Satanism

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Satanism is a direction and a school of religious beliefs that comprise a number of related ideologies and philosophical beliefs and social phenomena. They share the feature of symbolism, traditions, veneration or admiration of Satan and/or similar figures or personifications of powers or ideologies.

Generally, those Satanists who believe in the Judeo-Christian concept of Satan are linked into the belief system of today's Judeo-Christian religion, as they believe in the same theology presented in the Hebrew Bible. Satan, also called Lucifer by many Christians, first appeared here as an Angel who challenged the religious faith of humans and the rule of Yahweh. In the Book of Job he is called "the Satan" (meaning "the accuser") and acted as the prosecutor in God's court. A character named "Satan" was described as the cosmic enemy of the Lord and temptor of Jesus within many of the Gospels of early Christians. This character is the bringer of Armageddon and Apocalypse as featured within the Book of Revelation. Religions inspired by these texts (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) have typically regarded Satan as the adversary or enemy[citation needed], but extensive popular redactions and recompositions of biblical tales have inserted his presence and influence into every aspect of adversarial role back to the Creation and Fall. By Christians and Muslims especially, the figure of Satan was treated variously as a rebellious or jealous competitor to human beings, to Jesus, and characterized as a fallen angel or demon ruling the penitential Underworld, chained in a deep pit, wandering the planet vying for souls or providing the impetus for all worldly travesty. At points during the development of the Christian religion, Satan became its outspoken enemy, and this served the interests of all those who would use this to their advantage, inclusive of those who fashioned or recomposed the mythos of Satanism. Additionally, particularly after the European Enlightenment, some works, such as Paradise Lost, were taken up by Romantics and described as presenting the Biblical Satan as an allegory representing a crisis of faith, individualism, free will, wisdom and enlightenment. Those works actually featuring Satan as a heroic character are fewer in number, but do exist; George Bernard Shaw and Mark Twain included such characterizations in their works long before religious Satanists took up the pen.

Anti-witchcraft laws such as the British Witchcraft Act 1735 (repealed 1951), reflected public sentiment against witchcraft and Satanism.

Although the public practice of Satanism began in 1966 with the founding of the Church of Satan, some historical precedents exist: a group called the Ophite Cultus Satanas was founded in Ohio by Herbert Arthur Sloane in 1948. Inspired by Gnosticism and Gerald Gardner's Wicca, the coven venerated Satan as both a horned god and ophite messiah.

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