As I write this short piece, I am supposed to still be busy working on my commentary on Stanislaw Przybyszewski’s essay, The Synagogue of Satan, which I believe to the earliest written treatise on Satanism written by a self-declared Satanist. But recent events compel to interrupt such work for just a moment, because, thinking about it, I feel that it would be wrong for me to not say anything about it here on this blog when I have readily done so in the past. My work on Przybyszewski’s book is still in progress, but what I write now, I must write now, however briefly.
On June 10th, the headquarters of The Satanic Temple in Salem was attacked by a man who tried to set the place on fire. He placed some accelerants onto the premise and set it on fire. It seems that this individual was spotted in a T-shirt with the word “GOD” on it, likely indicating his commitment to Christianity. It also seems that the man was later identified as Daniel Damien Lucey, who, after his arrest, confessed to driving up to the building to light it on fire and that it was meant as a hate crime.
Although my opposition to The Satanic Temple are pretty well-known, and although I have questioned the very extent to which they could even be regarded as “Satanists”, the simple truth is that the attack isn’t really about any of that. It is reasonable to assume that Daniel Damien Lucey attacked The Satanic Temple quite simply because as far as he was concerned they were Satanists, and I further suspect that he may have been motivated by Christian nationalist ideology and the attendant moral panics centering Satanists and The Satanic Temple more particularly. This week, the American right condemned The Satanic Temple for their involvement in a Pride event in Idaho in which they were to offer “unbaptism” ceremonies and sell merchandise. The Satanic Temple pulled out of the Idaho event, probably not wanting to deal with reactionary backlash, but either way right-wingers already had their narrative that Satanists and LGBTQ people were “degenerates” looking to corrupt the community and, how do they put it, “sexualize your children”. In this sense I don’t think it’s a stretch of the imagination to count this attack as a broader expression of right-wing Christian nationalist violence meant to target marginalized groups, and anti-Satanic moral panic is a huge part of that ideology.
The recent attack on The Satanic Temple in Salem is not the first time Christian reactionaries have attacked Satanists or places associated with Satanism. I still remember when the Greater Church of Lucifer (now called the Assembly of Light Bearers) opened their first physical church in Texas back in 2015, and faced vandalism from local Christians before eventually shutting their doors in 2017. I am also informed that, in November 2019, a place called The Wilde Collection, which featured a depiction of Baphomet among other things, was the target of an arson attack by a man who said “God told me to do it”. And how often do we forget that Satanists have been victims of hate crimes for years now. Christian reactionaries have been trying to attack Satanists and be rid of Satanism for a long time now, and they’re not going to stop, especially not now that the war being waged by Christian nationalism is in full swing. In other words, it’s not just about The Satanic Temple particularly, because we are all under attack in exactly the same way, and the difference certainly doesn’t matter to our attackers.
You may notice the title of this article, “Against the Milites Christi”. That is no flowery hyperbole, and it is not simply a fancy name for fundamentalism. The term means “Solider of Christ”, and was the name used by the early Roman Christians to refer to themselves and the community of Christians in military terms. It is often also rendered as “Miles Christi” or “Miles Christianus”. The Christians saw themselves as soldiers on the side of God and his son, waging struggle on their behalf in order to spread the word of God and convert non-believers. Those who were not “Milites Christi” were called “pagans”, or “paganus”, in this case meaning “citizen” or “civilian”. The language of “Milites Christi” continued and evolved over the history of Christianity. The Christian Crusaders called themselves “Milites Christi”, and Christian leaders who advocated for the Crusades were also dubbed “Milites Christi”, while the basic concept took on more generic forms in the form of knighthood, chivalry, and the generic term “Christian Soldiers” referred to in Christian hymns. Modern Chrstian nationalists who attack Satanists, non-believers, and marginalized people tend to carry in themselves a similar zeal and fundamentally the same ideological mission: waging struggle in order to uphold God’s order, at least as they see it, under the desire to realize a theocratic nation-state. I will grant that many modern Christians do not view their faith in terms any great struggle, except perhaps for a more abstract sense of inner struggle with their own sins. But the Christians who are attacking Satanists with arson and violence absolutely see themselves as “soliders of Christ”, fighting evil in order to spread and uphold the order of God.
These people must be fought. There can be equivocation on this reality. Let them be cursed, let them be smashed, indeed let them burn in exactly the way they are trying to burn us. You should accept no counsel against the struggle that is to come – no, the struggle which has already been foisted upon you. In the American context, all talk of disarmament should be swiftly rejected, because it only means taking guns out of the hands of those waging anti-fascist struggle while the would-be “soldiers of Christ” get their hands on them anyway. And don’t doubt for a minute that they will. We’re talking about people who are convinced that their country is ruled by people who want to “sexualize” your children and get rid of Christianity and cis straight white males. Do you really think they’ll give a shit about how hard it is to get a gun if they think it means putting a stop to that? Make no illusions of the fight that is to be had. They want war. They want holy war on the streets. That’s how they see their actions against Satanists and anyone who they think is a Satanist, and if they’re allowed to run rampant they might indeed get their wish. Let’s not pretend everything is OK, and let’s not pretend that the powers that be will solve our problems. The politicians don’t care because they don’t regard us at all, the media doesn’t care and will happily tell us that those who kill in the name of God are not who they say they are, and it should ultimately be remembered that even now Douglas Misicko (sorry, “Lucien Greaves”) could still clutch his pearls about anti-fascist direct action taken against the people who just now tried to burn down The Satanic Temple’s Salem headquarters!
What action is to be taken against these Milites Christi, is to be taken into our own hands. Satanists are under attack, and other non-Christians will be too. The boots of the cross must not be allowed trample upon Satanic liberty; instead the cloven hooves must press upon them before they dare snuff it out!
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