Here is a reaction paper I wrote about the chapter.
Chapter 6 Summary
Chapter 6 was definitely my least favorite. The fact of this matter is that there are many abuse situations encountered in many different religions. “Cult” is always an attention getter. The very word “cult” is misunderstood by many people. My basic understanding of a cult is- a minority religion that has no political power. Christianity was once considered a cult, however now it is not at least in America, In the Middle East it may be considered as such. The other facts that would make a religion a “cult” is that the group is run by a centralized figure that demands loyalty to him and controls every aspect of their lives as well as having the followers relinquish all personal possessions to them. Then it moves away from the definition of a cult and definitely becomes something else.
This chapter moves from talking about ritualistic abuse to examples of Hollywood movies. This is not scientific at all, nor is it productive. The historical background was somewhat factual but left much out. While it was mentioned that the Church of Satan
does not condone ritualistic abuse, it failed to mention that they are the first formal religion of Satanism and consider them the only authority on Satanism. There has been a numerous amount of copycat “churches” that tried to ride on Anton LaVey’s ideas since the formation of the Church of Satan
. It must be known that even with considering all of these splinter sects; Satanism is still a minority religion. It takes a huge effort to torture and kill people on the scale that the “ritualistic abuse” was said to have happened. It must also be know that ritual is not specific to the religion of Satanism.
“On October 25, 1988, millions of people across the United States watched a primetime Geraldo Rivera special on NBC”. This fed the panic and Geraldo should have been held accountable for his actions that are the equal of yelling “FIRE” in a crowded theater.
This was not fair to anyone involved. It is perfectly understandable that if there was word of something like this happening that it would most certainly be investigated but it got carried away. It wasn’t fair to adherents of the religion but it was doubly not fair to innocent people and the children dragged through court cases that were based on fallacies.
“It is therefore imperative that professionals in the field have a general understanding of ritualistic abuse”. This is called in the legal arena “fruit of the poisonous tree”, meaning that someone cannot be charged and sentenced for a crime they didn’t commit in the first place. I wouldn’t be surprised if this book had been written in the eighties but the first printing was in 1996, well after the panic was discounted as being hysteria. I am slightly amused by the so called symbols listed as being Satanic. The hexagram is one which is in fact a star of david which represents the Jewish religion. In a focus box it mentions the movie The Serpent and the Rainbow, which may have been based on some voodoo and Santeria rituals but those are definitely not Satanism at all and is a Hollywood movie not fact.
The two tables that are listed as research into ritualistic abuse had only 37 subjects, which is an extremely small sample group, it did not mention what the control group was, and each patient had been treated for dissociative disorder. If you stop a few people in Wal-Mart and ask them if they like shopping there then chances are they will say yes, of course if you fail to mention that it is the only place in town to shop it will only make the numbers seem more impressive.
From a psychological standpoint it is clear that many people were frightened or coerced into fearing, and others were just trying to get attention.
This chapter is not scientific at all, and is in my opinion highly irresponsible. Fortunately, I know better.
Here is an excerpt from a 1992 FBI report from Kenneth Lanning concerning ritualistic abuse.
“Lanning began working in the field in 1981. Allegations of ritual abuse began to surface circa 1983. At first, he tended to believe that the abuse really occurred. He reported:
But the number of alleged cases began to grow and grow. We now have hundreds of victims alleging that thousands of offenders are abusing and even murdering tens of thousands of people as part of organized satanic cults, and there is little or no corroborative evidence. The very reason many "experts" cite for believing these allegations (i.e. many victims, who never met each other, reporting the same events), is the primary reason I began to question at least some aspects of these allegations.”
I rest my case.