An argument against Cultural Christianity (or Christian Atheism)

If you’ve been around both atheistic and conservative circles, you may well have encountered people who identify themselves as Cultural Christians. Sometimes referred to as Secular Christians, these are people who formally do not believe in God and reject the supernatural claims of the Bible and the Christian faith, but nonetheless ascribe to the religious doctrine and philosophy of Christianity either because they identify with it on a cultural level or because they feel that it is the best moral framework available for a broad society. In The Satanic Bible, Anton LaVey referred to such people as Christian Atheists.

Of course the term isn’t confined solely to neckbeards on the Internet who wish they were born in the Middle Ages so they can LARP as Crusaders only in real life. The term also has some purchase in the New Atheist movement: Richard Dawkins, despite his strident criticism of Christianity and indeed all of religion, has referred to himself as a Cultural Chrisitan, stating in the past that he sings carols like most British people do and resists the charge of being “Christianophobic” – a term no less of a fraudulent political label than Islamophobia and is simply used by conservative Christians to scaremonger about the secularizing of society. There is also a somewhat more malevolent aspect to the term: it was utilized by the infamous Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik in his manifesto, and I suspect because of this the position has its associations with white nationalists and alt-righters (which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me; I mean, if you’re a white nationalist concerned with the European “volk”, why would you pay lip service to religion based on a Jewish deity?). I have never subscribed to the Cultural Christian label, and in this post I intend to show that the main arguments in support of such a position are fallacious and delusional.

The main argument held by Cultural Christians seems to be that Christianity is the basis of the loose collection of ideas we refer to as the Western canon, or Western Civilization, thus to support Western civilization is to support Christianity from a cultural position. However, a cursory glance at European history (both Christian and pre-Christian) and the teachings of the Bible easily disrupts this premise.

Do you like democracy? Well, Western democracy didn’t originate in the Bible. It arguably originated in ancient Greece, in the Republic of Athens. Sure, it wasn’t perfect (women couldn’t vote and slavery was a thing back then), but it was also one of the early attempts at direct democracy – voters would have their say on every legislative issue. The Athenians were also so invested in their democratic system, and this even permeates into their normative attitudes; namely that they derided people who took no interest in politics, and considered them foolish and ignorant. Outside of Greece, the Roman Republic was another early form of Western democracy, in fact it was a classical example of representative democracy, where the electorate would appoint representatives to the legislature rather directly ratify each issue. There’s also the Althing in Viking Age Iceland, which is widely considered to be one of the earliest forms of parliamentary democracy. Similar assemblies where also held throughout the Germanic world, and even in Britain where they were referred to as folkmoots by the Saxons. All of this before Christianity took over in the respective territories, under the auspices of pre-Christian religious traditions. In contrast, the Bible implies that democracy is a bad thing because humans cannot govern themselves and that those who challenge a prophet of God in support of democracy will be destroyed by God. However, the feudal system that characterized much of Europe during the Middle Ages was justified with the doctrine of the Great Chain of Being – a Christian concept which entails a rigid hierarchical order that stratifies all creation as ordained by God.

Pictured: democracy in action

Do you like freedom of speech? The Bible actually forbids this to some extent, with one of the Ten Commandments forbidding cursing and Colossians 3:8 condemning “filthy language”. Publications and universities were once controlled by the Catholic Church, and in 1543 they decreed that no publication could be distributed without the permission of the Church. European rulers during the Christian age also used the state to control scientific publications and artistic expressions deemed threatening to public morality and the Christian faith. The Inquisition was another way of controlling publications, specifically the regulation of the import of books to colonies in the Americas by the Peruvian Inquisition. And as will be delved into further later on, the Catholic Church punished intellectuals who denied important teachings of the Church. Of course, this is one instance when the pre-Christian world wasn’t much better, with Socrates being poisoned by the Greek state for “corrupting” the minds of the people with skepticism and the office of the censor in Rome being the origin of the word censorship. In fact, the notion of freedom of speech as was understood since the Enlightenment was probably not practiced throughout much of the ancient world, and was chiefly defended by a handful of philosophers.

Human rights? While England did establish the Magna Carta, it was opposed by the Catholic Church that dominated Europe and annulled by the Pope. And the Protestants were far from better, rounding up non-believers and women to be burned at the stake for absurd charges of witchcraft, diabolism and conspiracy to commit such things. Also, a little thing called The Inquistion anyone? Not to mention the occasional slaughter of pagans in Europe such as in the Massacre of Verden, and the brutal conquest of native tribes in Latin America and elsewhere. The Bible also has several verses in which torture is an approved method of subjugation, persuasion, not to mention redemption, as well as endorsements of slavery.

How about scientific inquiry? Galileo Gallilei was banned from promoting the theory of heliocentrism, which is now well-established as scientific fact, by the Catholic Church and forced to comply with the Church’s declaration that heliocentrism was officially false. Nicolaus Copernicus also faced censure by the Catholic Church, with his book Revolutions banned by the Church. The Catholic Church burned Giordano Bruno for promoting the concept of exoplanets and generally contradicting Catholic doctrine. So needless to say it’s not got a great record on science. Not to mention, although some scientists like Isaac Newton would have considered their inquiry compatible with their faith on the grounds that both science and faith entailed the quest to discover and unlock the secrets of God’s creation, Christianity holds that it is a sin for Man to try and explain God’s mysteries because God is undefinable by nature. The Bible casts a man named Thomas in a negative light for doubting Jesus and asking for proof of his resurrection.

How about preserving the heritage of people? Not only did the Christians have a tendency to destroy pre-Christian cultural artifacts in Europe, destroying idols and temples and replacing them with Christian structures, but they also destroyed the cultural heritage of peoples outside Europe. When the Spanish Christian conquerors arrived upon the Mayan civilization, they not only abolished the native religion but also burned down most of the Maya Codices, thus destroying much of the literature of an entire people and destroying what could have been a source of knowledge on the culture and civilization of that people. The Inquisition in Goa burned many Indian texts, along with many Indians, predominantly Catholic converts who were accused of being crypto-Hindus. They also destroyed Buddhist artifacts that were seized by . There are many Saints in the Christian canon who are venerated for the destruction of former pre-Christian heritage, such as Saint Boniface and Junipero Serra. It should be noted, however, that the Christians didn’t always destroy the artefacts of the former culture. During the Renaissance, for example, artists in Christian Europe appropriated the literature and heritage of the pre-Christian classical world, often remaking them as symbols of Christian doctrine. However, those artists also faced pressure from the Church for supposedly promoting idolatry, heresy and lust, forcing the artists to justify their works within the framework of Christian dogma.

Finally, how about tolerance? Again, the Christian powers weren’t very good at that, what with destroying belief systems they found heretical. The Christian powers also frequently persecuted the Jews both racially and religiously, often expelled from the kingdoms they inhabited, and in Spain they were forced to choose between baptism and slavery.

A 17th century depiction of some youths throwing stones at a Jewish man during Lent

The argument that Christianity is the basis of Western culture can easily be disputed. Although Christianity is clearly an offshoot of Judaism and is thus based on Judaism, Western Christianity also layered aspects of Hellenic philosophy on top of it, reshaping them in its own image. The Logos is a title attributed to Jesus Christ within Christian contexts, and is generally used to refer to the word of God. The Logos also appears before Christianity in the writings of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, for whom Logos was the everlasting Word in which all things become united, and the ordering principle of the cosmos. The Logos was also held by the Stoics to be the animating principle pervading the cosmos, a portion of which is possessed by each individual, thus it is comparable to the Christian concept of the immortal divine soul. The Jews, by contrast, rejected the doctrine of the immortal soul, though in Jesus’ time some Jewish sects such as the Pharisees adopted the soul doctrine. Plato’s philosophy contained many ideas that would be characteristic of Christian philosophy. For instance, Plato considered there to be a division between matter and the soul, he believed in the existence of a divine, intelligent craftsman that he referred to as the Demiurge, he believed that the resultant creation comprised an imperfect but orderly cosmos, considered mortal existence to be a passing phase in the wider cosmic existence, and he believed that by sublimating irrational desires the individual can seek perfect purity and order.

Aristotle’s conception of the nameless Prime Mover can be seen as similar to the Christian conception of God in some respects, an eternal source of motion and cosmic order without defect (his rationale being that eternal things are always good and cannot possess defects), a being that never changes, has no beginning or end, and is an immaterial being whose activities are purely spiritual and intellectual. However, unlike the Christian God, this Prime Mover has no plan for anything that exists in his creation. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity was can be said to derive from Stoic philosophy to some degree through Seneca’s conception of a threefold divine power which “we sometimes call the All-ruling God, sometimes the incorporeal Wisdom, sometimes the holy Spirit, sometimes Destiny”. The concepts of Heaven and Hell have their Greek equivalents as well – the Elysian Fields was the realm were heroes, the righteous, and mortals related to or chosen by the gods would dwell in a blissful and happy afterlife with the gods, while Tartarus is the underworld where the rest go when they do, with all of the truly wicked and evil souls residing in the fiery pit of Tartarus. In general the concept of a transmission of a soul to an otherworldly plane after the death of the body occurs not just in Greek mythology, but several pre-Christian pagan traditions, as well as the monotheisitc religion of Zoroastrianism, whereas in Judaism there was no immortal soul and Sheol was the realm where all of the dead go regardless of moral conduct in an existence severed from life and from God.

Then there’s the little things. Many Christian Saints likely evolved from past pagan deities and figures, and others became the demons recorded within Christian demonology. The Saints also, in a sense, took on the function of the old tutelary deities, serving as the patrons of nations, cities, territories, activities, families, and other things, and they could also be prayed to for various favours, which may explain why many American Protestants and Evangelicals consider Catholicism to a pagan religion rather than a form of Christianity. The depiction of angels as winged humans isn’t entirely Biblical (Jewish tradition has all sorts of monstrous and chimeric visages for its angels), drawing instead from the Greek depictions of beings like Eros or Nike and Roman beings like Victoria. You can see this in the angelic statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus in London, depicted as a winged angel with a bow in the fashion of a mature version of the Roman Cupid, which was conveniently renamed The Angel of Christian Charity, or how in the Roman Senate all statues of Victoria were removed from the Senate to suit Christian sensibilities, except for one statue which possessed wings. Among the differing views on daemons in Greece, Plato’s view of them as spirits that watch each individual to whom they are allotted probably influenced the concept of a guardian angel that sometimes appears in Christian circles. In general, both the angels and the demons come from the concept of daemons. And of course, many holidays we celebrate have their basis in older pagan festivals. Christmas has its roots in Saturnalia and various Germanic festivals, and St Valentine’s Day has its links to the Roman festival of Lupercalia. Even Western marriage is said to come from the early Christian embrace of Roman weddings.

Eros as “The Angel of Christian Charity” in London

Much of Christianity as we know it derived its culture and philosophy from Greek and Roman philosophy and pagan religion, which it used to form a doctrine palatable to gentiles and generate a non-Jewish superstructure for a religion that was still ultimately Judaic at its base. Therefore, it doesn’t to sense to say that all of Western heritage comes from Christianity, when in reality the bedrock of such heritage was established before Christianity, mostly by Greek and Roman Hellenism. All the while, Christian power sometimes actively worked against the heritage it utilized to construct itself by destroying artifacts of Greek and Roman paganism and rejecting the principles of republican democratic governance they gave to the West.

