Why might members of the Satanic Temple find it easier than Christians to follow some teachings of Jesus? The answer lies in their sacred values and rules.
Many Christians believe that the most dangerous enemy of their religion would be a follower of Satan. But sometimes Christians are their own worst enemy—even with Satanists in the mix.
Christianity’s Battered Brand
This fall, Christianity’s brand has been battered, not by Satanists but by the behavior of Christians themselves: Catholic corporations headed to the Supreme Court, trying yet again to prevent women from preventing pregnancy. U.S. Presidential Candidate Ben Carson declared on biblical authority that the Egyptian Pyramids were actually built to store grain. The Mormon hierarchy issued a formal ruling that baptism and temple initiation (including protective undergarments) would be denied to children of gay couples. Christianists in Houston defeated gender equality legislation by whipping up fear of cross-dressing men lurking in women’s bathrooms. And research went viral showing that children from secular homes are more generous, less prickly and less punitive than children raised under Christian and Muslim parents.
For those who think that Christianity a fount of love, one of the more ironic images of the fall was that of Christian football fans loudly jeering a small group of Satanists who quietly tolerated their hostilities or, in the words of Jesus, “turned the other cheek.”
The encounter occurred during a Washington conflict over prayer after high school football games. Some students thought that if Christians got to pray at midfield, others should have the same right, and they invited members of the Satanic Temple to their game. That made some Christian students unhappy.
Lilith Starr heads the Seattle chapter of the Satanic Temple, which eschews all forms of supernaturalism but sees Satan as a timeless icon “for the selfless revolt against tyranny, free & rational inquiry, and the responsible pursuit of happiness.” Starr describes her experience at the football game: “They were screaming at us and some were throwing water. We were really there to support the students who had invited us, but as those students were escorted through the crowd someone was yelling, ‘Dyke!’ and ‘Everybody hates you’ at them. We met the students and hugged them, but we didn’t really want to distract from the game. That was their last home game. So at that point we decided to leave.”
Seven Tenets vs. Ten Commandments
Skeptics have questioned whether the Satanic Temple is real religion or simply smart political theater but founder Lucien Greaves insists it is genuine, citing other religions that lack supernatural beliefs. According to Starr, she and fellow practitioners are simply living according to Satanic precepts.
The Satanic Temple, which is based in Massachusetts but has approximately 20 chapters across the U.S., lists their seven fundamental tenets as the following:
- One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.
- The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
- One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
- The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own.
- Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
- People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused.
- Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.
Anyone who is familiar with the Ten Commandments will immediately recognize that these seven tenets offer an easier path to equanimity than do the famous Ten. The first of the Ten Commandments—Thou shalt have no other gods before me–asserts the primacy of a single deity rather than the primacy of compassion and empathy. It prescribes competition between religious worldviews–the very antagonism expressed by Christian students in Bremerton and Christian callers from across the country.
By contrast, the seven tenets emphasize positive, pro-social values rather than bad behaviors to be avoided. They largely express egalitarian values that transcend tribal boundaries, in contrast to the Ten Commandments, which endorse the view that women, slaves, and livestock are possessions of men. They invite inquiry rather than certitude, and individuality over tribalism.
Compassion, Acceptance, Meditation
I asked Starr what attracted her to the Satanic Temple. She said that she first became familiar with Satanism through a relationship that has since grown into a marriage. At the time she and her husband met, she was struggling with addiction:
Maybe because he was a Satanist or maybe because he was a good person, he was extremely honest and accepting. He didn’t make judgments; he just loved me for who I was. When that happened, I vowed to live a sacred life. I didn’t believe in God, but I vowed to engage in a sacred practice.
Starr’s leadership in the Seattle Temple is part of that practice. She also says that she was formerly a student of Zen Buddhism and still sits for meditation daily. She sees parallels between compassion as the highest value of Buddhism and that same focus in the Satanic Temple, and in fact has laid out this and related values in a manifesto of sorts at the beginning of her book, The Happy Satanist: Finding Self-Empowerment. “I believe that every human being on this planet deserves love, compassion and connection, regardless of their race, religion, class, sexual orientation, gender, or any other meaningless category beyond ‘human being’. . . . I believe compassion and working together will get us much further than judgment, shame and fear.”
