There are many different religions and beliefs out there. A church and belief system that is often questioned, doubted, and ostracized is that of the Church of Satan. And many misconceptions exist about this group—which should not be confused with the Satanic Temple. The Church of Satan does not have that many bizarre rituals and customs despite what you may think. Read more about some of the other bizarre rituals that are still practiced today.
This list outlines the origin of this less-understood church, the significant writings, and many things that make this church unique, if not as scary and strange as you may have thought. Many members even celebrate Christmas! Let’s get into the top ten facts about the Church of Satan.
Related: 10 Things You May Not Know About The Satanic Temple
10 The Church of Satan Was Founded in 1966
Many people think that the Church of Satan has been around a long time, even as long as Christianity. However, this is not the case. The church was only founded in 1966, not so long ago at all. Since 1969, “The Satanic Bible” has never been out of print. Further, the church was not founded in some dark, scary corner of the world, deep in some caves. Instead, it was founded in the beautiful American city of San Francisco, California.
The date that was chosen for the beginning of the church was significant as well. The founder, Anton LaVey (sometimes called the “Black Pope”), selected April 30 for the start of this new church. This day is also a German holiday called Walpurgisnacht, a day of feasting which (according to legend) is when witches, evil spirits, and even devils were thought to be out causing trouble.
LaVey had quite a reputation, even before the church was founded. He was known for a mystical reputation, worked as a hypnotist, and even had a penchant for arcane lore and occult theology. Below, we will learn even more about this enigmatic founder and how his personal experience led to the church’s formation.
9 The Founder Used to Work at a Carnival
Anton LaVey, born Howard LaVey, was central to the formation of the Church of Satan. The church embodies his ideas, experiences, and opinions. For example, despite Satanists’ general association with animal sacrifice, LaVey strongly opposed this act. The church overall supports animal rights, and LaVey personally spoke out on multiple occasions.
LaVey was also a carnival worker for many years before establishing the church. This may explain some of the flair for the dramatic within the Church of Satan’s organization and rituals. LaVey also worked with the church; no, he was not a pastor. He played the organ and also played music at strip clubs and bars. After some time, LeVey realized that many of the people at the church he had seen at the strip clubs! These life experiences led LaVey to have deeply held convictions and, eventually, to start the Church of Satan.
8 The Church Boasts Many Famous Members
The Church of Satan attracted many high-profile and famous members. One of these was Sammy Davis, Jr of the Rat Pack. Reportedly, Davis and Anton LaVey had a close relationship. Davis was a card-carrying member of the church, even being ordained as a Warlock. When Davis performed at concerts, he reportedly reserved seats for church members. Later in life, he converted to Judaism but spent many years as a member of the church.
Jayne Mansfield was a huge film star in the ’50s and ’60s. She certainly did not look or seem like many people would expect a Satanist to be. However, in 1966, she was ordained as a “High Priestess” and was seen many times with LaVey. Rumors spread that the two had a romantic connection and persisted so far as to speculate that Mansfield’s untimely death was caused by LaVey’s curse on her. Either way, these two high-profile members, among others, led to significant growth and exposure for the Church of Satan.
7 The Church Is More “Anti-Christian” Than “Pro-Satan”
Most members of the Church of Satan do not worship Satan or the Devil. Instead, their belief system is generally that of atheism. The group uses Satan as a form of symbology. Satan represents pride, liberty, and individualism to the church.
Overall, the church did not come about as a way to worship the devil. Instead, the church’s message is that Christian values have an unacceptable influence on the rest of society. The church was established as a sort of “anti-Christian” option in response to Christianity’s dominance in American society. Despite this, the Church of Satan celebrates Christmas. They allege that this holiday was adapted from a pagan holiday.
6 The Church Measures Time Different Than the Rest of Us
Most of us are operating on the same calendar. Years are counted based on “AD” or “Anno Domini,” sometimes referred to as “After Death.” This is based on the year that Jesus was born. The Church of Satan, obviously, does not measure its time in that way.
