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High school Satanism club prompts parental outrage
October 2, 2002 12:53 PM   Subscribe

High school Satanism club prompts parental outrage some kids in a high school start a club called Satanist Thought Society. As expected, everybody gets offended, especially the Christian Society. It can be argued, though, that the the Satanist Society has as much right to exist as the Christian Society. Is this just a 1st ammendment issue or is there a moral question to be thought out? (via Camworld)
posted by falameufilho (100 comments total)

 
(First FPP, so bear with me)
posted by falameufilho at 12:54 PM on October 2, 2002


While McEvoy said she has received calls from members of the religious community angry about the club's formation, Father Harold Snider of Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church in Burlingame said the First Amendment is behind these students.

"Lets face it, teenagers love to shock," he said. "The best thing to do about it is to not make a big deal."

Bingo. Way to go Padre!
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:57 PM on October 2, 2002


What moral question? True "Satanism" isn't about black magic and killing puppies - it's about the rejection of religion, godhead and the worship thereof, and the construct of altruism. It's a "everyone for themselves" philosophy. It's only called "Satanism" because Anton LaVey wanted something that represented the exact opposite of Christianity - Satan isn't really the spiritual leader of the church. There isn't a spiritual leader - that's the point.

1st Amendment issue, IMHO. Of course, it depends on whether these kids really know their stuff, or if they think it really is about killing puppies and listening to Deicide.
posted by starvingartist at 12:58 PM on October 2, 2002


But you could excuse those who aren't up on their LaVey. I hadn't heard this kindler, gentler description of Satanism before, and I consider myself knowledgable about religions.

Not that information ever stops Christian protesters...
posted by goethean at 1:02 PM on October 2, 2002


Actually, I was just reading about this, and it seems that the outrage is mostly coming from people outside the community.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:03 PM on October 2, 2002


"It can be argued, though, that the the Satanist Society has as much right to exist as the Christian Society."

That's true, and I think that such an argument is correct. However, we don't have "In Satan We Trust" on all our money, we don't mindlessly recite "One Nation, Under Satan," and when Duh-bya "speaks," he never says "Satan Bless America."

(Although any and all of those things would be pretty fucken cool, IMHO.)
posted by zekinskia at 1:04 PM on October 2, 2002


That LaVey dude clearly sucked at understanding what opposites are.
posted by edlundart at 1:04 PM on October 2, 2002


I wonder sometimes, if there actually are any "real" Satanists. LaVey's stuff is, as another commentator noted, not really Satanist, but is just using the name as a tool to shock people and to contrast it with Christianity.
posted by nick.a at 1:05 PM on October 2, 2002


1. Kids are bored and decide to make a point about seperation of Church & State in order to get attention.
2. Unsuprisingly, by using the word 'Satan', they get said attention from headless mother hens in human bodies.
3. Religious community leaders understand that to rally against this is to rally against themselves, and behave like the learned, wise men that they in fact are.

Good to see everything working out like it's supposed to for once. I should bookmark this link for when I want to look back on 'the system' working properly that .1% of the time.
posted by Ryvar at 1:06 PM on October 2, 2002


Satanism says it's OK to feel hate, because hating allows them to love more.

All right, all right. As long as these guys don't start rooting for Luke, Leia, Obi Wan, and Yoda at the theatres, maybe I'll take them at face value.

Which is what they ask not to be taken at, since, according to the article. Satanism is not about hate (and evil spirits), but about iconoclasm and rebellion. One might think there other ways of doing this, perhaps less associated with the idea of a being (existant or not) who exists to cause eternal misery to people -- perhaps simply using traditional obscene words, flauting sexual moores and taboos, listening to rebellious music, or painting on walls -- but perhaps that's just not enough any more.

Cthulu club, anyone?
posted by namespan at 1:06 PM on October 2, 2002


Hey, couldn't they get just as offended with the Christian Society? Obviously one of them is wrong, right?
posted by jon_kill at 1:06 PM on October 2, 2002


It's a "everyone for themselves" philosophy.

The moral question is: do we really want to teach "everyone for themselves" to kids? Or are christian values of compassion and the turn-the-other-cheek thing more suitable to a schooling enviroment?

Isn't "you are on your own" a tough lesson to learn when you are 15?
posted by falameufilho at 1:08 PM on October 2, 2002


For some reason, this reminds me of the girl who wanted to start an "anarchy club." To which I replied, "huh?"
posted by NedKoppel at 1:11 PM on October 2, 2002


Or are christian values of compassion and the turn-the-other-cheek thing more suitable to a schooling enviroment?

I'm not sure that's what Christian values really are. Forgive me, I'm a metafilter virgin, but honestly...
posted by foxyfoxinsox at 1:11 PM on October 2, 2002


If they really wanted to frighten and challenge Christians in the community, why didn't they just name their club The Muslims?
posted by dhoyt at 1:12 PM on October 2, 2002


No one is "teaching" anything...the school is merely allowing the kids to explore new ideas, of ALL natures...I agree with what was said above - Glad to see the system working for once!!!
posted by agregoli at 1:12 PM on October 2, 2002


Isn't "you are on your own" a tough lesson to learn when you are 15?

falameufilho: Yes, but so is "You're going to die" and "Someone you know will die of cancer" and "Your apartment will probably be robbed at least once in your life" and "Count on heartbreak from time to time, or, barring that, a lifetime of futility and loneliness."

Why should a school's duty be to shelter students from life?

Also, it needs hardly be pointed out that "everyone for themselves" is simply another way of phrasing "survival of the fittest." If we were to teach an alternative lesson, would it be: "survival of the most able to leech off others?"

Compassion and turn the other cheek are interesting strategies for getting out of difficult situations, and can be genuinely felt occasionally, but altruism can never really exist. Time to face up to the facts, and stop hiding the truth from children.
posted by jon_kill at 1:13 PM on October 2, 2002


why didn't they just name their club The Muslims?

