I wasn’t raised a Satanist. Very few people are. Satanism is not a religion for everyone, and most Satanic parents I know of choose not to raise their children with religion. Rather, they prefer to allow their children to decide for themselves what religion, if any, to follow. I, personally, was raised as a Christian.
Like most young children, I followed it blindly and didn’t question it. It was what my parents knew to be true, and my parents were the smartest people I knew. It was what good people believed in, and though I didn’t understand it at the time, it did provide psychological benefit. It allowed me to meet children my same age and let me establish independence from my little brothers, since Sunday school classes were separated by age groups. It let my stay-at-home mother get away from the kids for at least an hour, and enjoy some adult company for a change.
Sure, it was boring sometimes; one summer, when I was about six, I expressed that sentiment in an inadvertent outburst. I remember my stomach dropped with dread. Only bad people didn’t want to go to church, after all. But after a few minutes of discussion, they agreed we could take a few weeks off from church. It only lasted a month, at most. We were back in the pews, most likely at my own behest, not long after.
I didn’t really start questioning my religion until around age fifteen. Around that time, gay characters were becoming more prevalent in the fantasy novels I liked to read (or rather, those books became more accessible to me as I grew older), and I discovered fanfiction. Specifically, I discovered slash fanfiction.
Yeah, I was totally a fag-hag.
While I kept my fanfiction reading secret from my parents, knowing they would certainly curtail my internet usage if they knew I was reading smut, it did get me thinking. Why was being gay so wrong? In the churches I went to as a child, the subject was never explicitly broached. But there was definitely and undercurrent of disapproval for behaviors cishet Christians associate as gay – girls participating in sports that were deemed as masculine (football, wrestling), boys wearing pink or playing with dolls, boys wearing makeup, boys getting a little too affectionate with their guy friends, etc. The word “gay” was even used as an insult, a word to describe someone or something as lame or uncool. Most kids probably didn’t know what it really meant.
When I confronted the adults about these doubts, the clearest answer I could get was that the Bible Said So.
Okay, then. Cool. So I read the Bible. At least, what I could stomach of it. For the most part, it’s kind of a boring read, and the parts that aren’t boring are pretty fucked up. I got as far as the parts where Abraham raped and exiled Hagar and the son he conceived with her, and nearly sacrificed Isaac because God apparently told him to, before I decided I was done reading from cover to cover.
Instead, I skipped ahead to the scriptures referenced to me that specifically mentioned homosexuality. And, yes, they forbade it. But, other than “Because God said so,” there was no real reason why.
I couldn’t understand it. There was nothing harmful about homosexuality, it was just different. I had always been taught, and believed, that being different made one special, unique. Therefore, people who were gay were special.
Most Christians did not agree with me. I even asked my dad about it, and why it didn’t make sense. He told me I didn’t study the Bible hard enough.
In all honesty, I’m still pissed about that.
A few years later, Borders Books and its subsidiary Waldenbooks was failing. The local branch was not far from being the next store to close down. Now, it may come as a shock, but I loved reading as a teenager. I and one of my friends who shared that love decided to go see what sales we could take advantage of before the store closed its doors for good. As per our usual taste in literature, we made a beeline for the sci-fi/fantasy section, but the occult books were on the way. One of them caught my eye. It was Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible.
There was a sort of guilty pleasure in picking it up. The friend I was with didn’t care; she herself was an atheist, and in fact encouraged me to purchase the book. I was very much inclined, as, while I was flipping through it, I stumbled across LaVey’s essays on love and hate, as well his views on sexual activity, specifically homosexuality. They were in line with what I believed to be true, contrary to the views expressed in the Christian Bible.
After some internal debate, I decided against it. While my friend didn’t care, there were quite a few people in my life who would have, and who would have made my life more complicated than I was willing to endure at the time. I was intrigued, but I was not brave enough to risk whatever ire buying The Satanic Bible would inspire from my parents. My relationship with my dad was already strained because of my desire to be a gay-rights activist, which created further drama with the rest of the family. Expressing an interest in Satanism would only make matters worse.
I do sometimes wonder how my life would have been different if I’d just said “fuck it” and bought the damn thing.
But I didn’t. I instead stuck with Christianity nearly fifteen years longer than I should have. My belief system grew and matured, and I grew firmer in my convictions. I learned about other religions, Satanism included, and of the many atrocities committed in the name of Christ.
Yeah, they don’t talk about the Crusades in Sunday school; or witch burnings, Ham’s Curse (white Christians’ Biblical justification for kidnapping and enslaving Africans), the cat culls ordered by the Pope which are largely believed to have allowed Black Plague to spread, or the genocide of indigenous people and the appropriation of their cultures in the guise of spreading the word of Christ. It’s like they’d rather forget that it happened, and still is happening, than atone for their mistakes and better themselves.
The refusal to acknowledge past atrocities is what eventually led me to make the decision to finally break away from Christianity. Specifically, it was my brother’s Easter Sunday sermon.
While there’s nothing wrong with commemorating the death and subsequent resurrection of your Messiah, the Christian Easter holiday is a little problematic, in how it’s celebrated.
Most Christians find themselves asking what colorful eggs and rabbits have to do with Jesus, or where the name Easter comes from. The answer is that neither the eggs or the name have a damn thing to do with Christianity.
The Easter eggs and the Easter bunnies that hide them are, in fact, symbols of fertility. But why are fertility symbols associated with a Christian holiday? Because the holiday didn’t start off as Christian. When the Roman Empire became the Holy Roman Empire, there was a campaign to convert all the pagans within the Roman territories to Christianity. This was mostly done through force, though there were efforts made to make the transition more palatable. Repurposing the spring equinox celebration – originally a celebration of fertility and worship of the goddess Eostre or Ostara – as a celebration of Christ’s resurrection, was one such effort. The eggs which previously symbolized fertility are now taught as representing the empty tomb Jesus once lay in.
Another thing they don’t teach in Sunday schools.
My brother knew all this. I know he knew this, because we’d discussed the topic before. So he consciously lied to his congregation. And if he lied, then so did every preacher before him. When the service was over and the kids let loos to hunt for eggs, I decided I was done. Preachers knew the truth, but they wouldn’t share it with the people who relied on them for guidance. I wasn’t going to allow them to manipulate me anymore.
I came out as a Satanist a few months later. But, that’s another story.