South Africa’s Satanic Panic
A couple of new articles in various Afrikaans newspapers start off with a warning that South Africa needs to be on its knees and turn to God after the “occult murder” of Michael Van Eck. Yes, it is a terrible and gruesome murder, we all agree on that. What I do not agree with is the irresponsible way in which the media perpetuates the satanic conspiracy myth.
No real evidence has emerged which would clearly connect the murder to Satanism or criminal occult activity, yet everyone has jumped on the bandwagon by calling it an “occult” or “satanic” murder. I seriously doubt most people in this country even knows what the term occult means and simply equate the term incorrectly with Satanism. The newspaper articles brought all sorts out of the woodwork in their comments section. Commenters came forward with their own stories about Satanism and why it is a real threat. Some claimed to know real “satanism survivors”.
“Occult survivors” who become born-again Christians are really the least reliable of all sources. Why do they feel the need to lie about gruesome murder and ritualistic abuse? Yet they do lie and this has been shown again and again. Rebecca Brown and Elaine Moses lied and manufactured their accounts. They have been thoroughly debunked by even Christian sources. See for instance the article by Personal Freedom Outreach Ministries, Drugs, Demons and Delusions. Mike Warnke lied about his experiences and he was thoroughly debunked by the Christian source, Cornerstone Magazine. In the end, Warnke admitted he lied about quite a few things. Lauren Stratford, who claimed to have born children for satanic sacrifice fabricated all her stories and at the end of her life she styled herself a “holocaust survivor” with a different story to sell. Incidentally, Stratford was quoted as an “authority” by a few papers trying to link the Graveyard Murder to satanic activity and a ritualistic motive. Michelle Smith and a few other “occult survivors”, remembered their experiences under dodgy regression therapy techniques or hypnosis. All these individuals contributed to the creation of the contemporary satanic myth and panic.
All these alleged survivors talk about horrendous crimes and yet none of them ever provided any factual information to the police. No bodies left behind due to alleged satanic murder were ever uncovered and no arrests were ever made. This is the same story over and over again when it comes to so-called Satanism. In the heat of the Satanic Panic the FBI stepped in to investigate. In the 1992 Lanning report they found absolutely no evidence of widespread “Satanism” or conspiracy. Despite this, the Welkom graveyard murder continues to be used by believers as proof that the dangers of Satanism are real and of control in South Africa.
The satanic myth is not really new or modern. It is not something that only started in the 60’s. In fact it is a repeat of a lot of the same nonsense that emerged in the Late Middle Ages during witch trials. One would think that perhaps we should learn lessons from the past? People were guilty simply by accusation. Most people accused of witchcraft and who confessed under torture to devil worship were in fact innocent of any involvement with devil worship. Any remotely strange behaviour could bring accusation of devil worship and subsequent death. The European and American witch trials were the product of hysteria.
Can people not see that by calling a murder occult or satanic we are actually placing a target on innocent people? Occultism contains many disparate belief systems, including Wicca. By calling a murder an occult murder, innocent people are made suspect. There are real Occultists and Satanists who do not condone murder or violence. The Satanic Bible is clearly against it. Serious theistic Satanists such as Diane Vera, speak out against it.
A large part of Occult history is actually Christian history. The Occultists of the Medieval and Renaissance periods were all Christians. They sought to delve the occult (hidden) secrets of the universe in order to uncover the mysteries of God. See for example, the Three Books of Occult Philosophy where Henry Cornelius Agrippa defends the belief in God as a step towards truth and divine revelation.
Occult survivors are known to lie because they cannot fool anyone actually involved in the occult. They always show their lack of knowledge about the belief systems they supposedly came out off. They make mistakes no one with actual knowledge of such systems would make. They show time and time again they know nothing about contemporary religion. I was given Rebecca Brown’s, He Came to Set the Captives Free, as a serious source. Later read her other books. I had to roll my eyes at how she confounded religious systems and practitioners e.g. Witches, Satanists, Spiritualists as one. She also knew next to nothing about the true nature of certain occult practices. I can make a whole list of problems and factual errors found in Brown’s (or should I say Bailey’s) books.
South Africa is a strange case indeed when it comes to Satanism. The satanic panic which was rampant in the United States, started to die down in the 90’s. In South Africa the Satanic Panic was created and is kept alive by men like Kobus Jonker. Jonker has indeed been criticized for the way in which he draws conclusion that a murder is satanic. Jonker is a fundamentalist and born-again Christian who believes in the literal reality of the devil. Should he be trusted to comment on other religions? Obviously, he looks at the world in a certain way. Another more sceptical investigator may find a different motive for the murder as opposed to calling it Satanism and believing that actual demonic powers are somehow involved. A few so-called satanic murders may have had surface elements and symbols, although these usually appear very juvenile and almost silly. It does not suggest a wide-spread satanic conspiracy. Troubled youngsters from a Christian background could rebel and spray paint a church with “satanic symbols”. It will be understood by many, without question, as evidence for the satanic conspiracy.
