The Basics of Satanism and Why It's Not Devil Worship
What comes to mind when one hears the word Satanism? Pentagrams? Sacrificing cats? Groups of hooded men chanting in strange tongues?
The reality of Satanism is that it’s none of that.
Satanism was founded by Anton Szandor LaVey as a religion based on rationality, anti-superstition, and against the dogma of organized religion. As per the Satanic Temple website:
The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will. Civic-minded, The Satanic Temple has been involved in a number of good works including taking a stand against the controversial and extremist Westboro Baptist Church, working on behalf of children in public school who have been subject to corporal punishment and more.
This image details the basic tenets of Satanism
For ease of reading, they are:
- One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.
- The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
- One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
- The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.
- Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
- People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
- Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word
The Church of Satan also has the Nine Satanic Statements and the Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth, which can be found on the Official Website of the Church of Satan.
Because of the negative connotations of the image lent to Satan, Lucifer, Baphomet, etc., Satanism is considered one of the most persecuted and misunderstood of the world philosophies. Its adherents, such as Allister Crowley, and its clergy, such as rock musician Marilyn Manson (one of my personal favorites), are besieged by criticism from the mainstream media and society that ranges from justified to utterly outlandish. Extremists exist within every movement, and if members of the church are doing things that it is against, such as human or animal sacrifice (which would make no sense to a practicing Satanist, as according to the church, Satan does not actually exist), it taints all people and things associated with it. Like atheists, Mormons, scientologists, or those snake-handling yahoos down in Tennessee, Satanists often do not disclose their alignment with the church and its doctrines out of fear of being cast in the wrong light.
Other persecuted religions: Puritans, Quakers, Lutherans, Mormons
I myself, as a possible one-day LMSW, animal lover, and champion for society’s downtrodden, am now declaring myself as a follower of the Church of Satan to dispel the myths of those who do. You may be confused, as I have already said that I am Buddhist and, upon examination of its tenets, may find these two philosophies to be polar opposites. That’s the point. No human being can be completely altruistic, nor can they be completely individualistic. As in the ancient Taoist concept of Yin and Yang, we all have our dark and light sides. At times, I am a forgiving person, and at others, I bear a grudge. I am both a skeptic and a believer in the paranormal and spiritual. I am by turns a great admirer of the peace religion can bring one’s soul, and someone who strives to actively dismantle it for how it attempts to impose its ignorance and antipathy on our government and my life as a queer person.
I'm not a scary person, though I might look it
So please, in the words of my other beloved, Michael Jackson (the light to counterbalance Marilyn’s darkness): Before you judge me, try hard to love me.
And I would suggest you do the same towards Satanism.