I regularly hear various assertions about what Satanism is and isn’t.
“Satanism is, by necessity, countercultural, subversive, and dangerous.”
“Satanism is the religion founded by Anton LaVey and codified in the Satanic Bible. Nothing else can be described as Satanism.”
“Satanism is, by definition, antifascist and anti-white supremacy.”
“Satanism is, by definition, racist and supremacist.”
“Satanism is, by definition, adolescent, immature, and reactionary.”
The list goes on, and I reject all of these as coherent definitions of Satanism. Certainly, Satanism can be LaVeyan, but I don’t think it must be. It can be counter-cultural and subversive, but I don’t think it must be. It’s obviously preferable if it’s anti-supremacy, and horrific if it is racist, but neither of these features make or break Satanism.
So, what is Satanism?
Here is my simple definition: “Satanism is the religious veneration of the symbol of Satan.”
That’s the definition.
If you protest that this definition seems annoyingly broad, you would be correct, and I think it is appropriately so.
Satanism can include theism or non-theism. It can be subsumed into other religious traditions, or it can stand alone as its own. It can be anti-fascist, mediocre, middle-class, lower-class, or upper-class. It can be LaVeyan, Enochian, Crowlean, or Setian. It can be mainline or countercultural. It can be codified, or not at all. It can be mystical and transcendent, rebellious and adolescent, rational and philosophical, or all of the above.
Such is the nature of religion. If we take seriously the notion that Satanism is, in fact, a religion, than we should treat it as such. Religions are broad, fluid, multifaceted, and socially constructed.
So, when I talk about Satanism on my blog or podcast, I’m talking about the religious veneration of Satan in this broad sense. I am personally a member and minister of a specific religious sect of Satanism, which is The Satanic Temple. But I will never claim that The Satanic Temple is the only form of Satanism and that all others are ersatz imposters.
I encourage caution when someone claims that Satanism is by necessity anything more than religious veneration for the symbol of Satan. Such a person has, in my view, an impoverished view of religion, and is trying to shape a complicated social movement into their own image.