Should Satanism Be a Religion?

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GEK1045: “Introduction to World Religions”
Semester 1 AY2010-2011
Term Paper COVER PAGE

Name: LIM YU CONG DARRYL

Matric Number: A0086492U

Tutorial Time: THURSDAY, 1000-1200HRS

Question Attempted: 01

Please attach proof of Special Consideration/Extension approved by your tutor

A world religion encapsulates the following: “(1) A worldwide view; (2) The presence of a community of faith” (Schmidt et al 2005, 1). Through the years, religion has also provided “culturally prescribed solutions” for “human social and psychological problems” and naturally became an “essential ingredient in society” (William et al 1979, 36). In other words, for any group to be called a religion, apart from the need for man’s acceptance to qualify the presence of a community of faith, it must also be seen as a provider of answers people sought after in life. That is why religions can be said to be born out of the “real tragedies of human life” (Malinowski 1931, 634-642) – we turned to them in times of anguish. In my opinion, it is also vital that a religion does not create any problems for the country – why would any government condone a “trouble maker”?

Although these definitions are not comprehensive, they are adequate for my use to deny the application of the Church of Satan to be included in the Parliament of World Religions. I will look at aspects of this cult which prevent it from gaining popularity with the masses. These aspects also outline the cult’s misfit in the definitions given above, hence withholding it from becoming a World Religion.

We will first examine the name of Satan. Just as how Christians are followers of Christ and Muslims that of Allah, Satanists follow Satan. This brings about a very negative connotation because Satan, in the Christian context, depicts a figure “associated with sex, pride, non-conformity, rebellion and individualism” (Petersen (ed.) 2009, 2). Most people would even imagine witchcraft and the occult, though it might just be a common misconception. (Many true Satanists would object, insisting that Satanism is just a “self-religion which encourages each individual to reach their own potential” (Petersen (ed.) 2009, 29).) The idea of a worldwide acceptance of a seemingly occult group might then trigger fear within many because of the reputation established by the occult, as supported by the example below, where we can see a subversive form of a cult.

The Aum Shinrokyo cult was registered as a religion in 1989. Their practices included self-mutilation by immersing oneself in scalding water and an absurd adoration of the founder, Shoko Asahara, through acts like kissing his toes. This apparently ridiculous religion shot to notoriety because of the Tokyo Subway Sarin Gas Attack in 1995, where many were killed or injured (Hays 2009)[1]. One then makes the following link: (1) This cult with absurd rituals (which include the harming of one’s body) actually caused great harm. (2) This is probably because of the destructive nature of their practices (self-mutilation) – one would not be surprised if they thus do destructive acts. (3) Other cults with similar practices would probably, for the same reasons, be dangerous as well. The Church of Satan is also psychologically associated by many to be a cult with rituals that include self mutilation. This is due to the presence of many small occult groups who claim to be Satanists (Petersen (ed.) 2009, 34-35). These similarities ensure that the acceptance of Satanism as a World Religion would trigger commotion.

One might argue that educating the world about Satanism would help. However, it is one thing to educate but another to convince. Efforts have been made to clarify its true doctrine, but the mindset of the world remains unchanged. Its use of ambiguous symbols like the inverted star further reduces its credibility. The star is iconic of Satanism but also a sign of the devil as it takes on the shape of a goat (Russell 1977, 254). If the...
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