ONTD Political

The Fountainhead of Satanism

5:56 pm - 06/14/2011

The Fountainhead of Satanism

Jun 8, 2011
Joe Carter

Over the past few years, Anton LaVey and his book The Satanic Bible has grown increasingly popular, selling thousands of new copies. His impact has been especially pronounced in our nation’s capital. One U.S. senator has publicly confessed to being a fan of the The Satanic Bible while another calls it his “foundation book.” On the other side of Congress, a representative speaks highly of LaVey and recommends that his staffers read the book.

A leading radio host called LaVey “brilliant” and quotations from the The Satanic Bible can be glimpsed on placards at political rallies. More recently, a respected theologian dared to criticize the founder of the Church of Satan in the pages of a religious and cultural journal and was roundly criticized by dozens of fellow Christians.

Surprisingly little concern, much less outrage, has erupted over this phenomenon. Shouldn’t we be appalled by the ascendancy of this evangelist of anti-Christian philosophy? Shouldn’t we all—especially we Christians—be mobilizing to counter the malevolent force of this man on our culture and politics?

As you’ve probably guessed by this point, I’m not really talking about LaVey but about his mentor, Ayn Rand. The ascendency of LaVey and his embrace by “conservative” leaders would indeed cause paroxysms of indignation. Yet, while the two figures’ philosophies are nearly identical, Rand appears to have received a pass. Why is that?

Perhaps most are unaware of the connection, though LaVey wasn’t shy about admitting his debt to his inspiration. “I give people Ayn Rand with trappings,” he once told the Washington Post. On another occasion he acknowledged that his brand of Satanism was “just Ayn Rand’s philosophy with ceremony and ritual added.” Indeed, the influence is so apparent that LaVey has been accused of plagiarizing part of his “Nine Satanic Statements” from the John Galt speech in Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

Devotees of Rand may object to my outlining the association between the two. They will say I am proposing “guilt by association,” a form of the ad hominem fallacy. But I am not attacking Rand for the overlap of her views with LaVey’s; I am saying that, at their core, they are the same philosophy. LaVey was able to recognize what many conservatives fail to see: Rand’s doctrines are satanic.

I realize that even to invoke that infernal word conjures images of black masses, human sacrifices, and record needles broken trying to play “Stairway to Heaven” backwards. But satanism is more banal and more attractive than the parody created by LeVay. Real satanism has been around since the beginning of history, selling an appealing message: Your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.

You can replace the pentagrams of LeVayian Satanism with the dollar sign of the Objectivists without changing much of the substance separating the two. The ideas are largely the same, though the movements’ aesthetics are different. One appeals to, we might say, the Young Libertarians, and the other attracts the Future Wiccans of America.

What is harder to understand is why both ideologies appeal to Christians and conservatives. My guess is that these groups are committing what I’d call the fallacy of personal compatibility. This fallacy occurs when a person thinks that because one subscribes to both “Belief X” and “Belief Y,” the two beliefs must therefore be compatible. For example, a person may claim that “life has meaning” and that “everything that exists is made of matter” even though the two claims are not compatible (unless “meaning” is made of matter). This take on the fallacy has long been committed by atheists. Now it appears to be growing in popularity among conservatives and Christians as well.

But to be a follower of both Rand and Christ is not possible. The original Objectivist was a type of self-professed anti-Christ who hated Christianity and the self-sacrificial love of its founder. She recognized that those Christians who claimed to share her views didn’t seem to understand what she was saying.

Many conservatives admire Rand because she was anti-collectivist. But that is like admiring Stalin because he opposed Nazism. Stalin was against the Nazis because he wanted to make the world safe for Communism. Likewise, Rand stands against collectivism because she wants the freedom to abolish Judeo-Christian morality. Conservative Christians who embrace her as the “enemy-of-my-enemy” seem to forget that she considered us the enemy.

Even if this were not the case, though, what would warrant the current influence of her thought within the conservative movement? Rand was a third-rate writer who was too arrogant to recognize her own ignorance (she believed she was the third greatest philosopher in history, behind only Aristotle and Aquinas). She misunderstood almost every concept she engaged with—from capitalism to freedom—and wrote nothing that had not been treated before by better thinkers. We don’t need her any more than we need LeVay.

Few conservatives will fall completely under Rand’s diabolic sway. But we are sustaining a climate in which not a few gullible souls believe she is worth taking seriously. Are we willing to be held responsible for pushing them to adopt an anti-Christian worldview? If so, perhaps instead of recommending Atlas Shrugged, we should simply hand out copies of The Satanic Bible. If they’re going to align with a satanic cult, they might as well join the one that has the better holidays.

Joe Carter is Web Editor of First Things and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator.

_starsinmyeyes_ 14th-Jun-2011 11:25 pm (UTC)
This is so badly written I can't even.
lykomancer 14th-Jun-2011 11:32 pm (UTC)
I don't think the author of this article read the same Satanic Bible I did.
(no subject) - Anonymous
salienne 14th-Jun-2011 11:41 pm (UTC)
or Gaga, she seems the type to have them

Aren't her videos enough?
(no subject) - Anonymous
salienne 14th-Jun-2011 11:51 pm (UTC)
omg what if I watch her videos backwards and there are SUPER SEKRET MESSAGES

...This sounds like the best evening ever, so long as you add copious amounts of alcohol. (And figure out how to do it... and tell me how to do it.)

