At this point, pretty much everyone has a picture in their head when they hear the word “Satanist.” That picture may come from any number of sources — popular (especially horror) films, novels, the nightly news, local scandals blamed on “Satanic cults,” or even personal contact with practicing Satanists. Some of our mental images might be more accurate, and warmer, than others.
Satanists are still a pretty small religious minority; there are no good numbers on how many there are, between the theistic Satanists, the Church of Satan members, Temple of Set folks, and other groups. That means many people have never met an actual Satanist. If they did, they might be surprised. Pleasantly surprised.
Take Joe Netherworld, featured above. Given his charisma and talents, as well as his willingness to self-publicize, he might not be the most typical Satanist. In some ways, he’s what you might expect, given our cultural stereotypes about Satanists: he likes to wear black and decorate his house with skulls and dark colors. But he’s also warm and personable, and a contributing member of his community. He transformed a much-hated neighborhood crackhouse in Poughkeepsie, New York, into a decorated mansion (and a favorite kid destination on Halloween). He looks out for his neighbors.
Take what one of his neighbors says about him, at the 9:40 mark:
“They’ll say, ‘Oh, who’s he? What’s going on over there? He’s weird.’ Let me tell you, I would put 20 of Joes on every single side of me. Put 20 of Joes around me, I’d be the happiest woman imaginable. I know we’re taken care of.”
This video also lets you get to know some slightly more traditional Satanists, Church of Satan Magus Peter Gilmore and his wife, Magistra Peggy Gilmore — also very down-to-Earth.
The best cure for prejudice and fear is knowledge, and getting to know people who belong to the group you’re uncomfortable with. How does Joe Netherworld change your understanding of what Satanists are like?