Tag Archives: satanism

Singular Satanism

 heroworship

 I’ve told you about Magus Peter H. Gilmore’s criticism of atheists and other Satanists. I was hoping maybe he would chill out and go do his thing while leaving people who are interested in actually doing things to bring positive change alone.

I guess that isn’t the case.

In a recent post on the COS “newsfeed” titled “Satanic Monuments” Peter says some interesting things. The first thing I found interesting was the way Peter refers to Anton LaVey, it’s a lot like hero worship.

Peter is constantly talking about how Anton did this, Anton didn’t do that,  what would Anton do? I mean give the guy credit but damn. You are close to becoming what you hate. Does Peter want Satanism to be stuck in a single form that adheres to a single man’s instructions or beliefs? What if you don’t want to do things exactly the way Anton LaVey would want? You can’t be a Satanist? Really? That’s what it sounds like Peter is saying to me.

In another part Peter says-

“Our religion is young, but I suspect that if the philosophy can be communicated with clarity for years to come, that ever more wonderful things will be wrought.”

Didn’t Peter Gilmore tell us not long ago he frowns on evangelical satanism? Where is the difference between communicating and being evangelical? Did Anton tell all the Satanists about that too? Just like the problems Christians have with their bible and addressing subjects that never existed 2000 years ago it seems that Anton LaVey’s version of Satanism is stuck in the era in which it was created in some ways.

Then Peter says this

“These will stand as testaments to the value of Satanism in a powerful way, demonstrating well-lived lives, and that is the ultimate goal of every Satanist, and a fitting monument for the legacy of Anton Szandor LaVey.”

What? So Peter is against tangible monuments that represent a way of thinking but is okay with people living their lives as to represent a (albeit intangible) monument to a single man? i would be uncomfortable with doing that I would think Peter would be uncomfortable saying it.

Of course Peter also does something else I would advise him of not doing in the future for his own benefit…Quoting himself in articles he takes credit for writing. It really defines conceit and it makes you look silly and/or really creepy. It leaves me wondering if Peter talks like that to himself throughout the day. “Peter would like some coffee. Peter would be happy to get Peter some coffee. Peter Gilmore said Thank you. You’re welcome Peter” ugh, stop doing that!

While all of this is interesting to me it leads to this conclusion- Magus Peter Gilmore and The Church of Satan can do as it pleases. I hope they are very successful and I hope that they manage to communicate their philosophy despite being discouraged to do so most  times. More power to them. It would be nice if the spokesman for the COS would get the chip off his shoulder and quit acting like his organization owns satanism. It isn’t as if Anton LaVey coined the phrase. Is Peter expecting us to allow him to tell us what the definition of satanism is just like the Christians want to tell us what the definition of marriage is?  I’m beginning to think Peter should change his first name to  “Contradiction”

Reply to Church of Satan Part 2- What Is Your Favorite Position?

satanseenohearnospeakno

In a post on the Church of Satan website titled “Lets-You-And-Him-Fight” Peter Gilmore has voiced his opinion in a response to The Satanic Temple and it’s attempt to be an open active participant in society. I responded to part of that post here. This is the second part and my final thoughts on this matter.

Peter seems to be against anything that could be construed as proselytizing or promoting his church and that is beyond a doubt his choice to make. In fact there is little anyone can say about the way the CoS is managed. As long as they are not causing harm, violating any laws, or making any unfounded public statements that could damage the reputation and credibility of others they should be allowed to go about their business as they please. At the same time no one is above constructive criticism and in this case Peter has not found misrepresenting others beneath him. What you are reading here is a clarification of facts or “the other side of the story”. I am not attempting  to demand anything from anyone or to dictate how others run their organizations beyond the simple and fair expectation they are accurate when posting pubic assessments of others.

In his post Peter says the following-

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.

There may be some atheists who are pleased by such confrontations. I will admit I have been part of such internet exchanges and it is good to see a self righteous apologetic put in their place. In my opinion I don’t care how a person identifies themselves, if they are reasonable and fair I will support them. If someone is promoting fantasy as reality and making claims about things  that have no factual basis then I will attempt to explain to them the flaws in their logic. There are countless places where I would like to see religion left out of the conversation but that is not how the world works. Since there are some people who want to insert religion into everything  there needs to be those who will reply to those attempts. We can not eliminate law enforcement and just say  “Police should not be attempting to catch criminals. People should stop breaking  the law.”  While that is true, people should not be breaking laws, simple making that point has not proved to be an effective deterrent to criminal behavior. If only policing the herd were so simple, eh Peter?.

