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June 4th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Study: How Satanists see death

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - You probably won't hear "Amazing Grace" at a Satanist's funeral, but you just might hear "My Way" by Frank Sinatra. A researcher from Concordia University recently published a journal article with some rare access to high level Satanists exploring what they think about death and dying.

Members in the Church of Satan are traced back to Anton LeVey who in 1966 founded the church in San Fransisco. He is also the author of the canon of sorts for the group, The Satanic Bible first published in 1969. Today, the church is based in New York and membership numbers are hard to come by.

One of the main tenets of the faith is atheism. Not just a disbelief in God but also in the devil or Satan. Satanists believe God is an invention of man and instead deify themselves.

According to the official website of the Church of Satan: "We Satanists are thus our own 'Gods,' and as beneficent 'deities' we can offer love to those who deserve it and deliver our wrath (within reasonable limits) upon those who seek to cause us—or that which we cherish—harm."

Cimminnee Holt, the author of the journal article explains further:

"Members of the Church of Satan, that is Satanists, assert that they are a life-affirming religion, yet reject the notion of an external mystical dimension and a spiritual afterlife (yet retain a particular understanding of a “worldly” afterlife), while also actively engaging in ritual practices infused with death imagery."

Holt writes that even though the Church of Satan does not believe in a physical afterlife (neither heaven nor hell), their doctrine speaks to a practitioner living on in this world through the life they led.

"By building on their own charismatic display of autonomy and exhibiting mastery in their respective fields, individuals increase the likelihood of more people remembering them after death. Satanists are, literally, creating their own afterlife in the memories of those they have
affected."

After a long back and forth between Holt and two high level clergy in the Church of Satan, the two Satanists agreed to speak as official representatives of the church.

The Satanists gave the researcher unique insights into how they saw death and their own funerals. Holt writes:

Warlock JPL states that a secular ceremony containing no religious elements would be acceptable, but outward signs of his religious affiliation are unnecessary. He would like to be remembered fondly by loved ones and for his life to be celebrated. Similarly, Reverend JR agrees that those whom he knew and loved should attend his funereal. The funerary details are to be decided by family. However, as a “strictly endogamous man”, the Reverend maintains that his funeral would “naturally” be “Satanic in nature if not in strict ritual.”

(snip)

"The memory of the Reverend JR’s father is an example of Satanic afterlife; it was the father’s life that is important, not his death, and the imprint of that life on his loved ones creates a posthumous legacy. The Reverend informs me that his father requested Frank Sinatra’s 'My Way' to play at his funeral. Reverend JR expresses that he felt his father had lived up to the sentiment of the song, a sentiment the Reverend shares in his own life (pers. comm. Oct. 26, 2007)."

The communications between Holt and the Satanists stretched over four years. Holt said she deliberately left out identifying details, like occupation and geographic location, about the two Satanists. The wall of privacy seems to have helped the Satanists to open up about their thoughts on death.

Holt's article appeared in The Journal of Religion and Culture, which is produced by graduate students from the Department of Religion at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Death • Faith Now • Satanism

soundoff (1,068 Responses)
  1. wmurderface

    Why do they call them satanists when they are only atheists

    November 20, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  2. xlion

    What if the "god gene" is real and having faith is a genetic trait not shared by all. Then the Satanists (atheists) that run the world could falsify the second coming. This Pseudo-Christ could then instruct all people of faith to congregate in one particular place and that place could then be destroyed, taking religion with it forever. No more god gene and a world without god or religion. How many of you militant atheists out there think this is a good idea? I'll bet enough to make it really happen. Like the pied piper of Hamelin, leading naive children away to their doom, only the pied piper wasn't trying to destroy the children per se, just the fairytales they believed in.

