Satanism as a Religion and Atheism
© 2011 C.E. by L. Hernandez
Time and again I’ve heard it said that the term Satanism cannot be monopolized by what others call “LaVeyan Satanists.” People have pointed to the use of the term throughout history as it applied to Christian heretics, devil worshipers, et cetera, to illustrate the pre-Church of Satan application of its socially accepted definition. They say the Church of Satan and Anton LaVey can’t simply re-define a term which is already almost universally defined. This is all short-sightedness.
Before 1966 the word was “satanism” with a lower-case “s,” indicating that it was a descriptive term and not the name of a proper religion. There may have been devil worshipers throughout history, but all were self-styled Christian heretics with almost nothing in common but their attempts to reverse Christianity. If one plays the Christian game by the Christian rules, no matter which team he is on he is still a Christian, albeit heretical. Even the Yezidi never called themselves “Satanists.”
To others, in a time when the Christian church had more power than one could imagine and when there was no separation of Church and State, it was more political than anything else. It was a revolt, not a religion. It was a way to stick it to the man.
Both Devil Worship in France (Waite) and The Satanic Mass (Rhodes) make the above abundantly clear; the former dealing with early false accusations of a worldwide conspiracy of devil worshipers (the original Satanic Panic!) and the latter dealing with historical cases of devil worship and the historical witches’ sabbath.
Insofar as any right to redefine the word “Satan,” though it is and has been in common (mis-)usage in its Christian context, it is of Jewish origin. Christianity co-opted the word and gave it their own re-definition in their own context. Unless one is a Christian, that meaning and context should bear absolutely no merit whatsoever. Period.
Regardless of how widespread the Christian definition is in acceptance, the word was never theirs to begin with. It might be difficult for some to grasp, but the Christian definition is only commonly accepted in Western society.
Thus, the Hebrew word satan does not mean “devil” and Christianity has no rights to it. Neither is the word legitimately tied to “the worship of the devil,” as that is simply playing the Christian game on their turf. Satan, meaning “accuser/adversary/opposer,” was always a descriptive term outside of and before Christianity’s co-opting of it.
That said, it was not until Anton LaVey used the term in 1966 in reference to the literary character of Satan by authors such as Twain and Milton to embody a set of principles and ideas he deemed Satanic. This was the first time in history–ever–that a legitimately defined and codified religion was given the name, and it was atheistic from the very beginning. This in fact does give the Church of Satan rights to the term in way of defining a legitimate religion. To naysayers I demand proof of otherwise.
Today you have various groups of nitwits calling themselves Theistic Satanists, which is an oxymoron in that Satanism by definition is atheistic. I have more respect for those who go by the moniker of Demonolators–at least some of them understand there is a clear-cut difference. Then there are the so-called Generational Satanists. If you were raised by a self-styled devil worshiper it does not make you anything more than the offspring of a devil worshiper. Go and take your delusions of grandeur elsewhere.
Numerous “Satanic” groups have sprung up since the founding of the Church of Satan. More often than not you will find that while they claim to practice Satanism and ride the Church of Satan’s coattails, their principles, tenets and practices do not correspond to the definition of Satanism in The Satanic Bible. This makes them not Satanists, whether they, you or anyone else likes it or not.
It’s sad that this has to be repeated again and again.