The hits just keep on coming for the start of 2023. First Andrew Tate gets arrested because he decided to tip himself off to Romanian authorities, then Benedict XVI dies, and now The Satanic Temple has once again lost their primary case against the Queer Satanic collective.
Yesterday, the United States District Court for the State of Washington in Seattle granted a motion to dismiss the claims made by The Satanic Temple, and its parent LLC the United Federation of Churches, against four queer Satanist activists collectively referred to as Queer Satanic. This is apparently the second time in the entire history of The Satanic Temple’s three year legal campaign against Queer Satanic where TST has had their case dismissed in court, which certainly does not bode well for TST’s attempts to silence their critics or their larger litigation record. In 2020, the United Federation of Churches and the leadership of The Satanic Temple accused the Queer Satanic activists of taking over their social media for the purpose of defamation as well as absurd charges of cyberpiracy, computer hacking, unfair competition, and tortious interference with business expetancy, and served them papers for a lawsuit. The case was originally dismissed in court in 2021, but TST re-filed it in order to finanically drain the defendants, no doubt hoping to demoralize them into submission. I would expect that these efforts have failed, at least for now. It remains to be seen what The Satanic Temple will do next.
The documented court ruling outlines that the plaintiff’s case was lacking in numerous regards. The US District Court seems to more or less accept the defendant’s argument that the case lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, which would necessarily mean the case being dismissed, as well as noting the absence of facts establishing an amount in controversy that would be required for the case. In simple terms, TST’s case was dismissed because it appeared to consist of nothing.
This ruling constitutes a major defeat for The Satanic Temple in that they had hoped to suppress activist dissent against the organisation. Indeed, it would add another failure to their long list of failures, which I will present below for reference:
I can already see, however, that this case is not getting much coverage. There has been no media coverage of this court ruling and its outcome for TST. The most recent media coverage of The Satanic Temple that I can see is an article from The Guardian, written by Adam Gabbatt, which largely lionizes The Satanic Temple and its official leader Douglas Misicko (or rather “Lucien Greaves” as he prefers to be called) as fighters against the religious right – no mention is given, of course, to Douglas’ public defense of Church Militant. The Satanic Temple itself appears to have no comment on the latest court ruling, and the same appears to go for their leadership and membership. It would seem that TST’s supporters can do nothing but sit in silence at this failure. Or perhaps they will regard it as a minor incident, irrelevant to the broader mission and priorities of the Temple. It would be a weak position, though, in view of how the “larger priorities” have been shaping up for them. The media is no doubt uninterested in this case, perhaps because it does not matter to them or perhaps because it interferes with the progressive reputation they mean to construct around The Satanic Temple as a pre-eminent countercultural adversary to American conservatism. Perhaps the Temple itself will continue to try and extend their SLAPP suit after dismissal, just as they had before, or perhaps they will find themselves facing the upper limit of their legal options before long.
But regardless, this remains an important victory against The Satanic Temple for queer, anti-fascist activists that have been fighting against the SLAPP suit. The Satanic Temple cannot maintain its litigious campaing forever, and the financial drain has clearly not destroyed the cause, as Queer Satanic continues to raise the funds necessary to continue fighting TST’s campaign against them. Freedom of speech has been upheld. TST’s case remains decrepit and stands in ruins while their hypocrisy lay bare, though perhaps a sympathetic media might see to it that this last part remain obfuscated.
The struggle against oppression can never truly be defeated, and it is without end. The minions of the Demiurge who impersonate the legacy of Satanism will not win, and will either be scattered to the wind or collapse on their own. The black flame will continue to burn in spite of The Satanic Temple, while the fighters of the black flame forever persevere.
I’ve been seeing a thread on Twitter about Satanism do the rounds, written by freelance journalist and author Jef Rouner, in which he talks about his relationship to Satanism and his misgivings with it. It’s not spreading like wildfire as such, but I have seen Satanists discuss and respond to it, and I believe that I should join them in doing so, because I think we need to spend time addressing the “left-wing” critique of Satanism wherever it appears – believe me, you’ll see more of it as The Satanic Temple drags us through the mud. It’s not the longest thread around and the great thing about Twitter threads is that it’s actually fairly easy to respond point by point in this format. So we’ll focus mostly on the points that Rouner makes about Satanism without too much exposition elsewhere.
The first two tweets in Rouner’s thread are essentially just him recounting his days as a young man who was into LaVeyan Satanism and getting searched by cops who thought that he was in a cult. The first point Rouner makes about Satanism is in his third tweet, which is as follows:
I liked Satanism. It seemed like a very coherent ideology suited to my melodramatic personality. Watching Christian nationalism kill my gay friends made me comfortable in a reactionary faith. And make no mistake, Satanism is a reactionary faith.
There’s a certain pathologization at work, implicitly framing Satanism as something that can, for the most part, only be accepted by “edgelords” or, as Eduoard von Hartmann probably put it, “hypochondriacal whiners”. But much more important is his characterization of Satanism as “a reactionary faith”. Depending on who you ask, or depending on how you define it, just the word “faith” is quite the misnomer in application to Satanism. If they mean “faith” as a mere synonym for religion, then it is not unfair characterise Satanism as a religion, but to call it a “faith” in the sense clearly denoted is to miss the point entirely. Satanism rejects the notions of piety attached to traditional religions, which means that we do not simply “bow down” to the divine as is often implied by some of these notions.
That said, as I got older and grew as a person, it was hard to miss the right wing origins and themes of the religion. So much of it is cribbed from Ayn Rand and libertarianism. There’s very little in Satanic thought concerned with our obligations to social Justice.
Here we come down to one of the most basic issues with Rouner and his representation of Satanism. It is based entirely on the false origin story concocted by the Church of Satan, who erroneously and arrogantly claim themselves to be the inventors of Satanism as we know it. In reality, however, Satanism does not have “right-wing origins”. If we don’t count the “Sathanists” that were attested to in the 16th century, the first man to actually refer to himself as a Satanist, Stanislaw Przybyszewski, was an anarchist who involved himself with the socialist and worker’s movements of his day, for which he was arrested and expelled from his university in Berlin. In fact, much of the literary Romantic mythos of Satan as the heroic rebel that Satanism builds itself on was aligned with left-wing and/or anarchist politics. So, if anything, it is far more accurate to attest “left-wing origins” to modern Satanism, and Anton LaVey’s right-wing philosophy was simply a later development. But even the Church of Satan doesn’t recognize itself as solely modelled after Ayn Rand, and in fact at least some members have articulated pronounced differences between Objectivism and the overall philosophy of LaVeyan Satanism.
We can talk for a bit about “our obligations to social Justice” too. What that actually means is, of course, fairly vague, because there are actually numerous ideas and theories about what that means. Bearing in mind that the term “social justice” itself has Catholic origins, its modern usage beginning with the development of “social justice” by Catholic, and particularly Jesuit, theologians and philosophers from a general idea of “the justice that rules relationships between individuals” to a religious and Thomistic alternative to the then-nascent capitalist and socialist social theories. I would think that it is understandable that Satanists, generally being individualists of some sort, would have little interest in “the process of ensuring that individuals fulfill their societal roles”, particularly not with its Catholic roots in mind. But on its own, anyone can claim it, even right-wing conservative think tanks who influence the policy direction of right-wing governments.
It didn’t escape my notice that most of the people I knew on the Left Hand Path were white and male. The sort of people who read Ouspensky and Gurdjieff, but not hooks, Federici, or any philosophers of color looking at systems. Everything was about a person’s soul, not a people’s
I am modestly surprised by this remark, mostly because of the fact that Silvia Federici is in fact read to some extent by esotericist circles, including by those who align with the Left Hand Path in some sense or another. I would also note that the Left Hand Path is not strictly reducible to Satanism, as Kennet Granholm would note, and in fact has a much larger history and much broader range of ideas than Satanism on its own, which is quite natural for a concept that was originally part of the umbrella of Tantric Hinduism. More quizzical is this implicit idea that there should be a focus on “a people’s soul” and not your own. One could make the point that nearly all of religion is aligned to your own soul to some extent, but for me the real point is a question. Just what is a “people’s soul”? Is the assumption here that given groups of people share a “collective soul” of some sort? I’m not exactly sure where Rouner is going but it sounds rather phantasmic.
For the next point, we can skip his ventures into Tantric Buddhism and “Whovianism” (I mean, come on, how is that much less a white spiritual guy pathway than he says Satanism is?) and move on to his discussion of The Satanic Temple, and for this point we can group the next two consecutive tweets together:
The abortion aspect of the Satanic Temple re-affirms my belief that Satanism is just a bit too far up it’s own arse to be very good in the current struggles we face. The idea that we could prank our way to freedom is juvenile to say the least. I thought it was funny back before the rise of American fascism, but now I think it’s a distraction that sucks resources away from actual aid into performance art.
I could make the point that I have often made about the actual Satanic credentials of The Satanic Temple in that they lack any actual Satanic philosophy beyond just a dressing up of secular humanism, but the much more salient and concise retort is simply this: Doug Misicko is not the emperor of Satanism. In fact, there is none. Even Anton LaVey’s “Black Pope” moniker is quite meaningless. That’s one of the important things about the individualism that Rouner so denounces: we have no actual authority over our religion and philosophy. In fact, for every loyal devotee of either LaVey or Misicko there are plenty of Satanists who reject both of them in favour of their own independent form of Satanism, often based on philosophical disagreements with their atheistic stance. The operative point is that it is inherently absurd to act like any one organisation can represent Satanists in the same way that perhaps a church might represent Christians. Satanism is defined not by one or two organisations and their leadership. Satanism is defined by a core philosophy and the people who practice Satanism, and those people are not bound to any leadership.
Next, and once again let’s group the next two tweets together:
That’s not to say all Satanists are selfish or lack social consciences. I know some lovely ones who find healing and strength from trauma caused by Christianity in Satanism. Like all systems, it can be a force for good. But turning it into that force means reckoning with its baggage. It means truly becoming the antithesis to Christian nationalism by embracing left wing politics. Until then, I’ll probably stay in the Tardis.
It is absurd to say that Satanists are “not selfish” unless by “selfish” you mean the narrow exclusion of interest that Stirner warned against. Satanism is not Satanism without philosophical and ethical egoism. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you an insipid foolishness or perhaps outright fraud. Equally insipid is this idea from Rouner and which I keep seeing elsewhere from grifters like Christopher Williamson is this idea that Satanism can only have positive value as a response to trauma. All they are really saying is that they never thought Satanism had any value in itself from its own spiritual substance! Whereas to be a Satanist and value Satanism is to align precisely with said substance as we perceive, as I do. It doesn’t just mean dealing with some traumatic experience of one particular expression of Christianity as Rouner and his ilk seem to mean. It is substantially the rejection of Christianity as a doctrine. If this were not the case, one could be anything else, and if the suggestion is that it is merely some of Christianity that is bad and not Christianity as a religion, then you can always choose a new and “more progressive” sect of Christianity as your faith.
We should also consider what “reckoning with its baggage” means, that is to say “embracing left-wing politics”. There is, of course, no one single “left-wing politics”. “The Left” is a disparate collection of ideologies unified solely by a shared interest in the socialization of politics under various schemes and definitions. And, frankly, it is not the shield from reactionism and bigotry that Rouner seems to believe it is. Any number of “leftists” can take up positions that, when examined, are actually not quite as “progressive” as they might imagine. In fact, in the context of the rising tide of reaction across the world, even leftists who aren’t among crypto-fascists such as the “patriotic socialist” movement will, without provocation, profess kinship with aspects of reactionary conservatism. I speak of course of people like Aaron Bastani, otherwise known as a “fully automated luxury communist”, who has written sympathetically about traditional conservatism for its emphasis on collectivism and their belief in society as an organism. You can even find surprisingly conservative pieces on Jacobin of all places.
But to make a real break from reaction, we can and need only draw into Satanism’s real roots and advance on the terms of its real ethos. For me, this means egoist anarchism as the most consistent political basis for Satanism.
To add another layer… I find Satanism’s obsession with individualism to be unhelpful. Americans already worship individualism far too much. There’s more than a little Cold War anti-communism in Lavey’s writings.
Putting aside all discussion we may have about the dichotomy itself, and ignoring the point that LaVey is not the granddaddy of Satanism as is being presented, the “individualism” that Americans supposedly worship is not actually individualism, not in any consistent sense anyway. They are enamored with the appearance of individual freedom, but in reality are invested in values of conformity to capital, state, and society, all fixed, absolute, alienated interests that thus become holy values of the nation arranged totally against the freedom of the individual. That idealized “American Dream” of nuclear familys living in suburbia undergirded by a shared faith in God and American Christian institutions, passed down through the generations through the discipline of tradition and parental authority, is in fact one of the most collectivist ideals in the entire Western world, and only appears as “individualism” thanks to generations of American marketing and propaganda. Life for marginalized people in America is not individualistic liberty, and instead it consists of brutal oppression by the collective of whiteness upheld by the power of the capitalist state. Capitalism itself is nowhere near as individualistic as garden variety “left-wing” criticism makes it out to be. It seems that way because individual acquisition of wealth is its basis, but this itself is ultimately a standard of conformity; economic growth, which is to say the growth of the economic and the nation (collective bodies, in a sense), is based on the instrumentalizing of individuals as classed subjects, whose labour power is then expropriated by the ruling class, to produce on behalf of industry and the state. This is predicated not on the liberation of individuals but making them conform to aspirations set by the capitalist state and society, and so calling this “individualism” is simply misleading. Rouner brings up the Cold War, and if anything that was a time where authoritarian patriotic collectivism was all the more intense; the individual was to be made into a God-fearing patriot, and if they resisted they were a “pinko”, a “commie”, a “dirty red”. Individual freedom of conscience was persecuted in a wave of accusations of subversion; that’s what McCarythism originally was.
Ideally, a spiritual path should guide us where we need to go, and the last thing Americans need is another reason to think they stand alone and owe nothing to nobody. While I do like that Lavey doesn’t knock altruism as a concept, he doesn’t encourage it either
Last time I checked, Americans have been told their entire lives that they owe something to someone; typically, that they owe allegiance to the American state and to the Christian God, or to some other value. In fact, the average American is being told that they must suck up every economic immiseration and impoverishment coming their way as a “patriotic donation in the fight for freedom over tyranny”. But for what it’s worth, Americans definitely don’t stand alone in such a situation. Surely everyone is told of their obligations to the democratic state, or for that matter to a dictatorship. Frankly we have owed a lot to society, and marginalized people have suffered more than anyone under the duties and obligations that they never asked for while enduring oppression. Such a platitude then is a disservice to the struggle against that oppression. But make no mistake; it is not any interest in others that egoism opposes. And make no mistake, Satanists are egoists, we do not believe in “altruism” as anything other than an alienation of what is otherwise the egoistic interest in others. We don’t oppose any interest in the welfare of others. What we insist is that it is our interest, and that we are delighting in each other and not sacrificing ourselves to each other.
Satanism can be very empowering, but I feel it fails to point that power well. When I look at the actions of TST, I don’t see a social conscience. I see well-intentioned Chan board stunts where good is a byproduct of trolling.
That about accurately describes The Satanic Temple, I’d say. But again, they are not the vanguard of Satanism, inasmuch as the very concept is anything other than a farce. Even if it were not a farce, they’re not even close to being representative of Satanism as a general idea. It is only thanks to intensive media representation that they are regarded as “Satanism”(TM) in the popular imagination, but there is no Satanic philosophy behind it other than a rebranding of secular humanism. As a matter of fact, part of its attempt to reframe of Satanism is very much an ideological inclusion of “social conscience” in its rhetoric: “compassion and empathy” as defining tenets of its Satanism and all that. And the real point is that you can emphasize social conscience as much as you wish, and your intentions may indeed be well, but hierarchy and organisational consolidation have the habit of turning it all into a bunch of controlling fan clubs for some tyrannical blowhard. This is what Satanists and others have observed for years, and this is what we mean when we say that organizations are shit. Thus, the real empowerment has always been the liberation of egoistic self-consciousness, and to realise the power to walk your own path and join with your equals in doing so.
