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Satanists square off on abortion (Yes, really)
The UK Church of Satan says it supports a variety of views on abortion. But is the church real?
July 9th, 2013
03:27 PM ET

Satanists square off on abortion (Yes, really)

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)- Are Satanists for or against abortion? Apparently, there's a hot debate.

A group calling itself the "UK Church of Satan" on Twitter says it's open minded, tweeting out "Why Wouldn't Satanism be pro-life?" on July 5.

But the High Priest of the New York-based Church of Satan says it's squarely in the abortion-rights corner.

How to settle this diabolical duel?

Let's back up first.

As Texas legislators debated a law last week that would restrict abortions in the Lone Star State, a group of abortion rights protesters tried to drown out a group of anti-abortion protesters at the state capitol by chanting "Hail Satan!"

The phrase trended on Twitter. Megapastor Rick Warren rapped our wrists (and The Associated Press's, too) for not covering the "Hail Satan" serenade. Actually, pastor, our man Josh Rubin was on the ball.

The UK Church of Satan (assuming it's real) jumped on the trend, tweeting on July 3:

Which raises the question: What does Satanism represent?

We asked the New York-based Church of Satan, and we got an earful.

First of all, Magus Peter H. Gilmore, High Priest of the Church of Satan, told us, there is no "UK Church of Satan."

"I have not authorized any of our UK members to create such a thing claiming to represent our organization, its members and our philosophy," Gilmore said. "So, whoever is behind that feed is committing a fraud."

Gilmore's group, which, unlike the UK church, has a website, also keeps a P.O. Box in New York City. (Radio City Station of all places. Watch out, Rockettes.)

As a matter of policy, the Church of Satan doesn't give out exact membership numbers, the magus said, but it's in the thousands.

"Our organization, founded by Anton LaVey in 1966, is worldwide," Gilmore told CNN in an e-mail, "and we have many members throughout the UK and none of them have heard of any self-proclaimed 'Church of Satan in England.' There was a hoax using a title like this a year or so ago as a political prank."

We put the question to the UK Church of Satan,  who said, "There is no 'UK' Church of Satan. It's worldwide. We represent and connect those followers 'in' the UK."

We've followed up with more questions but haven't heard back yet.

To be sure, the UK Satanists' tweets have been surprisingly unsulfurous.

Take this one, for example:

Or this sweet-natured nugget:

This is a church that worships the Prince of Darkness? And who in hell is JMG?

Getting back to abortion, here's what the supposed UK Church of Satan said:

Yeah, kinda, Gilmore told CNN. But there's much more to it than that.

Many Satanists practice "rational birth control," saith Satanism's high priest, leaving matters of personal morality up to individuals.

"We generally consider the use of abortion to be the purview of the woman whose body is carrying the child," Gilmore said. "We consider sexual experiences to be an indulgence between consenting adults that should be taken seriously, particularly when the possibility of pregnancy is concerned."

But the magus didn't appreciate hearing the name of his lord taken in vain.

"Shouting `Hail Satan!' to abortion protesters is both ludicrous and meaningless," said Gilmore, who's led the Church of Satan since 2001. "Only attention-seeking fools would do so."

Unsurprisingly, Satanists take a strong stand on separation of church and state, believing the government "should be entirely secular."

"So religion should neither force upon nor deny an abortion for any woman, in our thinking," Gilmore said. "Freedom with responsibility is the hallmark of civilized behavior to the Satanist."

Now that that's settled, what's the Satanic stance on gay marriage?

***

In a follow-up email, Gilmore made it clear that Satanists don't actually deify Satan. In fact, they're atheist, he said, and use Satan as a "symbol of pride, liberty and individualism."

"If you chose to mock us, then you should have done so based on what our philosophy actually is, rather than on an assumed `horror film' stereotype," the magus said.

Fair criticism. We'll try to improve our coverage of Satanism.

Oh, one more thing. Gilmore said the Church of Satan does approve of same-sex marriage.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Abortion • Church and state • Culture wars • Satanism

soundoff (2,331 Responses)
  1. James Dillon

    Who gives a damn? No pun intended.

    July 10, 2013 at 8:24 am |
  2. Yarah

    The so called church of satan believe in a real devil.

    July 10, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • I'm a Realist

      they are as goofy as christians and muslims

      July 10, 2013 at 8:39 am |
  3. I'm a Realist

    ....why are christians/muslim and dictators all the same?

    July 10, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • I'm a Realist

      they all love to control people..

      July 10, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • I'm a Realist

      they concoct stories they expect everyone to believe..

