This article is copyrighted © 2006 Geifodd ap Pwyll.
During the 1980’s, a severe epidemic of cultural paranoia broke out all across the continental United States. This paranoia would later become called both "the Satanism Scare" and "the Satanic Panic." The hysteria centered around an intense fear of "Satanic Ritual Abuse," a term which has been applied to the alleged systematic abuse of children as a part of Satanic worship. In the years before the turn of the millennium, several cases of "Satanic Ritual Abuse" were brought to public attention all across the country. People were being told by psychiatrists, law enforcement officials and television personalities that a top-secret international conspiracy of Satanists was ultimately responsible for the majority of child abuse, murders and/or kidnappings that occurred within the United States. During this time frame, many innocent people were accused of being "Devil worshipers" who participated in this unholy plot to deflower and corrupt the youth of America. Indeed, "the Satanic Panic" was essentially another Salem Witch hysteria -- except it happened not in some Puritanical village of the 1600’s, but in "civilized" twentieth-century America (as well as in other English speaking countries, including Great Britain, Canada and Australia).
The idea of Satan worshipers murdering children is not a novel concept; in fact it goes back as far as the Middle Ages at least. Late-medieval witchfinder manuals such as The Malleus Maleficarum propagated the common belief that "witches," who were defined as servants of Satan, would drink the blood of unbaptized infants and devour the bodies of infants. It was also believed that they would convert the bodies of children into soup, or bake them in ovens, or convert their bones into ritual instruments. It was even claimed that Satanists would offer their own children to Demons. In actuality, such "counter-subversion" ideologies had been implemented against the Jews and even Christians in the past (prior to the ascent of Christianity as a major political power in Western Europe). However, after the Protestant Reformation, it became almost common practice for people to become accused of being witches and having committed vile acts such as these, with little to no incriminating evidence at all. Such accused persons would subsequently be tortured and/or executed horribly. This practice of using imagined criminal deviancy to persecute others would become even more intensified when such groups as the Puritans would begin to take hold over the British government. And it is from this practice that our modern term "witchhunt" is derived.
During the 1600's, when the Americas were becoming colonized by European immigrants, the witchhunts would continue. Perhaps the most famous cases of witch hysteria in North America are the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. The hysteria began when a Puritanical preacher named Samuel Parris was invited to serve as the village minister for Salem, Massachussets in 1688. Parris and his family, including a slave woman named Tituba, subsequently moved to the village of Salem. While living there, Parris' daughter Elizabeth and another girl named Abigail Williams began to behave strangely, as exhibited by such behavior as screaming, seizures, and trance-like states. Shortly thereafter, several other girls in Salem Village began to exhibit such behavior. Local physicians were unable to determine any physical cause for these apparent symptoms, and it was therefore concluded that they were being tormented by means of witchcraft. After being pressured to identify the "witches" who were working their magic against them, the girls identified three women, one of whom was the slave woman Tituba. Tituba, in an attempt to gain the favor of the Salem authorities, went so far as to testify that there was an entire conspiracy of witches working to implement a diabolical plan in Salem, and thus did the Salem witch hysteria explode.
Shortly thereafter, other people of the town began to claim that they were the victims of harmful witchcraft. The witchhunt escalated, and many people became accused, including several faithful churchgoers and people of high standing in the community. Those that were accused were jailed and put on trial, based on flimsy and intangible evidence (such as "witchmarks" on their bodies and the reactions of the afflicted girls, who claimed to be able to see the "spectres" of those tormenting them). And while some of the accused would die miserable and lonely deaths in their respective cells, others would be made to die at the gallows. The hysteria would not come to an end until the Governor of Massachussetts would decree that reliance on "spectral" and intangible evidence would no longer be allowed in trials.
Such witchhunts were inspired by, and contributed to, the earlier medieval beliefs about witchcraft and Devil worship, which claimed that practitioners of such would commonly torment and/or abuse young children in various ways. These beliefs would also lead to the witchhunts of the 1980's, which would subsequently become known as the "Satanic Panic" or the "Satanic Ritual Abuse" scare.