However, to say that Western culture is Pagan culture would be anachronistic in the current context. Although the base of our cultural heritage is pre-Christian rather than Christian, things have evolved rather dramatically over the last few thousand years for European civilization, and now secularism makes up the current form of our culture, having shaped that which has come before and moved it away from strictly religious purpose. Rather than Western culture being Christian or Pagan in character, Western culture, like all others, exists as a dialectical, evolutionary continuum, wherein the form of what is considered culture and civilization modifies itself over time, sometimes gradually and sometimes radically, which the . The same condition goes for all of human history, a continuum upon itself, a continuum of our continual evolution and struggle for emancipation. It is ultimately this reason combined with the absence of anything resembling modern Western values in the Bible that I reject the argument for the Cultural Christian position, for it is arbitary to try and pigeonhole Western culture as Christian culture.

Of course there is the argument further still that Christianity was a beneficial force to the development of European civilization, and was instrumental in defending the continent from the march of Islam, especially during the Crusades. The reality, however, is quite different. The Teutonic Knights (a.k.a. The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem) often slaughtered their fellow Christians in Poland and raided the territories of Lithuania, forcing Poland and Lithuania wage war against them in the First Battle of Tannenburg. The Teutonic Knights also engaged in conquests of Orthodox Russia backed by the Catholic Church. In 1204, the Crusader armies sacked the Christian city of Constantinople, killing thousands of civilians, raping women, even nuns, pillaging churches and monasteries and smashing altars to their own God. As a result of such sacking, the Byzantine Empire was left weakened and unable to defend itself from the advance of neighboring Islamic forces, such as the Ottomans and the Sultanate of Rum. And of course, the Crusaders were known for massacring fellow Christians who followed a different sect, as happened to the Cathars during the Albigensian Crusade. Far from uniting Europeans under the Christianity, Christian power was simply the glue for a civilization that constantly went to war with itself under the auspices of the Catholic Church, with, ironically, the lives of fellow Christians crushed underfoot. And that’s not even counting the times they massacred pagan Europeans, such as in Verden.

Also, despite modern propaganda concerning how Europe’s Christian ancestors drove out Islam wherever it reared its ugly head, Christian powers in Europe actively collaborated with the Islamic Ottoman Empire during the 16th and 17th centuries, including England, France and Transylvania. Martin Luther was even somewhat sympathetic to Islam on the grounds that Islam rejected the veneration of images and opposed the Catholic Church. Islam was even tolerated by the Dutch at the tail-end of the 17th century, with Muslims being hosted in Dutch trading ports. So much for Deus Vult.

A depiction of the Sacking of Constantinople in 1204

So not only is it utterly arbitrary to attach Christianity and Christian power as the basis of Western civilization, and not only was Christian power ultimately the source of a lot of violent national and ethnic conflicts in Europe that resulted in thousands of deaths, but Christian power isn’t even the strong bulwark against Islam that traditionalist ideologues claim it to be, given that the Crusaders allowed for Islamic powers to make ingress into Europe and the Protestants were happy to ally with Islamic powers to the East in opposition to the Catholic Church. Christian power truly was a cannibalistic, self-destructive, self-betraying force in its day, on top of being tyrannical, regressive and intolerant. A force of barbarity to behold.

Finally, the Cultural Christian position often entails an attempt to justify conservative politics using religious scripture. But if you’ve ever taken even a cursory look at the Bible, you’ll soon become aware that the Bible is not a consistent political manifesto, and there are several different verses that can be used to justify any position across the political spectrum, even in cases where it doesn’t mean what the people invoking it says it means. In this context, Cultural Christianity for the most part becomes simply the secular version of the longstanding right-wing Christian trope of using an internally inconsistent and contradictory tome to justify their overarching politics.

In summary, the Cultural Christian position is a vanity. It neglects the reality that Christianity as we know it is largely a product of Hellenic ideas and philosophy mingling with apocalyptic Jewish faith, and the reality that history, culture and civilization are continuums compounding upon themselves to start with. It neglects the barbarous reality of Christian power. Its assumptions about the relation between Christianity and Western values are not actually supported by history or even the Bible, and are the work of pure propaganda and pure ideology. It exists solely as the result of a contradiction of having a conservative mindset towards religion and culture within a Western Christian context but being unable to believe in God or the supernatural claims of Christianity. It, frankly, serves to appeal to the feelings of not just Christians (many of whom reject Cultural Christianity anyway because it’s not really belief in God and Jesus) but also the atheists who hold this position because, for some reason, they feel that Christianity equals The West (which, by the way, also dovetails nicely with dumb right-wing political thought concerning the “clash of civilizations”). If someone tells you that he/she is a Cultural Christian, feel free to laugh at such a person. They deserve it.

Two theories regarding the Asuras

A while ago someone named Kabirvaani left an interesting comment on one of my very old posts about the Asuras, suggesting that page 300 of James Houghton Woods’ book The Yoga System of Patanjali references an Asura as the bringer of a psychotropic drug that confers enlightenment upon those who imbibe it. Intrigued, I decided to investigate the idea and searched for the book’s text, and found an online source for the book. While researching this subject, I decided to make this post about two subjects. The first is the subject proposed by Kabirvaani concerning the Asuras and psychotropic drugs, the second is a different theory proposed by another blogger named Kata no Kokoro, who suggested, commenting on another post, that the post-Vedic conception of the Asuras might be based on the philosophy of Carvaka – a school of Indian philosophy based on epistomological materialism – with the intent of demonizing that philosophy on contrast to the religious idealism of most Hindu schools and the authority of the Vedas. We will deal with both these subjects in the same post, to save me bothering with two separate posts.

 

The Asura maidens and their magic drugs

Before we get to what page 300 of The Yoga System of Patanjali has to say, let’s look at what the page before it has to say on the subject of how “Perfections proceed from birth or from drugs or from spells or from self-castigation or from concentration”.

1. The power of having another body is the perfection by birth.

2. [Perfection] by drugs is by an elixir-of-life [got] in the mansions of the demons, and by the like.

3. By spells, such as the acquisition of [the power of] passing through space and atomization [iii. 45].

4. [Perfection] by self-castigation is the perfection of the will, the faculty of taking on any form at will (kamarupin) [or] of going anywhere at will, and so on.

5. Perfections proceeding from concentration have been explained.

Note the second part. Apparently there’s an aspect of Indian yoga wherein a yogi can attain “perfection” through an elixir obtained through in “the mansions of the demons”. Who are the demons exactly? Of course, it is none of than the Asuras, the grand enemies of the Devas. From page 300:

2. He describes the perfection which proceeds from drugs. A human being when for some cause or other he reaches the mansions of the demons (asura), and when he makes use of elixirs-of-life brought to him by the lovely damsels of the demons, attains to agelessness and to deathlessness and to other perfections. Or [this perfection may be had] by the use of an elixir-of-life in this very world. As for instance the sage Mandavya, who dwelt on the Vindhyas and who made use of potions.

Regarding the lovely damsels of the demons, doing some digging I find that Vedic mythology does attest to female Asuras having knowledge of mystical plants and herbs. In the hymns of the Atharvaveda, specifically Book 7, there is a hymn that references a group of entities named the Asuri, who seduce the deity Indra by means of a magic herb.

“I dig this Healing Herb that makes my lover look on me and weep,
That bids the parting friend return and kindly greets him as he comes.
This Herb wherewith the Asuri drew Indra downward from the Gods,
With this same Herb I draw thee close that I may be most dear to thee.
Thou art the peer of Soma, yea, thou art the equal of the Sun,
The peer of all the Gods art thou: therefore we call thee hitherward.
I am the speaker here, not thou: speak thou where the assembly meets.
Thou shalt be mine and only mine, and never mention other dames.
If thou art far away beyond the rivers, far away from men,
This Herb shall seem to bind thee fast and bring thee back my prisoner.”

– Hymn XXXVIII of the Atharvaveda

The Asuri is said to refer either to a specific entity whose identity is unknown, or a group of beings. In either case, Asuri is simply the feminine pronoun of Asura, hence Asuri refers to female semi-divine or demonic beings. According to Nagendra Kr. Singh in Vedic Mythology, the Asuras were very knowledgeable on matters of magic and medicine and their women knew how to use magical and medicinal plants. They were said to hide such medicines under the ground so that the Devas could not find them.

So, while I have been unable to locate the female Asura I was referred to, I do learn that female Asuras are associated with magical plants within Vedic mythology. This establishes a mythological basis for the maidens of demons bringing the elixir of life in The Yoga System of Patanjali. There is definitely a tradition with Indian mythology wherein the Asuras provide magic medicines, which could have been extrapolated into what is described in the book.

Taw Waes Suwan Asura Deva Carrying Amrita by Ajarn Saeng Apidej

We can perhaps think of the Asuras within Vedic mythology as possible sources of enlightenment through psychotropics, at least insofar as the premise of enlightenment through drugs is concerned. Of course, this is only within the older Vedic Hinduism. Since the Asuras are treated as demonic in post-Vedic Hinduism, this idea is probably treated as some kind of demonolatry by modern Hindus.

 

Carvaka and the Asuras

Carvaka (often spelled Charvaka), also known as Lokayata, is a school of Indian philosophy that rejects theism, reincarnation, karma, the soul or Atman and Moksha, and viewed the best means of acquiring as being not from revelation or religious scripture but through direct perception via the senses and through the practice of empiricism. Such a view is recognizable in the Western world as materialism or naturalism, and is associated with contemporary atheism. It was said to have been developed by a Vedic sage named Brihaspati at around 600 BCE. Curiously enough, Brihaspati is also the name of a planetary deity, the patron of the planet Jupiter, who was consider the guru of the Devas and related to the fire deity Agni.

There is a myth within the Upanishads in which Brihaspati is said to have created the Carvaka doctrine in order to deceive the Asuras. According to the Seventh Prapathaka of the Maitrayaniya Upanishad:

Brihaspati, having become Sukra, brought forth that false knowledge for the safety of Indra and for the destruction of the Asuras. By it they show that good is evil, and that evil is good. They say that we ought to ponder on the (new) law, which upsets the Veda and the other sacred books. Therefore let no one ponder on that false knowledge: it is wrong, it is, as it were, barren. Its reward lasts only as long as the pleasure lasts, as with one who has fallen from his caste. Let that false science not be attempted, for thus it is said:
(1) Widely opposed and divergent are these two, the one known as false knowledge, the other as knowledge. I (Yama) believe Nakiketas to be possessed by a desire of knowledge; even many pleasures do not move thee.
(2) He who knows at the same time both the imperfect (sacrifice, &c.) and the perfect knowledge (of the Self), he crosses death by means of the imperfect, and obtains immortality by means of the perfect knowledge.
(3) Those who are wrapped up in the midst of imperfect knowledge, fancying themselves alone wise and learned, they wander about floundering and deceived, like the blind led by the blind.

Sukra might be a reference to Shukra, or Shukracharya, who if you remember from my second Mythological Spotlight was the guru of the Asuras and the planetary deity of Venus. Indeed, Sukra is the Indian name for the planet Venus. It might be suggested that Brihaspati took the appearance of Sukra in order to deceive the Asuras into believing what were deemed false teachings, presumably to undermine their ability to defeat the Devas in battle in order to help the Devas defeat them. It is not certain if the Brihaspati mentioned in the Upanishad, but it is commonly held that the deity Brihaspati and the human Brihaspati are separate entities, which would make sense given it is unlikely that the Devas would have sincerely believed in materialist philosophy. Given this and the ability of the Upanishadic Brihaspati to transform into Shukra and his imperative on behalf of the Devas, I suspect that the Brihaspati referred to here is probably the planetary deity and not the human sage.

