“The belief that there is a connection between satanism and crime is certainly not new. As previously stated, one of the oldest theories concerning the causes of crime is demonology. Fear of satanic or occult activity has peaked from time to time throughout history. Concern in the late 1970s focused primarily on “unexplained” deaths and mutilations of animals, and in recent years has focused on child sexual abuse and the alleged human sacrifice of missing children. In 1999 it will probably focus on the impending “end of the world.”
Today satanism and a wide variety of other terms are used interchangeably in reference to certain crimes. This discussion will analyze the nature of “satanic, occult, ritualistic” crime primarily as it pertains to the abuse of children and focus on appropriate law enforcement responses to it. Recently a flood of law enforcement seminars and conferences have dealt with satanic and ritualistic crime. These training conferences have various titles, such as “Occult in Crime,” “Satanic Cults,” ‘Ritualistic Crime Seminar,” “Satanic Influences in Homicide,” “Occult Crimes, Satanism and Teen Suicide,” and “Ritualistic Abuse of Children.”
The typical conference runs from one to three days, and many of them include the same presenters and instructors. A wide variety of topics are usually discussed during this training either as individual presentations by different instructors or grouped together by one or more instructors.
Typical topics covered include the following:
Historical overview of satanism, witchcraft, and paganism from ancient to modern times. Nature and influence of fantasy role-playing games, such as “Dungeons and Dragons.” Lyrics, symbolism, and influence of rock and roll, Heavy Metal, and Black Metal music. Teenage “stoner” gangs, their symbols, and their vandalism. Teenage suicide by adolescents dabbling in the occult. Crimes committed by self-styled satanic practitioners, including grave and church desecrations and robberies, animal mutilations, and even murders. Ritualistic abuse of children as part of bizarre ceremonies and human sacrifices. Organized, Traditional, or Multigenerational satanic groups involved in organized conspiracies, such as taking over day care centers, infiltrating police departments, and trafficking in human sacrifice victims. The “Big Conspiracy” theory, which implies that satanists are responsible for such things as Adolph Hitler, World War II, abortion, illegal drugs, pornography, Watergate, and Irangate, and have infiltrated the Department of Justice, the Pentagon, and the White House.
During the conferences, these nine areas are linked together through the liberal use of the word “satanism” and some common symbolism (pentagrams, 666, demons, etc.) The implication often is that all are part of a continuum of behavior, a single problem or some common conspiracy. The distinctions among the different areas are blurred even if occasionally a presenter tries to make them. The information presented is a mixture of fact, theory, opinion, fantasy, and paranoia, and because some of it can be proven or corroborated (symbols on rock albums, graffiti on walls, desecration of cemeteries, vandalism, etc.,) the implication is that it is all true and documented. Material produced by religious organizations, photocopies and slides of newspaper articles, and videotapes of tabloid television programs are used to supplement the training and are presented as “evidence” of the existence and nature of the problem.
All of this is complicated by the fact that almost any discussion of satanism and the occult is interpreted in the light of the religious beliefs of those in the audience. Faith, not logic and reason, governs the religious beliefs of most people. As a result, some normally skeptical law enforcement officers accept the information disseminated at these conferences without critically evaluating it or questioning the sources.
Officers who do not normally depend on church groups for law enforcement criminal intelligence, who know that media accounts of their own cases are notoriously inaccurate, and who scoff at and joke about tabloid television accounts of bizarre behavior suddenly embrace such material when presented in the context of satanic activity. Individuals not in law enforcement seem even more likely to do so. Other disciplines, especially therapists, have also conducted training conferences on the characteristics and identification of “ritual” child abuse. Nothing said at such conferences will change the religious beliefs of those in attendance. Such conferences illustrate the highly emotional nature of and the ambiguity and wide variety of terms involved in this issue.”
– 1992 FBI Report on Satanic Ritual Abuse by Kenneth V. Lanning, Supervisory Special Agent Behavioral Science Unit, National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime