Evil is an effective agent, a living spiritual being, perverted and perverting. A terrible reality. One of the greatest needs is defence from the evil which is called the Devil.
The question of the Devil and the influence he can exert on individual persons as well as on communities, whole societies, or events, is very important. It should be studied again.
Pope Paul VI, November 15, 1972.
…From the Black High Mass of the Feast of the Beast.
Satan, the Devil, Lucifer. According to the Bible, anyone of these names can be applied to the being which, though created by God, sought to be God and was, for his sins of pride, arrogance and rebellion, thrown out of Heaven. A domain of pain and fire, Hell, became his realm and from it he assaults all human beings on earth, seeking to lead them away from God.
“You can’t prosecute a person for what they believe in,” states Constable Gerry Tremblay of the Security Branch of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP); it is this branch which gathers information on satanic crime in Ontario. “Satanism is an accepted religion,” he acknowledges.
The Church of Satan was founded in San Francisco by Anton LaVey, but has chapters across Canada. Its members accept the teachings of “The Satanic Bible” and follow the observances of “The Satanic Rituals,” both written by LaVey. Police and cult experts see these card-carrying “religious Satanists” as only one of four categories of satanic involvement.
While LaVey and his Church of Satan forcefully denounce any involvement with criminal activity, satanic cults, the second recognized group of Satanists, make no such claim. It is in conjunction with satanic cults that allegations of strange graveyard rituals, pornography, cannibalism, murder and extreme sexual abuse are found. But in two highly publicized cases in 1986, family court judges in Ontario found insufficient evidence to support charges of satanic “ritual abuse” made by children under Children’s Aid care. “But this doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist,” comments Constable Tremblay. “There are bits and pieces of evidence but nothing conclusive…if a deep satanic cult were operating, it would be closed and secretive and we may never know about it.”
The third group are the self-styled Satanists, who blend a variety of rituals and beliefs to create their own form of devil worship. Richard Ramirez, the serial killer known as the “Night Stalker,” was one such self-styled Satanist.
“The ones I’m worried about are the young kids,” continues Constable Tremblay. To police and cult experts they are known as the “dabblers.” Alone or in loosely-organized but secretive groups they experiments with the occult through ouija boards, tarot cards and satanic rituals. But when fascination turns to belief, the activities can turn to trespass, mischief, religious desecration, cruelty to animals and even suicide. “I hope they’ll know when to stop,” say Constable Tremblay.
What draws a teenager to Satanism? The answer is as varied as the children themselves. For some, living in nuclear age with its real potential for Armageddon is simply too much to handle. Satanism offers them a way of coping, by glorifying the death and doom they feel they must face daily.
Sense of self
For others, Satanism offers a sense of self in a world devoid of religious, family and personal identity. Satanism comes with a built-in family, a set of beliefs and a set of practices to follow. For an adolescent struggling with the question, “Who am I?” Satanism can be a powerful hook.
For still others, the lure is Satanism’s promise of power: power to control; power to change situations and individuals. For the young person filled with idealism and a passion to change the world, this promise can be most tempting. But to the marginalized child who has been rejected and laughed at by family members and school companions, this promise of power is also tempting, for it offer the possibility of revenge.
In its purest form, Satanism is the perversion of Christianity and the reversal of all moral standards. For many, it is the ultimate form of rebellion. Satanism urges its followers to indulge one’s animal impulses, including the sexual and violent ones. For adolescents struggling to understand and control their own sexual drives and aggressive urges, Satanism can be a dream come true.
And for still others, Satanism is a cure for boredom, an intellectual tease. Rituals are often done “just for kicks” or to “freak each other out.” But police and psychiatrists note that Satanic rituals involving animal sacrifices can provide a “kill thrill,” a psychological high that some individuals obtain from watching the fear and agony of another living thing dying slowly. And it is this hardening of one’s self, this desensitization, which ca lead to psychopathic behaviour. The sacrifice is done. The feast has begun. We begin by bringing death.
