A celebration of blasphemy, with 17 kinds of poutine
July 25, 2019 8:28 AM   Subscribe

 
I'm a little down on the efficacy of trying to entrap people on the right with their espousal of principles of equality before the law, free speech, etc., since increasingly they're deciding that, if put to it, they'll just openly declare their bigotry. I'm also a little down on using the courts to achieve these ends since relying on the judgment of what is still largely a group of straight, white, and deeply institutionally (if not politically) conservative men to defend our rights has proved disappointing more often than not. That said, the Satanic Temple is pretty good at what they're doing and seems to have avoided many of the traps that other Satanist organizations have plunged headlong into, so I find myself pretty supportive of them. They even have an extremely delightful coloring book.
posted by Copronymus at 9:54 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


I would kill for 17 kinds of poutine right now.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 10:27 AM on July 25 [5 favorites]


I love what the Satanic Temple does politically, and I'm glad it's becoming a community for people. I hadn't heard of an unbaptism ceremony, but I can totally see why people would want that. Personally, none of it is for me -- I love all things satanic (I mean, like, a lot), but on more of an aesthetic and, I guess, academic level. I've never felt like I fit in with actual, practicing Satanists. But I appreciate what they do, and I'm glad to hear that Satan's influence continues to grow.

Plus, my favorite movie is The Witch, and the Satanic Temple called it "a transcendent satanic experience," so I know they've got good taste.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:37 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


The Global News news I heard this week was that they hired energy journalist Mike De Souza from the National Observer.

I'm another outsider, surprised that the Satanic Temple has only been around since 2013. I feel like I've been hearing about their activism for at least a few years longer than I have.
posted by Tha Contender at 11:33 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I'm another outsider, surprised that the Satanic Temple has only been around since 2013. I feel like I've been hearing about their activism for at least a few years longer than I have.

I was confused by this too, but I was thinking of the Church of Satan, which has been around since 1966. From Wikipedia:

[Satanic Temple founder] Lucien Greaves has described the Temple as being a progressive and updated version of LaVey's Satanism [the basis for the Church of Satan]. The Temple sees itself as separate and distinct from LaVeyan Satanists, and feels that its principles and tenets represent "a natural evolution in Satanic thought". Greaves has said that the elements of Social Darwinism and Nietzscheanism within LaVeyan Satanism are incongruent with game theory, reciprocal altruism, and cognitive science. He has also criticized the Church of Satan for its lack of political lobbying and what he sees as their exclusivity, referring to them as autocratic and hierarchical, and saying that the Church fetishizes authoritarianism. Conversely, the Church of Satan has made statements claiming that The Satanic Temple are only "masquerading as Satanists and do not represent Satanism."

Who knew there was a schism in Satanism?
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:50 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Do you guys remember StumbleUpon, that site that would send you to random other sites selected by users? In high school it sent me to a Church of Satan site once. I had vaguely heard of them before, but had just assumed it was a social club for edgy goths rather than an actual ethos, and I remember reading through the site and thinking "huh! These guys seem pretty ok actually! Who'd have thought?"

I didn't wind up recruited into Satanism or anything, but it was a weird little lesson in looking past first impressions that stuck with me for whatever reason.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:58 AM on July 25


I highly recommend Hail Satan?, the documentary about the Satanic Temple. I was at an Indie Memphis screening of the film earlier this year, and a group of local Satanists attended. One of the women in the group got a little too drunk before (and possibly during) the show. and started screaming "Hail Satan!" at random intervals. It was funny the first couple of times, but then it got annoying and disruptive, until finally she was kicked out of the theater. The next morning, she made a post on the Indie Memphis FB page claiming she was "too Satanic!" for the movie about Satanism.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:36 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


I really enjoy the legal filings and strategies of the Satanic Temple. When I was still traveling for my old job and got sent to Oklahoma while the Baphomet statue was still there I was a little sad that it was too far out of my way to go take a photo. Alas, I had to fly through Tulsa.
posted by bile and syntax at 12:59 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I too came for the poutine. Now, what is it again? Yeah, it can bedevil my stomach, after beguiling my mouth, sounds like a bargain.
posted by Oyéah at 1:27 PM on July 25


Who knew there was a schism in Satanism?