When it comes to Jonker he can’t get his facts straight on numerous occasions. His so-called “satanic calendar” is a case in point. Yule, the winter solstice, is supposedly on the 25th of December, where Satanists supposedly honour the birth of the sun to the Great Mother. Yule however is mostly associated with Pagan customs. But Yule is associated with the Winter Solstice only and we are in the southern hemisphere. The Winter Solstice occurs in June in South Africa, not December. The calendar fails to take into account the seasonal differences between the northern and southern hemispheres and it is an odd mix of festivals from Paganism and other days for which no source is provided. This calendar has been used as a serious source by police and educators. At other times, it seems Jonker simply makes things fit. If Harmse burned black candles as opposed to purple, the case may well have been called satanic.
There have been a few high profile cases in South Africa where Satanism was dragged in. One such case involved a so-called satanic high priest, Maurice Smith. The crime involved three young men (Smith was the leader) who murdered a homeless man in a shack. They cut off his head. Smith later confessed to being a Satanist, but he was simply self-styled and made up his own rituals and ideas as he went along. No evidence of ties to actual Satanism exists. Self-styled Satanists (actually dabblers from a Christian background) are merely a nuisance to serious Satanists or Occultists.
I also have to wonder how Bill Ellis’s concept of Legend Tripping comes into play. Christianity has a myth about a vast organization of black robed, blood drinking killers. These elusive killers murder cats and commit vicious crimes. The myth exists already – one day a person may come and fulfil these myths in the form of a horrendous crime. Such a person is acting against anything stipulated by serious Satanists. He is simply fulfilling Christian myth. Of course such a case would then be evidence of a wide ranging satanic conspiracy again. Of course, it would be nonsense !
On the topic of folklore, I actually believe that is what the Christian version of Satanism is. The exact same stories were told by the Romans and used against the early Christians. They drank blood and practiced cannibalism. Later, the accusations were used by the Christians against the Jews. Throughout European history, Jews got the blame for lots of things including disasters and plagues. Stories circulated that Jews kidnapped young Christian children and used their blood in rituals. It usually provided an excuse for the Christians to mobilize and drive out or exterminate the Jews! This is known as blood-libel. These kinds of urban legends seem to represent the fears of communities against strangers and outsiders.
I see a Christian agenda at work behind labelling the recent killing as satanic and occult. It has to do with getting people back to God. It uses fear and the supposed deterioration of society, together with a focus on family values, to get people to turn back to God. The satanic murders are presented as proof that evil does indeed exist. What is the solution? The Christian God and religion of course! There is a certain irony in this. Not only does it use blatant dishonesty to make a point but more people have actually been killed in the name of God than in the name of Satan.
The fact that this murder garnered so much attention from the media, clearly reveals just how rare such supposed “satanic acts” actually are. I find that we have witnessed firsthand how the Christian mythical Satanism is actually created. It did not take much for the public to jump on the Satanism bandwagon and issue warnings about the dangers of the occult. They did not even need evidence. The idea that the murder was inspired by Satanism and occultism has become so ingrained, that you’ll have serious trouble convincing people otherwise. Their elusive black robed cat-killers have finally been revealed! True evil exists and only they have the power to combat it. A world-view has been affirmed, despite the fact that in this particular instance, it is based on lies, deception and outright fabrication.
SA ‘hoort op sy knieë’ ná man se okkulte-dood. (SA “must bow down” after man’s occult death). A few other paper’s changed the title to “unusual death” to their credit. (SOURCE)
Rebecca Brown debunked in the article: Drugs, Demons and Delusions
Mike Warnke, former “Satanic High Priest” debunked. Cornerstone thoroughly debunks Mike Warnke
Vel op vermoorde se gesig bestem vir rite (Skin from victims face to be used in a ritual). Without evidence a conclusion is made that the murder has a ritualistic motive.
Menslike maskers uiters waardevol vir sataniste, wys outobiografie (Masks of human skin valuable to satanists as revealed in autobiography) Here they use Lauren Stratford as if a credible source on satanism
Information on Satanism as Christian myth. From The Humanist.
INVESTIGATOR’S GUIDE TO ALLEGATIONS OF “RITUAL” CHILD ABUSE
Kenneth V. Lanning
Supervisory Special Agent
Behavioural Science Unit
National Centre for the Analysis of Violent Crime
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Quantico, Virginia 22135
Diane Vera on Theistic Satanism
Challenge to Jonker’s findings on the “Thames Torso Case”. Maurice Smith case criticized in passing
Bill Ellis: Raising the Devil
Folkloric study of Satanism