The myth of Satanic witches murdering children in organized cults exploded into the consciousness of American pop culture with the 1968 release of Roman Polanski's film Rosemary's Baby, and the 1976 release of Richard Donner's film The Omen. In these films, worshipers of Satan are portrayed as taking great delight in the murder of young infants. During the 1970's, popular myths began to circulate among fundamentalist Christian congregations that an organized network of Satanists existed throughout the United States, and that this network was dedicated to working harmful acts of malice against children. These myths were most particularly tied to Halloween festivities, concerning the handing out of candy apples with razor blades hidden inside of them, or candy coated with rat poison. To this day, fundamentalist propagandists such as the comic artist Jack Chick continue to spread these rumors about Satanist practices on Halloween.
But the "Satanic Panic" did not really begin until 1980, with the publication of a book entitled Michelle Remembers. This book was a written account of various therapy sessions administered to a woman named Michelle Smith by a psychiatrist named Dr. Lawrence Pazder. Part of Smith’s therapy involved putting her under hypnosis, as a means of uncovering the cause of her mental disturbances. During the therapy sessions, Smith began to recount episodes of a horrific childhood, in which she had been an unwilling participant in a murderous "Satanic cult." She claimed that she had been systematically abused by the people in this cult, including her own parents, and that various acts of inhuman decadence were committed by the group in the name of Satan -- including, but not limited to blood drinking, animal sacrifice, and murder. Smith also claimed that she had been visited by the Devil face to face, and that she had been rescued from the cult through the personal intervention of both the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ himself.
One would think that a trained professional in the practice of psychiatry would naturally consider such revisited "memories" to be pathological delusions. However, Pazder was so utterly convinced of the reality of Smith’s claims that he helped her to write a book on the subject -- Michelle Remembers -- in order to "warn" the world about this intergenerational cult of Satanic murderers and child abusers. What is particularly interesting about the developments between Dr. Pazder and his "survivor" patient is that the two of them decided to divorce their respective partners and to marry each other, soon after the publication proved successful.
It would seem that very few people chose to give Michelle Remembers the skeptical analysis that it really deserved, at least at the time of its initial publication. Pazder and Smith even received the support of the Roman Catholic Church when they were invited to the Vatican. They also received plenty of support from fundamentalist Protestant Christians, whose political influence had been steadily growing ever since the 1970’s. The majority of Christian readers did not seem to find very many of Smith’s claims to be even remotely absurd. In fact, they took it as proof that Satan was not only a real and active force in the human world, but that any and all who followed Him were completely devoted to the enterprise of molesting and murdering children. It was even believed that Satanists would do these things to their very own children. What resulted soon after the publication of Michelle Remembers was the birth of an army of modern-day crusaders who were devoted to fighting against "Satan’s underground" for the glory of Christ.
Since the more literalist Christians believe that the Bible is the infallible "Word of God," they take the existence of Satan as an objective fact. And because they believe that Satan’s purpose is to continually mock and invert "God" (Jehovah), then they also accept that Satan would have His own organization of followers, who are dedicated to performing various acts of "evil" -- just as the Christian God has his church. When the book Michelle Remembers finally found its place on bookstore shelves, it required very little else for literalist Christian readers to interpret the book’s claims as solid facts. And if Michelle Remembers was not enough for some religious zealots, its critical success also invited the publications of several other books that made similar claims, such as Satan’s Underground by Lauren Stratford and He Came to Set the Captives Free by Rebecca Brown. Each of these "true" accounts were based upon the "repressed memories" of mental patients who came to be known as "Satanic Survivors."
What is particularly interesting is that there were no documented cases of "Satanic Ritual Abuse" (SRA) prior to the publication of Michelle Remembers in 1980. All documented cases occurred afterward, and very little hard evidence has ever been discovered to substantiate the outrageous claims that are made in these cases. But this did not distress very many Evangelical Christians in the very least. One such Christian, a man named Mike Warnke, claimed to be an ex-Satanic High Priest who had been directly involved in the "Satanic Ritual Abuse conspiracy." Warnke had written a book in 1972 entitled The Satan Seller, in which he claimed to have led over 1,500 other Satanists in the area of San Bernardino, California. According to this publication, Warnke was a homeless child who kept drifting from family to family until he was initiated into a supposedly Satanic cult. After joining the cult, he became addicted to various drugs and was made a High Priest who commanded over followers in at least three different cities. He also claimed to have been granted such authority by none other than the infamous Illuminati itself. And then, after becoming too dependent on drugs, Warnke was supposedly kicked out of the cult. He would subsequently join the army, and while in the service, Warnke decided to convert to Christ.
