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

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.”


"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. lisa

    I think this article was poorly written. Are online articles even edited anymore? Do editors exist? Author is writing about religions and doesn't know difference between 'canon' and 'cannon'? Paragraph two references a 'cannon' written. Hello? They need to look up: "can·on
    1    /ˈkænən/ Show Spelled[kan-uhn] Show IPA
    an ecclesiastical rule or law enacted by a council or other competent authority and, in the Roman Catholic Church, approved by the pope.
    the body of ecclesiastical law.
    the body of rules, principles, or standards accepted as axiomatic and universally binding in a field of study or art: the neoclassical canon. "

    So many more clueless sentences. NO I am not a Satanist. I am just someone who hopes to see literacy and good writing survive in the digital age....

    June 4, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • Christian

      At least someone said it. Thank You

      June 4, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • frank

      He spelled "San Francisco" wrong too, if we want to be anal about it...

      June 4, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  2. tapuhere

    I think if I believed in the Christian God and the Bible and everything, that I'd just keep it my own little secret. There's really no way to talk about it or try to explain it and not immediately show that you're either mentally ill or incapable of logical thought or on drugs or should be or something. I'd just keep it my own little private belief system and act like I had a handle of reality as I went about life.

    June 4, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • Admiral_Pancake

      Troll. If you actually read the Bible, you will see it has great internal logic. Also, the major belief systems are so well established no one would call you crazy.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • Dave

      You who sounds even more mentally ill? Bigots. *cough*tapuhere*cough*

      June 4, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • Aneriz

      It is easy to see you have never picked up a Bible. God's wisdom puts to shame human wisdom. Even science goes pridefully "discovering" things that have been in the Bible for thousands of years.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • Glenda

      No, you don't keep it a secret. We are suppose to tell our love ones, people who don't understand, strangers, reach out to people who have no way of knowing about the Lord. The Lord wants as many souls saved but it has to be each ones choice. We have nothing to hide or be ashamed about.

      June 6, 2011 at 2:52 am |
  3. rm

    Just another childish fairytale. Jesus and Satan should kiss and make up. We would all be better off for it. It has come to my attention that god holds a really long grudge.

    June 4, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • Admiral_Pancake

      Did you actually read the article? There is nothing about Christianity except from the name "Satanism", which was only chosen to troll Christians.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • 105mph

      You don't know a thing about God. He loves mankind and has more patience watching people trash him than a human would ever have. I know this because the Bible says so.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • Aneriz

      There is no such thing as the Lord Jesus vs. Satan. Jesus is the Creator of all things, Satan is just the rebellious creation. There is no comparison, it is a ridiculous proposition. Is there a fight between darkness and light? No. Dark is just absence of light. In the presence of light, there is no darkness.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • Sean

      Don't hold your breath. I'm still waiting for a Batman vs. Superman movie.

      June 5, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  4. jay in florida

    Satanists have to believe in afterlife, since Satan is an afterlife figure. Real to some, not real to others, but not from this world to everybody who has ever heard the name Satan. It is not possible to speak of Satanism without involving some kind of notion of another life. Either the writer skewed the facts, or the sources aren't Satanists.

    June 4, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Either that or one particular reader wasn't paying attention to what he read.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  5. David

    Since they are atheists and don't believe that Satan exists, why do they call themselves "Satanists"???

    June 4, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • 105mph

      Simply put, they are lying. They worship Satan the father of lies. No surprise here.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • Admiral_Pancake

      To troll Christians. That's the entire part of this "religion". They call themselves Satanists and teach the exact opposite of what Christians teach in order to troll.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  6. SunflowerSurfer

    I would much rather live like there is a heaven and hell and find out they do not exist than live like they do not exist and find out they do.

    June 4, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • are you stupid?

      your pastors and priests thank you for your undying belief in their crap. thanks to people like you, money will be dropped in the money basket. have fun living in fear, sheep.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • Christian

      LOL u mad stupid?

      June 4, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • 105mph

      Heaven and hell do exist. Satanists try to convince others it doesn't. They don't want you worshiping God or accepting Christ so they try to debunk the Bible. That is why you need a strong faith to overcome the world.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Another cynical bet hedger who thinks she has assured herself of something. Sad.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • LinCA

      @SunflowerSurfer. You Said:"I would much rather live like there is a heaven and hell and find out they do not exist than live like they do not exist and find out they do.".

