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'Yourself as Satan': Satanism Rises in UK, Appealing to Young People as a Religion 'Of The Self'

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Satanism has been on the rise in the United Kingdom for the past several years as the number of people who identify as Christian declines. 

In the past, the word "Satanism" has often conjured up images of occult rituals, blood oaths, sexual perversions, animal or human sacrifice, and worshipping the devil.  However, today's trendier brand of Satanists have tried to distance themselves from the more disturbing rituals of traditional Satanic practice. 

Now they claim all of that is folklore, saying their popularized brand of Satanism doesn't practice magic, cast spells, or worship the devil anymore. 

Their sanitized version of darkness is appealing to young people and engaging them, giving them the opportunity to advocate for issues like gender dysphoria and sexual divergence. 

The Sunday Telegraph reports Satanism is luring increasing numbers of young people disillusioned with "outdated" and "dogmatic" traditional religions to join its fold by offering an "alternative" to "stuffy", traditional faiths.

One such organization in the UK, the Global Order of Satan UK, claims it has seen a 200 percent increase in membership over the last five years, according to the outlet. 

Chaplain Leopold, a 32-year-old London-based undertaker, told The Telegraph two factors are responsible for new Satanism's rise: the decreasing popularity of "traditional dogmatic religions", and "a movement towards self-identification and self-realization."

"This is particularly amongst younger people who don't want to be identified as part of a prescriptive dogmatic religion and rather want to identify as their own self-beliefs and self-realization – which is what Satanism offers," Leopold contends. "So we often say that we're sort of the religion for those who don't like the oppression of previous religions."

As churches in the UK try to appeal to young people, society's ongoing debate about gender identity, sexuality and gay marriage has also caused division inside the country's largest Christian church, the Church of England. 

As CBN News has reported, over the years the Church of England has made several doctrinal changes that seem to endorse the aggressive LGBTQ agenda on sexual morality rather than the teachings of the Bible. This has led to friction between the church's leaders and members. 

According to the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) census, published in November, the number of people in England and Wales identifying as Satanists saw a 167 percent increase between 2011 and 2021, up from 1,893 to 5,054.

At the same time, the number of Christians dropped so low that they now account for less than half of England and Wales' population for the first time in census history, The Telegraph reported. 

Professor Linda Woodhead, head of the department of theology and religious studies at King's College London, told the outlet Satanism "is a young person's religion" but that "the bigger phenomenon we're seeing is the incredible diversification of the religious and spiritual landscape." There's now a lot of solitary exploration, particularly with the internet, and you can find anything to fit your particular identity, interests, values or beliefs."

The new Satanists say they do not believe in God, but instead hold up the belief as a religion "of the self." They believe that is it up to individuals to find their own moral code and develop themselves as their own godheads," The Telegraph reported. 

Even though they claim rituals are a thing of the past, Leopold admitted to the outlet his group does have fun "getting together and doing rituals in the forest" by candlelight. He said ritual is used as a form of community bonding and meditation to give people the time to develop "your own personal vision of yourself as Satan".

"You wouldn't recognize a Satanist most of the time if you pass them in the street," Leopold continued. "But then we like to have the ritual space, which is when we don the robes and light the candles and hail Satan and everything else we wish to do."

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As CBN News has reported over the last several years, The Satanic Temple (TST) has grown in numbers in the U.S. and around the world. 

Based in Salem, Massachusetts, TST is separate from the Church of Satan, which was founded in the 1960s. 

Founded in 2013, TST also claims it doesn't believe in Satan but describes itself as a "non-theistic religious organization" that advocates for secularism. On its website, under the question "Do You Worship Satan?" in the Frequently Asked Questions section, TST answers: "No, nor do we believe in the existence of Satan or the supernatural." 

Malcolm Jarry, the co-founder of TST told The Telegraph his organization has a membership of 21,996 in the UK, and around a million followers worldwide. 

As CBN News reported earlier this month, TST is advertising its second convention to be held in Boston, Massachusetts this spring, aiming for the "largest Satanic gathering in history."  

The convention known as "SatanCon 2023" will be held on April 28-30, and is being promoted as "a weekend of blasphemy and remembrance in Boston."

A Christian ministry called Intercessors for America (IFA) responded to the announcement of the Satanic group's second convention, saying, "Our prayers will make a difference yet again. While TST plans and promotes, we will pray and fast that these efforts will actually backfire and instead embolden and empower the Church. They promise a weekend of 'blasphemy and remembrance in Boston.' Let's pray for a weekend of holiness and seeking God."

The IFA also said the TST is an adversary to the Christian faith. 

"This is no neutral, 'intellectual,' quirky advocacy group. It is an adversary to the Christian faith and its free exercise in public spaces, to the protection of life, and to the advancement of Bible teaching in the public schools," the IFA said. "These rituals, practices, declarations, and beliefs are the gateway to allowing satanic footholds in people's lives. Tarot cards, voodoo dolls, hexes, and spells seem harmless to many, but we know that there is real satanic power behind those activities, and this power will ensnare anyone who participates in such things."

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of