Against Satanic Panics > Worldwide religious trends
The growing number of Christians of kinds which inherently fear demons, Satanists, witches, occultists, Pagans, and atheists
Why a new worldwide Satanic panic is likely, given worldwide religious trends
by Diane Vera
Copyright © 2006 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved.
- Introduction and brief summary
- Christian religious trends in the U.S.A.
- Worldwide Christian trends and their impact on the West
- The growing influence of Africa on World Christianity
- Christianity in Africa
- Christianity in Latin America
- Christianity in East Asia
- Christian religious trends in Europe
- The exorcism trend
- How can people of other religions respond to the inevitable Christian fears?
- Discussion about religious trends
- Introduction and brief summary
Current worldwide religious trends make it very likely that we'll see another Satanic panic soon. Most likely its main form will be something other than the "Satanic Ritual Abuse" (SRA) scare, which was pretty solidly discredited by the mid-1990's. But we'll likely see a mini-revival of the SRA scare too. Already, long-discredited SRA scaremongers have recently been receiving air time again.
Worldwide, the fundamentalist/evangelical/traditionalist wings of both Christianity and Islam have been growing like wildfire these past several decades. And the kinds of Christianity which have been growing the fastest are the kinds which see demons, demons everywhere.
Even here in the United States, fundamentalist/evangelical forms of Christianity have been growing at the expense of more moderate and liberal forms. The fastest-growing have been the Pentecostal/charismatic churches.
Even more so than in the United States, entecostal/charismatic churches are by far the fastest-growing form of Christianity in Africa and Asia too - and also in Latin America, where evangelical Protestantism, primarily the Pentecostal/charismatic variety thereof, has been growing like wildfire at the expense of Catholicism.
These trends have affected the more mainstream churches too. Within the international Anglican Communion, there is quite a bit of acrimony between liberals and traditionalists, with liberals predominating in the U.K. and in North America, whereas traditionalists and charismatics predominate in Africa and Asia. (Anglican joke: How many Anglicans does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Shhh!!! The verger is changing it now .... Don't mention change in front of the Nigerian archbishop!)
The Roman Catholic Church is affected too. As in the Anglican church, liberals are common in North America and in Western Europe, whereas conservatives, traditionalists, and charismatics predominate almost everywhere else in the world -- especially in Africa and Asia, where the church is growing.
As part of the growth of conservative, traditionalist, and charismatic forms of Christianity, there has been an explosion in the demand for Christian exorcism. And the growing preoccupation with demons leads inevitably to a renewed fear of occultism and non-Christian religions. It also leads to a general paranoia about demonic influence in secular culture, e.g. worries about the Harry Potter books.
Note: The articles linked on this page are written from a variety of points of view. Many are written by Christians. A listing on this page does not imply endorsement of the author's views.
- Christian religious trends in the U.S.A.
In the United States, the more liberal and middle-of-the-road "mainline" Protestant churches have lost members, whereas the more evangelical, "born-again" fundamentalist-leaning churches have grown to the point of replacing the "mainline" churches as American Protestantism's mainstream. Fastest-growing have been the Pentecostal and charismatic churches.
At the same time, the number of non-Christians has also increased, especially the number of people with no religion. (See Fastest-growing religious group: `None' by Mark O'Keefe, Religion News Service, USA, Jan. 9, 2004.)
The Catholic Church is not losing members despite the pedophilia scandals. It's losing some U.S.-born members, but these ex-members have been more than replaced by Catholic immigrants.
Below are web pages which document, from various points of view, the growth of evangelical Christianity here in the U.S.A.
- In Search of the Spiritual by Jerry Adler, Newsweek, Aug. 29 - Sept. 5, 2005 issue
- Reconfiguration of Protestantism in the U.S. on the website of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota
- Mainline Protestant churches no longer dominate NCC Yearbook’s list of top 25 U.S. religious bodies - March 30, 2005, on the website of the National Council of Churches, an ecumenical organization representing most of the leading "mainline" Protestant denominations and some Eastern Orthodox denominations.
- While mainline Protestants lose members, others are gaining them by John H. Adams, The Layman Online (Presbyterian), Monday, November 14, 2005
- Interview with Dr. William Weston: Evangelicalism's Growth and Seminary Trends, The Christian Post, Wednesday, Jun. 29, 2005
- Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance:
- Future Trends faced by U.S. Protestants
- Liberal-Conservative Divisions Within the Episcopal Church
- Internal Stresses within the Presybterian Church (U.S.A.)