Not enough coupons for 10% off box-cutters and air-fare?
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:14 PM on October 2, 2002


Isn't "you are on your own" a tough lesson to learn when you are 15?

As opposed to - "you are god's chew toy" ?
posted by badstone at 1:15 PM on October 2, 2002


I think Satin is much creepier.
posted by condour75 at 1:17 PM on October 2, 2002


This is partly why separation of church and state needs to be enforced. NOT because Christianity is right or wrong, or because Satanism doesn't belong. The reason is because public schools are places of learning. This kind of crap just interferes with that. People spend all their time arguing over which god is real and no one gets their homework done. It's a travesty. Satanism is just a rebellious form of aetheism. It's like religious trolling. They only call it Satanism to tick off the Christians. Rather childish, really.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:18 PM on October 2, 2002


That LaVey dude clearly sucked at understanding what opposites are.

Nice, edlundart.

I, too, have never heard this "kinder, gentler" Satanism. It's actually quite a relief-- which tends to make me a little suspicious. If starvingartist is right (which I'm happy to assume), then LeVey could have saved himself a lot of trouble and just asked folks to read Ayn Rand. Same philospohy without all the spooky static.
posted by footballrabi at 1:19 PM on October 2, 2002


I was feeling a flippant when I posted my above post, because I was feeling like no one should take this seriously, but after a little bit of mulling, I'm starting to think about truth in jest... or truth underlying stunt.

If it had been a Caligula, Hitler, or Stalin club, would the reaction be different? There's a difference, of course, in that these are historical human figures, instead of an ultimately evil figure from an unseen world that many believe is unverifiable. But they're all icons as much -- perhaps more -- as they're people.

You could take any one of them and make the same arguments about what they stand for as LaVey's arguments about his choice of Satan as an icon. But regardless of the defenestration, there's some inherent cultural meaning in those icons, potent and serious stuff, and the truth is, LaVey and the students parroting him for shock value know it. They wouldn't get the attention and rise if it wasn't so. They're iconoclasts, and so they've chosen to mess with an icon for their purposes.

But I can't help thinking that the meaning present in any one of those icons (Satan included) can't simply be shed like yesterday's cold fusion data. The Jungian as well as the Christian in me is pretty convinced it's not that simple, and there is a moral statement involved in selecting Satan, Hitler, Stalin, or Ken Lay as an icon, regardless of the rhetorical song and dance you choose to do afterwards.

As old quote I from an Indian philosophy text I once read says, "everything has a gross, a subtle, and a supreme meaning..."
posted by namespan at 1:23 PM on October 2, 2002


The Padre had it right. And NedKoppel, right on...
posted by widdershins at 1:27 PM on October 2, 2002


PinkStainlessTail and Padre both definitely have it right. In middle school, one of my friends tried to start an "Anarchist Social Society" mostly based on the irony of having an anarchy club (at school, with a president) and the funny albeit juvenile acronym it would have. It never caught on because my friend never found a teacher to sponsor it and to the admin. it appeared to be haven for future school shooters.

But it didn't really matter, as it was just for the shock/humor value. People take things so seriously :P
posted by puffin at 1:33 PM on October 2, 2002


It can be argued, though, that the the Satanist Society has as much right to exist as the Christian Society.

How could it be argued otherwise?
posted by rushmc at 1:39 PM on October 2, 2002


I don't see a big deal here.

The school is sensibly and calmly and boringly applying current limited-open-forum law; their only choices are to allow the club or to shut down almost all extracurriculars, and they don't seem to be being nasty about it.

Some parents are upset and protesting... well, that's their prerogative. Others are free to protest the Christian Club or the football team or whatever it pleases their dark little hearts to protest.

So what's to argue about?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:39 PM on October 2, 2002


Does this remind anybody else about a Mr. Show sketch about the high school Apathy Club? The teacher took a poll on where to go on a field trip, and they wound up voting for "up your Mom's ass". And the briliiance of Mr. Show is that the next segment was a musical montage of that very field trip.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:43 PM on October 2, 2002


I'm all for a Christian club, Muslim club, Hindu club, even an atheist club if students want to form one. However, I think there is a line somewhere that needs to be drawn. Schools ought be able to guide students' moral development as well as their intellectual development. (I've always thought that it is a travesty that public schools don't teach a class in moral philosophy or, even better, practical ethics).

I think we can all agree that public school ought to avoid fostering selfishness and ego-centrism in its students. So I would have no problem with a school banning the satanist group on these grounds. There's no need for the school to object to their "religious" beliefs (if they have any, which seems unclear).

Perhaps a good paralell is the "God Hates Fags" group out in the midwest that purports to be a christian church. If students tried to form such a group in their school, they should not be able to get away with it by claiming that it is a "religious" group entitled to first amendment protection. I would have no problem with a school system banning them on the basis of their moral beliefs while simultaneously allowing a Christian club that did not have the same offensive views. There is no inconsistency because you are not acting on the basis of religious beliefs but moral ones.
posted by boltman at 1:43 PM on October 2, 2002


Protest of school Satanic club a flop. Via Drudge.
posted by goethean at 1:44 PM on October 2, 2002


This link does a good job of explaining what the Church of Satan's philosophy is. (Links about other forms of Satanism can be found here.) From what I read, LaVey's philosophy argued that other religions were destructive because they urged humanity to abase themselves and suppress perfectly "natural" feelings without doing anything to benefit yourself or society as a whole. In this respect, it seems similar to Nietzsche before his philosophy got hijacked by the Nazis. Christian theology would certainly have a problem with it, but it is not Black Masses and killing puppies by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by jonp72 at 1:46 PM on October 2, 2002


foxyfoxinsox: metafilter is probably not the ideal setting in which to learn about Christian values.

Christian values are generally understood to derive from two core values: (1) love God with all your heart and (2) love your neighbor as yourself (see Luke 10:25-27, and lengthy commentary thereafter). There are wildly divergent views about what #1 and #2 mean in practice.