    September 8, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • xlion

      More likely though, is that people of faith would be lead away from safety. The world has been "destroyed" many times before. This is a closely guarded secret that has been kept hidden for thousands of years. By keeping this big secret, the nature of it can be used to whatever ends fit the keepers agenda. For indisputable proof that the history of the human race as we know it is a lie, watch Ancient Aliens on the History Channel. They present evidence left out of almost every science classroom from grade school to the collegiate level. Also, google "georgia guidstones" if you are unfamiliar. The Age of reason is the goal of these Satanists, and there is reason to believe they expect it to soon become a reality.

      September 8, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • xlion

      Here's something we're not seeing on the news but should be. The previous poster mentions some prophesy about two comets colliding in the sky. I have never heard of this but it is FACT that several comets are entering, or have entered the inner solar system recently. Previously undiscovered comets passing so closely to earth (less than .2 AU) is newsworthy, is it not? Google comets elenin, honda, levy. And google Leonid Elenin, the russian amature astronomer credited with discovering at least 2 comets in the last 6 months.

      September 8, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  3. Pray this Prayer

    The ILLUMINATION OF
    CONSCIENCE predicted by O u r L a d y in Garabandal in 1961 will take place soon to
    save the world.

    The Warning is taking place to:

    1. Prove to all that God exists.
    2 Bring everyone to J e s u s and the Way of Truth.
    3. To help save us before the final day of judgement by giving us a chance to ask for
    forgiveness for the sins we have committed.

    What will Happen?

    TWO COMETS WILL
    COLLIDE IN THE SKY.

    The sky will turn red, it will look like fire & then you will see a large cross in the sky to
    prepare you.

    Everyone over the age of 7 will experience a mystical encounter with J e s u s C h r i s t which will last
    anything up to 15 minutes.

    Pray this prayer to be prepared: Oh my precious J e s u s,embrace me in your arms and allow my head to rest upon your shoulders so that you can raise me up to your glorious kingdom when the time is right. Allow your precious blood to flow over my heart that we can be united as one.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • Josie

      Living as a Satanist would be living with nothing...no hope, no belief, no trust. Plus, a Satanist funeral sounds totally devoid of anything and everything. Nothing to look forward to, nothing to give for, nothing to care about (except for your own self). This is why there aren't that many people who would want to practice this sort of a
      "religion".

      August 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • jim

      Well, My Lady of Las Vegas predicted that more and more nut cases will be climbing out of the walls and making idiotic predictions. Thanks for supporting the Prophesy of My Lady of Las Vegas.

      August 29, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  4. Cpawy

    You're all going to hell, Satan and God are tired of you all arguing and bashing each others heads in on the internet about which one is better/right.

    August 16, 2011 at 6:00 am |
  5. Hesalive

    People who worship Satan will burn in hell forever. Anyone who rejects Christ will. Satan is the father of lies. He'll tell Satanists anything to keep them from Christ. If you are in fact a satanist, please I beg you repent. You are being manipulated by the devil and will pay for your mistake in hell. Jesus is the Way the truth and the life. He accepts you no matter where you've been. You're welcome when you come to your senses.

    August 15, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  6. Tom

    I know some one who claims to be a satanist. She takes medication. Kind of makes you wonder, don't it?

    August 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • PEOPLE ARE STUPID!!!!!!

      I am amazed how stupid that comment is. Ya know.... taking medication doesnt make you a bad or crazy person. It also has no RELAVENCE to religion. You are a complete moron if you cant admit that there are CRAZY christians out there that have KILLED in the name of god! EVERYONE IS CRAZY!!! There is no reight religion, there is no wrong religion. IF there is a god, he wouldnty let people as shallow minded and STUPID as you get in to heaven. Oh yeah, mean too. That "friend" of yours must be a really good friend if you feel that making fun of HER desicions is a "christian" thing to do. It is people like you who claim to be good christians, hah! A trus christian would accept their friend for who they are. And not make fun of somenone with a mental health dissorder, or whatever it is. You are pretty damn crazy to think that you are a good person. Why dont you tell your "friend" what you wrote about her. Accpet her, as she as accepted that YOU are a chriatian. You know nothing about pain or hurt, you just cause pain or hurt to others. jerk!