If Lilith and fellow members of the Satanic Temple are representative, the greatest threat to Christianity from Satanism may simply be this: that self-proclaimed followers of Satan come across more sane and kind than self-proclaimed followers of Christ.
Perhaps Christians should consider upgrading from a set of 10 Commandments that were written in the Iron Age to a better set. It might do wonders for Christianity’s public image—and for their ability to follow the teachings of Jesus himself.
Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org. Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel. Subscribe at ValerieTarico.com.
Good, concise article. I concur with the points made by the Satanists, my only reservation being their chosen title; or their presumed “worship” of the Satan entity. If they do not worship Satan (and I’d be very interested in finding out who, or what, they think “Satan” is), then they are not Satanists and their claim on that one point is false. I would never consider becoming a Satanist – why? But I have no arguments with their central seven tenets. Everybody, anywhere in this world, needs to study those tenets and make an effort to live by them.
There are “theistic” and “atheistic” satanists. The former worship a personal Satan entity such as Lucifer, “bringer of light,” a supernatural ally who helps his worshipers find freedom and fulfillment. The latter (e.g. LaVeyans) use the word more as a verb, “to sate,” i.e. to fulfill or satisfy one’s natural inclinations, to celebrate the self in defiance of limiting sociocultural norms; they regard supernatural beings as mythology and the human self as the supreme being.
Thank you, metalnun, for your explanation of the difference between the two. I only knew that one group actually believed in the existence of Beelzebub and the other believed that atheism/their Satanism, have no invisible means of support.
“no invisible means of support” – I like that. Opens up a whole aspect of religious enterprise I’d never thought of before. Religion is supposed to be all about “invisible means of support” but take away its promoters, its properties, its bank accounts and political connections, and of course its adherents – all visible means of support – and what would be left? The litmus and acid test!
Satanists are just like Christianists but they don’t lie and hate. Or murder.
I wouldn’t go that far in trusting anyone, but I’d say that at least they don’t come out as exuding hate and screaming for the murder of opponents.
The Satanic precepts do beat the ten commandments; however, it doesn’t mean that every one of their followers truly believed in them like the one about the freedom of others and maliciously encroaching on them. Some of them don’t feel that they forgo their own freedoms when they do that since they feel there are no negative consequences for doing so.
I do like the one about justice is ongoing and is necessary in this world and that science should not be manipulated. As radio talk show host Norman Goldman said we work with the facts and live with the truth.
I’ve been thinking a lot on the incongruous naming of Satanism for 7 ethical precepts of good humanistic actions such as compassion and empathy.
Sounds worse than some people naming their new group for racial justice, “Nazism”! (“Yes, we are new Nazis, but we aren’t like the Nazis in Germany, because we do support integration, equality, and so forth.
Why do you look confused;-)?
Satanists do not worship Satan or any other supernatural deities. They view Satan as merely a metaphor, or a symbol, for man’s natural flawed nature. Satanism is all about accepting yourself as you are, flaws and all, instead of beating yourself up trying to become perfect. Satanism is about indulgence and enjoying life instead of abstinence and denying yourself the pleasures that make you happy.
I might be missing the point, but I understand that the christian god created Satan; if we take into consideration that said god knows the future, he knew very well what was going to happen with Satan…
I’ve been thinking along those lines for decades. It’s very, very hard for an educated believer in ANY Abrahamic religion to think of an omniscient, omnipotent god who does these things (creating Satan, the Flood, the Passion, and at least dozens more) and come away with the impression that he’s anything short of psychopathic. Another Iron Age “virtue”? The problem with trying to believe in two contradictory absolutes at the same time (“God is omniscient and omnipresent, and hates sin” vs “God gives us free will, including the ability to sin” just being one of the TAMER contradictions) is that it forces you to fairly explicitly ignore observable reality (the ability to observe and interpret also being “God-given”). Faith starts as a small denial of reality, and too often grows into larger ones. It almost makes you wish that the Marcionites had been on to something.
