Published February 7, 2023
Satanism suddenly seems to be everywhere. But don’t worry, the real problem, we’re told, is noticing it.
In the wake of the revolting Grammy Awards performance of the song “Unholy” from singers Sam Smith and Kim Petras on Feb. 5, Page Six had this to say: “Conservative commentators took issue with Sam Smith’s hell-themed performance at the 2023 Grammys, with some going so far as to describe it as ‘satanic.’”
Who could possibly think that a quasi-pornographic, hell-themed performance portraying devil worship and sexual sadism could possibly be satanic? Well, anyone frankly. And the Grammys performance was but one more log on the hellfire.
Examples of overtly satanic imagery lately are legion. Who can forget Satan-themed sneakers marketed to teens with satanic symbols and human blood? More recently, Vanity Fair collaborated with Madonna on a blasphemous photoshoot making a mockery of the Last Supper.
In a very on-brand move, The Satanic Temple is set to open a free abortion clinic where they can perform in droves what they claim to be their religious abortion ritual. This ritual includes reciting their sacred tenets, such as “One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.”
Such tenets echo Aleister Crowley, the father of modern satanism, who famously announced, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” In the world of the occult, Lucifer is considered the perennial light-bearer, and God the ultimate oppressor. Freedom from oppression in this construct then requires never subordinating one’s will to the will of God. The Devil doesn’t ask upfront for fidelity to him but rather simply for fidelity to self. “Thy will be done” becomes “My will be done.”
While the increasingly open celebration of Satan might seem sudden, it’s merely the logical endpoint of the progressive “woke” ideology that has long pounded into our psyche that the point of life is the unencumbered expression of the will. In this framework, the moral law, oriented around our flourishing and freedom, is recast as the means of our oppression. Liberation then is relocated to exercising our ability to transgress that law.
The “Unholy” Grammys singers Smith and Petras, two men who identify respectively as non-binary and as a woman, are effective apostles of such transgression. Claiming the power to speak into existence one’s identity, in defiance of bodily reality, isn’t just to claim different pronouns; it’s to proclaim oneself to be a god. This is the trajectory: If we forgo the belief that God became man, we eventually start believing that man can become god.
The fetishizing of transgression explains the escalation we’re seeing now. This is the insatiable nature of sin. What’s transgressive today becomes boringly normal tomorrow, and so the envelope must be pushed and prodded until every boundary is crossed and the mask fully slips and we look with horror at who it was that was behind it all along.
But the thing about a slipped mask is it’s very hard to unsee it. At some point, people can’t help but begin noticing. This simple turn creates a panic in the purveyors of lies, and they respond by becoming louder and more ferocious as they sense their narrative collapsing.
But keep noticing. Shine light, watch it writhe and squeal, and denounce it wholesale. It’s getting more blatant, but that just might mean that the narrative is nearly collapsed.
Noelle Mering is a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center where she co-directs EPPC’s Theology of Home Project. She is the author of the book Awake, Not Woke: A Christian Response to the Cult of Progressive Ideology (TAN Books, May 2021).