The Church of Satan was founded by Anton Szandor LaVey on Walpurgisnacht, 1966 after shaving his head and declaring it the Year One, Anno Satanas. He felt that it was high time a church was dedicated to man’s glorious indulgence, and opposed the anti-life dogmas of all the “white-light” spiritual religions. LaVey codified his philosophy to serve the needs of man, rather than man being in servitude to the whims of religion. He consequently penned his animalistic philosophy within The Satanic Bible in 1969, detailing the rudiments of Satanism. Accordingly he defined Satanism as a means of reveling in man’s carnal instincts without the guilt wrought upon by religion, where man is his own god and is responsible for everything he has attained in life. Furthermore, the Church of Satan encouraged a more self-aware, more rational society through its members’ lifestyles, who demonstrated themselves to possess a higher than average potential. LaVey would term this new Satanic type the Alien Elite. Subsequently LaVey published The Satanic Rituals, The Satanic Witch (formerly known as The Compleat Witch), The Devil’s Notebook, and Satan Speaks. He is also the subject of an authorized biography The Secret Life of a Satanist, and The Church of Satan, detailing the history of the organization. Both works were published by Blanche Barton. Moreover, I read The Satanic Bible approximately in my sophomore year of high school. I viewed this mysterious black book as a magical mirror, which reflected myself with every tirade and diatribe. I had always been a Satanist. I just hadn’t a name or label for what I was. And so in admiration, as a nod to the philosophy and organization that Anton LaVey constructed, I submitted my application along with $200 to the Church of Satan two years ago in the summer of 2011. I then received my membership shortly thereafter, declaring me a citizen of the Infernal Empire.
Generally, every now and then I will encounter detractors of the Church of Satan, many of who reveal their own agendas after ad hominem attacks on members of the hierarchy. The prevailing argument is usually that the $200 membership fee is unreasonable, and the Church of Satan is a money making scheme. They usually follow this claim up with personal attacks on members after they are alerted to the fact that, A) the membership fee is a means of filtering out certain individuals such as themselves. The Church of Satan is a selective elitist organization with members who are movers and shakers of their own subjective universes. The organization is an effective tool by which members put Satanism into practice in unique ways to obtain their own personal ends in the outside world. It would seem these detractors would lack the energy or drive to actually put the principles of Satanism into practice to begin with, as demonstrated by their gripes with something as trivial as the membership fee. B) The membership price is perfectly reasonable when one thinks about tithes that other churches collect, not to mention it is a lifetime membership. Additionally it also seems reasonable when one considers the price of entertainment. Some people spend entire paychecks on entertainment alone. C) Membership within the Church of Satan is just like everything else in life, one gets out of it what one puts into it. D) Lastly, think about other organizations or charities one would invest in. It takes money to keep an organization running, and if that organization truly reflects one’s best views and interests, why not support it? Similarly keep in mind that it is voluntary, and one need not join in order to be an authentic Satanist. A genuine Satanist is one who finds himself reflected in the Nietzschean ideal that LaVey recognized as the Satanic paradigm. There is room to build upon the foundation that LaVey codified and uniquely utilize Satanism to achieve one’s ends, and the Church of Satan welcomes these outstanding individualists.
Certainly, one of the things that stood out to me about the Church of Satan was that it operates as a meritocracy. The church takes individual merit into consideration, and rewards those who hold outstanding status in the real world, by elevation within the organization. “As above, so below.” The more successful one is outside the organization, the higher the status one has from within the organization. De-emphasis is placed upon titles in the Church of Satan. More often than not they are used as an excuse to be a narcissist, and this isn’t limited to the Church of Satan. As paralleled, some important principles of Satanism are self-discipline and self-mastery. Satanism encourages each individual Satanist to strive to be the very best at what they do, and the Church of Satan does a very good job of cultivating these principles into practicalities with its hierarchical structure. Moreover, stratification is pertinent to the principles of Satanism. Equality is an illusion that breeds mediocrity, the weak benefit at the expense of the strong. Water must be allowed to seek its own level, and each Satanist will rise or fall according to their own capabilities. Similarly, the Church of Satan advocates strict taxation of all churches and has never pursued tax-exempt status. In LaVey’s five point plan for Pentagonal Revisionism he stated,
If churches were taxed for all their income and property, they’d crumble overnight of their own obsolescence, and the National Debt would be wiped out as quickly. The productive, the creative, the resourceful should be subsidized. So long as the useless and incompetent are getting paid, they should be heavily taxed.
The Church of Satan furthermore, holds that these government sanctioned institutions should thrive only through the support of their members, and the Church of Satan is leading this view by example. Peter H. Gilmore, the current Magus of the Church of Satan and successor of Anton LaVey, in his essay “Satanism: The Feared Religion” stated,
This would remove the government sanction of religion and force these parasites to live off of their own members alone, and if they can’t, then they will perish as they should. The Church of Satan has never pursued tax-exempt status and challenges all the rest of the world’s churches to stand on their own feet. Let us expose the vampiric nature of the organized religions and see if they can withstand the light of day.