There isn’t. Satanism is not a real thing. It’s an evangelical Christian invention that two independent groups are having two different kinds of fun with.

The Satanic Temple is a political secularist agitprop movement that subverts Christian theocratic propaganda by turning the latter’s own symbols and rhetoric against itself. It is a joke on purpose.

The Church of Satan, on the other hand, is just, for better or worse, an obvious late-‘60s counterpoint to the rising Jesus Freak movements of the day, an unauthorized Wednesday Addams and Ayn Rand fan club, a faux oogabooga Magick-with-a-k circlejerk, a bible consisting of passages Xeroxed from the Dewey 100s aisle of the San Francisco Public Library cynically published to exploit the success of Rosemary’s Baby, and a pointlessly hierarchical organization akin to clergy, Freemasons, and the Boy Scouts of America. It is a joke by accident.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:29 PM on July 25 [11 favorites]


I would kill for 17 kinds of poutine right now.

So, not to derail, but since the piece in the FPP is about Ottawa, I need to say that if you ever find yourself in Ottawa, know that Ottawa's shawarma game is totally on point, and consequently you can get very good shawarma poutine there. Demand extra garlic sauce with it.

Back on topic, I give the Black Mass Appeal podcast a listen from time to time for shits and giggles (A+ name, I must say), and they did an episode with an interview with the director of Hail Satan?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:41 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


There isn’t. Satanism is not a real thing. It’s an evangelical Christian invention that two independent groups are having two different kinds of fun with.

A number of prominent new religions scholars disagree with you. The Satanic Temple has also been pretty clear on this point. Also, I would really appreciate you not calling my religion a joke or not real (although it is fun! But something can be fun and still a deeply held belief.)
posted by WidgetAlley at 5:56 PM on July 25 [4 favorites]


I thought the blasphemy was going to be like, kale poutine and 16 other abominations.
posted by rodlymight at 9:14 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Anyone enjoying the Satanic Temple should really check out Witches vs Patriarchy on reddit.
posted by saucysault at 11:05 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I would really appreciate you not calling my religion a joke or not real.

They’re all jokes, and they’re all not real.

Even the ones where that’s a central tenet.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:19 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Some were there in secret, fearful of getting fired from their jobs or being shunned by their families for associating with such a group. Instead of an actual temple or place of worship, they congregate at The Koven, a heavy metal bar downtown adorned with skulls, spikes and drawings of the underworld.

THAT is your alibi?
"I'm not a Satanist, I was just drinking down at The Koven, a heavy metal bar adorned with skulls, spikes and drawings of the underworld."

"Oh, if that's all you're doing, never mind. My bad, sorry. I thought you were satanic."
posted by msalt at 12:51 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


On a serious note, there is a lot of evidence that "Lucian Greaves" (Doug Mesner/Misicko) is operating this group as a front for neo-Nazis. The Portland chapter just withdrew from the organization as a result. it's a shame (and arguably journalistic malpractice) that the author of this piece didn't address this pretty well-known concern.
posted by msalt at 1:08 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


Oh that sucks.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:53 AM on July 26


Who knew there was a schism in Satanism?

I always thought that The Satanic Temple were basically an athiest group that didn't like The Church of Satan because it was too much like a religion, and The Church of Satan didn't like the Satanic Temple because they were mostly an atheist organization. (No offense to any Satanists out there if I've misunderstood the beef between the two groups.)
posted by 23skidoo at 8:08 AM on July 26


I need to say that if you ever find yourself in Ottawa, know that Ottawa's shawarma game is totally on point, and consequently you can get very good shawarma poutine there. Demand extra garlic sauce with it.

