Tag Archives: Peter Gilmore

Church of Satan: ‘Craigslist Killer Not One of Us’

Church of Satan high priest Peter Gilmore has issued a statement to the press regarding Miranda Barbour’s claims that she belonged to a Satanic cult, making it clear that she has no affiliation with the church founded by Anton LaVey.

“According to our records, we have never had any contact from this woman, nor her accomplice … It seems to me that she is calling herself a member of a ‘satanic cult,’ not a legally incorporated above-ground form of satanism.”

“Thorough investigation will likely demonstrate that this cult story is fiction,” Gilmore added.

And Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the New York-based Satanic Temple, expressed similar sentiments in statements this weekend:

“Barbour seems bent on displaying herself as prolific murderer and absolute monster, and her ‘Satanism’ seems nothing more than another transparent effort to aid in this campaign of reverse,” public relations, Greaves said.

“It must be remembered that ‘the Devil made me do it’ excuse far predates any written doctrine of Satanism, and I feel certain that Barbour’s own relationship with any organized Satanism will turn out to be vague or non-existent,” he added.

What’s even more remarkable than these public statements is that multiple mainstream news sites have published them — without irony or mockery. That rarely happens, and it’s a major step forward in recognizing Satanism as a legitimate and law-abiding faith that is unfairly linked to crimes like Barbour’s far too often. For example, check out this comment from CNN’s Belief blog co-editor, Daniel Burke:

Barbour’s alleged satanic ties may resurrect painful memories for Satanists, who found themselves at the center of controversy during the “satanic panic” of the 1980s. During that time, several American communities reported that Satanists had abused children during horrifying rituals. The accusations were later debunked, but only after what Satanists like Gilmore describe as a “witch hunt.”

Satanism still has a long way to go before it’s seen as an equal faith, but this isn’t a bad place to start.

Is stealing a VOTE SATAN sign a hate crime?

This isn’t the first time someone has backed Satan for public office. Photo by Flickr user futureatlas.com.

Rooting for Satan in the 2012 presidential election might be a long shot, but that’s no reason to take someone’s “VOTE SATAN” signs down.

A couple in Mountain View, Colorado, posted such a sign outside their home. Someone snatched it, and now the couple — Luigi and Angie Bellaviste — say they are the victims of a hate crime.

The Bellavistes, who are Satanists, told the local CBS affiliate that the theft was motivated by religious differences:

“I feel like we’re being treated unfairly because it’s not a so-called mainstream religion,” said Luigi.

“I know of many people who have the Virgin Mary and tons of Jesus memorabilia ‘I Love Jesus’ and what is the difference?” said Angie.

This situation raises a number of interesting questions: Do we know for sure that the person who took the sign down did so because they don’t like Satan or Satanists? It’s just as likely that this is random teen vandalism, or a someone who thought the sign was cool and wanted to keep it.

The folks at Mycrappyneighbor.com covered the incident, and even interviewed Peter Gilmore, High Priest of the Church of Satan. Here’s what he had to say about whether the theft constituted a hate crime:

“I think the idea of “hate crimes” brings an aspect of nebulousness to prosecution. How can one be certain as to the actual motivation for any crime, unless the criminal is honest to law enforcement about his emotional and conceptual state prior to or during a criminal act? We do not have mind reading technology. Lie detector tests are not accurate. Since “hate crime” statutes often increase the level of punishment for a crime, only the most foolish of criminals would state that hatred and bigotry was a motivation for their actions.”

“If the sign had said “Vote Allah” or “Vote Jesus” would its theft and vandalism be considered to be a “hate crime”? If so, then local officials should not be so quick to dismiss this just because they may not share the religious or philosophical convictions of those who are the victims in this situation.”

So, what does the hate-crime law in Colorado say?

“A person commits a bias-motivated crime if, with the intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation, he or she … knowingly causes damage to or destruction of the property of another person.”

Still, we’d need to know who tore down the sign, and why they did it, before we can say it’s a hate crime.

While looking through the city of Mountain View’s municipal code, I was also interested to find the following regulations regarding campaign signs on people’s property:

Temporary political signs of less than six (6) square feet in size may be located on the property no earlier than sixty (60) days before an election and no later than fifteen (15) days after the election.

If theirs was a legitimate campaign sign, then the Bellavides were out of bounds posting it in June — it’s still more than 60 days until the presidential election on Nov. 6.

Meet “America’s Favorite Satanist”

America’s Favorite Satanist from Vicki Marquette on Vimeo.

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?