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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. JIC

    And we have really begun listening to Satan worshipers. Wow. Hey while we are at it, what do the Ku Klux Klan members think? How about Hitler worshipers? Satan is not pro life. He wants to wipe humanity off the face of the earth so he can shove God's nose in it. Don't be fooled because he is a liar and seeks nothing more than our complete destruction, after he has proven to God that we are worthless. How dare God put a being of clay above a being of fire. Remember his motivation. He ain't your friend.

    July 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Square Off Ding Ding Ding Round Sevend Hundredy Mister Balboa You Are Drooling Real Hard

      Hey pal, they don't believe in satan. Man, that just has to hurt jumping on a subject you don't know anything about. Need a bandaid for that? BAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHA

      July 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      You seem rather overconfident in your knowledge about the motives of a being that is invisible and undetectable.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      If Satan wants to wipe humanity from the face of the earth, why doesn't god stop him?

      July 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      If I can't see it, it doesn't exist. And don't talk about any spiritual matters. I am a material being. Not a spiritual being. I am a material being having a material experience. Nothing more.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • sam

      Soooomeone didin't read the article....

      July 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      Satan is just as much a myth as your God.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • JJ

      Satan, the boogie man, fairies, gods, leprachauns and ghosts do not exist you imbecile.

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

      JIC; You need help. The Satanists are less confused than you.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
  2. Dixie

    It's sad when people of any 'religion' try to inject their faith into the abortion discussion. Abortion is a matter of science, a matter of philosophy, and a matter of morality. Religion has nothing to do with it. Saying you oppose it for religious reasons doesn't help the cause and only serves to turn it into a religion-vs-atheism debate, which is not what it should be at all. We're arguing over the life of a child here, and the issue deserves a great deal more maturity and dignity than treating it as a petty dispute over beliefs.

    July 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Religion tells people how and what they should think scientifically, philosophically, and morally. Religious people see their religion as an authority on those matters. It's only natural that a hot-button issue like this would involve religious people inflecting their religious views.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • mbsmith91

      Abortion is a matter of science..........................so killing is a matter of science? I forgot, unborn babies aren't human and don't feel anything until they leave their mother's birth canal.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      Since I always try to tell people what to do, logically that must be what religion is trying to do.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • Dixie

      @mbsmith91 Killing is a matter of morality. Science and philosophy determine the point at which life begins.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @dixie..........I'll give you maturity and REALITY. If the parents can't take care of the kids, guess who does? THE TAXPAYER. You, me and everybody else. I have no problem with pro lifers. I have a problem with pro lifers that don't offer any money to help these kids. This is the number one reason taxes go up. CHILDREN.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      "Killing" is a practical act in that it drastically changes the course of events. (Think of soldiers in a war). Whether that killing is justified-ending-of-life or "murder" is up to morality which is informed by philosophy and science. (Religion is just a specific sort of philosophy).

      July 9, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
  3. Square Off Ding Ding Ding Round Sevend Hundredy Mister Balboa You Are Drooling Real Hard

    WE HAVE A WINNER

    July 9, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
  4. Jeff

    I'd rather worship Satan. At least you know where he stands on issues. God is either evil, incompetent, or impotent with the way he interacts with the world. Given those options, I'll just pick Satan.

    July 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      And, according to the bible, Satan is a lot more likely to tell the truth and not kill you. God changes his mind and lies and kills people all the time.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • sockpuppet1984

      well obviously you already have

      July 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Joseph

      sounds like a typical Obama voter to me........

      July 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • sam

      Joseph, you sound like a typical dumbass.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • Steve

      Then you have never studied the Bible.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Poor Joseph; too immature to accept the fact that his side lost. Bitterness isn't healthy dude. (and I didn't even vote for Obama).

      July 9, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
  5. Vence

    Hard case for Satanists. If a fetus is killed (aborted) he or she goes directly to heaven. So What's the benefit of abortion for Satanists? But, on the other hand if he or she is born, then he could become a sinner and go to hell to increase the already big Army of demons. I guess we need more sinners in this society.

    July 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Square Off Ding Ding Ding Round Sevend Hundredy Mister Balboa You Are Drooling Real Hard

      NO SUCH THING AS SIN

      So, I guess that settles that! Next!