That comes partially from Satanism’s roots where it treats dogma and ritual as a human need rather than a tool for guidance. As far as Lavey was concerned, community and group worship was the spiritual equivalent of taking a shit: gross, but necessary
I must stress again that the “roots” of Satanism are not Anton LaVey or the Church of Satan, and that there have been Satanists perhaps a century before LaVey ever established the Church of Satan. But let’s address the point anyway by saying that it is ultimately circular. After all, could it not as well be said that guidance is a need? And if it is, then if ritual and dogma are tools for guidance (and I do not necessarily share this opinion), then we have ultimately circled back to the idea that they are human needs. But instead of that need being spiritual pleasure as LaVey might have said (if I’m not misrepresenting him here), the need is “guidance”. Guidance by whom, and for what? Besides, you can go anywhere for guidance. People go to religion for so much more than perhaps the secular imagination is capable of understanding.
And that misses basically the entire point of nearly all human history. We’re a collaborative species, always have been. Individualism gets you killed. You can be part of a group and still yourself. I don’t think enough American spiritual paths teach that.
From the egoist standpoint, or at least Stirner’s, this is an obvious smokescreen, and in general it’s a rather grotesque simplification. Our tendency towards collaboration, co-operation, and socialisation, is not the product of some abstracted notion of “human nature”, and it is not the work of some transcendental principle of union or confederation that exists outside of human interests. People like Pytor Kropotkin may have assumed this to be the case, but the simple and obvious truth is what we come together for the sake of interests that we share and make our own. We share, because we benefit alongside someone else who also benefits from us. We befriend others, because we delight in the company it brings to us. We love, because it is natural to us, and we are brought into ineffable places of emotional experience through people who, for some reason or another, bring that to us. A tyrant may hoard resources for himself for his own advantage, his interest, but those under him may rebel, overthrow, and kill him to rescue those same resources, which is their interest. Humans may share interests, and so they come together, but, they may have opposing interests, and thus come into conflict with each other. This is also the most basic reality of class struggle: people, organized into classes by force, end up uniting on the basis of shared interest, and groups of people oppose each other on the basis of their opposed interests, namely in relation to the means of production. It actually more sense looking at it this way than the more humanistic explanation you usually see on “The Left”. Far from getting you killed, individualism (again, of a certain sort anyway) is simply the conscious recognition of this reality, and with it the freeing of that self-consciousness through the removal of the illusions created by the alienation from egoism by society.
Next, and lastly:
We’re so worried about not being “true to ourselves” that we abhor collectivism. And that’s why we lose. There’s a reason workplace protections and unions go hand in hand.
The last tweet in Rouner’s thread is almost certainly the most ridiculous. It’s quite natural that those who want to be true to ourselves abhor “collectivism”, at least as we understand it, quite possibly because the collectivisms that we have developed for millenia seem to prevent this, and to a certain extent always seem to. It’s easy to forget that this reality is one of the animating facts about the struggle of marginalized groups such as the LGBTQ+ community. All they wanted was to be able to be themselves and not face oppression, discrimination, marginalization, or anything to curtail that self-expression. Our discussion of collectivism, here, runs the risk of having us forget about that, and if we can’t understand that without trying to subordinate that to some abstracted societal interest then we are not really interested in the liberation of marginalized people on principle. But more puzzlingly, what does any of that have to do with unions and workplace protections? Because collectivism is inherently responsible for that? Not if you understand the principle of union on egoistic terms, then that illusion falls apart. Why do union organization and workplace regulation pose a problem for being true to yourself, especially if you say that you can still be yourself in a group? What a bizarre thing to say, and it’s suggestive of what perhaps we can think of as “socialist idealism”. And again, it is ultimately a weak counter to egoism, because egoism does not oppose any interest, including socialism; it only opposes the alienation of that interest into something outside of yourself, into an etheral thing above yourself that you then confuse as The Absolute. In this sense, egoism has no opposition to union organisation, and does not exclude the interest of organised labour.
So, there we have our response to Jef Rouner and his discussion of Satanism. To summarize: individualism and egoism are not what you think it is, neither is collectivism, neither really is Satanism for that matter, and you can’t reduce Satanism to the two organisations that conveniently happen to be well-represented in mainstream media but which are often despised by Satanists. Trust me, I’m very acutely familiar with some of the basic impetus that Rouner is speaking to, and I have experienced burnout in coming to terms with the reactionary aspects of Satanism and attendant movements in the past. But, I guess you could say I took on a different way of dealing with it by deepening my study and relationship with the history of Satanism and Paganism, and committting to forging my own path.
As I write this short piece, I am supposed to still be busy working on my commentary on Stanislaw Przybyszewski’s essay, The Synagogue of Satan, which I believe to the earliest written treatise on Satanism written by a self-declared Satanist. But recent events compel to interrupt such work for just a moment, because, thinking about it, I feel that it would be wrong for me to not say anything about it here on this blog when I have readily done so in the past. My work on Przybyszewski’s book is still in progress, but what I write now, I must write now, however briefly.
On June 10th, the headquarters of The Satanic Temple in Salem was attacked by a man who tried to set the place on fire. He placed some accelerants onto the premise and set it on fire. It seems that this individual was spotted in a T-shirt with the word “GOD” on it, likely indicating his commitment to Christianity. It also seems that the man was later identified as Daniel Damien Lucey, who, after his arrest, confessed to driving up to the building to light it on fire and that it was meant as a hate crime.
Although my opposition to The Satanic Temple are pretty well-known, and although I have questioned the very extent to which they could even be regarded as “Satanists”, the simple truth is that the attack isn’t really about any of that. It is reasonable to assume that Daniel Damien Lucey attacked The Satanic Temple quite simply because as far as he was concerned they were Satanists, and I further suspect that he may have been motivated by Christian nationalist ideology and the attendant moral panics centering Satanists and The Satanic Temple more particularly. This week, the American right condemned The Satanic Temple for their involvement in a Pride event in Idaho in which they were to offer “unbaptism” ceremonies and sell merchandise. The Satanic Temple pulled out of the Idaho event, probably not wanting to deal with reactionary backlash, but either way right-wingers already had their narrative that Satanists and LGBTQ people were “degenerates” looking to corrupt the community and, how do they put it, “sexualize your children”. In this sense I don’t think it’s a stretch of the imagination to count this attack as a broader expression of right-wing Christian nationalist violence meant to target marginalized groups, and anti-Satanic moral panic is a huge part of that ideology.
The recent attack on The Satanic Temple in Salem is not the first time Christian reactionaries have attacked Satanists or places associated with Satanism. I still remember when the Greater Church of Lucifer (now called the Assembly of Light Bearers) opened their first physical church in Texas back in 2015, and faced vandalism from local Christians before eventually shutting their doors in 2017. I am also informed that, in November 2019, a place called The Wilde Collection, which featured a depiction of Baphomet among other things, was the target of an arson attack by a man who said “God told me to do it”. And how often do we forget that Satanists have been victims of hate crimes for years now. Christian reactionaries have been trying to attack Satanists and be rid of Satanism for a long time now, and they’re not going to stop, especially not now that the war being waged by Christian nationalism is in full swing. In other words, it’s not just about The Satanic Temple particularly, because we are all under attack in exactly the same way, and the difference certainly doesn’t matter to our attackers.
You may notice the title of this article, “Against the Milites Christi”. That is no flowery hyperbole, and it is not simply a fancy name for fundamentalism. The term means “Solider of Christ”, and was the name used by the early Roman Christians to refer to themselves and the community of Christians in military terms. It is often also rendered as “Miles Christi” or “Miles Christianus”. The Christians saw themselves as soldiers on the side of God and his son, waging struggle on their behalf in order to spread the word of God and convert non-believers. Those who were not “Milites Christi” were called “pagans”, or “paganus”, in this case meaning “citizen” or “civilian”. The language of “Milites Christi” continued and evolved over the history of Christianity. The Christian Crusaders called themselves “Milites Christi”, and Christian leaders who advocated for the Crusades were also dubbed “Milites Christi”, while the basic concept took on more generic forms in the form of knighthood, chivalry, and the generic term “Christian Soldiers” referred to in Christian hymns. Modern Chrstian nationalists who attack Satanists, non-believers, and marginalized people tend to carry in themselves a similar zeal and fundamentally the same ideological mission: waging struggle in order to uphold God’s order, at least as they see it, under the desire to realize a theocratic nation-state. I will grant that many modern Christians do not view their faith in terms any great struggle, except perhaps for a more abstract sense of inner struggle with their own sins. But the Christians who are attacking Satanists with arson and violence absolutely see themselves as “soliders of Christ”, fighting evil in order to spread and uphold the order of God.
These people must be fought. There can be equivocation on this reality. Let them be cursed, let them be smashed, indeed let them burn in exactly the way they are trying to burn us. You should accept no counsel against the struggle that is to come – no, the struggle which has already been foisted upon you. In the American context, all talk of disarmament should be swiftly rejected, because it only means taking guns out of the hands of those waging anti-fascist struggle while the would-be “soldiers of Christ” get their hands on them anyway. And don’t doubt for a minute that they will. We’re talking about people who are convinced that their country is ruled by people who want to “sexualize” your children and get rid of Christianity and cis straight white males. Do you really think they’ll give a shit about how hard it is to get a gun if they think it means putting a stop to that? Make no illusions of the fight that is to be had. They want war. They want holy war on the streets. That’s how they see their actions against Satanists and anyone who they think is a Satanist, and if they’re allowed to run rampant they might indeed get their wish. Let’s not pretend everything is OK, and let’s not pretend that the powers that be will solve our problems. The politicians don’t care because they don’t regard us at all, the media doesn’t care and will happily tell us that those who kill in the name of God are not who they say they are, and it should ultimately be remembered that even now Douglas Misicko (sorry, “Lucien Greaves”) could still clutch his pearls about anti-fascist direct action taken against the people who just now tried to burn down The Satanic Temple’s Salem headquarters!
What action is to be taken against these Milites Christi, is to be taken into our own hands. Satanists are under attack, and other non-Christians will be too. The boots of the cross must not be allowed trample upon Satanic liberty; instead the cloven hooves must press upon them before they dare snuff it out!
While reading up about Satan’s (no, not that Satan) upcoming album Earth Infernal, as I do and all, I somehow stumbled on a website named Athwart and a little article about Satanism written by one of their authors, Sam Buntz. The article is titled “Infernal Bore: The Satanic Pose of False Individualism”, and believe me, it is truly self-masturbatory, so much so that I actually want to go through it and show you why.
But before I do that, let’s establish who we’re talking about here. Athwart is a small-time web magazine that seems to focus on social commentary. There’s clearly a political edge to it but for the life of me I can’t actually figure out their primary ideological inclination or their basic values. The impression I get from them seems to suggest that they might be into some conservative expression of left-wing politics. Their articles complain about such things as a lack of metaphysical thinking in contemporary society and the prevalence of pornography, and they discuss the works of socialist intellectuals such as Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, Michel Foucault, and Christopher Lasch. The actual name of the website appears to have been derived from William F. Buckley Jr., the famous right-wing conservative ideologue, or more specifically the mission statement he wrote for The National Review, which he founded in 1955 and which he said “stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it”. From this, my impression is that Athwart represents a pretentious crossover between socialist and conservative tendencies, possibly erring towards the milieu referred to as “post-liberalism”. A fair summary of this tendency is that it is reactionary and boring. As for Sam Buntz himself, his bio tells us that his work has appeared on the “centre-left” Washington Monthly, the apparently far-right New English Review, the right-wing Federalist magazine, the “politically unaffiliated” Christian journal Fare Forward, Pop Matters, and Jonathan Pageau’s website The Symbolic World. This oeuvre plus his social media content gives us a good idea that he seems to be a reactionary of some sort.
With that accounted for let’s get into the article itself. Buntz begins by referring to an article written by Mary Harrington which supposedly showed that Satanism was the prevailing ideology of the United States of America. Harrington’s argument is essentially that Satanism is just a byword for “untrammeled individualism” and that The Satanic Temple is supposedly adored by the American ruling class (no, they’re not; a couple of liberal magazines are not a synonym for the bourgeoisie as a whole), and much of the rest is just a kindergartener’s history of so-called Romantic Satanism leading up to blatant distortion of the teachings of Crowley and Nietzsche, homophobic screeds about Pride Month, and transphobic bile about how trans rights is somehow an arm of US imperialism. Needless to say Harrington just casts any expression of self-love or pride as “Satanism”, declares this to be the ideology of the establishment, and all the while never demonstrates any actual influence that Satanism or trans people have in a society where they’re actually quite powerless. Such is what Buntz refers to as “daring” work; and I suppose it is, if by this you mean she dared to be stupid.
Oh and by the way Harrington also appears to be a transphobic “radical feminist”, or TERF as she would rather we not call them but which we will do anyway because that’s what they are. Let’s just get that out of the way while also adding that she’s generally a whiny conservative in numerous other areas too.
Before we go anywhere else let’s just establish basic reality here: no, Satanism is not “the dominant American ideology”. If it were, then American politicians would feel no need to make frequent reference to Jesus, God, or the Bible, however insincerely, nor would there be any invocations to God in American money or the Pledge of Allegiance. There are no Satanists who actually have access to the levers of political power, and many don’t even desire said political power. Only a few Satanists have ever ran for political office, and none of their campaigns have succeeded. Nor for that matter have most of the legal campaigns enacted by The Satanic Temple. And, if Satanism is the dominant spiritual ideology in America, why are Satanic Panics still a thing that thousands if not millions of people can fall for? Honestly, I wish that America was actually the Satanic society that these idiots seem to think it is. I would legitimately enjoy living in such a society. At the very least I could die a happy man knowing that Christianity died and was replaced by Satanism in a country that was previously the proudest and most obnoxious exponent of Christianity, if only that were true! But it’s not! Instead, Christianity of some sort still holds the most political clout and forms much of the superstructure of bourgeois society.
Also, I think something’s worth pointing out about the liberal magazines being pointed to and their ostensible promotion of The Satanic Temple. I can guarantee that they’re only doing it because they’re a secular atheist progressive group that presents the aesthetic of Satanism with very little of what might be thought of as Satanic philosophy, though of course they do boast an appropriated canon. In reality, The Satanic Temple paid probably thousands of dollars to give argument in court on behalf of a Catholic organisation rather than just complain about freedom of speech on Twitter, so as far as I’m concerned they are allies of Christianity, but neither the media nor conservatives like Mary Harrington will tell you about that because it compromises some convenient narratives about how The Satanic Temple are “the last line of defence in the battle for reproductive rights”. And all the while, with both Harrington’s article and the media discussion of The Satanic Temple, it seems like only popular forms of atheistic Satanism are ever discussed. Things like Theistic Satanism are never discussed in any of these pretentious treatises on Satanism, even though Theistic Satanism is very prevalent in Satanist movement even if lacking popular organizations and if anything there’s the argument to be made for Theistic Satanism being older at least than Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan.
Anyways, Buntz talks about how “the pose of Satanism” was attractive for centuries across a wide range of people and summarizes basically the popular understanding of Satan as an archetypal cosmic rebel. Then he claims that Satanism doesn’t actually lead to a state where individual personalities can flourish freely but instead leads to “the opposite condition”. On its face, this claim is absolutely laughable and there’s no basis for believing it at all. But how does Buntz justify such an absurd position? Well, he doesn’t make reference to any extant self-defined Satanism in practice, but instead appeals to the development of the character of Satan as depicted by John Milton, who for all the romantic anti-heroism of his Satan figure it must be remembered that he was trying to depict Satan as the villain of his story. Basically, to prove that Satanism leads to the opposite of individual freedom, he’s going to consult a work created by a Christian to illustrate the Christian perspective of why Satan is bad, instead of referring to any actual self-lived Satanism. That’s rather like trying to get an account of Muslim life from Melanie Phillips.