Peter goes on to claim there is some attempt to trick satanists into fighting with others just to watch the fight and to avoid the blame for starting it. I don’t know how to answer that because I have never seen this happen. if it is occurring I would encourage people to ignore such childish and pointless activities. They certainly are not the norm and most every atheist I’ve ever met would find such activity immature and silly.

evan·ge·lize

: to try to convert (a group or area) to a different religion (especially Christianity)

Peter goes on to say-

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.

Again I can’t see that any atheists are promoting Satanism purely to “annoy the Christians” or to “make a point” that is obviously meaningless. Maybe Peter doesn’t agree with the point but that doesn’t make it meaningless it simply makes it meaningless to Peter Gilmore. I’m not clear exactly what type of “point” Peter is referring to because he provides no examples. He then suggests some actions are disingenuous but this seems to be Peter’s default position and not one that one that comes from observation. Again this is difficult to know because there are no examples provided. It could be safe to assume Peter is talking about The Satanic Temple but there has been no indication that they lack funds for what they have proposed or that they are less than genuine. It would be fair to wait until someone actually does the thing  you are holding them accountable for before reprimanding them or concluding their motives are negative.

Next Peter makes it clear that-

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 civil rights of those outside that religion should be repealed where they exist.

i don’t disagree with most of this  but I have a problem with what Peter defines as “evangelizing and proselytizing (in any form)” Is simply telling someone what your beliefs are an example of this? The use of the word evangelizing is also problematic to me. If someone is promoting the use of logic, skepticism, and tolerance rather than expecting people to “have faith” and believe in incredible stories of magic and the dead coming back to life can they really be accused of evangelizing ?

Peter also says “we (CoS) support the American ideal of separation of church and state” I do not doubt this is true but I am disappointed in the way that support manifests itself. If you are supporting the separation of church and state then shouldn’t you support fair use by all religions of public space if there is to be any use at all?

In McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union of Ky. Justice Scalia writes in his dissenting opinion

“If religion in the public forum had to be entirely nondenominational, there could be no religion in the public forum at all. One cannot say the word “God,” or “the Almighty,” one cannot offer public supplication or thanksgiving, without contradicting the beliefs of some people that there are many gods, or that God or the gods pay no attention to human affairs. With respect to public acknowledgment of religious belief, it is entirely clear from our Nation’s historical practices that the Establishment Clause permits this disregard of polytheists and believers in unconcerned deities, just as it permits the disregard of devout atheists.

“The three most popular religions in the United States, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam–which combined account for 97.7% of all believers–are monotheistic . . .. All of them, moreover (Islam included), believe that the Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses, and are divine prescriptions for a virtuous life . . .. Publicly honoring the Ten Commandments is thus indistinguishable, insofar as discriminating against other religions is concerned, from publicly honoring God. Both practices are recognized across such a broad and diverse range of the population–from Christians to Muslims–that they cannot be reasonably understood as a government endorsement of a particular religious viewpoint.”

The above was written in 2005. We still have to fight in order to keep a wall of separation between church and state. No one instance can be allowed to “slip by” no matter how small because of the possibility of it being used to build a larger machine in order to tear down that wall. The only way to do that is to make sure there is no allowance of disregard of atheists or any other religious point of view. Being silent and unwilling to publicly represent your religious views leaves you open to the possibility of having those views dismissed.

Qui tacet consentire videtur, ubi loqui debuit ac potuit (He who is silent is taken to agree; he ought to have spoken when he was able to)

—Latin proverb

Is standing up for your religious view the same as trying to convert or proselytizing? A  reasonable person should be able to do so without giving an impression of trying to convert anyone.

Peter says that the CoS would

” enjoy the deletion of “In God We Trust” from our currency.”

But what would he do to help that happen? That’s a fair question I believe.

The  United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled: “It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency ‘In God We Trust’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise.”

Yet another way religious reference has snuck into our government. Another popular argument is “We have done it this way for so long it now has historic value and doesn’t really support any religion”  The reason it has been allowed for so long is because no one was willing to stand up against it. One possible reason could be they were afraid of “evangelizing and proselytizing” so afraid that they would rather allow that right to be dismissed by the courts than stand up for it’s right to be considered.

Despite all the claptrap about keeping opinions  to yourself Peter slips a little

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.

First, Satanism is not a “newer religion”. The Church of Satan is a newer form of Satanism. I’m pleased he feels like the CoS is being taken seriously by historians (time will do that) and the public is becoming aware of them. There are others Satanists in the world too and they are entitled to the same consideration. At least they should be given the opportunity to prove they deserve it.  Now if he coulda just stopped there. Instead, this –

 

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.

First, standing up for your rights, rights that have been granted to others is not a “cheap shot”. Next, public attention is EXACTLY what any group fighting to be treated in an equal and fair manner wants and needs. How are you ever going to gain public support if you don’t get people’s attention and educate them. NOT CONVERT…educate. Do you think that educating people about the fact gay men are not all child molesters as many used to believe has helped people to accept gays and treat them no different than anyone else? I think it probably played a part. People fear what they do not know and they discriminate based on ignorance and fear.

