I Won’t Leave the Church Because I’m a Satanist

Note: If you have been following my work for any amount of time, you know that I do, in fact, consider myself a Satanist. I’ve written a great deal on the subject, and you can read that wealth of information by following the Satanism category. If this is the first time you are encountering my work, I suggest exploring that category so you will (hopefully) be less confused.

Despite my self identification of Satanist, I don’t leave the church. Many of my dearest friends are devout Christians, I still interview Christians, I still review Christian books, and I still work at a church (which shall remain nameless, so they don’t get hate mail about me.) Why?

(A caveat: I speak only for myself. Not other Satanists or the Satanic Temple.)

I don’t see my Satanism as anti-Christian.

Rather, I see my Satanism as post-Christian. It is a derivative of Christianity, but not necessarily opposed to it. I see myself as opposed to unjust and undue authority, and there is plenty of that within Christianity, and without. This allows plenty of room within healthy Christianity for me to explore and have community.

I understand that this is hard for many Christians to understand. Why take on the label of Satanist if you are not opposed to the (metaphorical) Christ and all his works? The answer is because, quite simply, not everything is about you. The label of Satanist is, by and large, not for religious conservatives to get furious over, but it is for us, the Satanists. We have our own communities, our own potlucks, our own picnics, our own podcasts, our own places of ritual, with no Christians present. I’m a Satanist because I love the symbolic representation of Satan as the unbowed will and icon of the outsider, not because I love pissing off Christians.

Because I reject false binaries.

As I’ve already been screeching about for months now, religion vs. atheism is a needless and painful false binary. I want to encourage all religious communities to be more open to nontheism, because I think it is how the deeply religious, like myself, will more readily embrace skepticism. This holds true for Christianity, and I see no reason why I can’t be a nontheist who occasionally enjoys going to church. I also think my presence there can encourage more openness towards nontheism.

Rejecting false binaries is also a central practice of my Satanism. One of my favorite Satanic images is that of Baphomet, originally illustrated by the occultist Eliphas Levi.

In this illustration, we see a western occult representation of the Yin and Yang: the union and reconciliation of opposites. Within the image we have masculine and feminine features, angelic and demonic, and the mudra pointing up and down. This symbol is a reminder to me to reject the false binary of Christendom vs. Outsiderdom. I still cherish much of my Christian heritage, even as I reject its horrific abuses. Satanism helps me embrace the full complexity of my Christian experience, helping me understand that I need not throw the baby out with the bath water. The snake did, after all, offer Adam and Eve knowledge of good *and* evil. Therefore, I must acknowledge good and evil wherever I see it.

Satan is also the great trespasser, and in this way I, too, am trespassing. I consider it sacred to trespass societal boundaries, while others will no doubt see it as a defilement. In my Satanic practice I choose to remain within Christian community because this is how I embrace my own life as Baphomet, representing within my very being the reconciliation of opposites.

Because it is healthy to flow between different symbolic structures.

Religious words and symbols are not absolute. They don’t correspond to any objective reality. The symbol of Satan within modern Satanism is a radically different being from the Satan of Christianity. So too with God, church, and any other religious word or symbol. Rather than get trapped within a single, brittle symbolic framework, I find it healthy and challenging to move fluidly between different constructs.

The Satan of Christianity is the representation of all evil and horror. The God of Christianity is the Ground of Being, ultimate reality. Satan within modern Satanism is a symbol with no objective reality, who represents the never-ending struggle for justice and enlightenment against undue authority. God, in this orchestration, is not the ground of being but a despotic tyrant, representing unjust authority on earth. The two symbolic structures could not be more different, and one is not more “true” than the other. It is a fun exercise in mental flexibility to move between communities who hold opposing views of the same symbols.

Because we need each other

Christians need Satanists, and society needs heretics. And, more to the point, I need you – to point out my blind spots, to break down false boundaries, to choose to overcome your (and my) prejudices to fight for a better world.

Because it’s fun

Here is, I think, the primary reason I and just about everyone else engages in (healthy) religious practice: it’s fun. I think it’s fun to be what I am. It’s fun to learn from others, explore religious symbolism, and be an ecumenical slut. And Satanism is the most fun of all. And why is that not, in itself, sufficient excuse?

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25 thoughts on “I Won’t Leave the Church Because I’m a Satanist

  1. Seems to me that Satan is a made up “deity” like all the rest. The supernatural realm was created by the first humanoids and that delusion has been with humanity ever since. GROG

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    1. Just to clarify: you do understand that I am an atheist/nontheist who does not believe in the supernatural, correct? I believe that all religions are made up, and Satan is no different. I revere the symbolic representation of Satan, not a literal figure.