After becoming a born-again Christian, Warnke soon became recognized among the Evangelical Christian community as a prominent authority on the occult and witchcraft. He was so highly esteemed that law enforcement officials actually asked him for assistance in criminal investigations when the "Satanic Ritual Abuse" scare actually began in the 1980’s. Warnke would also appear on such television shows as "20/20," "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "Larry King Live," "Focus on the Family" and Pat Robertson’s "The 700 Club." In each program Warnke was encouraged to share his "expert knowledge" on the practices of Satanism, and hardly any of his claims were ever questioned; the need for their validation was never even brought up. Warnke pitched in with the "Satanic Survivors" crowd and reinforced their claims about the supposed Satanist conspiracy to an already increasingly paranoid public. Although it has since been proven that Warnke’s claims about being a Satanist were essentially nothing more than a case of colorful storytelling, Warnke is still loved and respected by many Christians today.
The aforementioned television shows were also quite instrumental in furthering the Satanism Scare of the 1980’s. Most particularly influential was a program entitled "The Devil Worshippers" which aired on the news program, "20/20." The show aired one evening in 1985 and featured "Perverse, hideous acts that defy belief. Suicides, murders and the ritualistic slaughter of children and animals." Naturally not a single piece of information in the program was verifiable in any sense, but many viewers became unthinkingly convinced of "the truth." Before too long, other television shows, including everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Sally Jesse Raphael, would showcase their own specials about "Devil worship" and the criminal tendencies of its secretive practitioners. Perhaps the one talk show host who was the most influential in furthering the paranoia was none other than Geraldo Rivera. Between the years 1987 and 1995, Rivera had at least four programs which were dedicated to the subject, and in each one Rivera made claims like the following:
Rivera’s programs featured law enforcement officials who had become designated "Satanism experts," and who essentially took what they "knew" about Satanism from such self-appointed authorities as Mike Warnke. Claims were made left and right that the invisible Satanist network was responsible for thousands upon thousands of ritualistic child murders and disappearances every year. One would think that if such a number of people were being ritualistically slaughtered every year, some amount of hard evidence would turn up somewhere -- such as bodies. But the fact of the matter is that no such evidence has ever been found, even after extensive investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Yet the claims were still unthinkingly accepted by many viewers, who became absolutely convinced of the horrifying "reality" simply because Rivera had featured serious-looking people from law enforcement in his program."Estimates are that there are over one million Satanists in this country…The majority of them are linked in a highly organized, very secretive network. From small towns to large cities, they have attracted police and FBI attention to their Satanic ritual child abuse, child pornography and grisly Satanic murders. The odds are that this is happening in your town."
Shortly after Rivera’s first special aired, the town of Jamestown, New York became immersed in the paranoia. People in the town began to believe that a number of teenagers who had held a Halloween party in an abandoned warehouse were actually involved in a secretive Satanic cult, and that they had been sacrificing animals at the party. The religious community, outraged, began flooding the local newspaper with letters explaining their concern about the growth of "Satanic activity" in the area. The humane society began receiving phone call after phone call, each informing them of various dogs and cats that had been ritually slaughtered. People actually began to walk the streets of the town at night, ready to beat up any "Satanists" that were supposedly running around after sundown. The kids who had been at the Halloween party also received various threatening phone calls. After an extensive investigation, it was found that there was no Satanic cult running around in Jamestown, and indeed there never had been. The teenagers in the abandoned warehouse were no more than kids with strange clothes and haircuts, and no evidence of any animal mutilation was ever found.