      July 10, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • I'm a Realist

      and if you don't believe their made up stories, they use fears and threats to make you believe..

      July 10, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • Comedy club

      Let's give a big round of applause to "Realist" ladies and gentlemen, he'll be here all day.

      July 10, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • Løki

      Danke für die pep talk ...

      July 10, 2013 at 8:25 am |
  4. I'm a Realist

    why are christians/muslim and dictators all the same?

    July 10, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Løki

      Bitte uns aufklären ...

      July 10, 2013 at 8:22 am |
  5. Jen

    Atheists= don't pray to anything

    The religious of any denomination = don't REALLY pray to anything coz there's nothing there

    Sooo...

    July 10, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • Yarah

      God Loves You And Died For You.

      July 10, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • Jesus H Christ

      If god is dead, then why pray to him? If he's alive, then he never died in the first place.

      July 10, 2013 at 8:32 am |
  6. Atheist Hunter

    John 8:44
    You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

    July 10, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • Løki

      Wenn Sie tatsächlich glauben, dass jedes dieser Scheiße, Sie sind geistig zurückgeblieben ...

      July 10, 2013 at 8:20 am |
  7. Atheist Hunter

    And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

    July 10, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • Løki

      Yay! Die asshat ist zurück!

      July 10, 2013 at 8:14 am |
  8. Christian

    Why are atheists so angry and rude? If you don't believe why foam at the mouth anytime Jesus is mentioned? CNN just loves the anti-christian stories.

    July 10, 2013 at 7:59 am |
    • Saraswati

      If you read this story, especially in the original version, you'd have noticed it was an anti-Satanist story, not anti-Christian. It misrepresented (before edits, at least) Satanists as Satan worshippers. Where are you getting anything anti-Christian out of it?

      July 10, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • Jen

      Anti-satanist, anti-Christian, anti-Jew, and anti-Muslim it all pretty much sucks in my opinion. Though his comment was anti-atheist and that's not better. Maybe he should just say "belief blog posters"

      July 10, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • AMagee

      An "atheist" doesn't believe in any other being aside from human....for the head of the so-called church of satan to say they're atheist ....that is confusing. A real satanist believes in the existence of God AND satan....but chooses to follow satan.

      July 10, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Magee, I think most of us are agreed that "Satanist" is a silly term for these people to use. That doesn't excuse people, professional writers or commentors, from fault for not doing 5 minutes research on the group before before writing about them.

      July 10, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Saraswati

      @AMagee,

      "An "atheist" doesn't believe in any other being aside from human"

      Technically an atheist just doesn't believe in gods. They might, however, believe in aliens, fairies, other dimensional beings or ghosts. While in practice many do not, it is not a part of a-"theism".

      July 10, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Imagine No Religion

      Saraswati said, "Technically an atheist just doesn't believe in gods. They might, however, believe in aliens, fairies, other dimensional beings or ghosts. While in practice many do not, it is not a part of a-"theism"."

      You don't know what you are talking about. True atheists reject any concept which is not demonstrably provable, including aliens, fairies, other so-called paranormal entities, and god/gods. Until proven to exist, they are ALL nothing more than superstitions and/or figments of human imagination.

      We atheists exist the realm of fact, logic, reason, and critical thinking. It is commonly known as reality.

      -–
      "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
      Now that I found out, I know I can cry." - John Lennon

      July 10, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Actually Saraswati is on the money. Atheist applies to theism only. Gods

      Aliens could very well exist..or more likely have existed, will exist....as time is the biggest barrier for us ever meeting any...followed by similarities of developmental environment..because, lets face it, the only aliens we will even be remotely able to relate to are ones that are practically human clones.

      July 10, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Imagine No Religion

      @ R.M. Goodswell

      Actually, you completely missed the point of my reply. True atheists do not acknowledge paranormal BS for the same reason they do not acknowledge god. No demonstrable, scientifically repeatable proof. It's that simple.

      UFOs, aliens, fairies, and such are NOT part of atheism, although these are often cited by xians as manifestations of the devil. Ghosts, NDEs, visions, and hearing voices are often cited by xians as "proof" of god and/or "life after death" which most definitely are rejected by atheists as a part of atheism.

      -–
      "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
      Now that I found out, I know I can cry." - John Lennon

      July 10, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Imagine,

      "UFOs, aliens, fairies, and such are NOT part of atheism"

      Of course UFOs, aliens and fairies are not part of atheism, but neither are dog, chairs, bacteria and missiles. What you said was that I was wrong and then you incorrectly made claims about where "atheism" stood on these issues. Atheism has no stand, it is only about god existence. And with regard to non-religious supersti.tion, if you do the research you'll find a lot of atheist believe some surprising things. Atheism is a position on gods, nothing more, nothing less.

