an inversion of religion that parodies conventional faith
by venerating evil instead of good.
rumors of widespread satanic crimes, organized satanism
is rare. For the most part, it appears to pose no physical
threat either to its members or to outsiders.
beliefs and practices of ritual satanists are almost entirely
unknown because of their diversity and secrecy. Although
some organized satanic activities resemble those of witches
and neopagans, the latter object to the comparison (Witchcraft).
satanists uniformly reject the popular association of satanism
with child abuse and animal mutilation.
modern fear of organized satanism can be traced to the wave
of panic over witchcraft that swept through Europe from
about 1450 to about 1700. Inspired in part by the rise of
heterodox (in conflict with accepted religious beliefs)
but nonsatanic religious movements, this panic is now recognized
to have been groundless.
it was believed that satanic ritual centered on a so-called
black mass, a parody of the
Catholic Mass. However, reports of
such ceremonies were usually extracted from people under
duress or torture and seem to have little basis in fact.
the 1980s a new satanism scare arose in the United States.
This scare was based on rumors of a sophisticated network
of ritual satanists engaged in a coordinated campaign of
child abduction and abuse, including ritual sacrifice. Although
satanic symbols were occasionally found at crime scenes,
by the mid-1990s no evidence for a large-scale, organized
network of satanists had been uncovered.
of satanic crimes against humans were often based instead
on controversial so-called recovered memories, which are
recollections brought to consciousness through psychological
therapy. Alleged ritual cattle mutilations proved to be
the work not of satanists but of animal predators.
satanic organizations active today are small and are of
recent origin. The most prominent, the Church of Satan,
was founded in 1966 in San Francisco, California, by American
Anton LaVey, whose philosophy is essentially a form of hedonism
(the doctrine that pleasure is the principal good).
that grew from the Church of Satan, the Temple of Set, was
founded in 1975 by American Michael Aquino and others.
of the mid-1990s, these two groups together had perhaps
a few hundred widely scattered members.
smaller groups exist as well.
By: Timothy Miller, A.B., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Religious
Studies, University of Kansas. Author of Following in His
Steps: A Biography of Charles M. Sheldon. Editor, America's
Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2001 http://encarta.msn.com
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