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, 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.

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

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

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

WWW Talk To Action

Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (374 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (195 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (109 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (101 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (113 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (144 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (126 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (117 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (250 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (63 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (160 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (176 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (59 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (65 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (218 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (253 comments)
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (107 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (211 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (163 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (163 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (168 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (156 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (129 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (315 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (148 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (90 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (212 comments)

More Diaries...

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.