This was not the last time that Jamestown would become so immersed in the Satanism scare. Only a few months later, on Friday the 13th in May of 1988, the scare erupted again when news got around the town that a Satanic cult was planning to kidnap, rape and murder a blonde-haired blue-eyed girl as part of their "Satanic holiday." People who did not actually believe the story at first were eventually convinced by the belief their loved ones demonstrated, and soon the entire town fell to panic. Yet the sun rose on Saturday the 14th, and not a single blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl had gone missing or turned up dead.
Although it is true that no substantial evidence has been found to prove the existence of the "secret Satanist network" (let alone the number of murders that said network is supposed to have committed each year), this has not stopped several people from looking for such evidence, and indeed finding it -- in some of the wildest stretches of the imagination ever demonstrated. Fundamentalist Christian leaders would go so far as to accuse children’s cartoon shows -- such as Masters of the Universe, The Smurfs and My Little Pony -- as being Satanic propaganda tools, used to indoctrinate the minds of children with an interest in the occult. Role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons were also considered suspect; it was believed that by participating in such games, children were being opened to the demonic powers of Hell, and were thusly driven to acts of suicide and violence. Several case studies have been made of how playing Dungeons and Dragons can effect the minds of children, and the psychiatrists who conducted such experiments seem to agree that the only thing of which the game is guilty is enlarging the imaginations of children. No evidence has ever been found that participating in such games will lead a child to suicide.
Perhaps the one thing that has received the most attention from Christians as a "tool of the Devil" is rock and roll music, or more specifically the heavy metal subgenre. The term "heavy metal" was first coined in the late 1960’s when a British rock band named Black Sabbath began rising in popularity. Featuring the lead singer Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath was distinguished from earlier rock bands due to its use of gothic and infernal imagery in its music. Whereas previous bands mostly fixated on "boy meets girl" lyrical content, Black Sabbath was the first "dark" sounding rock band that talked about the Devil, demonic possession, resurrection from the dead and witchcraft. It would seem that for a time the members of Black Sabbath possessed a passing interest in Satanism and the occult, but soon after the release of their first album, they became accused by Evangelical Christians of writing such music in order to seduce youth into worshiping the Devil. When this came to pass, singer Ozzy Osbourne and the other members quickly began to change their tune, claiming that the reason for their Satanic lyrical content was to present a warning against the practice of the occult, rather than an endorsement of such. Nevertheless, Black Sabbath’s infernal, bluesy guitar riffs and "evil" lyrics would inspire an entire generation of rock musicians to follow suit, as well as to continually press the envelope further and further.
Bands such as England’s Venom and Denmark’s Mercyful Fate not only chose to continue the tradition of referencing Satan in their lyrics, but they even went so far as to openly sympathize with Him -- giving Christians all the more reason to condemn heavy metal as a tool for the Satanic recruitment of youth. In the case of Jamestown, New York, it was strongly believed by the local religious community that heavy metal music had been responsible for "corrupting" the teenagers into dabbling with Satanism. The imagined association between heavy metal music and "Satanic Ritual Abuse" became so strong that some Christians, such as the Reverend Fletcher A. Brothers, founded "heavy metal de-programming centers" such as the Freedom Village. Teenagers who listened to heavy metal music and who dressed in black would often be sent to such places as the Freedom Village, where they would be deprived of any personal belongings which were considered "Satanic," and they would be forced to dress in uniforms, participate in daily prayers and essentially be re-programmed to be Christians.
One thing that is especially frightening about the "Satanic Panic" of the 1980's is this: these myths about "Satanic Ritual Abuse" were commonly believed even among such alternative religious groups as the Wiccans. Brad Hicks, a Neopagan who was president of a non-profit civil rights group, as well as the author of many pro-Pagan pamphlets and articles, was one of the first public figures to doubt the various claims being made about "Satanic Ritual Abuse" during the early 1980's. He spent a great deal of effort trying to combat these myths, and in return for this, he was apparently "demonized" by his fellow Pagans for even daring to defend the accused. Hicks says the following on his personal website:
But at every step of the way, everybody who came up to us said the very same things, in almost exactly the same words. "All of these women can't be lying, it doesn't matter if they are lying because society is going to kill every Satanist in America any day now, the Satanists brought this on themselves because whether or not they're guilty of this crime they're all bad people, and if you don't stop standing up for people accused of being Satanic Ritual Abusers then when they come to kill all the Satanists then every single Witch in America will die, and it'll be your fault for confusing the two in people's minds!"