In 1985, the Irwin family of Scarborough, Ontario, were shot to death by a 17-year-old who was involved with Satanism. The police found the number 666 a(the “mark of the beast”) carved in his chest. He told police he was under the influence of “Eddie,” a demonic imp invented by the heavy metal band Iron maiden, when he committed the killings.
Last year in Brantford, Ontario, a 25-year-old man pleaded guilty to raping and stabbing his 12-year-old sister. The man claimed that the devil he had contacted told him that “to kill would bring us life.” Police found satanic material throughout the man’s apartment.
While reports of teenage suicides in conjunction with Satanism can be found across the country, it was the tragic events in Lethbridge, Alberta, that focused attention on this phenomenon.
On December 15, 1989, 14-year-old Chilton Thur was found hanging in his girl friend’s basement. Across the boy’s body in his own blood was written on satanic motto, “To live is to die.” Chilton had become “obsessed with satanic rituals” confessed the boy’s mother Rhea Thur.
Less than three months later, Wayne Townsend, a school chum of Chilton’s was found hanged in a group home, and six days after that another pal, Ashley Merrick, was found hanging in the basement of his grandmother’s home.
For Lethbridge residents the shock of the boy’s deaths was compounded when police revealed that suicide lists containing the names of at least 15 other teenagers existed. They proceeded to take eight teens into protective custody in an attempt to break the suicide chain. Reporters covering the story noted that, while social workers and clergy were trying to tell parents that the deaths more likely stemmed from boredom, depression, poor family life and feelings of inadequacy than from the Devil, residents were nonetheless galvanized into action because of the boy’s apparent involvement in Satanism and the occult.
One of the most powerful influences in the lives of today’s teenagers is their music. Experts estimate that up to 50 per cent of a teen’s day is spent listening to it. And for many of these youths the rock stars that they listen to become their heroes, idols to be emulated, from the way they dress to the lifestyles that they lead. But if one looks at the select group of heavy metal rock stars professing Satanism in their songs and in their lives, this “hero worship” becomes positively chilling.
Even the names of these heavy metal bands can make one cringe. There can be no misconstruing the intent of the groups such as Megadeath, Venom, Slayer or Sacrifice. To see the significance of others, however, one must delve into the name: S.O.D. are The Storm troopers of Death; AC/DC stands for Anti Christ/Devil’s Child; and the members of KISS are Knights in Satan’s Service.
But as depraved as the names of these groups are, they come nowhere close to the perversity and viciousness of the lyrics they sing: “Satan our master in evil mayhem, Guides us with every first step. Our axes are growing with power and fury. Soon there will be nothing left. Midnight has come and the leather is strapped on. Evil is at our command. We clash with God’s angel and conquer new souls, consuming all as can….”
Critiquing these satanic heavy metal artists in the Toronto Star Tom Harpur observed: “The songs are obsessed with madness, possession, demons, blood, curses, and violence of every kind, including rape, self-mutilation, murder and suicide. Death and destruction, prophecies of doom, the denial of all that is good and the embracing of all that is hideous and evil – these are the themes.”
Freedom of expression
Against the ire of concerned parents and social workers, satanic rock stars offer as a primary defence, artistic freedom of expression. In the United States such a right is guaranteed under the First Amendment. Musical artists, so they say, must be free to produce whatever melody and lyrics they so choose, and the public must have the freedom to choose the music they wish to listen to. It is up to the consumer to decide which lyrics he or she finds offensive, and to avoid buying the products of these groups. If parents are so upset with what their children are listening to, then it’s up to them to deal with their kids. Moreover, maintain these heavy metal musicians, there is no intent to get their listeners involved with the occult. If people do, it’s their business.
Some band members refute claims of leading their teenage listeners into Satanism by down-playing the significance of satanic themes in their music.
King Diamond is an avowed Satanist, and his song and stage productions are rife with satanic images and messages. But in an interview with Hit Parade magazine, Diamond is quoted as saying, “My beliefs do come across in the music I write, and…I do fully understand the power of the dark side. We all have that dark side as part of our personalities – it is neither inherently good nor evil; it merely exists. My beliefs explore that dark side of human beings,” he acknowledges, “but my religion isn’t as important as the music I’m making.