Brihaspati (the planetary deity, not the sage)

The Padma Purana also contains a dialogue in which Rudra (or Shiva) refers to Brihaspati as the one who proclaims the “much censured” doctrine of Carvaka. In the same text, Buddhism is also referred to as a false doctrine, proclaimed by an incarnation of Vishnu, and that Rudra proclaimed a “pseudo-Buddhist” doctrine referred to as Maya. Rudra also says that he ordered a man named Jaimimi to expound the doctrine of Purva Mimamsa – a doctrine that, while it seemingly endorses the authority of the Vedas, holds that the material universe to be endless and without liberation – which Rudra describes as stating godlessness and invalidating the Vedas. It is established here that the Hindu deities go out of their way to, within the context of the lore, deceive the enemies of the Devas by promoting Nastika doctrines (that is, doctrines that go against or contradict Vedic scripture, typically atheistic philosophies, thus heretical doctrines within the context of Hinduism) in order that they might defeat and destroy them.

Another example of this happening with regards to Jainism is when Vishnu sent a teacher named Mayamoha to teach the Asuras the Jain religion in order to that they could be defeated. The rationale behind such a theme seems to be twofold: (1) the Asuras are strengthened by following the Vedas and performing the proper rituals and penances, hence they lose power when they reject the Vedas, which serves to paint the Vedic religion as imparting power to believers, and (2) the non-Vedic religions are treated as so wicked and false that clearly they are either the doctrines of demons or tricks from the gods designed to weaken their enemies.

This theme is echoed in the Puranic myth of the Tripurasura, a group of three Asuras (Vidyunmali, Tarakshaka and Viryavana) who were the sons of Tarakasura. After the three Asuras perform a series of religious austerities known as tapasyas, Brahma grants them the following reward: they will live for a thousand years in three palaces for each of them – one made of  gold, one made of silver, and one made of iron – which reside in different realms (one in heaven, one in the sky, and one on the earth) and align every thousand years, and can only be destroyed by an arrow that can penetrate the three realms when the palaces align. The Devas, feeling threatened by a bunch of Asuras having that much clout, appeal to the Trimurti to destroy them. Brahma refuses on the grounds that it was he who granted them the boon to begin with, and Shiva refuses because he saw that they weren’t doing anything wrong, but Vishnu comes up with a plan to trick them into becoming non-believers in order to justify their destruction. He creates a man out of himself, whom he named Arihat. Arihat was shaven and wore dirty clothes, thus he had the appearance of a bald ascetic monk. Arihat was instructed to teach the Tripurasura a religion that contradicts the Vedas – one which holds that there is no afterlife, that heaven and hell exist only on Earth and that there is no reward or punishment in any life after this one. After this, Shiva destroys the Tripurasura and their palaces once they align. Given the description of a lack of an afterlife and the emphasis on this world within this belief system, it is very likely that the “false religion” in this story is none other than Carvaka.

Shiva destroys the Tripurasura and their palaces

Another myth within the Mahabharata (specifically Book 12) describes a being named Charvaka, who is identified as either an Asura or a Rakshasa, who was believed to have impersonated one of the Brahmanas in order to accuse the Pandava prince Yudhishthira of killing his kin.

A little while after when the Brahmanas had become silent, a Rakshasa of the name of Charvaka, who had disguised himself as a Brahmana, addressed the king. He was a friend of Duryodhana and stood therein the garb of a religious mendicant. With a rosary, with a tuft of hair on his head, and with the triple staff in his hand, he stood proudly and fearlessly in the midst of all those Brahmanas that had come there for pronouncing benedictions (upon the king), numbering by thousands, O king, and all of whom were devoted to penances and vows. That wicked wight, desirous of evil unto the high-souled Pandavas and without having consulted those Brahmanas, said these words unto the king.’

“Charvaka said, ‘All these Brahmanas, making me their spokesman, are saying, ‘Fie on thee! Thou art a wicked king. Thou art a slayer of kinsmen. What shalt thou gain, O son of Kunti, by having thus exterminated thy race? Having slain also thy superiors and preceptor, it is proper for thee to cast away thy life.’ Hearing these words of that wicked Rakshasa the Brahmanas there became deeply agitated. Stung by that speech, they made a loud uproar. And all of them, with king Yudhishthira. O monarch, became speechless from anxiety and shame.’

When the real Brahmanas revealed his ruse, Charvaka was killed by their utterance of the Hun sound, the sound of Brahma. It is possible that the demon Charvaka was a demonization of the Carvaka school, a way of painting adherents of Carvaka as liars who deceive the public and impersonate the pious. However, this would depend on when the Mahabharata was compiled and published, given that the Mahabharata is likely to have been written at around 400 CE, many centuries after the emergence of the Carvaka school.

Finally, let’s look at the Upanishadic myth of Virochana, son of the Asura Prahlada, who together with Indra sought out the creator deity Prajapati to learn about the nature of Atman, the divine self or soul in Hindu theology. According to the Chandogya Upanishad, the two deities sought out his wisdom on the promise that whoever found it would gain the possessions of all worlds. After staying with Prajapati as his disciples and living the lives of Brahmacharis (as in, men who pursue Brahman) for 32 years, Prajapati tells both Indra and Virochana of the Atman and instructs them to see their reflections in a pan of water. After seeing their reflections, they left and relayed the revelations they believed themselves to attained. Virochana returned to the Asuras and told them that he learned that the body and the Atman are one and the same and thus the bodily self should be glorified, while Indra thought this was wrong, went to Prajapati for clarification twice before spending yet another 32 years with him as a Brahmachari, then another 5 years, before finally Prajapati told him:

“This body is subject to death yet it embodies the deathless and bodiless Atman. This embodied Self falls into the trap of all dualities like pleasure and pain, but the bodiless Atman is not touched by any duality. So long as the Atman resides in the body and attaches itself to them he seems limited and restricted, but again when freed from the body becomes one with the infinite spirit. When the Atman leaves the body, goes wandering freely in the infinite worlds. The eye, the ear, the senses, the mind are there only in order that the Atman may see and hear and think. It is on account of Atman and in the Atman that the things and beings exist. He is the Truth and the final repository of all existence.”

Indra comes to believe the doctrine of the Atman as the ultimate truth, as divine consciousness that embodies itself in the flesh in order to perceive the world and is freed from the body to wander infinity after the death of the body, while Virochana comes to believe that the bodily self is the self itself and the object of concern and reverence. Since Carvaka holds that consciousness exists only within the body, it is pretty likely that the doctrine Virochana and the Asuras learn is materialism, the doctrine of Carvaka.

To close this post, it’s worth noting the old Vedic character of the Asuras. As I’ve pointed out here many times before, Asura was once technically a title applied to the Vedic deities themselves, denoting the power, strength and might of the deity. They were sometimes also thought of as a semi-divine class of beings who were neither good nor bad, and possess the magical powers of maya. After some time though, as the old form of the Vedic religion got displaced by the new form of Hinduism, which was based on the Puranas and the Upanishads (which still claimed the authority of the Vedas as sacred mind you), Asura changed from a signifier of divine might, to a class of morally ambiguous semi-divine beings, to class of anti-divine beings if not outright a class of demons who are often materialistic. Perhaps this association with materialist doctrines stems from the conflict between orthodox Vedic Brahmanism and the emergent Nastika doctrines, such as Jainism, Buddhism, and Carvaka, as well as Tantric schools of Hinduism, not to mention the rise of a new form of Hinduism based on the Upanishads that sought to change the character of Hinduism.

The devas, possibly representing orthodoxy, pull Vasuki’s tail, the asuras, possibly representing heterodoxy, pull Vasuki’s heads.

As Hinduism was dealing with the Nastika doctrines, it made sense that, in order to maintain the authority of theistic Hindu doctrine, the Brahmanists and Upanishadists sought out to ridicule the Nastika doctrines, especially Carvaka. It also possible that they destroyed most first-person sources on Carvaka (that is, texts written by its adherents rather than its detractors), given the dearth of texts and information on Carvaka. Essentially, the new Brahmanists demonized the materialist doctrine, and other Nastika doctrines, by positioning them as doctrines believed by demons (Asuras and Rakshasas), often through the deceptions of the Devas and the Trimurti. The Asuras in and of themselves are not based on Carvaka, but the Carvaka doctrine became somewhat affixed to the Asuras through the Puranic and Upanishadic myths.

Thanks to Kabirvaani of Shivahaoma and Hata no Kokoro for providing the inspiration for this post

On the “Satanism is all about being a decent person” canard

It might surprise you to know that I don’t talk a great deal about my religion in public life, or at least not as much as you’d expect from an avowed Satanist. However, I occasionally do talk about Satanism to people who aren’t Satanists. I’ve even talked to friends of mine who happen to be Christians about the subject, and strangely enough the ones I’ve talked to aren’t nearly as judgmental as one might expect. When I talk about Satanism, I sometimes come across people who tell me about Satanists they know in their lives who have displeased them because they act in ways that lend to them being considered ignorant teenage edgelords. One argument they tell me they’ve come across from these people is the argument that Satanism is just about being rational and treating people with respect and “basic human values”, whatever that means – and sometimes I hear this argument from people who criticize Satanism as just atheism in a costume, citing invariably the tenets of The Satanic Temple (which is not even a Satanist, but rather an atheist organization pretending to be a Satanist one).

I’m just going to say this right out of the gate: Satanism is not as simple as “basic human values”. Anyone who tells you that it is is either grossly oversimplifying the tenets of Satanism, at least as defined by Anton LaVey, or is modelling his/her assessment of Satanism off of The Satanic Temple, which is literally just a satirical atheist political organization. Rather, at its very simplest, Satanism is about Satan: the archetype of, among other things, instinct, the carnal or “dark” aspects of Man – typically in opposition to forces that would seek its constraint or repression – the adversary, or simple the Shadow in the Jungian sense. For Satanists, that archetype is often represented by the Satan of John Milton – the angel who rejected God’s will, not favoring his yoke and instead seeking to rule his own kingdom (as in, “better reign to Hell than serve in Heaven”). As there are many versions of Satanism out there (no, Church of Satan, the rest of Satanism is not just edgy Christians looking to larp as devil worshipers), and given that many Satanists don’t typically expect other Satanists to just accept their own variation of the doctrine, every Satanist has a different way of interpreting this archetype, let alone what Satanism is. But if the essence of Satanism can be reduced to anything, it’s this archetype. The common theme to this archetype can best be described as the angel of the dark side who embodies the freedom of the self to pursue aspects of the self that are otherwise kept under lock and key by the superego, or proscribed by (typically) “the laws of God”. It doesn’t quite matter if you’re a more of a humanistic (for lack of a better word) for whom the point of Satanism is to put Man (via the human self) at the center, or if you’re a more theistic Satanist who worships Satan as a deity embodying what I described earlier, or if you’re one of those anti-cosmics who believes that Satan embodies liberation from the universe itself because it was supposedly created by the Demiurge. In some way, each form of Satanism presents its own take on the archetype, but it’s usually not too far away from the general idea (unless it’s in the form of a Satan that is basically just a substitute for the God you rejected).

As I said before, it’s also not a fluffy, liberal egalitarian religion at all. We believe that we’re all different, we recognize that the strong rule the weak and the clever rule the strong, and we try to pursue the idea of the master morality, through the lens of our dark archetype. We desire to be the strongest, the cleverest, the best, without the fetters of the Right Hand Path.

