In the 1970s and 1980s, a phenomenon known as the “Satanic Panic” swept through America.
This was a time when many people believed that Satanists were trying to take over the world.
There were rumors of cults sacrificing children and drinking their blood. Many people became convinced that satanism was a real threat, and they were terrified of what might happen next and others thought it was lunacy fueled by religious zealots.
One thing is for sure, it’s a period of history that is often misunderstood.
It was a time when people believed that Satanists were conducting rituals and sacrificing children all across the country. This religious fear was stoked by serial killers such as the Son of Sam and Richard Ramirez who openly professed they were Satanists who sacrificed their victims to Satan.
This is where the true Satanic Panic originated and it spread from here like hell fire.
It was events like that of Ramirez flashing an upside down pentagram on his hand at his murder trials that helped fuel the fear of the American nation.
This is why when the words Satan and serial killer are used together, it strikes fear deep into the hearts of most good people and especially devout Christians who are taught to fear and fight Satan.
Parents and religious leaders were convinced that a satanic cult was targeting children, and they did everything they could to protect their kids. There were even allegations of Satanic cults infiltrating daycares and schools such as the McMartin preschool, which led to a number of high-profile criminal cases across the country.
Parents became terrified of what their children might be exposed to, and many began to homeschool their kids or take them out of public schools altogether.
This was also the time when Satanism, the devil and the occult became deeply embedded into the minds of Americans and pop culture. Movies like the Exorcist, role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons debuted in 1974, scandalizing pastors and giving parents nightmares of their children falling under demonic spells.
A 1988 documentary about Satanism and ritual abuse by Geraldo Rivera called Devil Worship: Exposing Satan’s Underground became the highest-rated televised documentary to air up to that point. The documentary further fueled the worries of concerned parents and Christians across the nation.
This hysteria led to some pretty bizarre incidents, and a fierce cultural debate in the media and even congressional legislation was put forth to make Satanism illegal.
All the while, Satanists like The Church of Satan capitalized upon “some of these allegations,” by focusing ONLY on criminal cases where the defendants were found not guilty.
By doing this, they could divert the attention of an uneducated media and concerened American citizens to the Satanic crimes that were proven to be false, while completely ignoring the true stories.
It didn’t help that some ridiculous conspiracy theories helped bolster the Satanic Panic cause.
For example, in 1978, a conspiracy theory claiming that McDonald’s was secretly funding satanic enterprises gained so much popularity that the company had to release an official statement denying it. The founder, Ray Kroc had to reassure frightened customers by telling them that he was “a God-fearing, God-loving man.”
In the memoir, Michelle Smith, Michelle Remembers, introduced readers everywhere to satanic ritual abuse in a story about being caged, tortured, and sexually molested by members of a satanic cult. The story and the author were eventually debunked.
It is cases like there that became the focus by Satanists on the “false allegations” and “uneducated religious zealots” became the perfect calling card for the “Satanic Panic” and their main defense strategy that they still employ to this very day.
By doing so, they could claim that these were ALL false allegations made by crazy Christians causing social hysteria fueled by fearful media depictions of godless teenagers listening to deviant music and wearing heavy metal t-shirts.
Over thousands of years, magicians have developed the ability to control attention, to distort perception, and to influence choice. This is done in advertising and marketing by corporations who use false images and deception to influence our decisions.
The fear of a Satanic Panic eventually faded from the American collective consciousness, thanks in part to a public relations campaign conducted by the Church of Satan.
I contend that one of the main reasons the hysteria died out was because the founder of the Church of Satan, Anton Lavey, and his High Priest, Peter Gilmore, stepped into action to combat the negative publicity with their own PR campaign.
According to Peter Gilmore, he spent many hours combatting their foes and educating the public about Satanic philosophy. Gilmore said:
“The Satanic Panic” (80s-90s) there was proposed congressional legislation to make Satanism illegal. During that time Anton Szandor LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, had encouraged me as a spokesperson for the organization and the means for combatting this proposal was to educate people about what Satanism really was, rather than the, then current, fantasy of Devil worship, child abuse and sacrifice promulgated by evangelical Christians and gullible journalists.
Lavey did not have the Church of Satan issue statements rallying its members to sally forth. Instead, he felt that fulfilling the purpose of the Church of Satan—educating others as to what it represents—would serve to dissolve the false definition of Satanism fueling that proposed law. And so it did and I spent many hours accurately representing the reality of our philosophy in all forms of the media to that end.”
But several prominent authors and scholars who are not part of some Satanic sect or get paid to be a Satanist like Peter Gilmore would disagree with the Church of Satans and other people who claim that the Satanic Panic was the purely result of false allegations, religious fantasy, and irrational beliefs.
Sure, there was definitely a lot of that going on but there were also a lot of true stories that were being swept to the side or ignored all together.
In the midst of the Satanic Panic, author and Professor of Philosophy of Religion at the University of Denver, Carl Raschke was asked by his publisher to research and write a book about Satanism. What Raschke discovered was that there was in fact credible evidence and a plethora of stories to support the narrative that Satanists were committing murders and other criminal acts.