Instead, their calendar system is “A.S.,” which stands for “Anno Satanas.” Their time is measured for the foundation of their church, April 30, 1966. While it must be confusing for communication purposes, it is understandable that the church would not want to use a dating system that recognizes Jesus Christ. This is just another way that the Church of Satan bucks Christian traditions and attempts to assert its own.
5 The Emphasis on Art, Symbolism, and Aesthetics
The Church of Satan places special significance on the occult, individualism, pride, and balance. However, many people do not know how important art and symbolism are to its members. Members of the Church of Satan and the Satanic Temple have worked together in recent years with a particular mission in mind. They want Christian symbols to be removed from government buildings and property. And, if they are not removed, Satanists want a satanic statue to accompany those other symbols.
After all, we are supposed to have a separation of church and state, right? Satanists have proposed statues of Baphomet next to the ten commandments in Arkansas. They have also petitioned to have a statue within the Oklahoma State Capitol. It is no coincidence that the imagery and symbolism seen in Satanism are so striking; this is their way of attracting new converts and getting people to pay attention.
4 The Church of Satan Has No Physical Church Buildings
After reading through a portion of this list, you may consider taking a little expedition to visit your local Church of Satan. Well, unfortunately, I have bad news for you. The church is based on individualism, so they do not have any physical church buildings. The headquarters were in San Francisco and remained open to visitors until LaVey died.
Now, the Church of Satan is headquartered in New York City and is not open to visitors. In the past, the church had local groups called “grottos,” but they eventually stopped this practice. Because Satanism is so focused on the individual, church leadership is not particularly organized. Despite all this, there are chapters scattered across the United States and in parts of Europe as well.
3 The 9 “Satanic Statements”
When The Satanic Bible was published in 1969, one of the most intriguing passages was the Nine Satanic Statements. These indicate what Satan is supposed to represent in our lives and on Earth. (You can read the full list from the Church of Satan’s website.) I have paraphrased the nine statements below. According to the Church, Satan represents:
- Indulgence (and excess)
- Vital existence (as opposed to spiritual “pipe dreams”)
- Undefiled wisdom
- Kindness (but only to those who deserve it)
- Responsibility (to the responsible)
- Man as an animal, no better or worse than other animals
- All of the “so-called sins”
- Being the best friend the church has ever had, by keeping it in business
These are probably not what most people would expect to see as “Satanic Statements.” Overall, as you can see, Satanism represents many things completely contrary to Christian beliefs. This is why many people see it as a direct opposition to Christianity (and even Judaism).
2 The 9 “Satanic Sins”
Within the Satanic Bible, there is also a list of what is considered a sin. You can read the complete list and get more significant details by viewing their website, but most of us wouldn’t last a day in this church. For starters, herd conformity is a sin as “only fools follow along with the herd.” Stupidity is the mack-daddy cardinal sin, so there goes the entirety of the TikTok population. Satanists are encouraged to “do unto others as they do unto you.”
Various sins include pretentiousness, self-importance, and self-deceit. A lack of perspective is also frowned upon since it’s important to keep sight of who you are and your goals. Remember those aesthetics and symbolism I mentioned earlier? Ah, yes, well, members of the Church of Satan should also have personal aesthetics that reflect their own nature.
Despite their opposition to Christianity, the church actually has two more sins, or commandments, which are two more laws than Moses gave.
1 The 11 Satanic Rules of the Earth
The final item on our list is probably the most significant to Satanists. The 11 Satanic Rules of the Earth were established in 1967. They were also written by Anton LaVey, the church’s founder. (You can see the official, complete list on the Church of Satan’s website here.) The Eleven Satanic Rules for Earth are:
- Do not give unsolicited opinions and advice
- Do not share your troubles unless asked
- Do not complain about something you chose
- Respect the “lair” of another, or do not visit
- Do not make unwanted sexual advances
- Do not bother people in public spaces (open territory)
- Do not steal (unless that thing is burdening another person)
- Acknowledge the power of magic
- Do not harm children
- Do not kill animals (except to eat or when attacked)
There is quite a bit of variance throughout the Satanic Rules. Despite this, there have been no significant updates or changes to them since LaVey first wrote them. Based on this list, I actually think each of us could learn a little something from the Church of Satan’s rules and beliefs.