I think it has something to do with a balanced spiritual view and practice which involves "holiness" (avoiding activities that cut you off from spiritual health and closeness to God) and "charity" (avoiding becoming merely pious, remember to see the humanity in others and care for them). One opinion.
posted by namespan at 1:47 PM on October 2, 2002


Parent Pam Cachay organized the lunch-hour rally, expecting 50 people to show up in an effort to dismantle the club, devoted to the study of the teachings of Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan.

Cachay was stunned to find no one picketing.


*giggle*
posted by widdershins at 1:49 PM on October 2, 2002


eye warship satin
posted by winterdrm at 1:49 PM on October 2, 2002


People spend all their time arguing over which god is real and no one gets their homework done. It's a travesty.

Dude, it's like all extracurricular and stuff, 'kay? Damn childish children. Heh.

I certainly learned a lot more in three years of building stagesets after school than I ever learned in the actual classes. Well, except for my brilliant and insane alcoholic history teacher who killed himself at the end of the semester. I learned wayyyyy too much from him.

Oh, anyway: yay Baal!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 1:53 PM on October 2, 2002


Before they make a decision, both clubs should read this. In reality, all religions are myth, whether they are as old a Christianity or were established last week. I'm not trying to bait, it's my honest belief, and the entire field of Anthropology agrees with me.

That aside, I agree there is nothing to argue about. If kids can have Harry Potter clubs, and Star Wars clubs, why not Satan clubs, they are all fictional character. As long as they are moderated by an adult, what's the problem?
posted by Miss Beth at 1:55 PM on October 2, 2002


If it had been a Caligula, Hitler, or Stalin club, would the reaction be different?

Historical figures performed actual actions and affected the lives of real people. Mythical figures are icons but can't be said to have actual impact. "Satan" is representative of evil in christianity, but there is no record of exactly what he causes - whatever you consider evil, you categorize as satan's work, but people disagree about what's evil and what's not. Does satan cause homosexuality? homelessness? marijuana? etc...

But regardless of the defenestration,

what?

there's some inherent cultural meaning in those icons, potent and serious stuff, and the truth is, LaVey and the students parroting him for shock value know it

sure - so ignore it. It's a philosophy/atheism club with a name chosen to draw attention to it.
posted by mdn at 1:56 PM on October 2, 2002


In reality, all religions are myth.

Thank you for clearing that up for me. Thank goodness for anthropology (?!), or I would have wasted the rest of my life following a mythological being.

I'm not trying to bait
what exactly are you trying to do then? provide insight?
posted by boltman at 2:03 PM on October 2, 2002


Thanks, Miss Beth, for clearing up the whole "religion- reality or myth?" debate with a link to the "truthbeknown" website and a casual reference to "the entire field of Anthropology."

I suppose the "entire field of Theology" and "three- quarters of the field of Philospohy" can pick up their marbles and go home.
posted by footballrabi at 2:06 PM on October 2, 2002


I think photosynthesis causes marijauna....
posted by cyclopz at 2:06 PM on October 2, 2002


If it had been a Caligula, Hitler, or Stalin club, would the reaction be different?

There is a big difference between starting a "Satanist" club and a "Satan" club. The appropriate question would be: if it had been a Nazi or Communist club, would the reaction be different?
(what would you call Caligula's philosophy? Hedonist club? Narcissist club?)
posted by modofo at 2:13 PM on October 2, 2002


Damn, it's nice to see a seriously uninformed debate.

Having actually read the Satanic Bible (and yes I did it during high school.) I'll try to clarify a few things.

It's not Satanism because Satan is evil, and Satanism is not about being evil to people. It's Satanism because it encourages free thought, and discovering things for yourself, just like Christianity's Satan.

Now settle down there, I'll explain. You don't have to look any farther than Genesis to see how this is true. God tells Adam and Eve that they'll have a wonderful life as long as they obey God's purely arbitrary rules. Satan on the other hand "tempts" Adam and Even into eating from "the tree of knowledge", and thus breaking God's rule. They find out that they've been naked all this time, and become embarrassed. God finds out, and their kicked out of "paradise".

The lesson here is simple. God doesn't want you to understand the world around you. He wants you to not question his commandments and be subservient to him. Once you start learning about the world around you you'll understand that a lot of what other people force you to do is embarrassing, and only then can you start take control of your own life. Ignorance is bliss, and reality is cold and hard. Knowledge always get's you "kicked out of paradise". In this sense Satan is man's ally and God is his enemy. This is why it's called Satanism.

Satanism is comes from a man tired of the dogma of Christianity, and their obsession with denying free thought and the search for knowledge. It teaches that you should realize that when ever you buy into an established religion you are just worshiping the individuals that made that religion. It teaches that you are your own God and you are solely responsible for your own actions. This is one of those hard lessons about life. Christianity removes the individual culpability by proclaiming everything is "God's will".

One thing to note, Satanism is a religion for people coming from a predominately Christianity world. Think of it as a gateway drug for free thought. It gets onto the radar of rebellious young christians through it's name, and then tries to teach the about free thought and self reliance.

Now, the second half of the book is about "Black Magic", but the only reason it's called black magic is to separate it from Wicca's insistence on their magic being "White Magic", and that the denial of the "Tenfold Rule" (sometime three or seven, but it's all the same). The Tenfold Rule says that whatever evil you do will come back to you 10x as much. Satanism says, that it's all right to wish harm on others, as long as you are prepared to suffer the real world consequences. So, if you have an incompetent co-worker, it's ok to try to get him fired, even though that might be "evil". You just need to be prepared for the consequences of your actions.

Finally, Satanism encourages you to become close to those around you, and to respect them as individuals. Period. No exception. However, if some one starts harming you, you're not supposed to turn to other cheek. You should do everything in your power to stop them. Protect yourself, don't wait for some one else to come do it for you.

Satanism is in my opinion the most enlightening "religion" out there. I encourage everyone to read over some of the satanic essentials.