I don’t think I need to elaborate much further. I have already done lengthy posts on the subject of what Satanism is and isn’t and I will put links to all of them at the bottom if you want to read them. But I hope you get the picture. Satanism is not just “basic human values”, whatever you define them to be.

Anton LaVey in one of those classical Satanic ceremonies

What is authentic Satanic philosophy: https://mythoughtsbornfromfire.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/what-is-authentic-satanic-philosophy/

The Church of Satan vs The Satanic Temple: https://mythoughtsbornfromfire.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/the-church-of-satan-vs-the-satanic-temple/

Lucien Greaves responds to the Church of Satan, and it’s a lame response

So it appears that Douglas Misicko (might as well drop the formality of calling him Lucien Greaves) has responded to the article put out by the Church of Satan pertaining certain facts regarding the Satanic Temple and its formation. This will be a point by point response to the article in question. As with the last post I will leave a link to the article at the end of the post. I will also leave a link to the Church of Satan’s article again at the end of the post as well as a show of good faith. Like last time, I must stress that this is going to be a long ass post, as is necessary to cover all of the main points, in fact, you’ll find that it’s even longer than the last post, so buckle up if you want to read this one.

Anyhow, without any foreplay, let’s do this.

Yesterday, the Church of Satan released a so-called “fact sheet” related to The Satanic Temple. While I typically don’t reply to the insults and laughable claims of exclusive authenticity put forward by the CoS, this fact-sheet is so egregiously cherry-picked, willfully misinformed, and outright false, that it demands correction. Most of the “facts” on the fact sheet seem to suggest that the author believes that because The Satanic Temple (TST) began with lower ambitions, and that because TST wasn’t originally conceived to be a centrally governed international religious organization, it somehow still isn’t, and the original concept must still be the “real” TST.

You seem like a capable mind reader, being able guess the author’s true intentions. Of course, not really, but don’t let that spoil you. But your ambitions were different, and I would argue they could well be described as “lower” than your current ambitions. What is a generic secular protest movement against George W Bush compared to a campaign to build an entire “religious” movement around a form of Satanism that doesn’t like the actual Satanism in order to take America by storm? That said, I’m not entirely sure where you get the idea that accusations are cherry-picked, willfully misinformed or outright false. The corroboration for these claims is out there and they’ve put it in the article.

In fact, we’ve been quite open in interviews regarding the origins of TST, and neither me nor TST’s other co-founder had the audacity to imagine in the beginning that TST could be what it is today. We wanted an active and relevant Satanism, one that would do exactly the things that TST are doing presently. We didn’t need an organization to tell us how to think, how to properly be “true” Satanists, or as a mere social club in which we could construct ourselves into the highest ranks of a false hierarchy. We wanted an organization that served a mission statement and pursued organizational goals. Of course, we didn’t have one, and the idea of constructing one from the ground up seemed a lofty delusion, but we had plenty of ideas of what such an organization would do.

As we will go on to explore later on in the article, the part about you wanting any kind of Satanism simply isn’t true. You’re using Satanism as a costume for your own ends, but you don’t even give a shit about the Satanic Bible enough to make it a core part of your teachings, much less insist that people who ascended the ranks of your organization know anything about it.

Also, you give people fancy titles like High Priest or Reverend in your organization, per Brian Werner’s testimony. You are in no position to complain about the evils of hierarchy. And, constructing missions statements from the ground up is a lofty delusion now? There’s a politician out there who almost become Prime Minister in the Netherlands on the back of a one page manifesto. What’s your excuse?

Without membership and without any desire to recruit or convert, we imagined that we would demonstrate Satanic activism ourselves, putting small-scale campaigns to film, and that those films (or that film) would inspire others to fly the banner of The Satanic Temple and take up similar Satanic causes. The idea was that — with various competing concepts in Modern Satanism — TST would be a unifying umbrella without a central authority, that would be defined by its activism for secularism and against Satan Panic witch-hunts, for pluralism and against theocratic encroachments into the public square. We imagined TST would be more like Anonymous in its decentralized activities than anything resembling the international religious movement it’s become. But while TST changed, our deeply-held beliefs and identification as Satanists — which predated TST — never did.

That’s a funny of saying you went out of your way to make a satirical documentary for what was intended to be a fake religion, a fictitious Satanic cult modeled after theistic Satanist ideals rather than the dolled up atheism you call your current theology. You still seem to see your organization as focusing on political activism with political goals, and honestly, that you compare yourself to Anonymous is, for me at least, not to your credit (read: Anonymous is a joke).

And at this point he starts talking about the specific points raised in the article.

The “fact sheet” begins by saying “The Satanic Temple is a self described ‘Yes Men’ styled satire/activist group that uses satanic-themed imagery and language to get media and public attention.” Already, the piece flatly lies to its readers. The “Yes Men” parallel refers to an interview I did in Vice when I talked about the style of activism, but I was also very clear that we’re very much a religious organization with sincere beliefs, nor is the “use” of “satanic-themed imagery and language” a mere ploy “to get media and public attention.” As I said in the interview, “I believe that where reason fails to persuade, satire and mockery prevail. Whereas many religious groups seem to eschew humor, we embrace it.”

Well it’s not flatly lying to the readers, actually. You’re a culture jamming movement. You troll people or institutions that promote Christianity in a public capacity, and you as you admitted, openly admit to embracing satire as a means of activism. That’s why you’re comparable to the Yes Men. Because the two of you are, in spirit at least, doing the same thing.

The fact sheet then goes on to claim that we don’t have any deeply-held beliefs. This is a perplexing statement, clearly and provably untrue, that leads one to wonder if the author couldn’t be moved to check our website or various legal suits (argued, as they are, as a defense of our clearly stated deeply-held beliefs).

It’s one thing to throw what you think your beliefs are out there for all to see, but that on its own doesn’t mean much. Your actions are important to the world than your arguments ever could be, which isn’t to say that you’ve never actually acted on your beliefs. You know what, that’s one credit I’ll give to you here. Fair play.

Then we get into “the facts”:

 

  1. In 2013, Spectacle Films ran ads looking to cast characters for a mockumentary about a fake religion, that film was to be titled “The Satanic Temple” — the casting director was listed as “Lucien Greaves.” [newsbusters.org | doubtfulnews.com | miamiherald.typepad.com | ritualabuse.us]

 

The first public appearance TST ever made was in a rally in support of Florida Governor Rick Scott as he signed a bill allowing for prayer in school. The cheering evangelists, we knew, would think twice if Satanists applauded their increased “liberty.” This, of course, was when we wanted to inspire Satanists to take on causes that would help preserve and expand their personal liberties, but we had no membership. While there was a casting call to try and populate the rally, the “fact sheet” flatly lies when it states that ads were ran “for a mockumentary about a fake religion.” Satanism was never treated as or regarded to be a “fake religion” by TST.

You had no membership but somehow had enough people to hold a mock rally “supporting” Rick Scott. Yeah, I’ll believe that. But seriously, when you say “Satanism was never treated as or regarded to be a “fake religion” by TST”, you’re being disingenuous. The fake religion isn’t Satanism. It’s the fictitious sect *of* Satanism that’s fake, or was at first. Or maybe the sect being fake was just an elaborate hoax as well. Satanism is not you people, you have to understand that.

By the way, this still doesn’t convince me that you’re not out to troll evangelical Christians, just saying. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, other than the fact that you’re being dishonest about it.

  1. Launched in 2013, The Satanic Temple’s (TST) website claimed to believe in and worship a literal Satan. The TST trademark filing contains documents that have these claims as well. [web.archive.org | bizapedia.com]

False. Under the original limited conception of TST, the activism was primary, not narrowly-defined concepts of what Satanism is imagined to be universally for all people. To that end, we didn’t put a fine point upon our beliefs, but in one segment of the website we spoke of our non-supernaturalism in theological terms. “God” is consigned to the supernatural, thus removed from the real world and outside of our area of belief and/or interest. Satan is emblematic of critical discourse and scientific exploration. By the logic of the CoS’s own “fact sheet” we could also conclude that Anton LaVey’s The Satanic Bible, which they take a fundamentalist pride in upholding as the one true definition of Satanism, is a decidedly theistic text for the abuse it heaps upon the character of “God.”

To quote the section of your website the article was talking about:

The Satanic Temple believes that God is supernatural and thus outside of the sphere of the physical. God’s perfection means that he cannot interact with the imperfect corporeal realm. Because God cannot intervene in the material world, He created Satan to preside over the universe as His proxy. Satan has the compassion and wisdom of an angel. Although Satan is subordinate to God, he is mankind’s only conduit to the dominion beyond the physical. In addition, only Satan can hear our prayers and only Satan can respond. While God is beyond human comprehension, Satan desires to be known and knowable. Only in this way can there be justice and can life have meaning.

So God creating Satan to rule over the universe as his proxy with the compassion and wisdom of an angel is just a metaphor for critical discourse and scientific discourse, rather than basically a rehashing of Gnostic and Yazidi beliefs that exists to play into the role of a fictitious theistic sect? This sounds like an utterly post-hoc rationalization of a statement you put out 4 years ago as part of the act.

Also, by your logic, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, three of the Four Horsemen of New Atheism, are theists as well, on the grounds that they talk about the character of God as an utterly malignant and tyrannical personality. Is this really the point you intend to make? Anyone with an anti-theist sentiment is really a theist simply by dint of talking about God in a negative light, all because you don’t like that the Church of Satan put out a statement from your website that is decidedly theistic in character?

  1. TST Co-founder Malcolm Jarry (not his real name) has stated that TST was originally conceived as a backlash to US President Bush-era “religious protections.” [nytimes.com]

Well, why not? In the George W. Bush era it became quite apparent that other religions needed to challenge Christian exceptionalism. It is unclear what this “fact” is attempting to establish. Again, an organization should serve an organizational purpose

So, just to be clear, you’re essentially admitting that’s what it is. You aren’t refuting anything here, in fact you’ve ceded this point to the Church of Satan. You basically admitted here that your original purpose was political activism.

  1. Now credited as co-founder and spokesperson, “Lucien Greaves” is in fact a character that has been played by several people, including an unnamed actor, Shane Bugbee and currently by Doug Mesner (not his real name). Shane Bugbee was paid by Spectacle Films for his work with TST. There is a yet unnamed 3rd TST co-founder. [shanebugbee.com]

False. There is not a word of truth to this entire statement. Nobody has “played” Lucien Greaves. Lucien Greaves is a pseudonym I used, and still use, as it was hoped I could retain some protective layer of anonymity when challenging religious zealots who threaten harm and death upon me. Incidentally, “Anton LaVey,” too, was a pseudonym. There is no 3rd co-founder, Shane Bugbee never “played the role” of Lucien Greaves, nor was he ever paid for doing so. The only evidence of this that the “fact sheet” provides is a personal blog, leading one to wonder if the CoS will begin citing Satanic Panic “ritual abuse” paranoiacs in their desperation to discredit us. (They get there at point 9.)

This would be believable if you presented any concrete proof of that statement. Now it is true that the primary evidence for this claim is a personal blog, but where’s your proof exactly? Have you any proof that Shane is lying? Also, it is quite something that you compare just citing Shane’s personal blog to citing an SRA believer. It shows how low you value Shane’s word. And here I thought you were friends.

  1. In a 2013 Vice interview “Doug Mesner” says that TST is satire and states that it is “like a darker Yes Men.”  [vice.com]

 

It’s amazing that the author of the “fact sheet” managed to bypass or fail to understand the entire surrounding text of the interview. It was as follows:

 

VICE: Is the Satanic Temple a satanic, or a satirical group?

