Satanism has failed as a religion because most people fail to comprehend or understand it. You see, there really was a secret agenda and for the first time anywhere, I am going to explain it to you:
I realize there are people who are religious and these people are doing a lot of good in the world. They are not the people we are concerned with. We are concerned with the leaders who manipulate their flock through guilt and fear. This is what has made religions like Christianity and Islam dangerous on a global scale.
Back in the year 1970, I realized atheism would not work because it offered reason to minds that were intrinsically irrational. The one thing that makes these religions powerful is the fact that they are allowed to define the face of the enemy - we allow them to define for us who the devil is and we accept their verdict with unquestioning faith. That is how these religions galvanize their followers into groups of armed terrorists. And the face of the devil keeps changing and changing because the face of the political opponent keeps changing and changing. The reason I became a Satanist back in 1970 is because I was selfish - I realized that I had to share this planet with people hell bent on its destruction. And whatever these people do, even if its spending billions on a war to defeat an unspeakable devil or spending billions to bail out greedy bankers and large corporations - I knew it would affect the quality of my life, the air I breath, the water I drink, the ocean I swim in and my pursuit of happiness. Let me put it to you this way, Mr. Gilmore: "No man is an island" is not an evangelical exhortation, it is a fact of life. There is a turd in the punchbowl and we are all forced to drink from it because there is only one biosphere and only one punchbowl.
By becoming a Satanist, I knew I could grab the media spotlight and explain to people who the devil really is and how he came to be. Nowadays, I tell people to simply look into the mirror. That subjective reasoning does, in itself, take the wind out of the sails of the religious hate mongers, making them impotent. Now, if anyone is having difficulty following what I'm saying, I'll state it once more from the top: To the atheists I say, objective reasoning will reach only those who are rational to begin with. Many theists are trapped in a fantasy that they have created. The thing that holds them there is peer pressure and their common desire to demolish evil, personified by the Devil. The religious leaders are cunning. They realize all they have to do is assign an identity to the devil by manipulating scripture, so that in one country the devil is a Jew, in another country the devil is a Muslim or a Christian or a Hindu. You can rest assured that in some part of the world there is a large group of people who consider you to be the one who serves the Devil. And this is true no matter who or where you are. And rather than fight that trend, wouldn't we be better off if we all called ourselves "Satanists?" Look at what gay people did to the word "queer." That word is no longer an insult because they co-opted the label and applied it to themselves. Just imagine what would happen if tomorrow everyone in the world decided to co-opt the label "Satanist" and apply it to themselves? There would be no more devil to kick around!
The major flaw of our civilization is its refusal to learn from the past. Down through history, a person could be said to be in league with the Devil merely for disagreeing with church doctrine. According to Robert G. Ingersoll, people have been burned at the stake as heretics for the following reasons:
