People tell me how hard it is to raise a child today. I tell them it’s even harder to bury a child.”
There is a certain coldness and distance in Steve Taylor’s voice as he speaks. Although it has been almost four years since his son’s death, the pain is still there. It always hurts when you bury your child.
“We could have sat licking our wounds,” says Steve, “but we didn’t.” Instead he and his wife, Linda, founded PAST (People Against Satanic Teachings) for it was involvement with Satanism which led to their son’s death.
Dereck was the oldest boy in the Taylor family of four children. Described as a very intelligent child, he was nevertheless shy and a bit of a loner. His father recalls him as an “accomplished artist.”
Dereck’s descent into Satanism began innocently enough: he was fascinated by ESP and other supernatural phenomenon. “Then he swung into heavy metal music,” remembers his father. And with the change in musical taste came a distinct change in personality. The shy loner became aggressive, even hostile.
‘The personality changes were the worst part,” Steve Taylor admits.
For almost two years the Taylors attempted to deal with Dereck’s demonic beliefs. Signs of his satanic involvement abounded. Copies of The Satanic Bible, The Satanic Rituals and other satanic literature lay out in plain sight. Heavy metal groups espousing Satanism and its practices became Dereck’s sole listening enjoyment. He began keeping the Book of Shadows, a personal diary describing his satanic activities. Even his artwork, once cherished by his parents, became gruesome and disturbing.
Dereck had become part of a cult.
“Some kids fall into Satanism,” explains Steve Taylor. ‘They are enticed by Satanic music and try some of the rituals. Others are recruited, possibly under the guise of friendship, or with the promise of drugs or sex or booze.
But my son,” Steve acknowledges, “went looking for it.”
Solid Christian background
To Linda and Steve Taylor, Dereck’s new character and behaviour were incongruous; his had been a stable home with a solid Christian background. Bewildered and concerned, they sought help. But the series of psychologists, psychiatrists and clergy to whom they took Dereck advised them that it was ‘just a fad’. In desperation, they unsuccessfully tried to have him committed.
Two weeks later, 16-year-old Dereck lay dead at his own hands.
No words can describe the anguish that is felt when one’s own child takes his life. But how much more intense was that anguish when the words Dereck had left behind were found: “. . .I didn’t mean to sell my soul . . .Eternity is an awfully long time to spend in Hell. . .”
Heart-breakingly, Dereck died under the false assumption that his sacrifice would save the lives of his parents. His was a pre-meditated death of love.
In the depths of their sorrow the Taylors were not alone. Shortly after Dereck’s death the phone began to ring. Reports of Dereck’s suicide and involvement with Satanism had hit the papers. Other parents were on the line. “Our kid was involved like your kid was.” Out of the depths of shared experience PAST was born.
“We saw ourselves as a support group for individuals whose children were involved with Satanism,” recalls Steve. But it didn’t end up that way. With ever-increasing frequency the Taylors heard the cry of baffled parents, ‘Where can I go? There’s nobody to help us’.
Steve and Linda Taylor’s unwillingness to have other families experience their tragic loss pushed the mandate of PAST to include awareness, education and counselling.
At present the Taylors have handled over 400 inquiries from across Canada.
“The problem is far worse than people imagine,” Steve Taylor firmly warns.
Police and cult experts readily agree. When the Council on Mind Abuse (COMA), a Toronto-based, non-profit agency which educates and counsels people about cults, was first founded in 1979, it received no calls concerning Satanism. Today it gets about 50 calls a month.
When its executive director Robert Tucker addressed probation officers at a recent seminar in Toronto, an informal survey showed that approximately 70 per cent had dealt with at least one case involving a serious interest in Satanism.
Police agencies also are finding it impossible to ignore the satanic overtones of some crimes. In September 1990 a leaked internal Winnipeg police report showed that the police had identified at least five cults within the city and had received unsubstantiated reports of pornography, child abuse and murder in conjunction with those cults.
In Alberta, the RCMP has identified at least eight satanic cult sites, and in Edmonton the combined RCMP and Edmonton police Integrated Intelligence Unit has been investigating the activities of satanic cults within the city for the past two years.
Even when the evidence linking crime to Satanism is scarce, the influence of Satanic beliefs should not be taken lightly, police warn, Steve Taylor concurs, and offers this perspective on the rise of Satanism in Canadian society: ‘The recognition and “awareness of Satanism today is at the same position that sexual abuse was ten years ago.. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.
Pact with Satan
But there is hope. Steve and Linda Taylor firmly believe that suicides in conjunction with Satanism, like their son’s, are preventable. “There are a tremendous number of .youths who believe they have signed a pact with Satan and have been brainwashed into thinking they cannot break that pact,” Steve states.
Thus when counselling families with children involved in Satanism, a good deal of support goes to the child for fear is often what holds a child in a cult, fear of exposure and fear of reprisal.
But in order to be freed, the Taylors recognize that ties must be cut not only with the cult but with the Satanic beliefs, as well.
They therefore recommend that all satanic literature and paraphernalia be found, removed and burned. While many may consider these actions extreme, Steve Taylor counters all criticism: “A lot of people wish to discard the fact that they are dealing with a religion.” But having done that, “You’ve got to fill the spiritual void with something life-giving,” Steve emphasizes. If a child can believe in Satan, he can believe in Jesus Christ. I tell them,” he continues, “to look at the cross. They may have sold their souls to Satan, but Jesus, He bought them back. He paid the price with His Blood. There’s no need for them to die; the sacrifice has already been made.”