In case your wondering, I don't identify myself as a Satanist, I just spent some time learnign about it years ago.
posted by betaray at 2:15 PM on October 2, 2002


I suppose the "entire field of Theology" and "three- quarters of the field of Philospohy" can pick up their marbles and go home.

Nah. Most of those folks lost their marbles a long time ago.

~wink~

Religion IS myth. I'm not familiar with any rigorous studies that show the existence of any "mythological beings", nor am I familiar with any fact-based view of reality that requires the presence of "mythological beings" (Satan, God, Santa Claus, et al). But if you do know of any studies, I'm sure we'd all be interested in the link.

Perhaps if you were just a wee bit more familiar with what the term "myth" encompasses, you wouldn't be quite so concerned about your marbles.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:25 PM on October 2, 2002


Boltman: However, I think there is a line somewhere that needs to be drawn. Schools ought be able to guide students' moral development as well as their intellectual development.

You seem to be implying that there is something morally wrong with starting a club which fosters controversy and independent thought. Christianity is not the end all be all of moral philosophy and so organizations which purposefully play off Christian symbols to get attention are not automatically immoral.
posted by botono9 at 2:27 PM on October 2, 2002


mdn:: defenestration - (n.) : a throwing of a person or thing out of a window
(c/o Merriam-Webster)

fold_and_mutilate:: well put.
posted by furious-d at 2:29 PM on October 2, 2002


What an interesting is a bit meandering thread...
The school has to allow the Satanist club, just as it allows the xtainity club... really end of story on that one... unless they want to close down all extra-curricular activities.

Schools should not be teaching our kids morals.. maybe I'm old fashioned, but my kids learn thier values from myself, my wife, and on thier own - sometimes they are different then mine, but hey, it's thier choice, and I know that the roots that I give them will hlep them in the future.... saying that schools should teach (at least at this level, higher education as in college is different altogether) morals is ludicris to me.

betaray - one thing "only reason it's called black magic is to separate it from Wicca's insistence on their magic being "White Magic", and that the denial of the "Tenfold Rule" "
It was my understanding that Satanist and Wiccians agreed on this point - everythign comes back to you... just Satanists tell you "be prepared", Wiccians tell you "Try not to do it because of this" - I could be wrong... it's been a long time since I read up on "Wicca" (although I am pagan)

That may be what you said, and I just can't follow it :-)
posted by niteHawk at 2:31 PM on October 2, 2002


Like I said, boltman and footballrabi, I was expressing my beliefs.

I believe man created religion, not the other way around.

Amazing everyone is defending these student's rights to be Satanists, yet I express my belief that all religions are myths, and I am immediately jumped on. So much for freedom of speech.

On Preview: Thanks, Fold
posted by Miss Beth at 2:33 PM on October 2, 2002


hehehe, it's hard to pound out these comments while I'm supposed to be working, and I have a tendancy towards stream of consiousness.

The main point is that Satanists say consistantly across the board that there's no reason to make up a special force to make you do something. Your actions should only be based on what you believe is right and wrong, and not fear of something bad happening to you. However, don't go out there and do shitty things and then be surprised that shitty things happen to you.
posted by betaray at 2:36 PM on October 2, 2002


Errgh.. shoudl read "interesting IF a bit meandering..."

Also, Fold_and_Mutilate... as I am just getting ready to leave here I don't have enough time to go look up, but I though it was generally accepted that certain "prophet"s existed... the Muslim Mohammad comes to mind as one that I beleive was found burried somewhere, and I am sure there are others.... also to use your example, wasn't SantaClaus traced back to several different people?
Back to what I was saying... if one takes the bible as a storybook of myths, but some of the myths are true (oh isn't there evidence of the red sea drying up around the same time that Moses was supposed to part it?) Does that make all religion a myth, or just the parts we can't prove?
posted by niteHawk at 2:37 PM on October 2, 2002


betaray made me realize I'm a satanist (if his description rings true). I had no idea. Hail satan!
posted by dig_duggler at 2:46 PM on October 2, 2002


[It can be argued, though, that the the Satanist Society has as much right to exist as the Christian Society.

How could it be argued otherwise?]

I don't see any rational way it can be argued otherwise. As long as their actions are within the law they should be allowed to assemble and speak as they wish.
posted by revbrian at 2:47 PM on October 2, 2002


yeah F&M - the alleyways and abandonded buildings of every major city are chock full of prophets who are nice and cozy with the big G - what do you mean no proof? just give one of them a quarter and ask them about their good friend god. oh, and ufo's too - prophets can prove that We Are Not Alone.
posted by badstone at 2:48 PM on October 2, 2002


furious d, I know what the word means (I took latin in 7th grade too); I just don't think namespan meant to use it - it doesn't make sense in the context. I think he meant maybe "definition" or ? I dunno, but saying "regardless of the defenestration..." doesn't make sense [unless you're referring to a defenestration that's interrupted something - or - ]
posted by mdn at 2:52 PM on October 2, 2002


Trust me, foldy, if I knew of any "rigorous" or "fact-based" studies that proved the presence or existence of mythological beings I wouldn't have the leisure time to tap away on MeFi. I'd be, like, a god or something. Or at least on a lot of talk shows.

Does everyone have the same understanding of the word myth that you and Bultmann have? I doubt it. For most folks, myth=untrue. I simply had trouble with Miss Beth invoking a discipline (anthropology) and a word (myth)as a catch-all. (on preview: An attack on freedom of speech? Huh? You invoked a website for goodness sakes.) Speaking of anthropology...

Anthropology says that myth is simply a description of the natural world. That's fine, but why should we have to start with an anthropological worldview (with all of its rigor and facts)? I mean, doesn't a "fact-based" view of reality sound so...Enlightenment-ish? So 1770's?
posted by footballrabi at 2:56 PM on October 2, 2002


if one takes the bible as a storybook of myths, but some of the myths are true (oh isn't there evidence of the red sea drying up around the same time that Moses was supposed to part it?)