 

Doug: That is a common question. I say why can’t it be both? We are coming from a solid philosophy that we absolutely believe in and adhere to. This is Satanism, and to us it couldn’t be called anything other than Satanism. However, our metaphor of Satan is a literary construct inspired by authors such as Anatole France and Milton—a rebel angel defiant of autocratic structure and concerned with the material world. Satanism as a rejection of superstitious supernaturalism. This Satan, of course, bears no resemblance to the embodiment of all cruelty, suffering, and negativity believed in by some apocalyptic segments of Judeo-Christian culture[emphasis added]. The word Satan has no inherent value. If one acts with compassion in the name of Satan, one has still acted with compassion. Our very presence as civic-minded socially responsible Satanists serves to satirize the ludicrous superstitious fears that the word Satan tends to evoke.

 

Reminds me of a darker version of the Yes Men.

 

Yes. Just as the Yes Men use very catching theatrical ploys to draw attention to a progressive agenda, we play upon people’s irrational fears in a way that hopefully causes them to reevaluate what they think they know, redefine arbitrary labels, and judge people for their concrete actions. I believe that where reason fails to persuade, satire and mockery prevail. Whereas many religious groups seem to eschew humor, we embrace it.

In the first part of the segment of the interview you quoted, you do indeed attempt to pass yourself off as a sincere form of Satanism. But as soon as Shane had you pegged as a Yes Men style group, you essentially admitted that, yes, you are employing the same satire as them and for political activism.

  1. In a 2014 Village Voice article “Malcolm Jerry” is outed as the filmmaker Cevin Soling, owner of Spectacle Films.  [villagevoice.com].

 

There’s no point in this “fact” other than a low attempt at “doxxing.”

Except it’s not. Putting an article out that was already released 3 years ago with the name there is a strange form of revealing someone’s private information yourself (that’s what doxing is by the way, which he also doesn’t seem to know how to spell properly) if you ask me. More to the point he doesn’t seem to be refuting this point at all. Why doesn’t he just show how Malcolm Jarry isn’t actually Cevin Soling and that Shane Bugbee and the Church of Satan are lying instead of just attack the morality of the information being put in the article and going no further from there?

  1. Spectacle Films has documented most major TST public events. [duckduckgo.com]

 

False. This isn’t true, nor does the citation support the claim. The idea for an activist film that would inspire grassroots identification with a non-centralized TST was abandoned very early in our history, after the Rick Scott rally, when we soon began organizing real adherents to our philosophy who wished to work directly with us in building the formidable institution we’ve become.

To your credit, Joel Ethan could have just put links to specific articles rather than just a link to search engine. But if you click the link you’d find that claim isn’t strictly true. Spectacle Films was there for your adopt-a-highway campaign, as well as the Pink Mass where you held a gay wedding over the grave site of Fred Phelp’s mother, not to mention the Rick Scott rally. These were pretty high profile events for your group.

  1. 10 years before TST, “Doug Mesner” produced illustrations for an edition of Might Is Right, published by Shane Bugbee (who was a Church of Satan member at the time) with an introduction by Anton LaVey, founder of the CoS, and afterword by Peter H. Gilmore, current High Priest of the CoS. Originally published in 1890, Might Is Right is cited and paraphrased in LaVey’s 1969 book The Satanic Bible, which is universally accepted by religious scholars as the founding document of the religion Satanism. In the following years “Mesner” would often appear on Radio Free Satan, an internet radio show closely connected to the CoS. [archive.org | shanebugbee.com | cimminneeholt.com]

It is really unclear why this “fact” is included, as it seems to contradict everything that the “fact sheet” itself attempts to establish, which prior to this point in the “fact sheet” seemed to be the notion that TST and myself have no real attachment to Satanism. What we see here is acknowledgment that long before TST I did, in fact, familiarize myself with a wide variety of Satanist identifiers. Was this just thrown in as a way to merely not ignore it, and in an effort to pretend that the author confronted any dissonance it may provoke?

To me it suggests that you did have an interest in Satanism at a certain point, but it is evident to me that, at a later point, you rejected Satanic philosophy because of its decided non-egalitarian outlook, which was influenced by Ragnar Redbeard. What they are acknowledging is not what you are, but what you used to be.

  1. The original TST website listed Neil Bricke as the founder. This was apparently a smear campaign that was removed a few months later, as Neil Bricke is actually the founder of SMART, who has had a longstanding public feud with “Doug Mesner,” an alias used since the mid 1990’s by Douglas Misicko. [ritualabuse.us | returntothepit.com | ritualabuse.us | web.archive.org]

Neil Brick claims to believe that he was a brain-washed Illuminati supersoldier who was abused by Satanists/the CIA/Freemasons only to completely “repress” the memories of those episodes and recall them later. This is the “fact sheet’s” source, and the CoS now seems to object to the very idea of this anti-Satanist’s alleged mistreatment.

How the hell is this a refutation of their claim? I get it. Neil Brick is an unreliable source. In fact, I talked about two articles you wrote in the last post I did to show how crazy Neil Brick and his SMART organization is, which I did to your credit to show that you are correct. But how the whole does that make this particular claim incorrect? You didn’t address the veracity of the evidence in any way other than by saying he has terrible opinions. Imagine if someone like me rejected the claims in one of your sources solely on the grounds that it’s a left-wing rag like The Independent. You’d probably call me out for it, no? It seems to me that you can’t actually refute the claim being brought because you know it’s actually true. I mean you could have just said you did it as a joke or something to that effect and it wouldn’t be so bad.

  1. “The Satanic Temple” is a registered Trademark of United Federation of Churches LLC, which is listed as registered to Douglas Misicko, 519 Somerville Ave., No 288, Somerville, MA 02143-3238. Reason Alliance LTD is a religious non-profit also registered to Douglas Misicko at the same address. [bizapedia.com | bizapedia.com/ma/united-federation-of-churches-llc.html | irsexempt.com | taxexemptworld.com]

It seems that some people, never entering into the real world battle for the protection of individual rights, advocating for Satanists, are not aware of the dangers of having one’s name and address published. Or, they merely try to “dox” those whom they feel are upstaging them.

Again, you aren’t being doxed in this instance. The links posted in their article consist only of information that is publicly available on the Internet. Joel Ethan didn’t steal your personal information out from under you or anything like that. If the Church of Satan did do that, I would actually be taking your side on this issue. But they didn’t. And again, you haven’t refuted a damn thing. All you’ve done is attack the claim on the grounds that you think it’s a morally bad claim. Almost as if you can’t actually show how the evidence being put forward is false.

  1. Reason Alliance LTD paid bills for, and provided 501c3 documentation in support of, TST’s After School Satan Club in Seattle, however their own website claims they do not believe religious organizations should be tax exempt. [judicialwatch.org | judicialwatch.org | freebeacon.com | afterschoolsatan.com]

This point seems to indicate that the author of the “fact sheet” is unaware of how organizations operate and the difference between a standard 501c3 and a religious tax exemption. In fact, we are an LLC with a 501c3 where donors can contribute. Some activities, such as running an after-school club, sometimes require the endorsement of a 501c3. Here again, the “fact sheet” uses bad citation, this time from an evangelical right wing watchdog group whose articles about TST’s After School Satan Club and its alleged “fast-tracking” by the IRS were debunked by both Snopes.com and Forbes. The Forbes article also describes the utility of the Reason Alliance, if the CoS is still confused regarding how active organizations operate.

Judicial Watch literally had the documentation for tax-exempt status on its website. The evidence was right in front of you. But once again you try to say that it’s a “bad source”, this time because it’s apparently a right-wing political group. You don’t seem to understand that, in this case, the “evangelical right wing” watchdog group is a correct on the basis that they have the evidence. And you can’t even refute that you didn’t. You just dismiss Judicial Watch because of their political affiliations, but not before rationalizing your decision to apply for tax-exempt status, meanwhile, as CoS points out, you literally stated on the After School Satan website that you don’t believe organizations like yours should be tax-exempt. You believe yourselves to be a religious movement, and you believe that religious organizations should not be tax-exempt. Therefore, filing for tax exemption is hypocritical. It’s that simple.

  1. Original TST “High Priest” Brian Werner states in his 2014 resignation video that TST is a political organization that has nothing to do with Satanism. Werner claims the actual people behind TST have no interest in or connection with Satanism, a claim echoed by Bugbee. [youtube.com | shanebugbee.com]

False. Werner objected to the specific type of politicization he saw in TST, but he never denied that I’m Satanist. He also objected that there were some in TST who have no care at all about what the Satanic Bible by LaVey says (as it’s not in our canon), but Werner doesn’t believe the CoS to be a credible Satanic organization either. The CoS’s general worthlessness is also echoed by Bugbee who had his membership revoked by the CoS in 2006.

Doug, are you dense? The fact that you appointed people to the status of chapter heads (apparently without a vote by the way) who had no interest in the philosophy of The Satanic Bible, coupled with the fact you just admitted that The Satanic Bible is not in your canon is precisely what is meant when CoS says you have nothing to do with Satanism. Why would you let people ascend the organizational ranks who aren’t Satanists nor have any knowledge of Satanism, or admit people who aren’t even Satanists, unless you have fuck all to do with Satanism. The fact that Brian Werner and Shane Bugbee neither associate with nor support the Church of Satan does not change this fact. It’s almost whataboutery.

  1. TST spokespeople are on record saying you do not have to be a Satanist to join TST, you simply need to support their political efforts. [brokeassstuart.com]

False. It says, right there in the citation provided, that our After School Satan Club received numerous applications from would-be teachers for our clubs who were not self-identified Satanists, but deeply invested in helping us combat the encroachment of evangelicals into public schools.

That is the opposite of the claim being false. Not to mention, it says, right fucking there, from their own mouths “you don’t even need to be a Satanist to join The Satanic Temple”. The only way for the claim to be false, strictly speaking, is if it never actually says that anywhere in the blog post, and that’s just not true.

  1. The Oklahoma 10 Commandments monument case was won by ACLU representing two Christians opposed to the monument. TST and its Baphomet monument were not involved with the case, however they claimed victory publicly, an intentionally confusing narrative picked up by many media outlets. This tactic has become MO for the TST. [acluok.org]

This is a bizarre statement. We never claimed a victory of our own in court when the 10 Commandments came down, but we did celebrate a victory for the 1st Amendment. In fact, we coordinated our plans for a lawsuit and our messaging to the public during the OK 10 Commandments dispute with the ACLU. We’ll never know to what degree the State Supreme Court considered that any ruling for the 10 Commandments needed to be equally applied to our bid to erect Baphomet, but many reasonably feel it was certainly a consideration. It’s difficult to understand how this “narrative” confuses the CoS.

Except you did. You claimed the removal of the monument was a victory for you, even though all you did was generate media publicity. Unless you did any fighting in that case, you won nothing, and the ACLU has won nothing for you. It’s one thing to say you coordinated you plans for a lawsuit, but you know what would be even better? Showing that you actually went through the troubling of suing someone. But of course you can’t.

The “fact sheet” then summarizes by saying that I claim “no shared lineage with the Church of Satan, though he was publicly associated with many Church of Satan members and projects in the decade before The Satanic Temple launched.” This, too, is flatly and provably false. Even in the Vice piece that the “fact sheet” cherry-picks from I speak of LaVey as a starting point from which we evolved Satanism into a relevant and productive religious movement. I have spoken about this at length in many interviews, including a recent one with Haute Macabre (http://hautemacabre.com/2017/06/never-let-your-activism-be-artless-an-interview-with-lucien-greaves-of-the-satanic-temple/).

