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Written by: Elias, Thomas D.    Posted on: 04/29/2003

Category: Cults / Sects / Non Christian Religions and Topics

Source: CCN

IS SATANISM LINKED TO CRIMES? by Thomas D. Elias, Scripps Howard News Service

San Francisco - From small towns like Sanford, ME. and big cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, a steady stream of crime reports are indicating that satanism - devil worship - is becoming a fast-growing but still unmeasurable force in America.

When Richard Ramirez, the accused night stalker, raised his right hand in a Los Angeles courtroom, where he was accused of 14 murders and dozens of other felonies, his palm displayed an inked pentagram.

The five-pointed star within a circle positioned with two points up to symbolize the devil's horns was found at several night stalker murder scenes and the wife of one victim testified that Ramirez forced her to "swear on satan" she wouldn't alert neighbors by screaming.

In Huntington Beach, Calif., 33 small animals kept in an elementary school yard were slaughtered last May, a crime that police say was apparently part of a satanic ritual.

In Contra Costa County, Calif., the battered body of a 17-year-old boy who had graduated from playing "Dungeons and Dragons" to being involved with a satanic coven was found dead at the bottom of a cliff near San Francisco Bay last year.  He had told his father and others that he wanted  to leave the group.

Police call the death a suicide, but a coroner's report says the body bore marks more like those from a beating with sticks than bruises typically received in a fall.

Scores of reports link child molestations to satanic rituals featuring chalices of blood and participants either nude or wearing black hoods.

Altogether, as many as 800 crimes now under investigation by ploice nationwide are said to be linded somehow to devil worship.

Detectives from seven western states last spring held a closed-door session to play strategies against satanism.

One tactic they reportedly agreed upon:  deny its involvement in crimes to discourage publicity and copycats.

Consistent with that idea, police and prosecutors are almost invariably hesitant to label devil-worship and savrifice as the motive behind any crime and no one has been convicted of a crime on the basis of satanic involvement for more than a decade.

"There was talk about drinking blood and allegations that people involved worshipped the devil and had certain ceremonies," says Stephen Tauzer, a Bakersfield, Calif., prosecutor handling a case where as many as 80 adults have been suspected of molesting up to 60 children.  "But we're not trying the case on religious grounds.  I know satanism exists as a fad and that there are reports of cremated victims.  But I have a hard time concluding that anything as large as cremating victims would not have witnesses."

Police usually say satanism exists, but has only peripheral involvement at most in crimes committed by alleged satanists.

"One hears about cases," says Joseph Kranyak, a crime analyst for the San Bernadino, Calif., police department.  "But when you track them down you find you're mostly chasing shadows.  The vandalous nature of these things may not be organized and conspiratorial, but a response to stimuli like rock music."

And some of the leading fighters against satanism say there is a distinct difference between organized satanists like those belonging to San Francisco's Church of Satan and "freelance satanists."

"In the formal churches, you get no murders, only symbolic actions," says Karen Hoyt, executive director of the Berkeley, Calf.-based spiritual counterfeits project.  "But freelancers sacrifice animals and reportedly infants, although no one has found a body as yet."

Church of Satan members adamantly deny any use of actual or animal sacrifice, although "The Satanic Bible" written by church founder Anton Lavey spells out rituals calling for "symbolic" human sacrifices.

"I'm a Satanist and I don't want to molest children," says Blanche Barton, Lavey's personal secretary.  "The Satanic Bible says both animal and child sacrifices are illegal, so the whole idea of sacrificing to release energy is bull.  But a lot of groups have adopted satanist images like hoods and gongs."

But the Satanic Bible does say that "Satan represents indulgence, instead of abstinence" and that "Satan represents all the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental or emotional gratification."  and in a chapter titled "On the choice of a Human Sacrifice," Lavey adds that "Anyone who has wronged you" is a "fit and proper human sacrifice" and "you have every right to (symbolically) destroy them."

Opponents of satanism believe many "freelance" practitioners omit the admonition to make sacrifices "symbolic," and use the Satanic Bible to justify psychoses or perversions.

Covens centered around drugs, homosexuality, sexual fetishes, child molesting and other illicit activities are known to use rituals from the Satanic Bible and a later companion volume.  So do groups using druidism, celtic witchcraft and Egyptian mythology.  Even "children's covens" are known to use such rituals.

Like many fundamentalists, Roger Burt, an Evangelical minister and president of the Christian Counseling Association in suburban Los Angeles, believes the current state of satanism is part of a long war between the forces of good and evil.

