Satanic Panic is Alive and Well on Planet Earth
Richard Bartholomew printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 06:15:37 AM EST
A new court case in Canada demonstrates that Satanic conspiracy mongering is far from dead:
VANCOUVER, B.C. - A woman who sought Christian marriage counseling from Elijah House has sued the society, claiming its conspiratorial theories caused her to lose custody of her seven children and fall into depression. Donna Marie Krahn claims the society taught her that "repression of memories, dissociative identity disorder and satanic ritual abuse are widespread in society." She says the defendants encouraged her to develop false memories that she was physically, sexually and satanically abused by her husband, his family, her family, and others. She claims defendants induced her and her children to believe that "satanic cults and witchcraft had penetrated all levels of society," that she had "500 alternate personalities," and that "demons posed a present danger" to her and her children. The judge in divorce court found "the children are extremely well cared for physically and, but for the exposure to Elijah House philosophy, would be well cared for mentally as well." Elijah House states on its Web site that its mission is to "share the love of Jesus to restore broken relationships and bring healing to hurt and wounded hearts."

Here are the defendants: Brian and Della Headley - Elijah "counselors" in Mission, B.C.; Elijah House Canada Society; Elijah House Inc.; and Stephen E. Oglevie, a "consultant" of Burley, Idaho. Krahn is represented by Steven Mansfield in Vancouver Supreme Court.


Earlier court judgements concerning Krahn's divorce found that Elijah House and Oglevie had subjected Krahn and her children to "bizarre" counselling, and that the Headleys may have encouraged her to destroy records of counselling sessions. I've written more fully about this case on my blog.

Of particular interest is the involvement of Steve Oglevie. Back in the 1980s and early 1990s he resided in Rupert, Idaho, and was part of a Satanic Panic that was sparked by the 1989 discovery of a dead baby - "Baby X", who was sadly never identified - on a garbage dump in Minidoka County. The baby's body had been burnt by persons unknown and mutilated by wild animals, but for Oglevie this mutilation was in fact a Satanic dismemberment; testimony from a disturbed teenager (later discredited) added to the sense of panic in the area. Since then, Oglevie has written and spoken at length on the subject of "mind control", and has at least one academic defender in Dr Ellen Lacter of the University of California.

The present legal troubles of Oglevie and Elijah House are just the latest chapter in the long unravelling of the "Satanic Ritual Abuse" (SRA) panics that have blighted so many innocent lives. At the end of last year Kyle Sapp, the former child at the centre of the McMartin Preschool scandal in California in the 1980s, admitted that adults had pressured him into making up stories of abuse; children snatched from supposedly Satanic parents by over-zealous social workers in Rochdale and in Orkney in the UK in 1990 have also now spoken out and are preparing legal actions for compensation.

The story of how Satanic Panic gripped the popular imagination in the late 1980s is well-known - Jeffrey S. Victor's Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend (1993) is an excellent account of what happened in the USA, while Jean La Fontaine's Speak of the Devil (1994) dealt with the British situation. There are also numerous journalistic accounts which are easily found on-line (for examople, here). The urban legend, however, is far from dead: just last year, Jim Kouri of the US National Association of Chiefs of Police used the murder of Pamela Vitale as an opportunity to dust off all the old conspiracy theories for MichNews.com, and Scott Peterson's defence team at one point suggested that Laci Peterson had been killed by Satanists. In the UK, the Scottish Executive recently published a booklet on sexual abuse by an SRA conspiracy theorist, to the outrage and dismay of qualified psychologists and psychiatrists. The discovery of a dismembered African child by the Thames in 2001 has also proven to be boon to the SRA crowd, with the police taking advice from the dubious figure of Kobus Jonker, who used to head South Africa's "Occult-Related Crime Unit" (I blogged on this here).