It is further admittedly unsurprising that as with all innovators of movement, there will come those out from the social morass in attempts to slander, or otherwise extirpate the credibility of these movers and shakers, and so it is without exception that claims of falsehood would be directed at LaVey and his cabal of non-joiners. At this level, allegations of Dr. LaVey being a con man, and not being honest about his past or his motives have surfaced especially after his passing. How truly despicable these detractors are in their desperate attempts to defame the deceased. Ultimately, the verisimilitude of LaVey’s motivations is futile when one considers his philosophy – it still holds true. Even if the philosopher was nothing than a mere facade, the content of The Satanic Bible would still hold water, as it caters to man’s unchanging needs. The Church of Satan furthermore, persists to this day to disseminate Satanic theory as the official representative of Satanism. Certainly, there had been no above ground organizations that championed Satanism prior to the movement LaVey started. Thus the Church of Satan was formalized, constructed to signify an adversarial position against organized religion, and to serve as a welcoming haven for likeminded outsiders.
It should be known that the principles of Satanism have always existed since man’s inception, whether these principles were called Satanic or not. Likewise, there have always been philosophers, free thinkers, artists and the like who have manifested a particular mode of thought that asserted these principles, which LaVey recognized and would term Satanic, and influenced the world around them. These principles epitomized everything carnal, dark, iconoclastic, primal, animalistic, bestial and beautiful in man. Some of these individualists would include Redbeard, Epicurus, Machiavelli, Rand, Nietzsche, DeCasseres, Schopenhauer, Shakespeare, Poe, Twain, Beethoven, Galileo, and Disney. They would move the world in both dark and enlightened directions through their robust intellect. Furthermore, LaVey’s codification of these ideals is a perfect synthesis that serves to enhance one’s individual preferences. The Church of Satan, as far as I am concerned, stands as the only rational, only life-affirming organization that supports man’s indulgent vital existence. However, forasmuch as Satanism subscribes that one live by his own dictates, there have been those of dissent, who cause problems where none exist in their attempts at a “Satanic reformation.” Their modus operandi usually involves belittlement of the current High Priest, while raving on and on about the merits of LaVey. Interestingly enough, it is they who claim that we exhibit a cult of personality. In fact, LaVey had this to say about such “Satanic reformers” in his essay, “The World’s Most Powerful Religion”:
Satanism is the only religion which serves to encourage and enhance one’s individual preferences, so long as there is admission of those needs. Thus, one’s personal and indelible religion (the picture) is integrated into a perfect frame. It’s a celebration of individuality without hypocrisy, of solidarity without mindlessness, of objective subjectivity. There need be no deviation from these principles. They should summarily negate internecine strife and bickering. Any attempts at Satanic “reformation” should be seen for what they are: creating problems where none exist. There should be no place in any religion for reformers whose very religion is the fetish of reformation. There is even a place and title for compulsive dissidents, and if they can wear the mantle, they are welcome. They would delude themselves to be revolutionaries. In our camp, they are called “House Masochists.”
Despite these “House Masochists'” endeavors at “reformation,” moreover, the Church of Satan remains an active user driven cabal of non-joiners and is anything but defunct. The divorcing and disaffiliation of these dissidents is a welcoming dismissal to the Church of Satan. Stratification is indeed an important component of Satanism, and not everyone is expected to demonstrate the responsibility of self-godhood. Theism, furthermore, whether the belief in gods or devils is actively rallied against within the Church of Satan. Certainly, it was man who invented both god and devil to serve his own emotional needs. In the weakness felt being his own responsibility, and in being alone, ultimately it was his insignificance that got the better of him. And thus he created “god” on which he could cast his emotional insecurity, and scapegoat the “devil” to divert his responsibility. This view is utterly repugnant in its inherently weak, and unaccepting nature of reality. There are no saviours, save for ourselves. Satan is nothing further than a metaphor of this self-salvation.
Indeed, it was through my admiration of the ideal that LaVey instilled into his self-serving philosophy, that I decided to join the organization that he founded. Through the Church of Satan, LaVey stimulated tangible change outside the organization. As he once stated, “Satanism is coming out of the ritual chamber, and into the outside world.” The effects of this promulgation are still being felt in the social climate. With each passing decade we are moving further away from religious fascism, and ever closer to acceptance of man’s carnal nature. One can only repress natural instincts for so long, until they seep out from every orifice. Satanism assuredly serves as a mechanism for order through all of this religious disarray. Religion demonstrably is becoming obsolete. I consequently chose to put myself in league with this “balance factor,” and became part of the movement of rational self-interest. The question of would I still have become the person I am today, if I had not heard about Anton LaVey looms, and presents itself above the social milieu. After a brief moment of introspection, the answer is thus: probably; however without the magic, and undefiled wisdom, which Anton LaVey supplied.
I do not speak as a representitive of the Church of Satan.