It would be myopic to repeat to myself on this point, so I’ll just say that you can say all you like that you started from LaVey’s philosophy, but in reality you abandoned every aspect of it that did not align with your political goals. It is obvious to anyone who is familiar with the philosophy of Satanism, and in fact you admit that you consider LaVey’s original philosophy incompatible with your perspective. Also, in the interview you posted, you try to claim that Satanism is about equality. Only your belief system is. LaVey, by contrast, believed equality was a myth. One need only look at his Pentagonal Revisionism program to learn that. In fact, he believed that death is the closest that humans can get to any real equality, and even then he thought some people made better corpses than others.

We then see an unconvincing attempt to justify this petty and undignified public temper tantrum with the claim that “it’s important for an understanding of what is and what is not Satanism to be maintained. “The Satanic Panic” in the 1980s-90s is evidence of a willful distortion of this religion as the concept of a conspiracy of murderous ‘satanists’ was promoted primarily by evangelical Christians and taken-up by the media worldwide. Law enforcement debunked the claims of the evangelists but not before many people had become victims of false accusations of ritual child abuse, sacrifice, and kidnapping.”

Apparently, this “understanding” can only be gained by dogged insistence that only the website of the CoS defines Satanism. This is particularly infuriating as TST, unlike the CoS, has been actively fighting against the Satanic Panic which still exists, nor is it “promoted primarily by evangelical Christians.” One need only look at our Grey Faction campaign to recognize that actively fighting back against anti-Satanist propagandists is one of the primary functions of TST.

I will admit that the Church of Satan is notoriously dogmatic and obtuse on the issue of what Satanism is, believing that because they started Satanism they are the only people who can decide what Satanism is. But still, at least they, or rather Anton LaVey, gave us the basic tenets of Satanism that any Satanist, whether pro-CoS are not, atheist or theist, can agree upon as a matter of principle, for they are the backbone of everything we value. Your contributions to rationalism and skepticism will not change the fact that what you believe simply isn’t Satanic, you are just using Satanism as a costume for your activism. And you citing this in an attempt to get one over on the Church of Satan is pathetic, particularly given your taste for refuting their claims through moralfagging rather than presenting indisputable proof of them being false.

Also, I think you misread the “promoted primarily by evangelical Christians” part. They are saying that this is, at least historically speaking, the main source of the idea of SRA conspiracy theories, though I personally would include a media prone to sensationalism as another primary source.

As irritating as all this willful misrepresentation is, it also calls into question the CoS author’s understanding of the CoS’s own history. Some readers may find this article illuminating: http://www.maryellenmark.com/text/magazines/rolling%20stone/920S-000-004.html

The article you quoted is a reminder of the complexities of LaVey’s own personal belief system. But, I think the argument could also be made that he might be metaphorical. He could be speaking of magical things, and he appears to take coincidences with some level of seriousness or enthusiasm, but, at least after 1975, he was pretty much an atheist.

On the whole, Douglas’ response was a response I find to be lacking in substance. It fails to address the evidence right in front of him, and he seems incapable of being straight about what seems to be evident about the past. The late rationalizations, moralfagging about publicly available information, and pearl-clutching over sources made this a frankly pathetic read in which I found myself losing patience for Douglas Misicko.

I brought up this point last time, but as a mild tangent I think it’s worth repeating as a closer: the fact that Tucker Carlson didn’t take the time to actually look at this shit before he talked to Misicko in either of the interviews he did with him makes me think he’s really not as clever as he’s made out to be. He, or whoever writes his notes, is surely capable of finding these pieces of information about Douglas, and he might well have used some of them to put him in a corner when he would be forced to give the game away. But he didn’t, and for that I will be eternally disappointed.


Lucien Greaves’ response to the Church of Satan: https://luciengreaves.com/correcting-the-church-of-satan-fact-sheet/

The Church of Satan’s fact sheet: http://www.churchofsatan.com/the-satanic-temple-fact-sheet.php

A history of Satanic Temple shenanigans

Oh boy, have I got a treat for you. The Church of Satan released an article on their Twitter, a fact sheet about The Satanic Temple, written by Reverend Joel Ethan, outlining evidence for The Satanic Temple being a parody activist group, in their words, “a self described “Yes Men” styled satire/activist group that uses satanic-themed imagery and language to get media and public attention”. For those who perhaps don’t know what Ethan is talking about, the Yes Men are an activist group that impersonates high profile individuals, particularly the heads or spokespeople from major corporations, and creates fake, satirical websites to impersonate the web pages of individuals and/or corporations they dislike in order to raise awareness about various social issues that they’re concerned with.

What I intend to do with this post is explore the points raised by the Church of Satan in-depth, to explain the important details and why they add up. There’s fourteen points in the article so I will probably have to truncate my analysis for each of them. Either way this is going be another very long post, and I will leave the link to the article by Joel Ethan at the end of this post. By clicking that link, you can access all of Ethan’s sources for yourself and draw your own conclusion.

First, Ethan states that The Satanic Temple began as a film project, specifically as a fictitious Satanic cult set to appear in a mockumentary movie entitled, funny enough, The Satanic Temple, centering around “the nicest Satanic cult in the world”. There was apparently hoax involved surrounding The Satanic Temple’s alleged support for Florida Governer Rick Scott, which the Miami Herald revealed was essentially a publicity stunt, the true purpose of which has never been revealed by the group’s founder, Lucien Greaves, who himself was also the casting director for the movie. What’s interesting about this is that if you were to perform a search of The Satanic Temple’s Rick Scott rally on the Internet, you’ll find that this mock rally was reported by many mainstream news outlets as a bunch of Satanists seemingly expressing genuine support for Rick Scott’s “religious freedom” policies, when it was a stunt.

During this time, it appears the organization was also billed as having a belief in a literal Satan, to quote from their webpage from years ago:

The Satanic Temple believes that God is supernatural and thus outside of the sphere of the physical. God’s perfection means that he cannot interact with the imperfect corporeal realm. Because God cannot intervene in the material world, He created Satan to preside over the universe as His proxy. Satan has the compassion and wisdom of an angel. Although Satan is subordinate to God, he is mankind’s only conduit to the dominion beyond the physical. In addition, only Satan can hear our prayers and only Satan can respond. While God is beyond human comprehension, Satan desires to be known and knowable. Only in this way can there be justice and can life have meaning.

Hail Satan!

You read this doctrine any way you want, but to my mind this does not necessarily suggest that Lucien Greaves intended the organization to be a theistic Satanist group. Remember that they started out as a satirical religion for a mockumentary. It’s reasonable to assume then that this statement of belief is not, in fact, a genuine statement of doctrine, but a part of the act. Curiously enough, however, among the documents contained within The Satanic Temple’s trademark filing, one of them makes, alongside this statement, the following statement:

The Satanist harbors reasonable agnosticism in all things, holding fast only to that which is demonstrably true. The cultural narratives through which we contextualize our lives must be malleable to conformity with our best scientific understandings of the material world… Those understandings, in turn, must never be so rigidly codified as to themselves be inflexible to advancements yet unknown. Thus, Satanism is an evolving religion, unfettered by arcane doctrines born of fearful minds in darkened times. Belief must reconstruct itself to fact, not the other way around. This is the Luciferian impulse to eat of the Tree of Knowledge, even (and especially) when to do so irretrievably dissipates blissful and comforting delusions of old. That which will not bend must break, and that which can be destroyed by truth should never be spared its demise.

Sound familiar? It sounds a lot more like The Satanic Temple we know today than the belief in a literal Satan serving as Man’s conduit, on behalf of God no less, to the point of seeming like a contradiction, perhaps even a more sincere statement of belief that the former statement about God. In fact the first half of that statement can be found on the IndieGogo page for their Adopt-a-Highway campaign (which incidentally seems to have failed to reach its goal of $15,000).

Then there’s Malcolm Jarry, the co-founder. You might remember him from the post I wrote about him where I took him to task over the concept of “Jewish Satanism”. In a New York Times article dated to July 2015, Jarry states openly that the original idea for the movement was as a secular activist response to George W. Bush’s creation of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, a US government office created to support religious organizations. He envisioned The Satanic Temple not as a genuine expression of Satanic philosophy, albeit one at odds with the Church of Satan’s ideas to an extent, but as a protest movement against George W Bush’s religious conservatism, well before discussion about religious freedom was as big as it was in the 2010’s. He and Lucien had been planning for something like this for apparently a long time, presumably waiting for the opportunity to get started.

But there’s another interesting aspect to this story as well. It seems that the artist and former high priest of the Church of Satan Shane Bugbee appears to have exposed Lucien Greaves and Malcolm Jarry back in 2014. Writing for VICE Magazine (ordinarily not my favorite source for journalism, let’s just say), Bugbee revealed that a man named Doug Mesner approached him at his home asking for a copy of a republished edition of Might Makes Right by Ragnar Redbeard, the very same book that he would later go on to denounce over its apparently racist content and from there complained about Anton LaVey’s views about social stratification, meritocracy and egalitarianism. How’s that for an irony? He later produced illustrations for the book and, in 2002, Shane Bugbee did a radio show with Doug where they discussed that very same book. Doug is also recounted by Bugbee as having been introduced to many intellectuals at Harvard University, some of whom he apparently later exposed as frauds. He also recounts of how he, apparently, would insult and harass alleged survivors of ritual abuse. Bugbee also revealed in a separate blog post that he was asked to take the role of someone named Lucien Greaves, implying that Lucien Greaves was, at the time, not a person so much as a persona or a character utilized by The Satanic Temple for their purposes, the role of whom was eventually taken on by Doug Mesner himself. As for Malcolm Jarry, according to Bugbee he is actually a man named Cevin Soling, who also happens to be the owner of, Spectacle Films, the studio that was working on The Satanic Temple mockumentary and have also documented their adopt-a-highway campaign. Interestingly enough, simple searching for Cevin Soling will show you that the same man who owns Spectacle Studios is also an alternative rock musician and an advocate for the abolition of public schools, which he thinks are brainwashing American children, and got interviewed by Stephen Colbert about his film The War on Kids. He also identifies Cevin as one of two rich kids financing The Satanic Temple, the other being a man named David Guinan, who is apparently director at a company called Arise Media.

Going back to Mesner, it’s in the same VICE article authored by Shane Bugbee that Doug Mesner outright admitted to starting The Satanic Temple as a dark religious take on the Yes Men, as well as a “poison pill” in the debate over the proximity between church and state in America.

So far I’m getting a picture of how back in the early days of The Satanic Temple, and perhaps even well before its foundation, that this was not intended as a serious religious movement at all, but rather as a satirical political activist movement with clear political goals in mind. I must say, if only Tucker Carlson had actually done that amount of research into Lucien Greaves and The Satanic Temple before the two terrible interviews he did with Lucien Greaves, then maybe he would have actually got one over on Lucien Greaves instead of practically whining about how Satanism as a whole is not a real religion because he’s a Christian but hey; I guess I’m getting ahead of myself. Jarry also proves to be an interesting character. If Shane Bugbee is correct and Malcolm Jarry is indeed Cevin Soling, then from the outset this seems like a man who is strongly invested in social activism, and one of his main themes seems to be children and public education, and apparently gay marriage and abortion if the Times of Israel is anything to go by. So a very politically-minded, noticeably liberal and left-leaning political themes, which if you’ve ever looked into The Satanic Temple seems to be one of the main themes of the organization. What’s also fascinating is that, around 2013, you’ll notice that Doug is fairly chill about the fact that he’s not very serious about this and it’s actually just a satirical group, whereas in later years in almost looks like he and his cohorts are taking this project more seriously. So is it a case of do they believe their own hype now, or is this still part of an act, just that instead of being simply satirical they intend it as a much more serious political movement?

