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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Term: satanism

DEFINITIONS

Satanism: The worship of Satan. Although there is very little evidence of the existence of Satanism prior to the 17th century, many were accused of it and died because of the accusation. Actual Satanism developed in response to the repressiveness of Christian authorities and frequently simply reversed Christian practices and symbolism with such things as reciting the Lord’s Prayer backwards or spitting on the holy symbol of Christianity, the cross, or Crucifix.

In 1966, Anton LaVey founded the Church of Satan to practice his form of Satanism that did not worship Satan at all. Rather, it promotes a philosophy of extreme individualism and can be compared to Objectivism, libertarianism, and Nietzscheism. There are also some other groups practicing Satanism of this kind, the most notable being the Temple of Set. There are some smaller groups based on the writings of devout Christians (criticizing supposed Satanists), the writings of LaVey, novels, comic books, and even fictional movies.

In the late decades of the 20th century, some Christians started seeing “satanic abuse” everywhere, resulting in expensive legal cases, the destruction of families, and the ruination of many lives.


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