1. Thinking there is but one God or that there was none.
2. Believing the Holy Ghost is younger than God.
3. Believing that God was somewhat older than his son.
4. For insisting that good works will save a man without faith.
5. Believing that faith will do without good works.
6. For declaring that a baby will not be burned eternally, because its parents failed to have its head wet by a priest.
7. For speaking of God as though he had a nose.
8. For denying that Christ was his own father.
9. For contending that three persons, rightly added together, make more than one.
10. For believing in purgatory.
11. For denying the reality of hell.
12. For pretending that priests can forgive sins.
13. For preaching that God is an essence.
14. For denying that witches rode through the air on sticks.
15. For doubting the total depravity of the human heart.
16. For laughing at irresistible grace, predestination and particular redemption.
17. For denying that good bread could be made of the body of a dead man.
18. For pretending that the pope was not managing this world for God, and in the place of God.
19. For disputing the efficacy of a vicarious atonement.
20. For thinking the Virgin Mary was born like other people.
21. For thinking that a man's rib was hardly sufficient to make a good-sized woman.
22. For denying that God used his finger for a pen.
23. For asserting that prayers are not answered, that diseases are not sent to punish unbelief.
24. For denying the authority of the Bible or for having a Bible in their possession.
25. For attending mass, and for refusing to attend a mass.
26. For wearing a surplice; for carrying a cross, and for refusing to carry a cross.
27. For being a Catholic, a Protestant, an Episcopalian, a Presbyterian, a Baptist or Quaker.
In short, every virtue has been a crime, and every crime a virtue. The church has burned honesty and rewarded hypocrisy. And all this, because it was commanded by a book -- a book that men had been taught implicitly to believe, long before they knew one word that was in it. They had been taught that to doubt the truth of this book -- to examine it, even -- was a crime of such enormity that it could not be forgiven, either in this world or in the next.
And then you had entire sects who were accused, rounded up and put to death: the Cathars, Bogomils, Templars. A lay Christian group called the Brethren of the Free Spirit were condemned as heretics by the Lateran Council. Ten of its members were put to death in the year 1209. The Brethren shared the same views as today's Church of Satan, that represents the individual as Godhead. Sister Catherine Treatise stated, "Father rejoice with me, I have become God... When I looked into myself I saw God within me and everything he has ever created in heaven and earth... I am established in the pure Godhead, in which there never was form or image." Little did they know, this idea of self-deification goes back even further, before the birth of Christ.
So, let's spring forward to the last two centuries and while the faith of Islam is still hanging and beheading and stoning those who disobey the Qu'ran, here in the west we've been exposed to a new crop of philosophers and writers who were very critical of religion and no longer have to fear being put to death. They were the new devil's advocates: Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, Herbert Spencer, George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Friedrich Nietzsche. There are individuals who have tried to set the record straight concerning the true origins of Satan and how this principle evolved, but those in power feel they might lose their edge if people were to learn the truth. The word "Satan" means adversary or accuser, but not in the way you've been brainwashed to think. The ancient jews depicted him as a divine prosecuting attorney, the guy who did God's dirty work. He was God's bully, bringing law breakers to justice by holding a mirror up to their face. Now, it doesn't matter how Christians twist scripture around, depicting Satan as God's enemy. It's just part of a game they play where they can silence their enemies by first demonizing them. Then, anything their enemies have to say is naturally evil and therefore a lie.
Fortunately, in this day and age, the expression "devil's advocate" has taken on a whole new meaning. It refers to someone who questions and takes the opposing argument to any popular belief. Right now, I'm going to play devil's advocate to the belief that there is such a thing as a Satanic religion.
In the year 1844, a German philosopher was born. Friedrich Nietzsche refuted the worship of religion in general and any system that undermines the individuality of the human. In 1888, he published a book and assumed the mantle of the Anti-Christ. Friedrich saw himself as heralding the death of Christianity and Christian morality. He believed that this would leave a void, and suggested a solution - thankfully, it did not involve inventing a religion called Satanism. He resisted the temptation to create another social club with a herd mentality and a set of rules and layers of presumptive stratification where blind obedience to the High Priest is rewarded. When you think of Satan the way Nietzsche did, he could represent the elevation of one's ego and not an anthropomorphic creature with horns, hooves and tail. In this instance, the Anti-Christ is looked upon only as a symbol.
In the year 1875, Edward Alexander Crowley was born, better known as Aleister Crowley. He became an influential occultist, mystic and ceremonial magician. Crowley was a hedonist with widespread notoriety and an outspoken social critic who was in revolt against the moral and religious values of his time. At a young age, he declared himself "The Great Beast 666." The popular press denounced Crowley as "the wickedest man in the world." But like Nietzsche, his predecessor, Crowley was a champion of individual sovereignty. He once stated, "The essence of every missionary message has always been to assimilate the taught to the teacher, and it has always been accompanied by bribes and threats. My message is exactly opposed to any of this. I say to each man and woman, you are unique and sovereign, the center of a universe. However right I may be in thinking as I do, you may be equally right in thinking otherwise. You can only accomplish your object in life by complete disregard of the opinions of other people." Can you imagine the Great Beast founding a Satanic religion where everyone is taught to believe only in themselves? If Satan did have a religion, I believe it would be called "Selfism" or believing in yourself.