- Religious Movements Homepage: Pentecostalism
- Pentecostals lead modest growth in U.S. church membership Associated Baptist Press, USA, Mar. 16, 2004
- Fiery Pentecostal spirit spreads into mainstream Christianity by Sharon Tubbs, in The Palm Beach Post, USA, Nov. 9, 2003
- Mainstreaming the Mainline: Methodist evangelicals pull a once 'incurably liberal' denomination back toward the orthodox center, Christianity Today, August 7, 2000
- Rasmussen Reports: 63% Believe Bible Literally True
- Flocks growing at religious colleges by Larry Keller, in The Palm Beach Post, USA, Jan. 2, 2004
- The Battle of Lexington and Wilmore: A look at the history of two Kentucky seminaries — one liberal, one evangelical — shows how evangelicals won the Protestant mainstream. by William 'Beau' Weston, Christianity Today, March 11, 2002
- Evangelicals Are a Growing Force in the Military Chaplain Corps by Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times, July 12, 2005 (other copies here and here
- Earthly Empires: How evangelical churches are borrowing from the business playbook, BusinessWeek online, May 23, 2005
- Conservative Group Amplifies Voice of Protestant Orthodoxy by Laurie Goodstein and David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, May 22, 2004
- Renewing Evangelicalism by Jin S. Kim, October 2004 (on the racial divide in U.S. Evangelicalism)
- Growing Hispanic population flocks to Pentecostal, evangelical churches by Sarah Linn, Associated Press, Aug. 24, 2003
- Asia Times Online articles by Spengler:
- What makes the US a Christian nation - Nov 30, 2004
- Power and the evangelical womb, on the growth of evangelical Christianity in the U.S.A. due in part to evangelicals having more children than do more secular folks - Nov 9, 2004
- Faith, fertility and American dominance (review of The Empty Cradle by Phillip Longman) - Sep 8, 2004
- The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party: Religious Institutions and Beliefs and Satan, on TheocracyWatch.org
- How the Evangelicals and Catholics Joined Forces by Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times, USA, May 30, 2004
- The 12 Tribes of American Politics: The religious groups that comprise the U.S. electorate, by John Green and Steven Waldman, Across Pacific e-Magazine
- A New Dark Age Begins by John Shelby Spong, July 27th, 2005
Worldwide Christian trends and their impact on the West
Religious trends in the United States are buttressed by the even more dramatic similar changes that are occurring worldwide.
Christianity has been growing rapidly in Africa and in parts of Asia. More than half the world's Christians now live in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Again, the fastest-growing forms of Christianity are the evangelical churches, especially the Pentecostal/charismatic churches.
In Latin America, which for several centuries was solidly Catholic with an admixture of traditional African and native American religions, Protestant evangelical Christianity has been growing at the expense of Catholicism. (Catholic conversion to evangelical Protestantism is also happening in Latin American communities here in the United States.)
Because more than half the world's Christians now live in the Third World, Christian religious trends in Third World countries do have an impact on what goes on here in the U.S.A. as well, both via immigration (including missionaries) and via international church politics.
The recent religious trends in the United States should not be blamed on (or credited to, depending on your point of view) foreign influences. But the above-discussed U.S. religious trends are certainly reinforced by Third World trends, even though the Third World trends are not the primary cause of the similar U.S. trends. So, we should not make the mistake of completely ignoring what's going on in the Third World, as too many of us are in the habit of doing.
- The Next Christianity by Philip Jenkins, originally published in The Atlantic Volume 290, No. 3 (October, 2002), about the recent explosive growth of the more fanatical forms of Christianity in non-Western countries.
A major flaw of Jenkins's article is that it underestimates the growth of fundamentalist/evangelical forms of Christianity here in the U.S.A. - largely homegrown, not just a result of immigration from Third World countries. Jenkins portrays Christianity in the U.S.A. as liberal, even though the liberal sector of Christianity has actually shrunk over the past several decades, while the more conservative sector has grown. Furthermore, here in the U.S.A., the political religious right wing is supported mainly by white people, as evidenced by its ties to Republican Party, which is dismissed as a white boys' club by most African Americans, whether American-born or immigrants. Jenkins's impressions of Christianity in the U.S.A. are apparently based on goings-on in the Catholic Church and in the so-called mainline denominations, which are the oldest Protestant denominations, but which have been shrinking. His portrayal of Western Christianity in general as liberal is more accurate for Western countries other than the U.S.A. Even in other Western countries, fundamentalist/evangelical Christianity has been growing, but not as dramatically as in the U.S.A.
