Let me tell you of a recent story of that bugs me probably more than it should but I feel like it just brings out ire in me.
From what I understand, a conservative Christian pastor named Mark D. Boykin, from a church called the Church of All Nations, is mad that the Lake Worth City Commission in Florida allowed opening prayers to other deities and that it is now considering allowing a Satanist, named Chaz Stevens, to give an invocation at the Lake Worth council meeting. He’s also incensed that one Preston Smith delivered an atheist “prayer” as an invocation at the Lake Worth that apparently invoked many deities, including Mother Earth, Allah, and Satan. Boykin believes that people like Preston Smith are using the First Amendment of the US Constitution to make a mockery of religion, and he also believes that the First Amendment only applies to “traditional” and “accepted” religions like Christianity (read: the only religion he probably defines as either) and not “malevolent and evil faiths” (like what he believes Satanism to be, or probably every other religion for that matter).
People like him are what’s wrong with Christianity in America. It’s not even that they ignore the Constitution of their own country; it’s that they twist and distort the statements of the Constitution to suit their own agenda in complete ignorance of the simple meaning of its statements, particularly the First Amendment.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
The meaning of the above statement should be obvious to all. It means freedom of religion, worship, speech, and expression for all groups and all people, regardless of color or creed. Unfortunately, people like Boykin do not understand this, and probably never have understood, and doggedly believe in their putrid vision of one nation under Jehovah. The only religious freedom these types care about is the freedom of Christians to practice their religion, they don’t care about any other religion when they talk about freedom of religion. It doesn’t matter if you worship a deity of light, a deity of darkness, multiple deities, or none at all. Freedom of religion and worship means everyone has freedom to believe as they wish, but not to coerce others into following yours.
Also, like pretty much everyone who is truly ignorant (not just Christians), Boykins is one of those people who believes not only that Satanism and “devil worship” (which he describes as “one of those things we can’t talk about because they are so malevolent and evil”) are strictly interchangeable and the same thing, but also describes Satanism as “the spirit of Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, [and] the Columbine murders”, without any obvious knowledge about the tenets of Satanism. Satanism is about “evil” and it is not an evil “faith” that endorses killing, rape, and disorder for its own sake, nor does it necessarily demand the worship of any devil.
The tenets of Satanism simply espouse spiritual individualism, that humanity either is his/her own god or that each human can become one, that mankind is not a fallen or evil creature that must bow before someone else’s deity posing as God, and that it is OK and spiritually valid to explore one’s carnal self and to engage in indulgence (without unnecessary harm to others of course). Those are the basic tenets common to almost all forms of Satanism, but there are many iterations of the ideals of Satanism that take different forms. And some Satanists do worship Satan, or a figure along those lines, but not as the king of evil but as a spiritual liberator or a deity, though many Satanists simply revere Satan as a literary or symbolic figure who represents the ideals of freedom.
Like I said before, what’s going on here probably bugs me more than it should, given Boykin’s worthless tirade is just another conservative Christian hot air venting. But still it bugs me how Boykin’s kind of ignorance rears its head to give me the disgust that it does.