The Satanic Panic hysteria drew its energy from two sources: popular Christian paperbacks from supposed "survivors" of Satanic cults, and from memories of abuse supposedly brought to light in victims by Christian therapists. But while the bogus survivors and manipulative therapists have been discredited, there are two figures on the religious right who have largely avoided having to account for their part in the tragedy: Hal Lindsey and David Balsiger. Balsiger, it should be remembered, was the ghost writer for Mike Warnke, whose book The Satan Seller (1978) was perhaps the first in the genre. Warnke's tales of running a Satanic cult before converting to Christianity made for a best-seller, but his lurid fantasies were exposed as lies by a thorough investigation by two Charismatic Christians, Mike Hertenstein and Jon Trott. Unaccountably, Warnke still enjoys a reasonably successful "ministry", and Balsiger remains a defender. Balsiger's judgement shows no sign of having matured - subsequent projects included rallying Christian support for South Africa before the fall of apartheid, and making a silly film about the quest for Noah's Ark. Today, Balsiger works as the producer for Grizzly Adams Productions Inc, where his output has included works such as Man of Faith: The Spiritual Journey of George W. Bush.

Hal Lindsey, meanwhile, was responsible for Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth in 1972, and in 1988 he became the champion of "Lauren Stratford", the pen name of a mentally-disturbed woman named Laurel Rose Willson. Willson wrote Satan's Underground, which was withdrawn by her publisher after Trott and two other Christian journalists completely destroyed her story. Lindsey, however, was unrepentant, and used his radio show to denounce the idea of Christians criticising her fantasies. He also arranged for Willson to publish her book through an alternative publisher. However, Lindsey has since become quiet on the subject: hardly surprisingly, since Willson subsequently decided to shed her bogus "Satanic survivor" identity in order to pose as a Holocaust survivor. This has not, though, dampened his enthusiasm for Satanic Panic, and he occasionally uses his WorldNetDaily column to peddle the hysteria.

Satanic Panic was possibly the most damaging and discredited phenomenon to have emerged from the imagination of the Christian right; yet some of its originators remain powerful players - and lives are continuing to be ruined.

UPDATE: Anomalous4 has some more details about Elijah House here.




Display:
On this website, in which Dr Ellen Lacter discusses the difference between "Witchcraft ritual abuse and Satanic ritual abuse", she describes Oglevie as her "mentor". Lacter is currently "Academic Coordinator of the Play Therapy Certificate Program at the University of California, San Diego- Extension"

by Richard Bartholomew on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 06:47:16 AM EST
In the course of an unrelated line of investigation, I recall coming across possible involvement by one of the original, flagship Calvary churches in the network Chuck Smith helped start. I have no time to dig it up now, but if I recall correctly the case involved a church feeding satanic-panic literature dressed up ( it seems absurd in retrospect ) as written by some sort of authority on child abuse.

So, my guess is that there were a number of point sources for the scare.

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 12:19:57 PM EST
Parent



Richard, I had a question for you in your "Talk 2 Action" posting of the "New Perspective" on the Arctic Petroglyphs.  I waited several days for an answer, but nothing, and now, the article seems to have disappeared from "Talk 2 Action."  What happened?

I also have now heard personally from Archaelogist Daniel Gendron if you are interested in hearing more.  By all means, keep in touch.  Have a good day.

by cheers on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 08:27:53 AM EST

to which you refer is still available on Talk to Action here, and I have responded to your query there. Any extra information on the topic would be gratefully received.

by Richard Bartholomew on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 09:04:20 AM EST
Parent


but they won't admit that the way fundamentalists treat people makes the claims of satanic abuse pale by comparison- even the worst stories they come up don't come even close to the truth about how fundamentalist churches treat people.

I think it is a case of projection.  

I deal with REAL repressed memories.  They aren't anything like the nonsense that comes out of those people.  Some of the repressed memories come FROM treatment I received at the hands of the Assemblies.

THEY are the evil ones.  I rather suspect that satanic groups are really very rare.

by ArchaeoBob on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 09:03:55 AM EST


and found out there's a direct link from Elijah House to Theophostic Ministries. The result ended up pretty long, so I'm posting it as a separate diary entry.


by anomalous4 on Mon Oct 16, 2006 at 03:11:46 AM EST

Richard, I have added the contents of Mr. Gendron's letter to me on the comments of your "New Perspectives" entry.  Thanks again for your openness to this info.

by cheers on Fri Oct 20, 2006 at 05:17:50 PM EST


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