Conservative groups have blamed Satanically influenced media for corrupting young people in general and school shooters in particular.
Even Harry Potter has been accused of devilry., author Richard Beck tells the story of a series of allegations of ritualized Satanic child abuse in daycare centers around the country.
But it wasn’t so long ago that many Americans were eager to believe the most outlandish tales of ritual abuse.
“The stories coming out of these investigations were so shocking, but anyone who didn’t believe them was said to be in denial.” Many local leaders were also Christian conservatives who thought the devil was very real and active in their municipalities.
Very few people wanted to be the ones not to believe the children, so large groups of adults were able to tell themselves that a sinister daycare worker had forced the kids to watch him hack up a horse precisely None of the Satanic conspiracies panned out, and the allegations turned out to have been ginned up by overeager investigators acting on confirmation bias.
(Photo: Public Affairs)I asked Beck if in all his exhaustive research he had been able to track down a single instance of verified Satanic ritual child abuse. “My editor and I joked that the book would sell better if I could find an actual case, but as far as I could find it never happened.” Since they didn’t occur in reality, the infernal elements had to be products of adult interpretation and suggestion.
Yet whole municipalities managed to convince themselves that there were hidden networks of devil worship and child abuse in their own backyards. Beck traces the collective hysteria to changes in the social structure.
(Photo: Salem Art Gallery)As we head into the end of October, parents should be prepared.
Everyone knows that Halloween is peak season for occult behavior.
“One of the judges involved apologized, but we haven’t seen anything like that for the Satanic Panic cases.” TST operates an international project called The Grey Faction, dedicated to exposing and discrediting therapists who propagate Satanist conspiracy theories.
“These people are still out there doing the same things — the only difference is after the panic died down they’re less likely to tell their patients to sue, which means the media attention goes away.” The Grey Faction files petitions with medical oversight boards, protests conspiracist conferences, and works to debunk misinformation, all to protect people from harmful pseudoscience.
Good moms and dads must maintain vigilance lest their kids be snatched.
In 2016, this kind of Satanic panic rhetoric sounds totally absurd.
Up until the 1800s, standard colonial American cultural mores held that children were basically evil.