The media has a new line of attack against Satanism in its efforts to tarnish its status within the public consciousness. This line of attack is different from the old days in that it doesn’t seek out to smear Satanists as psychotic, anti-social, criminal elements in society, but instead to smear them as basically pussies who act tough but are scared to death of Christians. Predictably, this smear centers on The Satanic Temple.
Numerous news outlets, ranging from liberal outlets like The Hill to conservative ones like The Daily Caller, reported that Lucien Greaves, co-founder of The Satanic Temple, said that Mike Pence “really scares” him, with The Daily Caller in particular running with the ludicrous title of “Co-Founder Of Satanic Temple Lives In Mortal Terror Of Pence“. Russia Today even joined in for some bizarre reason with the article “What keeps Satanists awake at night? That would be… US VP Mike Pence“.
What is the subject of these articles you might ask? While promoting a new film entitled Hail Satan?, which this week premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Lucien Greaves gave an interview with The Daily Beast in which he describes his views on Donald Trump and Mike Pence. The main story seems to be this statement:
“Trump is too stupid to predict; the guy has no concept of his own limitations. The thing that makes me most comfortable with Trump is the fact that he has no vision. Mike Pence really scares me: Pence has a clear, theocratic vision for the United States.”
I think this is an entirely reasonable statement, and Greaves is ultimately correct on this point. Donald Trump, while an ally of evangelical conservative interests, is inconsistent on almost every issue, religion being one of them. While he clearly is a Christian (he even said that the Bible was his favorite book), he is not an active member of his church and doesn’t know if he ever asked God for forgiveness. Also, during his campaign he often deviated from conservative tradition by billing himself as a protector of LGBT rights (a point that would find itself incredibly hollow as his administration dragged on considering its attempts to legally erase trans people, rolling out “religious freedom” laws and appointing arch-conservative judges to the Supreme Court). While Trump’s beliefs are often ill-defined and sentimental, Pence is far more consistent and clear about his intentions. He calls himself a Christian above all else, literally does not believe in evolution, is a consistent friend of Christian fundamentalists and can be trusted to act upon their interests, as well as numerous other conservative interests (let’s just say I think the push for war in Iran or with Russia might go faster under Pence than under Trump).
The reason why I think the articles from the likes of The Daily Caller and Russia Today among other outlets constitute a smear of Satanism is that they try to paint Greaves’ obvious concerns as irrational and from there based on irrational fear of ordinary Christians, overlooking the fact that Mike Pence, if he were to become President of the United States, would have much more control over social policy than he presently does and the fact that the possibility of him taking over from Trump remains a possible contingency.
Russia Today even tries to slyly compare The Satanic Temple to the witches who attempted to hex Brett Kavanaugh, asking “Maybe Pence will be next?”. Actually, come to think of it, why is Russia Today wading in on this development? I seem to see them chime in from time to time on Western culture war bullshit, with a fairly recent example being them publishing an article written by Slavoj Zizek about the errors of liberal thinking concerning “toxic masculinity”. It is at least understandable why American outlets join in on the story, but Russia Today seems like it doesn’t have any real connection to any of this.
The main takeaway I guess is that the subject of Greaves’ views on Pence hardly qualifies as a news story, or at any rate a development worthy of being treated as such. Which only really begs the question of why it is.