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No, I Don't Believe in a Personal Devil or a Personal Savior

I think if there are evil spirits, but men like Hitler probably taught them a thing or two about being evil. Of course if there ARE evil spirits, the best way to combat them is not with constant prayer and seeing “da deyvil” in everything, that just invites them in, always being obsessed with them I was more full of fear as a Christian than now, more obsessed. Personal Devil or a Personal Savior Today I believe that the best way to combat “evil” is simply to try and seek the best in everyone, in all books, in all manner of things. Demons or whatever you wish to call them, probably HATE simple things like honest handshakes and honest smiles and really detest people who can simply examine the universe with a quiet mind. If you are comfortable with yourself alone in a dark room, simply listening to your own breathing, then the devilʼs got nothing on you. He has no fear to hang on to. Demons are probably like animals that sense fear and that gives them strength. Or maybe most demons are busy taunting other demons to have much time to bother with humanity as much as some people claim they do. I think Godʼs cadre of diseases and parasites and hunger and repetitious labor, hard labor, boring labor, accidents, miscommunications, unrequited love, dashed hopes, and simply the ability to fear things that havenʼt happened yet, along with numerous painful natural phenomena, work havoc quite well without having to invoke “THE devil” or “demons” to explain “evil” in the world.

But wait, thereʼs more, if you order now weʼll include with our explanation the following…

Satan

But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most?
- Mark Twain, Autobiography


I have no special regard for Satan; but I can at least claim that I have no prejudice against him. It may even be that I lean a little his way, on account of his not having a fair show. All religions issue Bibles against him, and say the most injurious things about him, but we never hear his side. We have none but the evidence for the prosecution, and yet we have rendered the verdict. To my mind this is irregular. It is un-English. It is un-American; it is French.
- Mark Twain


We may not pay him reverence, for that would be indiscreet, but we can at least respect his talents. A person who has for untold centuries maintained the imposing position of spiritual head of four-fifths of the human race, and political head of the whole of it, must be granted the possession of executive abilities of the loftiest order. Not only that, but Satan hasnʼt a single salaried helper, while the Opposition employs a million.
- Mark Twain


Another “Satan seller” is Dr. Rebecca Brown. Her tales of “Satanic cult abuse” (He Came To Set The Captives Free) were published by Jack Chick, who specializes in publishing mini-comic books portraying demons and hellfire. “Dr. Rebecca Brown” was originally “an Indiana physician named Ruth Bailey, who had her license removed by the Medical Licensing Board of Indiana for a number of reasons. Among the boardʼs seventeen findings are: Bailey knowingly misdiagnosed serious illnesses, including brain tumors and leukemia, as ‘caused by demons, devils, and other evil spirits;’ she told her patients that doctors at Ball Memorial Hospital and St. Johnʼs Medical Center were ‘demons, devils, and other evil spirits’ themselves; and she falsified patient charts and hospital records. The boardʼs report states: ‘Dr. Bailey also addicted numerous patients to controlled substances which required them to suffer withdrawal and undergo detoxification, and that she self-medicated herself with non-therapeutic amounts of Demerol which she injected on an hourly basis.’ A psychiatrist appointed by the board to diagnose Bailey described her as ‘suffering from acute personality disorders including demonic delusions and/or paranoid schizophrenia.’ Refusing to appear before the board, Bailey moved to California, changed her name to Rebecca Brown, and began working with Jack Chick.” (David Alexander, “Giving the Devil More Than His Due: For Occult Crime ‘Experts’ and the Media, Anti-Satanist Hysteria Has Become A Growth Industry,” The Humanist, March/April 1990) Jack Chick recently stopped publishing Brownʼs books, “We used to publish her books. Then the Lord told us he didnʼt want us to put ʻem out anymore.” (Jack Chick, speaking to Dwayne Walker in 1997)

