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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
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(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. My little secret

    I've always been fascinated with Satan. I don't really think there is one, but the idea was always interesting. I guess it's no weirder than people who are interested in dragons or Saruman or something like that. But Satan is more appealing than Tolkien sometimes because a lot of people are really afraid that he's real.

    July 17, 2013 at 6:51 am |
  2. Reason

    I have to say, there isn't a less intelligent bunch to be found is there?

    Let me teach you about symbolism.
    Satan is the bringer of knowledge.
    Once man learned of his oppression he lost his blissful ignorance (ie Heaven).
    Therefore the fruit of Satan (knowledge) is the sin of man.

    That should have cost you 10k in college funds.
    Feel free to send me a check.

    Oh and here is one more...
    All religions have the intent of causing their followers to submit.
    True Satanism isn't a religion. (It is theatrical Nietzschean Philosophy)
    And Gilmore is a pathetic fraud of a human being.

    July 13, 2013 at 1:02 am |
    • Lestat-ist

      Why is that the correct interpretation? After all there are so many to choose from.

      July 13, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • nikgamble

      Where in the world did you get that interpretation from? Nowhere in the Christian Bible does it say that Satan is the bringer of knowledge. At -best- you can interpret Revelations to refer to the serpent in the Garden of Eden as Satan, but even doing that is a stretch. Some of the best qualified Biblical scholars out there will tell you that the serpent in Genesis is just a serpent. The serpent urged Eve to take a bite of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, which made her aware of her nakedness and gave her knowledge. If anyone should be called the bringer of knowledge, it's either the serpent, or God himself for creating a Tree of Knowledge and a less-than-righteous serpent to begin with.

      "All religions have the intent of causing their followers to submit."
      Prove it. And submit to what? Are you saying that every single religion in the world is exploitative? What makes them so? Can you prove how, for example, Universal Unitarianists want people to submit when they don't even ask them to give up their already held theological beliefs?

      "True Satanism isn't a religion. (It is theatrical Nietzschean Philosophy)"
      Religion: An organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to the supernatural, and to spirituality.
      Satanism does that. Are you dismissing it as a religion because it has no deity to worship? Should I list the other religions that have no deity?

      "And Gilmore is a pathetic fraud of a human being."
      Never met the man myself, and I have plenty of philosophical differences with him, but a fraud? How is he a fraud? What is he doing that's fraudulent? Saying things you disagree with? Doing things you disagree with? Being simply unlikable in your eyes? At least be honest. Instead of calling him a "fraud," why don't you just admit that you are enraged by a man you've probably never met.

      July 21, 2013 at 12:16 am |
  3. B

    I met Anton Levay in the 70's when I was stationed in California. He was a really interesting person.

    July 12, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • faith

      i dated his sister lulu

      July 13, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
  4. TheTruth

    Satanic church = the majority of other religions, Christian or not...

    2 Cor 11:13 says "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.14And no wonder, for Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light"

    Satan camouflages his ways so he can mislead as many as he can...unfortunately he has mislead Billions! Many claim that they saw Christ or spoke to him...But in fact they spoke to a Satanic representative...Why? The message some people got from this called "Christ" that appeared to them, has nothing to do with what the Bible teaches!

    July 12, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • Rory

      If these other religions and churches are deluded, and don't realize that they're under the devil's influence, what makes you so sure that your church isn't satanically controlled as well? You wouldn't know any more than they supposedly do, right?

      July 12, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • truth

      That passage you're referring to is aimed at the 'false prophets' within Christianity itself or to those who which profiteer from "Christian" merchandise, books, donations etc... The front runners would be good ol' Pat Robertson, Lindsey Graham (because politics MUST NOT be mixed with Jesus's teachings), Rick Warren (his books are filled with fluffy, whitewashed garbage – read the Bible instead), Joel Olsten...many more.

      July 13, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  5. Unanswered question

    Always wondered...why would Satan want my soul? Is it for an arts and crafts project?

    July 12, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • lol??

      Guile will give you an automatic 15 points on the employment test, too.

      July 12, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • Ken

      Maybe Satan wants to save you from being slowly consumed by God? The Big Guy gotta keep the Heavenly Light running by some kinda fuel, right?

      July 13, 2013 at 12:01 am |
    • K

      As I read my Bible, satan doesn't want your soul, he just wants to destroy you because God loves you. What God loves, satan hates. He is jealous of the love God has for us. God gave up everything to make a way to have a relationship with each of us. His Son gave up His throne in Heaven to die for us and make a way to have a relationship. The divide He repaired was due to satan's actions. We still have to choose the relationship with Jesus, and satan goes out of his way to ensure that divide continues...and this breaks God's heart.

