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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. Jeff

    Life does not begin at conception... nor does it begin at the first heart beat... not at birth either.... sperm and eggs are already alive. So are the testis and ovaries that produced them. The truth is that life does not begin at all during reproduction. Life merely divides and continues. So whatever decision we make about abortion, it is a practical choice of convenience. It has nothing to with when life begins.

    July 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • UnderstandingScience

      I think they mean 'when the spirit enters the human'

      July 9, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
  2. Johnn Tighe

    What utter nonsense; I guess there's no real news happening anywhere.

    July 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Johnn; you're very confused. Belief is an opinion blogg. Thus by design it is NOT a news website. If you want hard news go elsewhere.

      (but not to Fox!).

      July 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  3. ptneely

    How many LaVeyans does it take to change a light bulb?
    One. They just stand still and let the universe revolve around them.

    How many Joy of Satan members does it take to change a light bulb?
    None. They use advanced, industrial-strength lightbulbs from the planet Nibiru and never have to change them.

    How many teenage Satanists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    Just one, but he has to wait for his parents to leave before he does it.

    July 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • Rollo Tomasi

      How many Christians does it take to tell a funny joke? Nobody knows. Christians are way too humorless to be funny.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • ptneely

      You are no fun, rolly

      July 9, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      How many Christians does it take to change a light blub? None, since the light blub never goes on for Christians!

      July 9, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  4. Either or

    Okay I"m just going to say it...either you believe in the existence of invisible beings..or you don't.

    July 9, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      If i believe in something that's invisible, people call me crazy. The logic is if you can't see that's it's there, how do you know it existed?

      July 9, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
  5. VladBudapest

    The church of satan is an extremely ridiculous bunch. They even beat Christians and Muslims in how ridiculous and misguided they are.

    July 9, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Athy

      I call it an even tie.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • Edwin

      Followers of the Church of Satan do not believe in a supernatural being named Satan – at least, most do not. It's complicated... kind of like whether Catholics really drink blood or not.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  6. ptneely

    Jesus and Satan were having an ongoing argument about who was better on his computer. They had been going at it for days, and God was tired of hearing all of the bickering.
    Finally God said, "Cool it. I am going to set up a test that will run two hours and I will judge who does the better job."
    So Satan and Jesus sat down at the keyboards and typed away. They moused. They did spreadsheets. They wrote reports. They sent faxes. They sent e-mail. They sent out e-mail with attachments. They downloaded. They did some genealogy reports. They made cards. They did every known job. But ten minutes before their time was up, lightning suddenly flashed across the sky, thunder rolled, the rain poured and, of course, the electricity went off.
    Satan stared at his blank screen and screamed every curse word known in the underworld. Jesus just sighed. The electricity finally flickered back on and each of them restarted their computers.
    Satan started searching frantically, screaming "It's gone! It's all gone! I lost everything when the power went out!"
    Meanwhile, Jesus quietly started printing out all of his files from the past two hours. Satan observed this and became irate.
    "Wait! He cheated, how did he do it?"
    God shrugged and said, "Jesus saves."

    July 9, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • BO

      Stupid

      July 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • ptneely

      BO, much humor is funny because it is stupid.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      I like it.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • Sidewinder

      (Groan!)

      July 9, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Athy

      I liked it too!

      July 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Reports on their own genealogy. On the Mormon site no doubt. Any surprises?

      July 9, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
  7. ptneely

    Did you Hear about the Dyslexic Satanist?
    He sold his soul to Santa.

    July 9, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
  8. tannim

    Paging Dana Carvey...

    July 9, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
  9. The Riddler

    @childress-I have never heard of the 30 day rule. Where in the bible does it state that?

    July 9, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • ptneely

      Is it like the 5 Second Rule?

      July 9, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • ptneely

      My teen daughter is driving me nuts. Is there a 16 year rule?

      July 9, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
  10. MagicPanties

    So silly, as if believing in the imaginary adversary of an imaginary god means anything other than nonsense.

    July 9, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      Imagination is a horrible thing. Boo.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • heywood

      Wouldn't that be the reason they call it belief? Devil got your brain?

      July 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      You believe with your mind. But facts and stuff exist outside of your brain. Evolution, you are stupid and me me me.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
  11. ptneely

    Don't dis the Eagles ... thus, saith the Lord.

    July 9, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  12. Patrick

    "Satanists" are mostly kids looking for attention and rebelling. I care as much about them as I do about the Kardashians.

    July 9, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • ptneely

      True ... they are mainly just having fun with being rebellious and anti-establishment. Their interest wanes quickly as they get older.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Sidewinder

      I'm starting my own anti-christian religious group based on worshiping the Kardashians. Cult Kardashian has a ring to it...

      July 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • Athy

      It's Kult Kardashian.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      I assume as they get older most of them become agnostic. This Satanist stage is just a way of rejecting the myths of their parents. So at least they are going in the right direction.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  13. us_1776

    More religious idiots.

    Yes, satanism is a religion.
    .

    July 9, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Fluffy Kittens and Puppies Are Gosh Darned Adorable

      Thanks for this breaking news. No one knew.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      To be an intellectual, all you have to do is reject god. It is that easy. Join our atheist club.
      We we we. Me me me.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Observer

      Skeptic Al,

      One way to become someone who rejects God is to actually read his book.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      If it asks me to take an honest look at me and not just point the fingers at others I'm not reading it.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • heywood

      not really, but good try.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • Sidewinder

      It's not even HIS book. Or HER book for that matter.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • Edwin

      Observer: if you can find a book actually written by God, I might take you up on that. Unfortunately, we all know the Bible was written by ordinary humans, not by God.

      And btw, Skeptic Al is not really an atheist – I am surprised you could not tell from his words that he's a troll.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • Observer

      Edwin,

      I never said that God's book wasn't fiction.

      Skeptic Al is so busy making comments he doesn't actually believe that it's hard to tell what, if anything, he actually thinks.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      I'm now an atheist. Since I haven't won a Noble Prize for proving that God is real I've decided to ignore anything that isn't perfectly logical and reasonable (according to me). I took an atheism class and now I am my own god.
      Basically, this class taught me, that I just troll religious message boards and act hateful and hostile toward anyone that says something that doesn't agree with us atheists. Because we are so much better, and actually not arrogant. Despite how we act.
      Me me me. We we we.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Edwin

      Skeptic Al: why do you post like that? It does not help your case at all – because nobody believes you are sincere. I do not know if you have a grudge against atheism (and thus are pretending to be an atheist and a fool), or if you are trying to do the reverse by showing that people who make arguments against atheism are stupid... but either way the only thing I am sure of is that you sound foolish and false. Your comments do not reflect on atheism at all – just on you.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • Edwin

      Observer: sorry, I misunderstood your previous post. Thank you for setting me straight.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      Blame Observer and Captain Obvious – they are my mentors. And you are just stupid and delusional. You idiot.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
  14. eric

    This is a lame attempt to conflate choice with immorality. Written like a teenager, mind you.

    July 9, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
  15. WorldBelow

    The LaVey Satanists were thoughtful enough to include, as one of their rules (or 'commandments'), one that states "Thou shall not harm small children" I guess Moses dropped that one on the way down the hill.

    July 9, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Moses

      Yeah, that was on the stone with "Slavery is a bad thing", but I tripped and it broke.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Michael Girouard

      The LaVey satanists were pro- life in the sense that Christianity is the religion that features an act of human sacrifice as its basic tenet. Satanists revere life and do not relieve in sacrificing living things in order to distinguish their beliefs from those of the Judeo-Christian tradition. That is real Satanism, not the weird-ass play-acting practised by moronic sociopaths desperate for an excuse for their bad behaviour.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
  16. Sam Yaza

    now if only they stop calling them self satanist, and use Luciferian.

    Satan/Mastema works for Yahweh, he punishes non believers and test the faithful full, i Sammy/Lucifer a'm the rebel, and my rebellion was founded by love for my people not hatred of Yahweh. my people are Humans and angels alike, and i promote freedom, and the right to chose, this in it self is pro life.

    July 9, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Edwin

      Actually, Satanism has nothing to do with the mythical being you call Lucifer. If you want to know more about them before making any other silly posts, I suggest using the Internet – or even a library! It is easy to find information on them – though you DO have to use a little critical reasoning to separate the truth about them from the nonsense posted by others.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
  17. childress

    abortion should be mandatory, and post-natal up to the 400th trimester

    July 9, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • think

      I needed counseling after my abortion. The grief is horrible to live with. Don't do it.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @think, there is zero evidence that on average people suffer from having abortions and this has been studied many, many times. You made a wrong choice for yourself, but you shouldn't suggest that others, for whom it is the right choice, suffer for your mistakes.

      What de *do* know is that having children creates an approximately 18 year dip in happiness levels for most parents, far more so for those who are young or have low financial resources.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • think

      Oh, wow, I didn't know that. Thanks for correcting me. Reading about an abortion makes one more qualified than actually having an abortion. You are very helpful.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I didn't know that you were qualified to speak for all women who have had abortions, "think". Did they all give you permission, or did you simply decide that your experience is the only one that matters?