Even the editors of Christianity Today praised a book in which well-documented research showed that the problem with the “Satanic panic” of the 1980s was that “rumor was prevailing over truth, and people, particularly Christians, are too believing.” The Christian book reviewer cited a case in a megachurch in Chicago where one man was “disfellowshipped” because a female in the congregation “freaked out” whenever she saw him on Sunday mornings, claiming he was a “Satanic cult leader” who had “ritually abused her.” “The man was not allowed to face his accuser, nor would they discuss with the man any specific dates or events of alleged crimes. Though the man denied the allegations, and the elders and pastor of the church saw no evidence of sin in the manʼs life, they felt compelled to protect the accuser.” The review continued, “To date there has been no investigation that has substantiated the claims of alleged Satanic abuse survivors. Recovered ‘memories’ are the only evidence any specialist will offer...Well-meaning but uncritical therapists have validated, if not helped to construct, vile fantasies that foment a terror of Satan rather than confidence in God...In periods of rising concern over actual child abuse and sexual immorality the historical tendency has been to find scapegoats for social ills. A despised segment of society is depicted as the perpetrator of a villainous conspiracy. Romans accused the early Christians of wearing black robes, secretly meeting in caves, and performing animal and baby mutilation. In the Middle Ages, the scapegoat was the Jews. In America of the 1830s and 40s, kidnapping and murder of children were said to be the work of the Catholics. A best-selling book of the time, The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, chronicled the atrocities committed by priests and nuns at a particular convent. That account sparked myriad copycat claims by other young women.” (Susan Bergman, “Rumors from Hell,” Christianity Today, Vol. 38, No. 3, March, 1994 - a review of Jeffrey S. Victorʼs, Satanic Panic)

The modern “Satanic cult hysteria” only began in 1981 with the publication of the best-seller, Michelle Remembers. “Prior to 1981 there were no reports of ‘satanic-cult torture and murder.’ We have none on record, and I challenge you to find any in the psychiatric or scientific literature.” So says F.B.I. Special Agent Kenneth Lanning (who has a masterʼs degree in behavioral science and whose published work on the sexual victimization of children is well-known in the law-enforcement and psychology fields). (Interestingly enough, the article featuring Lanningʼs statement appeared in Penthouse magazine, while the statements directly preceding Lanningʼs appeared in Christianity Today. Itʼs nice to know that Christians and secularists, can agree on some matters!)

There are indeed practicing “Satanists” in America, but the F.B.I. has been studying ritual criminal behavior for many years and has not found evidence of any organized “satanic menace.” According to Lanning, “I started out believing this stuff [about ritual murders by organized satanic-cults]. I mean, I had been dealing with bizarre crimes for many years and I knew from experience that almost anything is possible...But I canʼt find one documented case [of satanic-cult victimization], and Iʼve been looking for seven years or more. I personally have investigated some 300 cases - and there is not a shred of evidence of a crime.” He mentioned how psychiatric patients [and/or people who undergo hypnosis to “recover memories”] are the ones claiming such crimes took place, but when the alleged crime scene is investigated there is never a trace of blood or bone, though the F.B.I. has many means to detect even the faintest traces of splashed blood, and whole lawns and farm fields have been dug up in search of bones and bone fragments though none were found.

Satan-mongers inflate statistics, claiming that “according to the F.B.I., two million children are missing each year.” “Itʼs wrong,” said Lanning. The Justice Department (Juvenile Justice Bulletin, January 1989) reported that between 52 and 58 children were kidnapped and murdered by non-family members in 1988. The “Cult Crime Network” claims that “50,000 human sacrifices” are being performed each year by “satanic cults.” But there are only 20,000 murders, total in the U.S. each year, and that figure accounts for all the gang, drug, domestic, and “regular” murders in the country.