In my opinion religious views such as the ones held by most Satanists and atheists have one thing going for them that other religions usually are lacking in some aspect, reality. This expectation that we leave fiction stories and imaginary friends out of the process we use to create laws and find truth is more than reasonable, it is vital. No one is ever judged or treated fairly when supernatural beliefs are involved because those have no place in a system made up of people who are limited to a world of logic,reason and science as the only way of determining what is likely true in our day to day interaction with the world around us. I’m not going to say that anyone should be forcing their views on anyone else but it should be made clear the answer to every question mankind has answered about the world so far has never been “magic” or “god did it” To me that is a important observation that people should take into consideration.

As I have said the CoS is free to run their organization any way they see fit. In light of that it seems that the CoS has dismissed itself from any need of consideration about it’s opinion on issues of church and state or any others for that matter, including Satanism. Their position is -They take no position. Can’t argue with that I suppose.

Up next…definitions are important

Reply to Church of Satan- The Many Uses For A Pitchfork

hell2

You may or may not know I have been a supporter of the Church of Satan. I’m not an official card carrying member but I know their belief system pretty well and am also aware they are largely misunderstood. To eliminate the ignorance people may have about satanism I have talked about the subject on my podcast, wrote about it on my blog, and interviewed guests who were knowledgeable about the subject. While I have agreed with much of  what Satanism represented I felt no pressing need to join into any group much less one that expected me to pay them so I could be an official club member. The base cost of getting a card and bragging rights from the Curch of Satan is $200.00.The COS website rationalizes the $200 ($208 if you use paypal) by claiming that-

“Most Christian churches will charge you a tithe that counts for 10% of your yearly income—membership in them is not free, as so many assume.”

Maybe I’m just naive cause I don’t get to church much these days but I have never heard of anyone being kicked out of their church or told they can’t love Jesus unless they pay the dues. Maybe some type of guilt trip or that “you will burn in hell someday” thing but a mandatory 10% or you cant be god’s kid anymore? Okay….

A little further down it reads

For those who think we ask too much, we suggest that you look to your other possessions and expenses as a comparison. Most people spend far more than this amount on general entertainment. We’ve discovered that most individuals can muster these funds if membership is something they truly desire. Bear in mind that our church has real people doing work, such as corresponding with individuals, and otherwise helping to run an international organization (postage, paper, computers, email accounts, and so on are not free). Our administrative staff’s time is precious—isn’t yours? Also, we are emphatically not altruists. We’re Satanists, so we expect to be compensated for our time and efforts.So, our reasoning is quite simple, and we think it is a bargain. If you disagree, then you don’t have to affiliate with us.

So they charge a membership fee, big deal, lots of groups do. I am uncomfortable with the reasoning. Why mislead people into  being comfortable about the cost by making it sound like all other religions? ironic thing is-They trick people into handing over their cash just like the other religions do. So be upfront about it at least.  Another thing that turned me off from actually becoming a part of the COS is the overall feeling I get from the above paragraph.  They really don’t care about anyone or anything. Find a way to get the money or too bad for you. A big point of the COS is individual belief, almost to a fault. I’m not the type to need other people to validate me or anything I do but I do realize that concern for others is important. I don’t have a problem reaching out a hand or into a pocket to help the best interest of the individual or the group so long as my help isn’t pissed away on things that are not helpful. It is probably safe to assume there are very few if any homeless and lower income people who are officially affiliated with the Church of Satan since saving up $200 is not a realistic goal for those people. The tactic is sometimes referred to as “pricing out the riffraff” The Church of Satan shows no concern about any Satanist who can’t put an extra $200 together.  I guess that’s why the traditional suggested donation to a church is 10% they don’t wanna miss out on even the smallest revenue generating possibility.

The application to become a member is also a bit too intrusive for my tastes. I mean 39 lines of questions to answer? I have a problem with Christians sticking their noses into my life already why would I invite more of it from another religious group? The fact that they are interested or concerned to such a degree about my preferences and personal habits is a red flag. Most of what they are asking really should have no bearing on whether I am a satanist. I assume some of these questions are to help recognize those who may be intent on using their affiliation with the Church of Satan as an opportunity to act out whatever warped suggestions their mental illness or hatred demands of them. I can understand that is probably a needed precaution. I also wonder what becomes of an applicant who answers question #29 “Kicking babies”

 It seems like the COS should simply be doing a background check on all members before allowing them in or would that be too herd-like?