His extensive research led to the book called “Painted Black: From Drug Killings to Heavy Metal: The Alarming True Story of How Satanism Is Terrorizing Our Communities.”
Raschke’s book is really more about mind control and how during the 1960’s, various occultists like Anton Lavey tried to overturn mainstream religious and political beliefs. America’s youth and young adults were being manipulated by Satanists who were putting their message out through the media with art, books, music, movies, and drugs and free sex.
As Raschke eloquently points out, the 60’s was a time in our country when it was encouraged for both the father and the mother to work outside the home leaving a whole generation of kids at home alone.
This phenomenon created a new psychological term to describe their abandonment called latchkey kids – school age children of working parents who must spend part or most of the day unsupervised (as at home),
The kids of this generation had a vacuum to be filled that was once their parents, and Satanism would happily take their place.
Out of these abandoned kids, there were children who had been physically and sexually abused, rejected by parents and were never taught any moral values.
These kids would be on the fringes of society. They were angry and needed an outlet for their hate for the world and the violence they wanted to unleash upon it.
This is why Satanism and the neoliberal lifestyle of extreme freedoms, drugs, sex, music and media that came with it would be the perfect home for these wayward youth.
The kids thought that Satanism was going to lead to power, wealth, fame, and anything else that their little hearts desired. But once they got addicted to the lifestyle and vices of drugs and sex, they became under the mind control of their very Satanic doctrines they foolishly thought would be the answer to all their problems.
This can be seen time and time again by many people who take this path. A Satanic road that is littered with lost souls and ruined lives everywhere you look.
From drug addicted gurus like Aleister Crowley who died penniless and addicted to heroin to Ozzy Ozzborne’s open display of decades of hedonism, family turmoil and constant drug use and Church of Satan members like Marilyn Manson who in recent years has been accused of a long list of crimes.
As Raschke notes, there is no dabbling in the occult because depravity and bondage quickly develop.
Satan may promise much, but never delivers.
In 2021, I interviewed Carl Raschke and asked him about the Satanic Panic and his book. He believes to this day that there was a massive PR campaign to sanitize the bad press and he actually became a target of Satanic propagandists.
“There was a whole PR campaign to try to sanitize what was happening and I was the target. A lot of these groups had the kind of intellectual authority. Satanism was not my thing. I knew a lot about it. I’d heard a lot about it on the ground.
The narrative, let’s call it, the PR campaign, was actually pushed by less than reputable academics who were just kind of in it to protect themselves and to protect their research clients.
I’m not saying there was necessarily a thing corrupt about it though. There have been rumors that it’s kind of like the tobacco industry.
How they tried to tell you in the early days that tobacco is not as harmful as they got their authorities together and they created this narrative,” Raschke emphasized.
He said, “That Satanism was a panic, based on the idea of a moral panic, that term was posed by a guy. I can’t remember his name, but it was called satanic panic.
It came out in the nineties and it was a sociological term that basically tried to look at the whole phenomenon as if it were just a bunch of spooked out people who didn’t really understand what was going on, who were panicking.
That’s totally false because the thing emerged kind of organically and slowly.
There must be this pure thing, purity you call Satanism, which is being slandered and abused and blah, blah, blah. And you know, so the whole thing was literally a shit show.
I got caught up in the middle of that and the book I didn’t expect that I was just trying to honestly write from the notes and the interviews and the stuff I read,” Raschke noted.
Similar to what Carl Rashke found, I also discovered the facts that people have been murdering people all across the U.S. for several decades that claimed to be either Satanists, demon possessed or did so under the orders of Satan or the Devil.
To a person outside the occult world of black magic and Satanism, they might ignorantly think that these stories are just crazy journalism and part of some type of Satanic Panic propaganda. But they could not be more wrong.
It is important to note that the people who commit serious crimes they claim their allegiance to Satanism are just a tiny fraction of the Satanic movement as a whole. But due to the serious nature of the crimes that some of these people commit, to say it is not a problem or factor is simply a lie.
I have found that both the Church of Satan and the Satanic Temple have made these public statements about the ordeal,
The Church of Satan has stated;
As Satanism is a recognized “New Religious Movement,” it’s important for an understanding of what is and what is not Satanism to be maintained. “The Satanic Panic” in the 1980s-90s is evidence of a willful distortion of this religion as the concept of a conspiracy of murderous “satanists” was promoted primarily by evangelical Christians and taken-up by the media worldwide.
Law enforcement debunked the claims of the evangelists but not before many people had become victims of false accusations of ritual child abuse, sacrifice, and kidnapping.
Some Christians—despite the five decades of a clearly defined belief system called Satanism expounded by a worldwide organization—still use this term to reference any acts or beliefs they consider to be “evil” or simply contrary to their own beliefs.
Ill-informed members of law enforcement agencies and journalists, often believers in some form of Christianity, also continue to misrepresent the religion of Satanism.
If the definition of Satanism is not kept clear, any unstable or insane person working from a Christian context could claim their actions were due to self-termed “satanic beliefs,” thus criminally implicating actual open adherents of Satanism to the public at large, people who are not generally familiar with the beliefs and tenets of religious Satanism.