      July 10, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Isn't it rude to tell people if you don't believe and worship as I do you will go to heaven? And please don't say that when Christians do that it is different because it is the truth.

      July 10, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
  9. Saraswati

    I'm glad to see they added a clarification of the point that this groupdo not worship Satan. It shouldn't have been necessary, however, to wait for an email from the organization as that information has been freely available for decades. It should be quite possible to drum up enough controversy to get traffic without presenting erroneous information.

    July 10, 2013 at 7:55 am |
  10. FHall

    This would have more weight if god and the devil was real..

    July 10, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • Jen

      Everything would

      July 10, 2013 at 7:59 am |
    • Mike

      So abortion does not have enough weight? Why are you even alive? I should abort you where you stand.

      July 10, 2013 at 8:17 am |
  11. floyd schrodinger

    Be careful what and how you call people. You never know who'll you insult.

    July 10, 2013 at 7:19 am |
    • Jen

      Yeah insulting people is just a rotten thing to do really in general, though it seems to be a main component of this particular blog.

      July 10, 2013 at 7:40 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      wah...

      July 10, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • Jen

      That's why we all do it in the safety of anonymity. The toes you step on today might belong to the posterior you'll have to kiss tomorrow.

      July 10, 2013 at 8:02 am |
  12. Ismael

    This article (CNN) isn't curious as to why pro abortion protesters were chanting such things? Anyone find that odd that the news outlet would try to deflect from that by bringing in the opinion if an "actual" satanic organization that may it may not even exist?

    July 10, 2013 at 6:32 am |
    • Saraswati

      It's not interesting because it was almost certainly a joke to annoy some fundamentalist Christian pro-lifer who had been falsely accusing these people of being influenced by Satan. That kind of thing gets annoying after a while and people return with snide remarks. It isn't news.

      July 10, 2013 at 6:39 am |
  13. chuck

    Nothing is more comical than listening to a flock of xians telling it like it is..leave it to a article with the word satan in it to bring you all out of the woodwork...im sure less than 15 minutes ago half of you were busy doing 45 in the fast lane...but now that you are settled in to your stupid mundane day you can start blowing your trite opinions around..

    July 10, 2013 at 6:22 am |
  14. D.A. Seville

    C'mon people, what ever happened to reason? Does anyone give credence to this UK "church of satan" ???

    Really? I mean, with it's 600 members? It's as bogus as the lingering abortion debate. Probably comprised of 3/4 kids. What is this kind of reporting? It doesn't even have meaning. It may have had "shock value" at one time, but these days everything goes. Frankly I'm exhausted of all of this, yet there will be debate on abortion, religion, satanism, and of course those terrible people who go to church every Sunday and give money to fund things like feeding the poor and needy. Give me a break.

    July 10, 2013 at 6:07 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Satanist is a bad play on this group of humanists. It appears it is nothing more than a group that set out to put christards in their place and prove a point. As for the charity issue, the RED CROSS, UNICEF, Planned Parenthood and numerous other secular charities do just as much good in this world and are not out there handing out crap that is full of propaganda and tries to convert.

      July 10, 2013 at 6:21 am |
  15. On Satanism

    Fake blood, fake suffering, fake horror probably some of the best stuff on earth but it's great because it's fake. Abortion that's real, not so much of a fan there.

    July 10, 2013 at 3:57 am |
    • You too have no clue

      Fakeblood? WTF are you talking about?

      July 10, 2013 at 4:01 am |
    • Jen

      Probably talking about Gwar.

      July 10, 2013 at 7:42 am |
  16. John

    The Satanists are in the same boat as the Christians, they both have an imaginary friend.

    July 10, 2013 at 3:53 am |
    • Seyedibar

      Except that Satanists don't actually believe in Satan. They just worship him symbolically as a figure of rebellion and material pleasure. On the intelligence scale, i'd place them a few rungs higher than real believers.

      July 10, 2013 at 3:58 am |
    • Mark T

      ^ Moron.

      July 10, 2013 at 6:16 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Mark: You must have rather low self-esteem to be using the arrow '^' and have it point to yourself.

      July 10, 2013 at 6:22 am |
    • Christian

      If there is no God , then all that exists is time and chance acting on matter. If this is true then the difference between your thoughts and mine correspond to the difference between shaking up a bottle of Mountain Dew and a bottle of Dr. Pepper. You simply fizz atheistically and I fizz theistically. This means that you do not hold to atheism because it is true , but rather because of a series of chemical reactions. Thus, your atheism destroys rationality and morality.

