Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cimminnee Holt and the definition of "Satanism"

Most new-religion scholars who have studied Satanism are aware that LaVeyan Satanism isn't the one and only form of Satanism. For some examples, see my 2006 page about The definition of "Satanism" according to new-religion scholars and other observers.

More recently, Per Faxneld, a Swedish historian of religion who is now writing a book on the history of Satanism, has told me he defines Satanism as any "system in which Satan is celebrated."

So I was a bit startled to come across the Canadian news story Satanism isn’t for devil worshippers, says Canadian researcher by Derek Abma, Montreal Gazette, June 4, 2011, about research by Cimminnee Holt, a graduate student in the department of religion at Montreal’s Concordia University. She is quoted as discussing Satanism strictly in terms of the Church of Satan's definition.

Using the word "Satanism" to mean LaVeyan Satanism is a little like using the workd "Christianity" to refer only to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. Admittedly, all too many Satanist leaders today are even worse than Christians in their insistance on sectarian definitions of "Satanism." But a scholar should use more neutral terminology, it seems to me.

The Montreal Gazette story mentions that Cimminnee Holt recently had a research paper called "Death and Dying in the Satanic Worldview" published in the Journal of Religion and Culture. Judging by the description, the title should have been "Death and Dying in the LaVeyan Satanic Worldview." There isn't just one "Satanic worldview." For example, some (not all) theistic Satanists do believe in an afterlife. Some believe in reincarnation.

I wonder: Is she unaware of the existence of other public forms of Satanism? Or has she herself become a CoS partisan? I would like to encourage her to expand her research -- or at least to stop using a sectarian definition of the word "Satanism."

The news story also briefly mentions Scott Robb, a Canadian Satanist who unsuccessfully ran for a seat on Edmonton’s city council last October.

The reporter also solicited a disapproving quote from a Christian: Rev. Bruce Gregersen, general council officer of mission and ministry for the United Church of Canada, who is quoted as saying, “We do not support, in any way, taking lightly the nature of evil or, therefore, of Satan.” I wonder what practical significance, if any, a belief in Satan has for The United Church of Canada, which is one of the most liberal Christian denominations. Googling, I found no evidence that they perform exorcisms, for example.

1 comment:

Fernando said...

Laveyan Satanism still holds on today a very deep influence on the psyche of many prospects and active satanists all over the world.

“We do not support, in any way, taking lightly the nature of evil or, therefore, of Satan.” This is a very repressive statement from someone who has spent a decade working on interfaith understanding, which finally denotes he is a mendacious leader after all.

"difficult to comment on such a "secretive" religion as Satanism." said Gregersen on