Buntz’s main point is that all of the heroic radiance associated with Milton’s Satan is compacted into the early parts of the book, after which he grows progressively “duller” and “more boring”. Well, actually, that’s about all Buntz has to say about Milton’s Satan. He never actually describes Satan’s actions or personality progression, except through the aphorisms of others such as C. S. Lewis. The only thing he references is Satan secretly observing Eve in the Garden of Eve. How this is meant to represent dullness is something of a mystery, but I guess it does serve as a signifier of reactionary antipathy towards “coomers” (meant to be a condescending way of a referring to sex or porn addiction but in practice is just a way of expressing hatred of anybody who likes sex at all or masturbates ever). His purported boringness is compared to Dante’s Satan, and I must say, it’s easy for Dante’s Satan to be “boring” since his only appearance in Inferno consists of him being trapped waist-deep in a lake of ice, which is honestly more of an indictment of Dante than of Satan.
Buntz is of the opinion that not only is our culture “increasingly Satanic”, but it is also “zombified”, a supposed trend that he compares to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (yet another Christian morality tale, this time for children), in which the White Witch lures one of the characters with Turkish delights only to freeze him in his place. He argues that this is meant to mean that the desire for independence “without relation or obligation” (presumably God here is just a by-word for any kind of obligation whatsoever) produces nothing but mediocrity. His example of this really doesn’t have anything to do with Satanism in practice. Instead his example of cultural decay just seems to be when entertainment media doesn’t solely center around cis straight white people (“the quantitative enumeration of identities, the checking of representation boxes”) and Netflix shows he doesn’t like presumably because they don’t exclusively pander to those same cis straight white audiences (“Eventually, the “Dark Satanic Mills” start to churn out the same, boring, repetitive, pandering Netflix shows”). This, he claims, leads to the abolition of “the Good, the Beautiful, and the True” (yep, we’re dealing with Platonic conservative bullshit again). Again, none of this is ever actually linked to real world Satanism. It’s all just extrapolated from a poetic representation that, while it is classic, was created by a Christian. Plus, if all Satanism means here is just the assertion of individual freedom, I would argue that the idea that this necessarily leads to mediocrity simply isn’t true! Barnett Newman positioned his own artwork as an “assertion of freedom”, which read properly would herald the end of all forms of authoritarianism, such as state capitalism and totalitarianism, and many have found his art to be moving and challenging, or in some cases threatening (certainly threatening enough for white supremacists to frequently vandalize his work). But, of course, because Barnett Newman as an abstract expressionist represents what has come to be derisively referred to as “modern art” or “postmodern art”, Buntz will likely see his work and dismiss it as insufficiently life-affirming in the same way that all reactionaries dismiss modern art simply because it doesn’t seek to imitate classical art.
There is a paragraph from the article that is worth analyzing and deconstructing:
When a ’70s or ’80s rockstar declares that he is on the highway to hell before burying his head in a mountain of cocaine, it seems believable. He really is runnin’ with the devil. But a contemporary “Satanist,” logging on to doomscroll or gaze at pornography, is devoid of this same rebellious aura. He or she is simply going on the computer, like every bored teen on planet earth. Below deck, Satan is no doubt rubbing his hands excitedly. But his nefarious plans lack the epic scale and carnage of a Hitler-on-Stalin throwdown. He has settled for making people watch lousy Netflix original programming. That is atomized Satanic “individualism” at its terminus, a sad and numb person opening tabs in Google Chrome and then slamming the laptop shut when Mom unexpectedly walks in the room. Not exactly Stalingrad, but Satan will take it.
What’s obvious here is that Buntz operates on the idea of “Satan as the representation of evil and badness in the abstract”, taking it at face value and assessing Satanism and Satanists on the basis of this presumption. Thus, if Satanists aren’t destroying themselves by becoming addicted to dangerous drugs or trying to start World War 3, then in Buntz’s eyes they are not “real” Satanists. The problem with this should be obvious. Satanism is not in itself a mere inversion of morality. On the contrary, it can be said to present its own distinct ethical framework, albeit one that, unlike so many others, actually centers itself around individual fulfilment and exploration to some degree, and even then what this looks like will probably depend on the form of Satanism you’re dealing with; such nuance is of course flattened in almost every mainstream discussion of Satanism. Buntz whines that modern Satanists supposedly do nothing but “doomscroll” (constantly surfing the internet for negative news) and watch pornography, as though watching pornography is supposed to be an inherently bad thing (well, given that he’s probably a Christian I’d say he does think that), but how exactly is doomscrolling and watching Netflix and pornography something exclusive to Satanism? I’d argue that a lot of modern Christians are doing the same thing while also going to church, praying to God, and all the things that regular Christians do to affirm their faith. But Buntz needs to frame Satanists as sad losers (again, as if scrolling for news, watching porn, and watching Netflix somehow makes you a loser) so he can’t afford to acknowledge reality. If you want to see masses of sad loserdom, you shouldn’t look to Satanism. Instead you should look to 4chan, or to the fact that there’s entire Discord servers made around one meme.
But I have to say, what is it with people having a go at Satanism and always bringing up rock stars who sang about the devil for fun, rather than musicians who were open and professed Satanists, such as King Diamond (incidentally one of the guys who got me into Satanism), Glen Benton from Deicide, or the several black metal bands and musicians who at least ostensibly devote themselves to some sort of religious, esoteric, or theistic Satanism (many of whom hated Anton LaVey for being too humanist for them)? Again, they’re never going to be talked about because the only Satanism that interests anyone in the media is the The Satanic Temple, and honestly that’s probably because they’re the most marketable and least offensive branch of Satanism.
Buntz then makes a very amusing accusation towards Satanists. He accuses the Satanist of wanting to preserve the state of affairs he attributes to them by “defending himself” from “anything that might provoke his curiosity” or “might rattle him into an awareness of the poetry in nature or in other people”, thus he accuses the Satanist of demanding a safe space from the world, which he accuses our culture of happily obliging. I don’t recall our culture obliging a safe space from Harry Potter books or Dave Chappelle specials, but what’s amusing about it is that this is just Christianity projecting all of its weaknesses onto Satanism. It was Christians who sought to block out anything that was “Other” to the Christian worldview, and where they couldn’t do that they sought to recuperate it so as to make it compatible with the Christian “safe space”. God himself has surely set up the ultimate “safe space” in the form of Heaven, a place where only people he likes and only people who believe in him or agree with him are allowed to live forever after death. God is a narcissist whose whole purpose for humanity and all life is to praise his name, and can’t stand any being suggesting any notion of co-divinity or any kind of equality and diversity amongst the divine. God knows well the concept of the “Other” in relation to himself, and for him that that “Otherness” is compacted into the form of the Devil, sin, evil, something that from his standpoint should be destroyed. Easily God is more narcissistic than Satan, or anyone, but you can’t admit that to yourself or anyone because it offends both tradition and certain modern forms of progressive apologetics prevalent today.
Then Buntz tried to liken Satanism to the Unitarian Universalist Church, on the basis that they supposedly believe that God is whatever you want him to be:
I remember attending a Unitarian Universalist Church during a period of religious investigation. The congregation’s guiding mantra was “God is whatever you want God to be.” I reasoned to myself that if God was whatever I wanted God to be then I would, in effect, be God. This struck me as absurd. What Harrington calls Satanism is this very tendency—to deify one’s own will, whim, or power of arbitrary choice. According to this ideology, what one wills does not actually matter. You can will getting burned with wax in a dominatrix’s cavern, will ending illiteracy, will transforming yourself into a dolphin person, will recycling, will all sorts of evil, or will curing the common cold. All desires are on the same plane, and none are preferable. You just need to will it.
It is true that the Unitarian Universalist Church does not have what is called a “formal creed”, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a religion or that God is interchangeable with your own will. Technically speaking, Paganism is not just “one system of belief”, and neither really was Christianity for the first century of its existence, but being a religion is not about being defined by single fixed points of doctrine. Religion should instead be defined in terms of its relationship to whatever is conceived as numinous or sacred, and not only the ideology but also the praxis (often ritual praxis in particular) through which this is expressed or mediated. The Unitarian Universalist Church seems to believe in a single God who is entirely loving, does not punish everyone forever, and will redeem everyone after death, though it is also said that belief in God is optional. I think that Satanists would actually laugh at that belief system. I certainly don’t find myself particularly impressed, but to tell the truth they actually do seem to have a clear belief system that can be interpreted as comprising more than just “God is whatever you want him to be“. This attempt to undermine the credibility of Satanism by likening it to the Unitarians through a bowdlerised interpretation of Satanic individualism falls flat on its face.
I should also state for the record that no Satanist actually believes that you can simply will any outcome you want into existence. To assume otherwise is a clear sign of Buntz not having consulted any Satanists in regard to their beliefs about will, which he derived entirely from Mary Harrington, who herself did not bother to ask any Satanists about their beliefs. Satanists don’t believe that you can cure the common cold, end illiteracy, or turn into a dolphin solely through the force of will and desire. No one does, because everyone knows that is self-evidently absurd. Satanists do deify the individual self, but they also regularly counsel against solipsism, because they correctly assume that they are not the only individual selves or the only beings capable of will. Again, simply talking to Satanists would probably clarify things for Sam Buntz, but he won’t.
Instead, Buntz continues to not actually address any extant form of Satanism, preferring instead the “idea” of Satanism, by pointing to G. K. Chesterton’s response to Nietzsche, who Buntz characterizes as “like a man grabbing you by the lapels demanding that you will something, while the genuinely interesting question, the question of what is worth willing, goes unanswered”. There is an answer, though: what business is it yours what I consider “worth” willing? Nay, does God even ask himself that question before willing the death of fetuses via miscarriage? The question is always asked by others for the purpose of deciding the actions of others. But as long as you aren’t hurting anyone, why is it so important what you consider to be “worth” someone else to will?
I find it very curious that Buntz feels the need to point out that there is a reality outside of the self that we ought to acquaint ourselves to, when really that’s all that Satanists insist to Christians. Indeed, I might well insist that I merely seek people to shed their conditioning and acquaint themselves with the inner nature or principle of reality: from my standpoint, God is nothing of the sort. Atheistic Satanists in particular would probably be allergic to much of occultism because they assume it does not observe this principle, and generally mock Christians for the same reasons. Once again, Buntz hasn’t got a clue.
The article is titled “Infernal Bore: The Satanic Pose of False Individualism”, yet for most of the article no discussion of what the “true” individualism is. Towards the end, though, we get an elaboration. “True” individualism, for Buntz, is an affirmation of individuality that is dependent on the consideration of your relationship to the universe and its inhabitants. In a separate article about his opposition to sex work (which he refers to as “sexual exploitation” based on the assumption that people never choose to be sex workers), he refers to this concept as “organic individualism”, as opposed to “atomistic individualism” (I’m half-convinced that this dichotomy sounds like it comes from some form of fascist ideology). Exactly what “your relationship to the universe and its inhabitants” is supposed to mean for your individual will and the validity of its expression isn’t really clear, but it seems like it might be a vague way of saying that your individual will needs to be validated by God in order to be legitimate. His criticism of individual self-determination is that it somehow leads to a state of being “plunged into slavery under our darkest compulsions”. It’s a common reactionary argument, one I first became familiar with (and dismissed) when encountering a debate in which the alt-right author Greg Johnson argued that allowing pornography to be legal leads to men becoming slaves to their desires, which is an argument now made by guys like Carl “Sargon of Akkad” Benjamin who previously opposed such a position. The problem with this argument is obvious: individual will exercised in a way that harms no one is otherwise arbitrarily cast as slavery because it is “dark”, which in this context may as well mean something icky that you personally dislike. If you exercise individual free will in a way that doesn’t really hurt anyone, at least individually or interpersonally, and Sam Buntz approved of it, he would not complain, but if you exercise individual free will in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone, and Sam Buntz does not approve of it, the entire notion of such self-determination is condemned. I have to wonder how this could be applied to self-determination in a larger sense, namely the self-determination of independent nations and/or peoples.
The stated alternative to “plunging into slavery under our darkest compulsions” is to start “becoming interested in other people and in the surrounding world”, which Buntz believes would “liberate individuality to shine forth through this relation”. Exactly what “becoming interested in other people and in the surrounding world” should mean to him is not clear, and that’s important because that can mean basically any form of social interaction. I guess, though, that based on his quotation of Joseph S. Laughon that it might have something to do with going into the nature and spending time with the birds, not that I oppose such activities of course. But really, depending on what you mean, being interested in other people and the surrounding world is what humans do all the time. Frankly, people can’t shut up about other people or their surrounding world, and that’s more true than ever in the age of hyper-interconnectivity that our developed internet bequeathes us with. Buntz’s exhortation in itself seems quite meaningless in this light. The only way I can see it having meaning is that it is actually code for something else, that his idea of “organic individualism” is really a way of saying that your self-determination and self-essencing needs to be legitimated or perhaps controlled by the society around you. And in that light, I see a problem. If it is interaction with other people that should be the primary constituent of individual self-determination, then we enter into a state infinite regression as applicable to all of humanity; after all, if the individual is to be determined and fashioned principally by other humans, then who was there to condition the first human? Who conditions the conditioners, up to the start of the human species? You see, we are to assume that it is always the individual that is empty on its own, and requires an Other to make him an individual, but then through this there are surely no individuals, because the Other that makes the individual is necessarily empty as well, just that we assume that the Other possess inherent subjective content but never the individual self.
And, look, believe it or not, I actually don’t in principle oppose the idea of considering individuality in relationship to its surroundings, or at least not in the way that he makes it seem when saying “One develops an authentic inner life by means of this vibrant connection with a wider world”. I actually think I could read something similar out of Percy Bysshe Shelley, a man who I think Sam Buntz would have hated because of his anti-clerical and anti-Christian romanticism as well as his idiosyncratic neopaganism, in his letter to Thomas Love Peacock when he wrote that the ancient Greeks “lived in perpetual commerce with external nature”, which he believed explained the greatness of Greek poetry and art. Baron D’Holbach used to say “Let him study Nature, let him study himself”. But even if I granted Buntz’s premise of individualism I don’t think I can recognize it as being in alignment with my own worldview, because even there to me the point is that you self-essence on your own terms and pursue individuation by fighting social conditioning, even if that means harmony with nature (or even the nature of nature as I might say). I don’t think Buntz believes in that individuation, or in any kind of self-essencing in that it functions as self-determination. So what does Buntz’s “organic individualism” look like? Glancing quickly at his article about sex work, we still get nothing other than the assertion that sex work is somehow paradigmatic of capitalism, or “hyper-capitalism” rather, never mind of course that they don’t call it the oldest trade for nothing. To be honest, I get the sense that Buntz’s view of freedom is that it is not meant for itself, but must be legitimated by taste, namely his own taste. The freedom to offer your body by trade or by hobby is not valid in itself for him, and hence not valid at all because society does not (or, for him, should not) legitimate it. His “organic individualism” is thus the idea that individuality is fulfilled when society determines a range of expression that society deems valid, beyond which free expression of individuality may not transcend. In a word, oppression.