No, not true. With limited historical basis. Historians think they have King Arthur's basis narrowed down to a few different medieval lords. Does that mean that he became king when a watery tart gave him a sword? Or that Merlin (if he existed) fought Dragons? And don't even get me started on the Questing Beast...

Honestly. People didn't just make up religion, it came from historical precedents, but it's still bs. Allah is based on a moon god, who came about from wonderment about the moon. You're telling me that some guy was born from a virgin mom, did this healing stuff, died, and then returned from the grave? And that humans descended from a couple, who's son, after killing the other son, went and lived with other people... who came from where?

Religion is so hard to attack because it can just make things up to plug inconsistencies. All religion is a myth. Anthropology agrees (read Claude Levi-Strauss, for example), and philosophy thinks religion is just as nutters as the anthropologists do. Come on! In the first day of my ethics class, it was proved that morality can not come from an omnipotent god. And if he wasn't omnipotent, how could he be god? Zing.
posted by The Michael The at 2:57 PM on October 2, 2002


And you'd rather, what, a worldview based on pogo-sticks?
posted by The Michael The at 2:59 PM on October 2, 2002


Lavey's Satanism is interesting because it's rather contradictory. On the one hand, it is very Nietzchean (yeah, yeah, where's my dictionary of philosophy when I need); on the other, it's very much a self-help group for outcasts. I can't remember the name of the guy, but in the late sixties or seventies (back when even Army chaplains had to be able to minister to Satanists), there was a sociologist who was able to participate and observe, and said that many of the Satanic rituals were essentially self-esteem boosters and the like, dressed up in blasphemous clothes.

That said, they do have some nifty rituals which I think a quite worthwhile. One that the sociologist described is essentially a masquerade ball, in which you dress up as your worst enemy, and try to earnestly portray them throughout the evening.

But so anyway. To sum up: Lavey: all about the individual, but still really kind of about the ritual and the obedience. (For this part, I'd say check out the second Rapid Eye book; the last essay (Plague States? maybe) by Simon Dwyer is excellent; long and rambling, but he touches on some of the contradictions of Lavey's Satanism.)

Miss Beth:

Amazing everyone is defending these student's rights to be Satanists, yet I express my belief that all religions are myths, and I am immediately jumped on. So much for freedom of speech.

I think the problem isn't that you feel that religion=myth; it's that you put it in terms of being obviously fact. Make your statements reasonable, and you increase the chances that any response is likewise.
posted by claxton6 at 3:02 PM on October 2, 2002


So much for freedom of speech

Argument is not denial of free speech.
posted by Summer at 3:44 PM on October 2, 2002


Christian values are generally understood to derive from two core values: (1) love God with all your heart and (2) love your neighbor as yourself.

Note that those aren't values unique to Christianity.

Schools should not be teaching our kids morals.

Eh? Schools necessarily teach morals, if only because when you bring together a society like that, it's going to develop morals. Like "don't cheat on tests." And "Don't sleep with your best friend's girlfriend." And so on.

The moral question is: do we really want to teach "everyone for themselves" to kids? Or are christian values of compassion and the turn-the-other-cheek thing more suitable to a schooling enviroment?

Again, those are not uniquely Christian values, and it'd do us all well to remember that. As for "everyone for themselves," I believe that's mostly what school is all about: you don't share answers during tests and you don't hang out with the losers.

Oh, and btw, what makes that a moral question? A question of practicality, sure, but a moral one?

That LaVey dude clearly sucked at understanding what opposites are.

Love is not the opposite of hate: apathy is.

Satanism is not the opposite of Christianity: atheism is.

we don't have "In Satan We Trust" on all our money, we don't mindlessly recite "One Nation, Under Satan," and when Duh-bya "speaks," he never says "Satan Bless America."

And more's the shame. Or rather, the shame is that religion and government haven't been adequately separated. The money shouldn't have reference to god, the courts shouldn't be swearing on any religious book, and Duh-bya shouldn't be speaking at all.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:48 PM on October 2, 2002


Christianity removes the individual culpability by proclaiming everything is "God's will".

Christianity does not proclaim that everything is "God's Will". The presence of the tree in the garden in the first place seems to suggest otherwise. What I get from the book of Genesis is that God intended for Mankind to choose him on their own. He didn't want to force them into anything.

Satanism comes from a man tired of the dogma of Christianity, and their obsession with denying free thought and the search for knowledge

I believe you have Christianity confused with the Church, two very different things.

In the first day of my ethics class, it was proved that morality can not come from an omnipotent god

What was this proof? I don't mean to sound like a jerk, I actually am curious to hear it.
posted by hughbot at 4:07 PM on October 2, 2002


I, too, have never heard this "kinder, gentler" Satanism. It's actually quite a relief-- which tends to make me a little suspicious. If starvingartist is right (which I'm happy to assume), then LeVey could have saved himself a lot of trouble and just asked folks to read Ayn Rand. Same philospohy without all the spooky static.

considering parts of the Satanic Bible are completely ripped off from other works, including by Rand, exactly.
posted by trioperative at 4:15 PM on October 2, 2002


Love is not the opposite of hate: apathy is.

Satanism is not the opposite of Christianity: atheism is.


Depends entirely on what your frame of reference is. In the first case, if the degree of passion is a constant, the hate is the opposite of love. However, if you're talking in terms of passion, then love and hate are the same, and are the opposite of apathy.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:24 PM on October 2, 2002


Love is not the opposite of hate: apathy is.
Satanism is not the opposite of Christianity: atheism is.


The lack of something is not the same as the opposite of something.
posted by oissubke at 4:25 PM on October 2, 2002


Damn, it's nice to see a seriously uninformed debate.

I hope you're including yourself in that statement because your sweeping generalizations about Christianity are pretty biased, as is your interpretation of the second chapter of Genesis.

