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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 • Satanism

soundoff (1,068 Responses)
  1. mike

    a friend of mine worked in a diner in the 80's in San Fran. She said LeVey used to come to that diner regularly with a gal, and was the friendliest guy. Anyway, he created satanism and this bible as a joke...as a middle finger response to christianity. He doesnt even believe in satan. it was basically a joke the whole world fell for.

    June 5, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  2. scndnv

    This might have the potential of being interesting, for a minute, if I was thirteen.

    June 5, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  3. ADELOKIKI OLUWATOSIN SAMSON

    LIFE IS NOT A PRODUCT OF CHANCE NEITHER OF PROBABILITY.EVERY SINGLE LAW AND THEORY IN THE UNIVERSE HAS A MAKER.EVERY THING THAT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY HAVE ACHIEVED SO FAR DEPEND ON THEIR RECOGNITION AND HONOR OF NATURAL LAWS DISCOVERED BY SCIENTIST.WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT EISTEIN EQUATION OF RELATIVITY OF MASS AND ENERGY.IS THIS BY CHANCE.(ROMAN 1:19-22) EVERY INVENTION HAS AN INVENTOR.THE SATANIC MEMBER NEED TO BE SINCERE WITH LIFE REALITY

    June 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • LinCA

      @ADELOKIKI OLUWATOSIN SAMSON.

      You said:"LIFE IS NOT A PR.... blah, blah, blah, ......IFE REALITY".

      Using all caps isn't giving you claim any more weight. It just identifies you as raving lunatic.

      June 5, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      LinCa, the words Adelokiki wrote bear weight in themselves, without competing for some.... Insulting him by calling him a raving lunatic, reveals something about you , and that is that you have immense hatred and rage in your own darkened heart, and the poison you are spewing is the overflow of what's in it! You are a miserable, wretched soul, LinCa, and you need to be set free of the bondages of your soul!

      June 5, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • LinCA

      @PRISM 1234.

      It is entirely irrelevant whatever ADELOKIKI OLUWATOSIN SAMSON was trying to say. On the internet, when someone uses all caps, it's considered screaming. When someone starts screaming without provocation, they're off their rocker.

      Whatever message ADELOKIKI OLUWATOSIN SAMSON was trying to share was dismissed without consideration, even without having been read.

      June 6, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      When someone attacks a person's character without a cause, other then him using all caps, it's him who attacks that has the problem!
      But the truth is, it is NOT because he used the caps that you attacked him.... It is the content of his post! Saying otherwise, it shows you're ducking behind a phony excuse!

      June 7, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Prism. I still haven't read the post. But, I can guess at it's contents, considering that I roughly know were you stand.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:01 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      Glad you know where I stand! How I wish you too stood where I stand... There is plenty of room in my Father's house..... Blessed are those who humble themselves before Him and do not refuse the gift of salvation in His Son Jesus Christ, and eternal life He gives to those who come to Him....
      But I am painfully aware in what kind of world we're living, and what today's generation of people is made out of!

      June 8, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  4. Newsjoke

    It really shouldn't be important what people believe, if they want to be Satanists, fine, you wanna be a Christian, go for it, prefer Hinduism, not a problem. Now, if you're worrying about what other people believe, then you should go see a psychiatrist, because it's none of your buisiness what anyone else besides yourself believes. If God exists, and feels that one belief is not as wholesome as another, then God will decide whether a punishment is due, it's not up to people to decide any of that. In fact, judging whether someone is "good" or "bad", maybe exactly what puts us in the "bad" camp, since the Bible tells us not to judge anyone. So, believe what you like, but don't try to make others believe what you do, because for all you know, you might be the one who believes a load of crap, even if millions of others believe it too.

    June 5, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  5. mo

    sad people

    June 5, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • TBone

      Christianity:

      The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree

      June 5, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • emma

      tbone,
      do you have a problem with people believing that???

      June 5, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  6. Muneef

    To be Satanic is a word of derived from having thoughts and doing acts that are not acceptable and non human...
    Therefore people are tobe judged from their individual thoughts and acts rather than from the name they have named their religion with...!! Same as if you had thought of Islam as non peaceful or evilish as many made it to appear with....suggest that you judge individuals rather than the whole Islamic nations since they are not all from the same land or culture or race or status since Muslims of poverty areas might not be as aware or educated or behaved as those who had a better opportunities and do not reflect extremism....some are very rich in money but mentally poor and are as narrow sighted...such as those who are driving Islam over a cliff for their ignorance....guess such people you can find in every religion,belief,faith and among non believers as well....