Still, Jenkins's article is an excellent eye-opener on the growth of extreme forms of Christianity in other parts of the world.
- Below are articles discussing the book The Next Christendom : The Coming of Global Christianity by Philip Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University (paperback, on Amazon and Oxford Scholarship Online):
- Future Christianity Moving South and More Conservative Theologically? (excerpts from the Jenkins book)
- The Next Christianity, by Peter C. Phan, America: The National Catholic Weekly, February 3, 2003 (disagrees with Jenkins on some points but acknowledges he's right about "the spread of spiritual healing and exorcism, the practice of traditional devotions, the preservation of orthodoxy in faith and morals and the acceptance of the hierarchical structure of the church" as being characteristic of Roman Catholics in the Southern hemisphere).
- Global church: South, East & out of control (a U.S. Southern Baptist perspective) by Erich Bridges, Nov. 21, 2002
- Christianity Health Check: Though liberal Christianity is dying in the West, evangelical and charismatic faiths are flourishing in Africa, Asia and Latin America by Bob Harvey, Canada's Christian Community Online
- The New Religious World: Do You See It? (a United Pentecostal perspective) by Kent d Curry, October 21, 2002
- The Christian Future by Ross Douthat, Policy Review, February-March 2003.
- Review on About.com by Austin Cline, and About.com's Interview with Philip Jenkins, also apparently by Austin Cline.
An example of international church politics and its impact on Christianity in the U.S.A.: The international Anglican Communion and the controversy about homosexuality in the Episcopal Church (U.S.A.) and the Anglican Church of Canada.
- The Widening Division in the Anglican Communion: Ongoing Coverage, in Christianity Today, a prominent evangelical Christian magazine. Large collection of articles. Some other relevant articles, not listed on that page, are these:
- Orthodox U.S. Anglicans Plan to 'Reclaim the Episcopal Church' Through New Network by Ted Olsen, Christianity Today, Week of January 19, 2004
- Conservative Anglicans Elated and Cautious: Withdrawal request welcomed, but some wish statement had been stronger, by George Conger in Newry, Northern Ireland, Christianity Today, Week of February 21, 2005
- Schism (on the international Anglican schism) Integrity / Virginia
Other pages documenting the explosive growth of Christianity in Africa and Asia:
- Keynote address by Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, General Secretary, World Council of Churches - acknowledges general southward shift of center of nearly all branches of Christianity
See also sections 5, 6, and 7 of this page.
The growing influence of Africa on World Christianity
Because Christianity has grown so rapidly in Africa, African Christians are becoming more and more influential on the world Christian scene.
- How Africa's Churches Are Changing Christianity - Interview with filmmaker James Ault, by Laura Sheahen, on Beliefnet. Among other things, Ault notes that "Africans are assuming leadership positions in the world church and in this country. The president of the World Council of Churches is a Kenyan. The president of the largest theological school in the U.S., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School outside Chicago, is from the Ivory Coast. One of the pastors we filmed in Zimbabwe came to Atlanta, Georgia to study at ITC. He now is chair of the evangelism committee of a huge African-American United Methodist church, a very charismatic church, showing them new ways of doing things." This article also notes that "deliverance ministries" (exorcism) and fear of witchcraft have been a major factor in the growth of many churches in Africa.
- Articles on Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, who is also prefect of the Catholic Church's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Before the current Pope was elected, there was considerable speculation that Arinze would be the first African pope.
- White Smoke for a Black Pope? by Pamela Schaeffer, October 2000, on Beliefnet. Article includes some information on the growth of Christianity in Africa.
- Cardinal Francis Arinze - collection of links on Stanford University Libraries and Academic Resources
- Cardinal Arinze to Head CDW: Nigerian prelate brings unique perspective, experience, to the Holy See's worship congregation by Helen Hull Hitchcock, Adoremus Bulletin, October 2002
- Francis Arinze: First black pope? - by Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI, April 01, 2005. (Note that UPI, once a respectable international news wire service, is now owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, as also is the Washington Times these days.)
