Satanism is often viewed as either a teen prank that can not sustain an actual movement (particularly since the collapse of organized Satanism in the U.S. since the death of Anton LaVey), or by many conservative Christians as an active force often aimed against them and their faith.
Recent incidents in northern Europe and Russia suggest that Satanism may be both a teen phenomenon as well as take on an actively anti-Christian thrust. In the journal of new religions Nova Religio (October), Robert Ellwood reviews the book Lords of Chaos (Feral House) and finds its reportage of the “Satanic metal underground” nothing to shrug off. The book, which looks at the connection between the heavy metal music subculture and Satanism, draws a contrast between the youth fad in America and darker currents in Europe, particularly Norway.
In Ellwood’s words, the book finds Norway “something of cynosure of musical diabolism, Neo-Nazism, and the darker forms of Neopaganism. The Satanism-metal connection is seen in a series of recent burnings of no less than 45 Norwegian churches, including the priceless stave churches built in medieval times.
“Many if not most of the arson has been linked to persons in the black metal world who in interviews or in court have hinted or boasted that the fires were Odins, or Satan’s, or Hitler’s revenge on Christianity.” When communism first fell in Russia and other former Soviet countries, there was the a growth of occult activities, including groups allegedly claiming some connection to Satanism. But more recently, individuals claiming Satanist influence have been striking out especially against Christian churches and holy objects, reports the Danish Christian countercult journal, Spirituality in East and West (No. 12).
Russian journalist Sergei Chapnin writes that “manifest anti-Christian sects” have grown in Russia and Belorus in the last five years. “Profanation of Christian sacred things, anonymous threatening calls to the addresses of the clergy, blasphemous publications in the press — all of this has happened several times recently. One of the most serious incidents was the profanation of an Orthodox church where icons were smeared with black paint and the walls were covered with “blasphemous writings with direct threats to physical annihilation of Christians, and Satanic symbolism.”
As with others suspected and convicted, those arrested claimed involvement in Satanist groups (of which there are 30 groups in Moscow, Chapnin writes). But Chapnin acknowledges that this vandalism is done by teens whose knowledge of Satanism comes from videos and “different trends within rock music.”
(Spirituality in East and West, Dialog Center, 46, Katrinebjergvej, DK-8200 Aarhus N, Denmark)