    June 5, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Muneef

      In short words there are real Satanic people among all groups in their thoughts, intentions and acts than those who holding a satanic name....my only wish is that all those who are pure hearted with good intentions unite in some form to stand up against those who are hate driven groups....may God guide us to the paths of the Rightous....(Peace is achieved through determination by pure hearted intentions and some compromise) if am right that is....!?

      June 5, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  7. Muneef

    [7:26] O children of Adam, we have provided you with garments to cover your bodies, as well as for luxury. But the best garment is the garment of righteousness. These are some of GOD's signs, that they may take heed.

    [7:27] O children of Adam, do not let the devil dupe you as he did when he caused the eviction of your parents from Paradise, and the removal of their garments to expose their bodies. He and his tribe see you, while you do not see them. We appoint the devils as companions of those who do not believe.

    [7:28] They commit a gross sin, then say, "We found our parents doing this, and GOD has commanded us to do it." Say, "GOD never advocates sin. Are you saying about GOD what you do not know?"

    [7:29] Say, "My Lord advocates justice, and to stand devoted to Him alone at every place of worship. You shall devote your worship absolutely to Him alone. Just as He initiated you, you will ultimately go back to Him."

    [7:30] Some He guided, while others are committed to straying. They have taken the devils as their masters, instead of GOD, yet they believe that they are guided.

    [7:31] O children of Adam, you shall be clean and dress nicely when you go to the masjid. And eat and drink moderately; Surely, He does not love the gluttons.

    June 5, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Muneef

      22:52. We did not send before you any messenger, nor a prophet, without having the devil interfere in his wishes. GOD then nullifies what the devil has done. GOD perfects His revelations. GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise.*

      22:53. He thus sets up the devil's scheme as a test for those who harbor doubts in their hearts, and those whose hearts are hardened. The wicked must remain with the opposition.

      22:54. Those who are blessed with knowl- edge will recognize the truth from your Lord, then believe in it, and their hearts will readily accept it. Most assuredly, GOD guides the believers in the right path.

      22:55. As for those who disbelieve, they will continue to harbor doubts until the Hour comes to them suddenly, or until the retribution of a terrible day comes to them.
      ------–

      [5:90] O you who believe, intoxicants, and gambling, and the altars of idols, and the games of chance are abominations of the devil; you shall avoid them, that you may succeed.

      [5:91] The devil wants to provoke animosity and hatred among you through intoxicants and gambling, and to distract you from remembering GOD, and from observing the Contact Prayers (Salat). Will you then refrain?

      June 5, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  8. government spy

    It's called "Satanism" because it is supposed to be the opposite of the tenets of Christianity. As in, "love yourself before your neighbor," etc. Satanism is about putting yourself, and what benefits yourself above anything else. Which means basically just furthering your own desires. That means, if I enjoy helping others, I'm still practicing Satanism, because I'm not doing it for the benefit of someone else, I'm doing it for the pleasure I receive in it.

    Satanists enjoy "black mass" and what people would call Satanic ritual because they enjoy it, not because of a belief in Satan. They just enjoy doing the opposite of what Christians say they do. Which also means being honest. Christians lie about everything. They claim to worship a God of Love, but support war, deny loving couples the right to marry, and involve themselves in strangers' rights to decide personal issues (like abortion, etc.)

    I had a friend who's father passed away. He was living several states away, and was too poor to afford a flight home for the funeral. He asked several churches for help, donations, assistance, etc. but was denied at every turn, except for the Church of Satan, who bought him a bus ticket. Apparently Christians easily forget about helping others, and the Satanists are there to pick up the slack.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • youAreNotAnAtheist

      Why christianity specifically? Is christianity the only religion that teaches love? The foundations of your beliefs are weak.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • The Truth

      Your post sounds more like a cry for help.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      G-spy, you sure have swollowed satan's bait – hook, line and sinker!

      June 5, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  9. Bill

    Is Eric Marrapodi actually employed by CNN? And was he paid to write this? This reads like a term paper in college that would get, at best, a C+. There are misspellings, misquotes and, from what I can tell, just one source.

    He never actually went to the Church of Satan, which is acredited and does not consist of true athiests. The church believes that the power to control our eternal destiny is within all of us, don't let anyone else (a devil, or deceiver) steer you otherwise, and enjoy yourself while you're on Earth.