      Even tough I am a good and moral person, I fail to meet the criterion of "true believer" and will therefor not enter heaven. And I don't think that "faking it" will go over very well with your god.

      But don't you worry about me. I would rather spend an eternity in hell, than a day in heaven if it has to be in the presence of your god and his christians.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Christian

      ^ Troll

      June 4, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • Ron

      I'd rather live my life like an adult who's able to reason and use logic. I leave the fairy tales for the kids.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
    • ian

      I would rather spend an eternity in hell with my honorable ancestors than spend a day in heaven with all of you christian pansies.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • Aneriz

      My belief is not in "heaven". My belief is in the Person of Jesus Christ. He is real to all that call upon Him. If you are pointing a finger and mocking those who believe, it means you have not believed, that's all. Christ did not come to condemn the world, but to save it. But the world rejects Him because they don't want their sin challenged and exposed. Still, God is a loving God, He would just forgive it.

      June 5, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • LinCA

      The world according to @Christian. Anybody who doesn't believe the same nonsense as he/she does, is a troll.

      But Chris (do you mind if I call you Chris?), I have some news for you. I meant every word I wrote. I would rather burn in hell than run the risk of meeting you and your ilk in heaven. Not that there is even the slightest chance that there is a hell or a heaven. It's all baloney. There isn't a shred of evidence there is any god, let alone yours. You may want to wake up and join the 20th century (the 21st may be too much of a stretch for your feeble mind).

      June 5, 2011 at 12:32 am |
    • Peace2All


      Hey -Lin...

      You are correct. And.. some of the believers, just can't seem to think through all of the different scenarios that totally destroy Pascal's Wager, as any kind of true and viable reason to believe as they do.

      It makes even less sense when we point it out to them.

      Nice post !



      June 5, 2011 at 2:00 am |
  7. Ian F

    It amazes me that a simple faith without a deity that empowers the self, and offers reward punishment based on actions (sounds an awful like the ancient law of consequences or karma), engenders such venom among Christians. I think so many Christians learned that Satanism is bad, that they can't see beyond their own brainwashing. As this article clearly points out Satanism is not the worship of Satan, as Satanists don't believe in God or Satan. These people sound an awfully lot like the original Buddhists to me (as the Buddhism originally did not believe in a deity)

    June 4, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • Billy

      Except Buddhists believe in withdrawing from material want and expectations in life, Satanists believe in indulgence of self and love of the material world.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • 105mph

      Please quit trying to think like a Christian. Unless you are an active one, you have no idea what you are talking about. Satan is real and these people are lying. I wouldn't expect anything else from a Satanist.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • dgatwood

      The satanists have no one to blame but themselves for that animosity. After all, they could have called their church the United Atheists Church or some such, but instead they chose to name it after a fallen angel that they don't even believe exists just to taunt and antagonize the Christians. Forgive me for having very, very little sympathy.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Admiral_Pancake

      Satanists believe that every moral and ethical obligation is meaningless and they should try to achieve their own selfish, shallow, indulgent goals. Also, they are being disrespectful to the Christian religion by claiming Satan's name only to say he doesn't exist.

      They rebelled against everything Christians believe in for the sake of rebelling against everything Christians believe in. They tried to get publicity and attention by disrespecting Christianity. Just like you. I would say their dislike of Satanists is quite justified.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • 2manyhorses

      @ Admiral Pancake...

      You really need a thesaurus...look it up when you stop self-flagellating for Jesus. Need another word to replace "troll" for anyone who disagrees with you.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • 2manyhorses

      @ the Admiral again...

      you state "Satanists believe that every moral and ethical obligation is meaningless and they should try to achieve their own selfish, shallow, indulgent goals..."

      Perhaps you can explain the goals of the following Christians who have all been prosecuted in an American court of law: Jimmy Swaggert, Jim Bakker, Tammy Faye Bakker, Ted Haggard, Richard Roberts, Robert Tilton, Paul Barnes, etc...the list is quite long...

      I'm guessing Jesus doesn't like hypocrites either.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • Wookie cookie

      Do I have to point out Gacy, Dahmer, Jack the ripper?

