A custody battle is brewing in Indiana, and it hinges on whether or not Satanism is a real religion. Jamie Meyer, a 30-year-old factory worker, is the divorced father of three young girls, and a member of the Church of Satan. Meyer’s ex-wife is suing to restrict his visitation time to allow his girls to attend Christian church. She also argues that the Church of Satan isn’t a real religion, that Meyer’s beliefs embarrass the children, and that Meyer’s may not really believe in Satanism. But the Satanism being practiced by Meyer isn’t what you might think. It’s nothing like what you saw in Rosemary’s Baby. Instead, Satanism is a “carnal religion.” Its members are atheists, anti-spiritualists, and proponents of pride, liberty, and individualism. That’s according to the current high Priest of the Church of Satan, Peter Gilmore. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? A trip to the Church of Satan website (definitely not safe for work) proves otherwise. Here are the slightly creepy Nine Satanic Statements:
1. Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence! 2. Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams! 3. Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit! 4. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates! 5. Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek! 6. Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires! 7. Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his “divine spiritual and intellectual development,” has become the most vicious animal of all! 8. Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification! 9. Satan has been the best friend the Church has ever had, as He has kept it in business all these years!
There are also Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth, including, “Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal.” And my favorite: “Acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained.” But what’s at stake in this case has little to do with mating rituals or magic. Meyer’s ex-wife is suing on grounds that raising the kids with two conflicting faiths in their lives could be emotionally damaging, in addition to her discomfort with the Church of Satan in general. In a time when more and more people are intermarrying, the core issue of whether two religions can cause emotional damage to a kid is fascinating and tricky. The Church of Satan is a particularly potent example of how things can conflict, but a kid with a Jewish father and Christian mother can be plenty confused, too (see: Half/Life). Or he can be totally well-adjusted. It may have more to do with the parents than the religion, right? I never thought I’d feel a little defensive about the Church of Satan, but in this case, I don’t want an anti-interfaith precedent to be set.