IMO, since it’s all speculation anyway, who says they (the Marcionites) weren’t on to something? Not that it would make any difference which branch of Christianity had moved forward to this time: the end result would be identical – we’re dealing with human nature, not real gods and human nature follows the trends, never the teachings.
Well, most of us were taught in religious schools that Satan represent evil and was an angel who had revolt against god. Of course, when you think about it, if God was so powerful he should have been able to crush Satan without too much trouble and we would have never heard from him again in the Bible.
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What is very revealing to me while a Christian was the story of Job. I wondered and asked “How much power DID Satan have?” After reading this scripture that started my slide away from Christianity and towards humanism. …..”And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.”
Here in this scripture God is supposedly talking to Satan, who God himself cast down from heaven. And God is literally saying… “the devil made me do it.” This would never hold up in court. And I started critically thinking about the bible and who wrote it. It was eye opening. I thought to myself, How powerful was this Satan that he could MOVE God against anyone?
And another eye opener. God killed how many in the bible? Satan killed how many? Who is more evil?
“It might do wonders for Christianity’s public image—and for their ability to follow the teachings of Jesus himself.”
Still think a Jesus Christ was a made up persona of the Flavian Caesars of the Roman Empire
after their War with Judea 73CE see Caesar’s Messiah
i am surprised by the quality of the seven tenets of satanism, but do not recommend adherence to any religion at all. rather adherence to sense will set us free and usher in that eternal peace that we all do crave, but for seemingly obvious, in my view, reasons, has not been developed. disappointed in christianity myself, i ask that you please do not associate with jesus and let it spoil his name, as he was a supremely honest individual. please make efforts at achieving the waste and pollution free society that is a most definite precursor of the eternal paradise which we all crave and truthfully approaches. this is made surprisingly easy with modern technologies such as email with which you can contact companies and encourage their adoption of conscious and responsible production methods. we also need to be conscious of the unity of all life, not solely humanity. i am excited, it is approaching. peace
Wealthy people and corporations will not listen to us. Their gods are money, power, and unregulated capitalism and that is it.
These are marvelous tenets which every humanist would surely support, especially “One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.”
But what in hell do these tenets have to do with “Satanism”?
As a literature teacher, I understand what the word “Satanism” has usually meant in history.
Why does the writer of these very ethical tenets attach them to a word which has normally meant rape, rapine, slaughter, selfishness, abuse, etc.?
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Probably because they wanted the same tax exempt status and benefits afforded ALL religions in order to be able to make their anti-theist statements known throughout the US.
Obviously you are having a terrible time reconciling your religious beliefs with the fact that there are no supernatural beings, Try to notice the reality that religion poisons everything, especially mankind’s ability to apply reason and logic when engaged in heinous acts of murder and genocide.
Try to rationalize the fact that the Xtian bible encourages performances of the worst acts of mankind.
“You know you have created god in your own image when it hates all the same things you do.”
Because people are not educated, they are not smart, they know little about connotation. The label, Satanism, is historically completely negative, and remains so to this day in all Christian circles. Since we must argue that “Satan” is a made-up entity, then why defend the existence of such a thing? To do so is to hand over a large part of one’s arsenal to one’s enemy. Dumb, exceedingly so. Besides, what is a complete turn off for me is the hypocrisy. Atheists “worshipping” or strutting under the mantle folds of a recognized, feared and hated, religious spook? Why not Atheists united under God then? Why not avoid contradictions or dichotomies rather than spend energy explaining and justifying? I take this one step further, to the abortion issue: it doesn’t have to be abortion, people. That’s a great, big, bad, ugly, negative word that doesn’t even have to be twisted to mean “evil”: historically it carries the connotation of evil. Traditionally conquering soldiers ripped open the bellies of pregnant women and tore out the foetuses: this is more than violence, it’s utter subjugation the deliberate genocide of the next generation. This is in part what your enemies are reacting to: not what you are about, but what their gut instinct reminds them. Religionists don’t have to invent a cause, they only have to tap into an existing well of “horror” and bring out the accumulation of dregs. How easy that is. Get smart, as suggested, use “reproductive health care” or some such neutral label and diffuse the issue from your end. It’s only words, but words, as this entire discussion makes abundantly clear, do kill. And if they’re your own words, and they’re killing you, and you can change the words, the labels, and still accomplish the same thing, then why not? I hate the word “abortion.” It does “something” to me at a gut level. And I’m not the only one: it’s a warning flag that something bad is being done. It doesn’t matter in the least if what I feel inside is “now” supposed to be wrong – what you feel is never wrong: it’s what you feel. Abortionists expect their opponents to fight back the bile they get from the word itself. Won’t happen. I’d go so far as to say it’s a genetic thing. I know that any woman has a full, free, personal RIGHT to choose to terminate a pregnancy, but I struggle to say she should have an abortion. If I struggle with it, imagine what your opponents can do with that “dead man switch?” Time to read some Machiavelli?
