Lord of the Millennials
Aside from their My Chemical Romance website, Satanism is pretty much the normcore of religion.
By Kayla Kibbe, Connecticut College
Do you like pride, liberty and individualism?
How about diversity, freedom and mutual respect? Have you been known to enjoy physical, mental or emotional gratification? Congratulations, you might be a Satanist.
As with any religion, there’s a little more to becoming a Satanist than just plugging your philosophical values into the WebMD symptom checker and getting your religious diagnosis. So before you add “Church of Satan” with a black emoji heart to your Twitter bio, the Church suggests a thorough perusal of The Satanic Bible, as well as a check for two hundred dollars, because, in their words: “We’re not altruists, we’re Satanists, so we expect to be compensated for our time and efforts.”
Whether or not you decide to take the leap and become a card carrying member, a brief introduction to Satanism will probably point out a lot of misconceptions you have about the religion. Spoiler alert: There’s no Satan worship involved. In fact, plot twist, Satanists don’t believe in Satan.
The night of the 2016 election, the Church of Satan took to Twitter to remind the public that it does not, in fact, recognize the existence of Satan as a being or person and could therefore “absolutely confirm that [he] is not running in the US elections.” Rather, Satan is used as a symbol to represent pride, liberty and individualism, and “serves as an external metaphorical projection of our highest personal potential.” No horns, pitchforks, orange skin or yellow hair.
Furthermore, despite maintaining a strict policy against promoting any official political affiliation, immediately following the election, the Church of Satan released a statement via Twitter highlighting “some salient points of the philosophy,” including mutual respect, diversity, freedom, secularism and self-determination. Doesn’t sound so bad when you put it that way.
With more Twitter followers than the Catholic Church—although HBIC Pope Francis still has them both beat by millions—the Church of Satan is having a major moment right now, particularly among millennials. In fact, youth interest in Satanism is so prevalent that the Church has felt compelled to remind numerous burgeoning youth groups and “after-school Satan clubs” that it does not officially recognize membership of anyone under eighteen. Sorry kiddos, adults only.
Meanwhile, the religion isn’t just for the dark of heart. Aside from the fact that the Church’s website looks a little like the AIM profile of that one friend who was really into My Chemical Romance, most of its philosophy is, well, downright reasonable. Between absolute acceptance of the LGBTQIA community, unwavering celebration of uniqueness and creativity, and an unforgiving approach to stupidity and pretentiousness that labels them the religion’s number one and two sins, respectively, you may just find the basic tenets of Satanism have more in common with your day-to-day values than you thought. Oh, and there are no sacrifices, human or otherwise.
1. You Get to Be Your Own God
Strictly speaking, Satanists are atheists. There is no Satan; there is no God. So-called Satanic atheism is slightly more nuanced than that, as the philosophy prides itself on never advocating any one particular worldview as absolute truth, as doing so would result in a kind of “evangelical atheism” just as dangerous as any other religious group’s efforts at universal conversion.
Broadly speaking, however, the religion rejects the notion of any “big personality” deities—think long white beard—as “silly and without supporting evidence for their existence.” Basically, their official stance on the matter is “grow the fuck up.”
However, as a religion that places the self at the center of existence, each Satanist becomes his own god, “placing himself at the center of his own subjective universe as his own highest value.” Thus, Satanists are sometimes said to worship themselves. Not a bad deal, right? As the most important figures in their own lives, Satanists are free to offer love to those deemed deserving, and wrath, “within reasonable limits,” likewise.
However, beyond free love and reasonable wrath, being your own god comes with great responsibility.
As the center of their own universe, Satanists control their own lives, and therefore are expected to take full responsibility for their actions.
Moreover, as the god of your own Satanic universe, you have an obligation to recognize and respect everyone else as the god of their own Satanic universe. That’s where the whole mutual respect part comes into play. We’re not great at it as humans, but, maybe if we’re all gods, things will be different.
Solipsism is the third of the Nine Satanic Sins. You may be at the very center of your own universe, but no one else is—they’re all busy being the centers of their own. So, even though you’re a god, you have to acknowledge everyone else is too. Basically, Satanism says, “Okay, you’re God, but don’t be a dick about it.”
2. Satanism Abides by Human Nature
Satanism prides itself on being “the first above-ground organization in history openly dedicated to the acceptance of man’s true nature.” As such, the religion strives, above all, to promote tenets that are rational and pragmatic, rather than doctrines that put the mind in conflict with the emotions.
Thus, Satanism represents “indulgence rather than abstinence, kindness to those who deserve it rather than love wasted on ingrates,” and “vengeance instead of turning the other cheek.” Similarly, the religion is governed by eleven Satanic rules, including very reasonable codes of conduct like not making unwanted sexual advances, not harming children and, most importantly, not giving your opinion unless asked for it. Basically, all you have to do to be a Satanist is not bother people.
If you do bother people, Satanists have a very reasonable, very pragmatic approach to dealing with annoyance. Namely, “if a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy.” On neutral turf, the formula requires the intermediate step of first asking the person to stop. However, if they don’t listen, Satanism offers the simple command to “destroy them.” Sounds reasonable to me.
Moreover, Satanism condemns “ignorance inspired violence,” supports sex and sexuality in all consenting forms, and, as Refinery29 notes, has a refreshingly normal approach to death, with “no elaborate belief system surrounding the afterlife” and a preference to “focus on how people lived, rather than how they died.”
3. They’re Not Afraid to Crack a Joke
When poet, author, and Twitter’s sad girl in residence Melissa Broder, a.k.a. So Sad Today, tweeted wondering if Satan would want to hook up with her, the Church was quick with a reply, saying, “There is no Satan. Or god. The universe is totally indifferent to us all. So that’s a firm maybe.”
The Church also isn’t opposed to throwing some shade now and then, quoting Slate in a recent tweet as saying, “For every Church of Satan, which did not cover up sexual abuse by its clergy, there is a Catholic Church that did.”
As Church founder, Anton LaVey himself, is quoted as saying, “Anyone without a sense of humor is too pretentious to be a good magician.” To recap, Satanism is about respecting yourself and others, enjoying life in the moment, and having a sense of humor.
If you can manage to scrounge up two hundred dollars, becoming a Satanist is a pretty painless way to terrorize your parents.