      September 11, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  7. Jay16A

    ??? wow i feel stupid now. i always thought satanists worshiped satan....because they're called satanists...and that would make sense. now they don't make sense. i'm so confused -.- now my curiosity has gotten to me and i must go research this belief i mis-assumed things about. i don't plan on becoming one, but i have just had something i believed for years was true be shattered. it's like when i was told santa didn't exist...which was actually kind of relieving because the guy at the mall scares me, and it was comforting to know he didn't really break into my home to leave presents. all the same, the shock is still there

    August 1, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Jay16A

      ok so i looked it up. there are different, i guess you could say, "sects" of satanism. some do worship satan. their name makes sense again.

      August 1, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  8. Chun

    I've read the Satanic Bible about 4 times. It took me 3 full reads and a half to understand it. The verdict is...it's all made up, just like everything else. Anybody ever seen the Matrix...that's what we live in. They should turn those movies into a bible and I bet people would worship the Wachowski brothers or whoever the guys are that made the movies.

    July 28, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  9. Richard S Kaiser

    "Members of the Church of Satan, that is Satanists, assert that they are a life-affirming religion, yet reject the notion of an external mystical dimension and a spiritual afterlife (yet retain a particular understanding of a “worldly” afterlife), while also actively engaging in ritual practices infused with death imagery."

    Have you not seen the imagery with old Cathedrals in England and the Statues around their rooftops? Any Religious Movement in this Age are but Throwbacks before the RCC became the Mother of Christian Evangelism.. It bears weightiness of Clairvoyance to see beyond that which the Naysayers do not contend with or see no means of Profitability. As Beings of Omnivores we ingest only the well known sameness over and over only to feed the Publican Alter for others to manifest their indebtedness upon. Satanism can only flourish if there is a flock to sell to. Christianity has become the most profitable of all Religions and is even outstripping the RCC. Because the USA's First Fathers deduced that Religion and Law Ladled Politics should be a Separation, it opned the Revenue Doors of Today's Modern Evangelisms to take and rake Idiosyncrasies beyond the Scopes of riflemen who rage serindipidously while raking the Lawns of Hopelessness Guised as Religious Sereneness leaving Nothing but the Deadness of Life's Unabundancies. Christians and Satanists, take one's pick for neither are in the Fulness of Timeliness, worthy of the Human Omnivores wanton Fracticalities of Debaucheries Treacherousness.

    July 15, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • George R

      I recommend Haldol.

      July 21, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • JayGee

      I'm sorry but I can't understand this post at all. I have a feeling you may have something really interesting to say and share, but I think you should probably choose different words. I admit I am not the brightest person out there but I tried to read and understand your post. Just too complicated.

      Oh and @ the comment below me... LOL!

      July 21, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  10. harford

    the devil does'nt like you...he will torture you for an eternity...you don't believe in heaven or hell but call yourselves satanists....genius...smh...if anton levey could come back i bet he would say......WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING...LOL

    July 15, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • Uriah

      the devil has no power to torture in hell; he will be tortured also.

      July 24, 2011 at 1:33 am |
    • Alex

      Posted on Absolutely created calm eimtraal, regards for information. In a quarrel in between we as well as a world, behind a world. by Frank Zappa.

      March 2, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  11. michael kroeger jr

    what if satin is really jesus, and through his trickery created the church to think they are worshiping god but is really worshiping him, like as the bible says when rapture comes only a certian amount of ppl will be takin to heaven instantly, think about it there are way less satinists in the world than christens or catholics etc.... so what if the satanists are tookin for worshiping satin which is god, instead of worshiping jesus/god/holyspirt which is evil

    July 13, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • CD

      God wants poeple in heaven, why would he trick poeple in not going there????

      July 15, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Kay

      Who's "satin"? Another Biblical character I've never heard of...

      July 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • George R

      CD, if God wants people in heaven, why aren't we in heaven? You can't get away from that.