- Francis Cardinal Arinze - collection of links on a site devoted to "What the Cardinals Believe"
African missionaries to the West. Africa used to be a place where American and European churches sent missionaries. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Now some African-born church denominations, known as AIC's (African Independent Churches, or African Instituted Churches, or African Initiated Churches) are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A.
- The Church of the Lord (Aladura) Organisation (one of the largest AIC's) - site includes an article Remissionization - "Mission Reversed" about African missionaries to Europe
- African Missionary Activity at Home and Overseas by David Killingray, Emeritus Professor of History, Goldsmiths College, London, 15 March 2005 lecture at Oxford Centre for Mission Studies.
- Religious fervor spills over into U.S.: Nigeria-based church has opened more than 200 American parishes in a decade by Rachel Zoll, Associated Press, May 7, 2006
More about African immigrant churches in Europe and the U.S.A.:
- Signs of the Spirit in the City, by Mark R. Gornik, City Seminary of New York, April 27, 2005, Spring Institute Proceedings
- Presentations on Black Majority Churches in Britain, including an Overview of Indigenous African Churches in Britain, on a website about World Council of Churches consultations with Pentecostals
- The Significance of the African Christian Diaspora in Europe and its Interaction with Africa, Report from Dr. Roswith Gerloff Department of Theology & Religious Studies University of Leeds, England, in conjunction with W.E.B. DuBois Institute Harvard University Cambridge, MA, Newsletter of the Afro-America Religious History Group of the History Group of the America Academy of Religion
- Christian Pluralism and the Quest for Identity in African Initiated Churches in Germany, by Benjamin Simon (University of Heidelberg), Center for Studies on New Religions
- Africans have higher morals than Europeans, says British cleric by Henry Umahi, Nigeria Daily Sun, Tuesday, July 5, 2005
- Black Immigrant Churches in the Republic of Ireland, on the website of the Irish Council of Churches
The Anglican church's international controversy about gays, already discussed on pages linked further up on this page. See especially the following articles in Christianity Today:
- Christian History Corner: The African Lion Roars in the Western Church By Chris Armstrong, week of June 23, 2003
- Out of Africa: The leader of nearly 18 million Nigerian Anglicans challenges the West's theology and control by Douglas LeBlanc, July 2005
Note, however, that Africa is not quite the uniform bastion of social conservativism that some articles on this topic portray. Social attitudes, including attitudes toward gays, do vary somewhat from one part of Africa to another, and are in a state of flux in some places. For example, South Africa's highest court has recently ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. News stories here:
- South African Appeal Court Approves Same Sex Marriage - on About.com, December 01, 2004
- South Africa to have gay weddings, on BBC News site, Thursday, 1 December 2005
Nevertheless it does seem that Africans tend to be, on the whole, more socially conservative than many Westerners.
Other African influence on world Christianity:
- The Influence of African Scholars on Biblical Studies: An evaluation by Nancy R. Heisey, Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 101 (July 1998) 35-48
One trend buttressed by African influence is the rising popularity of exorcism in both the United States and Europe. This trend should not be blamed solely or even primarily on African influences, but African influences are certainly reinforcing it.
Christianity in Africa
Given the rising influence of African Christianity, it would behoove us to learn a bit about African Christianity. Below are links to relevant sites I've found:
- African churches in general:
- African Christianity Homepage maintained by Neil Lettinga, who teaches at Bethel University, an evangelical Christian university in St. Paul, Minnesota.
- Christianity in Africa on Exploring Africa
- Africa - large collection of articles in the evangelical magazine Christianity Today, including Debate Continues on Incorporating Animal Sacrifices in Worship by Cedric Pulford, Week of October 23, 2000, and Human Sacrifice Redux by Obed Minchakpu in Jos, December 2004. (On a related note, see News tracker : Ritual Killing on ReligionNewsBlog.com, including Pastor arrested after death of child, SAPA-DPA, May 30, 2005.)
- South Africa: International Religious Freedom Report 2005 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State
- Evangelical Sects, Catholics Vie for African Souls, by Silvia Aloisi, Reuters, UK, Apr. 13, 2005
AIC's (African Independent Churches, a.k.a. African Inititiated Churches, a.k.a. African Instituted Churches):
- AIC's page in the section on Christianity in Africa South of the Sahara, on the African Christianity Homepage
- African Instituted (Independent) Churches Article on the website of the World Council of Churches, from the revised edition of the Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement published jointly by the World Council of Churches and the Wm. Eerdmans in 2002.
