The Church of Satan does not believe in the Christian version of Satan. They embrace the virtues of the pre-Christian ancestors of the Satan myth, which were not negative or evil. The Satan in Christianity is NOT the Satan in the Church of Satan. Although there is no way to know how many Church of Satan members there are in Atlanta there are those who follow the LaVeyan Satanist philosophy. Other Satanist churches besides the original do exist, and have some members in the Atlanta area. None publish membership lists, so numbers are unknown.
To understand the different folks who call themselves Satanists and what Satanists DON’T believe you may want to read here before reading further on this article.
Anton LaVey used Satan as a metaphor for the philosophy of the Church of Satan. In order to understand why one must know a bit about the history of how the modern concept of Satan emerged. The following explanations are greatly oversimplified for the sake of brevity and understanding. There is not enough room here to adequately explain the philosophies or total history involved.
For centuries before Christianity Hindus believed in the concept of kundalini. Kundalini is a concept similar to that of Chi in oriental cultures. It is inner spirit, power and the life force of humankind. Kundalini was believed to be centered in the spine and was represented by a serpent. This serpent was a symbol of knowledge, of knowing truth and one’s self. The serpent was a positive symbol.
In Sanskrit all forms of the word Satan = knowledge. This association of both the serpent and various deity archetypes as being the source of all life force, a fertility symbol, a symbol of knowledge or of rebirth is typical in pre-Christian religions. Sumerians had the god Enki who was a god of intelligence, creativity, wisdom and magic. The Egyptians had Apep, who was the adversary of Ra. Ra was light, the sun god, and it was believed that Apep, who was never visible, hid under the horizon to ambush Ra and thus was associated with darkness and the underworld.
Judaism adopted both the snake and the tree of life as the apple tree and the snake that tempted Eve. The snake represented knowledge and wisdom and the snake chose to oppose God and open the eyes of Adam and Eve by giving them the wisdom to think for themselves. But the snake was also associated with the underworld and darkness. Thus early Judaism was influenced by older mythologies that were combined in the story of Adam and Eve. This is also where we see the early signs of demonizing the serpent. The serpent defied god by giving humankind knowledge so that humankind would not blindly follow god. That is considered the source of all “sin”.
Satanists don’t believe that the snake in the Garden of Eden was an evil force. They believe the snake liberated humans to think for themselves and not blindly follow the authority figure of a god.
Members of Anton Lavey’s church do not believe in the Christian Satan. They believe in Satan as a metaphor for the values originally associated with Satan. Even the Christian Satan was a free thinker who defied the authority of the Christian God. They embrace indulgence and pleasure as long as it harms no one else. They don’t believe in an afterlife so they believe that not fully living the only life they are given would be wrong.
They also believe in knowledge, rational thought and logic. They don’t believe something is so just because someone tells them or they read it somewhere. They question everything, they believe in science. Although they believe in indulgence, they don’t believe in overindulgence because that harms others. They don’t believe in illegal acts. They do not believe in blind adherence to the dictates of any authority whose demands are irrational or illogical. They will challenge such dictates through legal means.
They believe in an eye for an eye justice. They believe that people should be valued for what they accomplish in the real world. The only way someone “moves up” in the Church of Satan is to develop a respected record of accomplishment in his or her chosen fields of endeavor outside of the church. They support each other in such pursuits and are conscientious about booting slackers. They have no goal of loving everybody because it just isn’t a rational goal. There are some who don’t deserve to be loved. There are some acts and individuals that don’t warrant forgiveness. To the Satanist, there is nothing but logic in not granting forgiveness for heinous acts.
They believe children and animals should not be harmed. So much for the hysterical rumors of child and animal abuse and sacrifice that some Christians are so obsessed with. If you want to read a brief summary of the Satanic Bible you can go here.
There are some offshoots from the Church of Satan cropping up that call themselves “modern” or “spiritual” Satanists. They claim to believe that Satan is a real deity. This differentiates them from the atheistic philosophy of LaVeyan Satanism, but otherwise they believe in the same LaVeyan tenets. Their Satan is not “evil” either.
In sum, Satanists believe in following the law, satisfying their own desires as long as doing so doesn’t negatively affect others, retaining the right to legally challenge authority, seek justice for wrongs, protect animals and children, taking personal responsibility for one’s own actions and life course. They believe in individualism, that religious values should not be made law, that the fact of life is that not all are born equal, and that all churches should be taxed (that one is considered especially evil).
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