It wasn't the "Tree of Knowledge" they ate from, it was "The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil" (a better translation would be "Tree of the Knowing of Good from Evil"). That makes your subsequent assertion, either your own or LeVay's, that this shows that God is against all knowledge or inquiry, totally specious.

Furthermore, this isn't an arbitrary rule that God lays down out of pure spite, it has a distinct purpose in that he wants them to remain completely innocent of the knowledge of evil because it would separate him, a being of pure good, from them. They are then cast out of Paradise because they can no longer be in his presence due to their loss of innocence.

Finally, the serpent is not there to enlighten them. He lies to them, and distorts the words of God a few verses earlier by telling them that they won't die if they eat the fruit, but rather they'll become just like God (or "the gods"). A promise which turns out to be utterly false when they give in and God casts them out.

Please note that I'm not trying to say that I believe this story is anything more than an allegory, but I do believe that you ought to have a clue what you're talking about before you bash something, which is exactly what you accused Satanism's detractors of doing.
posted by MrBaliHai at 4:26 PM on October 2, 2002


I believe you have Christianity confused with the Church, two very different things.

I guess that's just like the confusion between satanism, as described here by some, and a bunch of teenagers with whiteface, piercings and black hair and clothes running around messing with blood and funny knives, the 'other' satanism.
posted by HTuttle at 4:28 PM on October 2, 2002


Mmm... Good Point.
posted by hughbot at 4:38 PM on October 2, 2002


The problem with anything to do with satanism, is, it's not what they tell you, it's what they don't tell you about themselves that's important. Satan is the Lord of Lies, after all.

Satanism is not a religion. Religion essentially points out that the things of the world are little, and painful, and that there is something else, higher and more important. Real Satanism is about forgetting about higher truths, and indulging the passions, which ultimately destroy.

To quote one poster, "True "Satanism" isn't about black magic and killing puppies - it's about the rejection of religion, godhead and the worship thereof, and the construct of altruism."

It's absolutely nothing to do with altruism, which is selfless-action (doing good for the sake of it without seeking personal gain through that act.) Satanism is about the antithesis to altruism; selfishness, the aggrandisement of the ego, as against (as Christians would put it) the aggrandisement of God, or higher things, if you like.

Another poster said, "It was my understanding that Satanist and Wiccians agreed on this point - everythign comes back to you... just Satanists tell you "be prepared", Wiccians tell you "Try not to do it because of this" - I could be wrong"

Actually they don't. "Everything comes back to you" or karma, is something Wiccans believe in, Satanists believe that you can cheat karma, and therefore do evil, without personal consequence; indeed this is what they promote.

It is, of course, a lie.

I've met a genuine Satanist (if genuine is something that could be applied to such a person) and all the "it's harmless" stuff is FUD. It's about as genuine as a politician's smile; only more corrupt.

The "harmless" tag is to lull, then corrupt, then it's incredibly painful and extremely difficult for the victim to
redeem themselves from the evil they've done, while under the delusion of "do as thou wilt, this be the whole of the law."

Eventually people wake up, and feel the pain of their evil actions, and have to suffer the consequences, quite the opposite of what the Satanists told them.

The Satanist is a fool, who thinks it won't come back to them. It will.

Don't get fooled, deluded, mesmerised by them or their corrupt and self-destroying idea of what freedom is. They're a brainwashing cult, selling freedom, but encouraging actions that will take away that freedom, happiness and peace of mind. Spinning a lie on everything.

Religions subdue the ego, and promote the higher self, Satanists promote the ego, and laugh at the higher self.

Don't say you weren't warned.
posted by Blue Stone at 4:45 PM on October 2, 2002


Religion essentially points out that the things of the world are little, and painful

Gah! That's the bit that sends atheists running away screaming. Why is it necessary to hold such a demeaning view of the human experience? Atheists actually manage to find humanity interesting, life fulfilling, and find pleasure to be natural and attainable. Just take your eyes off of your fetishes and icons for a moment and look around. You'll find that the world actually exists and the experience of it is quite a bit deeper than what you blindly accuse it of being.
posted by badstone at 5:09 PM on October 2, 2002


Atheists actually manage to find humanity interesting, life fulfilling, and find pleasure to be natural and attainable.

So do, say, Mormons -- but atheists believe that it's all their is, while others believe there's yet *more* to be had. If you ask me, it's the atheists who have the dim, depressing view of life.
posted by oissubke at 5:18 PM on October 2, 2002


Finally, the serpent is not there to enlighten them. He lies to them, and distorts the words of God a few verses earlier by telling them that they won't die if they eat the fruit, but rather they'll become just like God (or "the gods"). A promise which turns out to be utterly false when they give in and God casts them out.

These weren't lies.
Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"-- 23therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden - cite
First, they don't die. It was actually God who was trying to deceive them. You may argue that he was telling his play things a little white lie for their own good. Or, maybe He had already gone through one rebellion with the Angels and didn't want to risk it again with Man. For this reason, he wanted to keep them naive and unable to choose for themselves. Once they did open their eyes, they were cast out of his presence and now can only return if they prove in life that they are willing to blind themselves and cheerfully, faithfully accept whatever crap is spread before them - for it is only through blind faith that we can return to God's grace.

Else, what really is the purpose of faith? I don't believe it all anyway, but in the context of the story - it's God and not the snake that is spreading lies.
posted by willnot at 5:27 PM on October 2, 2002


sounds like gluttony. why do you so desparately need to invent *more*? why is it so painful to simply have enough? if *more* happens later, fine, but what i have on my plate right now is plenty, it's plenty good, and it shouldn't be sneered at or belittled. furthermore, if you find life that dull, i can't imagine that you're actually living one. i swear, life actually *is* interesting.
posted by badstone at 5:29 PM on October 2, 2002


I think we can all agree that public school ought to avoid fostering selfishness and ego-centrism in its students.

You might think so, but we cannot agree to this.