And through it all, what’s so bad about egoism per se? I know that certain forms of narrow egoism, the kind of bullshit that Ayn Rand gave us are part of the problem with a lot of the contemporary Left Hand Path, but what would be so bad about everyone deicidng to read Max Stirner and the egoist-anarchists and egoist-communists? Taken seriously, these actually lead to a re-discovery of egoism as something beyond the limits of the false individualism offered by Randian “libertarianism”, which is in reality nothing more than the uncontested rule of property-owning capitalists. From the standpoint of this egoism, individuality is what is called ownness, and it is a condition shared by all individuals. I am an ownness and so are you. You can even put a “collectivist” spin on it, paradoxically enough, insofar as if only I enjoy freedom and ownness while you do not, then I possess privilege upon myself and you possess oppression but then neither of us possess the true condition of egoistic freedom. Of course, I imagine part of Sam Buntz’s problem with this is not only that it rejects all authority in the most consistent way possible but also the implications of this involve seeing trans people as being exactly who they say they are on the grounds of their ownness, and we know already that Buntz thinks this is a problem. But his opinion is worthless, for he sells an individualism to us that is as well false, because your individuality is not valid in itself, and instead must allow itself to be shaped by society.
Imagine that society is no less an egoist or no less composed of egoists than you your yourself. Imagine that there is only you living amongst others who are unique just like you are. In this, there is no inherent moral right, or empirical materialist cause (in Marx’s terms), for society to assert that it is the only valid individual in the world. In Buntz’s “individualism”, you as a creation of society have no right to the exercise of egoistic freedom or will-to-egoism, only society has that right, because society is the only egoist, and it absorbs you back into itself the moment you declare independence because you in that declaration are a threat to its existence. Society declares absolute sovereignty over you, at which point we ask: who created this right, and who created society? God? Whose God? I don’t worship him and can’t be made to worship him. The law? Which law? It changes over generations, and you will write new laws. Reason? Whose reason? I think you’ll laugh at their “reason” once you study it. History? If you take historical materialism seriously, you will eventually realize that material conditions are also political decisions, and thus that a large number of the material conditions we point to result ultimately from choices made by people who have or assert power, and at that point you destroy all notion of history being some phantasmic force independent of human agency. But again, who created society? People, people who are no less “unique” than you and me, but whose interests consist in ruling over you, and who have acted in a way that might ensure they continue to do so. But if you are “unique”, you are ownness, you are an egoist, and society is built by people who are ultimately not so different except that they set themselves against you, you have only the “right” to assert yourself as an egoist, and that society is not the only egoist in the world. Sam Buntz’s “individualism” serves only to favour one egoist over the other, as the determinant of your own individuality, but if society determines you who determines society? People make society, and at that, none other than the same egoists that we are told society exists against!
So that’s about it for this response. There really wasn’t a whole lot to say about Satanism in that article, because, again, Buntz never addresses any extant forms of Satanism, only a vague idea of it presented by a TERF who knows almost nothing about it and the poetic ideas of Satan created within Christian culture. Needless to say, this article is not very useful in understanding Satanism, let alone a particularly insightful critique.
[This article was originally published by Queer Satanic, a collective of former members of The Satanic Temple who are presentlty being sued by The Satanic Temple for speaking out against them. It was originally published on Medium on February 13th 2022, but it seems to have gone down, possibly as a result of The Satanic Temple’s efforts to silence Queer Satanic. I suspect it might have something to do with June Everett accusing Queer Satanic of having doxxed them. I’ve been asked if I would like to share or mirror this article to my blog, and I agreed on behalf of the cause of solidarity with anti-fascist Satanists who want to rebel against The Satanic Temple and oppose their leadership. The Satanic Temple has gone out of their way to spend money from Satanists who pay to be members on defending Catholic conservatives on free speech grounds, but this concern for free speech seems to not be applied to left-wing Satanists who speak out against The Satanic Temple. In solidarity with the cause, let me show you something that Lucien Greaves doesn’t want you to see.]
Last time, we looked in detail at how a press release from The Satanic Temple takes advantage first of weak local journalists and their editors by offering a compelling conflict narrative; this makes a story easy to cover “both sides” of and meets the minimum standards of objectivity. We showed how this simple, facile framework leads to a story that can be turned around quickly and neatly without any deeper questions pursued, and we showed how this tidy “man-bites-dog” Satanist story then works its way through each step of the rightwing media ecosystem, something that justifies further coverage by increasingly prominent “straight” news outfits as well as liberals and leftists looking to dunk on the right.
“After School Satan” clubs have been a point of pride for TST since first announced in late summer 2016 in the Washington Post.
If you are looking at that logo and chuckling to yourself because a.) you realize what the acronym is, and yet b.) you realize that would be inappropriate for an elementary and middle school program, you would be correct on both counts. But remember, we’re dealing with The Satanic Temple here, so all of the original iconography was not “After School Satan Clubs” (ASSC) it was just “After School Satan” (ASS). From conversations with some high-ranking ex-TST members, we’ve also been able to confirm that internally, “ASS clubs” was the joke, as well.
The After School Satan Clubs meet at select public schools where Good News Clubs also operate.
“Good News Clubs” or GNCs are religious indoctrination clubs run by Child Evangelism Fellowship, which they describe as “weekly Christian programs for kids 5–12 years old featuring a Bible lesson, songs, memory verses, and games.”
But you shouldn’t trust an organization’s self-marketing. GoodNewsClubs.info has some independent information about GNCs, but understand that there are thousands of these clubs across the United States harming tens of thousands of students, and they absolutely deserve to be countered.
No wonder people who want something like that also want to believe that a group like The Satanic Temple‘s self-marketing actually does exist and offers an alternative to kids.
Unfortunately, TST’s claims are lies.
As late as September 2020, the Temple claimed to have active ASS clubs in nine school districts. A person searching for themselves to double-check could even find multiple national and local headlines about it:
What you may notice (but journalists and fact-checkers never seem to) is that those stories don’t include the clubs getting to the point of actually meeting with students.
Ordo Sororitatis Satanicae detailed why Springfield, Mo., fell apart in their 2019 piece about Lucien Greaves and The Satanic Temple, but as far as we can tell, no news outlets thought it worth doing follow up at the time or ever since.
We reached out to Heinrich Kaiser, a former organizer for TST’s local affiliate group in the Washington, D.C.-area, about what happened to their program after getting all that press coverage and making public promises about it.
I was the spokesperson for PG [Prince George, Md.] county on this initiative years ago. Leadership pushed the promotion and left us high and dry like it never even happened after we had certified educators on board and a media blitz.
Which are both the more typical way of things with TST: the announcement is spoonfed to media who dutifully talk about it because it’s such a good and easy story for them, but then overworked journalists and understaffed newsrooms forget to follow up. By the time they do — if they do — the story is too old. Plus, the way the rules of news work, “turns out, nothing happened” is a tough sell to an editor.
Now, two of those places (Taylorsville and Portland) did get to the point of an “open house” at least, but there’s no evidence Taylorsville actually provided anything for students. Meanwhile, leadership of what in 2018 would break off from TST to become “Satanic Portland” confirmed publicly that one of their major sources of tension was that Portland’s local After School Satan club (mis-abbreviated here) fell apart after the national leadership got the headlines and photos they wanted then proceeded to ignore them for months at a time.
In general, an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but it seems pretty odd that dramatic protests and news coverage would accompany so many After School Satan clubs yet there then would be nothing about any of them actually meeting if they actually did.
See, though many provisional clubs were announced to great acclaim and consternation, when we asked around, only one program ever actually served a child that we can find: Point Defiance Elementary School in Tacoma, Wash.
There, a radio news story confirmed that a volunteer from the Seattle chapter taught one child once a month for two hours during the spring 2017 semester.
After a lot of hullabaloo about the club being on the grounds of Port Defiance Elementary, a young girl named Veronica (we’re not using her last name for privacy reasons) ended up being the only kid who joined.
“I am 11, I will be turning 12 on August 9th. My friend is a week older than me because she’s on July 28,” she says.
Erin Botello is Veronica’s After School Satan Club educator, and a member of the Satanic Temple in Seattle.
“Veronica is our only student,” she says. “She has come to every meeting that we have held … She is fierce. She has a great head on her shoulders, she also has a very supportive family who also shows up with her to the meetings.”
Additionally, we have documentation that TST’s non-church 501(c)(3) Reason Alliance Ltd. paid for a semester’s worth of once-per-month rent, starting December 2016 then till the end of spring semester 2017. Reason Alliance writing the check set off an entirely new round of rightwing outrage over how fast it got nonprofit status, but we won’t go further into that here.
Officially, the program was “on pause” the next semester. On the other hand, TST also told the Tacoma News Tribune the club was “well-attended” as a way to describe having one student participate.
The club met once a month with kids from all elementary grade levels during the second half of last school year, but it doesn’t have the resources to continue this year, according to the Satanic Temple of Seattle.
“It was a matter of funding, and also volunteers who couldn’t take the time out of work because it’s right in the middle of the work day, so we didn’t have enough volunteers,” said [Seattle] Temple leader Lilith Starr.
Those volunteers were members of the Temple, and Starr said two of the three of them had a background in teaching.
While Starr declined to give specific numbers for how many kids came to the 90-minute club, she said it had been well-attended.
And according to Botello when we reached out last week, TST shut the program down not due to a lack of local support but because the national org already had all of the headlines they needed.
“I pushed to do it for another year, and to make it bigger. But I was shot down real quick,” Botello said. “I wanted to keep it going, being more intentional about lesson plans and expanding to more students. But they shot me down. They said the ‘jig was up’ basically and the stunt had run its course.
“I was very passionate about the program. And I put a lot of my own money and supplies into it,” she continued. “It was a real slap in the face that they reduced my work to a ‘political stunt.’ As a parent, I felt some type of way about using children as pawns for political gain.”
The partner of Derek Piersing, former leader of the “South Sound Satanists” affiliate group centered on Tacoma, also independently confirmed this in a statement written in March 2020.
The only reason I joined TST was for the After School Satan Club. The first year Derek and I were both students and we couldn’t make it to Point Defiance to participate, but we were told it was a huge success and I was so happy. That summer we moved to Tacoma (for unrelated reasons) and I told Lilith [Starr] I wanted to enroll our son and be a teacher in the program, which she was enthusiastic about. As the school year approached, though, I didn’t hear anything else. I tried to talk to her about what I needed to enroll our son, and what I needed to do to be able to teach and always she said ‘we’ll get back to you’. So I waited, and heard nothing, until the mass email saying the program was canceled. I was frustrated because we had a student (my son) and the year before we had only had one, we had volunteers, including myself and a few others thanked in the email, so what had happened? No answer, no explanation, nothing except my name on a list in a mass email.
Indeed, Australian comedian Jim Jefferies did more journalistic work that fall than most professional journalists ever have on the topic when he interviewed ASS club’s then-national program lead Chalice Blythe.
In press releases, as late as September 2017, Blythe was still claiming publicly that things were going great and going to be “even better and much bigger” than ever.
“Last year [fall 2016– spring 2017], the After School Satan Club curriculum was only offered in school districts where local chapters of The Satanic Temple could manage and maintain them. In that time, we received a flood of emails from parents, educators, and other qualified parties who were interested in operating After School Satan Clubs in schools near them.”
The Tacoma News Tribune included Blythe’s statement without further investigation, as did Seattle’s alt-weekly paper The Stranger. TST member and future high-level media contributor Jack Matirko of course went one step further for his Patheos blog:
Amusingly enough, when asked by the Washington Post last year about the ASSC program the Liberty Counsel’s founder and chairman Mat Staver said:
“… I can’t imagine there’s going to be a lot of students participating in this. It’s probably dust they’re kicking up and is likely to fade away in the near future for lack of interest.”
If this expansion of After School Satan Clubs to a volunteer network is any indication, Mr. Staver may find that he was sorely mistaken.
But having Blythe on camera, Jefferies asked her a direct question, and Blythe confirmed that despite the massive amount of media coverage nationwide the year before, there were no active programs anywhere in the USA at that time.
Jim Jefferies: There’s 3,800 Good News Groups — clubs — across America. How many branches do you have?
Chalice Blythe: As of right now, we don’t have any currently in operation.
The airdate for that was October 2017. Despite being included in numerous press releases, we can’t find any evidence of such programs existing between then and January 2022. We were able to confirm that, as expected, TST’s 2021 year-in-review greatly mischaracterized what TST had done with its ASS clubs in that year and that there were no clubs in 2020, although this was blamed on Covid-19.
So, prior to January 2022 when an After School Satan club in Moline, Ill., actually met with students for the first time, there seem to have been none since Tacoma. (Even in Moline, we are relying on news to accurately characterize it as a meeting and not a provisional open house like in Portland.)
Again: we cannot prove that there were no ASS clubs during the previous five years, but it should be pretty easy for anyone to demonstrate TST actually met with kids other than that one program; as yet, no apologists for the Temple have been able to.
For five years, The Satanic Temple was able to advertise themselves offering a program without any of the work or headaches of actually doing it, knowing that news outlets were more interested in “reporting the controversy” than seeing if announcements or open houses ever got to the point of engaging students. Ignorant people without the time to do hours of follow-up on their own believed TST and these reporters, naturally.
People often say, “At least The Satanic Temple is doing something.” Well, the “something” TST was doing was getting attention and leaving all its volunteers high and dry.
Yet, when The Satanic Temple dusted off its After School Satan program this year and targeted the Midwest, it worked just as well. Numerous local and national news stories, including social media with rightwingers going nuts and smug liberals telling them that actually the Temple is great — why, just read TST’s own website for proof.
As far as we can tell, the program in Moline did actually meet, and when we asked campaign director “June Everett” on Facebook, she claimed it involved four students.
June Everett: We had 4 kids at the club in Moline.(emphasis added) Why does it matter? More are planning on attending in future months. They had such a great time I’ve been notified they want ASSC to be weekly. Geesh I don’t know why we don’t have 5,000 clubs up and going every year like GNC does. Maybe it has something to do with the 26 death threats I’ve received in the last 3 days? And all the doxxing that happens amongst other pissed off satanists? I plan on supporting my volunteers in anyway that I can. Being present for each club launch, taking care of all logistics to get the club approved, all documentation, required supplies, media training, ASSC training. Anything they need for future clubs. All of it.
Everett references doxing, and we’ll address that at the bottom because it turns out to be much too complicated to get into here. All subsequent press references to the campaign director of After School Satan also quote “June Everett”, so we’re going to have to follow that naming convention.
Just note that previously, someone named “Andrea Williams Wright” was also answering questions and also publicly identifying as the Campaign Director of the After School Satan clubs for The Satanic Temple.
June Everett: Well. I can tell you from experience that getting a school board to approve us is no easy task. The last two years have also been frustrating with COVID-19. Respecting the rules of the schools and considering that most were on and off with e-learning, therefore prohibiting most after school activities including Good News Club. I started receiving serious emails just this past fall notifying me that the GNC had returned, and that that there were parents willing to step up to volunteer to help run ASSC in their communities. I can assure you that just because a club never came to fruition, does not mean that there was zero effort trying to make it happen. (emphasis added)
I also just had a club approved in Ohio, and two more in the works in PA and NY. And of course now I’m getting flooded with volunteers who want to bring ASSC to their communities. So let’s see what the future holds. Cheers! & Hail Satan.
Of course, the work of volunteers on the ground is not and never has really been in question when it comes to The Satanic Temple. It’s what the national organization based out of Salem is doing with that volunteer labor and to what ends the two owners are seeking.
Local Superintendent Isaac Seevers confirmed to The Dayton Daily News that there were “two students and seven adults that were participating in the meeting”, which sounds to us like an open house people were just scoping out, but we’ll be generous.
June Everett, an ordained minister of The Satanic Temple and the campaign manager of the After School Satan Club, said the meeting “was anti-climatic” and they were “just hanging out and having a good time playing games and enjoying snacks.”
Everett said the meetings will be held monthly unless the volunteer leadership determines the need to have more meetings.
“We’re not disappointed with today’s turnout,” she said. “We’re not going after numbers. We just want to make this available.”
Everett said there are more people interested in participating and that she has received about a dozen emails and messages. She said people are afraid of their children becoming a target. Everett also said the schools did a great job in preparing for the meeting and with security.
