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Origins of Satanism

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A wood engraving from the Compendium Maleficarum.

It is apparent from a study of history that the earliest forms of Satanism were in fact fabrications by various groups of Christians. Many of the erroneous beliefs about Satanists still believed today can be traced to Medieval and Renaissance books such as Malleus Maleficarum (The Witch's Hammer) (1486) by Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger.[1] However, Satanism in general is extremely diverse, and it is not one religion or one belief system. There are many different Satanic organizations and sects, and then there are simply independent Satanists who are not a part of any sects or organizations. There are some Satanic sects that base their religion on ancient Pagan religions.

Romantic Satanism

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The Church of Satan

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The Church of Satan was founded by Anton Szandor LaVey (1930-1997)[2] in 1966. In 1969, he wrote The Satanic Bible (1969), which remains the primary scripture of the Church of Satan. In that book, LaVey argued that religions such as Christianity rejected the physical world; he was attempting to create a religion which uplifted it.

Other books written by LaVey on the subject include The Compleat Witch (1971) (later republished as The Satanic Witch), The Satanic Rituals (1972), The Devil's Notebook (1992), and Satan Speaks! (1998). LaVey appointed Blanche Barton command of the church, and she assumed the role when he died in 1997.

The Satanic Temple

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The Satanic Temple was founded by Lucien Greaves and Malcolm Jarry in 2012.[3] Greaves is the organization's spokesperson. While the Church of Satan bases its ideology on the writings of Anton LaVey and Peter Gilmore, The Satanic Temple's ideology is based upon the writings of numerous authors, primarily from the Romantic Satanism genre. Its three Primary Texts are Revolt of the Angels by Anatole France, The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker, and Speak of the Devil by Joseph Laycock. Greaves considers the Temple a progressive and updated version of LaVey's Satanism.[4] The Temple sees itself as separate and distinct from LaVeyan Satanists, and feels that its principles and tenets represent "a natural evolution in Satanic thought". Greaves has said that the elements of Social Darwinism and Nietzscheanism within LaVeyan Satanism are incongruent with game theory, reciprocal altruism, and cognitive science.[5] He has also criticized the Church of Satan for its lack of political lobbying and what he sees as their exclusivity, referring to them as autocratic and hierarchical, and saying that the Church fetishizes authoritarianism.[6][7] Conversely, the Church of Satan has made statements claiming that The Satanic Temple are only "masquerading as Satanists"[8] and do not represent Satanism.[9]


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The Satanic Temple describes its mission as follows:

The mission of The Satanic Temple is to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will. Politically aware, Civic-minded Satanists and allies in The Satanic Temple have publicly opposed The Westboro Baptist Church, advocated on behalf of children in public school to abolish corporal punishment, applied for equal representation where religious monuments are placed on public property, provided religious exemption and legal protection against laws that unscientifically restrict women's reproductive autonomy, exposed fraudulent harmful pseudo-scientific practitioners and claims in mental health care, and applied to hold clubs alongside other religious after school clubs in schools besieged by proselytizing organizations.[10]


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The Satanic Temple has seven fundamental tenets:

  1. One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason.
  2. The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
  3. One's body is inviolable, subject to one's own will alone.
  4. 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.
  5. Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.[11]

The tenets have been favorably compared to the Ten Commandments of the Hebrew Bible.[12]


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