the alleged satanism. The kids need parents, not pastors, though I would think that involvement in some or other non-fundie church can have a positive impact.

On the whole, brutal satanic murders are a symptom of our social problems, not the problem itself.

Hermes, I wrote a more recent (and relevant) piece also, here.

My knowledge of Satanism as a religious practice is a bit thin and derives entirely from what I can recall from my alma mater in exclusivity studies, the Dutch Reformed Church. Satan is a real supernatural person with significant powers of infuence over material matters, and he specializes in exploiting human weakness and ambition. If you sell your soul to him, he returns the favour by making you wealthy, healthy and popular. Since Satan is keen on paraphernalia and ritual, you are also encourage to draw candle-tipped pentagrams on the tv room floor, and buy a black cat. Depending on its sex, the cat must be named Lucifer or Lucy. Only if it sports four white feet, may you call it Sox. And speaking of animals, you will regrettably also need to acquire that iconic, all purpose satanistic utility: a goat. These are used extensively during sacrificial and blood-letting activities. As such, it’s probably not a good idea to name your goat anything. Human sacrifice is neither frowned upon, nor encouraged, but self mutilation is definitely en vogue. For some reason you are also required to listen to your Beatles records backwards. Like all good religions, Satanism has a lot to say on the topic of sex, and orgies are definitely the way to go if you want to please the devil. If you are a particularly unattractive or shy Satanist your goat, once again, may prove indispensable.

Crime is crime, and the motivations behind it should be analysed in court. Dedicated occult tasks forces are a waste of money and utterly silly.


I fully qualify as a satanist, my LucyFur (black as the night) sleeps on the small of my back every night and has a killer instinct that I have never beheld in any of the cats I ever owned (currently I have four). I have a security gate installed in my passage with the pentagram as a decorative feature (my fundy MIL commented on the “pretty” design). I have carved wooden Africana featuring all manner of goats heads hung in my lounge. I have “The God delusion” on the bedside table and Darwin on the coffee table as a delicate decorative reminder of whose house the visitor’s find themselves in. Hubby is fond of Black Sabbath and I’m not adverse to some Classical Opera which in some circles is believed to be the Devil’s favourite music.

My children are drug and rebellion free, we’re financially pretty much ok, my husband isnt the philandering type, we have two cars, a pretty house and a show garden, we sleep late on Sundays and can afford to run a heater on prepaid electricity - which just goes to show - “The Devil looks after its own”

lol at the Satanist with the cat names Sock.

In all seriousness we do seem to be experiencing a lot of gruesome murders committed by crazy people in
the name of satanism, much like America has crazy people shooting up schools.

Clearly crazy people would find any excuse to do crazy things, but I suspect our religious up bringing
and the general belief in that Satin is real is attracting them to it.

I remember as a geeky kid being picked on at school we found that pretending to be satanist kept us
from being picked on, all we really did was where Iron Maiden shirts and listen to Metallica,
o and spread the rumor. So there is power in it even if it’s pretend.

Thank you for the link, Jacques.

I fully agree with the view that the misrepresentation of a belief system is counter-productive. It is for this reason that my opening paragraph taunts Christianity with all manner of finger pointing, usually reserved for Satanism. Jacques’s article uses similar irony.

Gauteng Basic Education MEC Barbara Creecy’s campaign against “harmful religious practices” at schools is largely based on such misrepresentation. The real threat does not lie in the witchcraft, but in the witch hunt. Law enforcement agencies are also far too credulous and accommodating.

What one may question is whether an organization such as the Church of Satan is deserving of sympathy or respect. Certainly freedom of belief is guaranteed in our national constitution and we should respect their right to hold their beliefs, but that does not imply that we need to respect their dogma. For millennia Satan has been the symbol of all evil in various religions. Metaphoric or sentient, it has been understood to represent that which is immoral, unjust and unethical. To then establish a church and call it the Church of Satan and qualify that you don’t represent evil and don’t worship Satan is in itself a caricature. It is opportunistic and sensation seeking; not very different from playground rebelliousness. I have no objections to people having some fun with Satanic symbolism, as Faerie is doing, any more than I would object to Halloween costumes. A church that wants to be taken seriously is a different matter and bewailing being caricaturized and misunderstood under such circumstances only amounts to soliciting undeserved sympathy.

I don’t think their main purpose is to please the devil.

Not at all, however the issue is more a complete ignorance of their dogma. Counter-productive as it may be.

I have never identified as a Satanist, but have read some of the “satanic bible” and it really just boils down to some philosophy and guidelines on how to live your life. I don’t agree with a lot of it, stuff like “If someone stands in your way, destroy them”, buuut that’s not the kind of dogma we’re talking about here.

I wonder how many youths hear about satanism, take it for something it’s not, and then go and “practise” it without having a clue. (Killing goats, doing drugs, etc).

As such, I find the irony in the fact that these so-called traits of Satanism come directly from the adherents of Christianity. They have put these ideas into kid’s heads much moreso than a underground movement that would probably not have been widely known otherwise.

To then establish a church and call it the Church of Satan and qualify that you don’t represent evil and don’t worship Satan is in itself a caricature. It is opportunistic and sensation seeking; not very different from playground rebelliousness.

Indeed it is very opportunistic. I think it is as simple as “Marketing”, and it has been used to great effect. As said above, had it not been called that, it would never have garnered as much attention.

Correct … just an agreeable bonus. :smiley:


This could very rapidly become interesting… >:D


You gotta love the image posted in the comments.