People do commit strange crimes. Some may even be committing human sacrifice in the name of Satan. But there is absolutely no evidence of any widespread, organized satanic movement. At one conference on satanism in America in 1989 the same photo of a boy whose death was “linked to satanism” was dragged out by just about everyone interviewed by a reporter covering the conference, implying that was the one and only corpse in the U.S. that could be traced to satanic-cult activity, and it was the result of an isolated incident that could not be connected in any way with an organized group.

As Lanning sums things up, “The fact is that more crime and child abuse has been committed by zealots in the name of God, Jesus, and Muhammad than has ever been committed in the name of Satan.”
- Skip Church


Devils Devils Everywhere, So Throw A Pot Of Ink!

The Father of Protestant Christianity, Martin Luther, saw “Satan” lurking everywhere and once boasted about throwing an inkpot at old Split-foot himself. (The following quotations, unless otherwise stated, are from Table Talk, a volume in The Collected Works of Martin Luther):

Snakes and monkeys are subjected to the demon more than other animals. Satan lives in them and possesses them. He uses them to deceive men and to injure them.

In my country, upon a mountain called Polterberg, there is a pool. If one throws a stone into it, instantly a storm arises and the whole surrounding countryside is overwhelmed by it. This lake is full of demons; Satan holds them captive there.

Demons are in woods, in waters, in wildernesses, and in dark pooly places ready to hurt and prejudice people; some are also in thick black clouds, which cause hail, lightning and thunder, and poison the air, the pastures and grounds.

How often have not the demons called “Nix,” drawn women and girls into the water, and there had commerce with them, With fearful consequences.

I myself saw and touched at Dessay, a child which had no human parents, but had proceeded from the Devil. He was twelve years old, and, in outward form, exactly resembled ordinary children.

A large number of deaf, crippled and blind people are afflicted solely through the malice of the demon. And one must in no wise doubt that plagues, fevers and every sort of evil come from him.

Our bodies are always exposed to the attacks of Satan. The maladies I suffer are not natural, but Devilʼs spells.

As for the demented, I hold it certain that all beings deprived of reason are thus afflicted only by the Devil.

Satan produces all the maladies which afflict mankind for he is the prince of death.

(Who needs modern medicine, sanitation, health, and city planning practices? According to Luther we just need more exorcists to heal “all the maladies which afflict mankind.” On the other hand, even the “apple of Godʼs eye,” the ancient Hebrews, did not enjoy unparalleled good health to judge by the lengthy number of illnesses mentioned in the book of Deuteronomy. Add to that Luther and Calvinʼs own devilishly recurring bowel problems. Dare I suggest that the early invention of Ex-lax and Pepto-bismol might have taken the edge off of some of the Reformationʼs more spitefully inspired fears? - Skip)

When I was a child there were many witches, and they bewitched both cattle and men, especially children. (Luther, Commentary on Galatians)

I would have no compassion on a witch; I would burn them all. (Luther, Table Talk)

The heathen writes that the Comet may arise from natural causes; but God creates not one that does not foretoken a sure calamity. (Luther, Advent Sermon)

(For further quotations like those above, see Heiko Oberman, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil)


Some people believe in the Devil. So do I, in a way. He could be nothing more than one of Godʼs staff members, the one who on Judgment Day will take the fall for war, famine, tooth decay, etc. (In fact, “Armageddon” is probably Aramaic for “reshuffling the cabinet.”) He could be just random badness, the absence of goodness: evil doesnʼt have to unionize to be effective. I just do not believe that old Splitfoot has a hot line to everyoneʼs id and makes us go all steamy with evil thoughts when the fancy strikes him.

- James Lileks, “The Devil, You Say,” Fresh Lies)


May The Higher Power Win

I cannot find Satan or Him
In this desolate heart.
Nor have I found a concrete way
To tell the two apart.

Through the myths, I hear the legends.
Through the songs I hear the praise.
Through “Glory God” and “Satan Rules” -
I still hear but one phrase.

Have mercy on my empty soul,
Whoever bids the lot.
And may the Higher Power win,
If itʼs a soul I got.

- Norbert Thiemann

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