I understand how, to many onlookers, my conversion to Satanism could seem like an extraordinary escalation. For years I was a committed Christian, dedicated to the church and to following Christ. My mission in life as a Christian was simply to be normal, included, at home: I wanted a place in the church as a gay person. As such, I was generally a very well-behaved gay, and my faith was everything to me even when I wished it wasn’t.
How, then, did I find myself as a Satanist? When looked through the lens of my previous religious life, nothing can seem more scandalous and overly dramatic than my Satanism.
The truth is that my leap from Christianity to Satanism was not a large one at all. It was simple, obvious, and intuitive.
In college I was a gothy music major struggling to fit into my small Christian campus. Try as I might, I could never really put my peers at ease. One of the most formative experiences I had in college was when I found myself at the center of a Satanic Panic conspiracy theory.
A dear friend of mine was going through some mental health difficulties and seemed to be experiencing suicidal ideation. My friend had a difficult home life, was going through some relationship struggles, and I tried offering what support I could. However, among our friend group, a different narrative started to emerge.
During a prayer meeting, one person who prided themselves on having the “spirit of discernment” had a vision of a Satanic ritual, in which a hooded figure stood in the center of the pentagram, blowing out candles at each point of the pentagram, and each candle represented a curse on my dear friend who was experiencing mental illness. The person beneath the hood was, of course, me. In other words, my friends believed that I had deliberately cursed my best friend, attempting to kill her.
Friends started to distance themselves from me. Rumors started to spread that I was dark, evil, and had something to do with my dear friend’s struggles.
When I found out about all this over summer break, I simply wanted to die. I wanted to crawl under my bed, fall asleep, and never wake up again. How could I be so misunderstood that people thought I wanted to hurt my dearest friend? I lost my entire friend group, and when I came back to class the following semester I had to start all over again.
When I was reaching puberty in my charismatic, conservative Christian setting, I started to realize something horrific about myself: I was attracted to other boys, and not at all to girls. This was horrifying because my father was one of the most vociferous opponents of acceptance of homosexuality in the presbyterian church. He even started an ex-gay ministry to help people heal from their homosexuality and evolve into their true heterosexual potential.
As a child I knew what an ex-gay was before I knew what a gay person was. My only framework for understanding my own emerging homosexuality was through the framework of ex-gay ideology. Here are a few core tenets of what I believed about myself:
- I am attracted to men because I was probably sexually abused by someone of the same sex, or neglected by my parents.
- Homosexuality is a form of spiritual cannibalism that will never lead to meaning, satisfaction, or joy: just more hunger. To indulge in my natural inclinations with another man was to engage in a spiritual atrocity, feeding on another man to be satisfied in a way that could never satiate. This would lead me down a path of reckless destruction, and would probably end in my early death.
- Most gay men die prematurely because of the depravity of their lifestyles.
- Homosexuality is “uncreation:” an unraveling of the created order, and therefore utterly reprehensible to God. In a deep, intuitive way I couldn’t quite put to words, I understood that this meant I was reprehensible for as long as I had these attractions.
- It was entirely possible I was under the influence of “demons of homosexuality.”
I believed all of this, and I was 12.
I could tell many more stories like this. My life has been one of trying to fit in or being demonized — literally — for my difference. I could tell stories of exorcisms, suicide plans, and ex-gay therapy. Honestly, I don’t know if I will ever not be broken by my experiences in the church.
After years of trying to be a good Christian, losing my faith, and being traumatized by the battle, I discovered The Satanic Temple — a nontheistic, non-supernaturalist Satanic church which upholds the symbol of Satan as the icon of the eternal rebel.
The Temple took all the symbols that had been used to hurt me — demons, Satan, degeneracy — and turned them into symbols of empowerment. After a lifetime of feeling Satanized for my difference, discovering a church that valorized Satan helped me understand that my queerness, difference, and Satanic status are my power. The Satanic Temple helped me realize that Satan has always been my home, and that I could embrace that truth and be empowered by it.
This realization was not one of dramatic surprise, but simple relief. It was obvious. My conversion to Satanism might baffle people, but that is only because they don’t see the depths of alienation I experienced in the church.
Every Satanist’s path to Satan is different. Many come from non-religious homes, or come to Satanism from religious traditions outside of Christianity. Satanism is not contingent on having experiences within Christianity, and that is proven true by the great cultural diversity within the Satanic community. I am convinced that Satanism would still exist even if Christianity collapsed tomorrow, because it is a religion that stands on its own merits. It is best understood as a post-Christian religion, not a counterbalance to Christianity.
But my own path to Satanism was borne out of lies, anguish, and torture in the Christian world. After being Satanized for so long, only a fool would be surprised by my Satanism.
But that’s just me. What do you think? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below. And by the way, most discussion of my posts takes place on my discord server, and I invite you to join in the conversation there. You can also become a patron and ensure that I bring you interesting content every single week, forever.