      July 9, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • ME II

      @Vence,
      Actually, I don't think Satanists believe in the supernatural. It seems to be more like the idea of Satan as liberation from the idea of God.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      1) you know Satanists don't actually worship Satan, right?
      2) Most Satanists I've met don't believe in heaven or hell, so why would they care about who goes to either place based on mythology that they do not believe in?

      July 9, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • G to the T

      Wow Vence – thanks for the perfect excuse to condone abortion. By your logic, all christian women should always get abortions to ensure their children are gauranteed access to heaven. After all, it's not this life that's important anyways...

      July 11, 2013 at 11:06 am |
  6. Jo Black

    Had no idea some of this ilk were so rational. nice to know. What percentage are thus?

    July 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Chuck

      All members of the actual "Church" of Satan are rational. Membership would be denied if they were not.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  7. FD&C Yellow No. 5

    I don't know why anyone would want to worship satan. I find silk to be much more luxurious.

    July 9, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • Larry B.

      Satan's been worshiped for a long, long, time. His most recent incarnations are St. Ronnie Rayguns, King Shrub ll, Darrell Issa, Pat Robertson, the Aqua Buddha Family, "Pastor" Rick Warren and his fellow KKKhristians, and Rick Perry, to name but a few. ALL HAIL THE OMNIPOTENT AQUA BUDDHA!

      July 9, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • RED #40

      Yeah, but it's so hard to pull thread out of a worm's butt...

      July 9, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
  8. the one

    What a joke.

    July 9, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Yes, all myth believers live a life of folly.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  9. Cpt. Obvious

    Actually, it kind of make sense. Over a quarter of pregnancies end up miscarrying, so nobody aborts more babies than god who is the "blessed controller of all things." If god and the Christians quit with the abortions, it would clear up a lot.

    July 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
  10. A pro-lifer

    I"m probably one of the few non-religious people who is actually pro-life. I am against fetal pain. Proove to me that you can do your abortion without causing fetal pain. I also don't like the idea of people being that cavalier with human life. In so far as religions bow down to Satan, bow down to nothing or pray to Lex Luthor I'm fine with all that.

    July 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      Do you think there is no pain in child birth. How insensitive! Think of the woman, not just your poor helpless and innocent living creature.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      As someone else said, abortion is a rights trade-off; Rights of the women verses rights of a potential human being. I'm pro-choice since I side with the actual person over the potential one. But yes, people can disagree on if abortion should be legal or not without discussing religion.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Square Off Ding Ding Ding Round Sevend Hundredy Mister Balboa You Are Drooling Real Hard

      Prove that plants and animals don't feel pain. Until then, stop eating them.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      I understand how you feel. Fetuses can't feel pain until the 20th week; it would be nice to attempt most abortions before the fetus reaches that "age."

      But really, decent education and even below-average critical thinking would result in far, far less unwanted pregnancies. I'm not necessarily against the concept of requiring "potential parents" to get some sort of license before they are allowed to procreate; after all, the state won't let you own a giraffe because it knows you don't have a clue about taking care of one, so why do they assume that any human can take care of another human baby?!?!?!

      July 9, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Skeptic Al raises a fine point, too. Some mothers spend days in horrible, agonizing labor. Most of us will die with some amount of pain, ourselves. What's a few seconds compared with that?

      July 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      I don't remember feeling pain as a fetus until after the 22nd week.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • JJ

      Everyone is pro-life. I don't know anyone who is pro-death.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Please stop with the pro life crap. We execute people in this country! We start wars that kills hundred of thousands, We had a presidential candidate actually boast how he would cut/gut programs that poor people need to survive. We couldn't pass common sense gun control laws despite the fact that over 10,000 die a year from gun violence. So please cut the pro life garbage.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • ME II

      @A pro-lifer,
      Does a fetus feel pain?

      @Cpt. Obvious,
      Not sure if you're serious, but I think that is a bad idea. Regardless of the whole eugenics issue, I couldn't support the government enforced contraception that I think would be required.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • sam

      Being born is painful. Being alive is often painful. You're pretty much asking for an impossibility and then acting like it's the end all be all.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      @Me II

      I think it's about time to discuss difficult concepts like the one I propose. It's a difficult discussion, but it's just ideas, now. Nature is rather good at "culling the herd," and I think it may be much more sensible to control our own population (mostly) rather than have disease and starvation do it for us (mostly). Just looking at something as simple as soil, we know we've got serious, serious problems ahead. I'm not saying I have any answers, but intelligent population control might be worth the debate? Dunno.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • ME II

      @Cpt. Obvious,
      "intelligent population control might be worth the debate"

      Agreed. Just not sure that we'd agree on acceptable methods.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      You want population control? Tell people to use birth control. Stop harassing people that want an abortion. Teach the true cost of children in school (That will scare them) Offer vasectomies and having your tubes tied at no extra cost.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  11. Mandy

    All religions are protected...even the ones that make us uncomfortable.

