Satan is Real. Satan is Everywhere.
I grew up at the end of the “Satanic Panic,” a period of Christian hysteria during the eighties and nineties. The panic was started by a 1980 book called Michelle Remembers. In the book, Michelle (a real patient) remembers wild accounts of Satanic Ritual Abuse during therapy sessions with her psychiatrist. This started a firestorm of cases where hundreds of people had recollections of Satanic abuse.
All of these memories were later shown to be implanted by sketchy techniques employed by the therapists. There was no evidence found of any Satanic Ritual Abuse ever and Michelle later married the psychiatrist that treated her (yuck). Regardless of the evidence, there are still delusional Evangelical conspiracy theorists that believe it all happened. During the Panic, virtually every mainstream toy, from Dungeons & Dragons to Pokemon to Power Rangers, was said to be Satanic training for children. The Devil was everywhere. I was scared he was going to get me. Now, I seek him out. 🙂
Fear = Control
Long before I shot out of my mother’s womb, ardent Evangelicals railed against the Satanic influences of contemporary culture: movies, books, music, drugs, John Waters, Harry Potter, Nickelback, etc. The Satanic Panic is the quintessential embodiment of Evangelical tyranny. They love to control what we do, what we watch, what we eat and often, how we vote. The Evangelical love of control is especially passionate when it comes to controlling what women do. Evangelicals sustain the necessary level of control through fear. When their grip on their audience starts to slip, they call on the devil to scare the sheep back into the pen. In the Satanic Bible, Anton LaVey stated that Satan is the Church’s best friend because he keeps it in business. The Black Pope was right.
One of my favorite things in the world is a good horror movie or horror novel. Horror movies and books were strictly forbidden in my house. I was told that they were gateways to evil, they were spiritual preparation for demonic possession. To watch or to read them was to invite Satan into my heart.
Bibles, Boyhood and Bloodlust
My parents wept when they found my secret collection of horror classics like The Shining, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (original, not any of the awful remakes or sequels), Psycho, The Last House on the Left, Halloween and many others. They found my copy of William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist and Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart (inspiration for Hellraiser movies). All of my precious conduits to darkness were stripped away from me. I was incensed. It wasn’t until college that I realized the great hypocrisy of the Evangelical logic, with respect to horror films. I wished I was able to articulate the argument when my parents tragically sacked my room.
The hypocrisy comes from the fact that these films depict a reality that is in total alignment with Evangelical paranoia. Horror movies, like The Exorcist, The Conjuring, The Omen and Ouija, all have plots that could have been written by Jerry Falwell himself. Exorcist is about a little girl that gets possessed because she plays with Ouija boards and satanic rituals are happening in the church next to her house. Conjuring plays like a greatest hits album of Christian horror cliches. It’s based on the adventures of the Warrens, a couple of paranormal investigators that have been debunked by skeptic organizations. A family becomes tormented by demons and ghosts in a rural Rhode Island home. There are upside down crosses, an exorcism and a misleading marketing campaign that implies the story is actually true (it’s not). Spoiler alert: God plays a big part in driving the evil out of the house.
Exorcist is a Christian cautionary tale, to a tee. A silly little girl gets involved with witchcraft and then two celibate males need to get her out of trouble. The Evangelicals get their symbol of pre-1950s sexism, which is examined in The Age of the Woman: Christian Misogyny is Over. But they also get their reminder that anything with a hint of occultism will lead to misery and destruction. Two for one. Yay!
In Conjuring, we are told that:
- There were actual witches in the Salem Witch Trials (there weren’t).
- The family needed to convert to Christianity to repel the evil forces.
- Crosses were placed around the house.
- All but one of the evil demons were female.
I’m surprised it wasn’t featured on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson. Other horror movies feature narratives that echo the Evangelical worldview, almost identically. Every slasher movie is basically a depiction of Old Testament morality. An angry killer (God) will wreak vengeance on the teenager (sinners) for their immoral actions. Anyone who does drugs or has premarital sex will certainly not make it. That’s not just Evangelicalism, that’s conservatism!
There’s logic behind why Christians love when an angry god destroys sinners: 5 Reasons Why Christians Love Hell.
I can’t help but laugh when I think about the hypocrisy of Evangelical censorship. These movies are a reflection of their fear machine. They’re a manifestation of the Satanic world that is described by the preacher every Sunday. The horror film isn’t the antithesis of Evangelical morality, it’s the embodiment of it. So, next time you’re visiting your white-haired grandmother, pop in The Conjuring or The Last Exorcism. When she gets a little edgy by the tone of the first five minutes, just tell her that God wins in the end. Perfect.