Church of Satan: It’s Not What You Think It Is

The magic of YouTube is such that I can be watching a lecture on four dimensional pseudo-Riemannian manifolds and in the related videos section see a documentary on the “Church of Satan”. I would love to see the inner workings of the Google suggestion algorithm that came up with that based on my YouTube history.

I was very surprised to learn what Satanism is, and in the process got a valuable lesson about the danger and the power in what you name your organization. It’s clear that people will often literally judge a book by it’s cover, and will often passionate and aggressively oppose an idea or group based on nothing more than its name. We are truly an awesome silly primate species.

When I say “Satanism” or “Church of Satan”, what do you think it is?

If you’re anything like me, I think of some variety of heavy metal fan, everything from the melodic 80’s metal of Iron Maiden to the absurd intensity of death metal. Perhaps those of you who are Christian (or were brought up Christian) probably imagine something on a religious theme, maybe a group of people who embrace the evil aspects of human nature.

Well, in reality, as about 30 minutes of reading has led me to understand, Church of Satan is to religion is what Stephen Colbert is to the modern Republican party. There is nothing religious about it, it’s just a giant dark satirical Halloween party. It was started in the 60’s by one guy, Anton LaVey, who basically enjoyed provoking people, and in the process picked up a large following.

What he and the Church of Satan are is just “objectivists in halloween costumes”. PS: Objectivism is the name adopted for Ayn Rand’s philosophy. It’s an organization that promotes atheism, rational thinking, individual freedom, and a productive life. But it pushes that further into embracing all the natural things that are often condemned by religion such as sexuality, competition, aggression, envy, etc. I think it gets a little weird in the sexuality aspect, but no more weird than nudist parties. It’s strange but harmless.

To be honest, these folks creep me out a bit. They are certainly not the type I would want to “have a beer with”, but I think the Church of Satan is kind of funny at least in its original intent. Its founder (Anton LaVey) is clearly a very funny (in a sick way) guy. The problem is when you name your organization after the symbol of evil for many religious people, you’re going to get the kind of attention that could be counter-productive.

So next time you start a business or a club, try to avoid using Satan in the title unless you’re starting an Ozzy Osbourne fan club, in which case Satan might be a good call.

By the way, when I hear “Satan” the first image that pops into my head is probably the most hilarious cartoon character of all time: Satan from South Park (pictured below).

Satan's Sweet 16 Halloween party from South Park 1011

0 thoughts on “Church of Satan: It’s Not What You Think It Is

  1. Jim Thompson

    I forgot what I was doing before I happened upon this page. Are you proud of yourself? My problem with your stuff is that it’s so thought-provoking, and once provoked, my thoughts fight to be expressed. What do they fight? My self-imposed, time-priorities! Again, are you proud of yourself?

    But on a more serious note, I appreciate your take on Anton LaVey’s little folly, with one reservation: Spirituality and “real” life are inexorably linked parallel aspects of being. It’s just that the spiritual aspect is harder to see with our natural perceptions. In fact, we are all born blinded to it. And Religion doesn’t help at all; in most cases it just muddies the spiritual waters with dogmatic predispositions and prejudices.

    Would that I could claim my rebirth in Jesus eradicated those faults in me, but at least because of insights I’ve gained through his Word, I constantly fight those tendencies when I recognize them in myself. Were it not for knowing him, I’d have to be an atheist.

    If not for its moral mandates, Religion would lack any merit. And even at that, many non-religious people are better human beings than most who call themselves “Christian.” Yes, that comes close to being a generalization, which I avowedly hate, but after sixty-seven years of watching life on this planet I can’t escape its truth.

    The counteracting truth that keeps me loving and following Christ, however, is that I can see the changes he’s made within me. So I do my best to ignore others’ faults, knowing my Savior does the same for me in the name of Love. And isn’t that what life is about?

    1. Lex Post author

      I can see religion has had a very positive effect on your life. Hard to argue with that. My problem with any spirituality is when it removes even slightly any responsibility you have for your actions on this Earth. But for you, this does not appear to be an issue, so preach on, my friend.


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