Dear Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor,
Around the 12 minute mark of the recent podcast edition of Freethought Radio, during a conversation about prayer in Lodi city meetings, Ms. Gaylor stated “…or even Satanists, if there are such people”. As a regular and fairly long time listener of the podcast version of the show, I thought I would write in on the subject. I will try to keep it as succinct as possible.
I am a skeptic, an atheist, a secularist and a Satanist. There is no contradiction or ethical or logical tension between these four self-identifying labels. I am an ordained priest in the Church of Satan and the day after this episode aired (Oct. 4th) I gave a rather rousing rendition of a lecture on blasphemy by Robert G. Ingersoll at a contest in Washington, D.C. – sponsored by CFI-DC, American Humanist Association and the Washington Area Secular Humanists. I am not a member of any of the organizations, however, and only officially represent the Church of Satan.
I attended the Satanic High Mass on 6-6-06 held at CFI Los Angeles in the Steve Allen Theater and have attended local atheist Meet Up groups. Just recently I found a Usenet post I made from 1997 where I stated flatly that I was an Atheist and a Satanist, giving proof that this is not a passing phase or lark.
Though there may be significant differences in Humanism and Satanism, it doesn’t discount the fact that Satanism has a strong streak of skepticism and atheism that goes back to its founding in 1966 by Anton LaVey. The current High Priest of the organization, Peter H. Gilmore and I had a discussion about how important the book “Atheism: The Case Against God” was to the both of us. I can provide a long list of unequivocal quotes by LaVey and Gilmore stating that skepticism and atheism are integral parts of Satanism.
I can offer a list much much longer of quotes from mainstream media sources, Christian media and (more recently) the blogopshere and websites blatantly misrepresenting and slandering our world view and sometimes even calling for the criminalization of our legally recognized organization and the imprisonment of our members merely because they adhere to a minority philosophy. As a persistent and rather infuriating urban legend, I can’t recall how many times I’ve seen (possibly) well-meaning but woefully misinformed people send out letters or post flyers around Halloween claiming that “Satanists” may “steal your cat, especially if its black, and kill it” and urging pet owners to keep their animals indoors.
I write all of this not because I want you to appreciate Satanism, defend or promote it, or even accept it (Satanists do NOT evangelize). I only want to make it clear that it exists, and the largest Satanic organization in the United States, having been in existence for over 44 years, has been a constant and strident advocate for pluralism, skepticism and separation of church and state.
Please keep up the work you are doing at the FFRF to secure a proper secular American government, nationally and locally.
Rev. Kevin I. Slaughter
Church of Satan