I never identified myself as a Satanist because I did not think of myself as a Satanist. This label was put on me by others. I guess I found it too ridiculous to deny. When word spread at my school that I did not believe in gods, some of my fundamentalist Christian classmates decided that this must mean I was a Satanist. I suppose I decided it was more fun just to let them go on believing this than to argue. I wouldn't have been able to talk them out of it. And besides, being thought of as a Satanist was much cooler than anything I could have come up with on my own.
I was thinking about this period of my life the other day and trying to remember where my limited knowledge of Satanism could have come from. I would eventually read The Satanic Bible and other sources on Satanism, but I had not done so yet. So where did what little I thought I knew about Satanism at the time come from? I think there were three primary sources:
- Horror films
- Heavy metal music with Satanic themes
- The mainstream news media
What became clear to my adolescent mind was that the people around me were terrified of anything Satanic and that Satanism represented a kind of freedom that was opposed by almost all the authority figures who were attempting to crush our freedom. On this basis alone, it had to be a good thing. If the alternative was oppressive Christian fundamentalism, I'd take Satanism all day long!
Where's church? How can church not be on the list? I was raised in a liberal Protestant church where we rarely heard about hell and Satan. My limited understanding of Satanism may have been indirectly influenced by what friends raised in fundamentalist churches told me, but I don't recall hearing much directly from the church I had been compelled to attend that would have affected me.
Clearly, my understanding of Satanism at the time was unsophisticated, inaccurate, and as I said above, cartoonish. It was also a lot of fun.