It would seem that when the "Satanic Panic" was in full sway, the majority of Wiccans here in the United States were more than happy to contribute to various fears about Satanism, if only as a means of promoting their own religion as a "socially acceptable" alternative to the mainstream.
It was not until 1989 that the various claims being made about "Satanic Ritual Abuse" finally began to be put to the test, most specifically by a man named Kenneth Lanning. Lanning is a Supervisory Special Agent at the Behavioral Science Unit in the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In 1992, Special Agent Lanning wrote a very important document which dealt specifically with his investigation of "Satanic Ritual Abuse." The document is known as the Investigator's Guide to Allegations of Ritual Child Abuse. A more complete version of the document was published in 1992.
In his document, Lanning points out the fact that many law-enforcement officials were too quick to believe that the allegations about "Satanic Ritual Abuse" were true without critically questioning the sources. He pointed out how even officials who did not go to church, who knew that media accounts of various criminal cases were often blown out of proportion, and who scoffed at tabloid television accounts of bizarre occurances would automatically assume the allegations to be true. He seems to be of the opinion that faith and religious belief had a lot to do with this; many police officers would assume that the claims about Satanism were true simply because they themselves believed in the existence of Satan. Those who were not religious would also assume that the claims about Satanism were true, apparently because the word "Satan" just hit an emotional button for them.
Lanning also wrote about the ambiguity of describing certain forms of child abuse as "ritualistic." He felt that using this terminology was problematic due to the fact that people in various religions around the world subject their children to ritualistic activities, such as the Catholic mass. Many ritualistic acts -- whether they are Satanic or not -- are simply not crimes. Therefore, how can exposing a child to Satanist rituals be in and of itself illegal, since religious expression is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Lanning also points out that, although touching or mutilating a child's genitals for sexual pleasure is indeed illegal, circumcising a child for religious purposes (as is done by Jews) is most certainly not illegal. Therefore, it is possible that someone could wish for their child to be circumcised as part of a Satanist ritual. Would this count as an example of "Satanic Ritual Abuse"? Indeed it would not, for such an act would be protected by the Constitution.
Lanning also points out that, while people were quick to characterize certain kinds of criminal behavior as "Satanic," "occult" and/or "ritualistic," there were several kinds of criminal behavior that could also be described as "Christian." Some examples include parents who beat their children to death because they will not follow their Christian beliefs, or parents who refuse life-saving medical treatment for a child because of their Christian beliefs, or parents who starve and beat their children to death because they believe the children are possessed by demonic spirits. He also includes individuals who bomb abortion clinics and/or kidnap abortion doctors because their Christian beliefs tell them that abortion is murder, and child molesters who read the Bible to their victims in order to justify sexual acts with them. Lanning received several counter-arguments that the Christians who commit such crimes as these have only "misunderstood" and "distorted" their religion, while Satanists who commit crimes are following their religion to the letter. In response to this, Lanning made the following point:
The Satanic Bible is used for this, and it is often contrasted or compared with the Judeo-Christian Bible. The Satanic Bible is, in essence, a short paperback book written by one man, Anton LaVey, in 1969. To compare it to a book written by multiple authors over a period of thousands of years is ridiculous, even ignoring the possibility of Divine revelation in the Bible. What satanists believe certainly isn't limited to other people's interpretation of a few books. More importantly it is subject to some degree of interpretation by individual believers just as Christianity is. Many admitted "satanists" claim they do not even believe in God, the devil, or any supreme deity. The criminal behavior of one person claiming belief in a religion does not necessarily imply guilt or blame to others sharing that belief. In addition, simply claiming membership in a religion does not necessarily make you a member.