So, as far as we can (generously) confirm, that is a total of seven students in three states meeting since the program was first announced in fall 2016.
What this “accomplishment” has received in return is dozens but perhaps hundreds of articles from the local news to blogs to YouTube videos to the Washington Post to multiple Fox News segments devoted to it, as well as dutiful repetition of TST’s claims in press releases that the program is extant even when — if anyone who bothered to check — it was not.
This latest news cycle is even better than getting coverage of the “Baby Baphomet” on Fox News in December, because this time Lucien Greaves himself got to go on Fox News again.
Why Greaves prefers someone like Carlson over someone like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow or CNN’s Brian Stelter could be explained in many ways, but the most generous is that Greaves knows he’s going to get a copacetic interview from Carlson. The Fox News primetime host is certainly not interested in finding out that “there’s no Satan Claus” when it comes to an international Satanic organization that claims half a million members trying to get into the schools of his audience and educate children.
Carlson and the rest of the far-right media are absolutely not looking to point out that TST is, in reality, five hundred thousand email-newsletter subscribers in a trench coat and some dozens of people actually involved till they burn out, get kicked out, or find out about the whole “Aryan king” thing. The Gateway Pundit is absolutely not going to bother to point out the Temple’s public figures make a lot of (to TGP’s audience) scary promises TST never delivers on and therefore are not something their audience should be frightened of, are not a sign of the end times, are not another reason to stock up on doomsday prepper supplies they happen to also sell.
The right wants what The Satanic Temple is selling because it helps the right push its own grifts.
If you’re saying that the right-wing media ecosystem would be inventing Satanist conspiracies and fear-mongering even without TST, OK — you’re probably right.
But The Satanic Temple is the organization that actively seeks attention, clout, and money by handing these people pre-packaged fantasies to peddle without even bothering to actually do anything good.
All of this goes on and is allowed to glide on — frictionless — because everyone involved at every step of the way supporting or opposing the Temple is getting what they want.
The Satanic Temple “controls the media” because news orgs get a bigger audience, right-wing groups get a bogeyman, liberals and leftists get to feel superior or feel like they’re “trolling” the right, and TST gets to make a buck while Lucien Greaves gets to feel clever and important and have endless praise heaped on him by TST sycophants.
The only people who don’t benefit in all of these schemes are the people who are supposed to be benefitting: the pregnant people who need abortions, the organizations actually fighting to keep Christian dominionism out of the state, and children who probably could use a decent alternative to after school programs by the Child Evangelism Fellowship and their “Good News Clubs”.
And it seems like that ought to be important to someone by now.
Maybe next time.
Moreover, we’re still being sued by The Satanic Temple in federal court. If you’ve learned anything new, please follow us on our other social media to learn even more and show your appreciation with whatever you can afford so we can keep defending ourselves from this frivolous SLAPP suit.
The Facebook profile “June Everett” clearly and unequivocally claims to be the Campaign Director of the After School Satan club program, as well as an “Ordained Minister of The Satanic Temple”.
Early on in our exchange, she accused us of doxing and said that she had already had a conversation with us the previous weekend.
June Everett: I know whatever I share with you is going to be posted on your private shit-posting page and Twitter Account. I saw all the posts that you shared using your real name when I was answering questions for you last weekend. So that was cool. Don’t worry — I won’t doxx you like you doxx everyone else. I’m sorry you hate TST so much that it has turned in to your full-time job. I would like to answer questions for you without you being so hostile about it. But I know whatever I say or honestly answer will just be flipped and twisted around and won’t mean a thing. So. What a conundrum.
At the time, this was a bit baffling, but with a bit of work we understood that she meant our fact-check of TST’s 2021 year-in-review where we referenced the conversation she had with someone else as “Andrea Williams Wright” under The Satanic Temple’s public Facebook post about After School Satan clubs returning mere weeks after TST had claimed they were actively meeting in 2021.
Although it remains public and we linked to the conversation directly there (and will do so again), the person asking those questions is not one of the four people being sued by The Satanic Temple, which is all “Queer Satanic” is, so we didn’t want to corral them into this without their permission.
Now, TST did attempt to dox the four of us by not only putting what they thought were our government names but also our home addresses into the public federal court record as part of serving us papers. Which is something fairly different from what the Temple’s supporters typically mean by doxing: referring to someone by the same government name they use when they buy stuff, own stuff, sue people, and give testimony in court as part of a “constellation of affiliate entities” exerting power over its members’ lives.
The Satanic Temple says, “We’re a legitimate religion!” But when pressed, it’s always, “I’m worried about being held accountable for things I say and do publicly for my legitimate religion.”
This is not deadnaming a trans person. This is not taking a new name as part of religious conversion.
This is the campaign director for what purports to be a national religious program for children, and she ought to perform the minimal amount of ownership and accountability of actually standing behind what she’s doing.
But — and this is where it gets tricky with The Satanic Temple — Wright being the same person as June Everett is based on only her word, and unlike typical “Satanyms”, there are multiple people legally named “June Everett”, including in Colorado, where Wright and Everett are from. Both were even involved in Menstruatin’ With Satan Campaigns in Colorado: Everett in 2020 and Wright in 2020, and Everett again in 2021. And yet the top non-Facebook search results for Everett including a LinkedIn profile clearly are a different person from Wright.
It should not be this difficult to just confirm that someone is who they say are.
So, while Everett says that she is the same person as Wright, and both Wright and Everett have publicly claimed to be Campaign Director for the After School Satan club program, we still cannot independently confirm that they are. Which is wild.
The same day the conversation was happening between us where Everett accused us of doxing, a Jewish community was targeted while meeting in their synagogue yet again. Somehow Jewish people — who are actually targeted for the ethno-religion rather than just by euphemism and proxy as Satanists are — conduct their work under their own names, meet publicly, and have a sense of community that can have internal and external accountability.
What an awful, pathetic religion Satanism is if it wants to get national headlines, untraceable money, and the right to teach children but is too craven to even endure scrutiny.
Editor’s note: a previous version of this article described Heinrich Kaiser’s role with The Satanic Temple inaccurately.
[Once again, this has been a mirror of what was originally written by Queer Satanic. All content here has been reproduced from the original article. And let me just thank Queer Satanic for giving me an unexpected opportunity to raise the issue of After School Satan being a scam.]
OK, so The Satanic Temple is really pissing me off at the moment. Just yesterday I learned from Queer Satanic, a group of ex-TST members who are currently being sued by The Satanic Temple, that The Satanic Temple have decided to support a Catholic organisation called Church Militant by filing an amicus brief for them. An amicus brief is a letter written to the court by people not involved in a case in order to present argument or evidence not yet presented by the parties involved to the court on behalf of one of the parties. Church Militant, also known as St. Michael’s Media, is a right-wing Catholic website which pushes climate change denial, LGBT-phobia, sexism, anti-Muslim fearmongering, and anti-abortion talking points as part of an ideological program of Christian conservatism, and its leader, Michael Voris, supports Donald Trump on the grounds that he believes Trump would have granted Roman Catholicism the status of state religion in America.
You did not misread that. The Satanic Temple, the very same organisation trying to bill itself as defenders of abortion rights and secular freedom in general against the threat of Christian theocracy, just supported an anti-abortion Christian conservative group dedicated to the cause of Catholic theocracy! And at that, the very same Christian propaganda network that has over the years repeatedly portrayed The Satanic Temple as villainous buffoons!
You might very reasonably be wondering what the hell The Satanic Temple would be doing allying with Church Militant of all people. Apparently, the Satanic Temple thinks that Church Militant is being “silenced” by the city of Baltimore. They say that even though they disagree with everything Church Militant stands for, they oppose the apparent “outrage” being committed against them, and they even do the typical Voltaire quote trope that had essentially become a religious mantra for “classical liberals” who, especially in the case of TST, inevitably fail to practice what they preach. Marc Randazza, the right-wing attorney who represented Lucien Greaves in his battle to get his blue checkmark back, is also representing Church Militant, which if we’re being honest is not a coincidence considering his record.
At this point we should ask, just what “outrage” is The Satanic Temple referring to? A few months ago, Church Militant planned to hold a rally at the MECU Pavilion in Baltimore, during the US Conference of Bishops on November 16th. Ostensibly, the rally was supposed to be all about speaking up against sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. That might seem funny coming from a Catholic organisation, but apparently Church Militant are not properly affiliated with the Catholic Church and the church itself seems to distance itself from them. The rally was also to feature former Trump advisor Stephen Bannon and professional non-serious person Milo Yiannopoulos as guest speakers, and purportedly involved support for the January 6th rioters. The city of Baltimore claimed that Church Militant risked inciting violence through inflammatory speeches, while Church Militant denied this and argued that the city is persecuting them over differences of opinion. In the end, on October 12th, the case was dismissed and judge Ellen Hollander ruled that Church Militant had the right to hold their rally in Baltimore. In TST’s amicus brief, Matthew Kezhaya, counsel for The Satanic Temple, argued that the rally was a religious event, on the grounds of the ostensible focus of the event as well as the involvement of prayer, and that the city of Baltimore was denying Church Militant their fundamental free speech and free exercise rights.
So, what to make of all this in relation to The Satanic Temple. Ostensibly, this is a free speech case for them, consistent with their fourth tenet which extols the right to offend. But if TST were at all consistent about that famous Voltaire’s maxim, they wouldn’t be suing Netflix for the use of their “Baphomet” statue in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, nor would they be suing queer Satanist activists for daring to criticize them in public – or, sorry, “commandeering” their social media page, per their politically correct interpretation of events. There’s no doubt that Lucien Greaves and Milo Yiannopoulos are friends, and Lucien has frequently spoken up in defence of Milo while condemning anti-fascists as threats to freedom of speech. If that’s the case, and it seems to be pretty consistent for Lucien, then this is less about freedom of speech for everyone including those who offend you, and more about Lucien Greaves simply sticking up for his far-right buddies.
Is it wrong to argue that the city of Baltimore was acting against Church Militant’s right to free speech? I’d say arguably not, at least in a vacuum. But this isn’t just Lucien Greaves going on his social media account posting Voltaire quotes to make innocuous arguments about freedom of speech. I wouldn’t complain if that were the case, but the reality of the situation is different. An amicus brief isn’t filed for free. I don’t know how much TST paid to file that amicus brief, but apparently, depending on who you ask at least, it can cost thousands of dollars in the US. That may not mean financial support for Church Militant, but when you keep in mind that Lucien Greaves probably derived at least some of those legal fees from the dues of its members, that means a lot of money drawn from TST membership went to Matthew Kezhaya just to provide legal support for Church Militant. Lucien Greaves could have just tweeted that the city of Baltimore was wrong and that they were violating Church Militant’s free speech rights, and then stayed out of the actual case. In my eyes there would be no problem if that was all that happened, as it would not mean any material support for the organisation. Instead of that he chose to spend lots of money, probably thousands of dollars, presumably pooled from paying members, to support Church Militant.
And let’s drag ourselves away from the strict details of the case for a moment to re-establish the real heart of the matter. The Satanic Temple paid thousands of dollars from its members to materially support an organisation that is completely against everything they and almost all Satanists and secularists stand for, and did so in the name of the right to offend, while at the same time they are actually suing left-wing Satanists for criticizing them, which only makes sense from the standpoint of having to justify punishing dissenters for having offended Lucien Greaves and his ego. And frankly, all this legal caping for theocratic anti-abortion Catholics while trying to act like the last line of defence for abortion smacks profoundly of contradiction, one that in my view completely invalidates the whole purpose of The Satanic Temple as an organisation. You can invoke the name of free speech and the right to offend as much as you like, but when you’re repeatedly trying to silence people for disagreeing with you, that to me is proof that, in all honesty, this is not about freedom of speech, and instead this is about how you support far-right, often fascistic, and even theocratic conservative people because, if we’re being fucking honest with ourselves and with you, you just plain like those people! Obviously religion has nothing to do with it. You just like right-wing authoritarianism, wherever that happens to come from. Given that Lucien Greaves was openly arguing for eugenics until 2018, continually sides with the right against the left, repeatedly defends hard-right ideologues against the left, and seems to have no problem with whatever the fuck Cevin Soling is up to, I’d say I’ve got a pretty strong case. Or maybe I’m wrong and you don’t, in which case the only option left is that this is pure selfish opportunism, since you’re still silencing left-wing critics and suing people over your dumb statue despite claiming to love the freedom to offend.
You might be thinking about all the “good work” TST supposedly does, the shit that launched the organisation to fame. Well, not one of its legal campaigns has ever landed any real success. Even the Ten Commandments vs “Baphomet” controversy that endeared guys like me to them can’t be credited to TST’s efforts. It was resolved by the ACLU, without any input or involvement from TST, but TST opportunistically took credit for it anyway. They are, in reality, utterly useless, coasting atop undeserved accolades. I’m gonna tell you right here and now that the only reason you might think TST are worth even half of a damn is the mainstream media. TST have done nothing of value, the cases hyped up by media coverage went nowhere, and meanwhile the actual leadership is authoritarian, opportunistic, and consistent allies of the far-right, but because they receive frequent and typically uncritical coverage from the media, often including sympathetic liberal and progressive commentary, likely taking advantage of their sensational opposition to Christianity, they enjoy a lasting reputation as progressive freedom fighters for secularism against Christian theocracy. In fact, I am sure that you have not heard of their support for Church Militant anywhere in the media and you probably never will because it’s inconvenient for the narrative they’re trying to create. The only times when the media is even vaguely critical of TST is when it has to talk about their dealings with Marc Randazza, for maybe a day or so. There is no coverage of The Satanic Temple’s attempts to sue the queer Satanists who criticized them, except maybe in an article from the increasingly conservative Newsweek, and even they couldn’t be bothered to do that unless it involved sleazy allegations regarding orgies.
You know, things like this have me thinking that Amaranthe Altanatum was broadly right about atheistic Satanism. I’m not saying all atheistic Satanists are like TST are even approve of TST, but there’s still a lot who will defend TST, and that’s probably because not enough people know what’s going on. Still even its rivals labor under the illusion that they can dismiss the Satanism of anyone they please. And either way, I think it’s something that has to be reckoned with.
Regardless, wherever you stand, The Satanic Temple aren’t your friends. They’re opportunistic fedora-tippers who are presently betraying everything that Satanism has ever held dear. They don’t deserve any support or honour.
With blatantly tyrannical laws on abortion set to be in place in Texas, and the state set to become the land where freedom dies in endless lawsuits, The Satanic Temple have predictably jumped at the opportunity to prove themselves fighters for reproductive rights and social freedom against Christian theocracy and authoritarianism, and many progressives have rushed to validate that image while the mainstream media portrays them as some sort of last hope against the Christian right. Oh, if only it were that simple. I too have contemplated seriously the idea that it might be necessary to join them in order to oppose theocracy. Bah! As if that would do any good!
I stumbled on an article written by Jinx Strange on Luciferian Dominion explaining that The Satanic Temple actually knows nothing about the law, especially on abortion. The Satanic Temple seems to think that by casting abortions as “Satanic rituals”, without any self-awareness of how compromises their own intentions, they can play the religious freedom card and demand the right to perform abortions and store and distribute abortifcacents as an exemption from Texas law on the grounds that, for The Satanic Temple, abortion is a religious right. The Satanic Temple seems to have ignored the fact that, in the United States, appeals to religious freedom do not protect you from state laws, meaning that TST would still be subject to Texas state law and would be denied the right to perform abortions and store/distribute abortifacents.
Suffice it to say, The Satanic Temple have been doing exactly the same thing that Texas wants to make normal, just that when TST did it they were trying to fight for themselves to have abortion ceremonies, and they seem to just treat lawsuits surrounding abortion rights as a way to accumulate fame and perhaps wealth, they don’t really seem to care about the actual people involved or their struggles. But again, you will not hear much about this in the media’s coverage of The Satanic Temple because the media is trying to portray them as crusaders for women’s rights and secular freedoms. Well that image might have been impactful, indeed sort of truthful, back in the old days of 2014 when they were actually taking on local governments with the Baphomet statue stunt, but it just doesn’t mean anything now, and is essentially nothing more than media bluster that obscures their true nature.
