Are there really Satanists in this country or is it just a bunch of Goths taking it a bit too far

01:00 Fri 01st Feb 2002 |

asks MissDon:
Satanists are in the news again because of 23-year-old Manuela Ruda who, along with her husband Daniel, was found guilty of murder in Germany. They had killed a man by hitting him with a hammer then stabbing him 66 times. Oh, and then drinking his blood. Ruda claims to have become a vampire and devoted her life to worshipping the devil after living in London and in Edinburgh.

Q. So are there many more Satanists in the UK
It depends what you mean by 'Satanist'. Gareth Medway, author of Lure of the Sinister: The Unnatural History of Satanism, described two types of Satanist in The Sunday Times:

  • One is a member of a group which may do any number of bizarre things, such as dress up theatrically, drink blood and perform rituals with others by mutual consent.
  • The other is a psychopath who usually follow his obsession alone, and goes on to commit serious crimes.

Then there's the 'weekend Satanist' as described by David Farrant, president of the British Psychic and Occult Society: they try to turn themselves into their perception of a 'vampire' by having expensive dental surgery and dressing up in robes to pose for the Sunday papers. Their interest, fuelled by horror fiction, is superficial - more fashion than passion.

Q. So there aren't any actual groups of serious Satanists, then
There's a couple. Graham Harvey, reader in religious studies at King Alfred's college, Winchester, interviewed young adults who described themselves as Satanists in 1995. How found that most were merely being rebellious, and soon gave it up. He also estimated that, at the time, there were about 100 active members in Britain's two established Satanic organisations, Church of Satan and the Temple of Set.

Q. But we're always hearing about it, so surely there must be more
Satanism has been linked in recent years to allegations of sexual abuse - social services famously took children away from their parents in Orkney, Argyll and Rochdale. The allegations were found to be baseless.

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