With Halloween only a couple of weeks away, the ghouls and devils are not only in the costume store this year.
Two recent stories in the news may come as little surprise in a year when the US saw a high profile Satanic black mass performed in public for the first time—and another one attempted.
In North Carolina, a man and a woman were charged in the murder and burial of two men at their home.
That’s bad enough, but one of the two renamed himself Pazuzu Algarad—after the demon in The Exorcist. He and his live-in companion, Amber Burch, were arrested on Oct. 5. The Winston-Salem Journal quoted a friend of Burch claiming Algarad liked to “get a high” from eating the “still-beating heart” of a sacrificial animal and bragged openly about having killed two prostitutes.
The two men for whose murder Burch and Algarad are charged were recently found buried in the couple’s backyard.
Burch’s friend recounted several visits to the house and seeing Satanic sayings written on the walls.
“He made it a point to mention all the time that once a month he has to sacrifice … a small rabbit or small animal,” the friend said. “He would describe the animal and bathing in or drinking the blood. He would get a drug-like high from eating the still-beating heart.”
This incident, it turns out, provides bad timing for the Satanic Temple’s holiday campaign. That’s the New York-based group that tried to mount a public performance of the black mass at Harvard earlier this year. Now they want to put up a display in Florida’s Capitol Rotunda.
Imagine walking into a public building this December and seeing a large sign greeting you, “Happy Holidays from the Satanic Temple.” Not only that, beneath the greeting is an image of Satan falling into Hell.
And a group that normally fights any mixing of church and state is supporting the Temple, CBS Tampa Bay reported. Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a letter to state officials this week telling them they cannot ban the Satanic group from putting up the display.
“Given the manner in which the Department of Management Services rejected the Satanic Temple’s application last year, we remind the Department of its obligations under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution,” the letter reads. “The Department may not, as it did last year, reject the Satanic Temple’s display — even if the Department finds the display to be ‘offensive.’”
According to the New Times, the Satanic Temple was originally granted a space in the Capitol rotunda to display Lucifer falling from heaven into hell with a Bible verse on the side. But the department rejected the display, calling it “grossly offensive for the holidays.”
Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves told the New Times: “Our holiday display sends a very important, affirmative message that goes above and beyond that of superficial season’s greetings. It’s a message of religious freedom and church/state separation expressed in the state’s neutrality.”
The Satanic Temple has also been trying for years to erect a sculpture of Baphomet (above) at the Oklahoma state capitol.
John Burger is news editor for Aleteia’s English edition.