by Perry J. DeAngelis
The Connecticut Skeptic Vol.1 Issue 1 (Winter '96)
An investigative article
Satanism is dead and dying in Newtown Connecticut! I trust that this will please most of our readers. After a search to weed these vile occultists from their havens of evil, this intrepid reporter discovered that Satanists in Newtown are as scarce as they are in Vatican City! Not a single arrest has been logged by the NPD in the battle against the forces of darkness. There has been the odd complaint about vandalism wherein 'strange' symbols and weird sigils have been left. Upon inspecting one of these sites of power, I discovered, by raking through ancient tomes, that they were in fact praises to the demon. Yet you might ask, what prompted me to eviscerate this quiet Connecticut community in search of the devil? The spoken word sent me thus. The idolatry of rumor.
I have lived all but four of my thirty two years in Connecticut. In that time I have heard about the haunted cemeteries, Revolutionary War ghosts and hidden psionic labs (more on all these in future issues). Satanism in Connecticut, specifically Newtown, has been one I've often heard. It was only a few months ago when a friend came to me with tales of further satanic atrocities perpetrated in Newtown as told to her by a local nun. Once again the shadow of Lucifer's wing had apparently darkened the skies over this innocent hamlet. This was a respected nun at a well known school. If she too could fall under the sway of these rumors, then indeed they could not be ignored. Understanding the obvious connection between a woman of the cloth and satanic sensitivity, this was still a person of irreproachable reputation. And she was not alone. When I was in middle school, and again in secondary education, teachers commented about Satanists in Newtown. Indeed, one went so far as to describe a dance held off Pine Tree Road in the night wood. How my teacher came by these details, I do not know. At the time I was not inclined to ask.
Rumors of the strange excite and titillate. They draw from us our latent childhood wonder and curiosity. However, they can just as easily blind and confuse. Were the rumors I heard isolated cases? Yet there were so many. From teachers to housewives, nuns to carpenters, the tale would not die. It seemed to have a tremendous half-life. When I found it still burning brightly all these years later, it was time to discover the truth. I set about to discover just what was rearing its ugly head in Newtown.
My research started with a lurch through the Internet. I received over 500 hits on my 'Satan' query. Most of these were, of course, worthless. A few were interesting synopses of the faith of Satanism by the faithful. Other than that, nothing. Adding 'Connecticut' to the query knocked the hits down to two. Both of these (a sex ad, and a publication called 'What's new too!') also proved fruitless. I would have to venture into the dark reaches myself.
So, I plopped my considerable girth into my car and headed for Newtown. A cursory visual investigation found a pleasant town with a very impressive flagpole planted square in the middle of RT. 25, the town's main thoroughfare. I and my able assistant, Debbie Ginsburg, took several photographs of the local environs. I then querried The Newtown Bee, the local paper. Publishing continually since 1877, the archives were extensive. After a brief conversation with the archivist, I dove in. Tired days later, I concluded that nothing of consequence had been recorded in Newtown's local paper as far as satanic activity in the town is concerned. Another dead end. If Satan were creeping around Newtown, he was leaving a very hard trail to track! Ahh, the Father of Darkness is elusive indeed!
My last stop was the headquarters for the forces of Light, the Newtown Police Department. This led to a conversation with Detective Robert Tvardzik, the department's Communications Officer. He stated, as alluded to earlier, that the only activity in recent memory even approaching satanic activity had been some vandalism attributed to local youth. No arrests were ever made, and he was convinced that Newtown was not the focal point for this hemisphere's demonic legion.
My above findings were what I expected to find in Newtown Connecticut. This does not mean, however, that Satanism does not exist. It does. The United States Army publishes a pamphlet (#165-13) entitled, 'Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups - A Handbook for Chaplains,' in which it states that there are an estimated ten to twenty thousand members of the Church of Satan in the nation. This is an impressive estimate, since these groups are so tight-lipped about numbers. The largest US satanic denomination is the Church of Satan, based in San Francisco, and they stead fastly refuse to release their membership numbers. This is not unlike any fringe group (the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazi's, Flat Earthers, etc).
