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The Problem of the Satanic Panic

By Wertbag ~ 

The Satanic Panic was at its peak during the 1980's, where preachers around the world jumped on the bandwagon to claim that Satanic cults existed and were inflicting sexual and physical abuse on people as part of Satanic rituals, and that almost every form of pop culture was Satanic and hence evil. Some of these claims developed into anti-elite or anti-government conspiracy theories that exist to this day, including bizarre groups such as Qanon who claim a group of the world's wealthiest people gather to do child sacrifices, sexual abuse and child pornography.

It is thought that the start of the Panic was in large part due to the hugely popular movies The Exorcist (1973), Rosemary's Baby (1968) and The Omen (1976). When people who claimed to be victims of such cults were tested, the images they commonly referred to were scenes from the movies, leading many experts to believe that people were recording the movie scenes as memories and not just fantasy.

During the same time period you had the founding of the Satanic Church (1966) and Charlies Manson's cult which claimed 35 killings with ritualistic features. To make things worse many cases of mental illness were then attributed to demonic possession and people will real illnesses suffered severe abuse and exorcisms which never helped and, in several cases, led to the death of the person.

Preachers pointed to rock and roll music as inflaming lust, and the idea that if you played records backwards you could hear Satanic messages had thousands of people scouring every record for perceived voices. Any movie or book which promoted magic was deemed as trying to lead people to the Satanic dark arts, with a famous example being the protests against the Harry Potter books (first released in 1997) and the panic that the tabletop game Dungeons and Dragons (released 1974) would lead people into real life witch covens and demonic magic use.

It was finally pushed back in large part due to targeting so much, with people getting more incredulous as the Satanic claims encompassed more and more pop culture. It was to the point where people jokingly said if it was fun, it must be Satanic. This ridicule helped to break the fear and led by new movies showing exorcisms stopping mental illness diagnoses and several lawsuits. Carl Sagan released the book "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark", as well as many experts coming forward to show that false memories could be planted and believed by victims, as well as massive investigations into the claims of cult abuse and Satanic rituals which found no such thing ever occurred barring some drug gangs using such imagery to hide their real reasons for killing.

The Satanic Panic did great harm to Christianity's believability, with some followers seeing it being the old stuffy preachers complaining about everything the young kids loved, with many saying the church was unable to separate fiction from reality. When people played D&D and found it to just be a fun bit of make believe, an imaginary story with no real-world consequences, but were being told by people they were meant to trust and believe that this game was terrible and would lead to real world magic, it makes those preachers the laughingstock. Their claims were ridiculous and harmful, driving people away from their churches and away from their teachings. Sadly, some exist to this day trying to sell exorcisms, or label the latest pop culture craze as Satanic, thankfully they aren't taken as seriously as they were 40 years ago.

Originally posted in the Reasons for Disbelief thread on Ex-Christian.Net