Of course, it's all in how you define your terms.
posted by rushmc at 5:33 PM on October 2, 2002


considering parts of the Satanic Bible are completely ripped off from other works, including by Rand, exactly.

All writings borrow from those that preceded them. Do you consider the Bible to have similarly "ripped off" the historical works that it "borrowed" from?
posted by rushmc at 5:35 PM on October 2, 2002


Religion essentially points out that the things of the world are little, and painful, and that there is something else, higher and more important.

And that is the most repulsive part of such religions--and their central lie. Anything that tears man down is counterproductive ("evil," if you prefer); anything that builds him up is beneficial ("good").

Don't get fooled, deluded, mesmerised by them or their corrupt and self-destroying idea of what freedom is. They're a brainwashing cult, selling freedom, but encouraging actions that will take away that freedom, happiness and peace of mind. Spinning a lie on everything.

Funny, sounds just like Christianity.

Don't say you weren't warned.

Oh, I am SO shaking in terror....lol
posted by rushmc at 5:38 PM on October 2, 2002


Five Fresh Fish- Atheism is the opposite of a whole lotta religious traditions.... in fact, any of them that have deities.
Satan is specific to Christianity. Therefore, an argument can be made that Satanism is tied to Christianity in a more intimate way than to Atheism is ties to Christianity.
Hope that made some sense. I am suffering from round one of the germie nastiness that teachers commonly get over the course of a school year.
posted by oflinkey at 6:07 PM on October 2, 2002


"I wanted to make it clear that these kids are being supervised properly and they have an outstanding adviser," [superintendent] Mohr said.

Following his adviser's suggestion, club co-founder Matt Heeney declined to comment Tuesday.


That's the advice of an "outstanding adviser"? This kid has nationwide media attention! How many more times is *that* going to happen? He's got one, maybe two days before people move onto something else. My advice to you, Matt Heeney, is to suck it dry and do it as shamelessly as possible.
posted by Zulujines at 6:21 PM on October 2, 2002


I think Satin is much creepier.
posted by condour75 at 1:17 PM PST on October 2


Hmm...maybe you should talk to textureslut.
posted by Zulujines at 6:25 PM on October 2, 2002


oflinkey: oh, of course it's arguable your way, too. But from my viewpoint, a belief in Satan and a belief in God amount to the same thing. Thus, believing in neither is the opposite.

Same with the love/hate thing. They're both strong emotions that can take one over, make one do irrational things, become a searing focus in one's life, etcetera. Apathy, on the other hand, is the opposite...

It all depends on whether you're viewing things from the surface of the coin, so that all you see is your own side and feel the other side is opposite; or outside the coin, where you can see that although there are two sides, they're both of the same thing...
posted by five fresh fish at 6:36 PM on October 2, 2002


Jeez. No need for personal insults Blue Stone.
posted by The Great Satan at 6:39 PM on October 2, 2002


where you can see that although there are two sides, they're both of the same thing...

that's what "opposite" means though - the opposing idea, the other side of the coin. It doesn't mean "the thing most different". I think inpHilltr8r got it right up there - depends what criteria you're judging by (as in the love vs. hate/apathy, is it intent or degree?).

It wasn't the "Tree of Knowledge" they ate from, it was "The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil" (a better translation would be "Tree of the Knowing of Good from Evil").

exactly! he forbade them from having a moral compass of their own. He tried to hold them back from being able to make choices, to have free will. According to the myth he intended them to simply follow his rules and they were convinced to take their destiny into their own hands. Satanists of this Levay sort don't take the icon of satan to be an actual being, but just point out that from an objective perspective he could very easily be seen as the good guy in this story.
posted by mdn at 6:51 PM on October 2, 2002


But from my viewpoint, a belief in Satan and a belief in God amount to the same thing.

Ah...reductionism. Why don't you just say everything amounts to the same thing?
posted by goethean at 6:57 PM on October 2, 2002


[derail]

For some reason, this reminds me of the girl who wanted to start an "anarchy club." To which I replied, "huh?"

When I was in high school I used to pass around fliers promoting imaginary clubs. One of mine was the "Anarchy Club". I drew a 3D-looking "anarchy symbol" (circle-enclosed 'A' with extended horizontal line) and wrote on the flier:

Unite For Anarchy
Anarchy Rules!
Anarchy Is King!
Join Us In Our Crusade Against Organized Groups


I added a footnote that read Permission from administration pending for Anarchy Club.

I thought it was pretty funny.

I also advertised a "3-H Club". Our motto? Look ma, no 'hands'!

[/derail]
posted by quarantine at 7:31 PM on October 2, 2002


from an objective perspective he could very easily be seen as the good guy in this story

Beware the Demiurge!
posted by rushmc at 7:31 PM on October 2, 2002


They're a brainwashing cult

The funny thing is this could be the description of so many religions...the Moonies, the Mormans, the Scientologists, the Baptists, the Catholics.

your sweeping generalizations about Christianity are pretty biased, as is your interpretation of the second chapter of Genesis.

Actually, Mr. BaliHai, what follows is just your interpretation of Genesis, or one that you were taught anyway. That is the tremendous (and, in some ways, terrible) thing about the Bible. Scholars have been working at interpreting that book for thousands of years, and every few years, regular as clockwork, a new interpretation is published. Rather reminiscent of our own constitution-- and that is only a little over 200 years old and not written in an archaic language.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:35 PM on October 2, 2002


It strikes me that a club devoted to LeVay's version of "Satanism" could (and perhaps should) be excluded from a high school not on sectarian grounds, but on the grounds that it is not so much a religion as a hedonistic philosophy which, along with atheism, preaches a certain kind of drugs-and-sex libertinism which expressly violates school policies, irrespective of their alleged or actual religious content or motivation.

Another approach would simply be to require that a parent sign a permission slip for each extracurricular joined. This is a completely, entirely, legitimate exercise of school authority and deferral to parental authority. If mom and dad will sign a note saying, "I authorize my Joey to be a member of the Satan Club," then so be it. Somehow, though, I think that this could put a quick end to it (except maybe in San Francisco or the more degenerate corners of the other big cities...)
posted by MattD at 7:38 PM on October 2, 2002


The lack of something is not the same as the opposite of something.

