The media portrays the Satanic Temple as if it’s an authentic Satanic organization. In reality, it’s a secular humanist political action group pushing the social justice warrior agenda by using Satanic imagery to troll Christians. In so doing, they’re breaking one of the hard-and-fast rules of the left: cultural appropriation.
Cultural appropriation was invented by, and is currently defined by, left-wing radicals (the only ones who care about it). They list the following as the main recognizable characteristics of cultural appropriation:
- It spreads mass lies about marginalized cultures.
- It trivializes violent historical oppression.
- It perpetuates stereotypes, often racial stereotypes.
Does the Satanic Temple do these? Check, check, and check.
The Satanic Temple: Spreading Mass Lies about Marginalized Cultures
When Megyn Kelly interviewed the Satanic Temple’s head troll, Lucien Greaves (the pseudonym of Doug Mesner), he didn’t give any indication he was simply using Satanism to try to thwart the spread of Christianity in America:
As a fake Satanist, Lucien Greaves is analogous to a white Christian guy dressing up in a headdress and proclaiming to be the head of a Native American tribe that’s completely contrary to their traditional teachings. This is easy to see when comparing the views of the Satanic Temple to other Satanic groups.
Though the tenets of Satanic groups differ, they generally focus on individualism, responsibility, self-knowledge, and a left-hand path worldview that doesn’t mind doing what society considers “sinful” (outside of harming innocent people). As an example, the Nine Satanic Statements in The Satanic Bible include:
- “Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it, instead of love wasted on ingrates”;
- “Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek”; and
- “Satan represents responsibility to the responsible, instead of concern for psychic vampires!”
The philosophy of the Temple of Set and Aleister Crowley’s Thelema (both which often are erroneously called Satanic) are similarly opposed to the values and worldview of modern Christianity and secular humanism.
The Satanic Temple is not religious at all, but is extremely politically active; in fact, interfering with the socio-political agenda of the right is the group’s primary function thus far. Rather than autonomy and self-responsibility, they push for “compassion and empathy.” While a true Satanist would not make requirements for another person’s belief system, the Satanic Temple insists that beliefs confirm to science. Its Satanic coloring books for children spread misinformation about Satanists and neopagans, by portraying them as about to sacrifice a frog and by implying they have humanistic values. According to the Satanic Temple, “the spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.” All of this fits the definition of “spreading mass lies” about Satanism.
The ‘Violent Historical Oppression’ of Satanists and Pagans
Satanism certainly falls into the category of being systematically oppressed. Exodus 22:18 says “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” In ancient Greece and Rome many people were burned alive for witchcraft, and in the late Roman Empire there was mass destruction of pagan temples and libraries. In the early thirteenth century, Pope Innocent III attacked the dualistic Cathars, claiming they actually worshipped Satan. An estimated 20,000 were killed, many by being burned at the stake.
The witch trials started in Europe in the early 1400s, where people gave false confessions due to torture. The same century, friars under Pope Innocent VIII published the Malleus maleficarum (“Hammer of Witches”), which, besides misinformation about women having sex with demons and moles being a sign of consort with demons, said Christians had an obligation to hunt down witches and kill them. As the witch-hunt craze spread, between 50,000 and 80,000 suspected witches were executed between 1500 and 1660, about 80 percent of them women. In 1591, King James authorized the torture of suspected witches in Scotland. Keep in mind, these were not deaths that occurred during wars between nations, but systematic, institutionalized, religiously motivated torture and killing.
The Ophite Cultus Satanas was founded in 1948, the Church of Satan in 1966, and the Temple of Set (Setianism) in 1975, followed by numerous theistic Satanic groups. Even in recent years, neopagans, witches, and Satanists have faced discrimination in the military, prisons, workplace, and in society generally. The “Satanic panic” of the 1980s and early ’90s incorrectly pinned numerous stories about ritual abuse onto Satanists. Whether you look at it historically, or even in modern-day Western societies, Satanists and those accused of Satanism have suffered mass oppression.
The Satanic Temple: Perpetuating Stereotypes
A stereotype is a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person. For Satanism,stereotypes like sacrificing animals, worshipping the devil in a theistic system, and wearing black robes or pentagrams are common. The Sigil of Baphomet, when displayed as a goat’s head in an adverse pentagram, is a trademarked and copyrighted image of the Church of Satan, and is closely associated with both Satanism and Thelema.
