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Satanism 101

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The Organized Group: Church of Satan

Founder: Anton Szandor LaVey

Inception: 1966

Membership: The church does not release membership figures.

Top Management: High Priest Peter Gilmore, of Manhattan

The Word: the Satanic Bible

The Symbol: the Baphomet, commonly known as a pentagram

God: Satanists do not believe in God or the devil; rather, Satan is a metaphor for personal empowerment and rebellion.

Path to Salvation: There is no afterlife. “We believe you live only once, so you want to get the most out of your life,” Gilmore says.

Place of Worship: There is no church building. “The Church of Satan is the people who find common ground in its literature.”

The Money Trail: There is a onetime membership fee of $200 to become a card carrier; the church hierarchy selects applicants in a more rigorous process for “active” membership.

On Getting In: “You have to understand the philosophy and achieve something in the real world. Success is a huge litmus test for who is a poseur and who isn’t.”

On Satanic Ritual: “Our rituals aren’t mandatory. Satanism is a tool to live your life, not occupy your time. We don’t sit around burning candles and joining hands.”

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 8, 2005

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