      July 21, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Uriah

      then why live only to die? our expected end is to be in heaven with Jesus, satan was kicked out of heaven because he deceived many angels, so God would never let that happen again. so you have to continue believing to prove yourself worthy.

      July 24, 2011 at 1:36 am |
    • xlion

      What if the "god gene" is real and having faith is a genetic trait not shared by all. Then the Satanists (atheists) that run the world could falsify the second coming. This Pseudo-Christ could then instruct all people of faith to congregate in one particular place and that place could then be destroyed, taking religion with it forever. No more god gene and a world without god or religion. How many of you militant atheists out there think this is a good idea? I'll bet enough to make it really happen. Like the pied piper of Hamelin, leading naive children away to their doom, only the pied piper wasn't trying to destroy the children per se, just the fairy tales they believed in.

      September 8, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Anonymous

      The Earth did not exist until God created it. He literally formed Earth as we know it into what we "humans"call a planet. In the Holy Bible, Genesis speaks of the creation of the Earth. It says that God hovered over the formless and void area in space, and created the Earth into a planet. God wants to reunite with us which in human terms is the concept of heaven. I don't know if humans were ever meant to live in Heaven. Humans are meant to be in a close intimate relationship with God, but instead we are separated from God because Satan tricked Adam and Eve into eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In other words, before eating the fruit Adam and Eve had no knowledge that good or evil even existed, they only did good. So, we all inherited sin through Adam and Eve. The innocent and sinless blood of Jesus Christ was the ultimate sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.

      February 2, 2013 at 2:22 am |
  12. Ophelia

    It's nice to see another site talking about Satanists, but you should really expand on Independent Satanism as well. This branch is not involved with CoS, in fact many Satanists, including myself, do not like CoS or what gabbage they say.

    July 5, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • Confused

      How can you be a Satanist and not believe in Satan? Why name yourself that? It makes no sense.

      July 8, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Jesus reigns :)

      http://www.spiritlessons.com

      July 17, 2011 at 5:39 am |
  13. ruemorgue

    Satanists in name *only* since they don"t believe in Satan, God, etc. Another stupid artiicle and group trying to grab attention by using *catchy* phrases.

    July 2, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  14. Rachire Andel

    Having a belief is a great thing folks, its the concept of RELIGION thats flawed, Everyone, Christians, Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Statanists, EVERYONE has it in their heads that their point of view is the right one excluding all others. For centuries they've been pushing their religious doctrine on the world, influencing the way of living for an entire population. Personally I live my life by the basic principal of : And it Harm NONE, Do what Ye Will. Seek communication to your higher power on your own accord.

    June 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • Kevin

      You see that's where you are wrong Buddhists don't condemn other religions. Buddhists beliefs don't say that if you don't believe in their religion you will be sent to the fiery depths but instead they judge people by their actions, so if a Muslim finds a cure to cancer and lived an honest life they are going to "Heaven" likewise with Judaism, Christianity, and Hinduism. Probably the only religion that is guaranteed a passage to "hell" is the westboro baptist church

      August 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  15. Muslim

    Last words of a Satanist:

    "Oh Snap!!!"

    June 28, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  16. dave

    lol satanist just as stupid as their counterparts. It reminds me of my time in high school. So in need to identify myself as an individual but being anything but that. Until you find your self without label you are clueless.

    June 26, 2011 at 6:55 am |
    • George R

      Since you dislike labels so much, I won't think of you as human.

      July 21, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  17. The Truth

    The true definition of 'satanist' is 'the ultimate hypocrit'. How can one say that there is no such thing as God, or satan, only to turn around and say there is a such thing, but that they are ideas conjured up by people, then turn around and say that they, themselves are god? If this is true, then 1. the individual claiming to be a 'satanist' doesn't exist, 2. the individual claiming to be a 'satanist' is conjured up by all of our minds because of 3. the person 'is god' (in their own mind, maybe...complete moron in my mind)

    June 23, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • George R

      Or maybe you can't understand metaphor.

      July 21, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.