Prosocial Media: The Church of Satan

Harleen Dimopoulos

02/13/2022

Media Psychology


Prosocial Media: The Satanic Church

The purpose of this paper is to examine prosocial media and how it interacts with individuals who are part of Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan. This analysis will go to into detail about the church, their beliefs, morals, and how prosocial media has affected them. The topics discussed will include the target audience, and how prosocial media uses psychological concepts and theories to impact an individual. This study will be eye opening to the misconceptions of Satanists and their belief system.

Prosocial Media

Prosocial Media

Prosocial media is the positive effect that media has an on individual that can short, or long term and impact their beliefs, personality, and attitudes (Stever, et al., 2022). Albert Bandura’s social learning theory and The General Learning Model, or GLM, was used as the basis for social behavior and studied how prosocial media could affect an individual’s motivation, cognition, and beliefs (Stever et al., 2022). Prosocial media can also incorporate the gratification theory and could be derived from the media content and social context (Katz et al., 1973). The medium an individual is exposed to is unique in the characters or characteristics, form in which it is presented, and physical location an individual is in when they are exposed to the media (Katz et al., 1973).The main difference between the GLM and gratification theory, is the GML’s impact on prosocial behavior is to enact change long-term, while the gratification theory is when an individual has a predisposition and purposely uses prosocial media for self-gain (Stever et al., 2022).

The Satanic Church

In 1966 the Satanic Church was formed by Anton Szandor LaVey and received a lot of media attention from the name, to the first wedding where LaVey performed the ceremony draped in all black with a skullcap that had horns protruding from it (Urban, 2015). LaVey wrote The Satanic Bible as the churches’ scripture and it has been published over a million times in all major languages around the world (“Anton LaVey,” 1997). One of the biggest influences on this scripture was H.P. Lovecraft’s works and LaVey’s rituals incorporated some mythology stating, “fantasy plays an important part in any religious curriculum” (Possamaï, 2002). He named the church and scripture after Satan, but the original core beliefs had nothing to do with any devil, but to create shock value and intrigue (Lewis, 2013).

The church expresses scientific and technological world advances through a secular view with an emphasis that everyone is their own authority (Lewis, 2013).

All religions are based on abstinence rather than indulgence, and all religions therefore have to be based on fear. Well, we don’t feel that fear is necessary to base a religion on. The fact that religions for thousands of years have been telling people what they should do or shouldn’t do according to the basic whims of the person who might be running the show is very understandable. We’re realists, we Satanists. But we also feel that a person has to be good to themselves before they can be good to other people. So we feel that the greatest sin is self-deceit (Urban, 2015, p.184).

This aligns with their view of natural forces, unlike traditional religions where a supernatural force takes shape in a God (Lewis, 2013). Although the original church was founded around the fact that everyone is their own God, it never attempted to dismantle or illegitimatize traditional religion or attack churches with other beliefs (Lewis, 2013). Satanists do not believe in the afterlife; therefore, they embrace their finite life and promote living to the fullest, or excellence of life (Cimminee, 2011).

The Appeal and Prosocial Media

Century old legends of black masses and black magic instilled fear in those who were part of traditional churches, and LaVey took the narratives and legends of these and modified them to fit the current world (Urban, 2015). The Church of Satan appealed to an atheistic and rebellious younger generation because it empowered the individual to make their own choices opposed to traditional religions that carried strict rules and centered around a God instead of oneself (Lewis, 2013). LaVey’s Satanism was very much a hidden religion until the internet which revitalized it and brought in a lot of people aligning their own beliefs with what was in The Satanic Bible (Lewis, 2013). The promoted prosocial behavior because it gave individuals with similar mindsets a way to connect and gave gratification that their long-term ideals of religion were shared by many (Stever et al., 2022). Marilyn Manson, an influential musician, had developed a relationship with LaVey, and used that as a basis for his music, stating he sees Satanism as self-preservation and the idea that man is his own God (Urban, 2015). Clothing companies like Blackcraft Cult also share LaVeys’ ideals with their clothing that references “No Gods, No Masters, and “Against All Gods” (2022).

Psychological Factor

The psychology behind LaVey’s religion is that it is ambiguous, gives someone a sense of community, gives self-worth from alienation, legitimizes a rebellion since it is not a traditional religion, and for an individual with doubt, it gives them a belief structure and develops fundamentals (Ivey, 1993). One psychological aspect that brings many to LaVey’s work is the ability to control their own destiny, and the belief that no God does (Ivey, 1993). Psychodrama’s can be compared to Satanic rituals because they are both aim to modify behaviors and create new ways of thinking (Cimminee, 2011). LaVey influenced his followers by promoting that no life exists beyond this one, but instead the ego remains, which can also be referred to as the fact that once you die the only thing remembered is your legacy, and this psychologically impacted his followers to strive for success of life (Cimminee, 2011).

Conclusion

In conclusion, prosocial media is any form of media that has a positive effect on an individual. When Anton LaVey started the Church of Satan, he used methods of grandeur to gain attention and bring followers in. His impact can be seen in musicians such as Marilyn Manson and over a million copied of his Satanic Bible purchased. Although there is a negative connotation around Satanism, it is through misinformation and false news. The Church of Satan’s ideals lay in the structure that no Gods exist, but everyone is their own God. This was a positive prosocial realization for many people who joined the church because it did not confine them to the fear of doing something against a God. It also gave people with no belief in a God a home, a community, and a safe space to be unapologetically themselves with like-minded people.


References

  1. Anton LaVey; founded the church of satan: [home edition]. (1997). Los Angeles Times. http://library.esc.edu/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/newspapers/anton-lavey-founded-church-satan/docview/421184812/se-2?accountid=8067

  2. Blackcraft Cult. (2021). “Men’s Tees.” Blackcraft Cult. https://www.blackcraftcult.com/collections/mens/Men's-Tees

  3. Cimminnee, H. (2011). Death and Dying in the Satanic Worldview. Journal of Religion and Culture, (22/1), 33-53.

  4. Ivey, G. (1993). The Psychology of Satanic Worship. South African Journal of Psychology, 23(4), 180–185. https://doi.org/10.1177/008124639302300404

  5. Katz, E., Blumler, J. G., & Gurevitch, M. (1973). Uses and Gratifications Research. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 37(4), 509–523. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2747854

  6. Lewis, J. R. (2003). Legitimating new religions. Rutgers University Press.

  7. Possamaï, A. (2002). Cultural Consumption of History and Popular Culture in Alternative Spiritualities. Journal of Consumer Culture, 2(2), 197–218. https://doi.org/10.1177/146954050200200203

  8. Stever, G., Giles, D., Cohen, J. D., & Myers, M. E. (2022). Understanding media psychology. Routledge.

  9. Urban, H. B. (2015). New age, neopagan, and new religious movements : Alternative spirituality in contemporary America. University of California Press.


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