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Why "Satanic ritual crime" doesn't make sense even from a Christian point of view

by Diane Vera

Copyright © 2004 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved.

Among Satanists, it is often said that tales of "Satanic ritual crime" reflect a "Christian" view of Satan. In fact, the idea that Satan would want His human devotees to commit violent crimes in His name doesn't make a whole lot of sense even in terms of the traditional Christian view of Satan's goals and strategies.

According to traditional Christian doctrine, Satan's goal is to lead people away from Christ, NOT to maximize human nastiness. Satan is, traditionally, NOT believed to care how nice or how nasty people are, because even the nicest people aren't good enough for God and will go to hell (or at best to limbo) if they haven't accepted Christ.

So then, from a Christian point of view, what would Satan want His human followers to do? The main thing would be to lead other people away from Christ. He would also want us to get ourselves into positions of power and influence and/or to develop our creative talents, the better to lead still more people away from Christ. Beyond that, Satan would only want us to do as we please, looking out for our own interests.

A bunch of Satanists going around torturing and murdering people would not be a particularly effective way of leading other people away from Christ. On the contrary, rumors of Satanist atrocities are more likely to frighten people into clinging all the more tightly to Christianity. And that, of course, is probably one of the reasons why some Christian evangelists love to spread tales of "Satanic crime" - even though such tales do not make much sense even in terms of the traditional Christian view of Satan's goals and strategies.

Alas, there do exist people who commit violent crimes in the name of Satan, and there do exist plenty of teenage dabblers who believe that Satan wants them to be generally nasty and unpleasant. Not only do they tend to frighten people around them into becoming more devout Christians, but they themselves are likely to end up turning Christian. I'm not aware of any scientific studies of what happens to the more obnoxious teenage dabblers, but I've seen plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that a majority end up converting to Christianity - definitely not an outcome Satan would want, according to the traditional Christian view. On the other hand, the more reasonable kinds of Satanists are more likely to remain Satanists.

You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. To that end, even in terms of a Christian understanding of how we could most effectively serve Satan, it would make the most sense for us Satanists to make ourselves look attractive, enticing, and at least somewhat respectable -- while at the same time pushing, in one way or another, the outer limits of what is considered respectable.

Of course, most real-life Satanists don't see Satan as being so singlemindedly focussed on leading people away from Christ. For example, many of us see Satan as an entity who enjoys challenging dogma in general, not just Christian dogma.

But our broader Satan-concepts are, in most cases, much more consistent with the traditional Christian idea of Satan than is the notion that Satan would want Satanists to go around torturing and murdering people. Challenging dogma in general is consistent with challenging Christian dogma in particular, whereas the promotion of gratuitous nastiness in Satan's name is more likely to lead people to Christ (or perhaps to Allah, depending on the person's background) than to lead people away from Christ.

As one conservative Catholic writer named Robert Eady has put it, in a very anti-Satanist (and anti-Wiccan) article titled Satanism, Witchcraft and Church Feminists:

... Satanists who do break the law may actually be less dangerous than those who are more theological in their approach. So, in a totally secular vein, a teenager who spray-paints the side of a Church with a Satanic symbol is obviously less destructive or dangerous than a devil worshipper who spends years writing articles and appearing on talk shows.

"In a totally secular vein"? No, from a secular point of view, only criminals are legitimately considered "destructive or dangerous." However, from a traditional Christian religious point of view, those who don't break the law can indeed be more "destructive and dangerous" in the sense of being in a better position to challenge Christian dogma.

For more about this issue, see Satan and "Evil" in Christianity (and Satanism).

Another key point:  In popular culture, Satan is seen as causing all manner of mayhem. However, in the Bible, most of the mayhem is caused by Jehovah, not Satan. Jehovah is the one who floods the world, killing all but one family. Jehovah is the one who killed all the firstborn in Egypt, merely for his own glory, after he himself had "hardened Pharaoh's heart". Jehovah is the one who commanded the Israelites to slaughter all the Canaanites. And, in the New Testament, the Christian god is the one who threatens people with infinitifold punishment for the sins of one little lifetime.

For more about these matters, see Bible-sanctioned cruelties and other Biblical nastiness and Heaven, hell, "love," and "justice" on my Counter-Evangelism site.

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