- African Initiated Churches and More on AICs on the website of the Southern African Missiological Society, site maintained by Steve Hayes
- African Initiated Churches and Separatism & Independence in Churches on the history course page of Wallace G. Mills
- An African way: the African Independent churches, Christianity Today, January 1, 1986
- Challenges and Prospects for Research into African Initiated Churches in Southern Africa by Allan Anderson. Paper read at the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World, University of Edinburgh, January 1996, and published in Missionalia 23:3, November 1995 (283-294)
- Pluriformality and Contextuality in African Initiated Churches by Revd Dr Allan Anderson, Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham, B29 6HQ, UK
- The Globalization of Pentecostalism by Allan Anderson, Professor of Theology, Centre for Missiology and World Christianity, University of Birmingham
- African Pentecostalism and the Ancestors: Confrontation or Compromise? by Allan Anderson
- Postgraduate Programme in World Pentecostalism, School of Mission and World Christianity, Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham, England, U.K.
Witchhunts in Africa today:
- Case Study: The European Witch-Hunts, c. 1450-1750 and Witch-Hunts Today
- Witch Hunts in Africa
- Witchcraft in Modern Africa as virtualised boundary conditions of the kinship order by Wim van Binsbergen
- Steve Hayes on African Witchcraft: Christian Responses to Witchcraft and Sorcery
- A Fear of Vampires Can Mask a Fear of Something Much Worse by Ralph Blumenthal, The New York Times, Dec. 30, 2002 - about a vampire panic in Malawi
- Angola witchcraft's child victims, BBC News, Wednesday, 13 July, 2005
- My page, here on this site, about Accusations against the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) in Zambia (Africa)
- My page, here on this site, about "Satanism" scares at girls' schools in Malawi (Africa)
- Thousands of child 'witches' turned on to the streets to starve: Kinshasa sects make fortunes from exorcisms by Richard Dowden, The Observer (U.K.), Sunday February 12, 2006
- Congo’s Churches and Child Witches and Abuse of “Child Witches” in Congo Highlighted, 10 April 2006, on the blog Bartholomew's notes on religion
Note that witchhunts in Africa are not just Christian. Witchhunts are very much a part of many traditional African and other non-Christian cultures as well. And, when people from these cultures convert to Christianity, many of them are likely to become Christians with a witchhunt mentality - although, fortunately, it appears that there are also quite a few African Christians who oppose the witchhunts.
Witchhunts tend to be especially common in places undergoing rapid and destabilizing social changes, as is the case in Africa today (and as was the case in Reformation-era Europe, where most of the witchhunts took place in countries along the border between Catholic and Protestant zones).
Christianity in Latin America
In Latin America, a major trend is Catholics converting to Protestant evangelical Christianity, primarily to Pentecostal/charismatic churches. Many of these churches heavily emphasize exorcism ("deliverance ministry") and "spiritual warfare." In some places, notably in parts of Mexico, there has been quite a bit of Catholic-vs.-Protestant mob violence.
The specific countries mentioned below are only a sampling. Protestant evangelical Christianity is also growing in plenty of other Latin American countries besides the ones mentioned below.
- Latin America in general
- In Latin America, a Religious Turf War, by Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times, April 15, 2005
- Protestants’ surge in Latin America worries cardinal, Associated Press, via KansasCity.com, USA, Oct. 9, 2005
- RITA News Articles Index - various articles on religion in Latin America
Christianity in Mexico
- Protestant church membership increasing in Mexico by Alfredo Corchado, The Dallas Morning News, via The Post and Courier, USA, Jan. 4, 2004
- In Mexico, Roman Catholic Church's Influence Wanes as Evangelicalism Grows bMary Jordan, Washington Post Foreign Service, Tuesday, April 5, 2005; Page A01
- One Faith Fits All -- or Else by Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2005
- Protestantism and modernity: the implications of religious change in contemporary rural Oaxaca by Toomas Gross (University of Tartu, Estonia)
- Mexico - collection of articles in the evangelical magazine Christianity Today, mainly about persecution of Protestants. (Of course, these articles are written from a Protestant point of view.)