Also, this guy would love it.
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
leelakin 15th-Jun-2011 12:31 am (UTC)
ouronlylight 15th-Jun-2011 12:08 am (UTC)
I'm going to go see if I can find any hidden messages in 'In the Areoplane Over the Sea' - or Gaga, she seems the type to have them...

Already been found.
(no subject) - Anonymous
ouronlylight 15th-Jun-2011 01:51 am (UTC)
Haha, I thought that the toggle button just wasn't working for me alone. She's supposedly saying: "Evil save us, the stars above, above, we model it on the arts of Lucifer."
nemi_chan 15th-Jun-2011 12:23 am (UTC)
Here's one song that's meant to be played backwards:

tmlforsyth 15th-Jun-2011 04:02 am (UTC)
tiddlywinks103 15th-Jun-2011 12:19 am (UTC)

His bias is showing, but the theory he's got isn't that far off. Especially the conservatives subscribing to either of these authors, and not seeing their own hypocrisy.

Weirdly executed, but in general, an good idea to go over, ignoring his strawman arguments, and bias.
evewithanapple 15th-Jun-2011 12:42 am (UTC)
One appeals to, we might say, the Young Libertarians, and the other attracts the Future Wiccans of America.

Excuse me?
redqueenmeg 15th-Jun-2011 02:07 am (UTC)
staringiscaring 15th-Jun-2011 04:00 am (UTC)
zendequervain 15th-Jun-2011 02:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah, really. =\

ETA: He reminds me of the chaplain at my college who spoke to my satanist friend and I (then-Wiccan), about the 'stars' we were wearing.

The friend's was a proper pentagram. Mine was a pentacle.

We just stared at her for about ten seconds before my friend happily educated the lady (this is a pentagram, I'm a Satanist, hers is a pentacle, she's Wiccan). Then again, this is the same chaplain who told another friend that being an atheist is like being an agnostic and that he should think about converting.

Edited at 2011-06-15 02:30 pm (UTC)
bluetooth16 15th-Jun-2011 12:49 am (UTC)
The article is a bit of a mess but it's a great piece to send to people who think they can be a Christian and a Randian at the same time.
cindel 15th-Jun-2011 12:58 am (UTC)
Did the author even read The Satanic Bible? LOL please stop
darksumomo 15th-Jun-2011 02:22 am (UTC)
Devotees of Rand may object to my outlining the association between the two.

That's all the encouragement I need to do exactly that. I can add this connection to the comparison between Ayn Rand and L. Ron Hubbard. In fact, one of the bloggers at Coffee Party USA's site has called Ayn Rand the L. Ron Hubbard of the Right. He's not a liberal, either. He was a member of the Republican Central Committee of Delaware when Miss "I'm not a witch, I'm you" beat out the establishment candidate in the Republican primary in 2010. His doing so has given the rest of the movement permission to turn against Rand, with Eric Byler, a co-founder along with Annabel Park, posting an essay pointing out the incompatibility between Objectivism and Christianity. This is despite Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia, a notorious Objectivist, being on the Coffee Party USA Advisory Board.
tmlforsyth 15th-Jun-2011 04:24 am (UTC)
Was L. Ron Hubbard left-wing? Ayn Rand was not that fond of most politicians. In 1940, she campaigned for Wendell Wilkie, a liberal Republican who ran for President and lost, but was also involved with the creation of the NY Liberal Party. She excoriated the Libertarian Party and would have gone medieval on the Tea Party. She'd even have a problem with anyone who wasn't herself calling themselves Objectivists.

Ayn Rand would also agree that her philosophy is incompatible with Christianity and make it a point of pride, then she'd go off on her own fanbase. I'll take her over Marx any day, but she was also a mean-spirited autocrat who would eventually banish you.

It is funny that an Objectivist is the behind a source of free knowledge for anyone who seeks it. Then again, I remember an lj objectivist/libertarian forum that discussed what kind of charities would appeal to negative liberty folks.
sephystabbity 15th-Jun-2011 02:49 am (UTC)
As someone who determinedly sludged through the Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, including that bloody self-indulgent 100-page long Galt speech, I have to say I could not even follow the meandering paragraphs of this article, much less make out its meaning.
erinpuff 15th-Jun-2011 03:08 am (UTC)
This article is a mess and a half, but I agree that Christian Ayn Rand stans are missing the point rather spectactularly.
cyranothe2nd 15th-Jun-2011 03:12 am (UTC)
fundagelical propaganda FTW. And I hate Ayn Rand with a passion but I would never liken her to LeVay's fuckery (but then, these assholes are always confusing atheism with Satanism...)
eyetosky 15th-Jun-2011 08:50 pm (UTC)
Which seems weird, because in order to be a Satanist, you have to acknowledge there's a God, so how the hell do folks manage to confuse that with atheism is beyond me.
cyranothe2nd 15th-Jun-2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
Because denying God is a ploy of Satan donchaknow?
fornikate 15th-Jun-2011 06:48 pm (UTC)
lol Rand
eyetosky 15th-Jun-2011 08:48 pm (UTC)
Considering two of the best/worst hours of my life were spent in a hot tub listening to a professed Satanist and a serious Objectivist argue with each other about which one of them was superior, this whole article is just a heaping steamy pile of lolwhutno.
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