Let The Show Begin

One of the main criticisms of Satanism, particularly the brand of Satanism practiced by The Satanic Temple, is that it’s nothing more than a circus show. People see some of the few, but highly publicized public rituals and (assuming they’re not a superstitious idiot) say that it’s nothing more than an act; Satanic ritual is only meant to frighten those susceptible to it, so therefore Satanism cannot be a sincere religion, and that Satanists are nothing more than trolls.

And yes, I will agree that sometimes showmanship and trolling is a part of Satanism. A Satanist’s aesthetic is very important to her, and maintaining an aesthetic does require a certain amount of flair for the dramatic. But Satanism is not the only religion that likes to put on a show. Christianity, especially Catholicism, also possesses this trait.

The most obvious example is the similarity of Catholic Mass and Satanic Black Mass. Now, there are several different iterations of a Black Mass; each Black Mass is going to change depending on the needs and personalities of the Satanists participating, but all Black Masses are influenced by Catholic Mass on some level or another. Black Mass is meant to be an inversion of Catholic Mass – where Catholic Mass is an act of worship, Black Mass is an act of blasphemy.

And now for the less obvious. Just as Christians have their outspoken champions who call attention to issues they want their congregations to care about, Satanists also have spokespersons who bring the issues Satanists care about to light. People like Lucien Greaves, Peter Gilmore, Jex Blackmore, Lilith Starr, and others function the same way Joel Osteen, Glen Beck, Pat Robertson, and Billy Graham do for Protestant Christianity. Both sets of figures strive to change social mores and legislation in order to keep in line with their organizations’ worldviews. The difference is the message being spread (Satanists also tend to be less douchey about it, from my experience, but I might be a little biased).

And just as Christians have their rock music that is mostly intolerable to those who aren’t’ deeply involved in Christian culture and lifestyle, so do Satanists have Satanic black metal. Whereas Christian rock music often comes across as sanctimonious and, well, preachy, black metal tends to be the opposite. Black metal praises the old gods whose worship Christianity ousted, and praises Satan as a figure defiant of arbitrary authority. Rarely does one take the lyrics of black metal literally. The purpose of black metal is to rebel against an oppressive and tyrannic culture, and to revel in one’s freedom to choose.

And that’s not even mentioning the elaborate and rehearsed protest rituals The Satanic Temple in particular is known for, though I should mention that Christians do coordinate their own protests, minus the creativity displayed by Satanists. The point is that, in order to actually affect change, a certain amount of dramatization is required. That applies to any group or religion, not just Satanism and Christianity.

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