Let’s You and Him Fight
In recent years we’ve noted that some secularists think is is “clever” to use Satanism or the name “Church of Satan” (or some variant thereof) as a means towards their political ends. Their theory is that if Satanists demand the same irritating forms of public proselytizing as do certain Christian sects, then “people” will “wake up” and see how foolish the Christians are and so end their irksome displays. Would that raising consciousness in the herd were so simple.
Some atheists seem quite pleased by such actions since they take the attitude that it is fun to watch self-proclaimed “Satanists” mud-wrestling with Christians in a vain attempt at self-promotion in forums which by all rights should maintain religious neutrality. Anton LaVey noted the title of the Popeye cartoon from 1934, “Let’s You and Him Fight,” in discussing this position: agitating a conflict but then stepping-back to observe the fisticuffs between others that have been promoted. One then enjoys the brawl but remains free of injury—or any other responsibility, as the crowd probably didn’t catch the instigator’s overture but just gathered to watch when the actual fight broke out. The Satanist is supposed to be savvy to such tactics and should avoid being manipulated in this manner.
We’ve seen it happen in the UK as well as in the US. Doubtless it has happened elsewhere, but usually these incidents are so ephemeral that they don’t come to our attention until long after they have happened. Of course today anyone can broadcast a press release and it seems that contemporary journalists are in need of a scandal-of-the-minute, so these incidents receive wider attention than they truly merit. We’ve witnessed some folks pretending to be actual devil worshipers, advocating prayers to Satan to be said in classrooms along side hymns to Jesus. We’ve seen others lifting passages from our literature, courting non-Satanist atheists to support their acts with a wink and a nod, meaning they likely really don’t want to be evangelizing Satanism, but do so to annoy the Christians and “make a point.” Of course, “Who gets the point?” is the real question. And, if the ulterior motives for such actions are made clear, then the disingenuousness of the actual proposed project (which might require funds that are lacking) may well be enough to negate the validity of such efforts. That would likely be up to civil rights attorneys to hash out, if they so choose.
The Church of Satan has an atheist philosophy and so we support the American ideal of separation of church and state, which is a means for the secularization of our society. The U.S. is a republic, not a democracy, and this is a wise device for maintaining a balance so that a majority does not force other minority positions into compliance with their values. We Satanists are against evangelizing and proselytizing (in any form) as we consider these to be intrusive, bullying acts that are antagonistic to free will. Having any religion foisted on unwilling people is not Satanic. Such deeds in a rational society should be deemed to be criminal. Laws that promote a majority religion’s beliefs which could hamper the cilvil rights of those outside that religion should be repealed where they exist. Fortunately we’ve seen a wave of sanity recently wherein more and more states are allowing equal civil rights under the law by establishing legal same-sex marriages—a position I’ve advocated for many years.
We suggest that people come to their religious and philosophical beliefs in a mature, considered manner, based on study and reflection—not forced conversion. Thus, we advocate that publicly funded forums of any sort should be devoid of any religious references, and that goes for courthouses, public schools, and any other governmental structures or documents (state and federal). We’d enjoy the deletion of “In God We Trust” from our currency. This alternative national motto from the mid-fifties is inferior to the secular “E pluribus unum”, which dates from 1782 and should be proudly restored as more proper to the principles of this nation. We join other secularists in calling for the deletion of “under God” in the “Pledge of Allegiance,” as well as ending swearing on Christian (or any other) scriptures in courts of law.
Satanism is a newer religion, having been concretized as a coherent philosophy and spread by a global organization beginning in 1966. We have been faced with prejudice and misunderstanding because Anton LaVey purposely chose an iconoclastic paradigm, but in the almost five decades of our existence we’ve made headway into being taken seriously by scholars, historians and certain aware segments of the general populace. We don’t want to undercut this success by going for “cheap shots” meant to garner quick publicity when such could make Satanism seem like a position that is just as offensive as the spiritual religions clamoring for unearned attention, part of their agenda of hijacking society for their own belief systems. We support the secularization of society as do many others who value reason and free thought. You who believe in Gods or Devils are free to embrace your own religions, just don’t force them on those of us who are not interested or actively find them to be repugnant.
Thus we do not endorse the idea of putting Satanic monuments, texts or images in public spaces. Rather than allowing a hodgepodge of competing theologies, most of which misrepresent fundamental American principles, we prefer that no religious iconography be used in these arenas. We have plenty of literature crafted by our Founding Fathers which accurately represents the conceptual foundations of the United States, and these are thoughts that should be promoted with pride, but more importantly, should also be understood, maintained, and employed towards maintaining a just society.
Magus Peter H. Gilmore