50 Years of The Church of Satan in San Francisco
Other than an occasional episodes of Rikki Lake and my love of Black Sabbath, my exposure to Satanism as a young person was casual at best. So when I was invited on a date (a first date, none the less) to The First Satanic Church’s annual Black Mass a few years ago I was interested. Following the date (that ended so-so), I started doing some casual reading and looking for answers to some questions about Satan. Being an agnostic/atheist I’m not really into the application of religion in my own life, but I find belief to be an intriguing phenomena- especially considering the local roots that Satanism has here in the Bay.
Founded in San Francisco 1966, The Church of Satan and the city by the Bay are celebrating their 50 year anniversary this year. What better reason to explore some of the high, and low, moments that the two have shared of the past half-century…
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1966 – Anton Szandor LaVey founded the Church of Satan on Walpurgisnacht (April 30th) which is a Saint’s day in northern europe, dating back to medieval times, in Dutch the word literally means ‘witches night‘. LaVey (freaky fucker) declares himself the Black Pope of the church and holds services at his San Francisco home, known as the Black House. The religion isn’t centered on Satan as a deity, but Satan as a metaphor for social-nonconformity. Ya dig? In fact, Satanists are atheists that believe morality is a made up thing.
1967 – a big year for the Church of Satan if ever there was one. LaVey preforms his first Satanic wedding, baptism (of daughter, Zeena), and funeral. Like brimstone to fire, LeVay’s Satanism appeals to hedonist Hollywood attracting
celebrity members, such as Sammy Davis Junior, Jayne Mansfield, and allegedly a young Marilyn Monroe.
LaVey publishes The Satanic Bible in 1969. The Satanic Bible focuses on what LaVey refers to as “The Nine Satanic Statements” which contain some pretty compelling teachings, that speak to me loud and clear, such as:
- Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams.
- Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires.
- Satan has been the best friend the Church has ever had, as he has kept in business all these years.
1984 – Blanche Barton becomes LeVay’s “High Priestess”, She was also his biographer, his lover, and the mother of his only son, aptly named Satan Xerxes Carnacki LaVey.
LaVey loses ownership of the Black House in 1991, proving that not even the Devil himself can afford to live in San Francisco anymore.
LaVey dies in 1997 and presumably goes down to meet Old Scratch in person.
The aftermath of LaVey’s death creates a bat shit crazy storm in the Church of Satan kind. A battle over
the nature of Satanism results in a legal battle between Blanche Barton (LaVey’s assistant and mother to his son) and his daughter Karla LaVey. Karla LaVey goes on to found the First Satanic Church, which she feels holds true to the teachings of her late father.
The 50th birthday of Church of Satan founded in San Francisco is this April 30th, 1969, and the SF Satanists are not only alive and well, they are celebrating their 50th anniversary in a big way (presumably with lots of ungodly ‘carnal delights’). We tried to gain access their big bash, but they politely declined our offer (they don’t allow press).
If you’re interested in learning more about Satan, reading the Satanic Bible, or maybe getting candle wax dripped on your freaky self, check out their website: www.churchofsatan.com.
From Church of Satan’s F.A.Q.
WHY DO SATANISTS WORSHIP THE DEVIL?
We don’t. Satanists are atheists. We see the universe as being indifferent to us, and so all morals and values are subjective human constructions.
Our position is to be self-centered, with ourselves being the most important person (the “God”) of our subjective universe, so we are sometimes said to worship ourselves. Our current High Priest Gilmore calls this the step moving from being an atheist to being an “I-Theist.”
Satan to us is a symbol of pride, liberty and individualism, and it serves as an external metaphorical projection of our highest personal potential. We do not believe in Satan as a being or person.
DO SATANISTS PERFORM SACRIFICES?
No. We are atheists. The only people who perform sacrifices are those who believe in supernatural beings who would consider a sacrifice to be some form of payment for a request or form of worship. Since we do not believe in supernatural beings there is no reason for a Satanist to make a sacrifice of any sort.
I HEARD THAT SATANISM SUPPORTS SEX WITH CHILDREN AND OTHER WAYS TO HARM THEM—HOW DO YOU JUSTIFY THAT?
Satanism has strong rules prohibiting sexual activity with children and non-human animals. In fact, if a Church of Satan member abuses children sexually or otherwise, his membership is automatically terminated without possibility for re-instatement. The Church of Satan also does not accept anyone who is not legally adult as an Active Member. In Satanism, sexual activity is only advocated between consenting adults.