Normalizing Evil: The Rise of Satanism in America

By John Klar

by Danielle Dolin

Sam Smith’s Grammy Awards tribute to Satan reflected the acceptability in the current culture of what would be unthinkable even in jest in the past: glorifying the hellish. The normalization of Satanism as a respectable belief system is just one of many signs of these seemingly End Times. In eerie irony, the number of self-identified Satanists increases in direct proportion to the decline of belief in a literal Hell.

Various denominations of Satanism flourish in 2023 America. Some sects claim to worship Lucifer himself, but most espouse secular beliefs and disavow any faith in a literal spiritual person known as Satan. The general popularity of Satanism may be because of growing antipathy toward Christianity, a sort of oppositional radicalism. Yet the vacuum created by a loss of traditional faith is filled through various permutations of secular religiosity or New Age imaginings, including the unlikely cloak of Luciferianism.

Smith’s Grammy Awards depiction of a plump, salivating Satan on stage for millions, would traditionally have been viewed as inappropriate for prime-time TV. But America is a nation where the Temple of Satan boasts some 700,000 members, and children have for years been exposed in public schools to “After School Satan” programs to “balance” against Christian “Good News Clubs” and similar sectarian efforts.

The belief in Satan would necessitate a belief in the God of judgment, the God of Christ. However, most modern Satanists eschew belief in the supernatural, and thus meet the devil at the crossroads, believing they can invoke Satan’s name without yielding to any actual spiritual power or control. And so as godlessness rises in America, Satanic “churches” increase.

Polls show a steady decline in the number of Americans who believe in the dark side. In 2001, one poll suggested sixty-eight percent of Americans believed in the devil. By 2007, this number had dropped to sixty-two percent; a recent 2023 poll pegs the number of demon-believing at fifty-six percent. (Optimistically, sixty-nine percent of Americans still believe in angels!).

The fastest-growing religion in America is “none,” according to a 2021 Pew Research Center poll. Satanism was reportedly the fastest-growing sect in 2018, but perhaps this is a distinction without a difference: most Satanist groups embraced the tenets of secular humanism.

One question is unanswered by the polls: If more Americans believe in angels than in the Devil, why don’t more atheists and agnostics choose to name their after-school programs and faux temples after angels instead of Beelzebub? As the nation’s woes deepen, perhaps more people will be repulsed by Satanism and instead seek the Light, rather than the dark, for spiritual guidance. God may well use the evil of Satanism to draw people toward a 21st-century Christian revival. (Romans 8:28).

Because Christians understand the limitless malice of the spiritual adversary, it is unimaginable that anyone would consider deliberately worshipping the Evil One. Fortunately, scripture provides our defensive remedy against such villainy: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…. “(James 4:7-8, NKJV).

John Klar is an attorney, author, farmer, and pastor. John strongly advocates for small farms, food choice, homesteaders, and homeschoolers, and believes a robust local food supply is essential for national security and health. John and his wife Jackie live in Brookfield, Vermont, where they raise grass-fed lamb and beef.

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