Even if people are educated, it doesn’t mean that they are smart.when you look at how they are taught to fear and hate words like socialism and liberalism in a historical and completely negative description and remains so to this day in all conservative political, economic, and social circles.
Many, many, thumbs for a reply that strikes the mark at every level.
In my opinion, you could easily pass as a nom-de-plume for Valerie.
As implied in your reply, the educational level of Americans has declined to the point
of fear, guilt toward their chosen religion and loathing of anything that doesn’t square with the
draconian tenets of their un-holy tome of iniquity.
The reason why many Satanic groups use that term, is because they look at Satan as the first , and original rebel
as Lucifer, the light bringer he brought “light” (reason, knowledge, science and enlightenment)
and by saying they follow Satan..they are saying they too are bringing..or helping to bring, the same and fighting or rebelling against the institutions that limit and hold back society
Hi Capn Howdy. First, Lucifer and “Satan” are two different entities. Christian theologians I’ve talked to about this admit it. Lucifer is a historical figure lost in myth, as sadly so many of man’s ancient heroes are, whereas Satan is a chimera, a convenient invention derived from another figure, a “Son of God” known as the Accuser. Secondly, more to the point, this takes nothing from the fact that people who react to “Satanism” know nothing about Lucifer as the Light Bringer and are incapable of making a connection since it isn’t taught in their Sunday Schools or Catechism. You won’t hear much if anything about Lucifer in a firebrand sermon but you’ll see a lot of spittle spewed forth at the name of Satan. The listeners hear “Satan” and like Pavlov’s dogs, they react to that word. Even with my high school education I learned long ago it was a dangerous mistake to assume that my peers possessed the same “understanding” of reality I did. You have to know, and accept, the level of education or maturity or mental evolution, or whatever you want to call it, of your society, and you have to work at that level. That’s the first rule of the game in either taking advantage of the Status quo, or successfully opposing it. It’s a lesson we war opponents, environmentalists and activists of the sixties through the eighties had to learn, and we did, if often the hard way. You don’t want to insult or antagonize people (that’s what your opponents do and you know exactly how that makes you feel), you want to communicate with them. You want to disarm them without letting them realize you’re using their own ignorance against them. Don’t ask them to learn your language, learn to speak theirs. What conversation may work on this blog will very likely not work at a street rally, in the lobby of the church or at a family gathering. Like it or not, this is a war, and it is intensifying, therefore two maxims apply: “Know thine enemy” and “Keep your friends close, and your enemy closer.” We used to say at our meetings, “The battles aren’t being fought in this room, folks, they’re going to take place out there, in your homes, your workplaces, on street corners, in your churches and clubs and in most instances you’ll be on your own explaining why you believe as you do to people who don’t want to listen to you.” You don’t need to carry the entire law of the land to represent a client on a shoplifting charge, you just need to know who you’re talking to and what they want to hear and that’s how you win your case. (And as usual, I’ve probably overstated my comment!)
I do know that about Satan and Lucifer, but many christians think otherwise
and also the negative connotation people get when they hear the word
and that is the point
but i guess the best explanation, that may make sense to you, is the next time you are in a bookstore, browse through the Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey
he explains it better than i …mainly because i don’t want to get into a big debate
on why they chose a name, when christians believe this and that, and not this or that
and this history of this or that
even in this day and age…occam’s razor still applies
I look up the word Beelzebub and did not know he was one of the Seven Deadly Sins devils. I was brought up to believe that there was only one devil not seven of them. Religious worship snd organizations seem to get more complication when you start digging into them.
