Tags: Religion | satanism | documentary | agnostic | atheists

New Documentary Explores The Satanic Temple Rise in US

a man stands next to a nine-foot statue of a goat-headed idol
In this Oct. 24, 2016 photo, Lucien Greaves stands next to a 9-foot statue of the goat-headed idol Baphomet at the recently opened international headquarters of The Satanic Temple in Salem, Massachusetts. (Elise Amendola/AP)

By    |   Monday, 21 January 2019 08:30 PM

Satanism is on the rise in America, but The Satanic Temple has nothing to do with worship, has supporters among the younger generation and is plagued by death threats and infighting, according to a new documentary.

"Hail, Satan?" will premier at the Sundance Film Festival later this month and picks apart the controversy surrounding the neophyte TST.

"The reason this became a feature length documentary was that I found so many interesting surprises at each stage of discovery," filmmaker Penny Lane told the U.K.'s Daily Mail.

"Every layer of the onion that we peeled back, there was like something really surprising at the next layer. The first thing you know, I could see, was how serious and intelligent they were – despite what you might expect of a bunch of Satanists. They were really sophisticated thinkers, and many times the people who would go out in public against what they do would sound like raving lunatics."

She added the Satanists in TST were "not at all what I was expecting."

"Modern Satanism is a non-theistic religious practice that uses the symbol of the literary symbol of Satan as a kind of symbol . . . against tyrannical authority," she told the Daily Mail.

The documentary follows the TST founders and members across the country and the world, and found "what's going on here is nice people gathering in their communities who organize [charity events] . . . or do challenge very, very local power," she told the news outlet.

"There's huge amounts of death threats and hatred and actually, to be frank, some mentally individuals out there who absolutely are really scary," Lane told the news outlet.

Religious studies professor R. Andrew Chesnut told the Daily Mail that TST members "actually present themselves as atheistic and really see Satan more as a metaphor."

"They've actually been criticized by other old-school Satanist groups – how on earth can you say you're Satanists, but at the same time claim to be atheistic?" he tells the outlet. "Because if you believe in Satan, Satan is a supernatural figure. So, they're really kind of a new generation of Satanists, and I think more than actual veneration of Satan, this is really about much more kind of politicized."

"They don't really seem engaged in the kind of organized rituals and worship that the older-school Satanist groups do," he added.

According to Chesnut, the rise of the TST is "part of this kind of burgeoning interest in alternative pagan religions, particularly among millenials and Generation Z and stuff."

He noted a trend on the American religious landscape is the very rapid rise of the religious "nones" — those who have no formal religious institutional affiliation — and is now 25 percent of the American population.

But for its leaders, what is important is the support for religious pluralism and democracy. 

"Even just leaving the film aside, in personal conversations I've had in the last few years with people, kind of explaining what it is and what they do and what they believe, people often end up saying: 'That sounds like something I could get behind,'" Lane tells the Daily Mail.

"That doesn't mean they're going to run out and join a chapter, but you can be Satanically aligned without being a Satanist," she said.

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The Satanic Temple has nothing to do with worship, has supporters among the younger generation, and is plagued by death threats and infighting, according to new documentary exploring the rise of Satanism in America.
satanism, documentary, agnostic, atheists
Monday, 21 January 2019 08:30 PM
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