      July 16, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
      • Mike

        He's been jealous for 6,000 years? I mean you would think some of this would dissipate at some point.

        July 17, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  6. Lestat-ist

    Well "Satan" can be anything you want it to be too. Can be a winged figure from another diemension, a comic relief, a source of evil, or a metaphor for an unpleasant mindset a symbol of your right to party. No consensus with what "Satan" is exactly either.

    July 12, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  7. Rory

    Who was it that said that God created the devil in order to give himself "plausible deniability"?

    July 12, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • Henryo

      Nobody.

      July 12, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Rockin the eighties

      I dunno. It might have been one of the guys from Anthrax.

      July 14, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  8. Satanist

    If I were the Devil, I would manifest myself inside

    a virgin, say that I am the son of God

    and convince everyone that they can now be

    forgiven for every sin, just by asking, thus

    opening the floodgates for an unprecedented

    and unending torrent of sin.

    I would start with the uneducated and poor.

    I would impress them with some magic tricks,

    teach them to pretend to eat my flesh, drink

    by blood, and always, ALWAYS use my name

    when talking to God.

    I would most assuredly use my immortality

    to fool them into thinking I came back from

    the dead as proof of my immortality.

    What better way is there to channel more

    souls away from Heaven and straight into H*ll???

    July 12, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • Rory

      Or, you could pretend to be Jesus on some roadside, and trick the biggest prosecutor of Jesus' actual followers into perverting his message into a blasphemy against God's chosen people. That would have been a neat trick, and well within character, eh?

      July 12, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Henryo

      @ Rory...not sure what you're saying...your sentence structure is so messed up I can't tell if you're agreeing with Satanist or not...seriously.

      July 12, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Johnny

      He is saying that Satan tricked Paul.

      July 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Rory

      Henryo
      I'm just saying that St. Paul started off as an enemy of Jesus' followers and appears to be single-handedly responsible for changing the movement from a Jewish sect all about the upcoming Kingdom of God to a new gentile religion worshipping a new god, Jesus Christ. So, in the context of Satan operating to defeat Judaism and foil God's Chosen People, the Jews, getting Paul to change what may have been that people's salvation into the source of pretty much all the anti-Semetic hardship the jews have faced since Jesus' time would have been a master stroke, right?

      Imagine, had Paul not "seen the light", Jesus' followers would have mostly remained Jewish, and they would have remained a largely unimportant and unnoticed people like the Zoroastrians, Jains, and Sikhs. They likely would not have risen to such powers as to be able to persecute their parent faith. Wouldn't that have been nice?

      July 12, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Rory

      Johnny
      Nope, I'm saying what if Satan tricked Paul. Satan is supposedly crafty enough to have been able to do such a thing, and it would have suited his goals, correct?

      July 12, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Henryo

      Oh. I see.

      Well, Paul was a myth, just like the rest of the characters in the 'bible.'

      July 12, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Lestat-ist

      If I were Lestat I'd be brushing Luis' hair and bringing him breakfast.

      July 12, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Armand

      It is Louis, not Luis.

      July 12, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • Claudia

      Oh, I wasn't enough of a breakfast, Lestat? Burn.

      July 12, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Ken

      Henryo
      Nope, Paul and, to a slightly lesser extent, Jesus were most likely real men. It's all the supernatural stuff that's almost certainly legend.

      July 13, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • Lestat-ist

      Thank you, Armand. You and Claudia made me laugh. I did blunder poor Louis name quite a bit. 😀

      July 13, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  9. faith

    "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."
    god-hating nazi fascists, can rich people enter the kingdom of heaven?

    not one word has proven untrue, ever, by anyone, in 2,000 years

    July 12, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • Agnostickids

      What?

      July 12, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • Satan

      Ah, faith, you're nothing but a provoker and a sociopath. You don't believe anything you post on here, you just repeat the same thing over and over to get a reaction from people while you sit back laughing...

      July 12, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • Rory

      faith
      The Nazi fascists were all Christian capitalists.

      July 12, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • WASP

      someone please slap the record player, the FAITH record is skipping again. XD

      July 12, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  10. Observer

    FAITh

    "every few years nazi god-hating fascists get something right."

    No atheist ever hated God so why do you keep trashing BELIEVERS?