    July 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      Yep, like Southern Baptists, Pentacostals and Mormons.

      Woo hoo!

      July 9, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      Don't make me take an honest look at myself. I reserve the right to pass judgment on others!

      July 9, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • Mandy

      CommonSensed, or the ever popular WBC...

      Skeptic Al, have at it. Everyone knows we all judge others; at least you're honest and straightforward about it!

      July 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      No one can "make" you do that, Al, and yes, you do have the right to judge others; although, you may lose some friends if you do it a lot. You may want to be somewhat introspective from time to time and self-critical. Your call.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      The Bible can not expose unfortunate truths about human beings. It is too old and we aren't as stupid as those people were. They didn't even know how to drive cars.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
  12. bostontola

    Believing in God or Satan is like believing in Primus and Unicron from Transformers.

    July 9, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Mark Sanchez

      YOU MEAN PRIMUS AND UNICRON ARE NOT REAL???!!!

      July 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  13. von

    I am working for the Lordt! –

    July 9, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      If you kept your paycheck stub you're about to be the most famous person in existence. I'll be glad to help you get in touch with the Nobel Prize folks, too. You'll be RICH! Need a personal a.s.sistant? I'll only charge you a t.ithe: one tenth.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • ME II

      No paycheck, but the healthcare is amazing!

      July 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  14. joseph

    Church of Satan has always been more respectable than many of the big religions purely for their honesty IMO.

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

      The satanic bible is good reading.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
  15. Miguel

    Jesus preached loving your neighbor as yourself, the Satanist preach – screw the other person just love yourself. It is the perfect religion for the left which is full of immature narcissists.

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

      LOL i love when people are taught the opposite. I thought we are socialist/communists who dont want anyone to succeed? Which is it you confused Muppet?

      July 9, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • FRDMS2THELFT

      made up by cowardly american taliban who also believe in the tooth fairy, as do many stanists

      July 9, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • Edwin

      It does sound like SOMEONE is immature... maybe the person calling other people names instead of actually talking to them, hmm?

      July 9, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      So that is the reason the Christian right is trying to cut food stamps!

      July 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      Huh? Fail.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Chuck

      You have this entirely wrong. Where christianity would preach to love all no matter what, satanism teaches that love is too powerful of an emotion to waste it on those who do not deserve it. Where christianity would preach to turn the other cheek to your enemy, satanism teaches that vengeance for having been wronged is acceptable. Do not confuse vengeance with violence. We do not condone that.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  16. Jeff

    All hail Satan!

    July 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
  17. Disapointed

    Look dudes I just need everyone to know I spent a huge amount of time in the eighties trying to "summon" satan. My cupboards never went "bang" the ouijah never worked by itself and I never saw red glowing eyes in my mirror. Unfortunately.

    July 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
  18. Intergalactic Pimp

    Wow, satanists speaking more logically than almost ANY Christian I've ever heard on abortion and separation of church and state.

    Hail...ehhhhh...Satan?

    July 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • Nogimus Prime

      Most of our founding fathers were of some denomination or other of Christianity or at least believed in a higher power, specifically a creator. They are the ones who created separation of church and state in America.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • Joseph

      No wonder the Devil in the History Channel's "Bible Series" looked so much like Barock Hussein Obama.........they think exactly the same.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Intergalactic Pimp

      @Joseph

      Hail Satan!

      July 9, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  19. ug

    Always something stupid like this that cnn would have in the lame stream media...

    July 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • Fluffy Kittens and Puppies Are Gosh Darned Adorable

      You spelled "fox news" wrong.

      July 9, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • I AM

      Is that you Sarah Palin ?

      July 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  20. Alina1

    Oh God, this dude thinks just like me... Whats next from these guys? Stop killing animals for their fur? His very smart wards : "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"

    July 9, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • Alexandra

      Actually, Satanism is against animals being killed for their fur, unless the meat is eaten as well.

      July 9, 2013 at 7:07 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.