Depends on your midpoint...
posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:42 PM on October 2, 2002


exactly! he forbade them from having a moral compass of their own. He tried to hold them back from being able to make choices, to have free will. According to the myth he intended them to simply follow his rules...

There's another subtle possibility embedded in the story...

"Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Genesis 2:16-17

What did God do here? He:

(1) told them they could eat from every tree of the garden.
(2) explained to them that eating from one of the trees would have some specific serious consequences (loss of immortality, along with the knowledge of good and evil), and they might want to hold off
(3) let them do whatever they want

Far from being a denier of choices, the God in the story created beings with the ability to disobey him, created lots of available choices. He did tell them not to do something -- but in the case where he told them not to do something, he explained the consequence, and left it up to them. This isn't forcing anything on anyone. It's explaining the universe he created and helping them navigate it.

Satan, on the other hand, chose to obscure the consequences and thus entice them into an uninformed and mostly irreversable decision. He told the truth about gaining knowledge of good and evil (duh -- that's what the tree was called). He may or may not have told the truth about that knowledge being what distinguishes a God, but he played the advantages of that knowledge up. He definitely lied to them by telling them "You shall not surely die" -- because they would. Still not forcing anything on people, but rather than giving them an opportunity to navigate clearly, Satan obscured reality as given and led them to make a choice to his own ends.

Two sides directing and enticing, but one obscures and the other makes clear. Hmm....
posted by namespan at 8:01 PM on October 2, 2002


But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most? - Mark Twain
posted by cohiba at 8:03 PM on October 2, 2002


I'm laughing because I know this school. Used to coach the water polo team.

This is happening in one of the most liberal school districts/areas in the nation and would probably have far more pissed off parents if this was banned.
posted by bitdamaged at 8:16 PM on October 2, 2002


(1) told them they could eat from every tree of the garden.
(2) explained to them that eating from one of the trees would have some specific serious consequences (loss of immortality, along with the knowledge of good and evil), and they might want to hold off
(3) let them do whatever they want


Why did he put the tree in the garden in the first place?

No wonder Christians feel the need to beg him to "lead us not into temptation...."
posted by rushmc at 8:23 PM on October 2, 2002


It strikes me that a club devoted to LeVay's version of "Satanism" could (and perhaps should) be excluded from a high school not on sectarian grounds, but on the grounds that it is not so much a religion as a hedonistic philosophy which, along with atheism, preaches a certain kind of drugs-and-sex libertinism which expressly violates school policies

School policies have no business even addressing, much less attempting to dictate, behavior that does not take place on school grounds.

I think that this could put a quick end to it (except maybe in San Francisco or the more degenerate corners of the other big cities...)

Nice open mind ya got there.
posted by rushmc at 8:25 PM on October 2, 2002


Christian values are generally understood to derive from two core values: (1) love God with all your heart and (2) love your neighbor as yourself (see Luke 10:25-27, and lengthy commentary thereafter). There are wildly divergent views about what #1 and #2 mean in practice.

Au contraire: In opposition to Judaism, christianity's "core of calue" is that their saviour "died for them", which, as a funny ironical note to the puppy-sacrifices that satanism is made responsible for, is nothing less than an archaic blood-cult reborn.


That was my lesson in religion for
this very moment.
posted by zerofoks at 8:47 PM on October 2, 2002


I feel like I shouldn't have to point this out... Anarchism is a valid social philosophy. There have been many authors with many and varied ideas over the years that can be called 'anarchists' but what tends to bind them all together is rejection of the necessity for 'authority'.

Errico Malatesta wrote about a "society based on free and voluntary accord - a society in which no one can force his wishes on another and in which everyone can do as he pleases and together all will voluntarily contribute to the well-being of the community. But because of this Anarchism will not have definitively and universally triumphed until all men will not only not want to be commanded but will not want to command; nor will Anarchism have succeeded unless they will have understood the advantage of solidarity and know how to organise a plan of social life wherein there will no longer be traces of violence and imposition."

Metafilter, for example, is an anarchy.
posted by snarfodox at 10:55 PM on October 2, 2002


If you ask me, it's the atheists who have the dim, depressing view of life.

No, we have a dim, depressing view of the afterlife.
posted by kindall at 11:08 PM on October 2, 2002


This has been a great conversation so far, thanks to all.

Anarchy is just silly. Systems don't work that way.

Atheism is just silly. So is Christianity. So is Satanism. Beliefs in general are just silly. Physics is less silly, but there's still room for silliness in there.

Here's a man trying not to be silly: Good old Krish

Free speech and the Dialogue are not silly. In any way. Young people's minds are not shaped by the rules imposed on them, but by the freedoms allowed them.
posted by ewkpates at 6:19 AM on October 3, 2002


Talking Snakes, Evil Trees, It's all too much for me.

Where's Bob when you need him?
posted by quibx at 6:57 AM on October 3, 2002


No, we have a dim, depressing view of the afterlife.

Score!
posted by rushmc at 7:24 AM on October 3, 2002


...a funny ironical note to the puppy-sacrifices that satanism is made responsible for, is nothing less than an archaic blood- cult reborn.

It's especially icky when you realize that the Christians are slurping the blood and eating the flesh of their saviour every week. Talk about sick, sick, sick!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:17 AM on October 3, 2002


Not to a vampire.
posted by rushmc at 10:17 AM on October 3, 2002


If Satan comes from Christianity, then Satanism is not the opposite of Christianity, it *IS* Christianity!

You want to go against Christianity? Become a Jain. Or a Taoist. Or Aum. Or any OTHER religion. Satanism keeps you trapped in the Christian tradition.

But this has already been said above...just needed to express my view...
posted by Dantien at 10:27 AM on October 3, 2002


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