The faithful claim that two types of Satanism exist. The mainstream Satanists refer to themselves as Religious Satanists, claiming to be the rightful heirs to the title of Satanists. The other group is their fringe, and is generally referred to as Gothic Satanists. This is the Satanism of film and legend, with its black masses, child sacrifices and violent sexual excess. The former group claims to be benign and are only practicing a form of organized hedonism. This 'if it feels good - do it' philosophy is what drives the faith, not a battle with the Judeo-Christian god and his flock. There are nine 'Satanic Statements,' that form the core of the belief of the faith. These are put forth in 'The Satanic Bible,' by Anton Szandor LaVey (b. 1930), and published in 1969.
In abridged form they are as follows:
1. Indulgence, not abstinence.
2. Vital existence, not spiritual pipe dreams.
3. Undefiled wisdom, not hypocritical self-deceit.
4. Kindness to those deserving of it, not love wasted on ingrates.
5. Vengeance, not turning the other cheek.
6. Responsibility to the responsible, instead of concern for psychic vampires.
7. Man as just another animal - the most vicious of all.
8. Gratification of all one's desires.
9. The best friend that the Christian Church has had as they have kept it in business for centuries.
Again, while I do not deny their existence, my investigations revealed that no 'grotto' dwells in Newtown (local groups of Satanists are called 'grottos'; they correspond roughly to Christian congregations). Despite the ubiquitous claims that satanists flourish in Newtown, I could find not one scrap of evidence to support these claims. Where there is smoke, there is not necessarily fire.
Another aspect of the Church of Satan that I must touch on is their tradition of magic. Mostly ritual magic, as put forth in 'The Satanic Rituals,' by LaVey and published in 1972. Magic rituals consist of three types:
1. Sex magic
2. Healing or happiness ritual
3. Destruction ritual (may include sticking pins in a doll; drawing a picture or writing a description of the victim's death; delivering a soliloquy, etc). Destruction rituals are usually performed by a group.
Not unlike many religions, Satanism is steeped in magic and mysticism. Most of their magic takes the form of rituals wherein many participate. Certainly such displays would likely have been noticed by a Newtown police officer on the force for 26 years. Yet not a single was. How amazing. Of course, one can never prove that something does not exist. It is possible that the Newtown Satanist have just been expert at avoiding public notice, the police, and my valiant investigation.
Yet, what I have demonstrated is that belief and rumor about Newtown Satanists have far outweighed reality. Thus ended my investigation into the satanic thrall of Newtown.
I trust that the sometimes tongue-in-cheek tone of this piece does not sway you, dear reader, from its very important message. Belief and perception are irrevocably intertwined. If rumors and whispers of the paranormal go unchallenged and are allowed to grow and fester then perception will likewise be infected. The shere volume of paranormal claims is often put forth as evidence for the veracity of those claims. How can so many claims exist unless they were based on reality, some would argue. What I have demonstrated, however, is that paranormal claims are often disconnected from reality and take on a life of their own.
Has it been the fantasies and claims of the psychics and soothsayers that have brought mankind along the long road toward current society? Or has it been the clear thinkers and scientists? Is the Cathedral the monument to mankind, or the mind that conceived it? Well, look at it this way - would you rather have an alleged psychic surgeon haul chicken parts from your belly with slight of hand, or have your diseased appendix clipped out via a laparoscopic appendectomy?
Rest assured that while your trying to decide, I'll be out snooping into the claims of the paranormal all over our lovely state. Is Connecticut really the home of all these ghosts, spooks, and psychics? Stay tuned to this same skeptical channel and find out!
Survey on Satanic beliefs in Newtown
The Connectictut Skeptical Society conducted a random telephone survey of 100 Newtown residents to determine what their beliefs are concerning satanic cult activity. Of those called, 52 declined to participate in the survey. The results of the 48 people who responded are listed below.
Although almost half of those responding had heard rumors of local satanic cult activity, only 12% believed that such activity was common in Newtown, and fewer believed cults represent more than a minimal threat. Despite this, almost 40% believed that the Newtown police should give at least medium priority to investigating cult activity. Interestingly, responders were more than 4 times as likely to believe that satanic cults are common in the US in general than in their own home town.
Have you ever heard of Satanic cult activity in Newtown?
Satanic Cults represent how much of a threat to Newtown?
Satanic cult activity in the US is
wide spread 4.2%
Satanic cult activity in Newtown is
The Newtown Police Department should place how much
of a priority on Satanic cults?