Against Satanic Panics > Human sacrifice

Human sacrifice today
Who is really doing it?
(Fringe adherents of some non-Abrahamic traditional religions, mostly)

by Diane Vera

Copyright © 2006 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved.

  1. Brief introduction
  2. Human sacrifice in India
  3. Human sacrifice in Africa
  4. The infamous 2001 murder of "Adam" in the U.K.
  5. Other cases - and scares - in the U.K. and Ireland
  6. Official bloodshed in the name of a god

  1. Brief introduction
  2. Human sacrifice is still practiced, alas, by an assortment of fringe cults in many parts of the world. And, to this day, "Satanic Ritual Abuse" scaremongers seize upon the existence of human sacrifice as evidence for their claims. However:

    1. With only very rare exceptions, human-sacrificers are not Satanists in even a very broad sense of the word "Satanist". Most are fringe practitioners of religions far older than Christianity, such as Hinduism and some African traditional religions. Some are adherents of syncretic folk blends of Christianity and older religions.
    2. These days, almost all religions, including Hinduism, African traditional religions, and the syncretic religions of the African diaspora, have repudiated human sacrifice for the most part. Those adherents who still do practice human sacrifice, or who have recently revived the practice, should not be considered representative of their respective religious traditions. They should be regarded as only a fringe.
    3. All the more so, those who commit violent crimes in the name of Satan should not be considered representative of Satanism. The vast majority of Satanists (even in a very broad sense of the word "Satanist") do not practice human sacrifice (at least not in the sense of actual physical murder, though some do believe they have the ability to cast death curses and that they may be justified in doing so under some circumstances). Furthermore, none of today's forms of Satanism have any provable direct lineage to any tradition older than the 1960's. (There did exist some older forms of Satanism, but no Satanists today can prove a direct lineage to them, as far as I am aware.) The longest-established known Satanist orthodoxy is LaVeyan Satanism, which has always rejected criminal activity in the name of Satan.
    4. Although there do exist some people who have committed violent crimes in the name of Satan (see my page on Tabloid prophecy fulfillers - Satanism's real-life criminal fringe: How should law-abiding Satanists respond?), there have also been many, many more false alarms (see my page of links on the Satanic Ritual Abuse scare).
    5. There is no evidence of a massive criminal conspiracy of Satanists. Nor is a conspiracy theory necessary in order to explain the reluctance of some police departments to investigate allegations of "Satanic crime." The vast number of false alarms is sufficient to explain any such reluctance.

    All these points are important to keep in mind - especially because, alas, it appears that human sacrifice may be on the rise these days, hopefully only temporarily.

    On this page I'll document some of the many examples of human sacrifice committed in today's world by non-Satanists. My point is that, when evidence of "ritual human sacrifice" is encountered, it should not automatically be assumed to be the work of a "Satanic cult." The vast majority of human sacrifices are performed by people of non-Satanist religions. But my point is not to vilify those other religions either. In all those religions, human sacrifice is practiced only by a fringe.

    Note: On this page I'm using the term "human sacrifice" in the strict sense of killing for the purpose of an offering to a god, or to gain some hoped-for magical benefit. If one uses the term "human sacrifice" in a looser sense - killing for any religious purpose, including holy wars - then one could say that human sacrifice is still quite commonplace, and the worst offenders are Christians and Muslims.

  3. Human sacrifice in India

  4. Human sacrifice in Africa
  5. Note:  The recent African human sacrifice cases should be regarded with at least a modicum of skepticism, because there have also been quite a few witchhunts in Africa lately. (See Witchhunts in Africa today on my page about The growing number of Christians of kinds which inherently fear demons, Satanists, witches, occultists, Pagans, and atheists.) Yet it is by no means implausible that at least some of the human sacrifice cases are genuine.

  6. The infamous 2001 murder of "Adam" in the U.K.
  7. Note: Since the murderer was never caught, we cannot be sure that the "Thames torso" was indeed a human sacrifice. However, the case has brought to light the reality that human sacrifice is indeed an ongoing concern of police departments in Africa, and that human sacrifice does take place in the context of some traditional African beliefs, albeit a fringe thereof.

  8. Other cases - and scares - in the U.K. and Ireland

  9. Official bloodshed in the name of a god
  10. Fortunately, human sacrifice is not very common today. Long gone are the days when human sacrifices were performed on an official basis by theocratic states.

    But, alas, other kinds of official bloodshed in the name of religion still do occur. Religious wars and persecutions are still not at all uncommon in various parts of the world.

    Christianity and Islam, in particular, both have a long history of religious wars and persecutions both of heretics and of people of other religions.

    Should all Christians be judged by the behavior of Crusade-era or Reformation-era churches and European governments, or by the more recent turmoil in Northern Ireland and Eastern Europe? Of course not.

    Similarly, all the more so, neither should all people of other religions be judged by the criminal behavior of fringe adherents of those religions.

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