Dear Observers of the Diabolique:

The American religious bazaar is well stocked with the bizarre. A prime example is Anton LaVey and his Church of Satan. When I last wrote about him, I chuckled at his ridiculous rites and banal appeals to lust. But now my grin is gone as I note the many people taking his absurd hocus-pocus seriously. Lately he has received national TV exposure (indecent?) on “The Tonight Show” and Art Linkletter’s “The Lid’s Off.” As a result LaVey claims he was “deluged” with letters requesting information and even membership of his church. He’s now also proud to be listed in Concordia’s latest Religious Bodies in America.

Our man in San Francisco, the Rev. Edward Plowman, reports that LaVey recently conducted a military funeral with full Satanic honors for a young Oakland sailor killed in a Bay Area auto accident. Previously active in evangelical groups, the sailor and his wife, a former Jehovah’s Witness, joined the Satanic church after seeing the smooth-talking, black-horned LaVey on TV. The Navy man’s shocked parents and Baptist pastor in suburban Chicago couldn’t understand why he was attracted to Satanism. The father blamed it on his son’s widow. She said, “He felt deeply about this church. This is how he would have wanted his funeral. This is the only honest religion.”

Flanked by black candles and carnations and by black-robed acolytes, LaVey intoned over the casket, “Satan, Satan, brother Satan, fill his soul with fire; carry him on the Ebon River into the night. By all the powers of Satan and Hell, you will walk this earth to which I bind you forever and ever. And may this plot of ground lie all the way to Hell.” He also offered incantations in the “lost pre-biblical language of Enochian.” He concluded ...

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