- Islam Gains Toehold in Mexico's Zapatista Country by Alistair Bell
Christianity in Argentina
- The Awesome Argentina Revival: Lessons in Evangelism and Spiritual Warfare from Argentina by Peter Wagner edited by Chris Simpson and David Little. (Written from an evangelical Christian point of view - note the emphasis on fighting against demons. However, other evangelical Christians have criticized this sort of "strategic level spiritual warfare" both as un-Biblical and as lacking in evidence that it really works.)
- Argentina Christianity on Europa World Plus - see especially Argentina Protestant Churches
Christianity in Brazil
- Brazil - collection of articles in the evangelical magazine Christianity Today. See especially Brazil's Surging Spirituality by Kenneth D. MacHarg, December 4, 2000.
- An Assessment of the Interreligious Situation in Brazil by Otávio Velho, World Council of Churches
- Brazil's Priests Use Song and Dance To Stem Catholic Church's Decline by Monte Reel, Washington Post Foreign Service, Thursday, April 14, 2005; Page A01
Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), a rapidly-growing, wealthy, very secretive international Pentecostal-style sect born in Brazil in 1977. Its church services include mass exorcisms, and in general the UCKG places a lot of emphasis on fighting against Satan and demons. Oddly enough, in some parts of Africa, it has been accused of practicing "Satanism and human sacrifice." For details, see my separate page on Accusations against the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG).
Christianity in East Asia
Although Christianity has been growing rapidly in parts of Asia, especially in China and South Korea, it's hard to find much information about this trend on the Internet. Nearly all of what little information I found was from evangelical Christian sources. The Western secular media have not been paying much attention, for the most part.
I did manage to find a bunch of secular news stories about China's semi-underground "House Church" movement preserved on the moderate evangelical Christian site ReligionNewsBlog.com. But I found hardly any information at all on secular websites, which is surprising, given the potential dramatic consequences in terms of world politics, especially in China.
- Christianity in East Asia in general
- Asia - large collection of articles in the evangelical magazine Christianity Today
- In search of an Asian path by Todd Crowell, AsiaWeek.com - Concise overview of 20th history of Christianity in various parts of Asia, with links to related articles
- Asian Theology - about various Christian attempts to evangelize Asians
- East from Jerusalem: Christianity in Premodern Asia - course taught by Stephen Shoemaker at the University of Oregon
Christianity in China
- China - large collection of articles in the evangelical magazine Christianity Today. Includes many articles on China's rapidly-growing underground "House Church" movement.
- News tracker : China on ReligionNewsBlog.com
- Onward, Christian Soldiers by Sarah Schafer, Newsweek International Edition, "May 10 issue" (no year given, evidently no later than 2005)
- History of Christianity in China, Los Angeles Chinese LEarning Center - complains about the lack of a good, objective web article on this topic - I agree
- China Contours Newsletter Archive
- History of Early Christianity in China, on the "Orthodoxy in China" site
- Perspectives & Analysis On China: Cults on the "China for Jesus" site
- 30 Chinese Christian Leaders Abducted and All of the Kidnapped Chinese House Church Leaders Freed, about the "Eastern Lightning" sect in China, on Worthy News
- Lightning from the East: A Satanic Cult Exposed by Tony Lambert, China Insight Newsletter - September/October 2001 (about the "Eastern Lightning" sect, which is clearly not Satanist)
Christianity in Korea
- Modern Day Christianity in Korea and Its Historical Background by Hachung Chung
- Inter Faith Dialogue and Christian Mission in Korea by Rev Dr Guen Seok Yang (Anglican Church of Korea), Network for Inter Faith Concerns
- Christianity in Korea on the website of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota
- A History of Christianity in Korea: From Its Troubled Beginning to Its Contemporary Success by Andrew E. Kim
- Korea’s Dynamic Christianity – Reflections on an Explosive Revival - Martin Roth Christian Commentary
- Ethnic Korean Churches Thrive in Canada by Joe Couto, Canada's Christian Community Online
- Shamanistic Influences In Korean Pentecostal Christianity: An Analysis by Jeremy Reynalds, spring 2000
- And, of course, no survey of Korean Christianity would complete without a mention of Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, a controversial worldwide Christian sect that originated in South Korea and is generally considered to be quite heretical. A Google search will yield many pages about it, which I won't bother to list here.