      Wow dude are you that stupid to think that all Christians are perfect and infallible. HUMANS ARE IMPERFECT

      June 4, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
  8. Friend of JC

    Its intersting that they could not come up with ther own name. The word Satan means Devil , which they dont believe in , thus proveing they are completely stupid. And yes there is a Heaven and Hell and Jesus rules heaven and Satan rules the other , and o by the way , Satan can only do what Jesus allows him to do . You have been warned

    June 4, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • Educator_1980


      June 4, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • frank

      Giant praying mantises are going to invade our planet at 3pm tomorrow. You have been warned!

      June 4, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • are you stupid?

      according to you, "satan only does what jesus allows him to do". so basically what you are trying to say is that satan is doing jesus's commands. man, you religious freaks are so stupid beyond belief. what moronic stuff will you come up with next?

      June 4, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • keith

      All hail his noodleness


      June 4, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • Admiral_Pancake

      "according to you, "satan only does what jesus allows him to do". so basically what you are trying to say is that satan is doing jesus's commands. man, you religious freaks are so stupid beyond belief. what moronic stuff will you come up with next?"

      No, according to the Bible, Satan is less powerful than God. Satan only has as much power as God gives him. He is powerless beside Him. And yes, Satan would have no choice but to do God's will if he commanded him to. He has free will, of course, but has far less power.

      I'm going by the Bible, so don't start flaming me for being a religious moron. Anyone who actually studies the Bible would know what I'm saying.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • 6of1

      Well the church of satan is just a thelemic order with a specific reaction to christianity, and most of the members are transient. A lot of ex-christians become Satanists. The church itself is in many ways a support group for ex-christians, or people who seek to rebel against christian thinking. People can, however, embrace all the same tenants under a different guise. If you were not already influenced by the idea of satan, you wouldn't consider this church. Its a counter culture in of itself, but eventually many of the people who go there see that and mature away from it, because once opened up – they can severe their ties to christian thinking, and thus don't see the need to frame their new spiritual discovery as a response to a christian baseline. I suspect that the long term Satanists are in it for the community they've ended up in.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • Admiral_Pancake

      The long term Satanists are there because they teach selfishness, or to troll Christians. They teach to make yourself happy, at the expense of others if necessary. No good person could think that is a good viewpoint.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • pastafarian

      Of all the thousands of religions and beliefs you must have got it right, assuming that nothing was lost in biblical translation from numerous authors and languages over the last 6,000 years. I'm not questioning you right to assume a religious stance but I am taking a stab at your ability to think critically. To think we are all here right now because the most capable intelligence in the universe is upset (yet knowing at the same time) that his creation (Adam) ate an apple he told him not to even when he knew he was going to do it (omniscient) why just create something knowing it will defy you? Do tell...

      June 4, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • Christian

      @ pastafarian
      Im not trying to insult you but if you are going to use my religion as weaponry at least get it right. Adam was given the apple by Eve, who was decived by the snake (the devil) who told her to eat said apple

      June 4, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • pastafarian

      Who supposedly allowed this apple to exist with what significance attached to it? think about it. Do you want me to tell the whole story? Now answer the question about the god of the bible being a malevolent bully. Disregard my sloppy double post I'm drunk and watching South Park.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  9. Alex

    Yeah, I see a lot of contradiction in their statements. They claim to be life affirming, but at the same time the goal is to make a big splash? In our history, the biggest splashes are always the bloody ones. By their logic, Hitler was doing a'OK because he was able to leave a lasting mark on history, whereas I think most other people would say there is nothing at all admirable about him, other than maybe founding VW.

    June 4, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  10. Educator_1980

    Freedom of religion! I love the way Christians want to make our children pray in school, althugh we are supposed to have separation of church and state, but when people believe in something different then them, they want to have it banned. Christianity is the leaders of Hypocrisy. They are judgemental, when their bible tells them not to be. They do everything they aren't supposed to, yet claim they are going to their heaven. If there was a God, these people would not be going to see him!

    June 4, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • Christian

      Thank you for lumping us all into one stereotype Educator.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Admiral_Pancake

      Many Christians fight to ALLOW children to pray in school, not require it. It stems from several incidents of children being punished for praying out loud in a public school. I have never heard anyone say it should be mandatory for everyone.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • MrHand

      Christian, the shoe fits you very well.

      Pancake, I have never heard of children being punished for praying out loud in school.
      Since you appear to be lying your ass off, why don't you provide us with some links to these stories about children?
      Christians fight to violate the first amendment, never knowing how big a mistake they are making for their faith has blinded them to the truth.