"People who are getting involved in satanism are looking to get the power of demons and use it for themselves," he says.  "It all centers on power over their peers, especially among teenagers, which is where this is growing fastest.  This is not just a fad of the '80S.  It is actual spiritual warfare.  Spiritual possession has great power in attracting young people."

Games like Dungeons and Dragons, with medieval imagery, help attract children and teenagers to satanic rituals, which sometimes involve archaic dress.

Rock music groups are even more of an influence, according to many police officials.

Burt lists heavy metal groups like AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Motley Crue, Blue Oyster Cult and Merciful Fate among the most influential.  All have performed music with a satanic-style message that critics contend is taken literally by many listeners.

Burt says membership in satanic groups has grwon to "at least 60,000," with about one-third in California, the world's main center of modern satanic activity.

Hoyt and Burt agree that young children are often recruited by parents or teachers, then molested or forced to watch and participate in ritual killings of animals.  Some are photographed during rituals and later blackmailed into continuing either via threats to show the pictures to parents or threats of harm to the parents.

Runaway teenagers, the anti-satanists say, are an especially fertile class of recruits.

Other experts contend that many teenagers join satanist cults willingly.

"Many kids believe there is a force for evil in the world and some think it is the really powerful force in the universe," says Rabbi Jack Bemporad of Tenafly, N.J., a nationally-known expert on cults.  "A lot of them believe in demons, which are mentioned in the new testament.  Kids also have a lot of rage and anger and a feeling of powerlessness because of the threat of nuclear war and the increasing complexity of the world. They come to feel if the world is going to destroy itself, they might as well glory in it."

In short, says Bemporad, they feel "if you can't beat evil, you might as well join it."


'SATANIC BIBLE' AUTHOR DENIES RESPONSIBILITY By Thomas D. Elias, Scripps Howard News Service

San Francisco - Some people call him Satan.  Others say he's merely the devil's advocate.

Anton Lavey says he doesn't care what they think, although with a shaved head, a small pointed beard and an all-black costume broken only by a red necktie, he takes pains to look like the common image of a devil.

"If the shoe fits," says the aughor of "The Satanic Bible," "I'll wear it.  But I don't claim it.  I'd rather be known as a devil's advocate with a small 'D,' a champion of individual freedom."

Many opponents of satanism claim Lavey's books, "The Satanic Bible" and "The Satanic Rituals," inspire many of the crimes linked to satanic symbols and rituals.

Lavey doesn't argue with them.

"Anything can be misused," he says.  "When I was a kid, every time there was a murder, the murderer would say something like, 'God made me do it.'  A lot of psychotics are doing whatever they're doing and saying they're satanists as a way of getting themselves off the hook.  There are crazies and there will always be crazies.  Whatever is around that they can lay blame on, they'll do it."

Many of satanism's opponents point to passages in Lavey's books that they contend specifically encourage crimes ranging from murder to grave-robbing.

One instruction in "The Satanic Rituals" calls for waving a human arm or leg bone through the air, but offers no hint of where to get it.

"I figured people the bone someplace other than by killing a person," Lavey said.  "But if they're going to kill, I hope they at least get a deserving victim."

Lavey says he has no personal knowledge of any murders attributed to satanic practices, although he recalls meeting Richard Ramirez, accused Night Stalker Killer in the Los Angeles area.

"When I met Richard Ramirez, he was one of the nicest, most polite young men you'd ever want to meet," said Lavey, 56.  "When I met him in 1983, he was a model of deportment.  I suppose that shows even murderers may not be all bad.  Maybe he did his murders for reasons other than satanism.  Maybe he was disturbed or had an axe to grind."

His satanic bible specifically prohibits animal and child sacrifice, but apporves of "symbolic" adult human sacrifice.  Readers are told to choose their own victims and to graphically visualize "appropriate" revenge in a voodoo-like procedure.

"It's just a short step from that to action," Says Rabbi Jack Bemporad Of Tenafly, N.J., a cult expert.

Says Lavey, "Of course murderers can use my books.  But they can use the Holy Bible, too.  That's the most incendiary book ever written.  There's raping and patricide and matricide and killing your own kids in there."

Responds Bemporad, "Comparing his book to the Hebrew Bible is like trying to compare Shakespeare to a comic book.  There's violence in Shakespeare and the Bible, sure, but there's a great moral sense, too.  The Bible has the ethics of the western world in it, but it couldn't legislate away the reality of its time."

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