Who decides exactly what "satanists" believe? In this country, we cannot even agree on what Christians believe. At many law enforcement conferences
The fact is that far more crime and child abuse has been committed by zealots in the name of God, Jesus, Mohammed, and other mainstream religion than has ever been committed in the name of Satan. Many people, including myself, don't like that statement, but the truth of it is undeniable.
Afterwards, Lanning goes on in his document to define "Satanic murder" as a murder that is committed by two or more individuals who rationally plan out the crime, and whose primary motivation for such is to fulfill a Satanic ritual calling for the murder. And to this date, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been unable to identify even one documented Satanic murder, by this definition, in the United States of America.
It should be clarified that Lanning does not discount the possibility that someone could abuse a child while using Satanism or Satanic themes as a device with which they can manipulate the victim; but he makes it clear that this would still not mean that all Satanists everywhere are naturally disposed to such behavior. Even Christianity can be used as such a manipulative device; but do all Christians abuse children as a tenet of their ritualistic practices?
There has been at least one example of a person who did use Satanism as a manipulative device for child molestation. This person was a man by the name of Russell Smith, also known as Reverend Sorath, who was a law enforcement officer, as well as the founder of his own Satanist group, the Order of Perdition. In 2002, it was discovered that Russell Smith had been sexually molesting his own daughter, and upon being discovered in this vile behavior, Smith grabbed his daughter and made a run for it across the country. As a matter of fact, Smith's story was told on America's Most Wanted, and John Walsh made sure to point out that Smith was a member of a "Satanic cult" and that he "practiced child molestation as part of his rituals." Smith was soon apprehended and is now doing time in jail for his crimes. An investigation of Smith's group concluded that he was the only member of the group who was in fact a pedophile, and no other members were charged with any crimes.
The Russell Smith case initiated what is perhaps the most disturbing chapter of the "Satanic Panic" hysteria, and that is when the Satanists themselves began to accuse each other of pedophilia and "Satanic Ritual Abuse." At this time, John Allee, the founder of the First Church of Satan in Salem, Massachussetts, was becoming a highly visible and active leader within the Satanist subculture. Allee, being one who preferred to challenge people's ideas and make them think, included a variety of controversial links on his website as a means to "whet the beginner's appetite for research" and "start many a discussion and debate." Some of these links included a suicide website, a Nazi propaganda archive, a marijuana reform website and various others. However, Allee made the rather unfortunate mistake of including one particular link on his website that would cause him to become yet another victim of the "Satanic Panic." This was a link to the website of the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA).
In his online article, The NAMBLA Files, Allee states that he never supported all of NAMBLA's ideas; rather, he believed that their issues should not be conveniently ignored, but rather discussed openly. However, despite Allee's stated beliefs in free speech and "free thought," many people who saw this link on his webpage began to have doubts about his integrity. Allee made sure to include the following disclaimer on his links page:
"List does not necessarily reflect affiliation or endorsement by the FCoS! Use your critical faculties! Draw your own conclusions!"
However, this did not stop other Satanists from wondering about Allee's motives for including such a link as the NAMBLA website, and allegations were soon being made against him, by Satanists, that he was a child molester. This became further intensified in the wake of the Russell Smith case, for it seemed at that time that Satanists were so frightened of the word "pedophile" that they would accuse any Satanist who even breathed it of being one themselves. Granted, Allee's own controversial flair was a major factor in the development of his character assassination; he even admits that he has made statements which are "explosive," and when such controversial statements are made, people will more often react in line with their emotions than they will with either logic or reason. But regardless of this, the fact remains that there was never any hard evidence that Allee was a pedophile, and for a person to be guilty of a crime, there must be proof that a crime was even committed.
I used to believe that Satanists were somehow exempt from jumping to illogical conclusions based upon such a lack of evidence, but this situation proved that such a belief is inherently incorrect. For I myself was one of the people who came to believe that Allee was a child molester, until Diane Vera finally made me realize that there was a sufficient lack of evidence to prove such a belief. But the process of my coming to believe in the pedophilia allegations is actually quite similar to the account of what happened in Jamestown, New York during that infamous Friday the 13th of 1988.