      June 5, 2011 at 4:25 am |
    • Michael

      There is an argument the Christian can make to get out of this, and it is based pluery on empirical and historical reasoning.You can start out with only those parts of the Bible which modern historical critical scholarship considers to be original. From those parts you can make an inference to the historical plausibility of the resurrection of Christ. Thus, you have a good reason to believe those things that we can relatively certainly attribute to Jesus original sayings to be true. Among those things are statements about the reliability of scripture (in other words: If anything is scripture, than it is inerrant). Jesus certainly understood the Old Testament to be scripture, and in a separate argument for the Canon of the New Testament you could then establish that it is similarly inerrant.Of course I have not filled out all the blanks in this argument, but in its structure it is completely valid. Voila, bootstrapped an inerrant Bible without presupposing anything other than the mere possibility of God's existence.

      March 2, 2012 at 7:28 am |
  11. Margaret

    Satanaists... what a bunch of f_ucktards

    June 4, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  12. sup

    We should care why?

    June 4, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • keith

      No one said you should care. The article is just informing you about someone else's beliefs.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  13. KD

    Satanism sounds like a place a psycho/sociopath would fit in really well with the rituals and the whole 'bring wrath as we see fit' mentality. The legacy and 'me, me, me' are narcissistic.
    Sounds to me like it's the perfect place for people with severe non-treatable mental illnesses.
    Before anyone starts spewing 'those Christians always knocking other religions', I'm agnostic. Just making some observations based on their own words.

    June 4, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • 2manyhorses

      Have seen a lot of "Christians" and others bringing wrath as they should see fit on others. Most of the wars in this world are (and have always been) "faith-based". What makes these people any different? Open your eyes!!

      June 4, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  14. T3chsupport

    Unfortunate name, but I've always found the real Satanists to be pretty agreeable people.
    Not so much the punks who are just calling themselves that to miff their parents.
    I haven't met many though.

    June 4, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • Billy

      I have met Satanists that make better Christians by actions, than some Christians.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  15. A

    Idiots. All of you hyper-religious folk who seem to have the need to post comments about how "filthy" these people are for being Satanists. You're all idiots. These people have NOTHING, and I mean N.O.T.H.I.N.G to do with your stupid "devil". To even say such a thing is in insult to your own intelligence. It just proves how ignorant you people are. Their name isn't derived from the Christian antagonist Lucifer. They don't dance around campfires in robes, drinking dog blood.

    Satanists ARE atheists. They don't believe in your god, OR your devil, OR your heaven, OR your hell. If you ignorant bigots can get past the word "Satan" without throwing a hissy fit, you'll notice how nice of a belief system Satanists have.

    June 4, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • Billy

      I am Christian, but I have read the Satanic bible and a few other similar books. While I still choose to follow Christ and Christian ethics, the Satanic bible was a good and humorous read with quite a few good points.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
    • pastafarian

      You don't need religion to be an ethical person, look at Denmark.

      Lev. 25:44-46;Deut. 5:7, Deut. 7:2-5, 2 Corinthians 6:14;Ex. 21:17, Leviticus 20:9, Ex. 32:27-29; Check out these verses and try to maintain the stance that the christian faith is "ethical."

      June 4, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • pastafarian

      Who supposedly allowed this apple to exist with what significance attached to it? think about it. Do you want me to tell the whole story? Now answer the question about the god of the bible being a malevolent bully.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  16. Newyorker

    Christianity is the most stupid religion on the face of the Earth, except maybe for Islam.

    June 4, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • T3chsupport

      Judaism is just as bad as those.
      Scientology is worse.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  17. John Bonanno

    I think Eric Marrapodi meant to describe The Satanic Bible as a canon not a cannon. But Satanists would probably be more comfortable calling it an anti-canon.

    June 4, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  18. Newyorker

    F8ck all religions, except Satanism!

    June 4, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  19. Kevin

    Guess what Christians... Like it or not, this is America. That means all people have the right to follow their own stupid religions as they see fit. Just like you Christians have the right to follow your stupid religion... Equality...

    June 4, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  20. frank

    I would join but I can't stand Frank Sinatra.

    June 4, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • Aneriz


      June 5, 2011 at 12:27 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.