Saturday, September 10, 2022

The Freedom to Offend

Satanism - What is it?

One of my best friends, Stephen Long, is a Satanist. Does he worship Satan? No. He doesn't even believe Satan (or God) exists. When he meets people, he often describes himself as a non-theist, which, according to him, is an atheist without the superiority complex.

Satan for Satanists is an archetype, a role model, especially patterned after Milton's antihero portrayal of Satan:  Someone who stood up against the majority, even knowing it would fail in the end.

What really upsets Satanists is when they are compared to a troll religion, something akin to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Yes, they do engage often in politics and in the legal realm, but they definitely consider themselves a religious organization, with tenets, meetings, dogma, etc.


Stephen recently wrote a very good article about "Satanic Blasphemy." In it he describes three different types of blasphemy that Satanists normally find themselves in:  "Reactionary," "Transcendent," and "Natural."

Blasphemy is an interesting concept and is one of those hot-button topics that release a lot of preconceived ideas and notions.

What is blasphemy? Merriam-Webster defines it as "the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God" and "the act of claiming the attributes of a deity," which is what Jesus himself was accused of (see Matthew 26:57-67).

Stephen doesn't use this latter definition, but he tends to gravitate towards the first. He describes the Black Mass, which, in my own definition, is a cathartic antithetical ritual to the Christian Mass, renouncing that which previously harmed the people celebrating the Black Mass.

The Black Mass

Once in his Patreon only podcast, Stephen had described the Black Mass in depth to me. It actually had me crying at the end. I do not exactly know why the description of the Black Mass had such a reaction in me, but maybe it was for two reason.

First:  I had come into a new state of acceptance as an out Bisexual Christian male, who was free to be who he is and celebrate worship with other likeminded people. The Black Mass, in comparison to that, was a slap in my face.

Secondly:  Since the Black Mass is a ritual designed to renounce Christianity specifically, I find it truly depressing that such rituals need to be made to renounce what should have been a lifestyle of peace. Christians are perhaps some of the worst people when it comes to dehumanizing and degrading other people, which is exactly the opposite of who Jesus was and is.

Living in a predominately Christian culture, surrounded by and inundated with Christian messages, when one steps out and says they are not Christian, there will be backlash.

But . . . 

It isn't blasphemous to not be a Christian. Jesus certainly wasn't a Christian.

The "blasphemy" that Stephen describes for the most part really isn't blasphemy. It's simply stating "I am not a Christian. I do not worship like you do. Let me be myself."

Unfortunately, being in a predominantly Christian culture, this rarely works out for the best, even when one lives in a country that supposedly espouses freedom of religion.

And the second "but" I have is with one of the Tenets of the Satanic Temple. I have heard the tenets described as being better than the 10 Commandments. That's like comparing apples to oranges.

The Fourth Tenet states that "The freedom of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo one's own."

Maybe it's just me, but I do not like this idea of the "freedom to offend." The sentence in and of itself is paradoxical. At one point, they uphold the idea of having the freedom to believe what one wishes to believe, but at the same time authorizes people to offend others. This is hardly conducive at all to forming peace with everyone, but at the same time, most Christians haven't been the best at "loving your neighbor" either.

There is probably a very nuanced hermeneutic to that tenet, but if it is so nuanced, then this tenets isn't expressed very well.


So, is Stephen the Satanist a blasphemer, worthy of being stoned, like that wonderful scene in "The Life of Brian?" Adhering to its strict definition, no.

Is he a heretic? Well, yes, but so am I. It has become an axiom of mine that we are all heretics to someone else.

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