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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. Dr. Bancroft

    Sorry for the disruption folks. One of my patients pulled the fire alarm and snuck onto the office computer to access the internet. The situation's under control and it won't happen again.

    July 9, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
  2. a-z

    Whenever I think about satanists it reminds me of H.S metalhead kids and the shirts they wore made them look more gay than scary.

    July 9, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • Well

      At least they don't sing "Kumbaya" and pretend their magic super invisobuddy will send them to the Big Disneyland in the Sky.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      Right, they were the "gay" looking ones to you Mr. feathered hair and fanny pack...

      July 9, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • a-z

      How do you know they don't? Then what is the point of having a religion and belief, I don't believe in crap but Satan is just gay

      July 9, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  3. Skeptic Al

    Observer,

    You post on here all day long and act hostile toward other posters, especially if they are Christian. When I do it, you tell on me. Stop acting like such a hypocritical cry baby. You are just as bad as the people you profess to be so much better than. Grow up.

    July 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Observer

      Skeptic Al,

      Wrong. I have the integrity to post what I believe and you are acting like a juvenile posting things you don't believe.

      Oooops!

      July 9, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      You lost all integrity when you posted non-stop for 12 hours. Grow up.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • AlabamaSam

      Amen Pazuzu

      July 9, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • Observer

      Skeptic Al

      "You lost all integrity when you posted non-stop for 12 hours."

      So saying what I believe and supplying facts for ANY amount of time is a lack of integrity? lol. Check the dictionary for the word "integrity" if you are so clueless.

      Good luck, kid. You're not ready to talk with adults.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
  4. lold

    Anything related to Satan is so childish and making a religion out of it just looks like these people should have stayed watching Power Rangers or something.

    July 9, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • Yeah

      Same for Jesus.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      Satan is so childish. He should grow up.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  5. adibese

    In the bible Satan killed 10 people. God killed billions. I know who I'd go for. None... but that's my non-belief talking.

    July 9, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      You r.aped Schibetta.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
  6. Qotsa

    *Rolls eyes and carries on with life*

    July 9, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  7. Believe in Jesus or the puppy dies!!!!

    Obey or eternal torture!

    If you consider the terrorist threat at the heart of Christianity, it would seen that the system is indeed inverted and Jesus/God is/are/is/are the evil one(s).

    July 9, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      It's more accurate to say "Obey Jesus or the baby dies!!!!"

      Just look at the case of David. Commits murder and adultery so God punishes his first born child and strikes it with a malady so that it dies a few days after birth.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
  8. Carmine

    Did you see Barack Hussein Obama's guest appearance in the History channels. "The Bible Series"? He played the part well, because he didnt have to act, it was natural to him........

    July 9, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Jeff

      You have more names than IQ points, and your can count both on your fingers and toes.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • Observer

      Carmine probably wishes to be back under the bungling Republican who left the economy plunging, unemployment at more than a half million each month, left the stock market at almost half of what it is today, and started a $2,000,000,000,000 war for false reasons.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Carmine; I see that you're too immature to understand that Obama is President of the USA and you're just a nobody.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Carmine

      You fools choose to ignore the obvious scandals and failures of B Hussein Obowma. How many trillion did he borrow and spend? And it didnt stimulate anything..........and everyone realizes that Obamacare was a huge mistake. So he talks about global warming and gay marriage to try and take the focus off his many scandals and failing economy. The middle east is burnig. Terrific leadership.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • Wayne

      If Satan had a son, he would look just like Obama.........:)

      July 9, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
  9. Little red devil

    Oh come on admit it. We ALL wish there was a satan. Think of how many tickets were sold to horror movies, every rock concert you've ever been too, the sold out theme parks on Halloween. If there was something big and scary and cobwebby standing in the shadows 90% of us would want a part of it and the other 10% would want to cash in.

    July 9, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      If Christian mythology were real, I'd be far more scared of Yahweh than Satan. Yahweh is an evil mofo.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
  10. Lionly Lamb

    http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtube+videos+about+satanism&mid=A20972275242163CBB06A20972275242163CBB06&view=detail&FORM=VIRE5

    July 9, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Jeff

      You've hit your quota for stupid today. Time for your meds.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
  11. Fritz Hohenheim

    I guess Satan represents just the same as God does: Whatever the respective priests want that he represents. Just watch the late night christian standup shows that want to sell you no evil oil against witchcraft or holy water scam etc. "Dr" Dollar is a great example. Holy on the outside and in the privacy of his home he chokes his daughter. There's no difference between god or satan because they're both man made, thats why. It's that simple.

    July 9, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
  12. You will never convince me that Jesus and God are real.

    I worship Cthulhu. He eats Jesus, God, and Satan, all before breakfast.

    July 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Ted Testerson

      ... then craps them out at lunch and eats them again for dinner.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • You will never convince me that Jesus and God are real.

      Yeah, that sounds about right.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  13. Age of Reason

    ...Napoleon said (upon the discovery of the Rosetta Stone on his expedition to Egypt)... "I don't believe that this Jesus Christ was a real person, nor do I believe that he existed, but if the French people wish to believe in him, I won't be against them!" (as quoted by General Charles Dupuis)

    It is a woman's right to an abortion and if this "GOD" (whatever that is he/she/it) cares so much for the unborn, then he can stop the abortions!
    ...and once again, this "jesus" guy was a mythical, political construct who NEVER existed and do NOT believe in him!

