Debbie Has Gone Wild

SATANISM has assumed a variety of forms through human history. Allegations of organized worship of Satan can be traced to Europe during the Middle Ages. Fears of Satan worship surfaced during the fifteenth-century witch-hunts, and Christian manuals were produced for depicting and combating Satanism. In America, colonial-era New England experienced a period of witchcraft allegations and witch-hunting. Beyond the colonial witchcraft episode, conservative Christian groups that believe that Satan is an active, personal presence in human affairs have perpetuated satanic imagery throughout American history. Satan serves the function of explaining evil and misfortune, identifying unorthodox faiths, and bolstering Christian solidarity.

Satanic churches began forming, first in California and then gradually spreading across the United States and to Europe, during the late 1960s. These churches achieved popularity in the 1970s as part of the counterculture movement of that period. The Church of Satan and Temple of Set are the largest and most visible existing satanic churches. A number of other satanic churches also appeared, but most were small and short-lived organizations that originated as schismatic offshoots of the Church of Satan. Although the Church of Satan claimed hundreds of thousands of members during its heyday, the total active membership of all the satanic churches never exceeded a few thousand. The Church of Satan is the more significant of the two groups; it is the first contemporary church devoted to the worship of Satan, it gave rise to most other satanic churches, and practicing satanists typically trace their beliefs to Anton LaVey's thought. Interest in satanic churches, although not Satanism, declined dramatically with the demise of the counterculture.

Satanic Cults and the Satanism Scare
The "Satanism scare" swept the United States, Canada, and Europe during the 1980s. Satanic cults were thought to exist in an underground network that...