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      1. You’ve been reading and commenting on my blog for some time now, but you don’t know the answer to this question? That surprises me, and does not demonstrate the attentiveness I expect from someone who comments regularly. I’ve answered this question many times in my blog and podcast: I do not believe in the supernatural.

        I’m not entirely sure what you mean by the phrase “trying to play at living.” Could you expound on that some?

        (Edit: autocorrect interferences)

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      2. I seriously would like people to realize that the supernatural does not exist. The universe is 100% natural and for all intents and purposes we are along in it. Once you find out who you are you won’t need Satan or any other immaterial entity. GROG

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      3. I already agree with you about the supernatural, as I’ve expressed many times on this website. I’m curious why you haven’t picked up on this.

        I’m more curious, though, how your points contradicts those I made in my article. I get that you don’t like supernaturalism, but how does that relate to my post?

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      4. Yes, Satan is a mental construct. Something that not I, but the tradition of modern Satanism made up. No, he doesn’t really explain anything. He is a construct that represents certain values. I gravitate towards this image and practice because I like it and enjoy it, not because I need it. I think I could be perfectly happy and healthy without religion, but I prefer not to go without Modern Satanism because I resonate with it and I enjoy it.

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  2. Hi Stephen! The title of this entry made me smile, since it could be understood as either an explanation or as a statement of defiance. Maybe it is both! I am also gleefully trying to imagine a group of Satanists having a potluck! Now, a picnic in a cemetery might be cool. I doubt if Eliphas Levi would describe himself or his Baphomet as Satanist; but his love for socialism and his opposition to corruption both in church and state do sound like your understanding of Satanism. As always, I wish you love and all good.

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    1. Thanks so much! Yes, Eliphas Levi was not himself a Satanist, nor was his Baphomet. It’s been co-opted by later occultists as a symbol of Satanism. Interestingly, Levi did have a few reframings of Satan as a sort of universal life force, but they were quite vague and peripheral to his primary work. He did contribute enormously, though, to the milieu that would later give birth to Satanism.

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  3. Very interesting! My primary exposure to Satanism is having read The Satanic Bible, in which LaVey comes across as extremely anti-Christian (and in fairness, I think that’s an understandable position). So to hear that you are not explicitly anti-Christian is a new bit of understanding for me.

    I’d be curious to learn what aspects of Christian symbolism still appeal to you. Maybe you will cover that in future posts?

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    1. I think that’s a great idea, and I will definitely explore those aspects of Christian symbolism I love in a later post.

      I am not a fan of Anton LaVey. He can be credited as a sort of visionary who popularized Satanism, and he has a small handful of core insights which do carry through a great deal of modern Satanism. However, I find him shallow, not a great writer, and invested in idiotic philosophies like Ayn Rand’s objectivism. When I first encountered Satanism as a teenager, I was drawn to the core ideas, but turned off by LaVey’s shallowness and radical selfishness.

      The new resurgence of Satanism, represented by TST and other groups, is a renovation of Satanism with which I am more comfortable. These more recent groups are, in a way, more aligned with the literary Romantic Satanists who preceded LaVey, with their emphasis on justice, rebellion, and enlightenment.

      At its core, though, I think the word “Satanism” has a very simple definition: a conscious adoration for the symbol of Satan. This includes a huge range of views and theologies, from right to left, theistic to nontheistic.

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      1. I find this fascinating. I’ve often found myself wondering how the TST differs from LaVey’s teachings, but am not sure that’s a rabbit hole you want to go down. Your comment on how the man’s “core ideas” spoke to you while some of his shallowness and radical selfishness resonates with me. I myself felt like “Okay, I agree that we need to care about ourselves as much as we do others, but dude seems to go way too far with it.”

        I also find it interesting and admirable that while being nontheistic yourself, you make space for theistic Satanists.

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  4. If “Satan” was real just like “god” was supposedly real I feel that we shouldn’t gollow a god that is fickle and disregards you because you dont fall into his guidelines but the opposer loves you for who you are and is there to enlighten and guide you would you NOT want the true support you deserve? Now I am not thestic at all but I look at Satan as actually the good in the stories and he’s just being slandered by others just like a lot of “christians” do to other religions and opposing thoughts because it shakes their foundation a little and the insecurities are so brittle that they could just snap without their mindless sheeple thought process and the desire to be “an upstanding citizen” in the masses eyes. I hope that my rambling isn’t getting too confusing lol but I feel that we should reject organized religion at its corrupted core and break down the walls to spread the message of enlightenment and full acceptance of your darkness and others that we need to co-exist on this earthly plane. I hope you have a blessed day and Hail Satan!

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