We now turn the clock ahead to the year 1966. Howard Levey, better known as Anton LaVey from San Francisco, is encouraged to create a "Church of Satan" by professional publicist Ed Webber. Anton was told that the press was going to flip out over all this and that he would get a lot of notoriety. The gimmick worked and LaVey became a popular cultural icon. Tragically, this new religion does misrepresent the philosophy proposed by Crowley and Nietzsche and tries to dogmatize individualism with Satanic rules and statements. LaVey's High Priestess, Blanche Barton, tried to rationalize the contradiction by stating, "This is an organization for non-joiners." She may as well have said, "This is a church for non-believers." This begs the question, do the words "Church" and "Satan" even belong in the same sentence together? That's something you may want to consider.
And then there is the silly assertion made by LaVey that, if you show enough devotion to a thing it becomes your religion, whether it be coin collecting, racing sports cars, playing baseball or forming an anti-religion. Now that's a weak attempt to redefine the way billions of people already think about the word, "religion" and I doubt if that's going to help you to communicate ideas in a meaningful fashion. But don't take my word for it - go to where the people are, be it a mall or the center of town. Bring a pad and pencil to tally the score. Ask about 100 people this multiple choice question: What does the word "religion" mean to you? Is it A) coin collecting, B) racing sports cars, C) playing baseball, D) anti-religion, E) slavish devotion to a god or set of beliefs, F) all of the above, or G) none of the above? You'd be surprised how many people will choose E) slavish devotion to a god or set of beliefs. Obviously, they haven't read enough books by Anton LaVey who is the principle authority on what people ought to be thinking.
The Church of Satan's official website states, "We have a bible. We have a pro-human dogma. We have a church. We have a tradition." I think it's about time we examined the Satanic Bible published in 1968. The Nine Satanic Statements were inspired by "Atlas Shrugged," a book written by Ayn Rand. The entire Book of Satan was lifted almost verbatim from Might Is Right, a tract published in 1898 by Ragnar Redbeard. There was also the Satanized version of John Dee's Enochian Keys. All this is common knowledge now and re-iterated in Peter Gilmore's 2005 Introduction. But here's something you didn't know:
Two years before the Satanic Bible was published, a book was released. It was entitled, "How to Prevent Psychic Blackmail" by Dr. Leo Louis Martello, published in 1966. Within its pages, you will discover yet another source from where LaVey cribbed notes, including his thoughts concerning selfishness and psychic vampirism. The Satanic philosophy did not suddenly emerge from LaVey's typewriter - it has been around for quite a while and called by various names.
Another disturbing trend in the Church of Satan is their use of religious expressions. Take for example the boisterous use of the phrase "Lex Talionis" or the Law of Talion which is, "an eye for an eye." You can find its use repeatedly in the Old Testament:
Leviticus, chapter 24: "Anyone who maims another shall suffer the same injury in return: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; the injury inflicted is the injury to be suffered. One who kills an animal shall make restitution for it; but one who kills a human being shall be put to death."
Exodus, chapter 21: "When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman's husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
Deuteronomy, chapter 19: "Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot."
The next time a Church of Satan member accosts you with "Lex Talionis," I suggest you reply with, "God bless you" and simply walk away!
I will conclude by saying this: Satanism stands on its own merit as a philosophy. But when we called it a religion, it automatically suggests a dogmatic modality which completely contradicts individual sovereignty. Being the God of your own life is the toughest thing you'll ever do and it's the toughest path to walk, because very few care for independent thinkers. In this world, everyone wants to be popular, it seems. Everyone wants to be liked and they are often willing to sacrifice their own unique qualities to achieve that end. The first step towards becoming a Satanist is to simply be yourself. That involves no ritual, no sacrifice and no prayer. The power is within you, waiting to be unleashed.
Carpe Noctem (Seize the Night)
Rev. John D. Allee
Order of Shadows