Doug Mesner, who goes by the professional name Lucien Greaves, is co-founder and spokesman for the Satanic Temple, a group of political activists who are seeking to establish After School Satan Clubs as a counterpart to fundamentalist Christian Good News Clubs, which they see as an attempt to infiltrate public education and erode the constitutional separation of church and state. (Josh Reynolds/For The Washington Post)

Doug Mesner, who goes by the professional name Lucien Greaves, is co-founder and spokesman for the Satanic Temple, a group of political activists who are seeking to establish After School Satan Clubs as a counterpart to fundamentalist Christian Good News Clubs, which they see as an attempt to infiltrate public education and erode the constitutional separation of church and state. (Josh Reynolds for The Washington Post)


SALEM, Mass. — It’s a hot summer night, and leaders of the Satanic Temple have gathered in the crimson-walled living room of a Victorian manse in this city renowned for its witch trials in the 17th century. They’re watching a sepiatoned video, in which children dance around a maypole, a spider crawls across a clown’s face and eerie, ambient chanting gives way to a backward, demonic voiceover. The group chuckles with approval.


They’re here plotting to bring their wisdom to the nation’s public elementary school children. They point out that Christian evangelical groups already have infiltrated the lives of America’s children through after-school religious programming in public schools, and they appear determined to give young students a choice: Jesus or Satan.


“It’s critical that children understand that there are multiple perspectives on all issues, and that they have a choice in how they think,” said Doug Mesner, the Satanic Temple’s co-founder.


On Monday, the group plans to introduce its After School Satan Club to public elementary schools, including one in Prince George’s County, petitioning school officials to allow them to open immediately as the academic year starts. Chapter heads from New York, Boston, Utah and Arizona were in Salem on July 10 talking strategy, with others from Minneapolis, Detroit, San Jose, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Florida participating online. The promotional video, which feels like a mash-up of a horror movie trailer and a “Saturday Night Live” sketch, will serve to promote the new club along with its website — Afterschoolsatan.com.


The Satanic Temple — which has been offering tongue-in-cheek support for the fallen angel in public arenas that have embraced prayer and parochial ceremonies — is bringing its fight over constitutional separation of church and state to the nation’s schools.


But the group’s plan for public schoolchildren isn’t actually about promoting worship of the devil. The Satanic Temple doesn’t espouse a belief in the existence of a supernatural being that other religions identify solemnly as Satan, or Lucifer, or Beelzebub. The Temple rejects all forms of supernaturalism and is committed to the view that scientific rationality provides the best measure of reality.


According to Mesner, who goes by the professional name of Lucien Greaves, “Satan” is just a “metaphorical construct” intended to represent the rejection of all forms of tyranny over the human mind.


The curriculum for the proposed after-school clubs emphasizes the development of reasoning and social skills. The group says meetings will include a healthful snack, literature lesson, creative learning activities, a science lesson, puzzle solving and an art project. Every child will receive a membership card and must have a signed parental permission slip to attend.


“We think it’s important for kids to be able to see multiple points of view, to reason things through, to have empathy and feelings of benevolence for their fellow human beings,” said the Satanic Temple’s Utah chapter head, who goes by the name Chalice Blythe.


The emphasis on multiple perspectives is a hint pointing to the Temple’s true foe. The group at first intends to roll out the clubs in a limited number of schools in districts that also host an evangelical Christian after-school program known as the Good News Club.


Good News Clubs, which are sponsored by an organization founded in 1937 called the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), aim to reach children as young as 5 with a fundamentalist form of evangelical Christianity. For most of their history, Good News Clubs were largely excluded from public schools out of concern that their presence would violate the Constitution.


In 2001, in a case that commanded the resources of powerful legal advocacy groups on the religious right, including the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Liberty Counsel, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that to exclude an after-school program on account of the religious views of its sponsors amounted to a violation of free-speech rights. The CEF then went on a tear, and by 2011, it reported 3,560 Good News Clubs, putting them in more than 5 percent of the nation’s public elementary schools.


The Satanic Temple makes no secret of its desire to use that same approach.


“We would like to thank the Liberty Counsel specifically for opening the doors to the After Satan Clubs through their dedication to religious liberty,” Greaves explained to the gathering of chapter heads in Salem. “So, ‘the Satanic Temple leverages religious freedom laws that put afterschool clubs in elementary schools nationwide.’ That’s going to be the message.”