Now, the next thing brought up is the bizarre fact that the website for The Satanic Temple seemed originally to list the founder not as Doug Mesner/Lucien Greaves, but instead a man named Neil Brick, the head of an organization called SMART, which claims to publish information about stories of ritual abuse. Apparently Doug Mesner and Neil Brick had a falling out over the subject of ritual abuse. I’m guessing Doug put Neil’s name there as prank gesture? By the way, Neil Brick’s SMART organization seems to get into some interesting shit, at least according to Doug in his article on a website he runs called The Process Is. Just read this section from an article he wrote about them. This is from when he visited a SMART conference in 2009.

The S.M.A.R.T conferences are an opportunity for the victims of the satanic conspiracy to exchange their horrific tales, offer support to one another and, most importantly “just be believed”.   Victims are encouraged to bring an accompanying “support person”, as much of the material covered in the 2-day series of talks is considered to be “triggering” (that is to say, it may cause flashbacks in the similarly traumatized).

Does that sound familiar? Because to me it sounds like an SJW or far-left conference about misogyny and rape. It sounds like Hillary Clinton and scores of modern feminists ranting about how people who tell you they were raped should just be automatically believed even in the absence of credible evidence. It sounds like the Alex Jones-inspired equivalent of a Tumblr convention. And here I was beginning to doubt horseshoe theory. Not to mention, What. the fuck. is this shit?

“We could all decide [Satanic Ritual Abuse] isn’t really true”, LaBrier announced, provoking no real discernible response from the crowd.  She admits that she could pass off her “recovered memories” as “hallucinations”.  But then, “the events [of the past] are not important to me anymore”.  Their only significance is in “what they mean to me in my evolution as a human being.”  Indeed, she will conform reality to her beliefs rather than the other way round.  As she recalls warning possible skeptics at a talk she delivered to an Indiana University class, “Don’t you ever question my reality!

You know I think I can see the problem Doug might have had with such a gaggle of conspiracy theories. Particularly when, according an article he posted on the Daily Kos, he saw people rant about “using musical tones and quantum physics to open up portals into the spiritual realms”. Yeah, can’t imagine why Doug might think this guy’s nuts.

Moving on a step, the article next claims that The Satanic Temple is a registered trademark of the United Federation of Churches LLC, registered to Douglas Misicko, apparently the true identity of Doug Mesner (which would make Doug Mesner yet another pseudonym), to whom Reason Alliance, a non-profit corporation that supports pretty much the same ideas as The Satanic Temple. In fact it looks to me like Reason Alliance might just be another extension of The Satanic Temple. This also seems to relate to the After School Satan project. While The Satanic Temple publicly claims that they believe that religious organizations should not be tax-exempt, they, via Reason Alliance, applied for tax-exempt status and successfully obtained it. Now that I know this, it strikes me how hypocritical that Doug Menser and Malcolm Jarry are, going out of their way to apply for tax-exempt status while simultaneously saying they don’t believe religious organizations should be tax-exempt. Almost as if, like so many cliche American left-liberals, they don’t practice what they preach. Unless what they preach itself is only an act. Or maybe applying for the tax-exempt status itself was a prank, a way of impersonating a religious organization whilst simultaneously preaching against religion. Now maybe that’s giving Doug Mesner too much credit.

You may remember Brian Werner, former high priest of The Satanic Temple as well as the lead vocalist of a long-standing death metal band named Vital Remains. He resigned from the organization back in 2014, and he had quite a few complaints about them, which he explained in his video. He views the organization as hypocritical because while it ostensibly resents hierarchical order, in contrast to Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan who, at least in its early years, embraced meritocratic hierarchy, he gave Werner the title of High Priest for his perceived merit within the organization and had no qualms with handing out titles like “reverend” to various individuals. I suppose this is all part of the act as well, surely? He also complained that the leader, Doug Mesner, was appointing chapter heads without a vote from anyone, one of them told him that he had never read The Satanic Bible or heard of Aleister Crowley, Michael Aquino or the Al Jilwah, a Yazidi holy text I recognize as a book held in high regard by some theistic Satanists. He stated that this person, along with several other individuals he recognizes as clowns unworthy of the Satanic mantle, only got into the organization because they were appointed by someone behind the scenes. He also expresses resentment and despondence over how, apparently, he and Doug were loyal friends during his membership of the Satanic Temple, they were seemingly like brothers, and how after the statue had been completed and Werner wanted to talk to Doug about what was going on, he didn’t try to address those concerns with him and instead had a lawyer do the talking for him. After this, he complains that while almost every Satanic movement agrees fundamentally, on some level, with the original tenets of The Satanic Bible; individual sovereignty, reverence of individual will and power, the strong shall rule the weak and the clever shall rule the strong, refusal to turn the other cheek when one is smited, opposition to psychic vampires, and control of one’s own destiny. These are the tenets he recognizes as being pretty much universal to all strands of Satanism, and like any true Satanist I agree with them as well, but he recognizes that The Satanic Temple doesn’t embody these ideals. Like I mentioned earlier, Doug shuns these ideals, because they are not compatible with his egalitarian leftist outlook.

What’s more, two spokespeople from The Satanic Temple were interviewed by one Lauryn Petrie on a blog called Broke Ass Stuart, and this is what they had to say about membership.

No. There’re two types of membership. Anybody can go to the national site at https://thesatanictemple.com/ with a simple email address you scan sign up for the newsletter and become a member. And then there’re Chapter members, and that requires some responsibilities to be involved on some level. Every Chapter does that a little differently. No has to pay anything unless you want a card and a certificate. That costs $25, but by no means do you have to do that. If there’s a local chapter where you are, to join you do have to be accepted, but there’s no initiation or anything. You don’t even have to be a Satanist, you can just be a strong ally who believes in the political and secular actions without being super stoked about all the aesthetic aspects.

So according to them, you don’t have to be a Satanist, not even by Doug Menser’s idea of what Satanism is, in order to join The Satanic Temple. All you have to do is support their political causes. I think if Brain Werner had seen this, he would see this as further evidence of his conclusion that The Satanic Temple aren’t actually a Satanic organization.

Finally, you know all that business with the Ten Commandments monument, back when I actually kind of supported The Satanic Temple’s efforts to eroding the influence of Christianity? Well Ethan, in his final point, points out that The Satanic Temple’s campaign to erect a Baphomet statue alongside the Ten Commandments were immaterial, and that they had nothing to do with the case. Instead, the ACLU, representing Christians who viewed the monuments presence as a means of political grandstanding over what, for them, is a sacred part of their religious faith. But after the ACLU won, The Satanic Temple publicly claimed victory for this whole thing, and people believed them. Why? Easy. Because The Satanic Temple generated publicity, they “started a conversation”, you might say, by doing precisely fuck all other than troll their political opponents. I say fuck all, because once you look at what the ACLU had to say, this wasn’t actually about The Satanic Temple’s grievances at all. They just shared the same views on the subject and took the credit.

And that’s all the points that Joel Ethan brought up. What’s funny is that really none of this is new information. It was out there, and the parody act that they did in 2012-13 was apparently known for quite some time, but apparently it didn’t occur to many people, certainly not to me at the time, and certainly not to the mainstream media – can’t say I blame them in retrospect, such facts would run counter to a narrative that was tied to a lot of publicity, controversy and therefore ratings. The Church of Satan seems to just be re-posting these facts, apparently simply to inform us all that this is the case. I can’t say I know if that’s true, I don’t know what their true motivations are for reposting the old information besides their obvious rivalry with The Satanic Temple. I have to say though, I am convinced more than ever that The Satanic Temple are atheists pretending to be Satanists, using Satanism as a costume for their own political goals, and I feel disappointed with myself for not knowing some of this information much sooner.

I am finished with this organization, not that I was ever a member. With all due respect to anyone reading, if anyone still believes that these people are real Satanists, when in fact they weren’t even genuine from the beginning, I can’t help you. I am more opposed to them than ever now, for I have come to realize that these people are outright charlatans and deceivers. They don’t care about Satanism, they don’t practice Satanism philosophically nor do they practice what they preach, they have never been Satanists, and worst of all they lie in order to advance their own goals. Ironically, all to fight lies and perceived tyranny.


The Church of Satan’s Fact Sheet on The Satanic Temple, via Reverend Joel Ethan: http://www.churchofsatan.com/the-satanic-temple-fact-sheet.php

Where is your Catholic God now, progressives?

I remember when Jorge Mario Bergoglio, aka Pope Francis, entered the scene back in 2013, and almost instantly it seemed like I had no trust in this guy whatsoever. To me he was just the new Pope, and his benign and progressive personality was nothing more than an marketing ploy designed to redeem the image of the Catholic Church after the last pope, Georg Ratzinger, became known as the face of an organization that was simply out of touch with the modern world and complicit in the covering up of the sexual abuse of children by the Catholic priesthood. I have been expressing this on my own blog in the past since its early days, and I have to say I don’t think I’m entirely wrong on this.

Let’s get one thing straight: Francis himself does not appear as liberal and tolerant as he is believed to be. In fact, some of his famous quotes on the subject of God, the church and belief have been shown to be faked. For example, there was one alleged quote that was famously shared on Facebook in 2014 that goes as follows:

“It is not necessary to believe in God to be a good person. In a way, the traditional notion of God is outdated. One can be spiritual but not religious. It is not necessary to go to church and give money — for many, nature can be a church. Some of the best people in history do not believe in God, while some of the worst deeds were done in His name.

It’s a perfectly admissible statement, to be fair, but he didn’t actually say it. There is no record of Francis ever having said that in real life. There is record of a homily that was made by Francis about atheists, and how he believes that even the atheists are or can be redeemed in the blood of Jesus on the grounds that all humans are created in the likeness and spirit of God, and according to a Vatican spokesperson, Friar Thomas Rosica, it is possible that this homily got lost in translation.

He also never claimed that the Catholic Church no longer believes in the traditional doctrine of Hell, nor did he declare that all religions were true and nor that the myth of Adam and Eve was indeed a fable during the “Third Vatican Council”. This seems to have been a hoax spread by a blog called Diversity Chronicle in 2013. What is Diversity Chronicle? Apparently it may be a satirical website, at least judging from the disclaimer. The icing on the cake. There was no “Third Vatican Council” for Francis to make these statements in to begin with.

Also, for someone who is supposed to so progressive about homosexuality, having allegedly stated that Christians should apologize to gay people because of the actions of the intolerance of their ancestors and also allegedly stated that homosexuals and transgender individuals should be embraced, he has more recently affirmed that the Catholic Church does not allow homosexuals into the Catholic priesthood, and the Catholic Church does not approve of anyone in support of “gay culture”. He also considers abortion to be a grave sin, not a million miles away from the typical conservative Christian, he just gives his priests greater power to forgive this “sin”. And he has recently made it clear that the Catholic Church will not repeal its ban on women entering the priesthood, stating that, in his opinion, the edict put in place by the church under the papacy of Karol Jozef Wojtyla (John Paul II) is to stand “forever”.