With the exception of Lucien Greaves defending Milo Yiannopolous or TST hiring Marc Randazza as their free speech lawyer, you will not hear anything in the mainstream media that contradicts TST’s image as a progressive secular advocacy movement bravely taking the fight to religious governments on behalf of reason and scientific enlightenment, because, quite frankly, the media wants a group like The Satanic Temple to represent the side of liberal values in a bourgeois culture war. To that end, you will even see outlets like Raw Story invent Satanic Temple quotes out of thin air to make them seem reasonable.
So, on those grounds, I can’t side with The Satanic Temple at all, I cannot in good conscience treat The Satanic Temple as being the right side of the fight for abortion rights, and I can’t say that they are anything other than a publicity racket propped up by opportunistic reactionaries who care more about their own vanity and self-created authority than the people they claim to be helping. Even with the Texas law set to take effect, The Satanic Temple have no leg to stand on in fighting it, and beyond that it seems like they are simply incapable of doing anything of substance, and apparently have been all along for years. Fuck The Satanic Temple and their skeleton goats.
To be honest, I initially ignored the brew-ha-ha surrouding the pop rap singer Lil Nas X, his Satan shoes, and the song it was supposed to market, despite the fact it dovetails into the subject matter of Satanism. At the time I looked on it as a classic moral panic against “Satanism” in pop culture and thought little of it. Then I got alerted to a video released in April by a guy named Jonathan Pageau about Lil Nas X’s song, around whom the Satan shoes were marketed, and I decided that I simply had to write a response to it, and maybe advance some new takes in the process. Pageau’s video is titled, and I’m being serious, “Montero and Wandavision: How Satanism Functions”, and in it he argues that Lil Nas X, and Wandavision as well, are promoting Satanism through this engendering the decay of “Western civilization”. Also he apparently argues not only that witchcraft is real but also that the Malleus Maleficarum was an accurate account of the practice of witchcraft being played out in the present day. Or at least he argues for the relevance of what the Malleus Maleficarum says in a very roundabout way.
For context, the main subject of all this is “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”, a hip hop song made by Lil Nas X and released in March 26th. The song is about Lil Nas X struggling with being gay in the context of his Christian upbringing, deep down wanting to have sex with men, and eventually embracing his sexual identity and owning what society perceives to be its subversive nature as part of that. To promote the song, Lil Nas X and Nike collaborated to release a series of custom Air Max 97 shoes referred to as Satan Shoes, which are essentially just sneaker shoes that sport Satanic imagery and supposedly made with a drop of human blood. Naturally, this courted controversy among idiots looking to use their faith as a basis to attack Lil Nas X for being gay and accuse him of seducing the youth into Satanism just like they said about every other pop musician ever. Evidently Jonathan Pageau, a Christian artist (he makes Orthodox icons for a living) and public speaker about symbolism and myth, is one of those idiots, but as you will see he goes above and beyond with his insane takes on the song.
Mindful of the fact that Pageau’s video is 36 minutes long, goes all over the place, and in general it can take me quite a bit of time to write response posts such as this, I will do the best I can to not make this too lengthy a post. So in that spirit, we’ll focus mostly on some very specific points/claims made by Pageau. For our purposes, this means ignoring everything about Wandavision in the video that isn’t otherwise pertinent to everything else we’re covering. The actual video is about both Lil Nas X’s song Montero and Wandavision, but I mostly just want to focus on his commentary on Lil Nas X and all things Satanic.
Right from the get go, we are shown that Pageau has no real idea who Lil Nas X is, and condescendingly treats him as someone “desperate for attention”. Regarding “satanic tropes and moves”:
None of it is arbitrary, but like any system of meaning, it rather has a strange coherence. This coherence can give us a few clues as to why this imagery would be used to attract the type of attention someone like Lil Nas X desperately needs in order to stay relevant in a post-Christian, blase, porn-infused, hungover culture.
Anyone who knows anything about Lil Nas X knows that he isn’t the kind of guy who would be “desperate for attention”. He shot to viral fame in 2019 with his single, “Old Town Road”, which stayed in the Hot 100 chart for 19 weeks, and since then he went on to be the most nominated male artist at the 62nd Grammy Awards, of which he won two awards (one for Best Music Video and another for Best Pop/Duo Group Perfomance). “Old Town Road” is still considered one of the most popular songs of the last few years, so needless to say he’s not exactly starved for attention. But even if it was all a scheme for attention, could we not say that it worked? And if it did, could we not make the argument that we in fact are not in a “post-Christian” age? If we were, then would we even be discussing any controversy relating to the opinions of religious Christians? After all, if we were in a post-Christian age, then Christianity would be irrelevant in the way that pre-Christian belief systems are generally considered to be irrelevant now. But then I suppose that, by “post-Christian culutre”, Pageau really means a generally secular culture where Christian religion isn’t forced on people by society at least in the way that it used to be, where Christianity has lost some of the power and influence that it once had, and irreligion, atheism, or alternative spirituality are experiencing some growth and openness.
After remarking dismissively about the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, as I suppose he should, Pageau begins to describe the music video for “Montero” and its imagery:
So the Montero video is a rather disturbing sight to behold. In a world inhabitated only by versions of himself, Lil Nas X sings about his intimate encounter, let’s call it, and his obsession with a man who has the same name as him, Montero, and Call Me By Your Name is the unofficial title of this song. The video is ultimately about one thing. It’s about pride. This self-love is represented as an exploration of the strangeness and idiosyncrasies of one’s self. Self-seduction, self-victimizing, self-abasement, self-gratification, and ultimately self-crowning. In speaking to his self-named lover, Montero tells us that “I’m not fazed, only here to sin. If Eve ain’t your garden, you know that you can.” And so pride as self-love appears ultimately as a sterile revolution against the natural patterns of the world. A desire for the world to be solipistic, to be contained by my self, for the world to be in my image, and a desire to be free from the usual constraints of natural patterns and cycles of being.
It is very important to understand what Pageau is trying to get at when he talks about things like “solipsism”, “pride”, “self-love”, and “revolution against natural patterns”. To do that, we need to remember the context of the song. It’s about Lil Nas X coming to terms with his homosexual identity, his struggle with his own self-denial in the context of a Christian upbringing, and eventual embrace of his identity as a homosexual. Where might “solipsism”, “pride”, or “narcissism” come in? Pageau will never outright say it, but it seems obvious that he is trying to say that homosexuality represents a deviation from the natural order or “natural patterns and cycles of being”, as set by God, and that the desire to be accepted for being homosexual is a form of solipistic rebellion against nature. His interpretation requires the ignorance not only of the fact that homosexuality was more or less normal in much of the ancient world (with Rome being a notable outlier), but also of the context of Lil Nas X’s own struggles with self-denial of his own homosexuality. Indeed, to underscore that, we need only address the lyric that Pageau quotes here: “I’m not fazed, only here to sin. If Eve ain’t your garden, you know that you can.” This is actually a reference to the fact that homosexuality is considered to be a sin in Western Christian culture, euphemistically hinting at the “forbidden” nature of the relationship that Montero wants to be a part of. Eve would be the woman in his lover’s life, the woman that he was probably partnering with as an act of self-denial to hide his real sexuality from a society that would not approve of it, and if this woman isn’t around to know about it, then perhaps Montero and his lover can freely pursue a homosexual relationship. All of this seems a lot more sensible an interpretation than some abstract nonsense about how Lil Nas X is declaring war on nature and God by being gay, which, on top of just putting words into Lil Nas X’s mouth and being homophobic, is Pageau looking at the satanic aesthetic and from there referring to the myth of Satan falling from heaven and projecting that myth onto the Montero song/video in order to working backwards towards his conclusion. If Pageau were a much more straightforward and honest man, he would be forthright in simply stating his opinion that homosexuality is “unnatural”, but perhaps he knows that this would ruin his effort to position himself as a somewhat respectable presenter of Christian mysticism, which is built on the ability to exploit ignorance.
He seems misinterpret another lyric as well:
He tells his self-named lover that he wants to, let’s say, I won’t quote it exactly but, let’s say, to put a child in his mouth. This is of course the ultimate image of sterility, of solipsistic dreaming, of this imagination which is taken up in fantastical places but does not produce body, community, or cohesion, but only causes revolution, fragmentation, and ultimately loneliness.
For starters, the correct rendition of the lyric is “Shoot a child in your mouth while I’m ridin'”. And all of that elaborate interpretation might seem compelling to someone who has no idea what Lil Nas X meant by that, but as to its actual meaning? It’s just slang for ejaculation. He’s jacking off into his lover’s mouth, basically. Riding is very obviously a reference to a sex act, which presumably ends in said ejaculation. It’s just Montero wants to do with his lover. That’s it. Now I’m sure that, as a Christian, Pageau would obviously have a problem with any form of ejaculation that doesn’t take place inside a woman’s vagina in the context of marriage, but it is not obvious what’s so sterile, or solipsistic, about jacking off in a guy’s mouth, except for what Pageau won’t tell you, which is that he thinks homosexual relationships in which men have sex with other men for pleasure is inherently unnatural and therefore solipsistic because it supposedly is at war with nature. Again I would note that many societies such as China, Turkey, and many African countries for instance considered homosexuality to be perfectly normal, and in fact during the age of European colonialism there were Moroccan visitors to France who were offended by the fact that French men did not engage in sexual relations with men. It was only after the West came in, conquered those countries, altered their societies, and spread the narrative that they were conquered due to their “decadence”, that attitudes towards homosexuality would change.
So we find Montero under the tree of knowledge in the primordial garden, where he is first frightened but then seduced by a serpent figure. The serpent figure is a hybrid in the traditional Renaissance depictions of the serpent, which has often been linked to Lilith by historians. The hybrid also takes on the image of the alien, so of course this hybrid alien demon serpent figure is one that has become the narrative monster of conspiracy theorists from David Icke to QAnon. So it could be easy for many to dismiss all this as a kind of trolling, and this is indeed the game being played, I think. But there’s something else going on, because even if it is just trolling the question remains, why does Montero invoke this very precise imagery in this video? To gain attention? To provoke? To subvert? Well yes, yes, and yes, but, the error that we might make is to believe that it stops there, that such an answer somehow explains what is actually happening.
With that, let’s cut in to explain what is actually happening. Since the serpent in the Garden of Eden is brought forward, it’s worth returning to what we discussed earlier, about the line in the song that says “I’m not fazed, only here to sin. If Eve ain’t your garden, you know that you can.”. We’ve already established that the line is a reference to how Montero tells his lover that he wants to pursue a homosexual relationship with him and that, if his female partner isn’t around, they can do so in his house without her knowing, free from prying eyes. The imagery of the Garden of Eden is an obvious call to the theme of sin. Traditionally, this means the first sin committed by Adam and Eve (or rather, first Eve and then Adam, establishing woman as the first sinner in an obviously misogynistic fashion), which leads to mankind being expelled from the garden by God. But in context, the “sin” as it relates to Montero is the “sin” of homosexuality, or more accurately the fact that society and his upbringing traditionally perceives homosexuality to be a sin against God. Lil Nas X only came out as gay in 2019, and around the same time “Old Time Road” was released, so he only felt comfortable being open about being gay to the point of declaring himself as such relatively recently in his life. Before then, he repeatedly denied the suggestion that he might have been gay, and apparently there was and might still be some apprehensions towards homosexuals within the country and rap music scenes. With that in mind, you can understand the lyrics of Montero in the context of homosexual desire and the struggle to find acceptance and fufillment, and the imagery in terms of that self-acceptance manifesting in the willingness to take on the subversive reputation of that: as in, “if I have to be a sinner, then so be it, I’ll embrace that if it means I’m happy with who I am”. It’s just about coming to terms with being gay, albeit in the context of a song about sex. Of course, if it actually were a Satanist message (and I maintain that it isn’t), then I suppose Anton LaVey did capture it best when he said “if you’re going to be a sinner, be the best sinner on the block”. But that has little to do with the message of the song. Montero doesn’t want to be a sinner, he just wants to be happy with being gay and have sex with men, and he just happens to be prepared to take on a subversive and sinful edge as a way of embracing his sexuality in a way that, ultimately, doesn’t actually lead on to a religious (or anti-religious) break with mainstream culture. Pageau speaks of how the imagery crystallizes the fears of many people, but what he won’t tell you is that it’s only bigoted Christian conservatives like himself who have any fears about the song or the video.
So in the video, after his seduction by the serpent, it follows Montero to a kind of coliseum where he’s chained and judged by cross-dressed versions of himself. He’s then stoned by these dusty zombie figures that are replicas of him, and then he’s finally killed with some disturbing sex toy.
That’s a buttplug, dumbass. Ever heard of it? More to the point, why do you think the people judging Montero and stoning him to death are all versions of himself? It’s because that scene is his own self-denial. He is a homosexual, but struggles for acceptance within society, and for him, like many other homosexuals, this has sometimes unfortunately meant that they may go through a process where, in order to be accepted by society even if that’s not for who they are, they find themselves internalizing society’s contempt for homosexuality and the premise that homosexuality is abnormal or that there’s something wrong with them, which is then explained away by homophobes as a kind of natural inner monologue that informs them that there is indeed something wrong with them, and so they judge themselves as sinners just for the “high crime” of existing as homosexuals.
He ascends into the sky to meet a shadowy angel, but this pole, this pole/lance, shoots up from below, and as Montero grabs it he begins to slide down in the guise of a pole dancer into the belly of Hell. And let’s be honest if there ever was a perfect representation of the, let’s call it, ontological reality of pole dancing, I’m pretty sure this is it. The pole coming up from below is of course an inversion of the spear of St. Michael, which is portrayed in medieval imagery as pinning down the great serpent, that is Satan, coming from above. And now this spear/pole is coming to claim Montero from behind, with all the undertones that that also includes. So even though it’s coming from below, it’s nonetheless this axis mundi, the axis of the world. It nonetheless is this hierarchy which connects heaven and earth together, though now it’s not a hierarchy seen from the side of the traditional ladder you see in icons of the ladder of divine ascent, which is going up in humility, worship, and self-transformation, but rather it’s this coming up from behind of revolution.
This is all already a lot to take in as is and he goes on about how the lance coming from behind is a metaphor for being chased out of heaven, but rather than put all that forward let’s just get to the point. When Pageau talks about the pole coming up from behind, I’m amazed he doesn’t do this but I think back to the lyrics when Montero says “Shoot a child in your mouth while I’m ridin'”. Montero is “riding” his partner, and while in heterosexual sex this would mean the woman “rides” on top of the man’s penis while he lays on his back, in a homosexual context this would instead involve a form of anal sex. So if the pole is coming from behind then in my opinion it’s pretty obviously sexual symbolism. But for Pageau it’s not as simple as it obviously is, and instead what would in context be a sexual reference becomes for him a symbol of ontological descent and revolution, spiralling down an inverted hierarchy towards Hell and damnation instead of ascending the hierarchy towards Heaven vis-a-vis the axis mundi and the divine ladder. This apparently is the “ontological reality of pole-dancing” (trust me, you will never find anyone else utter such a lunatic phrase), it’s a man sticking his penis in another man’s ass, which is apparently supposed to be a kind of “revolution”. The context of “revolution” here is clear, when paired with terms like “fragmentation” and “loneliness”. He means revolting against God, alienating yourself from God, and therefore sin, which is anything that separates Man from God or God’s will. Homosexual sex is therefore cast as a revolution against “natural patterns of being”, meaning God’s order, and is therefore a sinful inversion of Christian symbolism. So, again, we have a rather thinly disguised expression of religious homophobia.