Christianity in the Philippines
- Religion in the Philippines by Jack Miller, for the Asia Society's Focus on Asian Studies, Fall 1982
- Philippines - collection of articles in the evangelical magazine Christianity Today
Christianity in Singapore
- Homosexuality: How the economics and politics of Singapore have shaped the Anglican Diocese and its role in the Province of South East Asia by The Rev. You-Leng L. Lim, 1998 (includes info about the growth of charismatic Christianity in Singapore)
- Singapore churches - alphabetical list
- Singapore Christian web - listing of Singaporean Christian websites
Christian religious trends in Europe
This section unfinished. More information to be added later.
- Christian trends in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, it appears that Christians are becoming a minority. Most people are nonreligious. Christianity is shrinking, and various non-Christians are growing. On the other hand, among those who are Christian, the majority are evangelical, even within the Church of England. Also, a very high proportion of the U.K.'s Christians these days are African immigrants. And there have been allegations that some (though certainly not all or even most) African immigrant churches may be involved in criminal activity including human sacrifice.
- Evangelicals poised to take over the Church by Jonathan Petre, Daily Telegraph, UK, Aug. 25, 2003 - about the increasing number of evangelical Christians active in the Church of England
- Christianity faces bleak future in UK: Survey by Shyam Bhatia, Rediff, India, Sep. 9, 2003
- Study refutes faith in silent majority by Tim Radford, The Guardian, UK, Aug. 16, 2005
- The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Consequences of De-Christianization - London, 13 Nov. 2004 (Zenit, a Catholic news agency). Begins by mentioning the British Navy's recognition of a LaVeyan Satanist's right to practice his religion, and then proceeds into typical religious right wing fear-mongering about the alleged dangers of de-Christianization.
- God is Black by Tony Snow
- Children trafficked for sacrifice, says report by Simon Freeman, Times Online, UK, June 16, 2005, and Met calms fears of child killings by Hugh Muir, The Guardian, UK, June 18, 2005. These articles report on a claim that some African immigrant churches have been involved in the practice of human sacrifice.
- Ten Reasons to Reject Kingdom-Dominion Teachings by Tricia Tillin. Notes that Dominionist/Restoration theology (i.e. advocacy of theocracy, complete with "Biblical civil law" including death penalty by stoning for "idolators," "blasphemers," and homosexuals, among others) has gotten widespread amongst fundies in the U.K.
Information on other European countries will be added later.
The exorcism trend
The fastest-growing churches, worldwide, have been the Pentecostal/charismatic churches. And many evangelical churches (even some non-Pentecostal, non-charismatic evangelical churches) have "deliverance ministries" which perform exorcisms galore.
Exorcism has become commonplace even in the United States. It is even more popular in those parts of the world where Christianity is growing the fastest. In Africa, the fastest-growing churches are the African Independent Churches, some of which make most of their converts by claiming to be better at protecting people from malicious witchcraft than the local African traditional religions are. The traditional gods are, of course, denounced as demons who must be exorcised. There is a similarly heavy demand for exorcism among new converts to Christianity in Asia.
One reason is because exorcism is also popular in the traditional religions from which the people are converting. Exorcism is, in fact, commonplace in many religions around the world, as an aspect of traditional healing.
Like other forms of Christianity, the Roman Catholic church, too, is growing fastest in Africa and Asia, where there is heavy demand for protection from demons and from sorcery. Exorcism is in heavy demand in Europe too, even though Europe's Christians tend not to be fanatical at all. No wonder the Vatican's university, the "Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorium," now teaches a twice-yearly course on exorcism.
At least the Catholic Church is cautious about performing exorcisms. For a long time the Catholic Church has insisted that people seeking exorcism should first see a medical doctor and a psychiatrist to determine whether their problems can be treated by more mundane means. Recently, the Catholic Church has also begun training its priests to recognize symptoms of illnesses that are sometimes confused with demon possession.
Protestant evangelical deliverance ministries tend not to be anywhere nearly as cautious. And there are plenty of Protestant evangelical deliverance ministries right here in the U.S.A. and even in Canada.
