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Old 09-18-2011, 03:48 PM   #1
Todd Mueller
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Default Satanists and cults: The Red Herring of the 80's?

This came up in another thread and it got me thinking. Doesn't it seem like there were a LOT of stories where the idea of satanists, satan worshipers, satanic cults, or other cults (possibly satanic) came up? everybodylovesrs in the other thread mentioned this and I didn't realize it until the other day. I was watching some old episodes and almost three times in a row there were cases involving this aspect.

So I ask you all: why? Was there something about the 80's that there was a great satan scare? I don't want this to get into religion (in terms of "is there really a satan?" or "christianity vs. others"). I just never really realized how often that topic came up.

I started making a list of the cases I can think of off the top of my head that involved satanists, cults, or something similar:

- Son of Sam
- Jared Peters
- Omarr the arsonist
- Kurt McFall
- Shane Stewart & Sally McNelley
- Eric & Pam Ellender
- Charlie Sigmin

I'm sure there are many more stories from UM. I guess my question is how many, if any, of these really involved satan worshiping or was UM capitializing on the hype of the day?
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Old 09-18-2011, 04:11 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd Mueller
This came up in another thread and it got me thinking. Doesn't it seem like there were a LOT of stories where the idea of satanists, satan worshipers, satanic cults, or other cults (possibly satanic) came up? everybodylovesrs in the other thread mentioned this and I didn't realize it until the other day. I was watching some old episodes and almost three times in a row there were cases involving this aspect.

So I ask you all: why? Was there something about the 80's that there was a great satan scare? I don't want this to get into religion (in terms of "is there really a satan?" or "christianity vs. others"). I just never really realized how often that topic came up.

I started making a list of the cases I can think of off the top of my head that involved satanists, cults, or something similar:

- Son of Sam
- Jared Peters
- Omarr the arsonist
- Kurt McFall
- Shane Stewart & Sally McNelley
- Eric & Pam Ellender
- Charlie Sigmin

I'm sure there are many more stories from UM. I guess my question is how many, if any, of these really involved satan worshiping or was UM capitializing on the hype of the day?
Well I believe that Berkowitz was a member of a Satanic Cult that sacrificed dogs in Untermyer Park in the seventies. As for the others I guess it depends on whether you take any of these Satanists at their word. The Omar arsonist, Satan's Kids Against The Establishment and Ann Sigmin all claimed to be into devil worship but really who knows?

My overall feeling on the subject matter is that in the cases that UM profiled that involved Satanism, UM was probably accurate in how they portrayed them for the most part. However, in general the media really did blow the whole Satanism thing out of proportion.
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Old 09-18-2011, 04:39 PM   #3
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I think lots of people were posing as Satanists, but weren't really, if that makes sense. It was a cool thing to say to sound badass.

There is a whole book about Satanic activity, The Ultimate Evil, and it seems kind of bunky to me.
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Old 09-18-2011, 06:27 PM   #4
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Most of these people were just bored kids looking to piss off everyone they could. They didn't get any of the actual beliefs of Satanism right or even in the ballpark for that matter, so I'm going to have to say they just wanted to sound dangerous and cool. Did UM capitalize on the satanic scare of the 80's, you bet they did. It make for more viewers. I respect the show and what it did, but there are those facets of it which disappoint me, the whole satanism thing is one of those facets.

If you ever want insight into what people did and said at the time to sell the books and sell out their speaking engagements, first read "The Satan Seller" by Mike Warnke and then read "Selling Satan" which completely debunks everything Warnke ever claimed.

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Old 09-18-2011, 07:24 PM   #5
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Satanic Panic is a well-regarded sociological study of this phenomenon. I have it on my list of books to read, but that list is very long, so I don't know when I will get to it. Please read it and tell us what it says!!
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Old 09-18-2011, 07:30 PM   #6
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I read Satanic Panic several years ago and I highly recommend it.Of the books which address the whole phenomena, I've found it to be the best.
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Old 09-18-2011, 08:44 PM   #7
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Huh... This is interesting.

This brings up another topic mentioned a few times on UM that was also rumored to be a horror in the 80's: snuff films. Those are (supposedly) amateur movies made with kids where the child was killed, usually after being raped. I remember hearing a lot about this when I was a kid and then later through junior high, high school, and college.

Turns out, it was all hype. After reading up on this, it says that some murders and deaths have been captured on tape, but they have never found one true example of a snuff film. Back in the day, you heard about that all the time on the news and on programs like UM and AMW.

I didn't realize until recently that it sounds like satanic cults may largly be a similar urban legend. There are probably some real examples but the hype surrounding them is just that. Fascinating...
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Old 09-18-2011, 09:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd Mueller
Huh... This is interesting.

This brings up another topic mentioned a few times on UM that was also rumored to be a horror in the 80's: snuff films. Those are (supposedly) amateur movies made with kids where the child was killed, usually after being raped. I remember hearing a lot about this when I was a kid and then later through junior high, high school, and college.

Turns out, it was all hype. After reading up on this, it says that some murders and deaths have been captured on tape, but they have never found one true example of a snuff film. Back in the day, you heard about that all the time on the news and on programs like UM and AMW.

I didn't realize until recently that it sounds like satanic cults may largly be a similar urban legend. There are probably some real examples but the hype surrounding them is just that. Fascinating...
I think JS mentioned a week ago in the case involving Rachael Runyan which mentions snuff films, he suspected that the police may have been the ones initially to attach snuff films to that case.