    July 12, 2013 at 1:00 am |
    • Christian Motto

      The lie told a hundred times becomes the truth

      July 12, 2013 at 1:01 am |
    • faith

      i know. i keep telling you.

      and he still loves you, even though you blaspheme him night and day. you r on thin ice for a believer

      July 12, 2013 at 1:06 am |
    • Christian Motto

      Gotta love a guy like faithy who takes ownership of his lying.

      July 12, 2013 at 1:08 am |
    • Observer

      faith

      So why do you keep trashing believers?

      July 12, 2013 at 1:12 am |
  11. FAITh

    "atheists have FAITH that there isn't a single god out of the millions created throughout human history" bazinga!

    every few years nazi god-hating fascists get something right.

    July 11, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • Akira

      1) Nazis were overwhelmingly Christian. Christians don't hate God, do they?

      2) Read your quote again. That includes the Judeo-Christian God, and you just agreed with it.

      July 12, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • This long-dead horse apparently needs flogging again

      Fallacy of equivocation. That is not religious faith. You are doing exactly the same thing as saying bananas are cowardly Asians because they are yellow.

      July 12, 2013 at 12:56 am |
    • On the belt buckleof millions of Nazi soldiers

      Gott Mit Uns

      God is with us

      July 12, 2013 at 12:57 am |
    • faith

      who created jesus christ?

      July 12, 2013 at 1:01 am |
    • Righteo

      So you dropped out before sex ed class, did you?

      July 12, 2013 at 1:02 am |
    • faith

      george wallace was a dedicated democrat

      July 12, 2013 at 1:02 am |
    • Righteo

      Wallace was a Dixiecrat, who all went Republican. They were only democrats because Lincoln was a Republican.

      And we was quite religious, as were all the Southern racists.

      July 12, 2013 at 1:05 am |
    • faith

      Righteo
      Wallace was a Dixiecrat, who all went Republican. They were only democrats because Lincoln was a Republican. And we was quite religious, as were all the Southern racists.

      gettin there

      July 12, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • faith

      Righteo
      Wallace was a Dixiecrat, who all went Republican. They were only democrats because Lincoln was a Republican. And we was quite religious, as were all the Southern racists.

      gettin there

      some people lie for political expediency? nah

      July 12, 2013 at 1:13 am |
    • WASP

      @faith: you know they say copying is the best flattery, however do it properly.
      if you are going to use something use it ALL.
      i posted that BOTH atheist and THEIST have faith, because you can't disprove the millions of gods humans have created any more so than i can 100% disprove yours.

      as i debate with theists i simply show how the universe HAS NEVER needed a creator because the very thing that makes up EVERYTHING can not be created nor destroyed.
      thus no GOD(S) required.

      July 12, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • WASP

      @ignorant FAITH: MY EARLIER POST.

      @Stupid Atheists
      Hey look I'm an Atheist! I think the universe invented itself"

      no in actuality ATHEISTS simply don't believe in gods.
      you have FAITH that there is a "god"
      atheists have FAITH that there isn't a single god out of the millions created throughout human history.

      now as far as science it seeks the most realible and testible idea about everything in the universe to attempt to explain what we are dealing with; it would be a sad world to live in if science simply said "GOD DID IT"
      GIVE THAT SOME THOUGHT;

      what if louie pasture hadn't bothered exploring why his milk maids couldn't be effected by small pox?
      what if the people that discovered crude oil, decided that it was god's domain of what was in the earth?
      what if mass food production, electricity, the written word were all not sought because "god didn't do it"?
      how about if science hadn't sought cures for most of the disease in this world because "GOD CAN DO IT"?

      our world was built by those that said "GOD DIDN'T DO IT, BUT WE CAN."

      and as far as the universe creating itself, YES i did.
      you and everything you see, everything you know, everything you are IS created from energy.
      LAW OF PHYSICS; energy CAN NOT be created nor destroyed.
      thus the universe is a closed system that maintains 100% energy regardless of whatever state it may be in.
      100% at the beginning
      100% during the time of humans
      100% long after we no longer exsist.

      this law can not be superceeded by your "FAITH" in an imaginary god because he "can create and destroy" something that CAN NOT be created nor destroyed, yet can't even show where evil comes from seeing 2/3rd of his angels (mind you only in paradise lost) rebeled against him during his "creation of the universe" long before the "original sin cause by satans appearence in the garden of eden."

      July 12, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • Rory

      Not faith that some god will never be proven real, but the kind of confidence that comes with many thousands of gods being proposed and none so far actually proving to be real. We have zero proof that any gods were ever real, or that super-powerful, creator gods are even possible. So, why believe in one?