So we see the movement from the periphery, we see it from the wheel that’s wrapped around the axis, which turns and slithers and seduces onlookers by its changeability, and by leading them into their passions.
Just bringing this up because, in the actual video, this commentary is accompanied by an image of a circulating image of the Ouroboros, the classic, ancient symbol of a serpent biting its own tail forming a circle, and it seems to me like Pageau is conveying a rank misunderstanding of the symbol. People bring up the Ouroboros image all the time and use it as an expression of self-cannibalism, usually in a figurative sense, but in many ways that’s just invoking the image of Ouroboros without understanding its significance. In its Egyptian origins, it was likely a symbol meant to denote eternity, which feeds into modern understandings of it as a cipher for the endless cycle of life and death. The idea of a serpent surrounding the world, the axis mundi, doesn’t strike me as having anything to do with Christian teachings, unless you count the “Gnostic teachings of the Pistis Sophia which speaks of an outer darkness surrounding the world in the form of a serpent, but I doubt that Pageau is speaking to a “Gnostic” understanding, being that he is at least ostensibly aligned with Orthodoxy. In fact, the idea of a serpent surrounding the axis mundi actually seems like it should be a reference to Jormungandr, the serpent son of Loki from Norse mythology, who grows to encompass the whole world and whose biting of his own tail will herald the arrival of Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods. But in general, there’s nothing about Ouroboros, or Jormungandr, that has anything to do with seduction or human passions, and this idea seems like an obvious projection of the symbolism of the serpent of Eden (and that of Satan) onto the image of Ouroboros, which fails to consider that serpents have had a broad symbolic meaning since basically forever and not all serpents, even within Christian symbolism, denote temptation and evil.
So ending up in a caricature of Hell, with a thorn-covered door, which is a nice touch in terms of symbolism, Montero lap-dances Satan into this simulated sexual act, to then himself come up behind the Evil One, to break his neck, steal his horns and his crown, replacing the Devil in what we could call a final revolution, a revolution which is the supremacy of the self.
Pageau sort of compliments this detail on the basis that he thinks it matches the idea of a Satanic story pretty well. But does it? The whole basis of Satanism is that Satan is supposed to be a positive figure in some sense, even in the case of the Order of Nine Angles and similar groups where the reason for that is that conventional evil in-itself is a positive thing. I suppose that, by taking over Satan’s throne and replacing him, you do loosely fulfill one criteria for certain strands of Satanism, LaVeyan Satanism in particular, wherein the goal of the Satanic individual is to be Satan yourself. On the other hand, those strands of Satanism would also emphasize that, in literal terms, there is no Satan except for you yourself, who strives to embody a Satanic ideal, and this is a point we’re going to get into again shortly. In general, though, you going in to kill and dethrone Satan, just because you’re not doing so in God’s name, is not necessarily a Satanic narrative. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a Satanic narrative where Satan is anything other than a positive influence, someone whose role is not to be as a rival for you but instead as a guide, an inspiration, a teacher for the Satanic path. Killing Satan in a Satanic narrative, for this reason, makes little sense, especially when the point of a Satanic narrative is in some way to extoll Satan as a representative of the Satanic ideal. But again, when Pageau says “a revolution which is the supremacy of the self”, this is what does all the work. Remember, Pageau’s argument is that the imagery of the Montero music video represents the triumph of a solipsistic self against the patterns of nature and being, which is essentially just his way of saying he hates homosexuality. The ultimate point in Pageau’s worldview is that homosexuality is a revolution that culminates ultimately in the dethronement of all values and the inversion of all hierarchies except for the self, and that’s ultimately because this is what Pageau would rather believe than just accept that it’s basically a queer narrative about a gay man struggling to accept himself, even when not only is that literally what Lil Nas X says himself but also Pageau shows those statements in his own video. Seems to me like he could have saved himself a lot of effort and maybe just made this about Wandavision instead.
Now, when we get to Pageau’s discussion of Satanism let me press this into your head: when I said Pageau was doing a Satanic Panic, I didn’t mean that lightly in the slightest. I mean literally, this guy literally believes that every edgy rebellious form of pop culture is Satanism. In the video he refers to “modern pop Satanism” and its imagery, which for him includes not only Anton LaVey but also bands like Black Sabbath and “heavy metal Satanism”, and in the video the footage that plays for “heavy metal Satanism” is a goddamn KISS show! It’s very obvious that this guy doesn’t have the slightest clue about Satanism let alone in rock or metal music, since not only does he never refer to any bands that might actually be considered satanic, not even Ghost, but the first band he refers to is Black Sabbath, the band that is known for using a right-side up cross rather than an upside down one for its imagery and also features openly and explicitly pro-Christian lyrics in its songs! This is literally just a rehash of the Satanic Panic of old, but in passing, and honestly I don’t think I’ve seen such a pathetic attempt to scare Christians away from metal music, let alone in 2021 of all times. Later in the video he mentions the band Slayer (who, by the way, disbanded two years ago and don’t plan on reuniting) in passing while discussing some trend of sacrilege against Christianity that somehow goes back to the Knights Templar. On top of just being insane gibberish, it also neglects that none of the band members in Slayer are actually Satanists, and in fact the lead singer Tom Araya is literally a Catholic.
He frames Satanism as “irony itself”, and in the process, he struggles to understand what LaVeyan Satanists, or really any atheistic Satanists, mean when they say don’t actually worship Satan. When atheistic Satanists say they don’t worship Satan, they don’t mean to say that their belief system is a joke, rather they consider that worship itself is an un-Satanic act, and that following the Satanic ideal or archetype means you shouldn’t worship anyone except yourself, because the Satanic ideal is that you are the only god, the only master, in your life, and that all the others are just projections of your own ego that will take control of you if you let them. Pageau whines that this is alien to the Christian way of ordering their lives around “faith” and “truth” (by which they only mean God’s “truth”). He rambles about how Satanists operate on self-righteous pride in their pursuit of destroying Christian ideas of meaning through embodying everything they oppose, and then brings this back to the Montero video by noting that it ends with Montero putting “the satanic crown” on himself. Then he claims that this is exactly what happened when The Satanic Temple erected their Baphomet statue, which if you’ll remember was the statue they planned to put on Oklahoma Capitol Building to protest its endorsement of Judeo-Christian religious values on secular government property. He derides religious freedom as an “ambiguous egalitarian notion”, and tries to describe the purpose of The Satanic Temple as demonstrating that most Americans are actually Satanists since they accept religious freedom, when in reality it was all just a way of getting local governments to either be consistent with secularism and have no religious symbols on their property or be consistent with “religious freedom” (which, contrary to Pageau’s claim, does not in this case refer to the “ambiguous egalitarian notion” he says it does but instead a dogwhistle for Christian supremacy) and endorse Satanic symbols and practices to show that they do not mean “freedom” only for Christians, and needless to say it succeeded in getting the government to choose consistent secularism.
Something to note is his rambling about hierarchies, which again is tied back to Montero, so let’s quote it here for a response:
In a traditional world, there is a hierarchy, and the monsters, the demons, the gargoyles, and especially the Satan or the opponent, are all on the outside, or they’re underground, they’re below us, and it’s best to actually not even pronounce their names. But now, in the context of liberty and equality driving social forms, the figure of Satan begins to appear as a dark prophet of the modern world, a noble Promethean who tragically stood against authority and declared himself equal to that which was above him. In the Montero video, Lil Nas X gets it right. Satanic imagery has never ultimately been about worshipping the devil but rather about embodying the revolutionary pattern through the type of pride exemplified by Satan in his war against Heaven, which ends with self-worship as self-crowning. And obviously it can’t really end that way, Montero’s only claim to the horns is violence and revolution, which means that there is always another pole-riding, lap-dancing person in line waiting to kill Montero and take the crown from him.
Let’s get something out of the way to start with: by “a traditional world”, he means a Christian society, albeit with some Greco-Roman influences. But even in the Greek world, although Hades was not worshipped and sometimes not named, he was indeed worshipped through proxies, and chthonic gods, who in Pageau’s view should be at the bottom of or outside the hierarchy, were often popularly worshipped in local cults and even form an integral part of the pantheon. In other pre-Christian societies, the “monsters” were sometimes paired with the gods and were not considered evil. And in most of the ancient world, there was no “Evil One”, no singular “Dark Lord” leading the enemies of the heavens who remains a persistent spiritual threat to mankind. That idea is the invention of monotheism. So “traditional world” only means the Christian world in practice. Pageau sort of gets the point of Satanic imagery, in a Satanic context, right when he says it isn’t about devil worship, but its emphasis on spiritual individualism is obviously filtered through the Christian mystical perspective so it becomes about ontological pride. But if we remember, this pride, this self-crowning, is for Pageau tied to what is actually supposed to be Montero’s struggle with and eventual embrace of his own homosexuality, so in this way Satanism as a phenomenon is cast by Pageau in terms of solipsistic revolution against God through homosexual sex. The last point is interesting, he insists that there is no genuine claim to the horns because it was inherited through violent overthrow. On this point, he may as well surrender the legitimacy of the United States of America, since the only reason that country exists today is violent revolution in the form of war against the British monarchy. And the point about how Montero will always be waiting for someone new to overthrow him, could the same not be said for Christianity, or for God? God is the supreme spirit in our culture as a result of his displacing all the gods who came before him, but the God that the West still worships was just one god among many in the land of his origin. He may have overthrown the other gods, but Pageau’s token, he too will eventually be replaced, or simply dethroned and replaced by a vacuum, for the age of Christianity cannot last forever.
We get to his discourse on the figure of Satan, and to be very honest it is all very empty. Pageau seems to deride contemporary religious scholars (who he describes as “anti-Christian”) for pointing out that the image of the Devil has nothing to do with the early Christian beliefs or the Bible and instead evolved gradually over centuries while picking up various outside elements, and he actually seems to think that the pagan elements of the Devil’s imagery consist in modern depictions like Neil Gaiman’s Lucifer, as opposed to the goat-like and hairy devils that were introduced by Christian eccelesiastics in the Middle Ages. And then we come to something he says that once again comes back to Montero and, honestly, I would like to take it apart:
So the reason why The Satanic Temple wanted to put up this stupid image of Baphomet in the United States is, believe it or not, the culmination of the same process which made Napoleon Bonaparte fill his Arc de Triomphe with Roman gods. And I wonder if Napoleon could perceive that this gesture of declaring himself emperor while putting a crown on his own head would culminate in a solipsistic video by a pole-dancing rapper who seduces the Devil to then only kill him and put the crown on himself.
So I take it that Napoleon wanted to establish secularism in a democratic context by juxtaposing Satanic symbolism alongside Christian symbolism in order to establish all religions as equally endorsed or repudiated in order to get the government to establish a neutral stance on religious symbolism? This is what happens when, instead of reading events and phenomenon as they are, you read them backwards from an a priori symbolic pattern that you establish in order to read reality in conformity to your own desires, preconceptions, or imaginations. Pageau fundamentally misunderstands the point of The Satanic Temple’s Baphomet statue, and I suspect that he may in fact be deliberately misleading the viewer. Pageau is not an objectiver thinker or analyst. An objective thinker or analyst would strive to read things as they are, whereas Pageau reads them based exclusive on some sort of mystical, clearly Platonistic ideas about pre-existing patterns of being that dictate the course of history and its meaning, which in reality is nothing but his own projection.
The reference to Napoleon invites the possibility of another such projection. Napoleon crowning himself emperor of France is supposed to culminate in Montero’s video, somehow. The reason, if you read Pageau carefully, is that Montero is solipsistic in the same way Napoleon is, and this means that in Pageau’s view the positive embrace of homosexuality by Montero is to be linked with solipsistic pride in the form of imperial ambition. This is another mystical reading that not only is suggestive of Pageau’s homophobia but also requires turning history on its head. Although it is fashionable for modern reactionaries to complain about “gay imperialism”, in all reality homophobia in a Western context can be thought of as a component of imperialism and imperial culture. In Rome we see that homosexuality, although it was practiced by members of the ruling class, was forbidden for everyone else on the grounds that it damaged “Roman manhood”, there were laws prescribing severe punishments for men having sex with men, and politicians liked to attack their rivals as “effeminates” and attach homosexuality with crime and conspiracy. In Roman religion, however, morality had very little to do with the worship of the gods as such, and more to social custom, but as Christianity rose, homophobia came to have a new religious basis dervied from the premise that homosexuality constitutes a corruption of God’s order as sin, and as Christianity became the dominant religion, European conquests of other lands often involved stamping out previously open attitudes to homosexuality and injecting their own bigoted attitudes through the transmission of Christianity, resulting in some of the homophobia you see throughout the world even as the West strives to overcome its own. Christianity is an imperialist religion. That is the logical outcome of a religion whose primary premises include the idea that what you believe is a determining factor in your supposed survival after death, and all of mankind must be “saved”, which necessitates Christian cultural imperialism. This is the real imperial ambition in the Western cultural context.
And, again, objectivity is not important to Pageau in the slightest, as he demonstrates of his worldview:
One of the historical moments where we can trace the origin of modern occultism and Satanism is when the Knights Templar were disbanded in the 14th century. The legitimacy of the accusations made against them is still being discussed interminably by historians. But in terms of social narrative, it doesn’t matter so much if you believe the accusations against the Templars or not. It is quite possible that they did not practice sodomy, they didn’t blaspheme against the cross or worship a strange god named Baphomet. In the same vein in terms of what we’re seeing today it doesn’t really matter if you believe the accusations against witches in the early modern period either, of these descriptions their Sabbat masses and their fornicating with demons. Of course one could argue about this in historical terms and people can do this interminably until they forget the original point of why such an accusation matters. What matters most is how these new possibilities, which appeared at the end of the Middle Ages, became something like a narrative space, where the opposite of Christianity, which was more implicit before, began to explicitly take form, in the form of explicit sacrilege and certain types of parody and inversion, and ultimately embracing the opposite of everything that Christians value.
So, the objective account of history in this regard does not matter to Pageau, only the narratives that can be made about it matter. The truth about the accusations against the Templars and “witches” don’t matter to him, only the fact that the possibility that they might have been heretics creates a “narrative space” into which the antithesis of Christianity might emerge. “Social narrative”, then, supercedes historical truth. I suspect that’s not arbitrary, since the historical truth tends to ruin Pageau’s “analysis”. The Knights Templar were not “opposite” to Christianity. They were a Catholic Christian military order that doubled as a charity and banking organization and were recognized by the Pope until Phillip IV, eager to escape his debts with the Templars, concocted fallacious accusations of heresy and devil worship in order to have them killed after the failure of the Crusades. Nor were most of the so-called “witches” “opposite to Christianity” in any real sense. Most of the “witches” were Christian peasants who either practiced some kind of folk magic in the context of their Christian religion or just happened to be unsociable towards clergy and had trumped up charges brought against them because of that. If anything, the real narrative of evil antithesis against Christianity was probably created by the Christians themselves. It was the medieval Christian establishment who concocted the idea of the Templars as heretics and witches worshipping the Devil. In fact, even the early Christians got in on this action. The 4th century Christian poet Prudentius accused the followers of Marcion of Sinope of worshipping the Devil, whom he believed created a shadowy cult that they follow in order to denounce God, and some of the racist blood libel tropes against Jews that have echoed over the centuries were advanced by some of the church fathers, who accused Jews of murdering Christians in elaborate sacrificial rituals, much as some pre-Christian Greeks had done. In fact, the main reason we have the Satan concept that we do today is because Christian theologians invented it in order to protect the supposed omnibenevolence of God from critical scrutiny, to have a scapegoat to blame the evil, suffering, and sin in the world on instead of God, who otherwise remains its true author as the creator of everything. So it is Christianity that created its own antithesis, and therefore the narratives of said antithesis. Pageau will never acknowledge this, not only because objective historical fact does not matter to him but also because this complicates his belief in the sublime perfection of Christian narrative and truth. This lack of concern for historical fact is also what allows Pageau to claim that the image of the Devil is based on the late medieval image of Baphomet, despite the fact that there was no “image of Baphomet” in the medieval era and the goat-headed Baphomet we know comes from Eliphas Levi, centuries after the Templars were burned to death.
