"Misty, water-colored mem-rieeeeeeeees..."

The other day, I made reference to a childhood of being told by various people at church that the woods surrounding my hometown were veritably crawling with Satanists just itching to sacrifice my innards to Moloch. This wasn't perhaps the very best worldview to foster in a boy who could charitably have been described as "high-strung." (I still remember fellow-poster Elizabeth's incredulity when I told her how I had been taught that various games, movies, books, etc. were literally the work of Satan.) Well, now I know who to thank (in part) for a childhood plagued by nightmares. (Hat tip Mr. Sanchez.) Thanks, Time magazine!

Why So Worried? Time warns that bizarre occult rituals involving
black-draped altars, flashes of fire, and "goat-shaped images superimposed on
purple pentagram[s]" are "being re-enacted all across the U.S. nowadays." The
article describes "sex clubs that embellish their orgies with Satanist rituals,"
takes note of the Satanic followers of Charles Manson, and recounts two
anecdotal news stories about a grave robbery and an alleged stabbing inspired by
Cue Ominous Music: "There is a danger...in taking the Devil too
lightly, for in doing so man might take evil too lightly as well. Recent history
has shown terrifyingly enough that the demonic lies barely beneath the surface,
ready to catch men unawares with new and more horrible manifestations."

Trouble is, maybe there wasn't a lot of there there.
Oh, Just Settle Down: Time's warning that devil worship was sweeping the
country was short on supporting evidence. While exact figures are difficult to
come by, most estimates put America's satanist population in the range of
10,000-20,000 people. The 1980s saw an explosion not of Wiccans and sorcerers,
but of evangelical
. But that only fueled the fear of Mephistopheles, as the decade
saw America overcome by scares over the
role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons,
Satanic messages inscribed backward
on heavy metal albums
, and the persistent urban legend about the satanist origins
of Procter & Gamble's corporate logo. In the early 1980s, a "Satanic ritual abuse" (SRA)
swept America and Europe, during which Christian fundamentalists and
repressed memory psychiatrists claimed Satanist cults were subjecting children
to animal sacrifice, scatology, sexual abuse, and murder. Dozens of questionable
prosecutions followed, including the infamous 1984 McMartin
preschool molestation trials
, in which seven people were charged with 321
counts of child abuse based only on questionable memories psychiatrists claimed
to have recovered from children who attended the school. Subsequent studies
showed the SRA phenomenon to be without merit.

"Without merit," you say? Well, tarnation! Guess all that fear-mongering was for nothing. And me with all those colorful stories about prayer warriors and demonic possesion and such.

Reason's whole list is actually full of clarion calls that I remember all too well. It seems that the Republic has somehow survived porn, drugs and swear words, in defiance of Time's finger-waggling. But that doesn't mean that there aren't still plenty of true believers, ready to whip themselves into a moral frenzy.

Which just goes to show, if you print something, somewhere there's some idiot who will believe it.

1 comment:

  1. Most Satanists are simply atheists acting as provactuers, most of the Church of Satans own creed is pretty straightfaced humanism shorn of any and ally esoteric religiousity.

    As to what you described above, it just sounds like theme parties as an excuse for young people to get drunk and screw. They don't need Satan for that.