According to TASS, Aleksei Pavlov, an assistant secretary on the Security Council of Russia, has advocated for the “desatanization” of Ukraine:
“I believe that with the continuation of the special military operation, it becomes more and more urgent to carry out the desatanization of Ukraine.”
In social discourse, it has long been a common practice that some slur or epithet is employed to tarnish the reputation and credibility of anyone a commentator or leader wishes to attack. It is meant to be so reprehensible that it immediately condemns those defined by it. Historically, once Christianity was the major religion, “Satanism” became the epithet of ultimate condemnation. It was an accusation, used by one sect against another to term them heretics or blasphemers, but it did not reflect the actual beliefs of the people being accused, for there was in fact then no actual religion self-defined as Satanism. Christians regularly used it against each other, and they also used it against those of Jewish, Islamic or other competing faiths.
Recently, the concepts “anybody I hate is a Nazi” or “those people are pedophiles” have become commonplace in the social media age. Proclaiming that some group is engaging in “terrorism” is also part of this ploy. This is just the modernization of the age old methodology defined above wherein a term—culturally regarded primarily as a negative—is hurled at people to marginalize, negate, “cancel,” or persecute them, whether it is true or not. The statement from Pavlov, and others in Russia who support this nonsense, employs this methodology. We must note that at first Ukrainians were called Nazis by Putin, so now the smear campaign has moved on to defining them as Satanists, to justify military aggression against their sovereign nation. This is just going in reverse order of what has happened historically. As any astute observer of civilization would see, making some people a scapegoat based on false accusations is sadly a continuous thread throughout human history.
It is important to understand that Satanism is an atheist religion using Satan as a symbol of liberty, individualism, and self-fulfillment. It is not devil worship, and it does not employ any sort of sacrificial rituals. Satanists do not proselytize. Instead, we encourage a live-and-let-live approach to being part of society, so long as other religions are not trying to legislate their beliefs into repressive state-enforced doctrines. Our approach is to embrace the laws of the nations in which we reside, and to work towards increased personal autonomy while being constructive citizens.
The Church of Satan, founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey, grew to be a global religion in its first decade, and currently extends through many of the world’s nations. So, yes, we have members in both Russia and Ukraine, as well as in their bordering nations, and essentially throughout the entire planet—wherever people live, you might find Satanists who have affiliated with the Church of Satan.
It should be evident that nobody needs to fear the members of the Church of Satan, as they will typically keep their affiliation private so as not to be persecuted by those who do not understand our religion and would be hostile to us. Since we do not believe in the supernatural, nor do we believe in any afterlife, our beliefs support a stable and diverse society, as that is the best social contract for attaining lives of creativity, productivity, and liberty—for ourselves and those with whom we live.
Satanism is not a mass movement. It challenges each Satanist to be fully responsible for all of their actions—there is no God nor Satan involved. People of most other beliefs often prefer to credit or blame someone else, be it natural or supernatural, for any issues they might encounter. Being atheist, the Satanist does not have that option. Satanism is thus a philosophy that will only appeal to a few individuals, for whom it comes naturally, and they will always be a very small percentage of any population. Thus, it is false for anyone to claim that members of the Church of Satan have spread throughout any country. Satanists, however few they might be, will generally be amongst the most intelligent and inventive people one might hope to encounter, should you be so fortunate.
Since Satanism was codified and defined as an actual religion by Anton Szandor LaVey, with texts one can examine which explain a coherent, rational philosophy, it has become less useful for anyone to use the term Satanist as a vilification. There are Satanists who are articulate and can speak up and dispute such statements. We dispute this statement by Pavlov as a transparent attempt to justify the ongoing war against Ukraine. To quote Merlin from Boorman’s evocative 1981 film, EXCALIBUR: “You’ll have to do better than that!”
—Magus Peter H. Gilmore
High Priest, Church of Satan
The image accompanying this essay from 1634 depicts the burning of Father Urbain Grandier of Loudon who was accused of witchcraft for political reasons, being then tortured and executed.