In that situation, an entire town of people fell victim to a wave of panic that was based on hearsay and premature conclusions. It was prematurely concluded by some of the townsfolk that, because they had been listening to heavy metal music at a Halloween party, some of the town's young people were automatically Satanists. It was likewise assumed that since there was "Satanic activity" going on in the area, a victim of ritual murder would turn up sooner or later. The townspeople who did not actually believe these things at first eventually became convinced, by the strong convictions of their loved ones and their neighbors, that the town was really being besieged by murderous Satanists.
Likewise, in the 2002 matter with John Allee, an entire community of people fell victim to a wave of panic that was based on hearsay and premature conclusions. It was prematurely concluded by some Satanists that, because John Allee had a link to the NAMBLA website on his links page, he was automatically a pedophile. It was likewise assumed that, since there was "pedophile activity" going on within the subculture, a victim of child abuse would turn up sooner or later. The Satanists who did not actually believe these things at first eventually became convinced, by the strong convictions of fellow Satanists, that the Satanist subculture was really being besieged by a child molesting Satanist.
The reader should need no further evidence that even Satanists can fall victim to a mob mentality, and that even Satanists can wrongfully accuse each other of "Satanic Ritual Abuse." But thankfully, just as it has been proven by Special Agent Kenneth Lanning that most claims about "Satanic Ritual Abuse" are completely unfounded, it has also been proven that the claims about John Allee's own involvement in "Satanic Ritual Abuse" are completely unfounded.
If there is a lesson that is to be learned from all of these various events, and from the long and detailed history of beliefs that people have had about murderous, child molesting Satanists, it is surely that the entire idea of "Satanic Ritual Abuse" is extremely DANGEROUS. It is dangerous due to the fact that it motivates people -- even Satanists -- to be overly concerned about imagined forms of child abuse, thereby diverting their attention from genuine cases and causes of abuse. It is dangerous because it leads us to jump at shadows and to accuse our own brothers and sisters of heinous crimes that have never happened. It is dangerous because it eclipses the belief in the idea of "Innocent until proven guilty," and therein lies the death of critical thought.
If you or anyone you know has reason to believe that someone may be sexually abusing a child -- no matter what religion the person may be, and no matter what context in which the child might be sexually abused -- it is your duty as a human being to weigh your suspicions with the evidence. A person is innocent until they are proven guilty in a court of law. If there is no evidence of a crime being committed, then there is no case. Even if your next door neighbor is a Satanist who makes his or her children participate in Satanic prayers and daily Black Masses, you do not have a case for accusing them of "Satanic Ritual Abuse" until you can produce some hard evidence that the children are being harmed. Even if a Satanist should include a link on his or her website to a questionable group like NAMBLA, you do not have a case for accusing them of "Satanic Ritual Abuse" until you can produce some hard evidence that the person in question is in fact harming any children! Human beings, being the often simple creatures that they are, will often make sweeping overgeneralizations about various groups of people that they do not like. Such overgeneralizations are completely immoral and harmful, and even if you make them in the name of "God" and Jesus Christ and goodness, you are committing a crime against your very humanity! Even if you make them in the name of Satan, you are still committing a crime against your very humanity!!
"Innocent until proven guilty" is a good principle to keep in mind not only regarding accusations of serious crimes, but also in one's dealings with people in general. We should try to avoid jumping to conclusions of any kind about our fellow Satanists -- especially about people we've met only on the Internet and not in real life. I would suggest being skeptical about all rumors and especially about anything that any Satanist leader says about any other Satanist leader, given the high degree of competitiveness amongst Satanist leaders these days. Also, in your own personal dealings with other Satanists online, please try to avoid both extremes of being either (1) overly trusting or (2) paranoid. Don't be too quick to trust anyone with personal information or anything else important. Take your time getting to know people before you consider them to be friends. At the same time, when some friend of yours seems to disappoint you, don't be too quick to jump to the conclusion that the person really is guilty of whatever. Too many people in the Satanist scene have lost friends and gotten into bitter feuds over really stupid misunderstandings.
By the blessed wisdom of the Great Dragon, may all who have read this article be touched, and may their eyes be opened, so as to know "Good" and "Evil," and to live and breathe like unto the gods. Amen!