The Liberty Counsel agrees that the Satanic Temple has a right to organize its clubs in public schools and takes the view that they can’t be banned so long as they’re not disruptive or engaging in rituals that put people at risk.


“I would definitely oppose after-school Satanic clubs, but they have a First Amendment right to meet,” said Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel’s founder and chairman. “I suspect, in this particular case, I can’t imagine there’s going to be a lot of students participating in this. It’s probably dust they’re kicking up and is likely to fade away in the near future for lack of interest.”


The Satanic Temple is eager to compete directly with the Good News Clubs and doesn’t hide its belief that its own after-school product is on the right side.


“While the Good News Clubs focus on indoctrination, instilling children with a fear of hell and God’s wrath, After School Satan Clubs will focus on free inquiry and rationalism,” Greaves said. “We prefer to give children an appreciation of the natural wonders surrounding them, not a fear of an everlasting other-worldly horror.”


Good News Club leaders have defended their organization’s presence in public schools. According to the Good News Club’s website, “each club includes a clear presentation of the Gospel and an opportunity for children to trust the Lord Jesus as Savior. Every club also includes strong discipleship training to build character and strengthen moral and spiritual growth.”


Amy Jensen, a professional educator in Tucson who has a master’s degree in curriculum, instruction and teaching from the University of Denver, says she has decided to lead an After School Satan Club after comparing its curriculum materials with those of the Good News Club. Jensen noted that the Satanic Temple’s materials say the group encourages benevolence and empathy among all people, and advocates practical common sense.


“As a teacher, if I were deciding whether to teach that or the fear and hatred of other people’s beliefs, which is what Good News Clubs teach, I would choose what the Satanic Temple has available,” she said.


Like all ASSC teachers, Jensen is a volunteer. To cover After School Satan Club costs, including facility use fees and curriculum materials, the Satanic Temple is launching a crowdfunding campaign — which is how it covers many of its initiatives.


The blend of political activism, religious critique and performance art that characterizes the After School Satan Club proposal is not a new approach for the Satanic Temple. It is just the most recent in a series of efforts that have made the Temple famous and notorious.


In 2014, after the Supreme Court ruled that the regular recitation of prayers before town meetings did not violate the First Amendment, provided that towns do not discriminate among religions, the Temple decided to test just how much religious liberty towns allowed. They volunteered to perform a Satanic benediction in an Arizona town where the board had regularly opened with a Christian prayer. In that case, the town preferred to abolish the practice of opening prayers.


David Suhor from the Satanic Temple delivered a unique invocation after several minutes of protester disruption at a Pensacola City Council meeting on July 14. (Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)


In this and other instances — such as when the Satanic Temple proposed the installation of a statue of Baphomet in Oklahoma in response to a stone monument emblazoned with the Ten Commandments — the thrust of the Temple’s activism has been to prevent religious groups from claiming the mantle of implicit state endorsement.


The group’s activism has much in common with a movement started a decade ago, when Bobby Henderson of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster penned an open letter to the Kansas School Board in 2005, citing fears that the introduction of teaching religious intelligent design alongside the theory of evolution would inculcate public school students with Christian thought. Henderson argued that believing that there is a benevolent deity made of spaghetti and meatballs is just as legitimate as believing in God. Believers in the Flying Spaghetti Monster took on the name “Pastafarians.”


Like the Satanic Temple, the Pastafarians insist that theirs is a genuine religion. According to Henderson, who published “The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster” in 2006, it’s inaccurate to say that his church is “purely a thought experiment or satire.”


“The Church of FSM is legit, and backed by hard science. Anything that comes across as humor or satire is purely coincidental,” Henderson says on his website. “Let me make this clear: we are not anti-religion, we are anti-crazy nonsense done in the name of religion. There is a difference.”


Greaves likewise insists that the Satanic Temple is much more than satire: “We’ve moved well beyond being a simple political ploy and into being a very sincere movement that seeks to separate religion from superstition,” he said.


The Satanic Temple expects to face opposition to its after-school proposal. When the group sought to erect the Baphomet monument, the Oklahoma governor’s office dismissed the proposal as “absurd,” and right-wing activists joined the attack.