Here are seven tenets of Humanism:
Amsterdam Declaration 2002
Humanism is the outcome of a long tradition of free thought that has inspired many of the world’s great thinkers and creative artists and gave rise to science itself.
The fundamentals of modern Humanism are as follows:
1. Humanism is ethical. It affirms the worth, dignity and autonomy of the individual and the right of every human being to the greatest possible freedom compatible with the rights of others. Humanists have a duty of care to all of humanity including future generations. Humanists believe that morality is an intrinsic part of human nature based on understanding and a concern for others, needing no external sanction.
2. Humanism is rational. It seeks to use science creatively, not destructively. Humanists believe that the solutions to the world’s problems lie in human thought and action rather than divine intervention. Humanism advocates the application of the methods of science and free inquiry to the problems of human welfare. But Humanists also believe that the application of science and technology must be tempered by human values. Science gives us the means but human values must propose the ends.
3. Humanism supports democracy and human rights. Humanism aims at the fullest possible development of every human being. It holds that democracy and human development are matters of right. The principles of democracy and human rights can be applied to many human relationships and are not restricted to methods of government.
4. Humanism insists that personal liberty must be combined with social responsibility. Humanism ventures to build a world on the idea of the free person responsible to society, and recognises our dependence on and responsibility for the natural world. Humanism is undogmatic, imposing no creed upon its adherents. It is thus committed to education free from indoctrination.
5. Humanism is a response to the widespread demand for an alternative to dogmatic religion. The world’s major religions claim to be based on revelations fixed for all time, and many seek to impose their world-views on all of humanity. Humanism recognises that reliable knowledge of the world and ourselves arises through a continuing process. of observation, evaluation and revision.
6. Humanism values artistic creativity and imagination and recognises the transforming power of art. Humanism affirms the importance of literature, music, and the visual and performing arts for personal development and fulfilment.
7. Humanism is a lifestance aiming at the maximum possible fulfilment through the cultivation of ethical and creative living and offers an ethical and rational means of addressing the challenges of our times. Humanism can be a way of life for everyone everywhere.
Our primary task is to make human beings aware in the simplest terms of what Humanism can mean to them and what it commits them to. By utilising free inquiry, the power of science and creative imagination for the furtherance of peace and in the service of compassion, we have confidence that we have the means to solve the problems that confront us all. We call upon all who share this conviction to associate themselves with us in this endeavour.
IHEU Congress 2002
Your entry into the world wide confusion of secular humanism is worthwhile, educational, and a way of life that takes all of humanity under its wing of peace, freedom and prosperity.
Thank you for making the effort to post it and I too have added it to my files.
Thanks for posting. Copied to my research files.
It all depends on which Satan. The God character actually sent the first few Satans – yes, there were a few. The truth about the Satan character http://t.co/RdIftfO66p
I guess if Satanists can reform, can abandon their unethical past, so can Jews and Christians.
The Revised 10 Commandments:
1. Love the Good, the Truth, and the Loving with all of your heart, all of your mind, and
all of your strength..
2. Love all other humans as much as yourself including those different from you, and
even your enemies.
3. Be sacred in your words and thoughts. Don’t ridicule or profane what is of worth.
4. Take at least one day and evening a week for recreation and reflection.
5. Show caring and concern for the elderly.
6. Protect and cherish others. Don’t do violence to them in thought, word, or deed.
7. Be faithful and loyal to your spouse– intellectual, emotional, and physical union.
8. Be generous. Don’t take the land or things of others without permission.
9. Speak the truth always in love. Be honest and forthright.
10. Simplify; be content with what is good and necessary; don’t be greedy for what others
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Really very good and well thought out. A very gentle secular expression that doesn’t leave us believing that we are “sinners in the hands of an angry God, ” as the Calvinist preacher Jonathan Edwards wrote. Thank you for your gentle words.
How about a commandment respecting kids?
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I am a Satanist, and I have a post about Satanism on my own blog. I love how Satanism focuses on personal happiness and satisfaction and expanding one’s mind and understanding of the world. I’m much happier now than when I was racked with guilt and shame caused by Christianity.