Church of Satan Sigil of Baphomet

Satanist Methodists?


On Monday, August 10, Waller County Sheriff R. Glenn Smith, in what seems to be an attempt to insult United Methodist pastor Hannah Bonner, said: “Why don’t you go back to the Church of Satan that you run?” Reverend Bonner has been active for roughly the past month in an ongoing protest against the death of Ms. Sandra Bland in the Waller County Jail, maintaining a presence with fellow activists of varying belief systems in the nearby parking lot. A few minutes later Sheriff Smith pointed to Bonner, who was filming him with a camera, and referred to her as “the Church of Satan lady.”

Unsurprisingly, this prompted an open letter from “United Methodists in support of Sandra Bland and Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner,” asserting their significant local numbers as well as their faith in Jesus Christ, not Satan, stating that their public mission is "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Hardly an endorsement of diabolism.

We who are actually Satanists—pragmatic atheists who view Satan as a symbol of pride, liberty and individualism—are well acquainted with such behavior as Christian denominations throughout history have accused one another of being “Of the Devil,” even to the extent of persecuting, torturing and exterminating rival sects, though all claim to be worshippers of the same mythical deity and his sacrificial son.

Here in the USA in 21st Century Texas, when one Christian wishes to denigrate another via association with things Infernal, he cannot put his victim to the rack and stake as has been done so many times in the past. Yet one can observe the same hostile motivation is still present, though it currently does not result in physical torture and murder of the accused. That may be considered some measure of progress towards civilization.

Satanists do exist—the Church of Satan now being in its 50th year of existence—and both the Sheriff and the Methodists seemed to have missed out on the fact that we don’t have faith in Satan, rather we have confidence in ourselves to be the captains of our destinies. Confusing a theist with we atheists is something that both parties would find distasteful. However, it should be noted that Satanism champions justice and promotes skepticism and reason as tools towards an ongoing search for understanding. Concerned Satanists would thus support a thorough investigation of the circumstances of Ms. Bland’s death, and then for justice to be dealt according to the carefully and scientifically determined facts of this case.

Sheriff Smith’s remarks successfully insulted Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner, albeit through their mutual misprision of the philosophy of the Church of Satan. Yet I find it interesting that he inadvertently identified in her actions what we’d consider a genuinely Satanic dedication for determining the truth and exacting justice accordingly.

—Magus Peter H. Gilmore

Pertinent links:

View the videos of Sheriff Smith on this Houston Press article posted Tuesday, August 11.

Read the complete August 11th open letter response on the United Methodist Insight page.