      July 10, 2013 at 8:21 am |
  17. lol??

    "Rev 18:2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird."

    Is that the reason the University of Chucago has a raptor, err rapture bird on their logo??

    July 10, 2013 at 3:31 am |
    • ?

      Why would God, who made the birds, find those birds unclean and hateful?

      God has serious mental health issues.

      July 10, 2013 at 4:03 am |
    • lol??

      The educated find em rrreeeeaaaal hateful. They almost wiped em out with DDT. They must be tryin' to get a mythical bird on their logo in a quite twisted way.

      July 10, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  18. MrCrewel Dude

    It's late, go to bed kids!

    July 10, 2013 at 2:29 am |
  19. Luise

    Of course Satanists are for abortion. They worship the one whom the Son of God calls the prince of darkness, the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning. And that is why Hillary "Godham" Clinton fits so well into that camp.

    July 10, 2013 at 2:16 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Death and lies are real, but they have no Father. There is nothing worthy of worship.

      July 10, 2013 at 2:33 am |
    • Tia

      Regardless of who they do or do not worship (you did read the entire article, right? You got to the point where the "Church of Satan" are atheists who use Satan as a symbol of pride, right?) the point is that no one should have to live according to the religious beliefs of other people. If you feel abortion is a sin, don't have one. If the righteous "religious" folks spend half as much time worry about their own lives and morals instead of butting into other people's, we'd all be better off.

      July 10, 2013 at 3:08 am |
    • TimmieUrban

      Bro, do you even read?

      July 10, 2013 at 4:33 am |
    • scott

      Tia,

      "the point is that no one should have to live according to the religious beliefs of other people"

      Well according to your statement, it would be totally correct and well within anyones right to have you murdered at the drop of a hat and for no apparent reason??

      Be careful what you wish for Tia. The ten commandments are the beliefs of MANY religions and not just Christianity or Judaism.

      Also, be grateful to God that your parents were PRO-LIFE or you would not be commenting on anything.

      PEACE.

      July 10, 2013 at 6:40 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Scott: It is hard to be grateful to an imaginary being. Not all religions abide by the 10 Commandments and they are not a set of Commandments that hold any realistic standing. They are strictly biblical and the first 4 demand idolization. Now you may not be capable of living without them or living without a god but many others are. Knowing right from wrong is not biblical, it is human nature. As for Pro-Life, you can't say that for sure...the parents might have been pro-choice and simply didn't pay as much attention to the personal lives of others as christards do. What a woman does with her body is between her and her Doctor, not her and an imaginary, vidictive-murderer-rapist-child abusing god.

      July 10, 2013 at 7:19 am |
  20. allanhowls

    "Give me some money and I'll tell you what happens after you die." -Every religion ever

    July 10, 2013 at 2:09 am |
    • Luise

      That's funny. Jesus never charged anyone a penny, nor did Peter, James, John, Andrew, Paul, Luke, Mark, etc... The devil is the "Father of Lies," and it sounds like you've been listening to him.

      July 10, 2013 at 2:18 am |
    • Athy

      Did they use pennies in those days?

      July 10, 2013 at 2:22 am |
    • IO

      I can't think of a single religion which requires money. All the major ones provide free places to worship, free instruction of their beliefs, and free advice. They'll also give you a free copy of their book if you ask for one.

      July 10, 2013 at 2:41 am |
    • Con men never "require" money, but they get it anyway

      And how much money have you given those "free" places? Be honest.

      July 10, 2013 at 3:54 am |
    • IO

      I don't think I've ever given any money in church. I just smile and pass the plate along. It is optional, after all.

      July 10, 2013 at 4:09 am |
    • VM

      IO,

      You sound like a teenager.

      July 10, 2013 at 5:14 am |
    • Mark T

      You're as ignorant as they come.

      July 10, 2013 at 6:15 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @Luise – It's hard to give money to fictional characters... also, "Father of Lies" what are you, a child?

      July 10, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • Mike

      "That's funny. Jesus never charged anyone a penny, nor did Peter, James, John, Andrew, Paul, Luke, Mark, etc..."

      You're a funny guy. Have you read the book of Acts? Not only did they ask for money, but God killed people who didn't pay all they had.

      Acts 5:1-11 (Ananias and Sapphira)

      Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

      Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

      When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

      About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

      “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

      Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

      At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

      July 10, 2013 at 8:32 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.