Given the fight ahead and the long odds of pushing Christianity out of public schools, an important question about the After School Satan Clubs is: Does the Satanic Temple really want religion — even its own — in public schools?


Greaves is blunt: “We are only doing this because Good News Clubs have created a need for this. If Good News Clubs would operate in churches rather than public schools, that need would disappear. But our point is that if you let one religion into the public schools you have to let others, otherwise it’s an establishment of religion.”


In the 2001 Supreme Court ruling, Justice David Souter penned a scathing dissent. He suggested that the decision would bring about a world in which “any public school opened for civic meetings must be opened for use as a church, synagogue, or mosque.”


The Satanic Temple probably wasn’t front and center in his thinking. Yet it appears determined to prove him correct.



Katherine Stewart
The Washington Post


Devil Worship: Exposing Satan’s Underground
The Geraldo Rivera Show, USA, Episode aired 22 October 1988, 90 min



‘Geraldo investigates allegations of a widespread Satanic underground in the United States. He talks to investigators and looks at occult crimes and ritual murders that have been committed in the United States. He also speaks to to self-identified Satanists who deny that Satanism is a dangerous religion.’


***


Is Satan Still a Big Deal in 2016? (June 27, 2016)
The Devil Worshippers (1985) presented by ABC (July 31, 2012)


‘Le festival GRIMPOSIUM explore toutes les facettes de la musique metal extrême (…). L’événement comprend des spectacles, mais aussi des conférences et des films. L’édition 2016 s’intéresse à la culture du black metal norvégien. On a rencontré l’organisateur pour parler des similitudes entres les scènes metal québécoise et norvégienne.’




BlekkMetal
Directed by David Hall
Presented by Grimposium and Uneasy Sleeper.


BlekkMetal film Canadian premiere, Q&A with festival organizers and filmmakers; at VA114 cinema, Concordia University (Montréal p.Q.) – FREE on 3rd July. Facebook event here.



BLEKKMETAL - screening


***


GRIMPOSIUM: The Resurrection (June 18, 2015)
GRIMPOSIUM: Trve Kvlt Arts, Films, Sounds and Texts in Extreme Metal (March 22, 2014)


***


Black Metal (1998) de MARILYN WATELET (July 13, 2015)
How Much Black Metal Can You Take? (April 13, 2014)
One Man Metal (2012) presented by Noisey (December 20, 2012)
Xasthur par BRYAN SHEFFIELD, Self-Titled numéro 8 (June 23, 2011)
Black Metal Satanica (2008) by MATS LUNDBERG (June 13, 2011)
‘Black Metal’ (2005) photographs by STACY KRANITZ (June 4, 2011)
Svart Metall’ (2009) par GRANT WILLING (June 2, 2011)
Until the Light Takes Us (2009) by AARON AITES & AUDREY EWELL (June 1, 2011)
Norsk Black Metal (Norwegian Black Metal) (December 4, 2010)
Det Svarte Alvor (1994) A Black Metal Documentary (December 2, 2010)

#PatrimoinePQ



The Pyx
Harvey Hart, Canada, 1973, 108 min



A detective investigating the death of a heroin-addicted prostitute uncovers evidence pointing to the existence of a murderous devil cult.


The Pyx (1973) by HARVEY HART

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Satan’s Sabbath (1972) de JEAN BEAUDIN (August 21, 2014)

SATANIC PANIC: POP-CULTURAL PARANOIA IN THE 1980s

In a complete surprise to its authors, Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s, has sold out its first run. The second release by Spectacular Optical—a Canadian small-press publisher named after the ominous store-front from David Cronenberg’s Videodrome—explores the hysteria that percolated in the 1980s over devils hiding behind every door, be it in film, TV, music, and even children’s toys! Satan was everywhere! No one was safe!


Luckily their UK Publisher FAB Press has just released a new printing to catch up with the unexpected demand.


We met up with editors Kier-La Janisse and Paul Corupe to talk about the book’s success, whether Satan is still relevant in 2016 and what’s on the horizon.


VICE: Were you surprised the book sold out so quickly? Or were you surprised that the book was so quickly embraced?
Kier-La Janisse: I was surprised it sold out so quickly only because I usually don’t have that kind of luck, not to mention we only sold it in pre-sales through Indiegogo, on our website, and in person at events. And hardly anyone reviewed it—but the good thing about that is that it means the FAB Press edition can still get out there a lot more widely. But in terms of the appeal of the content, I wasn’t surprised people responded to it—people are very interested in this stuff and yet seem to have a superficial understanding of how it all played out, what influences were at work, etc. And so the book tries to show how all these different elements combined to create kind of a perfect storm.