The Satanic Temple uses Satanic and neopagan imagery, not for the purposes of a religion, but to change public opinion and public policy. For example, one page from The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities shows a Satanic ritual taking place. A pentagram is drawn on the floor, a child wears a robe with an inverted pentagram on the front, while a frog flees in terror, implying the Satanists were about to sacrifice him.
And in its most well-known publicity stunt, in 2014 the Satanic Temple commissioned an eight-and-a-half-foot statue of Baphomet, which they intended to place next to a monument of the Ten Commandments at the Oklahoma State Capitol. In July 2015, the Baphomet statue was erected near a warehouse in Detroit, but the Satanic Temple may take it to Arkansas where another 10 Commandments monument is proposed.
This publicity for Baphomet has led to all kinds of confusion, and the Satanic Temple is doing nothing to correct the stereotypes of Baphomet as an image of evil. One article incorrectly described it as a “statue of the Lord of Darkness.” In actuality, the image of Baphomet as we know it today was first drawn by French occultist Eliphas Lévi and published in 1856 in the second volume of Dogmas and Rituals of High Magic (published in English as Transcendental Magic). The drawing depicts a “a winged humanoid goat with a pair of breasts and a torch on its head between its horns” with the words SOLVE (separate) and COAGULA (join together).
Lévi described his drawing of Baphomet: His right hand points to the sphere of Chesed (Mercy, the fourth sphere on the Tree of Life), and his left hand points to Geburah (Strength, the fifth sphere on the Tree) – an occult sign to express the perfect harmony of mercy with justice. “The flame of intelligence shining between his horns is the magic light of the universal balance, the image of the soul elevated above matter, as the flame, whilst being tied to matter, shines above it. The beast’s head expresses the horror of the sinner, whose materially acting, solely responsible part has to bear the punishment exclusively; because the soul is insensitive according to its nature and can only suffer when it materializes. The rod standing instead of genitals symbolizes eternal life, the body covered with scales the water, the semi-circle above it the atmosphere, the feathers following above the volatile. Humanity is represented by the two breasts and the androgyne arms of this sphinx of the occult sciences.”
Yet the Satanic Temple, though alluding to Lévi, always seems to prefer to let the image of Baphomet as “Satan” prevail.
The Satanic Temple’s Philosophy is Decidedly Anti-Satanic
The Satanic Temple indulges in all of the Church of Satan’s Nine Satanic Sins: Stupidity, Pretentiousness, Solipsism, Self-deceit, Herd Conformity, Lack of Perspective, Forgetfulness of Past Orthodoxies, Counterproductive Pride, and Lack of Aesthetics. In addition, the Satanic Temple is actually in violation of many of the Church of Satan’s Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth, such as:
- Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked.
- Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them.
- If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat them cruelly and without mercy.
- Do not take that which does not belong to you, unless it is a burden to the other person and they cry out to be relieved.
- Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself.
Anton LaVey provided a list of his influences in 1969’s The Satanic Bible. These included Ragnar Redbeard, from whose Might Is Right LaVay took large portions of his Bible; Friedrich Nietzsche who wrote about the overman and will to power; Aleister Crowley; and Ayn Rand.
These examples are not given to establish the Church of Satan as the sole or even primary arbiter of Satanism, but simply as representative of what Satanism typically represents.
The Satanic Temple’s Cultural Appropriation: Does Anyone Care?
One of the tactics outlined by Saul Alinsky in Rules for Radicals is “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” This is what the Satanic Temple is doing: trying to make Christian Americans live up to religious freedom laws, by either allowing “Satanists” a seat at the table, or doing away with 10 Commandments monuments and prayer in public schools. One of the main tickets on the progressive agenda is “no cultural appropriation,” something the supporters of the Satanic Temple likely agree with. Yet, no one is calling them out on it. Why?
For one, the only people who call out cultural appropriation are leftists like the Satanic Temple. And they actually don’t mind cultural appropriation, so long as it supports their agenda. Another is that most Satanists are white people, and to stereotype, often the “wrong kind of white people” at that. The majority of Satanists I’ve known are white men, whom the left considers “privileged” and therefore not worthy of any equality when it comes to preventing negative stereotypes, just like they never care about negative images or comments about “rednecks” or “hillbillies.” And finally, the neopagan community at large, which is highly left-wing, probably agrees with many of the tenets of the Satanic Temple. Even if they don’t, the Satanic Temple is building statues of Baphomet, which appear to be a boon to the community. Some in the neopagan community also share the Satanic Temple’s rabid hatred of Christianity and Christian policies, and as the saying goes, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” My hope is that practitioners of the High Arts will start to speak out about the real meaning of Baphomet—and the irony in using it in a dualist manner.