One of the people I have had an opportunity to talk with about satanism and The Church of Satan is Peter Gilmore.  I enjoyed the conversation. Peter seemed to be a intelligent guy. He was easy to talk with.   We never really discussed other satanic groups during our talk so when I heard about a group called The Satanic Temple attempting to erect some sort of monument in Oklahoma near an existing ten commandments monument I wondered what Peter would think about that.

But before I did anything to find the answer to that question I contacted Lucien Greaves who goes by the title of Overlord at The Satanic Temple and is their spokesperson. I asked him if he would be interested in having a conversation with Al Stefanelli and myself about his request to the OK leadership that a satanic monument be allowed equal space as the ten commandments at the state capitol. He accepted and we spoke for an hour and a half about Satanism and his activism.

I came away from the conversation with a new perspective on Satanism. There was some of what I thought had been missing from the COS in The Satanic Temple approach to Satanism.

The Church of Satan requires that people accept “LaVey’s principles” before becoming members of the church. Anton Lavey’s Satanic Bible is a mix of various influences in his life and has been criticized by many for various reasons I’m not going to go into here because it isn’t as important as the end result of the entire text. I was not exposed to the Satanic Bible until my religious beliefs were very well established. After I read it I did not feel as though I needed to make any changes. I found Anton Lavey himself to be very interesting as an individual and the founding of the Church of Satan has had undeniable effects on society and the way many look at  religion.That however does not give it unquestionable  authority on Satanism. The Church of Satan can run it’s organization as it sees fit but it should be careful of not becoming what it hates.

After my conversation with Lucien I reached out to Peter Gilmore and the COS. here is what I received in reply-

On Tuesday, December 17, 2013 3:32 PM, Administration <administration@churchofsatan.com> wrote:
As always, look to our news feed. This should make our position clear:

http://news.churchofsatan.com/post/69495555098/lets-you-and-him-fight

We do not even think ³The Satanic Temple² has any legitimacy except as a
means for doing stunts to get them attention.

Sincerely,

Administration
Church of Satan
www.churchofsatan.com

First, I suggest you follow the above link and read the response Peter Gilmore has to many types of action/behavior by Satanists and atheists lately.

The post by Peter Gilmore troubles me for many reasons. One of those is the amount of strawmen in his post. I am disappointed at the end of reading because I had respected Peter Gilmore. I can understand and respect well supported disagreement on the issues but to belittle and misrepresent? Those are not acceptable and not deserved in my opinion.

Peter starts out by saying-

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.

pros·e·ly·tize:

to try to persuade people to join a religion, cause, or group

I’m not sure that requesting equal opportunity to display a monument is of itself an example of proselytizing. Does anyone think that a ten commandment display is going to convert anyone to become a  Christian anymore than a Satanic display is going to convert anyone to Satanism? I’m not sure if Peter agrees with me on this or not because on one hand he thinks simply having a monument in view  is an example of proselytizing. Then he reminds us a monument is not going to “wake up” anyone because (in condescending tone) “raising consciousness in the herd” is not so easily done. Doesn’t that mean it will be difficult for a monument to be considered persuasive just because it exists?

In an effort to clarify this for Peter I’ll explain the reasoning most are using when they voice opposition to religious displays.-

Having one display allowed and no others does suggest that there is one set of beliefs that are considered “better” or “more correct” by the state government in Oklahoma and that is not how the law works in this country. In our efforts to reach justice and/or truth we offer as much information as possible and then allow people to consider that information in order to find the truth or the closest thing possible. When it comes to something as personal as religion we have chose to leave those decisions up to the individual. Our laws dictate that we not include religious preference in the operation of our government. Some people have found ways to circumvent those laws in order to further their own agenda. That leaves a couple of choices.

1- Court battles over the display which do not always result in removal and can go on for extended periods.

2- The space be shared so that there is an opportunity for people to form their own opinion after being provided diverse viewpoints . At the same time the land is being shared among the people who own it, everyone. Sharing with others is a behavior taught at a very early age in this country. Adults should be able to grasp the concept easily

For Peter to dismiss the request by The Satanic Temple as “doing stunts to gain them attention” and leave it at that indicates a lack of  understanding about the implications of unchecked use of public areas by one group. When a person walks around in public areas and all they see are monuments representing one religious group THAT is public proselytizing

If Peter Gilmore and the members of the Church of Satan do not find it productive  to actively challenge groups that will/would/have limited freedoms by imposing their own religious beliefs on others then they should not do so.

They should also refrain from criticizing those who will take on such challenges since they benefit from the successes.

I’ll clear up some more of the straw Peter Gilmore left laying around in the next blog. Unless he wants to clean it up first (or at least put the pitchfork down) which is what I would prefer rather than spending time correcting people who I have more in common than differences with. It is a waste of time better spent, I hope we can agree on that.