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February 19, 2014

Church of Satan on Miranda Barbour

A statement from The Church of Satan with regard to Miranda Barbour’s admitted involvement in the religion:

Admitted murderess Miranda Barbour has claimed in an interview with reporter Francis Scarcella that she has killed over 22 people as well as stating that she belonged to a “satanic cult” in Alaska when she was 13 years old. Her husband Elytte Barbour has apparently told police that the couple killed one person in Pennsylvania whom they lured via advertising on Craigslist, and had failed in attempts to kill others. He has as of this point neither confirmed nor denied his wife’s statements. This situation is currently under investigation.

We’re not a cult

Some basic points for the curious: The Church of Satan is not a cult. We are an above-ground, legally incorporated religious organization and we only allow membership to those who are legal adults. We are atheists, not devil worshippers. We do not support the practice of human or animal sacrifice. We have no record of any contact whatsoever with this couple. Our philosophy embraces a social contract wherein law and order are both upheld. We hold that the punishment should fit in kind and degree the crime. We do not condone murder, nor do the actions of this couple in any way reflect the philosophy of adherents of the Church of Satan. Since our founding in 1966 we have served as consultants for law enforcement and we do not hesitate to notify them of situations that come to our attention indicating potential dangerous activity.

Northeastern University criminologist Jack Levin for CNN analyzed these claims to serial killing on such a large scale and found them implausible, based on current understanding of the behavior of such murderers. I consider his thoughts to be persuasive. It is worth remembering that Henry Lee Lucas, who was arrested in 1983, had similarly claimed to be a member of a cult and at times asserted he was responsible for killing hundreds and later thousands of victims. Apparently he was for a time a member of a Christian commune. These inflated claims as well as the existence of the cult were determined to be falsehoods.

Having been a representative of the Church of Satan through “The Satanic Panic” of the mid-1980s-1990’s, I am well aware of the popular myth of the existence of “satanic cults” who ritually abuse people via acts of torture and murder. While leading journalists back then promoted this hysteria, when rigorous analysis — particularly by agents of law enforcement — was brought to bear, these claims proved untrue. Today, law enforcement is much more organized, particularly post-9/11, and I find it difficult to believe that a “killer cult” of any sort could be in operation before being noticed and their murderous members captured and prosecuted.

There have been isolated instances of small groups of people dabbling in devil worship who have committed murder. These cases often involved the use of illegal drugs as well as cobbled-together religious ideas that come primarily from horror films, video games or the literature produced by evangelical Christians. Their belief in Satan is a Christian one, seeing him as a real being demanding chaos, sacrifice and murder as forms of worship. The Church of Satan has never held that view as we consider both God and Satan to be fictional. Satan serves us as a symbol of pride, liberty and individualism, much as he has for creative individuals such as Milton, Byron and Carducci. Mark Twain, a sharp observer of the human animal, also used Satan in this manner in his more controversial works.

If you have ever seen films like “Badlands” (1973) or “Natural Born Killers” (1994), which explore the motivations of couples who are “thrill killers,” you’ll note that the concept of a couple committing murders primarily for personal excitement and gaining attention has been out there for some time. There are quite a number of documented incidents of similar behavior and it is disturbing that certain individuals may decide to murder others as a means for entertainment. Psychologists continue to study this aberration and may in time uncover more about what motivates such reprehensible behavior. Whether the Barbours actually have committed one or many murders is yet to be determined, but there is ample material out there upon which such a story could be based.

It should come as no surprise that Satan has once again been chosen as a scapegoat, since criminals often seek to blame others for their actions and The Devil has historically been named as inspiring many acts deemed to be evil. However, we think it is crucial to understand that the philosophy of Satanism as codified by Anton LaVey is one that condemns murder and advocates that the perpetrators should be punished to the full extent of the law.

I have confidence that law enforcement will uncover the truth about this situation and I trust that the guilty will be punished for their heinous deeds

— Magus Peter H. Gilmore

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