It also doesn’t help Pageau’s case that not only were the Knights Templar most certainly not the fathers of modern occultism, but Eliphas Levi, one of the occultists he brings up, was a Christian mystic, and so were many other French occultists during his day, who were also utopian socialists. In fact, Eliphas Levi explicitly identified himself as a Catholic and referred to his esoteric belief system as Catholicism, condemned atheism and associated it with Satan, who he identified as a principle of evil based in the negation of God, and part of his doctrine of the fall of Lucifer consisted in the belief that he would eventually repent, be redeemed of his fall from grace, and return to God. Much of the occultism of the 19th century was based in some kind of Christian mysticism, sometimes framed as an attempt to revive the “Gnosticism” of old, and even Theosophy certainly could not be counted as “Satanic” by any stretch. Insofar as most of the old occultists believed some concept of Satanism was a thing, they hated it as a form of black magick, as the left hand path that was to be opposed by all serious practitioners of ceremonial magick. In fact, a lot of symbolism now used by Satanists, such as the upside-down pentagram with the goat’s head in it, was invented by magicians of this same Christian or Christian-inspired/adjacent background who were quite clear in their belief that it meant nothing good, and Eliphas Levi described the inverted pentagram as a hated symbol of evil. But insofar as that whole scene did end up creating the imagery that would later become associated with Satanism, then, again, you have nothing to blame at the root of it except for Christians, because, insofar as there is a “narrative space” to be discussed, that narrative space was originally created by Christians. Pageau also neglects to note that much of the occultism and spiritualism of the 19th century could be seen as an explicit reaction against the rationalism of the Enlightenment, which is something he should probably have considered before trying to tie occultism together with the Enlightenment to concoct some vague monolithic force of anti-Christian reaction.
Now, remember when I said at the beginning that Pageau actually believes that the Malleus Maleficarum is a credible account of witchcraft and also that witchcraft is not only real but also a threat to society? I wasn’t making that up. He goes into a general description of what the Malleus Maleficarum believed about witches, how they seduce men, kill children, abort fetuses, chop off men’s penises and all sorts of nonsense, and then explains how he thinks it’s all relevant to today. Trust me, if you thought Pageau was a bigoted asshole before, wait till you see him say this:
So 200 years ago I might have been mocked, maybe not even that long ago by the well-to-do for suggesting that a group of people would want such a thing for the world. And, to be honest, I can understand why the Catholic Inquisition actually rejected the contents of this book, and also rejected those that wrote it and were the proponents of its content. But if we see rather these dark descriptions as something like a narrative arc, which is moving towards the end or the dissolution of Christianity, we only have to ponder a moment to realize that, whether it is pornography, artificial insemination, whether it’s the proliferation and acceptance of abortion, or even young boys that have been put on hormone blockers, I can find prominent contemporary examples of all the “ancient witchcraft” I just mentioned. So then the early modern witches might have been projections or collective dreams, it’s possible, and people will argue either way, but it’s actually not that important to us, and we shouldn’t waste our energy on that. What matters is that these witches are healthy, they’re unabashed, and they’re winning the culture war today.
Pay close attention to what Pageau is saying here. When he says “such a thing for the world”, he’s referring to the absurd stories about witches killing children and cutting off men’s penises. The Malleus Maleficarum also actually espouses the belief that witches, after cutting off a man’s penis, animate that penis so that it can live as an independent creature and form nests like a bird. Pageau not only appears to be fairly serious about the idea that this all might be real in some way, but thinks that the current manifestation of this idea is men watching pornography (at least it’s implied, since none of these anti-porn grifters ever complain about women watching porn), women having children through artificial insemination, abortion being accepted or normalized, and trans people existing and getting access to puberty blockers. Remember that this ties back to what he sees as a narrative space of anti-Christian sacrilege and rebellion, gradually taking on the form of Satanism. His proposal is thus that this satanic narrative current is responsible for the creation of a modern witchcraft culture that manifests itself through trans people, porn, artificial insemination, and abortion, or let’s be honest just about any social change he dislikes or any liberalization of social norms which he feels threatens the Christian moral order. This is Pageau’s Satanic Panic, a homophobic and transphobic diatribe against social change and the acceptance of marginalized people, people who are often still marginalized even today (a marginalization that, frankly, I see Pageau playing a part in re-normalizing). And Montero, in Pageau’s narrative, is the crux of that panic. It represents, to him, a grand declaration of narcisstic desire and solipsistic rebellion against God manifesting in what is otherwise just a sex anthem about accepting your own homosexuality, which is itself a culmination of the supposed gradual embrace of Satan or Satanism and trangression of Christianity, thus Montero for him becomes a signpost for the broad transformation of society by witchcraft, which somehow involves sweeping social liberalization. Since he evidently considers trans people to be unnatural, and being trans as something that can only be forced on someone artificially, the whole narrative becomes another way of saying that there is a conscious effort by shadowy evil cabals to turn your kids trans or gay to erase cisgender and straight people, which is essentially just a form of Satanic Panic.
As I said at the outset, Wandavision will not be covered in this article, so we can skip his section on that, although I will say that somewhere in the Wandavision section he does reinforce his talk about the Malleus Maleficarum by taking Wandavision, or rather his misinterpretation of it, as secret proof that the Malleus Maleficarum was correct and that we need to burn “witches”. He’s ostensibly joking, of course, but it does seem like a roundabout way of tying the themes together. But after that, he ties it all back to the Montero video by saying that the whole Satan Shoes controversy and Wandavision are linked together by the same current of victimhood and pride, and are all proof of “American individualism showing its satanic colours”. Forget, of course, about the fact that American homophobia is still couched within the context of a culture of capitalistc individualism, because actual material causes and systems don’t matter, only projected narratives matter according to Pageau, and the narrative is that satanic individualism is destroying Western civilization through popular culture, despite the obvious problem that Satanism as an actual belief system has only ever been represented by a stark minority of people, and let’s face it even then some of them might actually just be vanilla secular humanist atheists who style themselves as Satanists but without much in the way of a distinct Satanic philosophy such as LaVeyan Satanism. Pageau frames it all as just a quest by power-hungry individuals who want to impose their idiosyncratic desires on everyone and transform society to suit said desires. Keeping in mind that the original thrust of this is a music video for a song about a gay who struggles to accept his own homosexuality and just wants to be accepted for being gay himself. Wanting to freely express and accept your sexuality is just “idiosyncratic desire” according to Pageau. This pathology expresses itself in yet another misunderstanding of what might otherwise be obvious:
In Montero’s Hell we see this engraving in flaming letters, we see the famous Latin phrase, “Damnant quod non intelligunt”, which means “they condemn that they do not understand”. What is wanted through these narrative tropes is ultimately the opposite of that, something like “the misunderstood will condemn them”. Something like “the exception will invalidate the rule”. So if in the Christian vision the shepherd is willing to lead the flock, to even leave it unprotected to go out and find one lost sheep, here we rather have this lost sheep demanding that the shepherd not bring the sheep back to the flock but rather bring the entire flock out into the wilderness. So if in traditional societies we see this scapegoat mechanism, of sacrificing the exception in order to preserve coherence, here, it is the opposite of that. It is the desire to sacrifice the entire world for the exception. On a social level this is what appears as an upside-down hierarchy, where the strange, the impure, the exceptional, the fluid, the rejected, the sick, and the unknown, become not those we need to help but they become a new measure by which all of society is evaluated.
The Latin phrase “Damnant quod non intelligunt”, or “they condemn that they do not understand”, is really doing all of the work for Pageau. The meaning of the phrase being placed there is pretty obvious. Who in the West has historically been condemned by those who do not, and often refuse to, understand them? Homosexuals. Montero and his lover are gay, society doesn’t always understand that, so their liasions are secretive to avoid prying eyes. They are condemned by those who don’t understand them, and in fact, the people accusing Lil Nas X of promoting Satanism and thereby “corrupting our children” are doing that condemnation, and so is Pageau. But Pageau can’t understand that, and instead he frames the Montero video in terms of an imagined message of sacrificing or subjugating all of society to an exceptional minority, in whose image the rest of society is remade, never mind that Montero never does anything close to that in the video. Pageau, it seems, cannot conceive of any acceptance of homosexuality, or trans people for that matter, as anything other than a tyrannical imposition of an exceptional minority upon society. In fact, he thinks of them as “sick” people, very openly telling you what he thinks of the idea of extending social acceptance to them even if he never says stuff like “sodomy should be banned”. Montero never advocates that the misunderstood condemn the majority in the video, nor is that idea ever conveyed in the video, but if the misunderstood do condemn the majority in some way, as they sometimes do, then maybe Pageau should consider that this the misunderstanding and condemnation of the majority biting them in the ass. You can only marginalize people for so long before they get fed up of society and turn against it. But since Pageau views “traditional society” (again, really this means Christian or “Judeo-Christian” society) as some abstract mythical reality whose value cannot be questioned, he will only be able to see people who aren’t “normal” as intolerant, narcissistic ingrates who want impose their way of life on everyone else. Pure bigotry, from the lens of Christian mysticism, is all that explains Pageau’s worldview.
In summary, Jonathan Pageau is intensely triggered by the existence of Lil Nas X’s Satan Shoes, and the Montero music video, because he sees it as a sign that the “satanic individualism” of secularism is threatening the social hierarchy of “traditional society”, meaning the social order of Christianity. What he means is that the acceptance of homosexuality as normal is a kind of “satanic individualism”, even though for most of the world homosexuality already was normal for probably thousands of years until Western empire showed up with its Christian tyranny. But bringing that historical point up will not matter, because, as I keep saying, Pageau does not care about historical facts, because history, objectivity, reality, these are not the core of Pageau’s worldview, and what is the core of his worldview is “our stories”, the narrative of how things happen, which means that the story we tell about our world is more important than its actual events and trends and how they actually play out, let alone the material structures behind them. Pretty much everything about Pageau’s commentary on Lil Nas X stems from a fairly obvious discomfort with the normalization of homosexuality, or just the idea that homosexuals can and should accept who they are without having to struggle with a self-denial demanded by a chauvinistic, culturally authoritarian society that tells them that there is only one acceptable way to be a man. This sort of thinking is to be ruthlessly opposed at every turn, and people like Pageau are to be treated as the repressive lunatics that they are.
The Satanic Temple recently announced a new college scholarship program Devil’s Advocate Scholarship, which is being offered to high school graduates of the current academic year in the US. The program aims to provide high school graduates who align with their ideology and philosophy a path to college and other educational pursuits. Co-founder Cevin Soling (a.k.a. Malcolm Jarry), himself an advocate for the abolition of public schools, lays out that the purpose of the program is “to reward those who embrace individualism, empathy, free-thought, and skepticism toward the oppressive institution they were forced to endure”. In other words, the scholarship aims to churn out a new class of college students, or other educated people, who will ideally (for Soling at least) work to dismantle the public education system and replace it with….as usual it’s not clear what the intended replacement is. In fact, this aim makes itself clear through one of the requirements; there are two questions a prospective applicant must answer satisfactorily in order to become eligible for the scholarship. The first question is “What initiatives have you undertaken that are consistent with TST’s tenets and mission?”, inquiring about the individual’s alignment with TST ideology and actions undertaken to fulfill it, while the second question asks the applicant to “discuss and describe in detail any one of the teachers who crushed your spirit, undermined your self-confidence, and made you hate every minute you were forced to be in school”, essentially asking the applicant to give a case study for why public school is bad, which almost makes me wonder why they want to get them into college in the first place.
Given that the ideology of The Satanic Temple, when you drill down to the core, is essentially liberal progressive operating under the visage of the Satan archetype, and especially given that you don’t need to be a member of The Satanic Temple to become enrolled onto their scholarship, further given that you don’t even need to be a Satanist to be in The Satanic Temple to start with, we can judge The Satanic Temple’s efforts as essentially to form another future crop of liberal-progressive ideologues, who serve not only the benign cause of the separation of church and state, but also many of the baleful progressive shibboleths the organization chooses to ally itself with, and most specifically ideologues who will serve to deconstruct the public education system, for the purpose of neither reforming it nor even really replacing it, since the program has no clear alternative vision for the very public education system it seeks to destroy. And for what purpose? Apparently just because going to school means you get bored and stressed. Well I’m sorry but that’s just not enough and it certainly is not a substitute for a comprehensive program of reform or reconstitution for the education system at large. Pumping out a new generation of radical liberal activists isn’t going to cure the alienation you’re trying to speak to. But then what can I expect when you only ultimately exist, insofar as your overall goals beyond your most celebrated causes are concerned, to further the cycle of bourgeois society on behalf of its progressive faction.
This weekend two mass shootings took place in the United States: the first one in El Paso, Texas, and the other (the focus of this short post) in Dayton, Ohio. At first I thought both of them were yet more white nationalist shootings. Indeed, I initially believed they were the same shooting because they happened so close to each other. But after a while it soon became clear to me that the Ohio shooting was not the work of a white nationalist, but instead the work of a Democratic partisan, who aligned himself with Elizabeth Warren, and a supporter of Antifa. The real kicker, one that the conservatives are really harping on about, is that, apparently, the shooter, identified as Connor Betts, was a Satanist.
The exact content of his apparent Satanism is sparse. Two pieces of evidence are used to identify him as a Satanist. The first are his “satanic” patches, one of them saying something to the effect of “against all gods” and the other a devilish goat image, but that to me is not entirely convincing, given that he considers himself a metalhead, it could just be an aesthetic thing. The former patch could also be an expression of some quasi-anarchist sympathy, which given his otherwise liberal politics would make him just another variety of the same old anarchoid-liberal that’s been corrupting the left for years now. The second that I’ve seen is a tweet saying “selfies for Satan”. That, really, is the only thing attaching him to Satanism, and for me it leaves more questions about the actual substance of his Satanism. For all I know, he’s probably the type of person who would find himself a member of The Satanic Temple. But since he seems to have killed himself during his rampage, he can’t really tell us himself what his deal was.
Not that any of it matters though. All that matters is that this was a sensless tragedy, carried out by a senseless individual, and that this senseless tragedy will be used to divert people away from recognizing what remains a concrete pattern of white nationalist terror in the US, which for some reason the right still seems intent on either defending, obscuring or simply downplaying. And even though I am not essentially a Satanist, baseline or otherwise, and haven’t been for quite some time, as someone who has evolved from Satanism (indeed, as a Luciferian and hence liable to be mixed up with Satanism), I must make some sort of statement on the matter, though I didn’t want to initially.
I could advance the case that Connor Betts isn’t, strictly speaking, a proper Satanist, given that he reeks of one of those Satanic Temple atheists (The Satanic Temple, I may stress, being an organization that literally began as a satirical religion for a mockumentary project), but I feel deep down that would be missing the point. Instead I would like to say that I condemn Connor Betts, regardless of the authenticity of his Satanism, and not only that but I also say that Satanists should not be compelled to take responsibility for Bett’s atrocities. Those who pester you about the shooter being a Satanist are the same ilk of people who would encourage prejudice against innocent Muslims, Christians or Hindus in response to terroristic actions committed by believers of said religions, and you should compel the conservatives in particular to demand why you have to answer for the actions of degenerate such as Connor Betts, but not when a Christian terrorist kills in the name of his God or when Christians go to holy war against non-believers. I, as a Luciferian, certainly have no business having to answer for this waste of flesh and blood either way. He can rot in peace for all I care, and the atrocity he committed will not serve as a cross for either Satanists or Luciferians to bear for themselves.
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