That being the case, I don’t think I understand why progressives and liberals are so keen on embracing Francis, as well as the hope that the Catholic Church could become anything other than the same old religious organization that it always was that is only trying to redeem its storied image in the eyes of the modern public. Hell, I never understood why liberals, progressives and especially homosexuals even needed some religious figure to guide them and give them hope to begin with. Judging from the scores of articles that go on about him supposedly delivering blows and stings to conservatives and right wing Christians, I can only assume that the left wants a progressive Christian figure to use as a stick with which to beat conservatives and other Christians, particularly in the United States of America where Christianity is still a big deal for people on the political right. It’s all part of an ideological/cultural war that the West is still fighting in the modern world, and the left will stop at nothing to morally browbeat its opposition. Religion, when it’s convenient, is but another justification for such things.

Pope Francis with a dove
Pope Francis with a dove

Apatheistic Satanism

Recently I have started to feel that the debate between theism vs atheism is something that I’m not personally invested in. It’s not really that relevant to me.

First, the broader question of “is there a God?”. I don’t see why I should care. I’m interested in deities and some such concepts in a mythological or occult sort of way, but not the concept of God Almighty as a religious concept. If there is a God, and that God is the father in the heavens that many people think of him as, I don’t care. I certainly do not feel inclined to obey such a God if that God is really the same God described in the Bible, the Tanakh and the Quran or in similar fashion to either of those texts, though maybe that’s the anti-theist in me. If there is a God, and that God isn’t a father in the heavens, I still don’t care either we still have a very distant God, remote from our lives. Hell, even if you believe in the monotheistic God, the reality is that God is of no use whatsoever because that God is actually quite distant. If there is no God, so what? What need do most people have of an almighty God anyhow when there is a lot about our lives that simply doesn’t depend on such a God. We don’t inherently need such a God to put bread on the table, to raise a family, to forge our societies and our laws, to determine the decorum of human relationships, to run our governments, or for most things. There even exist forms of spirituality that don’t actually depend on a concept of God Almighty (like the Buddhist kind, to use a familiar example). I certainly don’t feel my life depends very greatly on an outer God whether it’s the God adored by Abraham or Muhammad or the infinite God praised by the Hindus. As I said earlier, I might be interested in deities, but I don’t quite care too much about fealty or worship towards externalized deities as found in the polytheistic belief that came before Christianity and revived by modern pagans either since I am not a theist. And for that matter, why is the debate about God more pressing to people than individuated consciousness?

Then, the debate about theism vs atheism in Satanism. I am equally uninterested in that matter. Should it matter whether or not Satan is an actual deity worthy of worship outside the mind of the individual Satanist? This question is extraneous to the ultimate point of Satanism: Man ought to be master unto himself. Based on that premise, there is really only one “God” that I feel one really needs in Satanism. To me, any kind of divinity to be found within the individual self is more important to the Satanist than the existence of any outer being. Ultimately, I don’t care whether or not any outer beings actually exist. I just want to pursue my path, explore the possibilities, all while focused on my values and my growth as a person and in general not get too hung up about it.

I guess you can describe me as sort of agnostic, non-theistic, and in fact apatheistic – apatheist being the word for someone who does not care whether or not God exists. In other words, I am currently an apathetic agnostic Satanist/Luciferian.

To be an apatheistic Satanist, I feel, is a bit like what being a non-theistic Satanist would be like if the question of the verifiable existence of a God or a literal Satan was irrelevant. Whereas atheistic forms of Satanism, such as that of the Church of Satan, are partly based on the premise of certainty that there are no Gods at all, apatheistic Satanism means that you are a Satanist who thinks the question of God and literal gods is irrelevant and therefore the apatheistic Satanist isn’t invested in the question of God and the theism versus atheism debate.

A climate of religious/ontological hostility

This might be just me, but I feel in the modern age there is a climate on the Internet of hostility regarding religious and ontological ideas and the expression thereof. I feel that there is hostility being expressed by both followers of traditional religious ideas (such as those espoused by Christianity) and followers of naturalistic atheism (such as the kind espoused by the likes of Richard Dawkins), and if there are forums for discussion of religious belief then chances are there is hostile debate with both sides mouthing off at each other and fueling their own misplaced sense of intellectual and moral superiority.

I feel it’s gotten so bad that in an age where scientific reason is on the rise, hard-edged naturalistic atheists give themselves the moral right to act like complete assholes towards anyone with beliefs that are even remotely unscientific or non-logical. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a Christian (let alone fundamentalist Christian), because the naturalists treat all spiritual and religious ideas the same way because they do not hinge of the objective and observable natural universe. I remember being on Yahoo Answers and the Religion and Spirituality section was nothing more than a battleground between idiotic Christians and self-righteous naturalistic atheists, with both sides either venting their own trollish nature or simply peddling familiar easy answers for the sake of earning points or because they don’t know better. Anyone who was not a Christian or an atheist and is simply looking to entertain ideas that are outside both currents would commonly be met with simplistic idiocy and intolerance. This even afflicts the world of Satanism in the form of the divide between atheistic Satanists, whether those of the Church of Satan or simply riding their coattails (and the coattails of Anton LaVey), and Satanists both theistic and non-theistic who just want to practice forms of Satanism that are not entirely materialistic without being labelled as mere devil worshipers or cultists.

We live in a world where there is an abundant diversity of belief systems across all continents (except Antarctica), but all most people perceive is this idealized or mythical war between monotheistic religious forms of spirituality and naturalistic atheism, humanism, and physical science, and most people either pick on or the other or just sit on the fence, with few of us bothering to look outside the box searching for something different, perhaps something more in line with their own instincts. It should make sense to you, it doesn’t have to make sense because someone else believes it does. I feel the problem is that (a) nothing has changed and people are still as ignorant as they’ve always been despite what those of a secular position may want you to think, and (b) atheists and secular humanists are the only voices outside the religious current who are lionized in today’s media and on the Internet. I guess another part of the problem is that there are otherwise tolerant atheists who always have to argue with less tolerant religious people and just stop seeing the difference between religious fanatics and everyone else who has a spiritual belief.

Why do we overlook murderous oppression?

NOTE: I’m not aiming at a particular religion here, just fundamentalism in general, although a lot of the blame rests on the Abrahamic faiths.

For failure to find a better image, and in the interest of not going for particularly graphic images, here’s a generic image of Christianity and Islam in the same place.

In some countries in the world, religious fundamentalism still has a lot of influence over the minds of the majority of populations, and people still oppress and behead anyone who is enlightened enough to see it for what it really is, let alone brave enough to resist it.

From what I’ve read about Bangladesh, you can get killed simply for being an atheist, usually by the very same people who would be neighbours. People in countries like them actively hunt and kill non-believers, and if you’re a non-believer your only options are to lie in order to survive or run. Although Bangladesh’s court did uphold freedom of speech, but that didn’t stop the predominantly Muslim population from hunting down any non-believers.

One person from Bangladesh, known as Thaba Baba (real name Ahmed Rajib Haider) was beheaded in his own home for speaking out against religious oppression as an atheist. Although the attackers had been arrested and were not affiliated with the government, that doesn’t mean people should sit back. It seems parts of the world have not changed from medieval Christian Europe, and no one seems to be outraged or even care that people are dying of injustice. No one should be beheaded simply for blogging, and no should allow it to go unpunished!

In fact I am both amazed and appalled that things like have so little effect on the conscience of mankind, and this to me speaks in volumes of conscience of the world. It’s a damned shame that we aren’t sending these oppressors to their graves, because that’s what they deserve without any mercy whatsoever.

It’s so terribly easy to ignore religious fundamentalism because in the West we have gotten used to Christian fundamentalism and the idea of it utterly silly and fun to laugh at. But even Christian fundamentalism, while not nearly as murderous as the way Islamic fundamentalism manifests in some countries in Asia and the Middle East, is still oppressive, and you need only look at the families who oppress their young with it and the communities that are founded on it. And don’t kid yourself; if Christian fundamentalists ever got the chance to gain direct control, they’d take it and eventually make it so non-believers could be persecuted to death just like the church did in Europe centuries before.

Religious fundamentalism was already horrible, but it’s still continuing on in arguably worse manifestations, and we still fail to acknowledge that this is a matter of injustice. And if you choose not to take any sides on any matter of injustice, then you have passively sided with the oppressor by virtue of letting him/her win! And all you have to do to be on the side of justice is spread the word, so there aren’t really any excuses.

My thoughts on Satanism (the initial impressions)

Lately I feel like telling of my stance on Satanism. First, I want to make distincitions between the various forms of Satanism.

Satanism was founded in 1966 by a former jazz musician named Anton LaVey. Otherwise known as LaVeyan Satanism, it’s an atheistic philosophy that values indulging in our desires and sins (unless it harms others), and doesn’t believe in a literal Satan, or anything supernatural for that matter, but rather sees Satan as a symbol for values such as selfishness, free will, individualism, indulgence, enlightenment, and man adhering to his nature. Besides valuing self-indulgence and individualism, they also have an eye-for-an-eye morality (though they usually prefer placing symbolic curses over actually hurting people).

By contrast, theistic Satanism involves actual worship of an entity by the name of or resembling Satan. Theistic Satanist organizations are disavowed by Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan (both atheistic), since they directly worship a satanic entity. There are plenty of theistic Satanist organizations, including Luciferianism, which worships Lucifer as the Lightbringer and counts the Abrahamic god as an evil entity wishing to enslave mankind, and the Temple of Set, which claims to be the world’s leading left-hand path religious organization. Interestingly the Temple of Set is individualistic while having no position on Satan’s existence. Set is believed to be the dark lord behind the Hebrew Satan.

Set, the Egyptian god of chaos.

So what’s my stance? I actually have a positive opinion of LeVayen philosophy, since I am a great supporter of individualism and value sexual liberty, even though I am not technically an atheist, or strictly materialistic. As for theistic Satanism, I am neutral towards it. I don’t worship Satan, but I’ve got nothing against most organizations. Really, it’s not as evil as it sounds. The media just attributes Satanism and the occult to criminal activity such as murder (especially ritual killings), human sacrifice, pedophilia, baby killings, and others. Does the infamous Satanic panic of the 80’s ring a bell? That was, of course, a media shitstorm designed to both generate fear among the ignorant, and garner attention for outlets presenting the sensationalist “headlines”.

Even South Park shows it’s ignorance, though it may be for the purpose of parody.

I think the common perception of Satanists as being all goat-sacrficing, baby-sacrificing, blood orgy-participating, cult murderers comes from years of brainwashing and believing what we’re told from movies like Rosemary’s Baby, books like Michelle Remembers (which probably started the whole damn fake panic in the first place, which was advertised as a true story, but would later be debunked), the moral fever against heavy metal using Satanic imagery and lyrics (such as Slayer, Venom, and many Norwegian black metal bands), and countless Christian, conservative, and puritanical indoctrination and conditioning. Incidentally, many of said metal bands use Satanic material for shock value, and bands like Slayer like Venom admit it, but some artists are genuine Satanists, including King Diamond (he was a LeVayen, and I heard he knew Anton LeVay while he was still alive), Gorgoroth (though I’m pretty sure they aren’t LeVayens, the lead singer stated that he wasn’t), and Boyd Rice (he was a close friend of Anton LeVay, too bad he also has a Social Darwinist organization).

Overall, I don’t have a problem with Satanism in general. Some things still disturb me, but that’s not my basis for judging the philosophy. But don’t expect me to go around shouting “Hail Satan” any time soon, ’cause there’d be no point.