What parts of the book still resonate in 2016?
Paul Corupe: Obviously, the popular fascination of the time has died down but most of it still resonates today since so much of it ended in questions, rather than answers. There are still heated corners of the internet who passionately debate this kind of stuff, and current scandals like the Jimmy Savile allegations seem to dredge up the past again and again. Like, if this stuff really happened, then the McMartin preschool case wasn’t so far fetched, right? Every time some kid up in court blames a heavy metal or rap song for what they did, the shadow of the panic will rise again.


Janisse: As gets mentioned in the book a few times, this kind of a panic resurfaced in the UK in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal and in both cases the idea of organized child abuse always somehow gets lumped in with a supernatural conspiracy in a way that undermines the charges. So as far as that significant part of the Satanic Panic that involved sexual abuse cases, those allegations and anxieties have been more visible in the news in recent years, but the pop-cultural artifacts of the 80s relating to fears about heavy metal and dungeons and dragons, those are a part of their time, and so they are of interest to people due to a very distinct aesthetic that people are nostalgic about.


If Trump wins in America would you do a book thirty years down the road about the kinds of moral panics his presidency would inspire?
Corupe: Of course. We don’t yet know whether phone apps and self-driving cars are portals to the occult, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.


This fear of the unknown seems ludicrous today yet as a child I would have nightmares about Satan. My brother’s Iron Maiden wall hanging scared me. Did either of you have the same fears?
Janisse: I was raised Catholic so I definitely feared Satan and demons and all these things as a kid. And Catholicism is an especially fertile place for these anxieties to fester because Catholic imagery is so violent and grim. And in turn I think Catholicism totally fed my love of horror films—but my love of these films, and of dark music with gruesome theatrics—Alice Cooper was a favourite as a kid—also made me realize that it was possible to engage with these things and not be evil—so when musicians like Ozzy Osbourne were persecuted, or kids who played Dungeons and Dragons were portrayed as being under Satan’s spell, I felt it, because I knew that could be me. Luckily I was never denied access to horror films because my parents liked them too, but my mom’s anxiety about Satanism came out in other weird ways, usually involving household products we weren’t allowed to buy because of Satanic origins (i.e. anything made by Procter & Gamble).


Do you believe in Satan? Is Satan real?
Corupe: With apologies to the Louvin Brothers: No.



With Alison Lang’s essay on the Geraldo TV special and Ralph Elawani’s essay on Satanic anxiety in Quebec I sense that a large function of this book is to address the power and hypocrisy from such white male authorities as the Catholic church , no?
Corupe: That’s certainly a good interpretation of what happened, although we tried to keep our focus on the pop culture aspects of the panic. For me, the book is more about the con artists, conspiracy theorists and mentally unbalanced individuals that had this unprecedented impact on pop culture at the time. I don’t personally believe that the panic was really waged by the church and hardline religious types, but more by the supposed born-again Satanic priests who built cults of personality around claims that they committed atrocities before turning to God. It’s true that many influential religious organizations hypocritically embraced these figures and accepted their stories as authentic, but it’s not terribly surprising because they were being told what they wanted to hear—that those without God were tools of Satan.


Janisse: We just wanted to document things as objectively as possible (while still allowing individual authors their opinions) and as we were working on it, it became a much heavier thing than we anticipated, full of tragedy that was the result of hypocrisy, ignorance and those who took advantage of it. So, yes, that did end up being the overarching theme of the book.


Do films on Satan still hold up due to their primal power or are they just plain silly?
Janisse: Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and The Omen have not lost their power. That’s partially the primal urge to believe these stories due to centuries of being hammered over the head with them, but it’s also indicative of expert filmmaking. A great filmmaker should be able to imbue a film with that power regardless of whether or not the audience are even familiar with Catholicism. Take a movie like The Believers or Angel Heart—I would guess a big part of their audience were not familiar with the practices of Voodoo or Santeria—but the idea of a religion you are not a part of and don’t understand is probably even freakier to most people than something that uses traditional devil imagery as depicted in the Christian bible. Anyways, the classics I mentioned are not part of the Satanic Panic era—many of the films of that era remain thoroughly enjoyable—Trick or Treat or The Gate for instance—but are definitely campy and silly.