    The "expert" who wrote the source was obviously duped. And this "reporter" fell for it and put together a poorly-written summation of it. If this had been submitted to my newspaper of which I'm an editor (with a circulation of about 15,000) I would have flat out rejected it. What possibly was running through the minds of CNN's editors when they put this drivel on their page?

    June 5, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  10. PAL

    boring... satanists will lose! it is writen

    June 5, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • CyberDragon

      It has also be written that most of the stories in the King James are not in even original in nature, and that the Pope and most of the church leaders are hypocrites! As a few examples of the stories, resurrection of Christ, is from Ra & ISIS, Halloween, is based on All Souls Eve, and Christmas, is based on Yule and the birth of the male aspect of God.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Cyber D,
      You too, for sure, have swollowed satan's bait – hook, line and sinker. Just wait till you find out!

      June 5, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  11. steve

    wow this is even more twisted then me being gay lol

    June 5, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  12. eliteamericans

    Instead of worshipping satan, just go fishing
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkEXivVIR4M&w=640&h=390]

    June 5, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  13. Damiana

    Eric needs to learn the difference between "cannon" and "canon," and stop relying on spellcheck to make himself look educated. Oh, and "San Fransisco"? Really?

    June 5, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  14. SadWay ofLife

    We must pray for these lost souls that God created but who chose to separate from Him. May God through His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ administer appropriate justice to them in their case as they go eternally into the void.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Maurice

      Spoken like a true illiterate third grader.

      June 5, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Anil

      Beautifully said. I pray that many lives are saved.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      A-M-E-N !

      June 5, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Sean

      I can picture you rubbing your hands together in glee when you say these things.

      June 5, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  15. Mike

    Wow, it figures this religion makes no sense. They are called Satanists, but don't believe Satan exists. There is no God, but they believe there is some type of physical afterlife. Sounds pretty stupid.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Mike

      Also, it seems that at least at some point, they actually believed in Satan. What was the point of the Black Mass and prayers to Satan in the past lore of Satanism? Shouldn't they just call themselves atheists now?

      June 5, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • p4ri4h

      do some homework before you blindly post an internet comment. your understanding of what is professed as a 'non-religion' is shockingly embarrassing.

      June 5, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • JS

      The truth is that actual Satanism is illegal in almost all the countries in the world (don't know about US). So you CANNOT adore satan, or at least it's illegal. I guess that's why they wrote that stuff for official purposes, but sadly the truth is different. True sataninst give their soul to Satan, and they DO BELIEVE in God, more than most christians, but see Him as the enemy. Part of the Satanic mass in fact includes the vilifying of the holy host, placing the cross upside down, etc. Were satanists only concerned with vilifying ANY religion, they would exist throughout the world and ridicule Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish, etc.. but they only exist and attack the Christian faith. They believe in God and in the devil, but adore the devil rather than god.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  16. KC

    if they are actually atheists–why then do they call themselves satanists?? seems to be a mislabel on their faith or lack thereof. atheists and satanists are different are they not. one just do not believe in a god or any higher being–there is no god. satanists believe in a god–the devil satan. so what useless confused people and what idiots you have in CNN for even writing this article–even the content itself is uninformative and unintelligent

    June 5, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • thatundergrad

      Does it not, if you actually read the article, say that they don't believe in Satan? Please, please, please learn to read.

      June 5, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  17. Me

    "One of the main tenets of the faith is atheism." Satanists are atheists? Then it shouldn't be recognized as a religion.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Dustin

      You don't need a god to have a religion. Buddhism comes to mind.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  18. Salty Bob

    Wow glad Im Athiest most of you people are deluded to the point of being brainwashed.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Me

      You really are salty, Bob.

      June 5, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  19. Really?

    Satanists? Really CNN?? This Belief Blog is more worthless than Sarah Palin.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • LinCA

      @Really?. You Said:"Satanists? Really CNN?? This Belief Blog is more worthless than Sarah Palin.".

      It's a belief blog. Satanists claim their corner in the realm of beliefs. Sounds like a perfect match to me. That makes the latter part of your claim is even more ridiculous. Everybody that has a brain knows there isn't anything that is worth less than Sarah Palin. She forms the natural lower bound of the value scale. Very much like zero Kelvin.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @LinCA

      Hey -Lin...

      " -0- Kelvin " LOL...! Love it 😀

      Yep... big 'fan' of yours...!

      Regards,

      Peace...

      June 5, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  20. Lawson

    LeVey did not author a 'cannon', he authored a 'canon'.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Me

      That's funny. A pretty bad mistake for a person who makes a living writing.

      June 5, 2011 at 11:28 am |
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About this blog

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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.