Satanism: The cult of Satan, or Satan worship, is in part a survival of the ancient worship of demons and in part a revolt against Christianity or the church. It rose about the 12th cent. in Europe and reached its culmination in the blasphemous ritual of the Black Mass, a desecration of the Christian rite. The history of early Satanism is obscure. It was revived in the reign of Louis XIV in France and is still practiced by various groups throughout the world, particularly in the United States. One of the largest and most influential Satanic groups is the Church of Satan (1966), founded by Anton LaVey in San Francisco. A splinter group, the Temple of Set (1975), was organized by Michael Aquino. Many Satanic groups, including the ones mentioned, attest that such worship does not necessarily imply evil intentions, but rather an alternative to the repressive morality of many other religious groups. Such groups see no harm in their indulgence in "worldly pleasures" that other religions forbid. Other, more severe brands of Satanism likely exist, although much of the activity pegged as "Satanic" has less to do with the religion than with various forms of sociopathy. Indeed, reliable research has found no evidence indicating the existence of alarming, large-scale Satanic phenomena. An unfortunate mistake is the unfounded—yet common—linkage of minority religious traditions, such as the African-derived voodoo and Santería, with Satanism. See also witchcraft.

See A. LaVey, Satanic Bible (1969); A. Lyons, The Second Coming (1970) and Satan Wants You! (1989); J. T. Richardson and D. Bromley, ed., The Satanism Scare (1991).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Satanism: Selected full-text books and articles

Cult and Ritual Abuse: Its History, Anthropology, and Recent Discovery in Contemporary America By James Randall Noblitt; Pamela Sue Perskin Praeger, 2000 (Revised edition)
Librarian's tip: Chap. 13 "Satanism?"
The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements By James R. Lewis Oxford University Press, 2004
Librarian's tip: Chap. 10 "Satanism and Ritual Abuse"
Deadly Cults: The Crimes of True Believers By Robert L. Snow Praeger, 2003
Librarian's tip: Chap. 5 "Satanic Cults"
Controversial New Religions By James R. Lewis; Jesper Aagaard Petersen Oxford University Press, 2004
Librarian's tip: Chap. 19 "Modern Satanism: Dark Doctrines and Black Flames"
Essays on Religion and Education By R. M. Hare Clarendon Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: Chap. 6 "Satanism and Nihilism"
Legitimating New Religions By James R. Lewis Rutgers University Press, 2003
Librarian's tip: Chap. 5 "Anton Lavey, The Satanic Bible, and the Satanist Tradition"
Critical Readings: Moral Panics and the Media By Chas Critcher Open University Press, 2006
Librarian's tip: Chap. 7 "Satanism: Myth and Reality in a Contemporary Moral Panic"
The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture By Bernice Glatzer Rosenthal Cornell University Press, 1997
Librarian's tip: Chap. Four "'The Shade of Lucifer's Dark Wing': Satanism in Silver Age Russia"
Open Questions: Diverse Thinkers Discuss God, Religion, and Faith By Luís F. Rodrigues Praeger, 2010
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