When Words Collide


When Words Collide

by Magus Peter H. Gilmore

When told about both [members’ negative] feelings about their fellow members, LaVey, rather than expressing disapproval, said emphatically, “Those are the kind of members I want—people who can stand on their own without a bunch of slobbering idiots propping them up!” 

—Anton Szandor LaVey, interviewed by Art Lyons for SATAN WANTS YOU (1988)

Our current social-media-besotted culture is emphatically partisan and contrarian. Contentions are constant. Brickbats arc back and forth between febrile factions. Attendant claques applaud the conflict. 

While our members speak for themselves, and not the Church of Satan as a whole, the Internet-dwelling populace can’t make that distinction. We’ve seen people pillory our organization for anything our members might opine to which they are opposed—of course we never get any kudos for sayings which they hold to be true. Denigration, not approbation, is standard procedure. It is for that reason we ended publicizing the numerous podcasts produced by our members, which are essentially discussions expounding personal opinions—not Satanic dogma. People are just not willing to grasp the difference.

In the Church of Satan, when our members interact we have long advocated civility, courtesy, and even gentility to be our norm. But the societal tide has turned. So as not to be accused of stifling anyone’s freedom of expression, we won’t comment upon how our wildly divergent members react to one another on their own electronic soapboxes. The liberty in your own domains to accuse, smear, mock and agitate against one another has always been yours. Instead, you could offer appreciation, admiration and celebration, and be one of the rare few—but I’m not holding my breath. As we know is the common attitude: “If you can’t say something good about someone, sit right here by me.” —Alice Roosevelt Longworth.

When speaking your minds about one another, if calumny is your cup of tea, be aware of copyright, libel, slander, and privacy laws. If anyone notices violations of legal parameters, take your evidence to the authorities who handle those social platforms. We expect that discerning individuals will carefully examine any statements made and evidence presented, and judge accordingly. The credulous, as usual, will salute propaganda that bolsters their current opinions.

In the discussion forums we manage, our moderators will honor privacy and maintain that the discourse be kept to exchanging ideas with both reason and graciousness. These should be a sanctuary from the mud-wrestling now rampant and apparently enjoyed by so many. 

It is important to note that, unlike most other religions, our members are not subject to any form of expected obedience to the members who might have been given degrees—those are bestowed as tokens of appreciation for accomplishments, not a means for the establishment of rank and authority that commands submission. 

If any member attempts to use a title they were given by the Church of Satan to validate their position, you should insist the titled member support their point of view with evidence and reason. Arguments from authority don’t hold water, here.

If and when hostility arises on personal platforms, it is not our duty to police and punish. Remember: You are not required to bow to other members; You need not interact with them in any way. And, as stated in the 8th Satanic Rule of the Earth: Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself.

—Magus Peter H. Gilmore

Accordingly, we’ve updated our Church of Satan hierarchy page:

Our protocol for member interaction is based on the paradigm of a “mutual admiration society,” and this is applied across all levels of our hierarchy. Our members may earn each other’s admiration, and general respect is preferred behavior. While we do not expect our highly individualistic members to like each other, we encourage them to behave with courteous decorum when dealing with one another. Interaction is never required. In the case of extreme disagreement, wherein civility apparently cannot be maintained, we advocate that the involved members should cease such negative interaction.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth Pillow
Alice Roosevelt Longworth Pillow



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