Most religions like Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam have well defined meanings on exception is Satanism. Most people have their own definition for Satanism.
Some people feel that non-Christian religions and all Christian denominations other than their own are forms of Satanism. This would imply that all Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems, and Jews. In fact at least 75% of the world's population would be Satanists.
Others feel that all religions other than Judaism or Christianity are inspired by Satan and thus are forms of Satanism. This would still leave the vast majority of people in the world being Satanists.
Large numbers of people feel that a wide variety of unrelated, benign religions (such as Santeria and other Caribbean religions, Druidism, New Age, Wicca, etc
.) are forms of Satanism.
Such definitions create great confusion. The following are recommended terms and descriptions for four essentially unrelated religions that have been called Satanism.
The first is Religious Satanism, This faith includes the recognition of Satan either as a deity or as a principle. Three main denominations exist: the Church of Satan, the Temple of Set, and the Church of Satanic Liberation. Other short lived Satanic groups currently exist and have existed in the recent past. According to Statistic Canada, the 1991 census found 335 Canadians who identified themselves as Satanists. The actual Number is probably significantly larger. A United States Department of the Army pamphlet #165-13 "RELIGIOUS REQUIREMENTS AND PRACTICES OF CERTAIN SELECTED GROUPS - A HANDBOOK FOR CHAPLAINS" (1978 - April) estimated that there were 10 to 20 thousand members of the Church of Satan in the United States. Accurate data is impossible to estimate, since the largest group (The Church of Satan) does not release its membership totals.
It is important to realize that the Satan they recognize has few if any point s of similarity with the Christian concept of Satan. The Satanists' concept of Satan is pre-Christian, and derived from the Pagan image of power, virility, sexuality and sensuality. To most Satanists, Satan is a force of nature, not a living quasi-deity. Their Satan has nothing to do with Hell, demons, pitchforks or profound evil.
The image of Satanism spawned by Christianity is called Gothic Satanism. It is an imaginary and profoundly evil religion that was invented during the late Middle Ages. Concepts included ritual killing of children, selling their soul to the devil, breaking crucifixes, conducting black masses, etc . It has
never existed in the past, and does not exist today, except in the imagination of the public.
Another form of Satanism is Teen Satanism: A syncretistic religion which is a blend of Religious Satanism, Gothic Satanism, ceremonial magick, and any other useful sources of ritual that they can find. It is practiced by rebellious teenagers or young adults - typically for a short interval. They probably number in the tens or hundreds of thousands at any one time in North America. An exact estimate is impossible to obtain, since they are totally devoid of any central organization. They occasionally engage in minor criminal activities such as vandalizing cemeteries and graffiti involving Satanic symbols. In rare instances, a few have been known to sacrifice animals.
Other types of Satanism: Occasionally, serial murderers will claim to be Satanists in order to justify their horrendous activities. Police investigation reveals that they know little about the religion. A small percentage of child molesters will abuse children in a Satanic setting as a means of controlling the victims. The molesters are not actual Satanists; they are simply using the facade of Satanism to further their criminal acts. Some heavy metal rock bands pretend to be associated with Satanism. Their main reason is to gain notoriety in order to sell more records. These tree forms of...