The ever-growing number of Christian exorcists and exorcism-seekers, worldwide, will almost inevitably lead to a renewed fear of all kinds of occultism - and to a renewed fear of anything even vaguely related to occultism (e.g. popular children's literature such as the Harry Potter books) - because involvement in the occult is believed to be one of the main ways a person gets to be possessed by demons. Note: If you're an occultist or a Pagan, explaining that you're not a Satanist will not be sufficient to get you off the hook in these Christians' eyes. Their theology requires them to believe that you are dealing with demons even if you don't revere Satan.
For documentation of the exorcism trend, see my page of links on Exorcism, "spiritual warfare," and anti-occultism.
How can people of other religions respond to the inevitable Christian fears?
As amply shown on this page, the fastest-growing forms of Christianity are its most demon-obsessed forms - which, based on their theology, inherently must regard as "demonic" all kinds of occultism and all religions involving gods other than the Abrahamic one. If you're a Pagan or occultist, telling these Christians you're not a Satanist will not relieve you of demonic stigma, even if they fully understand that you don't worship Satan. Nor will it suffice to trumpet the "harm none" part of the Wiccan Rede. Even if they believe you when you tell them you would use occult powers only for beneficial purposes, the source of those powers is still necessarily "demonic" in their eyes. At best you'll succeed in convincing them that you are more "deceived" than Satan-worshipers are about the "real" source of whatever spiritual powers you call upon. That is, assuming you've managed to convince them you're not a deceiver yourself.
Of course, the ever-growing number of demon-obsessed Christians will almost inevitably spark a renewed paranoia about Satanism too, as well as paranoia about occultism and Paganism. In connection with the Catholic Church's new exorcism course, Vatican spokespeople are often quoted as being worried about a recent growth of Satanism in Italy. And, of course, they confuse Satanism in general with the antics of the "Beasts of Satan" and other violent criminal fringe groups and individuals, who are not representative of Satanists in general.
Don't hold your breath waiting for the Catholic Church to modernize in any way. It won't, at least not within the lifetime of anyone living today. Not only does the Church now have a very conservative Pope, but, given the feelings of a great many Catholics worldwide, especially in those countries where the Church is growing, it clearly would not be in the Church's best interests to modernize any further than it has modernized already. On the contrary, the Church is far more likely to move in a traditionalist direction.
However, since the Catholic Church does pride itself on scholarship, it might be possible to persuade the Catholic hierarchy to try to get its facts straight regarding Satanism. Likewise, if past history is any indication, it will probably be possible to convince at least some fundamentalist/evangelical Protestants to try to get their facts straight too. (The tall tales of Mike Warnke, the original professional Christian "ex-Satanist," were debunked by two fundamentalist Christian investigative reporters, Mike Hertenstein and Jon Trott.)
Similarly, although it will not be possible for Pagans and occultists to get rid of the "demonic" stigma that will inevitably surround them in the eyes of more and more Christians, it nevertheless probably will remain possible to counteract at least some of the sensationalism and panic, and it probably will remain possible for Pagans to set the record straight on what their beliefs are - even if those beliefs are perceived as spiritual deception. Although Pagans and occultists will always be seen as a threat, the magnitude of the threat can still be greatly lessened, in even the most fanatical Christians' eyes, by setting the material facts straight. There is a big practical difference, for example, between believing that one's neighbor poses only a spiritual threat and believing that one's neighbor is out to kidnap Christian babies and eat them.
It is in the enlightened best interests of Pagans to counteract sensationalism about all minority religions, including Satanism. Otherwise, a panic about Satanists will inevitably make Christians more paranoid about occultists and Pagans too. Amongst conservative, traditionalist, and fundamentalist Christians, paranoia about Satanists leads inevitably to paranoia about demons, which in turn leads inevitably to paranoia about all people who are believed to deal with demons, knowingly or unknowingly - and this, in the eyes of more and more Christians worldwide, necessarily does include all occultists and Pagans, regardless of the contents of an occultist's or Pagan's belief system. Another way in which most forms of modern Paganism, occultism, and the New Age movement are necessarily tied to Satanism in even the more knowledgeable conservative Christians' eyes is the following, as stated in Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the "New Age", an official Vatican statement by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, 2003 (another copy here): "Mind-expanding techniques are meant to reveal to people their divine power .... This exaltation of humanity overturns the correct relationship between Creator and creature, and one of its extreme forms is Satanism."
See also the following pages on this site:
- To Pagans and occultists - Why it behooves Pagans and occultists to oppose a Satanic panic
- Promoting religious tolerance
Discussion about religious trends
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