That got me thinking if there was anything more to that? Did someone send in a tip about Runyan being in a snuff film or was it just something the police suspected and if so why? It's so bizarre that there would be a campaign to find this film although if it was something attached at the time to the Runyan case that would obviously be an valid explanation.

As far as the "Satanic Panic" again I believe it existed in the media but I also think there was something to all that although not on the scale purported by the media. In fact I'm one hundred percent sure of it.

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Old 09-18-2011, 10:19 PM   #9
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Is ritualistic child abuse an offshoot of satanic panic? Child sexual abuse is real, and likely underreported. However, once the story involves about 15 people wearing robes, chanting and making it into ceremony then, in my opinion, you are in Fictionville.
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Old 09-18-2011, 10:47 PM   #10
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I can remember growing up in the 80's, if someone spray painted grafitti on the school, its was blamed on satanists.

Everything bad at the time seemed to be caused by satanists.
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Old 09-18-2011, 11:48 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScaryFog
I can remember growing up in the 80's, if someone spray painted grafitti on the school, its was blamed on satanists.

Everything bad at the time seemed to be caused by satanists.
Yeah, I remember my brother, after he got his driver's license, used to take me out driving on back country roads near our town. There was an abandoned property along one of these roads that everyone knew as the place where satanic cults held their rituals...or had in the past before the police found out about. Of course, it was just our town's own little urban legend/ghost story, and it made life not seem so boring. We would drive by it slowly, and feel creeped out, and fun was had by all...

But then, there's the line that gets crossed when people start getting thrown in prison based on a satanic witch hunt. That's the real scary stuff!
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Old 09-19-2011, 11:58 AM   #12
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Satanic panic and the whole idea that there are crazed killer cults out there was all put by christian churches in an attempt to make themselves relevant in modern day America. In the 80s it became popular for churches to try and scare people into joining them. Using scare tactics is ofcourse nothing new. Tell the parents that Satan is all around their children so that they bring them to church at an early age so they can be protected from such evils.

Unfortunatley many in the music and movie business decided to cash in on the hysteria that the churches created. Many musicians put out songs that seemed to pay homage to this satan person in an effort to cash in and there was no shortage of movies about devil worshipping cults murdering people. This just fed into the nonsense even more.

Bottom line is that Satan was created by Christians so that they would have an enemy. For someone to proclaim they are a Satanist would mean that they believe in the Bible. This is why none of it makes a lick of sense.

The truly scary cults to me are the ones that claim to be on the side of good. The ones who wear white robes and speak of eternal life and happines in order to win over people's trust and make them feel at ease. This year alone in my hometown we have had three catholic preists sued for molesting children. One of them named 'Sean Rattigan" was making kiddy porn in the church itself. This was brought to the attention of the arch diosease and they did not turn him over to police but instead moved him to another church. So you people who say there are just bad apples but the religon as a whole is good are wrong. The church covers up and uses your donations to fight legal battles for pedofiles. I have read no stories of Satan worshipers molesting children yet but am waiting.
Here are some truly scary cult people,

Jim Jones- Christian who murdered over 900 of his followers

David Koresh- Christian who led over one hundred of his followers to their demise
Timothy Mcveigh- Christian who bombed OKC federal building

911 Hijackers-Muslims who murdered over 3000 Americans

The salem witch trials, The crusades, etc etc
Lets look at facts not fiction and see who the truly dangerous people are here
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tighthead
Is ritualistic child abuse an offshoot of satanic panic? Child sexual abuse is real, and likely underreported. However, once the story involves about 15 people wearing robes, chanting and making it into ceremony then, in my opinion, you are in Fictionville.
If the robes they are wearing are white and the chanting is singing gospel songs then the abuse is very real and more then likely taking place in a catholic church. No fiction there.
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Old 09-19-2011, 12:17 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkDante
I think JS mentioned a week ago in the case involving Rachael Runyan which mentions snuff films, he suspected that the police may have been the ones initially to attach snuff films to that case.

That got me thinking if there was anything more to that? Did someone send in a tip about Runyan being in a snuff film or was it just something the police suspected and if so why? It's so bizarre that there would be a campaign to find this film although if it was something attached at the time to the Runyan case that would obviously be an valid explanation.
Several years ago, I found an old newspaper article on the Runyan case which was published around the time UM broadcast her story. If I remember correctly, the article stated that a prison informant had provided the police with information that the purpose of Rachel Runyan's abduction was to make a snuff film. The article didn't elaborate further.

I do remember reading a follow up that was clearly written after the UM broadcast in which it was stated that the telecenter was bombarded with anonymous calls from people describing various child porn films they had seen that they thought might have been Runyan's. That must have been pretty surreal for the telecenter operators.

As I said in another post, I found it interesting that, in the Runyan segment, the police acknowledged the possibility that snuff exists and basically made an appeal for someone to send it in; the official stance, traditionally, has been that such films do not exist.

A few years ago, I took a class on homeland security. One evening, a US mail customs inspector came in as a guest speaker to talk about his job. He had been in the same position for over 20 years inspecting the mail for child pornography. Someone in the class asked if he had ever found any snuff films. I think he said he found 3, but all were determined to be fraudulent.

Does snuff exist? Idk. You can't really prove a negative though.
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Old 09-19-2011, 05:32 PM   #15
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Quote:
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If the robes they are wearing are white and the chanting is singing gospel songs then the abuse is very real and more then likely taking place in a catholic church. No fiction there.
Sure, but there aren't many accounts of of abuse by church officials where the actual abuse takes place in large, ceremonial settings.
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