1000 Words on the Role of Satan in US Religion

A donation with a topic, fantastic!  What is the role of Satan in current American religions?

What I want is a metaphor.  A role as a personified archetype.  To contemporary US christianity, is Satan a brother?  A gadfly?  A nemesis?  A lover?  Maybe we can arrive at this through observation.

To start with, few actually believe in Satan.  The first poll I could find says the number is closer to 60% than to 50% but I don’t fuckin’ believe it.  That’s belief from the mouth, from the top of the head in survey mode.  What’s in your heart?  Is there really a supernatural nemesis to your god’s designs, tempting people with forbidden pleasures?  Aside from me, I mean.

There’s an analog for that in something my bf told me about.  Somewhere on internet, republicans were grousing about the stolen election and a troll appeared to say, “Hahaha, I was a voting booth volunteer and I threw out millions of republican votes, teehee.”  They tutted at him like, “Oh you darn rascal,” but didn’t seem nearly as mad as they should be.  This is their boogeyman; this is what they believe happened.  Or do they?

Likewise rizzless stooge Candace Owens tut-tuts about the devilish queer menace of the Sam Smith-Kim Petras joke jam “Unholy,” but something in her performance is so lackluster.  Oh you kids, playin’ at satanisms.  You won’t think it’s so fun when the devil comes to collect his due, which is totally gonna happen…

I just don’t believe them.  I’m sure some smaller percentage of USians are for real about fearing The Adversary, but they’re too busy abusing children and stockpiling weapons to participate in polls.  Gods-peed, christian soldiers.  Anyway,

The Church of Satan have formalized this relationship.  You perform your belief in Satan and we’ll perform the part you have written for us.  It’s a shame the high-ups are just nazi fucks who tricked rebellious progressive types into paying for their vacations and incompetent pet lawyers, because they give lip service to promoting all the good things that US xtians despise.  But who cares even if they were actually cool?  They’re lesser court jesters with no impact on the larger society.  I just mention them here as a cultural phenomenon that shows how shallow the belief in Satan really is.

So what role does Satan play in modern US religion?  A less important boogeyman to keep children in bed.  A scarecrow that is absolutely covered in crow shit.  Nobody of consequence.  That cousin who you talk shit about but still invite to the party, maybe hoping they’ll do something scandalous for gossip fuel, but it just never happens.

I kid, I kid.  Hail me.

No, seriously, I’d like to personally freak every human being in the Unholy video except for the dirty dirty boy the song is about.  Hit me up Sammy.  But the end result is inarguably less cool than Lil’ Nas X’s performative unholiness.

On the other hand, Sam Smith and Kim Petras aren’t American Satans and Lil’ Nas X is, so…  I am reminded now, thinking about African Americans, of the expression, “Not today, Satan.”  It’s a way to dismiss the temptation to act the fool, I think usually through violence.  Satan can be in the person tempting you to “go upside their head,” or maybe just be the part of one’s self that feels temptation.

This is one key difference between Satan in US christianity and Satan in, say, US judaism.  In judaism it seems like HaSatan is a figure from the past, or a metaphor, or just generally unimportant.  In christianity (as practiced more than in the book itself), he’s an omnipresent mirror image of god.  Similar powers, only differing in that Satan is destined to lose at the end of time.  At least for some people, Jesus is there when you wanna be a good boy; Satan is there when you are drunk or jackin’ it or whatever.

I guess the belief in both is pretty situational.  A christian is more likely to feel like Satan is real if they were exposed to bad situations.  I’m culturally christian, much as I reject that entire deal, and it colors my perception of evil when I encounter it.  I’d like to reverse that in my head.  Why should an anti-christ see devils as evil?  Brainwashing, man.  Like when I sip my pop during the “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” shit before movies.  (For more on my feelings about deviltry, see this article.)

There are some who believe we’re in a new era of “Satanic Panic.”  Looking over the article on the ’80s version, I don’t buy that.  QAnon definitely takes a lot of cues from that era, but it doesn’t get serious play on mainstream TV.  Fox might like to fondle the Q balls, but they couldn’t bring themselves to work the shaft.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but there are no cases recently where conspiracy theorists have managed to prosecute people for trafficking christian babies out of pizza parlors, without getting laughed out of the courtroom.  Nothing on the order of the McMartin preschool trial.

But maybe we can get there.  The republican parts of the USA are drowning in wild garbage ideas, with no light to be seen.  So getting back to my original aim, taking all these things into account, what role does Satan play?  The wall non-fundies will have their back against when fevered right wingers start shooting again?  Windmill giants to their Don Quixotes?

My personification of Satan must be a cipher, a passive figure onto which ideas are projected.  A scapegoat?  A ghost.  A person who exists more as an idea than an entity.  Let’s say religious America is an abandoned child, who wonders about her parents, builds theories about them.  Daddy God must be good, Mommy Satan must be the wicked harridan who left you in that garbage can behind the church.  One day Daddy will find you and set things right.  One day you will find Mommy and make her suffer.

Satan is whoever you want her to be, America.

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