Or if you're in Calgary & feel the need for an abomination, the Ikemen Ramen place on 10th St has poutine ramen. Garlic sauce couldn't hurt.
posted by sneebler at 9:20 AM on July 26


it's a shame (and arguably journalistic malpractice) that the author of this piece didn't address this pretty well-known concern.

Ooooooh boy, buckle up y'all, it's time for a braindump on the roots of modern Satanism and why The Satanic Temple has a complicated relationship with the alt-right.

So modern Satanism really began with Anton LaVey in the 1960s, and became accessible to people through the publication of The Satanic Bible in '69. It's pretty well-known that large parts of The Satanic Bible were lifted straight from Ragnar Redbeard's work Might Is Right, a work that scholars are still trying to figure out if it was satire or not. (LaVey thought Jack London might have written it, which is hilarious, but that's a tale for another time.) Redbeard, and LaVeyan Satanism generally, had a very pro-social Darwinism approach, which is uncomfortable to say the least. But he was also super 1960s liberal on a lot of other points, like same sex attraction and the sexual rights of women. But then he also fucking hated hippies and super elitist and kind of pro-police state in a weird way? LaVey was a dingdamn mess, who even knows. The result is that, until TST came along, the only real organized force in Satanism (with the exception of very small, exclusive groups like the Satanic Reds) was Church of Satan, which is pretty damn alt-righty in some ways while being pretty damn leftist in others in ways that I literally just cannot fathom. We're talking like, Norwegian black metal scene levels of left-leaning socialists rubbing elbows and sharing opinions with proto-fascists here.

The thing about Lucien Greaves is, of course he said a bunch of shitty weird alt-righty stuff in the early 2000s, because that's all Satanism was at the time, and if anyone was going to step out of that, change their tune, and make space for a different kind of Satanism, they were almost certainly going to be coming out of that fucking weird sort-of-leftist-in-some-ways-but-also-kind-of-proto-fashy environment. His thinking now appears to be significantly different. Obviously, the whole thing could be a complete fabrication, but if he wanted to use Satanism as a cloak for neo-Nazi ideology, co-founding TST is a weird way to go about it because neo-Nazi Satanism already exists in about six billion other forms (ugh) so I'm inclined to believe him when he says TST is aiming to be something different.

The other thing you'll see tossed around is that TST is pro Nazis being given speaking platforms, and that's kind of true? To be honest, the Satanic Temple's hardline stance on free speech weirded me out completely and seemed wildly out of touch with their otherwise pretty progressive stances until I read some more books about the history of Satanism and realized that it's a self-defense mechanism. The Temple's first public event (a black mass) was met with significant outcry from Christian groups claiming it was hate speech. This gets leveled at Satanic practices a lot, turns out. It's also hard to disentangle the free speech stuff from blasphemy laws and the history of Satanic panics. In practice, this all means that TST is absolutely rabid about free speech rights (to an extent that I personally still disagree with, but can at least now contextually situate.) This is how you get stuff like the Mark Randazza shitshow, where Mark Randazza, who is a free speech lawyer who often guests on Breitbart, offered to defend TST pro-bono, and a bunch of chapters split off and became independent Satanic organizations instead because they were uncomfortable with any association with Randazza (this is why the Portland chapter split), while national leadership argued he was the only lawyer offering to take the case and that defending TST wasn't endorsing his beliefs.

Now, I don't know Greaves, and I disagree with about as much stuff that he says as I agree with, and there are real, genuine problems with the organization, and any one of them would be an excellent reason for a chapter to split from The Satanic Temple (like discomfort with Randazza, or the controversy surrounding the abortion case in Missouri). But I do, through personal connections, know a significant number of members in local and national leadership positions, and many-- if not the majority-- of them are trans, people of color, queer, neuroatypical, and other folks not high on the privilege scale for one reason or another. (My local chapterhead is a WoC sex worker.) So if Greaves is building some kind of secret veiled neo-Nazi organization, he's doing a really bad job.
posted by WidgetAlley at 7:34 PM on July 26 [4 favorites]


The thing about Lucien Greaves is, of course he said a bunch of shitty weird alt-righty stuff in the early 2000s, because that's all Satanism was at the time, and if anyone was going to step out of that, change their tune, and make space for a different kind of Satanism, they were almost certainly going to be coming out of that fucking weird sort-of-leftist-in-some-ways-but-also-kind-of-proto-fashy environment. His thinking now appears to be significantly different.

So, like, if 15 years ago all Satanism was only geared towards shitty, weird alt-right stuff, and Greaves was fully into that, and now he's not, what happened in between then and now? Because from the videos in the links, the people into this do seem overwhelmingly white (even if the Satanists you know are more diverse). Did he have some sort of aha! moment where he came out and denounced all the shitty weird alt-right stuff he said like 15 years ago? If not, then maybe the way he's trying to make TST different from other Satanist groups is that he's just not being as vocal about the shitty weird alt-right beliefs that he still might hold. I mean, he's giving pro-Nazi folks speaking platforms, and it's alot easier to get away with giving people a change to promote Nazism if you're not like overtly promoting shitty, weird alt-right stuff.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:36 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


So yeah, if you read the link above about his thinking being significantly different now, he lays out pretty explicitly where TST differs from CoS-flavored Satanism and a massive component of that is rejecting social Darwinism (from the article, " 'From the beginning, The Satanic Temple offered a stark contrast to the Church of Satan’s anti-altruistic philosophy of self interest, stating in our first tenet, “One should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason.' ") and returning to the Romantic Satanism that represented an embrace of Enlightenment values (see also this piece on Christianity and white supremacy by Greaves). And I wouldn't say TST gives neo-Nazis speaking platforms, but the stance has always been neo-Nazis have a right to free speech, which I don't like or agree with, but see above about the complex relationship between Satanism and free speech.

I actually am like, overall neutral about Greaves as a person, and think he probably holds some stances I would strongly, strongly disagree with if we were ever to sit down and chat, but really, TST is much bigger than just him, although he receives a disproportionate amount of the attention because he can safely be "out" in the media (unlike many other folks, up to and including national council members). And considering the membership and aims of TST, if it's his plan to create a neo-Nazi front, it's a damn weird way of going about it, considering the intense dedication towards defending abortion rights and religious pluralism that's the focus of TST. I'm not in any measure saying that TST couldn't do better on issues of racial justice - like far too many organizations, it definitely could. But there's a hell of a lot of ground between that and a cover for neo-Nazi recruitment.

Anyway I don't want to dominate the thread but I'm happy to answer more questions or provide more reading material by Memail. I have a complicated relationship with Satanism, which I love and despair of in equal measure, so this is very much my bread and butter, and I'm happy to discuss more.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:38 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


if it's his plan to create a neo-Nazi front, it's a damn weird way of going about it, considering the intense dedication towards defending abortion rights and religious pluralism that's the focus of TST

Not sure about that. State of the art alt-right organizing seems to be built around looking for Trojan Horses to sneak though, e.g. eco-fascism.

I tried to read that piece about hos mesner's thinking changed but drowned in words, sorry. Here's another link with several shorter pieces about disturbing alt-right elements in TST, focusing on Mesner's co-founder Malcolm Jarry.
posted by msalt at 1:01 PM on July 27


New data point: in a pre-spree post, the Gilroy Garlic shooter urged everyone to read "Might is Right" by Ragnar Redbeard, an infamous (but now obscure) 1890s racist book.

The Church of Satan has a prominent web page promoting that book, still up today.
posted by msalt at 4:27 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


In my opinion, the overarching reason Satan exists is that Abrahamic men cannot even conceive the possibility that women might go off together and live lives not under the control of some male; ergo, if there are witches, there must be a Satan.
posted by jamjam at 6:14 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


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