The recent case of murderer Amanda Barbour, who along with her boyfriend murdered one person but claimed to have murdered many others as part of an interstate “satanic cult,” is another example.
The Church of Satan works publicly to maintain a clear understanding of the atheist, individualistic, and law-abiding nature of Satanism and regularly consults with law enforcement as well as journalistic researchers and academicians to this end.”
It appears that the Church of Satan is making a valid claim that these killers are just lunatics and even though they may be “affiliatd with some form of Satanism,” in no way is this some vast conspiracy of an organized Satanic cult. The reason I say that is valid is because I agree with them on this point.
What I do not agree with is the entire claim that these killers are in their words “any unstable or insane person working from a Christian context could claim their actions were due to self-termed satanic beliefs.”
While I agree with the truth that these people are unstable and or insane, the reason I don’t entirely agree is because there are many different sects of Satanism and also personal Satanic beliefs. People will kill innocent people and abuse babies in the name of Satan and or no God regardless of what anyone says or what press release is issued.
The Satanic Temple claims that the Satanic Panic was mainly about Satanic Ritual Child Abuse such as the McMartin Preschool Trials, which occurred a few years later during the late 1980s.
Here is their general statement on Satanic Panic;
“We then see an unconvincing attempt to justify this petty and undignified public temper tantrum with the claim that “it’s important for an understanding of what is and what is not Satanism to be maintained.
“The Satanic Panic” in the 1980s-90s is evidence of a willful distortion of this religion as the concept of a conspiracy of murderous ‘satanists’ was promoted primarily by evangelical Christians and taken-up by the media worldwide. Law enforcement debunked the claims of the evangelists but not before many people had become victims of false accusations of ritual child abuse, sacrifice, and kidnapping.”
Apparently, this “understanding” can only be gained by dogged insistence that only the website of the CoS defines Satanism. This is particularly infuriating as TST, unlike the CoS, has been actively fighting against the Satanic Panic which still exists, nor is it “promoted primarily by evangelical Christians.”
One need only look at our Grey Faction campaign to recognize that actively fighting back against anti-Satanist propagandists is one of the primary functions of TST.”
On the Satanic Temple’s website via their Grey Faction initiative, they state one of its main purposes is to “document, expose, and aggressively seek to bring to an end pseudoscientific mental health care practices that contribute to harmful conspiracist Satanic Panic delusions.”
I agree that pseudoscientific mental health care practices should be exposed and put an end to, but the facts are that this is just the small tip of the Satanic Panic iceberg. While there is definitely some validity to these claims by the Satanic Temple, it is only one of the reasons for the Satanic Panic.
In our present culture, religious Satanism exists primarily as a decentralized subculture. It does not appear to be an organized front on the surface but I contend that Satanists are united by their ideologies and thus united by an inherently “selfish and evil state of mind” that often (not always) leads to the practitioners unhappiness, destruction, and sometimes death.
What I’m simply claiming is what they are failing to address are the various crimes and murders that have been committed over the last five decades by people who claim to be aligned and or influenced by Satanism in some fashion.
With that said, let me state again that not all Satanists are evil, child abusers, and or criminals.
The facts are that 99% of the Satanists in the modern world are people just like you and me but who have chosen the Satanic lifestyle i.e.: individualistic, carnal, selfish, and materialistic life over the spiritual as their chief aim. You will find a hell of a lot of good people in this movement and the vast majority are certainly not all evil child abusers and or killers of innocent people for Satanic sport.
In fact, many of the people who I might call “good Satanists” would enjoy nothing more than killing the evil Satanists like child abusers and killers for sport. I have seen it happen in prison and it happens all the time behind bars.
The reality is that to the average person and even the hardened criminal, it is unthinkable how any one person could become so diabolical and evil that a good night for them is to go hunt for little children or women to abuse, rape, torture, and kill for sport.
Many people would say they are not human. Religionists may call them Demons. Like the Christian Scripture says, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”
Please keep in mind that when I use the words demons, Satan, and the devil when speaking about some of these brutal killers, these names are not something I dreamt of for a script or religious sensationalism.
No, these are the actual words used by many of the Satanists and murderers themselves after they are caught.
In no particular order, I would like to give you some real-world examples of cold-blooded killers who have said they worship Satan and or were Satanists.
It is important that you understand that the stories I present are just a small example of the number of cases that I could have reported on. This could be a book spanning several volumes.
But my goal is not to list every crime or murder committed by a Satanist. It is to prove a point that it does happen and that a Satanic State of Mind may not only lead someone to self destruction, it can also result in murder.
You will find that each killer who was involved in Satanism were in every single case young men and women who had terrible childhoods and were abused
They found that Satanism was the perfect ideology to not only accept their damaged and rebellious souls, it was the ideal philosophy to unleash their internalized rage against a society who had abandoned them.
Painted Black by Carl Raschke
The Church of Satan
Moe is the founder of GnosticWarrior.com. He is a father, husband, author, martial arts black belt, and an expert in Gnosticism, the occult, and esotericism.