      July 9, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @think, having an abortion makes you an expert on one thing, YOU having an abortion. I had a classmate in college who got pregnant and had an abortion and described the experience as one of the more positive of her life, to quote her "I was so relieved to know everything was working correctly!" Should I use this friend as my example of what every woman's experience is with abortion? Yours? This is what the whole field of statistics is about; you never generalize from a single case. I'm sorry, but you aren't that special that you represent the world.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @think....................You needed counseling before having the s3x that required the abortion.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • think

      I now know.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      Lady, you need to listen to these men.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • Observer

      think,

      I'm sorry that your experience was so bad, but certainly not everyone who had an abortion feels the same. I know some who disagree. Everyone is different.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Edwin

      think: I am very sorry for your suffering. I think most women facing the choice should not be hasty – it is not a trivial procedure. As your story illustrates, it can be hard to live with. On the other hand, it may still be the right choice for some women.

      Personally, I think all women facing abortion should have at least one good, long talk with an unbiased professional who understands the procedure – including the possible emotional consequences. I do not know if I would make it a part of the law, but I strongly recommend it, just as I recommend some sort of counseling before getting married or before having plastic surgery.

      I hope you were able to deal with the outcome better after the counseling.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Edwin, Since having children has a more established aberage negative impact should every pregnant woman seek counseling to determine if carrying the child is really the best option?

      July 9, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
  18. musa philip

    I think those worshiping satan are doing so out of the ignorance or foolishness, for there is no name given among men that we should be saved, apart from our lord jesus christ which he is the way the truth and life, no can come unto God almighty except by him. I advice those attending that church repent, if not Hell fire is awaiting them.

    July 9, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Fluffy Kittens and Puppies Are Gosh Darned Adorable

      Poe.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Musa; You fail to understand that many people reject your hating so called 'god'.

      So ahead and believe in myths. But don't expect sane people to agree with you.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      " if not Hell fire is awaiting them."

      Gee, go figure!! For them 'hell' would be up in heaven with your imaginary friend, not where they wish to spend eternal life. Satanism is just a spin off of christianity...all based on the same god/devil crap and all just laughable.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • John

      My imaginary friend can beat your imaginary friend, is what this all boils down to. Try to stop being afraid of what you don't know, or live in fear for the rest of your life.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
  19. ptneely

    As an evangelical/born-again Christian, I am appalled and embarrassed by those wack jobs who post all sorts of bizarre Satanist conspiracies. Remember two important things: (1) it does nothing but drive rational people away from the Savior and (2) such conspiracy theories led to many false accusations of child abuse and convictions of criminals during the 1980s and 1990s such as those at the McMartin Pre-school and the Memphis Three.

    July 9, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Yawn

      Actually, it's logic and a grip on reality that drives people away from mythical "saviors".

      July 9, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • woodstockwoody

      The irony is thick in your post.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • JJ

      What drives rational people away from "the savior" is well....being rational.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  20. sm5574

    It's a shame that Christians have turned the abortion debate into a religious one (and that's a BIG reason they lost it). There are non-religious reasons to oppose abortion.

    July 9, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • ptneely

      I agree, but I think that in most cases Evangelicals have pulled the debate into the secular arena (it is a rights issue) and away from the Roman Catholic abortion argument which is based entirely on the teachings of the church.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • childress

      there are no christian reasons to oppose it...Bible makes it clear that babies are not human until 30 days after birth, and their god character is totally ok with infanticide.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • ptneely

      Childress, you have no clue. You are merely repeating nonsense that you have heard. You need to go check the primary source itself ... where nothing of the sort is said.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Carl

      ptneely:

      Indeed, Childress is mistaken about the 30 days. But it isn't true that "nothing of the sort" of what childress said is in the bible. Your god certainly is OK with infanticide, and regularly committed and ordered it as revenge.

      By the way, Numbers 5:11+ describes a ritual which is literally supposed to abort the fetuses of women who become pregnant via infidelity. God himself performs abortions of unwanted babies! Unwanted by the HUSBAND, of course.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • ptneely

      Carl, you are referring to "The Adultery Test Passage" which is a test by ordeal for a woman accused by her husband of adultery without witnesses. You are also referring to a very minority view that the "bitter water" (Holy Water + Dust is actually an abortifactant. That is a minority held view that doesn;t really make sense given the textual context of the water. Nonetheless, it does show a strange misogyny and reliance on "trials by ordeal" in the OT that have always mad this passage troublesom to Christian scholars.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Edwin

      What I find particularly fascinating is that, until about 1980, the mainstream Christian view was that a fetus has no soul and is not a human being until birth. The writings of Christian scholars and theologians prior to that time are pretty consistent, and all refer to the fact that the Bible does not claim the unborn fetuses are human at all.

      Flash forward one generation, and the mainstream Christian viewpoint has radically changed. More interesting tome is how modern scholars use the Bible to support the idea that in fact, unborn fetuses are human beings after all. Apparently, the Bible can be used to prove anything you want... which makes me suspect it is not a particularly useful source of wisdom.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Observer

      Many people don't believe in abortions, but it takes Christians to pretend that the Bible actually opposes abortion.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:45 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.