    July 9, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • mike hunt

      Well, actually Jesus was real, maybe not as described in the bible, but he was a real dude. Anyway, im looking forward to exercising my right to abort you.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      We can't currently be certain whether he lived or not. Allegedly, he was an upstart street preacher in a back-water part of the Roman Empire. Proving his existence is damn near impossible.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  14. Ted Testerson

    It is obvious that the author does not take Satanists seriously, and is openly mocking them. All religions need to be ridiculed like this, not just Satanists.

    July 9, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  15. Spyke

    I watched Harry Potter today. Looked real, saw it on TV. Does that make it any more real than a 2000 year old book written by ignorant men that didn't know the world was round? Treat others as you would have yourself treated, that's my motto.

    July 9, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • may40

      No, spyke the only ignorant one is YOU!

      July 9, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • jamesfoley

      Actually the ignorant one would be the pope who seems to think that condoms are to god what harry potters cloak of invisibility was to death 😉

      July 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • cb

      Spyke – not sure you realized it, but "your" motto comes from the "2000 year old book written by ignorant men" that you speak of.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • G to the T

      CB – sorry, not sure you realize – the "golden rule" can be found in most religions/philosophies that deal with human interaction. All it really entails is a call for empathy, pretty universal.

      July 11, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  16. kelly sikes

    generally speaking, if you haven't read the Satanic Bible or studied Anton LaVey, you probably have an ignorant position on this story. The magus point of view sounds accurate to me. And as far as a church that "takes a fictional character" and turns him into a "good guy" as well as the follow up question of "is there a church of leather face?" proves my point. The reason Anton chose Satan as a symbol for his "church" of rituals was to specifically draw a comparison between "white religion" and a more natural point of view. He points out the hypocrisy of white religions, such as Christianity, that "kill in the name" when one of the ten is "thy shall not kill"...paraphrasing, he proclaimed to witness the same men in the circus tent hollering at women on Saturday night were the same men in the circus tent on Sunday with the megachurch style preachers, present with their families...I am not a Satanist but I am an atheist and many of Anton's points are poignant, insightful, and accurate. Just defending against the ignorant...

    July 9, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • Ted Testerson

      Amen

      July 9, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • You will never convince me that Jesus and God are real.

      I follow the teachings written of in the Necronomicon.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • jamesfoley

      Gimme some sugar baby... shop smart... shop S-mart

      July 9, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  17. Electric Larry

    Satan most definitely exists. I was married to her.

    July 9, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Carol

      ha ha. not. women haters like you make me sick

      July 9, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • Electric Larry

      That's Carol, my ex wife.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      Grow up. I'm sure it is obvious I'm more mature than Larry, right, guys?

      July 9, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • jamesfoley

      I hoid she's da debow bobby beuchea

      July 9, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      Carol; Well what fool would marry such a women? Oh, that fool would be Larry. People that complain about their spouses just show their own lack of judgement.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • Yeah

      I've heard women say worse about their exs

      July 9, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Wayne

      Hey Carol, Obama's rapper friends that visit the white house sing about "keeping their pimp hand strong"! Get used to it, its Obama's new America......Come to think of it, Muslim men keep theirs strong too! Damn!!!!

      July 9, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Mike F

      I don't know about anyone else but I already can't stand Carol

      July 9, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
  18. Aezellll

    LOL. Satanism is not a group of "realists." It is just another brand of supers†itious BS that believes in pretend people in the ground instead of the sky, right alongside all of the major religions. When is mankind going to grow up past these fairy tales for adults?

    July 9, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
  19. Observer

    Skeptic Al,

    Grow up. Why waste your time saying things you don't believe? If you are incapable of expressing your own thoughts, you are out of your league here. No one is buying your childish phony "atheist" act.

    July 9, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • swing and a miss

      strike one.

      July 9, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • Quick one

      Swing and miss lol thats all athiest can do, come up with witty one liners.... Hail Jesus!!!!! Seriously!

      July 9, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      We are not childish atheists, we are passionate atheists! Grow up.
      Me me me. We we we.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Observer

      Skeptic Al,

      Thanks for proving my point. Why not come back when you grow up?

      July 9, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      I'm so mature, like, grow up, dude.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      Are you going to tell on me again?

      July 9, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • swing and a miss

      That was a failing to hit reply, call.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      Looks like Observer is not the only one who needs to grow up here. Grow up.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
    • ball

      low and outside.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Obi_don

      Observer: Ya vol, mein Savior! (Click of heels, left arm held stiffly out and slightly up, hand open, palm down.) I vill turn off my brain, und march to your orders – Ya vol!

      July 9, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
  20. wat

    Its peculiar that people take a fictional character from a story whose only purpose was to represent evil and turn him into a misunderstood good guy. Is there a Church of Leatherface?

    Unless this is some anti-christianity organization using satan as sarcasm then I fail to see the logic behind worshipping good-guy-satan.

    July 9, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • Rollo Tomasi

      You can't worship what you don't believe in.

      July 9, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Saraswati

      They're trying to make a rather juvenile point in a way they think is humorous.

      July 9, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • Krank

      "Unless this is some anti-christianity organization using satan as sarcasm " My friend you have hit the nail on the head. That is exactly what the Church of Satan is. Visit the website and read a few things its always good to learn something new.

      July 9, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • jamesfoley

      don't confuse satanism with atheism. They aren't even close

      July 9, 2013 at 8:09 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.