      July 12, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Typical Christain

      Why believe in one? I take it you haven't read the Bible.

      July 12, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Akira

      The fallacy is that Nazis were God-hating. They weren't, horse.
      I get what you mean about the equivication fallacy, though.

      July 12, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  12. lol??

    T*itle:................Satanists square off on abortion (Yes, really)

    Is this implyin' Pandora has a square box??

    July 11, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • Akira

      No.

      July 12, 2013 at 12:08 am |
    • lol??

      Thanks, Now I can check that off of ye ol' worry list.

      July 12, 2013 at 12:16 am |
    • Akira

      Ok, I'm still chuckling over that one...thanks!

      July 12, 2013 at 12:32 am |
  13. ymkbird

    I've learned in my encounters with many different Satanists over the years that as soon as you say (or imply) "Satanists believe..., Satanists take..., Satanists give..., Satanists practice..." you are going to be mistaken. There are so many "brands" (if you will) that have varying opinions on things even as fundamental as whether or not Satan is a being that exists or just a concept. Clarifying between philosophical Satanism and religious Satanism in my own conversations has seemed to help some.

    July 11, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      I find the same thing with Christians.

      July 11, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • Faded denim

      Yeah that's probably true of any religion. Minds are like snowflakes no two are alike.

      July 15, 2013 at 1:23 am |
  14. Djinn and tonic

    They probably see both religions as equally fictional.

    July 11, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • Djinn and tonic

      Meant as a reply to Dan.

      July 11, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
  15. Dan

    Christians or Satanists? Who do the atheist prefer?

    July 11, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • 777

      I just got a laugh out of them using the word CHURCH of all things.

      July 11, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • rick

      probably christians, since satanists are not trying to legislate their beliefs

      July 11, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Rick, he asked which one we preferred. So you want people to pass laws restricting your rights?

      So I assume you didn’t mean Christians.

      July 11, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • rick

      i misstyped. my bad

      July 12, 2013 at 6:41 am |
    • Stan

      I prefer the satanists who mistype and worship me by mistake.

      July 12, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
      • Stanist

        All hail Stan!

        July 19, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Saraswati

      The "Satanist" being discussed are just a bunch of atheists, so it depends whether you find outdated scince and philosophy more annoying, or silly 20 year olds who think there's shock value in the word "Satamist."

      July 12, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
  16. 777

    CHURCH of Satan? Lmao

    July 11, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  17. The church of party

    Satan the diety is honestly kind of a "fun" idea. A several thousand year old flying atheist. That's just interesting. I don't know if I could do satanism as a religion but I could definately see where I'd be interested in it as entertainment.

    July 11, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  18. Just wondering

    I wonder if there are any seniors who are satanists. Is there an age cut off? Can you be a ninety five year old satanist?

    July 11, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Akira

      I suppose with Viagra, all things are possible.

      July 11, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
      • aikira

        mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
        Really-O?
        Jeff
        niknak
        EnjaySea
        Jenniferrrrrrrr
        MsMoron99
        Athy
        skytag
        One one
        bostontola
        Cpt. Obvious
        Bible Clown©
        Brother Maynard
        Elise
        mark
        tallulah13
        I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV
        Akira
        Dyslexic doG
        another good reason to ignore Christians
        Candiano
        another good reason to ignore Christians
        On the belt buckleof millions of Nazi soldiers
        This long-dead horse apparently needs flogging again
        Christian Motto
        Wasp
        Rory
        Open the pod bay door
        Agnostickids
        Rodents for Romney
        Polonius
        FYI
        Oberver
        skytag
        Cpt. Obvious
        Judica
        Open the pod bay door
        Rodents for Romney
        FYI
        Polonius
        Satan
        skytag
        Cpt. Obvious
        Judica
        Rodents for Romney
        Righteo
        Johnnyboy
        My Dog is a jealous Dog
        howabouthat
        Realist
        Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear
        realbuckyball
        Thor

        July 19, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
        • faith

          traveling at C, it takes one photon of light from the sun 100,000 years 8 minutes to reach the earth

          July 20, 2013 at 7:52 am |
      • Really-O?

        Woo Hoo! I'm in second place!

        What the hell is that list about?

        July 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  19. Akira

    Good luck with your persecution complex.

    July 11, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  20. Cpt. Obvious

    Well, I wish you the best, regardless of what you say about others. Good luck going forward.

    July 11, 2013 at 3:57 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.