Are we seeing a return to the occult in cinema with movies like The Witch, Kill List and the heavily Judeo-Christian The Conjuring ? Why do you think that is? Before that, there seemed to be a period where the monster was Matthew Lillard or that Michael Myers simply had a bad childhood.
Corupe: Yes, House of The Devil (2009) seemed to kick off a wave of new Satanic thrillers over the last decade. I can’t really say why we’ve seen a resurgence, but perhaps it has something to do with the increased polarity of political viewpoints in the United States, and groups like the Westboro Baptist Church gaining media attention. To many, religion can still be an all-consuming and scary thing.


Janisse: Agreed—we are in a time of religious extremism, so it makes sense that religion has become a popular poison in horror films again, and I suppose Satanism and other types of marginal occult religions are easier to demonize without having to engage directly in a political discussion.


What’s the most Satanic Canadian film and why?
Corupe: There are two French-Canadian films that fit the bill perfectly. The Possession of Virginia (1972) and The Pyx (1973) are about Satanic cults, and both end with black masses. These films were made in the wake of similar Hollywood horror, but also play into Quebec’s close relationship with the Catholic church that started to unravel in the 1970s. But The Gate (1988) is probably the best Satanic Panic-inspired film to come out of Canada, since it involves kids playing metal records backwards and opening up a portal to hell in their backyard.


Janisse: The Devil and Daniel Mouse! It’s just the greatest Canadian film, period.


Have you ever called 976-EVIL?
Corupe: No way—there’s not much scarier than a huge phone bill.


What’s your favourite, made-up, ludicrous ‘fact’ that was perpetuated in that era?
Corupe: There’s all kinds of facts that get passed around in TV specials and Christian videos of the time, from baby sacrifices to the Smurfs getting kids acclimatized to death to Satanists consulting on horror movies. But I particularly like Jack Chick’s comic book Spellbound, which says that all rock songs (including Christian rock) are essentially evil magic spells that are made by combining ancient druidic melodies with lyrics written by witches. Then, the master tape is blessed by “Satan’s top demon” at a ceremony under a full moon before it is put into the hands of impressionable teenagers. Seems plausible.


Why did Satanic Panic end?
Corupe: Nothing concrete ever came of all the accusations. The McMartin trial fizzled out, the West Memphis 3 case began and rock musicians began to actively rally behind their cause. Some of the concerns about heavy metal and D&D faded as those particular pastimes started to fade in popularity to make way for other teenage preoccupations in the ’90s. It was kind of like all the stars aligned in the 1980s for the panic to happen, but by the 1990s the case that the devil controlled popular culture started to unravel a bit. Of course, there are still people who believe this, though.


Kid Power, the first book by your company Spectacular Optical was about child empowerment in film. This book seems to be more about the scary puberty years where one would flirt with evil. What will the third book be?
Corupe: Our next book is going to cover Christmas horror in film and TV. There’s never been a comprehensive look at this phenomenon, and we hope to look at everything from Santa slashers to holiday ghost stories to the recent resurgence of Krampus.



Robert Dayton
Vice


***


Satanic Panic Hardcover Collector’s Set now available from FAB Press (May 15, 2016)
MMXV, Rapport annuel, bilan des opérations (December 31, 2015)
KIER-LA JANISSE and PAUL CORUPE launch Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s (July 3, 2015)
Alban Hefin, Midsommar, Litha, Samradh, Vestalia, Solstitium, Solstice Été MMXV (June 21, 2015)
A new anthology book on how the fear of a Satanic conspiracy spread through 1980s pop culture
(June 15, 2015)
Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s (March 31, 2015)

Liturgie Apocryphe

"The production of nervous force is directly connected with the diet of an individual, and its refining depends on the very purity of this diet, allied to appropriate breathing exercises.

The diet most calculated to act effectively on the nervous force is that which contains the least quantity of animal matter; therefore the Pythagorean diet, in this connection, is the most suitable.

...

The main object was to avoid introducing into the organism what Descartes called 'animal spirits'. Thus, all animals that had to serve for the nourishment of the priests were slaughtered according to special rites, they were not murdered, as is the case nowadays".